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On the Sideline: Field Hockey

For those of you wondering what you’re about to read, here’s a short explanation.

This year in the Waltonian there will be a recurring column where a staff member attempts to explain an otherwise confusing sport.

To start off our year, I’ve chosen field hockey for two reasons. First, last year’s squad hosted and won the PAC Championship. Second, in games, the whistle is blown so much that you may easily confuse the umpire with a drill sergeant.

Let’s start with some basics: A field hockey team consists of ten field players and a goalie. Each player has a stick which consists of a handle and a head.

The head is at the bottom of the stick and curls like the letter J. One side of the head is flat, while the other side is curved. Players are only permitted to use the flat side of the stick.

At the far ends of the hockey field, there is a goal with a large half circle surrounding it on the ground. A goal can only be scored if the ball is inside this circle before going in the goal. If the ball enters the circle, but then goes back out, it needs to reenter for the point to be counted.

Now for the fun part: offenses and penalties. There are many different ways to ‘mess up’ in a field hockey game, hence the whistle. While I would love to go into detail, please understand that there is an official 68-page field hockey rulebook, and I have one tiny column.

Here are some of the most common ones you will see in a game: players may not stop or hit the ball with any part of their bodies, raise their sticks over their heads or use them above shoulder height (unless they are a defender stopping a shot), use their stick in a dangerous way, obstruct another player or intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal.

If a ball is in the air, opposing players must stay five meters away from the player receiving the ball. If it is unclear who is receiving, the player from the team who raised the ball backs off.

Depending on the degree of the offense, a penalty is issued. Typically, the opposing team is awarded a free hit. In other cases the result is a penalty corner or penalty shot.

If a penalty occurs at the end of a half or game, time is extended to complete the penalty.

If you have any more questions, the best way to learn is to go out and watch a game yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask someone if you’re confused.

If there’s a sport you would like to see featured in “On the Sideline” or if you have any further questions, please send your thoughts to sweaver@eastern.edu.

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