Hockey facts: the playing area and players

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Hockey has been played in various guises since time immemorial but it was only in the 1860s that the first hockey club was founded, Blackheath HC. Fast forward to today and there are nearly 1,000 clubs with many more school and community teams making hockey one of the UK’s most popular team sports. The success of the England teams in recent Olympics has also raised hockey’s profile (at the London 2012 Olympics, hockey was the third most spectated sport!) and more and more people are returning to the sport. Hockey is, in fact, the second most popular sport in the world.

Field hockey and ice hockey

There have been a number of changes in recent years starting in the 1960s/70s when fluid fixture lists were replaced by league hockey, rule changes and improvements to sticks and balls, indoor hockey being introduced and a change to artificial pitches from traditional grass pitches. Of course, there is also ice hockey as an option for those looking to do something different.

The game

What hasn’t changed is the basic concept of the game. There are 11 players per team who play on a pitch of 91m by 55m (100yds x 60yds) and the object of the game is to score more goals than the other team – is a great site to visit if you would like to know more about the history of hockey and what’s happening in the hockey world today.

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Each team is made up of a goalie and 10 other players who are divided into attackers, midfielders and defenders. Similar in fact to football but players can’t use their feet (or hands) to play the ball. The goalie is the only person who can use their stick, hands and feet during a match.

Hockey training is based around fitness and technical drills with hockey drill videos being a useful recent addition to a coach’s armoury. is a useful resource for coaches looking to add something new to their training regimes.

The ball used in hockey is 23cm in circumference and players wear protective clothing (particularly the goalie!) to ensure that injuries are kept to a minimum. Each match is divided into two halves which usually last 35 minutes each. The match begins with a non-defended pass at midfield from one player to another.

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