Get fit playing hockey
How field hockey can improve your health
Hockey is a hugely popular sport, played all over the world. Here are some basic hockey facts including how hockey is great for improving your fitness.
Playing hockey helps developing essential social skills like team work, communication and individual persistence, but also proves an enjoyable and rewarding physical activity that builds up speed, hand-eye coordination and cardiovascular performance. Playing hockey is a great way to improve your fitness.
Hockey is played mainly in clubs, both by women and men. Many people grow up with hockey at school and it can offer a lifetime of both social and sporting opportunities for players, administrators and officials alike. However, clubs welcome new and inexperienced players who are willing to give hockey a go.
The aim of hockey
The aim of hockey is quite simple — to use sticks to dribble, pass, and shoot the ball along the pitch in an effort to score goals. The rules are very similar to those of football except that players use sticks instead of their feet to move the ball. A goal counts as one point and is scored when the ball, having been hit by a player inside the 'striking circle' (also known as the ‘D’), completely crosses the opposing team’s goal line.
The 11 players on a team include a goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and attackers. The only player that is allowed to kick the ball with their feet or touch it with their hands is the goalkeeper. Hockey is played on a 91.4m x 55m (approximately 100yd x 60yd) pitch and each player has a stick which is about 1m (3.3ft) long, has a rounded head, and weighs about 340 to 790g (0.75 to 1.75lb).
Facts about hockey
A hockey match usually lasts 70 minutes, made up of two halves of 35 minutes each. In Olympic competition, any match that ends in a draw goes to extra time (15 minutes in total if required). In extra time the first side to score a ‘golden goal’ wins, but if there is no goal within the extra 15 minutes, a penalty shoot-out results.
Men’s hockey entered the Olympic Games in 1908 and has been an event continuously since 1920. Women have competed at Olympic level since 1980. The name hockey is thought to have originated from the French word ‘hocquet’, meaning a crooked stick or shepherd’s crook.
The fitness benefits of playing hockey
Hockey is a fast-paced sport that helps improve pace, agility and lower body strength. Here are some of hockey’s prime health and fitness benefits:
- Hockey helps in reducing body fat. Playing hockey is a fun and effective way of burning off calories with its fast pace requiring short bursts of sprint energy, along with long-term stamina over the course of a match. The average hockey player is said to burn approximately 0.061 calories per minute, per pound of body weight (0.136 calories per minute, per kilo of body weight).
- Hockey helps develop the body’s cardiovascular system. The sustained energy and holistic muscular strength required in a hockey match help develop the body’s cardiovascular system. This system, made up of the heart and lungs, feeds muscles with oxygen. A stronger cardiovascular system will therefore improve both your breathing and general sports performance by pumping more oxygen around the body.
- Hockey improves lower and upper body muscle strength. Playing hockey is a great way of developing your body’s leg muscles, including the hamstring, hips and calves. It also improves the endurance of shoulder muscles, triceps and forearms.
- Hockey builds coordination skills. Hockey relies on good coordination between the eyes and the hands and improves the reflexes and reaction times of its players. Practising the game develops the body’s coordination abilities through quicker hand-eye reflexes and reactive, nimble feet.