Field hockey is a fun and competitive game that’s played with teams of 11 people on both sides. Whether you’re playing as part of a school team or even with pros, you must know the rules inside and out. Are you allowed to use either side of your hockey stick when on the field?
Field hockey players should only use the flat side of their stick. If they play with the curved side, they could be penalized. It’s believed that the flat side of the field hockey stick is used to up the degree of difficulty.
If you have more questions about field hockey sticks and other aspects of the game, we’ve got answers. Ahead, we’ll explain both sides of a field hockey stick in detail, talk further about which side you can use, and discuss other techniques related to field hockey. Make sure you keep reading!
Field Hockey Sticks 101 – Can You Use Both Sides?
A field hockey stick is a crucial game instrument that’s between 35 and 38 inches long on average. A typical field hockey stick weighs up to 623 grams. Many are made of wood such as mulberry, ash, or hickory.
One side of the field hockey stick is curved compared to the other end, which is flat. You cannot swap out hitting the ball with the curved end of the stick and the flat one whenever you feel like it. That’s one of the cardinal rules of the game.
Which side of the stick should you use? Players should only hit the field hockey ball using the flat side of their stick. We’ll talk in the next section what happens about if you don’t play by the rules.
Okay, but why is this rule in place? After all, in ice hockey, you can use either side of the stick. Sure, but ice hockey sticks are flat on both sides, whereas field hockey sticks only have one flat side.
Using the curved side of your field hockey stick to hit the ball would be too easy. You have to be more skilled at the game to successfully score a field hockey goal using your stick’s flat side, and that’s likely why this rule is in place.
What Happens If You Use Both Sides of the Field Hockey Stick During a Game?
Unless it’s a non-competitive game in your backyard, then you can bet a referee will officiate the field hockey game. They’ll keep an eye on the players to ensure everyone is following basic conduct.
Using the curved side or the backside (aka the toe edge) of your field hockey stick is considered breaking that basic conduct. If a ref spots you doing it, you’ll be penalized. The other team will get the ball, which puts your team at a disadvantage.
That’s not the only foul in field hockey, by the way. You can also raise the ball off the field, which is known as undercutting, which will result in a penalty. Rough play will get you penalized, as will making contact with the ball using your body. Obstructions are also not allowed.
How Do You Hold a Field Hockey Stick?
How you hold a field hockey stick can encourage penalties if you lift the ball too often, so it’s a good idea to be crystal-clear on how to do it. Allow us to tell you in this section by explaining the different types of field hockey stick grips (yes, there’s more than one!).
It’s always good to start with the basics, so that’s what we’ll do too. To achieve a basic grip on your field hockey stick, put your right hand around the grip’s base. Then place your left hand over the top of your right hand.
What is the grip? That’s the material around the top of your field hockey stick. It’s usually leather, but not always.
Your index finger and thumb will connect, which is a technique known in field hockey as the V. By making a V with both your hands, they’ll be aimed at the toe edge, which you’ll recall is the curved backside of your field hockey stick.
The basic grip comes in handy when stopping, hitting (sometimes), and dribbling. Your right hand should never move off the stick; instead, you use your left hand for turning and other maneuvers.
Okay, so single-handedly holding the field hockey stick is not something you’re likely to do as you’re just getting started, but it is a technique you’ll want to learn as you advance.
Before you can play field hockey this way, you have to choose whether your right or left hand will alone hold the stick.
If it’s your right hand, then you need to position your index finger and thumb into the traditional V shape near the stick’s toe edge, just as you did with basic positioning. Then you can use the right-handed grip for dribbling, especially if you’re dribbling nearer your right side. You should notice that you dribble faster.
That said, the right-handed grip doesn’t work well if you’re playing field hockey in the grass.
The left-handed grip requires you to start by moving your left hand nearer the top of your field hockey stick with the stick angled so the flat side is out. Your index finger and thumb’s V should be positioned towards the stick’s back edge rather than the toe edge. The back edge is in the opposite location.
When playing with the ball nearer your left side, a one-handed left grip makes sense, and you’ll be able to backhand dribble with ease (provided you’re a more advanced field hockey player, of course).
