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      08.03.2010 11:46
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      Playing hockey is about having fun and enjoying yourself, which is what sport should be about!

      When someone asks you, so what sport do you play and you reply 'hockey', peoples comments are generally either one of two, they either say, isn't that a girls sport? Or, oh ice hockey? Typically the most exposure people get to the game of hockey is a few lessons at school with pre war boomerang sticks on a grass field and the game is seriously disjointed. However 'field hockey' to give it is correct name, is a very different game altogether, it's a fast flowing game and is the second most played field sport behind football. The rules of hockey. In the past hockey was played on a grass pitch, with dimensions of 91.40 m × 55 m (100 yd × 60 yd) however these days, hockey is played on all weather pitches or astro pitches. The main features of the pitch are; at each end is there is a goal which is 2.14 m (7 feet) high and 3.66 m (12 ft) around which there is a semi-circular area which is 14.63 m (16 yd) from the goal known as the shooting circle or D. The D area is shown by a solid line and you must be in the D in order to score. If the ball is not touched by an attacker in the D then it can not be a goal. There is a dotted line 5 m (5 yd 6 in) from the solid line of the D and there is also a solid line across the field at 22.90 m (25 yd) from each end and across the center of the field. There is a spot 0.15m in diameter, which is called the penalty spot or stroke mark, in the centre of each goal and it is 6.40 m (7 yd) out. A hockey match is officiated by two umpires. Each umpire controls half of the field, divided diagonally into a triangle. Just prior to the start of a game, a coin is tossed by the umpires and the winning captain can choose a starting end or to start with the ball. Hockey is played in two equal halves of 35 minutes each, with five minutes given for half time. To start each half and as well as after a goal has been scored, play is started with a pushback from the centre of the field. All players must start in their defensive half of the field, however the ball may be played in any direction along the floor. Hockey is played between two teams, each team is made up of ten outfield players, one goalkeeper and up to a maximum of five substitutes. The substituted maybe rolled on and off in any combination, an unlimited number of times during the course of a game. Substitutions are allowed at any point in the game, apart from when a short corner or penalty corner has been awarded. The only exception to this rule is for injury or suspension of the defending team's goalkeeper. When a team is in possession of the ball, all players on that team are classed as being the attackers and those on the team that is without the ball are classes as being the defenders. In hockey you are only allowed to play the ball with the flat or the 'face side' of your stick. This means that the generally accepted way to hold a stick is, having your left hand at the top and your right hand half way down. However you do very rarely see 'kaki' hander players, who have there right hand at the top and left hand half way down. It is illegal to play the ball with your feet, or any part of your body, however if the ball accidentally hits the feet, and the player gains no benefit from the contact, then the contact will not be penalised. You may also not use the reverse side of your stick or play the ball while you are on the floor. Hockey is a non contact sport, tackling is allowed however the defender may not make contact with the attacker or his stick before playing the ball. Equally the attacker is not allowed to obstruct a defender. Obstruction occurs: - When the player with the ball deliberately use his body to push a defender out of the way or to prevent them tackling. - When another attacker blocks the opposition's attempt to tackle a teammate with the ball, this is called third party. When the ball passes over the sidelines it is returned to play with a sideline hit. It is taken by a member of the team who was not the last to touch the ball before it crossed the sideline. The ball must be placed on the sideline and must be taken from as near the place the ball went out of play as possible. If the ball crosses the backline after last being touched by an attacker, a 15 m (16 yd) hit is awarded to the defending team. When an offence is committed outside of the D, a free hit is awarded. The ball may be hit or pushed in any direction by the team that was offended against. The ball must not be intentionally raised from the initial hit or push and all defending players must move 5 m (5.5 yd) from the ball. The free hit must be taken from where the offence was committed and the ball must be stationary when the free-hit is taken. New to the 2009 season is the introduction of a self pass. This allows an attacking player to tap the ball to himself, instead of having to pass the ball to a teammate. It is important to note that this is not a 'continue to play', the ball must be stationery and there must be two clear touches of the ball. This applies to all free hit situations, including sideline and corner hits When an attacking free hit or sideline hit is awarded within the attacking quarter, from the goal line to the 23 m (25yrd) line, all players must be 5 m (5.5 yd) from the ball. The ball may not be played directly into the D and must be played at least 5 m before this is allowed. If an attacking free hit is awarded within 5 m of the D, then the ball must be moved back onto the dotted 5 m line that surrounds the D. There are two different types of corners in hockey. If the ball passes over the backline after last being touched by a defender, provided the defender does not deliberately put the ball out, a long corner is awarded. A long corner is played by the attacking team and essentially the same as a sideline hit, however the long corner is taken 5 m from the corner closest to where the ball went out of play. The other type of corner is a short corner, sometimes called a penalty corner. A short corner can be awarded for a number of reasons. - For an offence by a defender inside the D which does not prevent a goal scoring chance, for example the ball hitting a defenders foot. - For an intentional offence in the D by a defender against an attacker who does not have possession of the ball at the time. - For an intentional offence by a defender outside the D but within the 23 m (25yrd) area they are defending. - For a defender intentionally putting the ball out - Or when the ball becomes lodged in a player's equipment, such as the goalkeepers pads. A short corner is injected by a player off the attacking team from a mark 10 m either side of the goal. (Typically taken from the right side mark) The rest of the attackers arrange themselves around the top of the D. The ball must pass outside of the D and then be put back into the D in order to score a goal. If the first shot of a short corner is a hit, the ball must not exceed the backboard of the goal, which is 460 mm, at the point it crosses the goal line. However, should the first hit shot is deflected and a second shot is taken, the backboard rule does not apply. Likewise, if the ball is pushed or flicked then it may go anywhere in the goal and the backboard rule does not apply. The defending team is permitted to have five players (including the keeper) positioned behind the backline and at least 5 m from the injector