The popularity of hockey has rarely been higher. In common with many sports, satellite television‘s dedicated sports channels have provided more opportunity for people to watch and enjoy. There is a full national and international fixture calendar and events such as the Olympics every four year with men’s and women’s titles to be won increase interest in the game. Hockey is not too complex a sport; superficially it involves players hitting a small and hard ball with the aim of scoring in the opponent’s goal.
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There is obviously a set of rules that everyone within the sport plays to and officials control the games to those set of rules. The pitch is prescribed and today’s game usually takes place on an artificial pitch which provides a smooth surface. Some begin the game on hard and bumpy pitches which arguably help them with their ball control skills because the pitch provides a real challenge.
When it comes to the hockey kit, each team must have clothing that identifies them from the opposition and certainly not wear anything that may be dangerous to the opposition. If outfield players wear gloves they should not materially change the size of their hands. Shin pads are advisable because the ball is hard; likewise mouth guards offer protection from ball and even stick although raising a stick to head height is illegal.
Head gear is otherwise restricted to the goalkeepers who will wear a helmet, gloves and full size pads which help them prevent goals without exposing them to possible injury. The goalkeeper will wear a different shirt from the rest of the team and it is worn over the protective equipment so the goalkeeper is immediately identifiable.
Protection is obvious common sense but the goalkeeper should not wear anything that will significantly increase his or her size.
Sticks are uniform in shape and size and should be smoothly made without any sharp edges. It should always be of a colour that contrasts with the colour of the playing surface; remember that an artificial surface does not necessarily need to be the colour of grass.
Equipment and clothing are only two aspects of the rules of the game which also includes pitch dimensions, general playing regulations, scoring and conduct. Hockey is a game where everyone holds the stick as though they are playing right handed so players effectively face each other with the ball accessible to both sets of players. It is an ancient game that dates back in some of its forms to the Middle Ages in Scotland, England and the Netherlands. Indeed, basic forms of a similar game were played many years before that in Ancient Greece, China and Mongolia. Its popularity spread to many countries in the British Empire and through Europe to become the global game it is today.