Can A Field Hockey Goalie Catch The Ball?

One of the underdog events of any Olympic games is Field Hockey. It is a sport that is played throughout the world by both men and women and has some interesting rules regarding the goalkeeper.

The goalkeeper in field hockey cannot catch the ball with their hand. They can use the stick, pad, legs, and feet, but no hands. The pads protecting the hands can be used to stop and deflect the ball, but no catching.

For some, field hockey is a sport that has lived for centuries on the continent but doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves. Drive on and learn what a field hockey goalkeeper does to help their team win the match.

The Goalkeeper: What Do They Do?

The purpose of field hockey is to score on the other opponent’s team goal. You drive a hard hockey ball down the field and are either an attacker or a defender. Each player will swap depending on who has possession. It mirrors soccer in that it is a high paced game with constant shifts in possession. 

Each team has 11 players, and the field is 100 yards by 60 yards. The average player, not our beloved goalkeeper, runs about five miles during the match. The game is light and fast, which is entertaining and keeps the crowd in the game. 

The goalkeeper is one of the most exciting positions on the field. They have a 20-yard area that they can use any part of their body to stop the ball from entering the goal. No player on the field can use their hands, when not attached to the stick, to catch the ball. The goalkeeper can use the pads attached to their hands and arms to block the ball and clear it from their area. 

One of the big no-nos in field hockey is lying on the ball. The amount of diving and shifting that a goalkeeper does often places them on top of a hockey ball. This causes a stoppage in the play, which is not suitable for the game. When the ball is stopped, the player will get a free shot on the goal. This is the typical one v. one that we know from soccer and is just as exciting.

The Goalkeepers Area

The area around the goal is 23m (75 feet for the U.S.), the goalie can move outside of the area, but there are conditions. A goalkeeper must remove their helmet when they step outside of their field. They also cannot use their leg and foot pads to drive the ball. They must use their sticks just like the other players on the field

There are strict rules that govern the actions of each player. For instance, a player cannot raise a stick above their head because it could injure another player on the downswing. The goalkeeper wears the majority of protective equipment. They must be dressed in a different colored shirt with arm and leg protection. 

The goalkeeper wears most of the protective equipment. They must be dressed in a different colored shirt with arm and leg protection.

What Kind Of Goalkeeper Equipment Do I Need?

The goalie is one of the best-equipped players on the field. These must be in a different color than the usual team uniforms. Each piece of gear serves a purpose and is required in the rules before the game begins. The list of equipment a goalkeeper needs are:

  • Chest Protector
  • Sticks
  • Head/Throat Protection
  • Hand Protection
  • Leg Guards

Chest Protector

OBO Yahoo Body Armor is a lightweight chest protector that weighs just three pounds. It is made up of 38 different foam pieces, strategically placed to protect the player from collisions and wild sticks. The separate arms give it a place to cool the wearer. The game is so fast and hard on players, that they need all the heat ventilation that they can get. This set is one of the coolest on the market and not just looks wise. 

The number of shots that the goalkeeper takes in a game can be quite high. If the goalie takes a number of these off their chest and doesn’t have a protector, it could mean breaks in the sternum or clavicle. Once a severe bruise occurs on the upper arm or shoulder, the goalie will become less effective. 


When it comes to sticks, there are several options, but each must fit the requirements of the league. Make sure that you check the rules before jumping in and spending a ton of bucks on a new stick. A good rule of thumb to follow is shorter sticks for shorter players. The most massive sticks come in about 37.5 inches and are for players 5’10” and taller. 

A lot  of innovation has gone into the modern stick, which is made of carbon fiber and fiberglass. One of the most highly used sticks, the Grays GX8000, is an excellent example of this innovation. The largest model is light, weighing just over a pound, and the giant face means better ball reception. The most elite players in the world use Grays model sticks for their extra durability. 

Head/Throat Protection

Carbon fiber is a material that is stronger than plastic but much lighter. It is used in sports racing to provide the same protection as steel, and they use it to make field hockey helmets as well. One of those companies is OBO. They make the OBO Robo. Robo is a series of products that can be interchanged to make one solid piece of gear. OBO comes in every color that can be matched. 

It is one of the highest-rated models on the market and one of the safest as well. It has a gel coating on the inside that cushions the head and protects it from injury. The design features a slanting to the eye protection that deflects balls away from the wearer. The cage on the front of the helmet is made from durable metal, usually aluminum, that protects the wearer while providing enough space for a clear line of sight. 

Hand Protection

When it comes to gloves in field hockey, there are two kinds. The first is the standard model used for all players, as the Harrow Field, protects the exposed fingers of the hand while leaving the thumb exposed to grip the stick. Grips of most sticks are covered in a spongy tape-like material that cushions the blow of the ball on the bat.

For goalies, there are a different set of pads. These long flat pieces protect the hand and keep the goalkeeper from making a fist. OBO makes some of the best in the game when it comes to the field hockey equipment industry. Their OBO Ogo goalkeeper set are some of the most bought and highly rated products on Amazon. 

Leg Guards

The leg guards worn by goalkeepers are more extensive than the leg and cover from ankle to hip. The goalie is allowed to use these pads to move the ball while in their zone, so they should be more than fluffy pillows. This is the most expensive part of the goalie equipment, but it also covers the most area. The foam pads are attached to a smaller boot called a kicker. 

Kickers are the part of the leg guards that cover the foot. They attach to the leg guards and have to be purchased separately. The OBO Robo Hi is a great choice when picking out some kickers. They are made from the same material as the uppers and will provide equal protection.

Field Hockey: 101

A version of field hockey was found on an ancient Greek pot dating back to the sixth century B.C. The game we know today took form in the 1850s in the U.K. The public schools used the sport as a winter activity. The constant movement provided an excellent outlet for the students, and the game could be played with sticks found around the home.

Today the game is played across the continent with both sexes playing extremely high level hockey. The game has changed since the days of the elk horn stick, but the action that the game provides continues to inspire fans and players alike. 

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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