of the ball. All other players in the defending team must be beyond the centre line, until the ball is in play. A penalty stroke, sometimes referred to as a flick, can be awarded for a number of reasons. - When defenders commit a deliberate foul in the D - When any breach of the rules prevents a probable goal. For example the ball hitting a foot on the line. - Or if a defender repeatedly "breaks" or starts to run from the backline before a short corner has started. The penalty stroke is taken by a single attacker in the circle and is defended by the goalkeeper. All other players must be beyond the 23 m (25yrd) line. The ball is placed on the penalty spot or stroke mark. The goalkeeper must stand with their feet on or behind the goal line, and can not move until the ball has been played. The attacker must start behind the ball, but importantly must be within playing distance of it. Upon the umpire's whistle, the attacker may push or flick the ball; they may not hit or drag the ball and are only allowed to play the ball once. If the shot is saved, play is restarted with a 15 m hit to the defenders. When a goal is scored, play is restarted in the normal way. In hockey there are three different types of cards: - A green card, normally a green triangle, is an official warning. (Similar to a yellow card in football) - A yellow card, normally a yellow rectangle, is a temporary suspension, which must be for a minimum of 5 minutes. This time can be increased by the umpires to emphasise the seriousness of the offense. For example a yellow for dangerous play might be longer than for dissent to the umpire. - A red card, normally a red circle, is a permanent exclusion from the rest of the game and results in the player being banned for a certain period of time or number of matches. In hockey a player may receive more than one green or yellow card in a game. However they cannot receive the same card for the same offence, for example two green cards for dissent to the umpire. The second card must always be a more serious card. Equipment used in hockey. Traditionally hockey sticks were made of wood but now, it's common for most to be made of fibreglass, or carbon fibre composites. Metal is forbidden from being used in hockey sticks. The hooked head at the bottom of the stick was only relatively recently the tight curve that we have now days. Older sticks had a longer bend, however this made it very hard to use the stick on the reverse, and because of this reason all stick now have a tight curve. The bow of the stick is subject to a 25mm limit as it was discovered that increasing the depth of the face bow made it easier to get high speeds from drag flicks, making short corners extremely dangerous for the defenders. It is strongly advised that players should wear shin pads, some leagues have made it a rule. Hockey shin pads tend to differ from football shin pads as they are typically a lot bigger, protecting more of the leg from balls and sticks. Many players also wear mouth guards to protect teeth and gums from impacts from the ball or stick and again, some leagues have made this a rule as well. Players may also wear astro gloves, typically a padded glove designed to protect hands from contact with the ground, a ball or a stick. Defenders may sometimes use a short corner mask, these are designed to reduce the impact of a drag flick, should the ball strike them in the face. The essential equipment required to be a goalkeeper is a helmet, leg guards, kickers and a different coloured shirt. However they usually wear extensive additional protection, including chest guards, padded shorts, heavily padded hand protectors, groin protectors, neck guards, arm guards. Like all outfield players they must carry a stick. Cost of playing hockey. Typically the cost of playing hockey is relatively low for an outfield player, a typical good quality carbon fiber stick is roughly £100, though it is possible to buy a wooden stick for much cheaper. Typically shin pads are around £20 and mouth guards are around £20 also. Astro turf boots, are generally around £40-£50 however it's possible to use football astro turf boots. (It is advisable to use hockey astro turf boots, as they generally have a lot more padding and protection than football astro turf boots, which is why they are more expensive.) For a goalkeeper the cost of playing hockey maybe considerably more. A full goalkeeping kit can cost in excess of £1,000 however if you are a member of a hockey club, the club will typically help to subsidies the cost of the kit. If you join a hockey club, a members subscription will be due, this is generally around the £100 mark, with some clubs being slightly more and some being slightly less. A match fee will also be due per match that you play, this is generally to cover the cost of the astro turf pitch that is used. Social side of hockey. Hockey is a very social game, it is traditional that at the end of a match both sides shake hands and congratulate each other. Typically after the game, food is provided by the home side for the opposition and the home team. Hockey clubs. Hockey is the second most played field sport in the world, second only to football, so there are literally thousands of clubs out there. Typically a hockey club will be associated with a cricket club, as the hockey season generally starts and finishes, when the cricket season finishes and starts. Most towns and villages have a local team, which some cities having several. Dangers of hockey. As with any sport there are dangers. With hockey, the biggest dangers come from hockey sticks and the hockey ball. While the Hockey Rules Board has tried to slow the game and therefore decrease the risk, for example, by introducing rules on the bow of sticks, the ball does generally travel at speeds in excess of 70mph, meaning that avoiding a ball travelling at such a velocity can be near on impossible. Consequently injuries in hockey is a fairly common occurrence, however the vast majority of injuries are just cuts and bruises. I myself have been playing hockey for nearly 10 years now and have only been injured a couple of time, one being a broken thumb and the other a dislodged kneecap. Why play hockey. Hockey, when played properly, is very fast fluid game and is very enjoyable. It is considerably quicker than football and most other sports and while this does present some danger, the challenge of playing vastly outweighs the risks. However, hockey isn't just about playing at a super high level, it's a game for everyone, even if you haven't played for years, you will still enjoy it. Playing hockey is about having fun and enjoying yourself, what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch and once the final whistle has blown, it's about socializing with the guys who you've just been playing against. Why I play hockey. I started playing hockey because of my uncle. He played in goal for Kings Heath hockey club and so took me along to a training session on a Sunday morning when I was about 8. And that was it really, I joined Bromsgrove hockey club as I live in Bromsgrove and I've been playing this amazing game ever since. I'm now 24 and have been playing in the men's teams for virtually 10 years (that really makes me feel old) I play centre midfield for the 1st team and am head of the junior section of the club. The greatest reward for me is training the juniors to play this brilliant game, seeing them go from a swarm of players around the ball, sticks flying in an attempt to get the ball for them self. To a flowing team game of pass and move.

