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About the game

Hockey 101

Are you new to the sport of hockey and don't know a penalty corner from a red card? Then read on to learn the basics of a sport that is played in more than 150 countries worldwide. 



Hockey is a stick and ball game with origins dating back thousands of years.  It is traditionally played on grass, but more often it is played on synthetic surfaces. Two teams compete using 'hooked' sticks to hit, push, pass and dribble a small, hard ball with one aim in mind - to score a goal by getting the ball past the goalkeeper.



There are 11 players on the pitch with up to five substitutes on the side-line.  Players can substitute virtually at any time and any number of times.


Player positions

Every team has a goalkeeper - although, rarely, a team will play only with field players to put more players into attack.  The other 10 players are called 'field players', and are in three categories - attackers, midfielders and defenders. 


Stick handling

Hockey players must be able to control, pass, push, stop and hit the ball with a hockey stick. This is known as stick work, or stick handling. Keeping the ball under close control is called dribbling. The head of a hockey stick has a rounded side (the right side) and a flat side (the left side). It is only with the flat, left-hand side of the stick and the edges of that side which can be used to play the ball.





No feet!

Field players are not allowed to use their feet (or any other parts of their bodies) to control the ball. Only the goalkeeper is allowed to use hands, feet, etc. to stop or propel the ball when defending in his or her own circle.

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