Field Hockey

Learn about this Summer Olympic sport

April 27, 2012

Athletes Eduard Tubau, Maximilian Mueller and Philip Witte compete in the Men's Gold Medal Match between Germany and Spain at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Field hockey has been around since 2000 B.C. Men’s field hockey made its Olympic debut in the 1908 Games in London, England. The game was played on grass until the 1970s, when plastic turf was introduced. The turf allowed the ball to roll more smoothly and quickly. The game suddenly became faster and more exciting. Women made their entrance in this sport at the 1980 Games in Moscow, Russia. Since the 2000 Sydney Summer Games, men have competed in a 12-team tournament and women in a 10-team tournament.

Rules of the Games

Field hockey matches are divided into two halves that are each 35 minutes long. There are 11 players and five substitutes on each team. Players use hook-shaped sticks to advance a hard ball towards their opponents’ goal.

At the Olympic Games, men and women compete in separate tournaments of 12 teams each. The 12 teams are divided into two groups of six teams. Each team is labeled either “A” or “B”. Each team plays against the other five teams in its group. The top two teams on each side move on to the semifinals. The remaining teams play matches to determine fifth through 12th place. The two winning teams from the semifinal rounds play for the gold medal. The other two teams play for the bronze medal. 

Click here to read about fencing at the Olympic Games.

Click here to go back to “Summer Olympic Games.”

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