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        20.01.2010 19:32
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        Great Game for everyone, of any age!

        Hockey has been around for thousands of years and was thought to have originated in Egypt. There on the desert plains men would enjoy a fighsty encounter using palm tree branches and a lamb's bladder to play. O' how times have changed. Hockey has spread across the world and has become a very popular past time. The game is simple, eleven aside attempting to score in the other oponent's net. The game is fast and skillful and played in every continent of the world. Hockey is a simple game with no over-complicated rules; There is no contact and you are not allowed to touch the ball with your feet. The non contact rule means that any person, slow or fast, big or small can play, and still be successful and also allows for a mnixed format of the game. It is a stark contrast to Rugby and Footbal, where often the tall and well-built players go on to stardem. Hockey has developed much over the last couple of decades. Pitches have changed from old fasioned grass grounds to state of the art astro turf which llow for faster and more reliable pitches. There are no linesmen as there is no offside which has greatly improved attacking gameplay of the sport. Discipline is important with sin-bins incorporated aswell as a three card system. However it is the social side of things that really attract many players. Hockey players play in good spirit and when on ocassions tmpers flare it is all put to bed with a friendly pint at the end of the game. All these factors have lead to a terrific sport, one which i would reccomend to anyone.

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          03.02.2009 13:58
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          Good fun game, take it as seriously as you like!

          Now I am not going to go into the rules and history of hockey here as any of the other reviews have, maybe you will find that useful, maybe not. I just wanted the opportunity to right some of the 'school' wrongs that have spoilded hockey for a lot of people! Just read some of the other reviews! You can hear what they are saying! I am sure if you are female and from Britain you will have had similar experiences somewhere of being 'made' to play hockey, 'forced' onto the frozen school pitch in the snow to run around and look jolly. Hockey is much much different now. If you are now an adult having survived the school days of hockey i would highly recommend that you give it another look. Firsty we play on astroturf not grass. Astroturf is synthetic grass with a sand base. This make the game a lot faster, cleaner (no mud!!), and skillful! We do still play in winter but astroturf freezes at 2degrees and you cannot play on a frozen astroturf! Most hockey clubs have several teams so you can normally find somewhere that will suit your ability/desired level. I know of many players who if they put some hours in could play a higher level than they play now, but they simply want to play for fun and arent bothered about 'getting better' at the game. The game is a fairly social one, with good old fashioned match teas afterwards (no oranges at half time any more though!) and most clubs normally have plenty of oscial events. You can get leggings and long sleaved tops to wear under your kit so you dont have to run about in a t-shirt and short skirt in the cold! The basic kit is fairly inexpensive, google hockey (or field hockey) kit and you will be presented with some options. Yes you could buy a stick for £200 but it probably wouldnt be that different from a £20 one! I highly suggest a visit to the England Hockey website (again google this) and you can use links on there to find a local club. All clubs always say they are after new members so just give them a call. You could probably even just pop down for one trianing session and if you didnt like it, you neednt go back! They are honestly a fairly nice, easy going bunch. Give it another try!

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            24.09.2008 00:21
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            I know why it's called 'Bullying off!'

            I just read a good review about hockey by Sympatic and I got to thinking about my experience of the game. But first, for those of you that don't know..... According to Wikipedia "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. 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). 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." I am not going to wite a long description of all of the rules for three reasons. 1. It would be a bit boring and if you are interested in the game you will know them a lot better than I do. 2. I can't remember them all. 3. I can't find them! Basically, teams of people with a hockey stick apiece try to get their ball into the opposing goal whilst preventing the other team from doing the same. It's a bit like football with the added excitement of a custom made club each. I know that thousands of people up and down this country and all across the world love hockey. I've watched them, on the rare occasions I've seen it on the television. All healthy looking and enjoying themselves. Running up and down with their sticks and alternating between grinning with excitement and scowling hard enough to terrorise their opponents. But so happy to be playing! Having a great time. I envy them. I don't get it! I really don't get it! There is something missing in me! That little genetic bit of Englishness that loves hockey has fallen off my DNA helix and got lost somewhere in a girl's school changing rooms. I think I can safely trace my antipathy to the game to my school experience of it. 1. The ground was always frozen. My feet were always frozen, my knees were frozen (and bloody but at least they were too cold to feel the pain usually.) My teeth chattered uncontrollably and my hands were too blue to hold the bloody stick! 2. Miss Smith the hockey teacher was a sadist. She must have graduated from The De Sade Institute for Hockey Teachers and been their star pupil. Her favourite method of making sure you stood in the right place was to poke you with her hockey stick. I think if that bloody stick had ever been made to hit a hockey ball instead of one of us, it would have fainted. (I know! Sticks can't faint. Don't be a pedant!) The worst Thing about her was that she was a cheerful sadist! She kept telling us how nice it was to be outside in the snow and saying really helpful things like "Stop looking so miserable, Hockey is a great game! Smile or you'll be in detention!" That helped me to enjoy myself so much! 3. The rules were so arbitrary. If Sophia Pigham-Smythe ran sixteen steps with the ball that was okay and 'Skilful!'. If a pleb like myself did it I was cleaning hockey boots for the next twentyseven playtimes. If Felicity Gruntan-Goreham tripped you up with the tip of her sharpened hockey stick and maimed you for life it was an "Unfortunate accident." If I even bumped into someone I was an "Unwashed homicidal maniac." I don't think she liked me very much. 4. Inter school matches. Oh My God! The shame! We all had to play! Why??? I was so frightened of getting smashed to smithereens by our side, the opposing side and/or Miss Smith, I was a gibbering blueish wreck! Why couldn't I just cut the oranges up into quarters? Or make bandages for the losing side? Oh no! Miss Sadist Smith had to put me through ritual humiliation every time. 5. The showers after the games. Communal showers, either lukewarm or cold water, (about a cupful each if the water pressure was high enough!)all stripped to the buff and shivering! Guess who stood and watched whilst we showered? And guess who took delight in checking if we were clean enough? I kid you not. She would be arrested if she tried it today. The only good thing about the hockey lessons was that one girl had a glass eye. If she got bored enough, or cold enough, or if we bribed her with enough goodies from the tuck shop, she would take it out and accidentally 'lose' it on the pitch. Then we could all stop the aimless running up and down and do a bit of searching about for Jane's eye. We could cheerfully use up about twenty minutes doing this. Jane would slip it to one of us to 'find' when she thought it was nearly time to go in. Miss Smith never knew or couldn't prove it anyway. Very useful that eye was! I tried to like hockey, I wanted to fit in, I wasn't bad at it I just hated it. I'm going to sit down one day and read the rules and learn them. I am going to get my hockey stick out of the loft and see if it's still a Slazenger Lethal weapon. I am going to pretend Miss Smith is bending down in front of me looking for Jane's Eye and I am going to give her one almighty smack on her arse with it. I might be able to like hockey then.

