hockey, field, outdoor stick and ball game. Field hockey, like many sports, is of obscure origins, but traces in one form or another to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, making it one of the world's oldest known sports. London's Wimbledon Hockey Club (organized 1883) standardized the game after many centuries of informal play in England, and it thereafter spread to other countries, particularly those in Europe and the British empire. Men have played field hockey in the United States since 1890, but the Field Hockey Association of America, which regulates men's play, was not formed until 1930, and the sport continues to appeal very little to American males. In Olympic competition, where men's field hockey first appeared in 1908, India, Great Britain, and Pakistan have dominated. Although the sport has been very popular among high school and collegiate women in the United States since 1901, particularly in the East, it has been a women's Olympic event only since 1980.

Rules for men and women are essentially the same. The game is played on a level field, measuring 50 to 60 yd by 90 to 100 yd (46 to 55 m by 82 to 91 m), by two teams of 11 players each (five forwards, three halfbacks, two fullbacks, and a goalkeeper). A face-off in the center of the field starts the game. Teams direct their play toward advancing the ball—made of white leather over a cork and twine center and about 9 in. (23 cm) in circumference—down the field with their sticks (wooden, with a flat head on only one side of the striking surface). A point is scored by putting the ball through goal posts, which are 7 ft (2.13 m) high, 12 ft (3.66 m) apart, and joined by a net. Play can be physically punishing and fouls result in penalty strokes and free hits.

See M. J. Barnes and R. G. Kentwall, Field Hockey (2d ed. 1978).

hockey, ice, team sport in which players use sticks to propel a hard, round disk into a net-backed goal.

Rules and Equipment

Ice hockey is played on a rectangular rink with curved corners whose length may vary from 184 to 200 ft (56-61 m), its width from 85 to 98 ft (26-30 m). Six players—a goalie, a center, two defensemen, and two forwards—all of whom are on ice skates, make up a team. The rink is surrounded on all sides by walls 31/2 to 4 ft (1.06-1.22 m) high. The goal mouths are 4 ft (1.22 m) high and 6 ft (1.83 m) wide and are set 10 ft (3.05 m) out from each end of the rink, which is divided by colored lines in the ice into three zones (attacking, neutral, and defending) that are each 60 ft (18.29 m) long. A puck, once made of rubber but now of composite material, 1 in. (2.54 cm) thick and 3 in. (7.62 cm) in diameter, and frozen to reduce resiliency, is the object used in play. The weight, size, and shape of the sticks used to hit the puck are standardized. After a face-off (the dropping of the puck between two opposing players by an official), the team in possession of the puck seeks to maneuver it past the other team and into its net. Each goal counts one point. The game is divided into three 20-min periods; overtime periods in case of ties are used in certain professional games. In this fast and body-bruising sport, players use heavy protective equipment, and there is unlimited substitution. A player detected by the referee in roughing, tripping, high-sticking, or other violations must spend two minutes (a minor penalty) or more (major penalties) off the ice in the penalty box, and his team must continue play shorthanded. Linesmen, goal judges, a timekeeper, and a scorer also officiate.

The National Hockey League

The modern game originated in Canada in the 1800s, and the first modern indoor hockey game was played in Montreal in 1875. By the 1890s it had become extremely popular and had spread to the United States. Since 1917 the National Hockey League (NHL), with teams in both countries, has been the primary professional association. The rival World Hockey Association (WHA), launched in 1972, ceased operation in 1979; several of its 12 teams gained entry to the NHL. The NHL's current 30 teams play in two conferences, the Eastern and Western, each with three divisions. Though most NHL players have always been Canadian, an increasing number of players from the United States and Europe have appeared since the 1980s. Teams vie for the Stanley Cup—originally donated to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (1893) by Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley—the NHL's championship trophy and the symbol of world professional supremacy. In recent years the NHL has been marked by contentious labor relations, leading to a strike in 1992 and lockouts in 1994-95 and 2004-5, the last so prolonged as to cancel the season.

