You are here

A Beginner’s Guide to Hockey

A Beginner's Guide to Hockey

 If you think hockey is a genteel sport only played by school girls, then think again! Read our Beginner’s Guide to Hockey and get ready to fall in love with this fast, fierce sport.


Hockey is one of the oldest known ball and stick games. The name “hockey” comes from the French word “hocquet” meaning shepherd’s crook.

What It’s All About

Hockey is a fast, intense game played by two opposing teams made up of attackers, midfielders, defenders and a goalkeeper.

Players use curved sticks (that resemble shepherd’s crooks) to advance the ball towards the other team’s goal. The team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins.

Each team has 16 players, only 11 of which are permitted on the pitch at any one time. The remaining five players, the substitutes, can be used an unlimited number of times in the course of a game.

Matches are played over two 35 minute halves. If the score is tied at the end of the game a shoot-out competition will commence. Both teams are given five attacking shoot-out attempts to score a goal from the 23 meter line against the opposition’s goalkeeper. If still tied at this point, the teams go into a sudden death shoot-out.

Why You’ll Love Watching Hockey

Hockey is an exhilarating spectacle of speed, tactics and team-work. These fast-paced games will have you on the edge of your seat from start to nail-biting shoot-out finish.

Hockey is hugely popular throughout the Commonwealth, which means some of the world’s best players will be descending on Glasgow Green for 11 days of heated competition at Glasgow 2014.

Blag the Hockey Banter

Suspension card: Suspension cards are given for warnings and suspensions. A green card results in an automatic two-minute suspension, a yellow card is a minimum five minute suspension and a red card is an immediate suspension for a minimum of 16 days.

Shooting circle: A D-shaped arc in front of each goal. Goals can only be scored from within the shooting circle.

Penalty corner: These are awarded for a variety of different infringements by the defending team. Penalty corners are taken from the back line, 10m either side of the nearest goalpost, and only five players are allowed to defend penalty corners.

Video referral: Each team is allowed to ask the video umpire to review decisions made by the pitch umpires that lead to or resulting in a goal. Each team can make unlimited referrals unless it is rejected when they lose their right to future referrals in that given match. Umpires can also make referrals.


India Win Gold at Manchester 2002 

Can’t wait to witness the speed and tactics of the Commonwealth’s best hockey players? Register for ticketing information and get ready to apply for Hockey tickets on the 19 August.

The Glasgow XX Commonwealth Games are now over. This website is closed and for reference purposes only. Some external links may no longer work. For the latest news and information, please visit the Commonwealth Games Federation website.