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              23.09.2008 21:29
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              Fun sport

              Hockey is a great team sport and lots of fun to play, I first started playing at school and also played for an adult club side for a while, it is a great form of exercise ad a very social sport as well. Played by both men and women it can be played in single sex or mixed teams. I have never played the indoor version but do enjoy the outdoor versiion which these days is mostly played on astro turf pitches rather than the more traditional grass pitches. Two teams of eleven players compete in matches of two thirty five minute halves. Goals can only be scored if the ball is struck by an attacker from within the D and only one side of the stick can be used. The goalie is allowed to use any part of their body or stick to save shots while in the D outside of the D they can only use their stick. Hockey is very fast moving and as their is no offside play is very stretched across the pitch length. There are a lot of rules and each game has two umpires. The main bit of equipment you have to buy is a stick which can cst anything from £20 to £200 dependant on quality, after that all you need is some good astro turf boots, your team colours and definately a gum shield as the ball is hard and can be lifted. When I played I also wore protective gloves and shin guards as well.

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                25.07.2008 09:36
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                Great fun!

                Background - From a very young age I was always a very good sprinter, I won an AAA award at the age of 10 but I started to become slightly bored and wanted to play a game with more team involvement. At school we were introduced to numerous different games such as football, rugby, cricket and basketball which I enjoyed playing but never really got into. At the age of 12 I was introduced to field Hockey. Now many people have the idea that hockey is a 'Girly sport' and only softies play it, but I can assure you that unless you have been hit with a solid wooden stick, or in the head by a ball as hard as a cricket ball travelling at around 80mph in the head you have no idea how tough the game can be. I thoroughly enjoyed hockey and went from being the School Captain to County Captain which lead me on to playing for an adult team at the age of 15. I did carry this on until university but at that point everyone seemed to only play for the social side and had not really a lot of interest in the game which disappointed me, I enjoyed the social side but I was mainly there for the game, after all its what I signed up for. Unfortunately I do not play hockey anymore but am hoping to start up again soon. History - The governing body is the 116 member International Hockey Federation (FIH). Field Hockey has been played at every Olympic Games since 1908 (except 1924). The modern field hockey sticks are J-shaped and constructed of a composite of wood, glass fibre or carbon fibre and have a curved hook at the playing end, a flat surface on the playing side and curved surface on the other and should come up to around the players waist. Some 4000-year-old drawings in Egypt show a game resembling field hockey being played. Whilst the more modern field hockey appeared in the mid-18th century in England, it was not until the first half of the 19th century that it became firmly established. The first club was created in 1849 at Black heath and is now both India's and Pakistan's National game. The Game - The Game is played in two halves each 35 minutes in length. Like in most sports at half time the teams swap ends to ensure the game is fair and the winner is the team who score the most goals. Each team consists of 11 players, 10 on field and one goalie, who isn't allowed to leave the shooting circle. The game is played on traditionally a grass pitch but is now more often played on Astroturf measuring 91.40 m × 55 m (100 × 60 yard) rectangular field. At each end of the pitch is a goal 2.14 m (7 feet) high and 3.66 m (12 feet) wide, and an approximately semi-circular area 14.63 m (16 yards) from the goal known as the shooting circle, this is the area you have to be within to shoot and if you score outside of this it is a 'Sixteen' to the other team, which pretty much means a goal kick although any member of the team is allowed to hit the ball out. This is due to the fact that the goal keeper is covered in a very large amount of padding and would find it very difficult to get a good swing at the ball, although they do occasionally if a small pass is required. There are three types of passes which are push (simply push the ball with the flat edge of the stick), a strike (hit the ball with the thick, curved end of the stick) or a flick (get the stick under the ball and get a small amount of lift) Like football if the ball is knocked off the pitch at the goal end of the fields by a defender there is a long corner, which is very much like a corner in football but it is take from around 2 metres up the long side of the pitch. There are also short corners; these are given if a foul is committed within the shooting circle by the defending team. The ball is placed near the goal, about 2 metres further in than the shooting circle. Around 6 attacking players then stand at the top of the 'D' (shooting circle). At the same time around 5 defending players stand on the goal line inside the goal ready to run out. The person pushing the corner out then does a push pass out to one of the attackers who stops it just outside the 'D' and then will try to push it just within the 'D' ready for another attacker to strike it from within the 'D' and score a goal. However it isn't always very easy because as soon as the ball is pushed out the defenders are allowed to run out. The person who runs to the striker is called 'one', whilst number 'two' runs just behind them to prevent anyone running around the back. There are also push in's which are very much like throw ins, members of the other team have to be 5 metres away. If time runs out extra time of 20 minutes a half is played and then if no one wins during that period it goes to a penalty shoot out. 5 players have to either push or flick the ball at the goalie from around 3 metres. Fouls - There are various fouls that can be committed and here is a list of the main ones. It is usually down to other referees discretion as to whether he thinks a foul has been committed. Lifting the ball dangerously (the ball rises above waist height) Swinging your stick dangerously Touching the ball with your feet Hitting the ball with the reverse side of your stick (curved side) Picking up the ball Kit - Team coloured polo neck Shorts Socks Shin pads, usually longer than football shin pads, they usually cover your ankles) Hockey Stick Hockey glove for left hand (For when you do a reverse stop) Mouth Guard Overall - I love them game of hockey and anyone that gives it a chance will enjoy it too. You can pick up hockey sticks for around £20 although if you are taking the game seriously they can reach around £200 for an exceptional one which aims to reduce vibration up the stick when you strike it. There are local clubs dotted all around the UK and there are clubs for all levels and ages. The game is fast paced and if suitable for boys and girls alike, there are just as many mixed teams as there are single sex teams. I hope this has been a good insight into the world of hockey.