International and Amateur Play

The NHL long regarded itself as the world's elite, but the overwhelming superiority of the Soviet Union in international amateur play in the 1960s led to a dramatic 1972 summit series between Team Canada (Canadian NHL players) and the Soviet national team. With their reputation on the line, the NHL stars narrowly won the series 4-3-1. Two years later the Soviets crushed a WHA All-Star team. In 1976-91 six of the world's major hockey powers competed in the periodic Canada Cup, a tournament the NHL and its player association organized. The Canadians won four times (1976, 1984, 1987, 1991) and the Soviets once (1981). The first World Cup, an eight-team expansion introduced in 1996, was won by the United States. The International Ice Hockey Federation (founded 1908) is the governing body for Olympic competition (begun in 1920) and world tournaments held annually since 1930 (but no longer contested in Olympic years). From the early 1960s through 1990 the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia dominated both. Although Canada has an elaborate system of amateur hockey leagues, the country has not excelled in international amateur hockey since the early 1950s, mainly because the best Canadian players quickly turn professional. The distinction between amateur and professional, however, is disappearing. In 1998 professionals played in the Olympics for the first time, as did women. Hockey at U.S. colleges has also been gaining in popularity; the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships, held since 1948, are now widely followed.


See Stan and Shirley Fischler, Everybody's Hockey Book (1983).

Hockey is any of a family of sports in which two teams compete by trying to maneuver a ball, or a hard, round, rubber or heavy plastic disc called a puck, into the opponent's net or goal, using a hockey stick.

Field hockey

Field hockey is played on gravel, natural grass, sand-based or water-based artificial turf, with a small, hard ball. The game is popular among both males and females in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South Africa. In most countries, the game is played between single-sex sides, although they can be mixed-sex. The governing body is the 116-member International Hockey Federation (FIH). Men's Field hockey has been played at each summer Olympic Games since 1908 (except 1912 and 1924), while Women's Field Hockey has been played each summer Olympic Games since 1980.

Modern field hockey sticks are J-shaped and constructed of a composite of wood, glass fibre or carbon fibre (sometimes both) and have a curved hook at the playing end, a flat surface on the playing side and curved surface on the rear side. There are 4000-year-old drawings in Egypt of a game resembling field hockey being played. While current field hockey appeared in the mid-18th century in England, primarily in schools, it was not until the first half of the 19th century that it became firmly established. The first club was created in 1849 at Blackheath in south-east London. Field hockey is the national sport of India and Pakistan.

Ice hockey

Ice hockey is played on a large flat area of ice, using a three inch (76.2 mm) diameter vulcanized rubber disc called a puck. This puck is often frozen before high-level games to decrease the amount of bouncing and friction on the ice. The game is contested between two teams of skaters. The game is played all over North America, Europe and in many other countries around the world to varying extent. It is the most popular sport in Canada, where it is the national sport, Finland, the Czech Republic, and in Sweden.

The governing body is the 64-member International Ice Hockey Federation, (IIHF). Men's ice hockey has been played at the Winter Olympics since 1924, and was in the 1920 Summer Olympics. Women's ice hockey was added to the Winter Olympics in 1998. North America's National Hockey League (NHL) is the strongest professional ice hockey league, drawing top ice hockey players from around the globe. The NHL rules are slightly different from those used in Olympic ice hockey: the periods are 20 minutes long, counting downwards. There are three periods. Ice hockey sticks are long L-shaped sticks made of wood, graphite, or composites with a blade at the bottom that can lie flat on the playing surface when the stick is held upright and can curve either way, legally, as to help a left- or right-handed player gain an advantage. There are early representations and reports of ice hockey-type games being played on ice in the Netherlands, and reports from Canada from the beginning of the nineteenth century, but the modern game was initially organized by students at McGill University, Montreal in 1875 who, by two years later, codified the first set of ice hockey rules and organized the first teams.

Ice hockey is played at a number of levels, by all ages.

Roller hockey (inline)

Inline hockey is a variation of roller hockey very similar to ice hockey, from which it is derived. Inline hockey is played by two teams, consisting of four skaters and one goalie, on a dry rink divided into two halves by a center line, with one net at each end of the rink. The game is played in three 15-minute periods with a variation of the ice hockey off-side rule. Icings are also called, but are usually referred to as illegal clearing. For rink dimensions and an overview of the rules of the game, see IIHF Inline Rules (official rules). Some leagues and competitions do not follow the IIHF regulations, in particular USA Inline and Canada Inline

Roller hockey (quad)

Roller hockey (quad) is the overarching name for a roller sport that has existed since long before inline skates were invented. Roller hockey has been played in sixty countries worldwide and so has many names worldwide. The sport is also known as quad hockey, hóquei em patins, international style ball hockey, rink hockey and hardball hockey. Roller Hockey was a demonstration roller sport at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics.

