Beginner's guide to field hockey: Everything you need

Heather Roy

The U.S. men's field hockey team's first appearance was at the Olympics in 1932, where they won a bronze medal.

Everything you’ll need to play field hockey 

Field hockey is a game that involves 11 players per team. Using hockey sticks and a small ball, the aim of the game is to score points into the opponent’s net. The game is particularly popular in Europe, South Asia and New Zealand, where it is generally referred to simply as “hockey.” In the U.S. and Canada, the game is more commonly known as “field hockey” in order to differentiate from the popular game of ice hockey. 

To play field hockey, there are some essentials you’ll need. This guide takes you through everything you should have before stepping onto the hockey field.

Field hockey sticks

Sticks for playing field hockey are generally made from either carbon fiber, fiberglass or wood – or sometimes a combination of these. All sticks have one flat side and one round side. Players may not use the rounded side to hit the ball. Finding the correct stick for you is important. You should use your height as a guide — sticks should generally come up to your hip, so always check the length of the stick before buying.

Gray’s Flare Field Hockey Stick is an excellent all-rounder stick. It is available in three different sizes and is ideal for beginners. For other options, take a look at this full hockey stick buying guide from BestReviews.

Field hockey stick bags

Field hockey can require a lot of equipment. To make transporting your field hockey equipment easier, it is worth investing in a good-quality hockey bag. Some hockey bags are super slim and will only hold your stick, whilst others offer enough space to hold multiple sticks, as well as shoes and shin guards. This STX Field Hockey Stick Bag comes in five different colors, so there’s something right for every athlete. It’s tall enough for sticks up to 38 inches long. It has an adjustable shoulder strap for easy transportation. With separate compartments, it’s great for carrying hockey balls, mouthguards and shin guards too.

Field hockey shoes

Having good-quality shoes for playing hockey is important. The right shoes can provide support in the right places and help prevent injury. The ideal shoe for playing field hockey should have good grip, a little flexibility to allow for quick movement and some cushioning for comfort. PUMA Women's Vikky Sneaker offers everything a good hockey shoe should. Their outsole provides excellent grip in all directions, and their strong outer shell gives extra support and balance. For men, these adidas Adizero XCS shoes make a great choice. They are designed for slippery surfaces, so they provide a lot of traction and grip in all weather. They are also available in two different styles.

Field hockey shin pads 

Hockey sticks and hockey balls are both hard and can cause injury if they hit you, so it’s important to take precautions. Shin guards are a vital piece of equipment when playing hockey — they’ll prevent you from having a ton of bruises! These adidas unisex shin guards are available in different sizes and are highly protective. They have a hard front plate but are soft on the back to make them comfortable to wear. They’re also designed to be lightweight, so they won’t weigh you down at all during the game.

Field hockey mouth guards

Just like the shin guards, wearing a mouth guard can help prevent injuries. Mouthguards are generally inexpensive but are vital during a game of hockey. The Shock Doctor Gel Mouth Guard provides professional dental protection against impact. It uses a triple-layer design for extra safety and durability. Its Gel-Fit Liner Technology allows it to mold perfectly to the shape of your own mouth.

Field hockey socks

In field hockey, it is recommended that players wear long socks that go over the top of the shin guards. Before buying socks, make sure that they offer enough room to fit over shin guards. These Under Armour socks are high enough to go over the calf and offer excellent breathability. The socks are half-cushioned on the sole to provide extra comfort and cushioning without being too bulky. They are available in an assortment of colors, so you can choose the ones that best match your team's colors. Alternatively, opt for hockey shin guard sleeve socks which will help to keep your shin guards in place during the match. These STX Field Hockey Shin Guard Sleeves are loved for their lightweight, breathable fabric. They’re comfortable to wear and will ensure that your shin guards won’t move out of place while you’re on the field.

Field hockey balls

Even if you’re attending a match where the hockey balls will be provided, having your own can be useful. Most balls are inexpensive and will allow you to practice your stick skills at home. The more practice you get, the better you’ll be on the field! This TK Rainbow Tie-Dye ball not only looks super cool, but is inexpensive and durable too.

Colored bibs or vests for field hockey

Field hockey requires two teams of 11 players (including a goalkeeper on each team). One of the easiest ways to identify teams is by using colored tops or bibs. These adult training vests from Amazon are lightweight and come in different colors for easy identification. They’re lightweight, washable and will dry quickly.

Field hockey stick grip tape

Having a stick with good grip is crucial for playing your very best. When new, most hockey sticks provide a good, reliable grip, but after being used for a while, some of this grip can be lost. Rather than spending a lot of money and buying a new stick, an easy and inexpensive fix is to purchase some grip tape. This Gray's Grip Tape is designed with a hexagonal grip pattern for full control over your stick. Its soft material means that it’s still comfortable to use too.

Heather Roy is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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