Olympic field hockey was first contested at the 1908 London games, therefore enjoying a homecoming of sorts this summer. For many years, hockey was a male only Olympic sport, but the ladies joined the fray with the Moscow Olympics in 1980.
This year, men and women will each have 12 teams in their events.
The sport has been played for much longer than 100 years, however, as field hockey is commonly credited with origins dating to thousands of years ago. As the game has grown and evolved, so has its terminology.
Below are 10 common terms to help the beginning fan understand field hockey during the Games of the XXX Olympiad:
1. Match - A match consists of two halves, each lasting 35 minutes. Simply enough, the team with the most goals at the end of regulation time is the winner. Games can go to sudden-death overtime only in the knockout stage; ties in pool play result in draws.
2. Pitch - Field of play for hockey; for the Olympics, the venue will be the Riverbank Arena in Olympic Park. The dimensions are 91.4m long and 55m wide; goals are 3.66m wide and 2.14m tall. The field of play in major international events (including the Olympics) used to be grass, but is now a synthetic surface, which is much faster and consistent.
3. Team - A hockey team consists of 11 players on the field at once, usually 10 field players and a goalkeeper. Five substitutes are allowed to be used throughout the game, for a total of 16 players on the team.
4. Cards - Similar to soccer, cards may be given to players that continuously break the rules. Hockey has its own system, however -- a green card is a warning, yellow signifies that a player must sit out for at least five and maybe more minutes at the umpire's discretion, and red means that the player is disqualified. When a team has a player suspended, it must play shorthanded.
5. Shooting Circle - "D" shaped area surrounding the goal; players must be inside of this area in order to have a shot on goal count if it finds the mark.
6. Penalty Corner - Generally the result of a foul in the shooting circle, the ball is struck from the backline and must pass out of the circle before being pushed back in and a shot attempted. Often, the goal of the attacking team is to stop the ball just outside of the circle and have it pushed in and set-up by one player, then the shot is taken by another player. As the ball is pushed out, five defenders will rush out from the goal line to try to block the shot or take the ball.
7. Penalty Stroke - Taken from 6.4 meters in front of the goal, the player taking the shot shoots against a goalie without any other defenders. Match time is stopped while a penalty stroke is taken; usually awarded for fouls in the circle which prevent goals.
8. Backboard - 460mm tall, this board must be dark in color and runs across the bottom of the back of the goal. If the first shot is hit (rather than scooped or lifted) after a penalty corner, the goal only counts if the ball strikes below the top of this board.
9. Tagging - Term used in hockey that means the same as marking: to track, cover or otherwise prevent a player from being able to receive the ball.
10. Bully - Term used for a face-off play that restarts a match after a stoppage that results in no foul. Two players from opposing teams will stand and hold their sticks on the ground, tap sticks, and then contest one another for the ball. Other players must stay back at least 5 meters until play has resumed.
The author eagerly looks forward to and enjoys the Olympics, having become a fan during the 1984 Los Angeles games. He has also been a lifelong participant in various sports as a player, fan, coach and parent.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- field hockey