Street Hockey

Another form of popular hockey is Street Hockey, sometimes known as road hockey. This is usually played with the same rules as ice hockey, or roller hockey, except it is on the street. Most of the time, a ball is used instead of a puck, because a puck behaves erratically and would be too difficult to hit on an asphalt or cement surface. Street hockey is played year round.

Other forms of hockey

Other games derived from hockey or its predecessors include the following:

  • Air hockey is played indoors with a puck on an air-cushion table.
  • Ball hockey is played in a gym using sticks and a ball, often a tennis ball with the fuzz removed.
  • Unicycle Hockey is similar to roller or inline hockey, however, each player must be mounted on their unicycle (with both feet on the pedals) to play at the ball.
  • Bandy is played with a ball on a football-sized ice arena, typically outdoors. It is in some ways field hockey played on ice, but bandy has in fact more in common with association football (soccer).
  • Box Hockey is a school yard game played by two people. The object of the game is to move a hockey puck from the center of the box out through a hole placed at the end of the box (known as the goal). Each player kneels and faces one another on either side of the box, and each attempts to move the puck to their left. If a player succeeds in getting the puck to exit the box through the goal, the player scores one point. The first player to score 11 points wins the game.
  • Broomball is played on an ice hockey rink, but with a ball instead of a puck and a "broom" (actually a stick with a small plastic implement on the end) in place of the ice hockey stick. Instead of using skates, special shoes are used that have very soft rubbery soles to maximize grip while running around.
  • Floorball, is a form of hockey played in a gymnasium or in sport halls. A whiffle ball is used instead of a plastic ball, and the sticks are made from composite materials. The sticks are only one meter long, allowing better stickhandling, and making the game a whole lot safer. It is very popular in Europe, and is widely recognized as the world's fastest growing sport.
  • Foot hockey or Sock hockey is played using a bald tennis ball or rolled up pair of socks and using only the feet. It is popular at elementary schools in the winter.
  • Gym hockey is a form of ice hockey played in a gymnasium. It uses sticks with foam ends and a foam ball or a plastic puck.
  • Hurling and Camogie are Irish games bearing some resemblance to - and notable differences from - hockey.
  • Indoor field hockey is an indoor variation of field hockey.
  • Mini hockey (Popularly known as "Mini-Sticks") is a form of hockey which is played in basements of houses. Players get down on their knees, using a miniature plastic stick, usually about 15 inches (38 cm) long and a small blue ball or a soft, fabric covered mini puck. They shoot into miniature goals as well. This is popular throughout North America, though it has not yet made the jump to Europe. In England this refers to a seven-a-side version of Field Hockey, played on an area equivalent to half a normal pitch for younger players, see Minkey (Mini Hockey)
  • Nok Hockey is a table-top version of hockey played with no defense and a small block in front of the goal.
  • PowerHockey is a form of hockey for persons requiring the use of an electric (power) wheelchair in daily life. PowerHockey is a competitive sports opportunity for the physically disabled.
  • Ringette is an ice hockey variant that was designed for female players; it uses a straight stick and a rubber ring in place of a puck. Note: Ringette distances itself from hockey as it has its own set of rules and is closely related to a mix of lacrosse and basketball.
  • Rinkball is a Scandinavian team sport, played in an ice hockey rink with a ball.
  • Rossall Hockey is a variation played at Rossall School on the sea shore in the winter months. Its rules are a mix of field hockey, Rugby and the Eton Wall Game.
  • Shinny is an informal version of ice hockey.
  • Shinty is a Scottish Highlands game
  • Skater hockey is a variant of inline hockey, played with a ball.
  • Sledge hockey is a form of ice hockey played by the disabled. The players sit on sleds, and push themselves up and down the ice with picks on the butt end of their shortened hockey sticks. The game is played with many of the same rules as regular ice hockey.
  • Spongee is a cross between ice hockey and broomball and is most popular in Manitoba, Canada. A stick and puck are used as in hockey (the puck is a softer version called a "sponge puck"), and the same soft-soled shoes used in broomball are worn. The rules are basically the same as ice hockey, but one variation has an extra player on the ice called a "rover".
  • Street Hockey Is played on a concrete court.
  • Table hockey is played indoors with a table-top game.
  • Underwater hockey is played on the bottom of a swimming pool.


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