A coach usually assigns the positions that field hockey players assume. Their decision is based on skill level and ability. Bearing that in mind, what are the hardest positions in field hockey?
Playing as a midfielder or goalie is considered the hardest position in field hockey. Midfielders have to constantly change positions as the game goes on, which requires a lot of energy and stamina. Goalies must prevent the other team from scoring, which is tough as well.
Ahead, we’ll talk further about what it takes to excel in the midfielder and goalie roles so if you’re assigned to either one, you’ll be ready to play your best!
What Are the Hardest Field Hockey Positions?
Let’s start by talking about midfielders, who are also referred to as halfbacks. There’s not just one midfielder on any field hockey team, but three of them. One is the left midfielder, the second is the center midfielder, and the third is the right midfielder.
Their roles refer to the parts of the field the midfielder will play. This allows a field hockey midfielder to take a sort of divide and conquer approach to victory.
So what’s challenging about playing as a midfielder? The better question might be what’s easy about it?
Field hockey teams have dedicated offensive and defensive players who only do one or the other. Playing as a midfielder though requires you to be both offensive and defensive depending on what’s going on in the game. The role then is unique, especially when compared to other field hockey positions.
Midfielders are the least likely to stay in one place. They’re constantly all over the field. A good midfielder will work with the defenders to keep the opposing team from getting too close to the goal. They’ll also aide strikers in getting the ball in the goal so their team can score a point.
A midfielder will keep an eagle eye on the ball, watching it no matter its location across the field.
Far from quiet, midfielders will verbally communicate with their team throughout the game. They can get other players into position with their commands or help players push the ball towards the goal. They’re like the glue that keeps the team together in that respect.
Midfielders must also possess amazing physical ability and stamina. They need energy management skills too. Since they’ll run all over the field, they must be able to conserve their resources so they don’t burn themselves out within the first period!
The goalie is another field hockey position that’s more on the difficult side. Known also as the goalkeeper, the goalie’s primary job is to prevent the other team from shooting the field hockey ball into their net.
Field hockey nets are quite large, which is something we’ve talked about on the blog before. The average dimensions of the net are 47.24 inches deep, seven feet tall, and 12 feet wide. The goalie must be able to manage the entirety of their goal, preventing the opposing team from sneaking a shot in behind them to earn a point or even win the game.
Unlike midfielders, a goalie works alone. Even defenders and strikers are part of a smaller unit of several players, but goalies are always solo. Leaving one person to man the entire large field hockey goal is a massive responsibility.
Even so, a field hockey goalie can’t let the pressure get to them. Like a midfielder, they must be able to track the ball no matter how far down the field it gets. If the opposing team is nearing their goal, then the goalie should be ready to spring into defensive action.
Goalies are equipped with gear that’s unlike what the rest of the field hockey team wears. They’ll need shin guards, kickers, a mouth guard, leg guards, a chest protector, and a helmet, and some of this gear is bulkier for safeguarding them from injury.
A goalie has their own field hockey stick, but the length of the stick might be shorter than the sticks the rest of the team uses. The average length of a goalie’s stick is 36.5 inches. Other players on the field might use a stick that’s 38 inches at most.
Although goalies stand in one position for most of the game, they still must be very athletically inclined. Field hockey coaches tend to choose taller players for the goalie spot, as the extra height allows them to see further down the field. They also look more imposing.
That said, shorter players can fill the goalie role too. They just might not have as easy of a time doing so.
How to Excel as a Field Hockey Midfielder
You’ve been put into one of the field hockey midfielder positions. You’re both excited but nervous. Here are some tips that will make it easier to step into your new role with confidence.
Embrace Your Leadership Role
As a midfielder, you’re one of the leaders on your team. Don’t shy away from this position. Rather, embrace it wholeheartedly. Other players on your team should be able to look to you for advice and feedback both on the field and off.
Issue Quick, Clear Verbal Commands
Going back to what we mentioned earlier, as a midfielder, it’s your duty to tell other players what to do in real-time. Since these other players are moving quickly on the field and you’re doing the same, now is not the time for flowery language or overly-detailed commands.
You need to keep your instructions short and sweet. Above all else, the other players should understand exactly what you want them to do. Refrain from using coded language or jargon that will confuse other players, especially if you’re more experienced and they’re not.
Build Your Stamina
Stamina is critical if you hope to be a successful midfielder. When you’re not playing field hockey, you can do plenty to increase your stamina. Exercising is one such option, but start gradually and work your way up to longer, more demanding workouts.