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                  18.03.2004 20:31
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                  This is a review of my personal experience of the wonderful sport of hockey ? not really a technical review of the laws of the game! I may get around to that another time. I am retired now due to family commitments - 2 children and an unco-operative husband. Ah well I have lots of fantastic memories of my 21 years of playing hockey. I only played for one club - Sherwood (who were one of the top clubs in the country), sadly no longer in existence as they have merged with our once great rivals Crimson Ramblers and are now called Highfields and play at the Hockey Centre in Nottingham. Hockey is quite a technical game and you have to know the rules to play - unlike football. Very basically, it is a game of 11 a-side and played on a pitch slightly smaller than a football pitch. Now most games are played on synthetic surfaces (Astroturf being one), but I don?t think you can beat a bowling green grass pitch. Although the game has now developed so much that I suspect it is only really playable properly on a synthetic pitch and grass pitches of quality take so much maintenance they are now impractical. Each player has a stick around 3 feet long and 2 to 3 inches wide with a curved head at the bottom. You can only use the flat side of the stick to hit the ball and cannot use your feet unless you are the goalkeeper to kick or stop the ball. There are 11 players in each team on the pitch and substitiutes (up to 5 I think) are allowed to roll on and off - something football could learn to do I think. Another major advantage over football is that there is NO OFFSIDE. This rule was changed many years ago now and revolutionised the game making it much faster and more skilful. Once you have mastered these basic rules then find a local club and go along, you will be made very welcome. Sadly there aren't as many clubs around now as there were despite the fact that Olympic medals (GOLD) were won not too long ago (?where were the Germans ? frankly who cares?! ). A great innovation has been the national league, however the profile of the game has struggled and sponsors have been hard to find. TV has never really wanted to cover it apart from at the Olympics. At one time the National Indoor finals from Crystal Palace used to be covered ? yes I was on TV once! But sadly no longer ? the pace of the game seemed to defeat the cameramen though. For myself hockey has been wonderful. I have made lots of friends and been lucky enough to represent my country at U21 & U18 level and been on tour to Jamaica, Wales, Scotland, The Netherlands and almost everywhere in England. Although I no longer play I still keep in touch with many friends I played with. The social side of being a hockey player is great with lots of alcohol usually consumed. University or college teams are usually great fun to join. At national level now, the advent of drug testing means that players at this level must be a lot more professional in their attitude, despite being totally amateur. I hope these players are still able to fully appreciate the wonderful social side of hockey. I recommend the game to you either as a fun, social sport or as something more serious. I am pleased to have seen both sides and really urge anyone to take up the sport. It is a great way to keep fit ? despite a lot of bruises and you will make lots and lots of friends! There are Mens, Womens and Mixed clubs. The mixed game is a mixture of serious sport with good humour included and of course a drink in the bar afterwards - there are regional & national competitions for all three for the more serious player, but the social aspect of the game remains even at the highest level. There are also Veterans teams (for the over 35?s!) which continue the philosophy of hard uncompromising play on the pitch and wonderful friendly banter in the bar afterwards. I am proud to have played for Sherwood in the National Veterans Finals at the National Hockey Cent re in Milton Keynes not long before I retired ? we didn?t win but had a wonderful time. If you have chance then play!! Many congratulations to the mens GB squad for qualifying for the Athens Olympic Games. Come on the women ? you can do it too! We could do with some medals!!!

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                    07.07.2002 04:55

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                    Ice-Hockey was one of the first organised games played in North America...but unknown to most is that it was first played in CANADA! Hence the Stanley Cup, which is named after a Briton ruling a Canadian province. Most teams are losing support to games such as Football, Basketball, Baseball and even Soccer! Ice-Hockey is the type of game where teams learn to look out for each other. In American Football for instance the only person making a run is the player with the ball, in Ice-Hockey the players are made to pass to each other because of rules like the "Two-Line Pass" even in Soccer, if a tea is defending the common method is to punt the ball as far up-field as possible with no regard of trying to counter-attack. in ice-Hockey, the icing rule prevents a 'clear the puck' startegy. These rules make Ice-Hockey a good spectacle as it flows well. Despite the common opinion that Ice-Hockey is rough and aggressive it's also a sport which relies entirely on tem-work and co-operation. So instead of teaching people to be greedy...why not do ice-hockey...it helps people work together!

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                    16.01.2002 05:26
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                    The game of hockey goes back a very long way, way before i was ever born. It never really interested me or my family. My dad became involved in hockey when he was about 40, a guy at work persuaded him to go along and join the club he was at. The club was called Templars, i was very yound at the time, about 10 years old, and one week, on Saturday he took me along for some reason, probably because my mum was going out and they couldn't get a babysitter, so i was dragged along. I began to really enjoy watching the game and began to love the sport. It is not well publicised and isn't really on the television except on rare occasions such as the Olympics. Then one week, i turned out again to watch my dad, and the team found themselves one short. They had no one else to pick, so i was put onto the field, stick in one hand, and shoved up front out of the way, as luck would have it i scored 2 goals, tap ins of course, but we won. I then became chief substitute. I continued to make the odd appearance here and there, and eventually found myself training every week as a member of the club with other children my age and progressed from there. I now find myself playing in the Kent U21 squad, possibly playing at the National Stadium which is situated in Milton Keynes. I also play for Holcombe Hockey Club, based in Chatham in Kent. It is an up and coming club hoping to reach the top levels of Hockey in England today. So that's how i became involved in hockey, now what is the sport about? Basically hockey revolves around 22 men, 22 sticks, 2 keepers, 44 legs and one ball. The aim of the sport is to get the ball into the oppostions net by hitting the ball into the goal, whilst the ball is in a designated area, fairly simple you may think. Wrong! The game of hockey is far more complex than most people think, not only do you require good hand - eye coordination to hit, push and flick the bal l, but you need Stamina, Strength and Agility in order to be successful in the sport. The stick can only be used one side, this is the flat side, in order to change direction, you must use a technique known as the Indian dribble. This is extremely hard to master, and it takes much practice to even do it vaguely well. What is it about hockey that really appeals to me? I think the thing i love about hockey the most is firstly that i am relatively good at the sport, making it more enjoyable but secondly the way in which you get to socialise and interact with your own team and other teams weekly. It enables you to develop your communication skills and social skills. The reason people play the sport is mainly because of the social aspect. I thoroughly recommend getting yourself down to your local club and giving it a try, you never know you may enjoy it. Hockey doesn't get the advertising it deserves, and it needs YOU!!

