hockey is very similar to soccer in terms of strategy —
defence and positioning, in fact, is at the heart of the
sport, which is played on a pitch nearly the size of a
soccer field. Offensive opportunities are further
minimized by the fact that goals can be scored only from
within the goal circle. However, the elimination of the
offside rule in 1998 was designed to encourage offense,
and has led to more wide open and exciting play and an
increase in goals per game. In addition to the offside
rule being removed, umpires have been instructed to
avoid stopping the game for fouls, such as the ball
touching the foot of a player, if no benefit is gained.
The ball can now also be played with the edge of the
stick, as opposed to only with the flat part of it,
allowing new ways to strike the ball at the goal.
Another rule implementation to quicken the pace of the
game is the rolling substitution, whereas before,
players had to wait for a stoppage in play for
Field Hockey Positions
There are four positions in field hockey: forwards,
defenders, midfielders and goalkeepers. Forwards are the
offensive players who attempt to score goals and the
defenders protect their net. Midfielders, as in soccer,
are the link between defenders and forwards. They also
can play a checking role, as they try to clog the middle
of the field. The goalkeeper is the last line of defence
on the pitch.
Despite a renewed emphasis on scoring, games can be very
defensive with attackers struggling to break free of
defenders. Players patrol the pitch looking for open
space to break free on offense while players try to
maintain close proximity on the defensive side. The top
nations in field hockey usually possess one or two
game-breakers: superbly talented players who can make
the difference by using their speed to find open space
and take full advantage of the rare chances to score.
Capitalizing on penalty corners and penalties can also
profoundly affect the outcome. Teams that can
consistently cash in on these scoring opportunities give
themselves a strong chance for victory.
Field Hockey Physiology
Field hockey players tend to be slim and are built for
endurance and speed. Superb hand-eye coordination for
ball-handling skills is necessary, as is great agility
for maneuvering around opponents and ball striking.