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Basic Field Hockey Rules

The Game:

  • Two halves usually 25 minutes each with a 10 minute half time.
  • 11 players per side, including the goalkeeper.
  • The ball must be passed or dribbled down the field with the flat side of the stick.
  • A goal is scored when an attacker strikes the ball into the goal from within the striking circle.


A player may not:

  • Shield or obstruct the ball from an opponent with the body or stick.  All players must have an equal chance to gain control of the ball as it is dribbled or passed down the field.
  • Play the ball with the rounded side of the stick.
  • Charge, hit, shove or trip an opponent.
  • Play the ball in a potentially dangerous way.
  • Raise the stick above the waist in a dangerous manner while attempting to play or stop the ball.
  • Advance the ball by any means other than with the stick.
  • Stop or deflect the ball in the air or on the ground with any part of the body.
  • Hit, hook, hold or interfere with and opponents stick.

Penalty Corner:

  • In a penalty corner, the ball is placed on the goal line at least 10 yards from the nearest goal post.  One attacking player hits the ball to a teammate just outside the striking circle line.  No shot on goal may be taken until the ball is stopped or comes to rest on the ground outside the circle.  All attackers must be outside the circle before the hit is taken.  On defense, a maximum of five defenders may be behind the goal line while the remaining defenders must be positioned beyond the center line.
  • Typically, the attacking player taking the free hit passes the ball to her teammate positioned outside the striking circle.  An offensive player will stop the ball with the stick while another player will strike the ball at the goal. 
  • A penalty corner is awarded for the following offenses:
    • Any breach of the rule by a defender within the circle that would have resulted in a free hit to the attacking team if the breach had occurred outside the circle.
    • An intentional hit over the goal line by a defender from any part of the field.

16 – Yard Hits:

  • When the attacking team plays the ball over the backline, the defense receives a 16-yard hit.  The free hit is taken 16 yards from the spot where the ball crossed the backline.


The Push-In/Hit In

  • A push-in or hit-in is awarded to the opposition if a player hits the ball over the sideline.  All players and their sticks must be at least 5 yards away from the spot where the ball is put into play.