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Trust in Learning. Trust in Success.


GB Hockey - Demands of International Hockey



Key safety points

  • The stick must not be raised above waist height.
  • The ball must not be deliberately lifted off the ground.
  • If the ball is in the air, you cannot swing and hit it, you can only direct it straight down to the ground.

If you’ve watched top level hockey, you may have noticed that the top players are allowed to do the things listed above. However, they are skilled enough to do so safely. We aren’t yet. Top players also wear gum shields and shin-pads, and we encourage you to wear these if you have them.


Key rules

  • The ball must not touch the back of the stick. It can only touch the front – the flat side.
  • Outfield players cannot use their feet to control or pass the ball. If they do so and gain an advantage it is called a foul. However, if the ball hits the feet of a player and they don’t gain an advantage the referee will play on.
  • The goalkeeper is allowed to use their feet in proper hockey, but they also get to wear big protective shoes when they play, so we are unlikely to let you use your feet in goal.
  • The game is started, and re-started after a goal, with a push-back from the centre of the pitch.
  • Goals can only be scored from inside the shooting circle - a semi-circular area in front of the opponents' goal. This is sometimes referred to as ‘The D’.
  • Goals scored from outside this area are disallowed.
  • Hockey is an 11-a-side game, with 10 outfield players and a goalkeeper. In lessons we will usually play smaller-sided games to enable you to have more touches of the ball and improve your skills more.
  • These are the dimensions of a proper hockey pitch. We don’t have all these markings on our courts, but this does at least give you an idea of what the proper markings look like.



There are three types of penalties in hockey.

The type awarded will depend on the seriousness of the offence and the location on the pitch where it took place.


  • 1. FREE HIT: Given for a technical offence in open play, such as use of feet or back of the stick. Taken from close to where the offence occurred, but opposition players must be given time to move back five metres. If the hit is within five metres of the circle, all players except the person taking the free hit must be five metres away.
  • 2. PENALTY CORNER: Given for a minor offence inside the shooting circle or an intentional foul within the 22m area. Taken from the back line between the 10m mark and the circle edge.

A penalty corner is also awarded if a defender intentionally plays the ball over the back line.

  • 3. PENALTY STROKE: For a more serious offence inside the shooting circle, such as illegally stopping a probable goal. Taken from the spot directly in front of goal.


Some more rules to learn

  • You cannot make a ‘stick tackle’, which means that you can only use your stick to hit the ball, not to hit an opponent’s stick.
  • Tackling should be ‘one on one’, so if two people (one from each side) are tackling for the ball, you can’t go in and join them.
  • Obstruction. This is awarded against a hockey player who uses their body or stick to prevent an opponent from reaching the ball.
  • From any restart, other than a Penalty Corner, players can ‘self-pass’. This is different to football and means you can play the ball to yourself to re-start the game.
  • If an offence is caused by an attacker in the ‘D’, or they hit it out the back of the pitch, then it is a ’16 yard hit out’ for the defending team. In this scenario, the defending team take the ball to the edge of the ‘D’ directly in line with the offence. It’s the same principle as a goal kick in football.


Corners –

  • If a defender or the keeper knocks the ball out, a long corner is awarded (at the corner of the pitch, 5m up the side line, there is a dash, that is the long corner mark). This is similar to a corner in football, so all the attackers and defenders can stand where they wish.
  • However, if the defender or keeper DELIBERATELY knocks the ball off the back line, or a defender uses their feet in the D, it is a ‘penalty corner’, usually called a short corner.
  • At a short corner the goalkeeper and 4 defenders line up behind their goal line. All other payers in the defending team must be over the halfway line. The attacking team must all be outside the 16 yard area when one player hits the ball to them from 10 yards either side of the goal line. As the ball is played back a team mate stops the ball before another strikes at goal.
  • When the attacking player on the back line pushes the ball into play, the players may then enter the shooting circle or cross the centre line. Before a shot at goal can be taken, the ball must first travel outside the circle and be stopped. In a typical penalty corner, the attacking player on the back line will push the ball to a player at the top of the circle who will stop the ball just outside the circle. Another player will take the stopped ball and push or drag it back into the circle before attempting to shoot at goal (as per normal rules, the ball must be last played by an attacking player within the shooting circle for a goal to count).