Can You Wear Glasses in Field Hockey?

You’re physically gifted in just about every other way except when it comes to your vision. That’s why you wear glasses. Although you thought your glasses would act as a hindrance to you getting accepted to a field hockey team, that wasn’t the case. Now that you’re about to start playing games, are you allowed to wear glasses?

Field hockey players can wear glasses per new rules from the National Federation of State High School Associations or NFHS that went into effect in 2020. Players can forego the goggles, which were previously required on the field. 

This is great news if you have impaired vision, but is it the best idea to wear glasses when playing a sport like field hockey? Can you even wear a hockey mask over your glasses without causing damage to the lenses? We’ll answer those questions and more ahead, so keep reading! 

Are You Allowed to Wear Glasses in Field Hockey?

Back in 2011, the NFHS published in its Field Hockey Rules Book the troublesome Rule 1-6-5. According to that rule: “All field players shall wear eye protection that met the ASTM standard for field hockey (2713) at the time of manufacture.”

The language has since been modified in the NFHS’ 2020 edition of the Field Hockey Rules Book. Now the rule is as follows: “Goggles may be worn by all field hockey players.”

This is a huge change and a cause for celebration, especially for field hockey players who require glasses. Per the 2011 rules, you had to wear goggles when playing field hockey, and there were no ifs, ands, or buts. 

The NFHS Board of Directors had initially enacted that rule to reduce catastrophic eye injury risks. ASTM International, which was once called the American Society for Testing and Materials, is the forebearer when it comes to establishing standards for almost anything. Thus, ASTM-approved goggles should have been safe for field hockey players to wear.

However, there were several issues with the rule. For one, not every field hockey player found it easy to track down goggles that passed ASTM certification. Second, field hockey players with glasses could not wear both their glasses and the goggles at the same time.

This led to these players having to seek waivers to wear their glasses on the field. 

The issue must have become prevalent enough, as the NFHS later amended the rule. Now, as the language states, a field hockey player can choose to wear goggles on the field if they want to. Those who cannot, either because they cannot find ASTM-certified goggles or they wear glasses, can forego goggles without penalty. 

Is Wearing Glasses a Good Idea When Playing Field Hockey?

You’re happy to hear about this field hockey rule, as the thought of having to choose between goggles or glasses seemed like a tough proposition to be faced with. However, you have your concerns about going onto the field in a pair of glasses. 

Those concerns are rightful. Although if both teams play within the field hockey rules, there shouldn’t be too many balls flying above shoulder height, you never can say, can you? 

A field hockey ball to the face, especially around your eye area, can easily wreck your glasses. At the very least, the frames might bend. You could lose a lens, or the lens could crack; both situations require you to go back to your optometrist for glasses repair or replacement.

There’s also the risk of the glasses falling off your face. If you’re watching the ball as you must when playing field hockey, then the downward angle of your head could cause your glasses to slide forward. If you’re sweating profusely, then your glasses will fall right off your face. 

Once onto the field, your glasses will likely be trampled by other players who didn’t even know what happened. The ref could call a timeout for the obstruction on the field. You could even face a penalty, who knows?

Of course, if you buy a cord or strap system for your glasses, then they should stay firmly on your head, but we had to mention this possibility, nonetheless.

Okay, but you’re thinking there must be an upside to wearing glasses when playing field hockey. For example, don’t you have extra eye protection?

Not really. In the years between 2011 when the NFHS first instituted the goggles-only rule for high-school field hockey players to 2020 when the rule was redacted, research into the effectiveness of goggles in preventing eye injuries didn’t indicate that the goggles were that helpful.

Wearing goggles also didn’t necessarily reduce the rate of catastrophic eye injuries. A catastrophic eye injury is that which causes severe damage such as eye loss or blindness. 

Goggles fit a lot more tightly over the eye area than a pair of glasses. Thus, if goggles can’t prevent a hockey player from potentially suffering a catastrophic eye injury, we don’t think glasses would either. 

How Do You Wear a Field Hockey Mask with Glasses on? 

If not wearing goggles, many field hockey players opt for a face mask instead. We discussed hockey masks in our article about all the equipment the game requires. 

