How to Dress For Outdoor Field Hockey: A Head-To-Toe-Guide


Outdoor hockey, or field hockey, is one of the most ancient sports known. Ancient civilizations, including ancient, Egypt played games using sticks and balls (or other equipment) with the idea of scoring goals. While the general idea of field hockey has not changed too much, the equipment has.

In this article, I will explain how to dress for field hockey and how it will help you play one of the oldest games known.

Field hockey may appear as a sport where you can dress in almost anything. Reality is how you dress for field hockey could affect your performance and may even help to avoid injury. You should have a specific uniform set and some equipment to help you play including: 

  • Proper clothes
  • Proper shoes
  • Protection

Dress Comfortably for The Sport

Field hockey can be one of the most vigorous and intense sports. It is best to wear something comfortable and flexible so you can play as vigorously and as intensely as you need to.

Field hockey is primarily played in the Fall. You will need clothing that will both control heat and humidity. Wicking clothing tends to work, and shorts will do the job during warmer times.

During cold weather you should also have pants, preferably those that can be removed rather easily for weather changes or to play according to uniform.

Although field hockey is male dominated globally, women dominate the hockey fields in some countries including the US. Sometimes skirts are worn by women in field hockey. Sometimes men wear them for the sport. There are many reasons to wear a skirt including tradition, but they can also help with performance. There is more heat exchange while wearing skirts instead of shorts to help players. It also helps with controlling humidity around your legs.

There is much debate over whether you should wear a specific uniform or not. It is far more important to be comfortable than to worry about the details.

Your Shoes Are Far More Crucial

While the best clothing to wear should be determined by the player the shoes are more crucial to how you dress for field hockey. After all, your shoes should be the only thing aside from the ball and stick that touch the ground.

Comfort is important when it comes to your shoes. How they fit will be important. You must be sure you can run comfortably in them and help to avoid blisters. However, comfort will not matter if your shoes do not fit your needs. 

Cleats are good on a grass field. They will help to maintain grip on the field and ensure speed and agility when both are needed. They will also prevent slips and falls in more intense or slippery situations.

These cleats may not work for indoor courts or even on turf though. It is crucial to have the right shoes for the right grounds. Court shoes will have the grip necessary for gripping a smooth surface without spikes. Turf shoes are much like cleats, but with shorter spikes that have better performance on an artificial turf field. 

Shin and Rash Guards Protect Your Legs

Field hockey involves the swinging of strong sticks and a fast ball. If either of them hit you while you are unprotected, it will hurt. However, both the sticks and the ball will be low to the ground. You may not be able to protect everything, but most of those hits will be below the knees. That is why shin guards are crucial.

Shin guards will protect your lower leg from the hits you will take from field hockey. They are like a shield for your lower leg when pants are not always viable.

Shin guards are not the most comfortable things to wear though, especially if they are moving around constantly. Rash guards will prevent irritation from shin guards by providing a soft layer between the shin guards on your legs.

Mouth Guard for Further Protection

While protection is not the largest concern with field hockey you should still anticipate the worst to happen. A stick may be swung too high or a ball may gain a little too much air. 

A mouth guard will not only protect your mouth (as the name says), but it will protect you from concussions especially from a collision.

If you want a mouth guard that can optimize your concussion protection, it is best to buy a custom made mouth guard with adequate thickness instead of over the counter.

A Cup Can Protect You Further

If you are a man playing field hockey you may be at risk of low blows. A cup will provide further protection that your pants nor pads will protect.

Some women may still wear them for added protection. That area is still sensitive to low blows, although, maybe not as sensitive as men.

Gloves Are Optional But Good

In field hockey a ball is flying at high velocities and some players have the option to quickly catch and place a high flying ball back on the ground if their reflexes are fast enough. The glove will need a little padding to help with this.

The glove can also provide protection and added grip for when the need arises.

Goalie Equipment Could Be Needed for Further Protection

While every player is at risk of contact in field hockey no one is as prone to these strikes as a goalie. After all, their task is to come between the ball and the goal. Sometimes a ball flying at full force could have more force than a larger stick.

A goalie will need a different list of equipment to dress for field hockey including:

  • A helmet
  • Throat protector
  • Pads
  • Goalie girdles
  • Leg guards.

The Helmet Needs A Balance of Visibility And Protection

A field hockey helmet usually has a cage to protect the face while also protecting the skull from blunt force. However, the cage could easily blind you to where the ball and some of the players are on the field.

You should have a helmet that does not block your peripheral vision so you can see what is coming to you from the side. Furthermore, the cage should not be so thick as to potentially block your vision. But note that a thinner cage may not provide much protection.

Protect Your Most Vulnerable and Vital Area

The throat is one of the most vulnerable and vital areas of your body. It contains some of your most crucial blood vessels, airways, and the esophagus. If you are a goalie in field hockey a throat protector should be worn. These will be a pad that wraps around your throat.

Pads Will Protect You and The Goal

Goalies should wear:

  • Chest pads
  • Leg pads
  • Arm protectors
  • Hand protectors. 

These will all protect you from shots at the goal. Hand protectors can also be flat to help you catch any high flying shot coming at your goal.

Leg pads can even be used to protect the goal. However, you should be careful with how large they are. It is usually required that leg pads are not larger than 12 inches wide, so you do not have an unfair protective advantage in field hockey.

Final Thoughts

Field hockey can be a surprisingly intense, vigorous, and sometimes even violent sport. You need to wear clothing that will allow you to bring your all onto the field.

Field hockey is not as violent as ice hockey though, you will not need much for protection. However, there are still balls flying across the field and sticks being swung. You should still wear some basic protective equipment including:

  • Shin guards
  • Cup
  • Mouth guard. 

Some other equipment including gloves would at the very least be wise so you can have more protection and better grip.

However, if you are a goalie, you need a different set of equipment altogether. Some of the equipment will help you and your team throughout the game, but more importantly, it will help you take the flying balls coming at you during an intense game.

Related Content

If you’re a fan of field hockey, you’ve probably noticed that many field hockey players choose to wear one glove. While you’ll frequently see players with no gloves at all, it’s far less often that you’ll see a player wearing two, outside of the goalkeeper, of course. Why do most players wear only one glove?

Field hockey sticks are built to last for the tough sport they are used in. Unlike ice hockey, field hockey sticks are shaped differently and used on solid surfaces like grass, artificial turf, or even indoor solid surfaces. As well built as some are, a field hockey stick can get to the point that it needs to be changed out for a new one. 

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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