Hockey Rules For Beginners | How To Play Hockey In 2021

A sport is an important part and parcel of our life. Over the years many different forms of games, be it indoor or outdoor has been invented. One of the oldest known sports that is played worldwide is Hockey.

From India, China, Pakistan on the eastern hemisphere to Great Britain and America in the west and New Zealand and Australia down South, almost all nations have some or the other forms of Hockey being played.

Since 1928 Hockey has been included in the Olympic Games, and it indeed has become one of the most attended sports events since.

History of the Hockey Game:

Various early medieval centuries have accounted for games remarkably similar to the present day game of Hockey. Some recorded ancient events recording the details of the game are:


  • In ancient Greece, people used to play a game which was very much similar to Hockey. This game was performed with a horn instead of a stick and a ball. Even though researchers disagree entirely on the image but generally it is a team activity.
  • It was also played in China long ago, during the Ming dynasty. It was quite similar to field hockey or ground billiards, and it was called as Suigan.
  • Under the name of Khido Khundi, Hockey was also played in Punjab, India around the 17th century. Khido is the woolen ball, and Khundi is the stick.
  • The people from Chile, South America also played a similar game, which was called as Chueca, and it was around the 16th century.

Rules to be followed during a Hockey Match: 

Present day Hockey is also somewhat similar but modified according to the modern day needs.

Instead of horns and woolen balls, proper gears are used which includes a Hockey stick that resembles an elongated J alphabet and a Hockey ball and usually the entire tenure of the game is 60 minutes.

Previously the game time was 70 minutes, but the National Hockey Federation reduced it to 60 minutes with 2 intermissions every 20 minutes.


  • The game consists of 11 players in total with a Goalkeeper who is responsible for preventing the ball of the opposing team from reaching the Goalpost.
  • Safety is an essential factor to be considered in the game of Hockey. Proper gear is thus required at all time during the play time. Mouth Guard is mandatory for all the players. In addition to the mouth guard, bodysuit and helmet are compulsory for the goalkeeper. This is because of the chances of injury or even death due to the flying ball is indeed a typical scenario if the goalkeeper is not under protection.
  • Members of a team have to wear the same jersey during the playoff. The only exception is their jersey number which is the same as the number mentioned in the roster. It gives better visibility and also allows better differentiation of teams during the game. The goalkeeper needs to wear a different color jersey than the group as instructed by the Team management.
  • No other pieces of jewelry or accessories are allowed on the field.
  • The shoes are worn, and the ball and sticks used during the game are specifically designed as per the regulatory norms of the Hockey Regulation Committee.
  • At a time only 11 players of each team can be on the ground. Rests of the players are in the waiting arena. They can be on the field in case of dismissal of a player due to a specific reason.
  • Care should be taken never to fight or pass any lewd comments during the game. Any disturbances can result in drastic measures from the Federations end.
  • During a playoff, players can be subbed in or out any number of times depending upon the requirement of the game. The penalty corner and between the award are two particular spots where substitution of players can be done at any time depending on the needs of the team.
  • Only if the inserter touches the hockey ball, a substitute player can be placed inside the game arena.
  • During the entire time of the playoff, the ball should never be stuck at a high velocity as that can result in injury. More importantly hard and fast hit to the ball can cause difficulty in controlling the direction of the movement of the ball.
  • Hands can never be used in the game of Hockey. The Hockey stick is the only instrument one can use in the field to move the ball around the game field.
  • Dribbling is another significant action that needs to be perfected well before implementing in the field. In simple language, Dribbling is a continuous forward movement of the ball by continually pushing it from left to right and vice versa using the hockey stick. Some of the dribbling techniques used in Hockey are Dribbling Pull Back, reverse Sided, One-handed Dribbling, Indian Dribble, Straight Dribble, and Loose Dribble.
  • The coach should remain in the “coach area” while giving instructions to the players. Any degradory remarks or temper tantrums can lead to dismissal of the coach.
  • Prolonged dribbling by a single player is not allowed in Hockey and can result in passing the ball off to the player of the opposition as per the regulation.
  • During play, it is necessary to remember that one can never forcefully obstruct another player who is about to hit the ball.
  • Shot at Goal commonly known as SOG is the ultimate goal of any Hockey player. However, during the game, any unethical practice like forceful shoving or using hands or legs to disrupt the movement of the player and even utilizing the Hockey stick for disturbing any flow of the opposition team can result in a loss rather than win.
  • Free Hit is also an essential factor that can alter the game decision. Whenever a foul occurs in a game, the team has to take a free hit. The free hit is taken from the exact spot where the penalty occurred.  The opposition stands at a distant of 5 yards from the ball ready to stop the ball immediately after being hit.
  • Players are always strictly instructed not to take any performance enhancement potions or drugs during or up to 48 hrs prior to the game. It is known in-game circuit as Doping, this is a serious offense, which can result in changing the verdict or even a winning game.
  • Just like Soccer, the game of Hockey also follows the fundamental principle of ‘the team with maximum goals within the allotted time frame wins.

However, if both the teams are at a draw by the end of match time, Penalty Shootout is called for. Penalty Shootout includes 5 goals from each side.

A preselected list of 5 shooters from each team is called upon the field. One player from each team takes a shot at the goal alternately. The main aim of the Goalkeeper of the opposition is to stop the goal from happening.

The shooter has to shoot the ball within 8 seconds of blowing the whistle. At the end of 5 strikes, the team with maximum goals is decided as the winning team.

An important point to remember is that hat trick is a scenario in hockey where a player scores 3 consecutive goals without any interruption from players of the same or the opposition team.

The fastest hat trick goal ever recorded by the National Hockey League was in 1952 by Bill Mosienka for the famous Chicago Blackhawks.

The Rules of Penalties

The penalty is an integral part of the game of Hockey that is often regarded as the maker or breaker of the match. More commonly known as the “Punishment” within the gaming community Penalty is of many types.

Minor Penalty, Major Penalty and Game Misconduct Penalty are the three significant variations.


Minor Penalty 

2 minutes Minor Penalty is given in case of Tripping, elbowing, roughing, game delaying, hooking, high sticking, kneeing, spearing, boarding, on ground misconduct, interfering, slashing, check from behind and holding.The double minor 4-minute penalty is given in case of bleeding of any player during the game.

Major Penalty 

Five Minutes Major penalty or 10 minutes Major Penalty is assigned to a player in case of fights on the field during the game or hitting another player.

Game Misconduct Penalty is the Most Severe form of Penalty

In this case, the player is dismissed from the game entirely.  A suspension can also be the final verdict of this Penalty. The reasons for this can be many like misconduct, unethical practice, etc.


The governing body that handles rules and regulation of the game of Hockey is The International Hockey Federation.

Setting the exact rules and regulations of the game and deciding the exact specifications of the instruments used during the playoff are regulated and observed by this specific governing body worldwide.

Though there are numerous variants of Hockey played worldwide, like Indoor Hockey and Ice Hockey, The most commonly performed modification is the Field Hockey.

It is one of the most amazing games that can not only improve the physical aspect of an individual but also enhance their tactical and reflex skills. Being one of the oldest games ever played, being a part of Hockey Game is indeed very respect worthy decision.

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A passionate blogger! Editor at Chooserly, and a regular author at HuffingtonPost, LifeHacker & Forbes!

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