According to the official website of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, the field hockey events will begin Sunday, July 29 and end Saturday, Aug. 11. They consist of a men's 12-team tournament and a women's 12-team contest. Each field hockey team contains 16 players, 11 starters and five substitutes. Ten of the starters will play in the field and one will serve as a goalie.
Players use "hook-shaped sticks" to move a small, hard ball up and down the field for two 35-minute halves. The squad's objective is to put the ball into the opponent's net for a goal.
At the 2012 London Olympics, the field hockey competitions will rely on rules promulgated by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the governing body for the sport.
Here are 10 FIH rules that fans need to know:
Field: Hockey fields must be 91.4 meters (approximately 100 yards) long and 55 meters (about 60 yards) wide with goalposts at either end.
Shooting Circle: Players can only score a goal when they are within the shooting circle, a "D-shaped" area in front of the goalpost.
Substitutions: There are no limits to the amount of substitutions that a coach can make. The only time a coach cannot substitute players is during penalty corners.
Penalty Corner: As the London Olympics' website notes, if the defending team knocks the ball out of bounds or commits certain other infringements, the opposing team is awarded a penalty corner. It is "taken from the back line, 10m [(approximately 11 yards) to] either side of the nearest goalpost." Only five defenders "are allowed to defend penalty corners."
Penalty Stroke: If a defensive player commits an infraction within the shooting circle, the referee may award the opposing team with a penalty stroke. In these instances, the offensive player gets to take a shot at the net; the goalie is the only defender.
Suspensions: The London Olympics' website states that a player penalty can result in a green card, which is "an automatic two-minute suspension." If an athlete receives two green cards in a game or is flagged with a yellow card (for a more egregious penalty), he or she must serve a five minute suspension. Players can also be suspended for the entire match. The player's team cannot replace that individual; it must play shorthanded until the end of the penalty time.
Impeding or Obstructing: A player cannot obstruct or impede another athlete (eg, by holding onto that person's uniform). The competitor can use the stick to try to steal the ball from another player but only if he or she is in "a position to play the ball without body contact."
Delay of Game: Players cannot try to waste time (use clock) in order to protect a lead or for other reasons.
Knocking the Ball into the Air: A player cannot intentionally use his or her stick to knock the ball into the air unless that individual is attempting a shot on goal.
Playing the Ball When in the Air: "Players must not play the ball with any part of the stick when the ball is above shoulder height[,] except that defenders are permitted to use the stick to stop or deflect a shot at goal at any height."
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The author is a freelance writer who happens to be an avid sports fan. He is not affiliated with any Olympic organizations or field hockey teams.
- Sports & Recreation