Shaun Robinson


London Olympics 31072012Womens Hockey, USA v Argentina

Photo: Grant Treeby
Keli Smith-Puzo, a player on the US women’s field hockey team, gets ready to hit the ball. At the Rio Olympics this year, the US team placed fifth, an impressive jump from their 12th place standing at the 2012 London Olympics.

Field hockey season is in full swing (no pun intended) here at North.  Let’s take a look at some interesting, and perhaps eye-opening, facts about this sport.


1 – Field hockey is a popular men’s sport outside the US.

In major international tournaments, including the Olympics, there are competitions for both men and women.  In the US, however, field hockey is almost entirely a women’s sport at the high school and college levels.


2 – In field hockey is the third most popular sport in the world.

The most popular sport is soccer, followed by cricket.


3 – There are only right-handed sticks.

Field hockey players are only allowed to use one side of the stick, the flat side, when dribbling or hitting the ball.


4 – Outside of North America, the sport is just called “Hockey.”

Field hockey is just one of a variety of sports under the umbrella of “hockey.”  Others include ice hockey, roller hockey, sledge hockey, and street hockey.  Oh, and don’t forget everyone’s favorite gym unit: floor hockey.


5 – Players can receive green, yellow, and red cards for rule violations.

Green cards are for minor infractions, and result in a 2-minute suspension.  Yellow cards, for more serious fouls, result in a 5-10 minute suspension.  A red card means a player is permanently suspended from the game, without substitution.


6 – There are 11 players per side, including the goalkeeper.

The game is very dynamic, and players often move all over the field.  This means it is important for field players to be comfortable in many different positions.


7 – There is a men’s and women’s Field Hockey World Cup every four years

Pakistan is the most successful men’s team, while The Netherlands has dominated the women’s tournament.  The competition is held every four years, the most recent being in 2014.


8 – Australia and The Netherlands are among the best national teams in the world, both for men and women.

Argentina also has a strong women’s team.  India and Pakistan’s men’s teams have had success historically.


9 – The US women’s team placed 5th at the Rio 2016 games.

The US men’s field hockey team has not competed at the Olympics since the Atlanta 1996 games, when they finished last place in the tournament.


10 – There is an indoor variation of field hockey, played on a hardwood surface.

There are several major differences between outdoor and indoor.  Both the playing field and goals are smaller for indoor field hockey, and teams play with 6 rather than 11 players.  The game is also much faster paced—players are able to hit the ball off of raised barriers around the field.

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