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                      27.08.2001 01:10
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                      What really annoys me is this. Telling people I play hockey and being asked “Oh, do you skate”, or “you mean ice hockey?” or “Isn’t that dangerous, all that shoulder charging and stuff?” No, no, NO! Why, in a country that is regularly skated all over by the greatest ice hockey teams in the world, yet held an Olympic Medal in “field” hockey (I hate having to specify the “field bit, too!), does ice spring to peoples minds whenever you mention hockey. Yes, the Sekonda Superleague is more popular than hockey’s National League, and gets a lot more coverage, but “my” hockey is more fun, easier and cheaper to play, requires less equipment and is far less dangerous! Let me tell you where it all began for me. Seoul. 1988. The British Men’s Hockey Team wins the gold medal, inspired by scoring machine Sean Kerly. Dartford. 1988. A bunch of 3rd formers at Dartford Grammar School, inspired by this, decide to start a school hockey team, and start practicing in “games” lessons. Quickly vilified by the rugby crowd, we carry on regardless. In 1990, we start playing games against other local schools, and some of us join Belvedere H.C., a fairly local club and begin playing fairly seriously, eventually becoming reasonable players, although highly unlikely to ever make the England line up! The game is played for fun, and that’s all. I settle into my position as left-half (more on this a bit later) and succeed in scoring at an average of once a season but enjoying the game so much that I crawled out of bed at 9 am on a New Year’s Day to participate in my sport. Shortly before that start of the 1994-95 season, I leave the area to go to university and settle into a life of drinking and smoking, and hockey is forgotten. In late 1999, I start talking to a colleague, who plays for a local club, Southgate Adelaide, near to where I have now settled, and I go along. I discover fairly quickly that I have lost none of my (very limited) skills, but that 5 years of heavy drinking, smoking, and running only when I’m very close to an essay deadline has taken their toll on my fitness. I’m still a left-half, I’m still not very good, I’m still averaging a goal a season (although it took me until the last game of last season to get it!) and I still love the game. I don’t know why I stopped playing. Although we play in a league, the team is as much about being a team as it is about winning (which was very handy that first season, as we didn’t!) and the main priority is enjoyment of the game. So why do I play the game? I love it, pure and simple. It’s great exercise, and is a fairly easy game to learn. The risk of injury is fairly small (although I’ll discuss that a little later) and it can be enjoyed equally by male and female players of all different ages. Enjoyment of any sport is purely subjective which makes it difficult to put into words exactly why I enjoy playing so much, but it’s probably the only game I’m really any good at (except for pool!) and my social life has improved greatly since joining the club. So, if you’d like to play, but don’t know a lot about the game, let me give you a few pointers. I hope to cover everything here, but if there’s anything else you would like to know, ask as a comment on this op, or send me an E-Mail (the address is in my profile). FINDING A CLUB Unless you’re playing at school, or your employer’s Social Club (of which there seem to be less and less these days) runs a team, you will need to find a club to start playing. There are literally thousands of clubs around the country, and there will almost certainly be at least one in any decent sized town near you. Within 15 miles of my own home, there are 3 men’s and 1 women’s hockey club, with the men’s clubs running 16 teams between them. All levels of skill and experience are catered for. To find your nearest club there is a search facility on the English Hockey Association’s website at www.hockeyonline.co.uk. For those living in other parts of the UK, try www.scottishhockey.org.uk, www.welsh-hockey.co.uk or www.hockey.ie as appropriate. For hockey throughout Europe, the European Hockey Federation website can be found at www.eurohockey.org. Although I cannot speak for all of these websites, the English HA site at least allows you to search by town and will then give you a link to a club’s website. Your local paper may also be able to provide you with some details. In my experience, and due to the lack of new, young players coming into the game these days, which I feel is due to the complete lack of television coverage for the game in recent years, most good clubs will be happy to teach and train newcomers to the game. Many clubs do operate a junior team as well, or some of the younger players may know of a local junior team, which will provide great assistance to younger players, both in terms of learning and making new friends. For the older player, many sides host regular club events for fundraising purposes, which are always good to be involved in, both on a personal level and to show your support for the club. EQUIPMENT For the average player, the level of equipment required is actually quite low, and many people will already possess most of the minimum required. The standard playing/training kit of t-shirt and shorts or a tracksuit belongs in most people’s wardrobe, even if it hasn’t seen the light of day since John Major was PM. The essential pieces of kit will be a stick, which can be purchased for anything between £10-£15 and £150 upwards. The important thing to consider when choosing a hockey stick is how it feels in your hands. You will be carrying it around for 70 minutes during a game, and you will be waving it around a fair amount, so it is important that you have a stick which you feel happy with. This is purely an individual thing. The major hockey stick manufacturers are Dita, Grays, Slazenger and Kookaburra. I am using a Slazenger stick at present, but have previously owned both Dita and Grays sticks. I prefer a lighter stick, but this may not be suitable for you. If you are playing in a defensive position, where more hitting is involved (see The Rules section) a heavier stick may be an advantage. Sticks rarely break, if used correctly, but the plastic/PVC covering does have a tendency to crack and flake off after it has taken a few blows. Many hockey players use black electrical tape to fix this, and it is not at all unusual to find hockey sticks with repairs of this sort made to them. Shin pads are also vital. Plastic football shin pads will suffice, and are what I use, although special hockey shin pads, with a metal core, can be purchased for £25 or so. Last season I took a low on the shin with a ball which left me with a large bump and heavy bruising, even through my shin pad. Had I not been wearing them, however, I would probably have suffer a fractured or broken leg. It is not a common occurrence, but the ball is very hard, and protection is vital A pair of football boots will be required for games on grass, which are generally few and far between, and trainers will suffice for Astroturf training sessions, although a pair of proper Astroturf trainers would be a good investment as, if you do slip over on Astroturf, which is always more likely without the correct type of footwear, your knees and elbows may come out with some skin missing. Astroturf shoes can be purchased from most sports shoe retailers, and are no more expensive than your average pair of trainers. I think I paid £60 for mine at the start of last season, but I did buy a brand name (Adidas) for a change, and cheaper pairs are available. My previous pair cost £30, and lasted very well for about 4 seasons. A hockey glove, which is essentially a covering for the back of your left hand is also useful, and these can be purchased for £5-£10 from most major sports retailers, and some minor ones. Some players also wear gum shields, but I prefer not to, and have never required one. If you are a goalkeeper, more equipment, including chest protection, a helmet and larger pads and boots will be required. This is generally quite expensive, and not recommended for the beginner. Should you become a goalkeeper later on, then this should be seen as an investment, and some clubs (mine does) may offer a reduced subscription fee (see below) due to the expense involved. COST Aside from the costs listed above for equipment, most clubs will charge a