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Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Wednesday, 5 October 2005 14:42 UK
Hockey guide

Basics of the game


The aim of the game is simple - to hit the ball into the opponents' net. The team scoring the most goals wins.

To score a goal the ball must pass between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar.

If both teams score the same amount or no goals are scored, the match is a draw.

The game is started with a pushback from the centre spot.

A bully-off, where two players line up opposite each other and tap their stick on the ground and then against each other's stick before competing for the ball, is no longer used.

The name hockey derives from the old French word "hoquet" meaning a shepherd's crook

The bully is only used to re-start a match when time or play has been stopped for an injury or for any other reason when no penalty has been awarded.

A game is split into two halves lasting 35 minutes each.

At the beginning of each half play begins with a pass from the centre of the halfway line.

After a goal, the match is restarted in the same way. There is a five minute half-time interval, or longer if previously agreed.


Each goal is worth one point.

They can only be scored from inside the shooting circle - a semi-circular area in front of the opponents' goal.

Goals scored from outside this area are disallowed.


There are 11 players in a hockey team and up to five substitutes.

Every team will usually have a goalkeeper and the other 10 are field players.

The field players can be attackers, defenders or midfielders.

The exact line up will depend on the team strategy and so the exact number of forwards, midfielders and backs will vary.


Hockey is played with a hard ball and emphasis is placed on safety.

Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play.

A ball is considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.


One of the basic rules of hockey is that you can only use the flat side of the stick to hit or control the ball.

They rules say players must "hold their stick and not use it in a dangerous way".

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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