Game played with hooked sticks and a small, solid ball, the object being to hit the ball into the goal. It is played between two teams, each of not more than 11 players. Hockey has been an Olympic sport since 1908 for men and since 1980 for women.
Rules The ground is 91.5 m/100 yd long and 54.9 m/60 yd wide. Goals, 2.13 m/7 ft high and 3.65 m/4 yd wide, are placed within a striking circle of a 14.64 m/16 yd radius, from which all shots at goal must be made. The white ball weighs about 155 grams/5.5 oz, circumference about 228 mm/9 in. Most sticks are about 91 cm/3 ft long and they must not exceed 50 mm/2 in diameter. The game is started by a ‘push-back’ (or ‘bully-off’). The ball may be stopped with the hand, but not held, picked up, thrown or kicked, except by the goalkeeper in his or her own striking circle. If the ball is sent into touch, it is returned to play by a ‘push-in’. The game is divided into two 35-minute periods; it is controlled by two umpires, one for each half of the field.
History A game using hooked sticks, not unlike the contemporary ones, was played by the ancient Greeks, and under the names of ‘hurley’ and ‘shinty’ a primitive form of the game was played in Ireland and Scotland.
Organization Modern hockey in Britain dates from 1886 when the Men's Hockey Association rules were drafted. Since 1895 international matches have been played and there are now 118 countries in membership of the International Hockey Federation (2005). Apart fromthe Olympic Games, where entry is restricted to 12 men's teams, world and continental championships exist. The rules of the game are established by the International Hockey Rules Board, a committee set up by the International Hockey Federation. They are common to both the men's and women's games. The women's game is governed by the All England Women's Hockey Association, founded in 1895. Indoor hockey is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and Europe.
In North America it is known as ‘field hockey’, to distinguish it from ice hockey.
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