Field hockey

Field hockey is a popular Olympic sport in many countries around the world, with India, Pakistan, Germany, The Netherlands and Australia the most successful international teams. It is popular for both men and women in these countries. In these countries, where (with the exception of Germany) ice hockey is not common, it is generally referred to simply as "hockey". In the United States (which is not a major force in world field hockey) it is widely regarded as a women's sport, but there are men's leagues as well.

''A game of field hockey in progress.'\'

Table of contents
1 Origins
2 The Field of Play
3 Equipment
4 Rules
5 Tactics
6 Tournaments
7 See also
8 External link

Origins

Modern field hockey was born with the formation of The Hockey Association in England on January 18, 1886. The current governing body of the global game is the Fédération Internationale de Hockey (International Hockey Federation or FIH).

The Field of Play

The game is played between two teams of eleven players on a 91.4 x 54.8 metre (100 x 60 yard) rectangular field. Most modern fields are covered with "synthetic grass" - a smooth, carpet-like material, but the game was traditionally played on grass. At each end there is a goal approximately 2.1 metres high, and 3.7 metres wide, and a semi-circle approximately 16 metres from the goal known as the "shooting circle", as well as lines across the field approximately 24 metres from each end-line and in the centre of the field.

Equipment

Each player carries a "stick", about 90 centimetres long and traditionally made of wood but now often made with fibreglass, kevlar and carbon fibre composites, with a rounded handle of approximately 2.5 centimetres diameter at the top flattening out on one side and with a hook at the bottom, with which they can push, dribble, or hit a hard plastic, usually dimpled, ball about 7 centimetres in diameter.

Rules

Players are only permitted to play the ball with the flat side of the stick, which is always on the "natural" side for a right-handed person - there are no "left-handed" hockey sticks. Players are not permitted to let the ball strike any part of their body or propel the ball with any part of the stick other than the flat part.

One player from each team is designated the "goalkeeper", and is permitted to play the ball with any part of their body whilst within their defensive circle. Goalkeepers usually wear extensive protective equipment including helmets, chest guards, body armour, heavily padded gloves, and leg and foot guards designed not only to protect the goalkeeper but allow them to propel the ball away without the use of the stick.

The goal of the teams is to play the ball into their "shooting circle" and from there, hit or push the ball into the goal. The team with the most goals after two 35-minute halves wins the game.

Tactics

At the highest level, hockey is a fast-moving, highly skilled sport, with players using fast manoeuvering with the stick, quick accurate passing, and hits that travel at up to 160 km/h in attempts to keep possession and move the ball towards the goal. Whilst tackling and otherwise obstructing players is not permitted, collisions are common, and the speed at which the ball travels along the ground (and sometimes through the air, which is legal if it is not judged dangerous by the umpire) requires the use of padded shin guards to prevent injury. Some of the tactics used superficially resemble soccer, but with greater speed - the best players maneuver and score goals almost quicker than the eye can see.

Tournaments

The most prestigious tournament in hockey is undoubtedly the Olympic Games. In the men's game, The Netherlands are the current Olympic champions, with South Korea and Australia taking the minor medals. Historically, the Indian and Pakistani teams dominated the men's game for many years, but have lessened in prominence recently. Before the introduction of the women's hockey at the Olympics, the best international team in the world was the Netherlands. From the early 1990s, Australia has been by far the best in the women's game internationally, though the retirement of a number of key players has weakened the team recently.

The other major international tournaments are the quadrennial Hockey World Cups, run separately for men and women, and the annual men's and women's Champions Trophies.

Many countries have extensive club competitions for both junior and senior players. Despite the large numbers of participants, club hockey is not a particularly large spectator sport and few players can afford to play professionally.

The 5th Asian women's hockey championship will be held in New Delhi from January 31, 2004 to February 5, 2004. This was announced by the All India Women's Hockey Federation president, Vidya Stokes on December 31, 2003.

See also

External link


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