Rules of field hockey


A field hockey game consists of four times of 15 minutes each, during which two teams with eleven players try to score as many goals as possible. Goals are scored when the ball, which can only be touched with the flat side of the stick, completely crosses the opponent’s goal line after being touched by an attacker’s club inside the kick area (a semicircle marked 15 meters from the goal).


The putter is usually very long, usually made of wood or carbon fiber. Sticks can weigh up to 7,374 kilograms-force, varying in length, type of construction and curvature according to the player’s preference.


The ball made of any type of material (preferably sackcloth) with a circumference between 224 and 235mm and weighs between 156 and 163 grams.


The field is 91.40 meters long and 55 meters wide, divided by a central line and with another one 23 meters from each bottom line. The goal is 2.14 meters high and 3.66 meters wide.


A unique feature of field hockey is the obstruction rule. In most other sports, protecting the ball with the body is not only allowed, it is part of the player’s strategy. In field hockey, however, protecting the ball with the body is only allowed when the ball is in motion. In this way all players have the same chance of having control of the ball, when there is a dribble or a pass.

Other infractions include touching the ball with some part of the body (only the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball with his hands or legs), using the stick in a dangerous way and launching the ball dangerously in the direction of a player.


Normally, when an infraction is scored, the team that suffered it is entitled to a free kick from the place where it was scored. However, if the foul occurs within the kick area, or if it is an intentional foul of the defense, behind his 23-meter line, a short corner is marked.

The short corner is a free kick from the attack, hit from the end line at a distance of 10 meters from the goal post, and every attacker must be outside the kick area. Only five defenders can stay behind the end line, while the others must stay behind the midfield line. The advantage is all of the attack, which only needs the ball to leave the shooting area before launching it into the goal and for that purpose performs a series of previously tested plays to deceive the defenders.

Any intentional foul within the kick area results in a penalty in favor of the attack. The penalty is taken at a distance of 6.4 meters from the goal and the player may only take one step to push the ball (it is not allowed to hit the penalty) towards the goal, after being authorized by the referee.

In relation to the fouls, the referees can punish the players with three types of cards, which are applied according to the seriousness of the infraction committed. The green card serves to warn a player of his unsportsmanlike conduct. The next level is the yellow card, which leads to a temporary suspension of the player, leaving the referee to determine the duration of the suspension. Suspended players must leave the field and cannot be replaced. And in extreme cases the referee uses the red card, which excludes the player for the rest of the game.