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 hands. 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.

What is a Field Hockey Goalie or Goalkeeper?

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 Field Hockey 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.

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What are the Rules of a Field Hockey Goalie?

As with any sport, there are rules in place for each player to abide by in order to have a smooth, fun and safe game. Field Hockey can be a dangerous sport if certain rules are not followed, especially for the goalie.

As you’ll read further along in this post, field hockey goalies are required to wear very specific protective gear in order to keep them safe while also allowing them to stop shots by their opponents. Be sure to read through all the equipment that is necessary for goalkeepers to wear.

Let’s now take a look at some of the other rules that field hockey goalies are required to follow.

  1. Penalty Corners: When the other teams receives a penalty corner, the goalie will wear his/her head protection a and is the only plater permitted to use their feet, hands, and any other body part to stop the ball within their shooting circle.
  2. Clearance Rules: In order to stop a ball, the goalie is permitted to use any part of their body to deflect in from within the shooting circle. The umpire will watch to ensure this is not done in a dangerous manner as to harm other players.
  3. 5-Meter Rule: When the opposing team is awarded a penalty corner, the goalie is required to be 5 meters or more away from the ball. Once it has been played, they are permitted to move.
  4. Substitution: During a stopped play and with the umpire’s permission, the goalie may be substituted into the game. If a substation is made, the goalie, now field player, is subject to the same rules as the other players on the field.
  5. Goal Clearance: When the ball goes out of the boundary lines, the goalie can take a goal clearance. This can either by done by hitting or pushing the ball back into play.
  6. Penalty Strokes: As mentioned earlier, when a penalty stroke is being taken the goalie must stand on or behind the goal line and can only move when the ball is struck by the opponent.
  7. Goalie Interference: This rule is directed towards the other players on the team. No player is allowed to interfere with the goalies ability to defend his/her goal.
  8. Position: Goalies are not subject to the offside rule. They have the ability to move freely on the field.

What Kind Of Goalkeeper Equipment Do I Need for Field Hockey?

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

Related Reading: How to Dress for Outdoor Field Hockey? Head to Toe Guide

Chest Protector

OBO Goalkeeper Chest Guard 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. 

Field Hockey Sticks

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 G6000, 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. 

Related Reading: Can you shorten a field hockey stick?

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 Franklin Sports Store.

Their goalie mask is designed with a vented shell and customizable fit. It ensures a cool and comfortable experience, even when playing under the scorching summer sun.

Additionally, its high-impact plastic construction, coupled with a welded steel cage, provides valuable protection for goalies facing formidable wristers and slapshots. Elevate your young goalie’s performance and confidence in the net with the GFM1500 goalie mask, enabling them to play at their best.

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 IPerform, 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 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 Goalie Kickers are 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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