Watch your diet, as what you use to fuel your body can either leave you tired quickly or raring to go for hours.
Avoid caffeine and stimulants like it. They do give you an energy boost, but it’s short-lived. You don’t want to suffer a caffeine crash when you’re in the middle of a field hockey game and down by five points.
Some players say that listening to their favorite music before playing is a great way to pump them up. You can do this during breaks between periods as well if there’s time.
Be Ready to Adapt
Midfielders are nothing if they’re not flexible. Don’t get so set in your position that you’re unwilling to try others as your coach or the other players recommend. It’s that versatility that makes a midfielder such a valuable addition to the team, so remember to be adaptable whenever you can.
How to Excel as a Field Hockey Goalie
The following tips are tailored to field hockey goalies who want to help their team achieve more victories.
Don’t Let the Pressure Get to You
More so than any other player on your team, as the goalie, you’re the difference between your team winning or losing. That can put a lot of pressure on your shoulders.
If you let that pressure distract you, you can play worse than you know you’re capable of. It’s almost like you’re manifesting the losses your team experiences due to your anxiety.
While it is your duty to prevent the opposing team from scoring, goalies aren’t the only ones who can do that. Your team should be able to successfully defend against scoring attempts from the opposing team so the ball never gets too close to your goal.
Work on Watching the Ball
The primary duty of a goalie is watching the ball so they know when to ready themselves for defense. As we mentioned earlier, this entails reviewing the ball’s position even if it’s midway down the field towards the other goal.
If you can’t see the ball, then reorient yourself so you can follow it with ease. Do be aware that a sharp skill like this isn’t borne overnight. You’ll have to keep practicing at it, but eventually, you will get there!
Avoid Letting Your Mind Wander
In some cases, you have the opposite problem to the one we discussed above. Rather than worry constantly about whether your team can drive off the opposition, they’re excellent in keeping the other team away from your goal.
You’re standing there, always ready to act, but you’re not doing much of anything. If this goes on for long enough, your mind can begin to drift away to thoughts of homework, laundry, or what you’re going to eat for dinner.
When your brain is off in la-la land, you’re not paying attention to the game in progress. A slick player on the opposing team can get one over on you and score, using your distraction to their advantage.
Even though you might always be active in a field hockey game, remind yourself that as the goalie, your role is integral. You can’t slack off in that role just as you wouldn’t want any other players on your team to do the same.
Always Make Yourself Bigger Than the Ball
The best way to defend yourself against an incoming ball is to make yourself bigger than it. Technically, you are bigger, but do you outsize the trajectory of the ball? If you don’t, then now the opposing player has an opening, and they are going to take advantage of that.
Whether you’re great at maneuvering from one side of the goal to the other or you can space out your limbs to keep a ball out of the goal, focus on doing what you can to make yourself bigger than the ball.
What Are the Easiest Field Hockey Positions?
If you’re new to field hockey, you might want to refrain from playing as a midfielder or a goalie. You’re just not there yet regarding your experience, although you hope you will be sooner than later.
For now, you’d like an easy position so you can learn the ins and outs of the game through playing. What are your options?
The forward position wings are regarded by many field hockey players as an easier role. A forward or striker is a physically aggressive player who charges forth offensively rather than defensively.
The players on the wing and the right wing especially stay within that zone when playing. They don’t venture over to other zones in most instances. This is beneficial for a beginner, as they know exactly where to stay when playing.
Plus, if the player doesn’t have a lot of stamina or endurance yet, they don’t need it since they’re not all over the field like a midfielder. It’s still a good idea for the player to increase their stamina, but this can happen throughout the season and even into the next season.
In the attack position, they also have the enviable role of being able to score goals and win all the acclaim that comes from that. However, before a striker reaches that point, they must work on their stick-handling techniques to increase their shooting power.
Besides physical skills, strikers must be mentally calm as well. They can’t panic under pressure. They should be brave and ready to stand up to defenders to try to meet their objective of scoring a goal.
A striker needs to keep their eye on their surroundings and watch the ball. As a wing player, even if you want to jump into the center of the field, you have to go against your own urges, since that’s not your zone to play in.
Playing as a midfielder or goalie is regarded as the hardest position in field hockey while wing strikers have an easier job. That said, no field hockey position is exceedingly easy. All require physical prowess and mental acuity to do well. Good luck!