subscription fee, as this is how they cover their own costs, such as hiring of pitches and provisioning of meals after games. This has been £100 for the last two seasons at my club, but cheaper rates are often offered for the unemployed and under 16’s. There will also be a match fee, charged for the same reasons, which is about £5 at my club, but given that most games are on a Saturday, it is cheaper than most things that you may be doing at that point. Say you went to see a Premiership football match, for example, this would cost at least £20-£30, before any other expenses! Generally, at most clubs, there will be a meal provided for players at the clubhouse after the game. There may be other one-off, or seasonal expenses. Your club will most likely prefer you to buy a club shirt, and possibly socks, especially if you will be taking part in league matches. This works on the old “if you look like a team, you play like a team” theory. Again, the cost will not be extortionate, given how long the items in question will last. I purchased two club shirts (one home, one away) and a pair of club socks two seasons ago for a total of £47, and these will last for at least a couple more years. Given that our club shirts are button top short-sleeved polo shirts, and given the current popularity of the Hackett clothing brand, and shirts with numbers on (how dated will this op look next Summer?), they also fill in as social wear in the off-season! There will also, like as not, be fund raising social events offered by the club periodically throughout the season. Contribution and attendance at these will be voluntary, but they are often a good opportunity to meet players from the other teams within the club. DANGER/RISK OF INJURY This is actually fairly low. There is a risk of injury in any sport, but if you purchase the recommended protective equipment as detailed above, and the game is played within the rules, as detailed below, any risk of injury is greatly reduced. Personally speaking, I am about to enter my sixth season as a hockey player, and have suffered no worse injury than a pulled hamstring. With this in mind, warming up and warming down after a game is vitally important, as any sportsperson will tell you. So is paying attention to the signals your body is sending out. If something aches, rest it. If it still aches, see a doctor. The same rules apply here as would do to your general health. I will not soft soap anyone by denying that injuries do not happen. There is the chance that a player may be hit by a ball in the air, and although this does not happen often given that it against the rules of the game, I have seen a couple of players knocked out, one require stitches to a head wound and one suffer a fractured kneecap. Bruises and skinned knees and elbows are not uncommon, due to falling on an Astroturf pitch, and a team mate once ruptured a ligament after landing badly. However, this is the total extent of the serious injuries I have known in five seasons, which makes the game a lot safer than many other sports. To take two of the country’s most popular sports, for example, and you will see that Liverpool footballer Jamie Redknapp has suffered two serious knee injuries and has hardly played a game for two years, and Nasser Hussain, the England cricket captain and Graham Thorpe, one of his players, have suffered three broken fingers between them over the last two months. Hockey is a non-contact sport, which keeps the number of injuries down. THE RULES The easiest and most basic way to explain the rules of hockey is “like football, except you use your stick instead of your feet.” This is really a far too simplistic way to describe the rules of the game, but it does provide a fairly useful starting point. The pitch is usually a fairly similar size to a football pitch, although more commonly Astroturf rather than grass, and major noticeable difference in the markings are that the “area” is in a D-shape in hockey, with a 16 yard radius, as opposed to football’s rectangle and that the goalkeeper must remain in this area. Goals can only be scored when the shot is taken from inside this “D”. The only player who can use their feet is the goalkeeper, and then only whilst they are inside their area. The goalkeeper can use any part of their body to block a shot inside this area, hence all the protective equipment they require. Given that there is no foot to body contact, free-kicks are replaced with free-hits, although the ten yard rule still applies, throw-ins are replaced by “sideline hits” and the goal kick is replaced by a 16 yard hit-out taken by a defender as opposed to the goalkeeper. The goals are also smaller, and the team is usually in a 3-4-3 formation, with 3 defenders, 4 midfielders, or “halves” and 3 forwards, usually 2 wingers and a centre forward. The ball can be either struck or pushed with the stick, but only with the front of the stick. If you wish to hit the ball on your “wrong” or “weak” side the stick must be reversed. The ball is not allowed to leave the ground in a dangerous situation (ie, too close to another player) and a penalty will be called for “lifting” if this occurs. However, a ball can be lifted into an open space for an attacker to chase, much like the long ball in football. Much as in football, the stick (in football, the foot) cannot be lifted above shoulder height and a player in possession is not allowed to turn his back on an opponent. Tackling from the blind side is forbidden, much like the tackle from behind in football, and presents an injury risk for the player attempting to do so. If the player you are attempting to tackle is not aware of your presence, and moves to hit the ball, you may be struck by his stick. This is what occurred in the case I mentioned above which left a player requiring stitches. The obstruction rule is different from football, in this case a little like rugby. The player in possession of the ball is not allowed to run behind another player from his own team, thus creating a barrier between himself and the opponent and, in much the same way, and player not in possession of the ball cannot run between the ball-carrier and the opponent. This is known as “crossing”. Much like rugby, as well, is the use of cards for disciplinary purposes. Players receive a green card as a first warning, followed by a yellow card, which results in ten minutes off the pitch, followed by a red card, which is a permanent sending off. Football authorities have been contemplating the introduction of a green card at irregular intervals over the years, but this is unlikely to ever occur. Cards are very rare, and are usually the result of a player taking an action considered to be dangerous, and green cards are more common for “unsportsmanlike conduct”, such as swearing on the field of play. In five seasons, I have never seen a p layer receive a red card, and the professional foul does not appear to be a part of the game at all. The final major rule difference is the rule concerning corners and penalties. If the ball is inadvertently played over the goal line by a defending player, a “long corner” is awarded, which is taken in much the same way as a traditional corner in football, although it is actually a sideline hit, taken from approximately five yards from the goal line. If a defender commits a foul within the area, but in a manner that would not directly prevent a goal, a “short corner” is awarded. In this situation, the defensive team is only allowed to place five players on the goal line (to include the goalkeeper) and the remaining members of the side must wait on the half way line until the ball is played. The offensive team can have as many players around the area as they wish, but all players, with the exception of the person taking the corner, must wait outside the “D”. The ball must be pushed outside the area, and brought to a complete stop before a shot on goal can be taken. This “short corner” routine is the most practised set play in hockey. If a foul is committed in a method that will directly prevent a goal, a penalty flick is awarded, and this occurs in much the same way to football, in that it is attacker versus goalkeeper. The attacker, however, can only take a single step before flicking the ball, and there are no rebounds. The result of a penalty flick is either a goal, or a hit-out to the defending team. This should give you a grounding into getting started with playing hockey. Please contact me if you have any questions. I hope that anyone who plays enjoys the game as much as I do.

