Youth field hockey is a sport that has become more and more popular and is being introduced to kids in many Australian schools.
Field Hockey may not be a sport many parents are familiar with, so if your child comes home and informs you that they want to start playing field hockey, you may be at a loss as to what to do next, what equipment will they need, and how do you even play field hockey?
In this article we will help relieve your concerns by outlining exactly what’s needed to get your child started in field hockey and what the game is all about.
How Is Hockey Played
The first thing you probably want to understand about hockey is the rules and objectives of the game, so when you’re out there cheering on your child you have some idea of what’s going on.
Field Hockey is very similar to soccer in the sense that teams are made up 11 players and the objective of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team. A ball is used to score a goal by shooting and passing as in soccer but instead of using your feet, a stick is used to navigate a smaller ball around the field and ultimately into the goal.
A goal counts as one point and is scored when the ball, having been hit by a player inside the “striking circle”, completely crosses the opposing teams goal line between the posts. The team with the most amount of goals in the allocated time period wins the game.
A game is divided up into two halves, each consisting of 35 minutes with a break at half time. Teams switch playing sides at halftime.
Hockey teams for younger kids are usually made up of less players and the games are shorter, ranging anywhere from 15 -25 minutes for each half.
Each team will normally divide it’s players into 3 groups known as the defence, the midfield and the attack. Attackers are the teams primary goal scorers, midfielders are responsible for moving the ball from the defense up to the attackers and the defense help keep the ball out of the striking circle by passing it up to the midfielders.
Understanding Hockey Lingo
Now that you’ve got a grasp on how hockey is played, it’s going to be very helpful to understand the rules and lingo used during a game. With all the stops and starts and whistle blowing that goes on particularly in youth hockey, it can get quite confusing trying to work out what’s going on.
A foul play is when a player breaks the rules and results in a free hit or “penalty corner” for the opposing team. Some of these rules are:
- Players may not trip, push, charge or physically handle another player in any way.
- Players may not intentionally use their stick to hit another players stick or strike the ball with the back side of the stick.
- Players may not raise the stick above the shoulders while playing the ball.
- Players cannot stand still and shield the ball when an opponent is attempting to tackle. They must either pass the ball or keep moving in any direction.
When a foul has been called, a free shot is awarded to the opposite team and is taken from where the foul occurred. The most common foul in youth field hockey is when the ball hit’s a players foot.
When a defense player either commits a foul inside the striking circle or intentionally hits the ball out of bounds and a free hit is awarded to the team on offense. A penalty corner is taken by an attack player from the back line 10 metres from the nearest goal post. The ball is hit towards the offensive teammates waiting on the outside of the striking circle ready to take a shot at goal. Only once the ball is in play can the offensive team run up to help defend the goal.
So now you got some understanding of how field hockey is played and the rules of the game, the only thing left is to get your child all ready for their first game.
The most obvious piece of equipment your child will need to play is a hockey stick. Composite hockey sticks are lighter and are great to start with. Getting your child a good quality stick that is the right size will improve your child’s performance which will foster a love for the game.
The most important thing your child will need to play field hockey is a mouth guard. Field hockey is a non contact sport but accidents can happen, especially when kids are learning, so a mouth guard is a must have.
Another must have for protection are shin pads. Shin pads are worn under the socks to prevent any injuries that may be caused by opponents sticks during tackles.
Your child will also need appropriate footwear. Hockey boots have stoppers also known as cleats on the bottom of the shoes to help them grip to the surface they are playing on and are important part of their uniform.
Hopefully this guide has given you a better understanding of what youth field hockey is and what you’re child will need to get involved.