Hockey masks cover the entire face. They have large openings around the nose and eyes for breathability and easily seeing through the mask. Secured by elastic straps, you can loosen or tighten a field hockey mask as needed.

Even still, you wonder how in the world you’d be able to wear glasses under a field hockey mask. 

It’s possible, as many field hockey players have indeed worn both glasses and their hockey masks at the same time. That doesn’t make it feasible, though.

Doubling up with glasses and a hockey mask requires you to loosen the elastic straps of your mask a lot, which can cause the mask to shift. 

Since your nose and mouth are covered (for the most part) in a hockey mask, all that hard breathing you’re doing can cause your glasses to fog up. Then you won’t be able to see when playing. Plus, the plastic hockey mask can scratch your delicate glasses’ lenses.

It might not be a bad idea to see your optometrist to get contacts (in addition to your glasses) so you can wear your hockey mask without interruptions. 

Tips for Wearing Glasses When Playing Field Hockey 

To wrap up, we wanted to share some tips for safely wearing glasses when playing field hockey. These suggestions can prolong the life of your glasses so you’re not shelling out money every season for a new pair! 

Don’t Wear Your Best Glasses on the Field

When buying glasses, many optometrists recommend you buy two pairs at a time. The first pair is your main pair of glasses and the second is your backup. This way, if you lose your glasses or they get damaged or broken, you don’t have to stumble your way through life barely able to see until you can get a new pair made. You can just wear the backup glasses. 

If you can, you might buy a third pair of glasses just for playing field hockey. These glasses should still match your prescription, but you might choose different frames than your usual style. Look for thicker frames in more durable materials. 

If something happened to your field hockey glasses, you could use your backup pair of glasses as a temporary stand-in. Your best glasses, the ones you wear every day, are not rotated in so they’re never at risk of breakage (at least from playing field hockey, that is). 

Consider Sports Glasses

The best type of glasses for athletics is undoubtedly sports glasses. This style of glasses is made for withstanding the rigors of physical activity. They’re more secure than an average pair of eyeglasses while remaining comfortable. 

Impact-resistant lenses can take a beating and not break, although the lenses are not invincible. The flexible frames are usually made of polycarbonate so they can absorb some impact without cracking or bending. 

Keep Your Glasses Clean 

Smudged glasses impede your vision, and that’s the last thing you need when playing field hockey. You don’t want a fleck on your lenses to make you think you’re watching the ball when really you’re just staring at the fleck.

Before every game and after, wipe down your glasses with a soft cloth. Never use your clothing or a tissue to clean your glasses, as these materials can scratch the lenses. The more you wipe your glasses with the wrong materials, the deeper the scratches get. You can also wear away the antiglare coating on your lenses. 

Use a Strap System for Securer Glasses

Are glasses straps the trendiest thing? No. Is anyone even going to be able to tell you have glasses straps on with all the other hockey equipment you need to wear? Also no.

Even if your glasses usually fit you well, we’d still recommend using a strap system when playing field hockey. As we talked about before, sweat can make your glasses slide when they usually don’t move that much.  

Tighten Your Glasses After Every Game

Playing field hockey is rigorous on the body, and the same can be said of your glasses as well. If you don’t already own a glasses repair kit (you know, the one that comes in that small translucent plastic tube), then do yourself a favor and purchase one.

After every game, use the mini screwdriver to tighten the screws in your frames (unless your frames have no screws). Your glasses will fit better too, which can prevent the sliding issue we’ve been talking about. 

See Your Eye Doctor Regularly 

This is just a good tip in general. You should get an eye exam every year. Your glasses prescription isn’t good forever after all. If you need stronger glasses, then even though you wear glasses now, you could still squint and struggle to see what’s in front of you with them on. 

That will not make you a very effective field hockey player. Schedule an appointment to see your eye doctor if you haven’t in a while.  

Final Thoughts

You can wear glasses as a field hockey player, as the latest rules from the NFHS allow you to forego goggles when playing. That said, glasses don’t fit well under your hockey mask, and wearing them puts you at risk of getting your glasses broken. 

Whether you decide to take your chances and wear glasses when playing field hockey or ask your optometrist about contacts, make sure your prescription is current. You need to be able to see just as well as the other players on the field to win!

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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