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                        20.08.2001 00:26
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                        I believe that hockey is better than footbal down to the fact that it requires more skill to play and its top players don't need to earn thousands of pounds a week to play for their team I have been playing Hockey for nearly four years now and it is one of the best things I have ever done. It all started when a friend of mine asked if I would like to join the local hockey team as they where short of players and on the next Saturday I played my first ever game. Before I played in this game I thought that hockey was for girls and not a sport boys should be taking part in. How wrong could I have been with only a few minutes gone I had already had several players go past me. After that match I was hooked on the sport. The team I play for is only a small village team but it is still great fun to play. Since I have joined the team has grown quite considerably from one team which was struggling to get players every week to two mens teams and a Ladies team. I would also like to mention how friendly the sport is at the end of every match everybody does the three cheers thing and after everybody has showered and changed the home team take the away team for some food which is free now I can't see many football teams doing that. I believe that hockey is very hard to master it requires a lot of skill to control the stick and the ball movement.

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                          27.07.2001 22:37
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                          When you mention the sport hockey, many people will give you a strange glare and think that you're either a posh boy or a pansy. This definitely isn't the case as hockey can be one of the most dangerous and competetive sports around. Just think about it, twenty-two competetive players on one field or astro-turf armed with hooked sticks and wearing no real protection (apart from goalkeepers of course although if they didn't wear pads then the game would be even more entertaining) and they're all chasing one, very hard ball! Hockey is not too dis-similar from football apart from the fact that there are no offsides, the ball is in the air a lot less and you can only score once you're in the 'D'. Otherwise the tactics and approaches to the game are very similar top that of football with good movement and sharp accurate passing being the key. I too was guilty of being very critical about the sport before actually trying it for myself and over the years I have become very fond of it and even found myself participating in the Oxford Hockey Festival against some of England's best young players. It is a relatively simple sport to learn but very difficult to master, especially where stickwork is concerned. I can understand why sports such as football and tenis are more popular than hockey as I personaly would rate them as more entertaining games, but what I can't understand is the enormous size of the popularity gap between the sports because hockey IS a fun game. If you have never played before and are thinking about giving it a go then my advice is do so because the chances are that you will enjoy it to some extent.

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                            25.05.2001 03:49

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                            Shoud be instead of football. - Advantages: Hard and Fast sport, Can be as dangerous or not as you want, For young and old male and female - Disadvantages: Not publisised, No TV coverage

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                            02.05.2001 20:18
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                            Hockey is one of the most boring and tedius sports that exist today. Although everyone knows of hockey, hockey is not well talked about in the world today. This shows how people feel that the game is very boring. But, the game is very energetic and so can make hockey lovers very fit. Nearly all muscles are used in the game as shooting, running and bending are involved. The game allows people to socialise just as all people do but I feel that time is better spent doing something more exciting. But something being more exciting is only down to preference and so some people may feel that this game is exciting therefore will play it at every available opportunity. I do not feel that this game is very good but I do not have any problems with people who want to play it, playing it. I just think its a rubbish game.

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                              15.03.2001 00:29
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                              I am a relative hockey beginner, I only started playing seriously in September last year. Since then it has grown into my favourite sport to play, I simply love it, you can't not. I began hockey when I was still in school, I played it for P.E and was in the school mixed-hockey team. But after a while, after relentless taunts aimed at me that hockey is for girls, I decided to quit playing. I never really understood those comments, hockey is in fact one of the most competitive sports around. I soon joined college and still had not picked up a stick since Year 10. Then I discovered that some of friends played, I now wouldn't be mocked. It didn't take much convincing for me to join the local hockey club, which people I knew and liked were part of. Soon I was once again a hockey player! Hockey is a relatively simple game to play rules-wise. What few rules there are can be easily learnt and will soon become natural as they make sense. For instance, there is a rule known as "third party". This is where there must not be two players of an opposing team attempting to tackle one. At first this can be very frustrating but you will rarely even notice it if playing with other hockey enthusiasts. The positions that can be played are a hybrid between netball and football really. In a standard game there should be four attackers: left and right wings, two centre forwards. There will usually be three midfielders: left and right inners and a centre. Defence usually has three: left, right and centre back. As well as of course, the goalkeeper. These postions can differ, depending how your club coach/trainer prefers a team to play, but those are the positions on my team. My position is right wing, an attacker. It has always been my position and now find it quite difficult to play well in any other position. Both wings are the perfect positions for a player who has natural pace, and is good at handling the ball at speed. You will get goals from this position and it is generally very flexible in what and where you can do and go on the pitch. As mentioned earlier, hockey is by no means a gentle sport. It is meant to be a non-contact sport, and to a great extent it is. But you will pick up a lot of injuries by playing hockey and will experience a lot of barging etc. This is not allowed, but to keep the pace of the game up (hockey is a very fast paced game) most referees are quite lenient about physical contact. You will come across some reckless players when playing hockey, and these are extremely dangerous indeed. You should never approach a player from his/her's blindside as there is always the danger that they will lift their stick behind them, hitting you in the process. This can cause great damage and there was one case in my league where somebody actually died after inadvertantly being hit with a stick. If an opposing player does not inflict a few bruises or worse, then the actual hockey ball certainly will. In football, there is a limited amount of damage the actual ball can do as it is leather. Shin pads are an absolute necessity when playing hockey, at any level. In matches, the ball is struck with great power and if it comes shooting towards your shin or ankle at a fast pace, then you will by all means know about it. If you are lucky then you will escape with just a bruised shin, but it can, and usually is worse. Some players also wear other protective gear when playing competitive matches, the most common apart from the customary shin pads, are the protective gloves. Your hand is a target whilst playing hockey, it will occasionaly get hit by a loose stick, but the main reason for these type of gloves is for when your stick vibrates. This may not sound painful, but believe me, it can be very. To help soften the vibrations without a glove then you should wrap the stick end with a protective padding, known as grip. This small prevention method is very eff ective and is used by most serious players. I hope that I have not put you off in any way with this opinion, on the contrary, I hope that this will encourage you to start playing, you will certainly not regret it as hockey is one of the most fun sports around. Whether you are just playing for fun with freinds or actually playing for a local team (or beyond) you will always have a good time. Do not play hockey if you are afraid of exercise however, it is a very fast paced game that requires you to do a lot of running to help out your team. My advice to any prospective players...play, and don't look back. Hockey is not a sport "just for girls", if someone tells you that it is, give them a stick, put them in a game and let them find out how "girly" hokcey really is. Play on!!

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