Frying Pan Grip
The frying pan grip helps you hit the ball in one sweep. You can also more easily do reverse drives. Both your hands should be at the top of your stick so you’re making a double-V with your hands. Next, angle your stick so it’s parallel with the ground but the flat side is still outward.
By moving your hands down the stick until they’re midway down but still in the V position as you did with the frying pan grip, you’ve achieved the short-handle grip. You can hit the field hockey ball faster with a short-handle grip.
The double-V is a classic field hockey stick-holding grip. To do it, put your hands near the top of your stick as you did with the basic grip until your hands make the V shape towards the stick’s toe edge.
If your right hand feels uncomfortable, you can move it a little bit, but keep your movements minute or you won’t be in the double-V grip anymore.
Your hitting power increases with a double-V grip, but only if you maintain the correct stance. By creating space between one hand and the other, your grip and thus your hitting power will be significantly weaker.
The reverse of the basic grip requires you to alter the V shape of your index finger and thumb so they’re nearer the bottom of your stick. The flat side of the field hockey stick should be out, and your hands should be on that side.
You can then flick or scoop expertly.
Field Hockey Hitting Techniques
What’s a flick? What’s a scoop? Here are some hitting techniques you’ll use in the game of field hockey as you score your way to victory.
To flick a field hockey ball is to raise it in the air so you can shoot it long-distance. If you want to score goals, flicking is a technique you’ll have to get good at.
In becoming a flicking expert, you have to watch the height of the ball too. Most field hockey rules require that the max flicking height is 18 inches. The exception is when your shot is a scoop, push, or flick. Then you can launch it at whichever height you prefer.
The drag flick is a variation of the traditional flick. Since it takes quite a while to master the basic flick, expect to dedicate more time to learning the drag flick so you can use it during a field hockey game.
You need to count each step you take on the run-up, aka your way up to the ball. Then put your left leg out so it’s further than the ball. This creates a dragging distance that will help you flick. When dragging the ball, you want to cross your legs, then bend at the knees.
The field hockey ball will roll downward when you swing at it, which gives you more of a pronounced flick. Keep your shoulders square when following through and consider rotating your body to increase the power of your shot.
You can use the drag flick for scoring goals.
The scoop or aerial pass is to lift the field hockey ball with your body in that direction. Scoops come in handy for short-distance shots.
To do a scoop, first, move your bottommost hand lower on the end of the stick grip. Then shift the field hockey stick so that it’s parallel with your right arm. This introduces a sharp 90-degree angle from the stick to your left arm.
Next, bend at the knees so you can use your arms and legs in tandem, increasing the power you get out of both. Put your left leg into your step and scoop the ball with some spring.
A push pass is for sending the field hockey ball to another teammate. You want to use the basic grip for holding your stick during a push pass. Then angle your body perpendicularly to the intended direction of the ball. Position your body so your chest is facing the ball.
Now bend at the knees, but redirect more of your weight towards your back leg as you do. The ball will be several feet from the toes of your hindfoot. Shift your weight back and then drag the ball, letting it go towards your teammate.
If you need to pass the ball to your partner from a longer distance, try a slap pass. The ball should be in front of you and your body should be aimed towards where you want to hit the ball.
Put both hands on the end of your stick, then bend at your back leg and sweep the stick. Make sure your backswing is as flat as possible for a smooth slap pass.
A slap shot is yet another way to score a goal, as it’s both speedy and powerful. Start a slap shot by putting your body perpendicular to the goal. Maintain a firm grip on the stick and space your hands apart and lower on the stick nearer the end of the grip tape.
Space your feet to the distance of your shoulders and then do a back-swing. If you open your field hockey stick’s face when hitting, the ball will lift higher. Then use a low follow-through.
Driving in field hockey is a technique that beginners will have to learn and practice quite a lot, as it’s considered one of the harder means of scoring a goal in this game.
You want to keep your feet together, standing a few feet away from the ball. Next, position your hands on the stick so they’re only an inch from the top of your stick.
Keep your hands close. Then bend at the knees, shifting your weight towards your back leg. Begin to pull back your stick so it’s at the height of your waist. Step forward once and swing, keeping the stick’s flat side forward.
Field hockey is a great team sport that nearly anyone can excel at. If you go into the game knowing which side of your field hockey stick you can use for hitting and which you can’t, you’ll already be off to a good start. Have fun out there!