Can You Wear Jewelry in Field Hockey?

Most people have a favorite piece of jewelry, whether that’s a wedding band, a pendant passed down over the generations, or a trendy wrist watch or bracelet. You’ve recently been accepted to a field hockey team (congratulations!), and you’re curious how much if any jewelry is allowed. What’s the rule?

The National Federation of State High School Associations or NFHS states in Article 5 in the 2020 Field Hockey Rules that the only jewelry allowed when playing field hockey is medical or religious medals. Jewelry can be injurious to other players as well as yourself!

In today’s article, we’ll further unpack the rules on whether you can wear jewelry when playing field hockey. We’ll also talk more about the above exemptions and present some very compelling reasons to leave your jewelry at home when playing field hockey.

Let’s get started! 

Is Jewelry Allowed When Playing Field Hockey?

If you remember our article about whether you can wear glasses when playing field hockey, the rules for such were established by the NFHS in their Field Hockey Rules guide. That same guide tells us what the allowances are for jewelry on the field. 

Per the 2020 edition of the NFHS Field Hockey Rules, in Rule 1-5: Player Uniform, Article 5: “Jewelry shall not be worn except for religious or medical medals.” 

USA Hockey categorizes jewelry as “dangerous equipment.”

Other field hockey leagues ban jewelry too. For example, UMass Amherst shared its field hockey rules, and in Section II, EQUIPMENT, Rule D, it says: “Jewelry, including rings, bracelets, necklaces, watches and earrings, is illegal.”

That’s a good distinction to make, especially considering that the NFHS’ rules don’t go into detail about what constitutes jewelry. The UMass Amherst list would apply.

Exceptions to the Rule

The only two exceptions are medical and religious medals. Let’s talk about this a little bit more.

Medical medals are worn not as a fashion statement or for sentimental value, but as a medical alert. The wearer dons the bracelet so that if they’re ever unconscious, medical personnel could still understand the wearer’s health situation and administer the proper care.

For example, those with epilepsy, diabetes, and heart conditions usually wear such bracelets. If you have a severe food allergy, then you might use a medical alert bracelet as well. They’re life-saving bracelets, so of course, the NFHS wouldn’t bar them.

A religious medal is usually a coin (although not exclusively) that’s worn to commemorate religious events such as after being baptized. 

In other instances, the medal is considered a devotional medal, which is frequent of the Catholic faith but may also be issued and worn by denominations such as the Lutheran, Anglican, and Orthodox faiths. 

In the case of saint medals worn among those in the Catholic faith, the medals are supposed to offer protection to the wearer and thus would be an everyday accessory. These and other types of religious medals would be permitted during field hockey practice and games. 

What About Plastic and Rubber Jewelry? Is That Allowed When Playing Field Hockey?

Not everybody likes metal jewelry. For some, the cost of these pieces is too high. Others might have a metal allergy that prohibits them from wearing metal jewelry. 

That’s why jewelry made of lower-cost materials such as rubber or plastic is so in vogue, especially among younger players still in school.

From plastic earrings to rubber Livestrong bracelets or even plastic friendship bracelets, where do these kinds of jewelry fall under the NFHS’ field hockey rulebook?

The NFHS does not specify in its rules that jewelry must only be made of metal to qualify as jewelry. Thus, it doesn’t matter if it’s plastic or rubber or any other material, jewelry is jewelry. 

A rubber bracelet may stay put on the field and plastic earrings aren’t such a big deal if lost, but a field hockey coach following NFHS rules should still prohibit these accessories. 

Why Jewelry on the Field Is Risky

Medical and religious medals notwithstanding, jewelry and field hockey do not mix. Here are some very convincing reasons that prove that point. 

Jewelry Can Hurt Other Players (and Yourself)

Field hockey isn’t a contact sport, but that doesn’t mean there exists no potential for physical contact. 

If another player isn’t wearing their protective equipment, such as at practice, and they connect with your hand that’s decorated with a ring, or they bump into your chest that has a hard pendant, depending on the force and the impact, jewelry could do some damage.

More so than the risk of hurting another player with your decorative jewelry, you could injure yourself. Let’s say you loosely tuck a pendant into your field hockey jersey. As you speed across the field, your pendant comes flying up and smacks you in the chin. If the chain is longer, the pendant could even hit you in the mouth and possibly knock out a tooth or two. 

No One Can See Your Jewelry Anyway

Between your gloves, your pads, and the rest of your protective equipment, your jewelry will not be exposed when playing. That negates the whole point of wearing it, which we assume is to show off. 

You Can Lose Your Valuable Jewelry Under All Your Equipment

What if your ring is already a little loose and you then put on a thick pair of field hockey gloves? It could slip off your finger as you begin sweating and get lost in your gloves while you’re playing. 

A necklace can come undone under your jersey and fall right out. You’d have to notice that you lost the jewelry, then try to subtly recover it. The ref would likely pause the game for an obstruction on the field. Once you identify that yes, the jewelry is yours, you could be penalized for wearing jewelry on the field in the first place.

If you don’t notice until after the game that your jewelry is missing, it’s hard to say what its fate would be at that point, but your favorite jewelry is likely gone for good. 

Your Jewelry Could Get Scratched, Scuffed, or Otherwise Damaged

Even if you didn’t lose your jewelry, do you think it’s good for your fine jewels to rub against padding or jersey material for several hours? What about all the heat and sweat between the layers of your uniform, is that good for metal? The answer, of course, is no.

If you value your jewelry, it’s best to leave it at home. Wear it in between games, but not on the field.

Maybe you feel strange without jewelry on. In that case, you can get inventive. As we’ve talked about on the blog, it’s not unheard of for pro hockey players to get wedding bands tattooed around their fingers. This way, they carry their commitment with them always even if they can’t wear jewelry when playing. 

If Allowed to Wear Jewelry When Playing Field Hockey, How Can You Do So Safely?

Going back to those above mentioned exemptions for wearing jewelry when playing field hockey, the risks we talked about are still present. You could hurt yourself or other players with loose jewelry, not to mention your important jewelry could be lost on the field.

That’s why the NFHS mandates that medical and religious jewelry be taped. The official verbiage is: “A religious medal may be taped and worn under the uniform. A medical-alert bracelet must be taped and may be visible.”

You can use hockey tape to keep jewelry secure under your uniform or follow USA Hockey’s recommendation for taping a cast, which is to use “1/2 inch thick, high-density, closed-cell polyurethane or an alternate material.” 

Final Thoughts 

Wearing jewelry is a means of self-expression, but when playing field hockey, it’s not allowed. Flying jewelry can hurt yourself and other players, and you could lose precious family heirlooms on the field. 

If you have a medical alert bracelet, such as for diabetes or allergies as well as a religious medal, you can wear these during your field hockey games. However, they must be taped securely to your body/uniform.

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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