A Complete Guide to Hockey


Movies have been made, songs have been written, and people have been ardent fans of this sport that gave India the ultimate crowning glory in the field of sports! Yes, we are talking about Hockey! Despite the fact that hockey is no longer India’s national sport, it continues to reign in its popularity with the masses and has made a distinct place for itself that will never die out regardless of time and changes in the culture of Indian sports!


Hockey In A Nutshell

Hockey, which used to be India’s national sport at one point of time, has been enjoyed as a game for the last several centuries.

What started off in ancient Egypt as a pastime consisting of a stick and ball has grown to become one of the most challenging and sporting games globally.

India’s history with hockey goes way back to the times of British Raj, and the sport has given us many iconic sportsmen such as Dhyan Chand, Leslie Claudius, and Ajit Pal Singh.

The main purpose of this sport is to tackle a ball or a puck on the field using a Hockey stick and shooting it in the opposing team’s goal post. For each successful shot, the team gets a point.

Various championships on state, national and international level are held every year, and some of the popular Hockey players who have set the Indian hockey fields on fire include Sandeep Singh, Yuvraj Valmiki and Ritu Rani.


How Would You Describe Hockey?

facts of hockey

Hockey is a sport in which two teams play against each other, and each team gets points if they manage to successfully manoeuvre a ball into the opposing team’s goal post by using a Hockey stick. This game is traditionally played on a grassy field this is about 100 yards in length and 60 yards in width.

In India, there are two Hockey teams which consist of a Men’s Hockey team and a Women’s hockey team, both of which are on a national level. The IOA (Indian Olympic Association) works closely with the International Hockey Federation and helps in the execution of all the major championships and tournaments that take place within the country and outside.

Some of the popular hockey championships include the Premier Hockey League, World Series Hockey, and Hockey India League.


Overview and History Of Hockey

history of hockey

  • People have indulged in sporting activities pertaining to the stick and ball since pre-historic times, and Hockey too as a sport has been derived through such leisurely pursuits of amusement.
  • As a game, hockey is played between two opposing teams, where each team has to tackle a ball in such a way that it reaches the opposing team’s goal post, and through this process each team scores points over the other.
  • The distinct feature of hockey is the hockey stick and ball since the stick is curved at the end, and the hockey ball is hard and dense.
  • What may come as a surprise to many is the fact that Hockey as a game first started in ancient Egypt. Well trained and skilled archaeologists have been able to find 4000 year old carvings where men are seen playing with sticks and balls, and the carvings depict a game that involves teams of 2 or more.
  • The game back then was perhaps referred to as Keretizien, although no one truly knows how the word ‘Hockey’ came to be.
  • Around the 19th century or so various other forms developed which were similar to what is known as hockey today, and with modernization kicking in, various government and sports organizations got together to give this game more definition and precision. This paved the way for many countries including India who started participating in national as well as international championships.
  • Hockey found its way into the Indian borders during the British raj. The skilled English sportsmen trained the Indian British regiments, who rapidly picked up the game and made it their own. Although hockey had been India’s national sport for several years, in August 2012 the Ministry of Youth affairs and sports declared that India would have no national sport.
  • The first hockey club was formed in Calcutta in the year 1885, and soon after that other clubs were established in cities like Bombay and in some parts of Punjab.
  • Bengal Hockey was the first hockey association that was founded in 1908, after which the popularity of the game picked up immensely and reached other cities and states such as Bihar, Orissa, and Delhi.
  • On the Olympic front, India first played hockey in Amsterdam in the year 1928, where they won. The years following that, India successfully managed to bag the best team title 5 years in a row, and garnered victory and prestige for the Indian Hockey Federation.

The 1964 Indian Hockey Team

  • Some of the most outstanding Indian hockey players during these times were Dhyan Chand, Yusuf Gateley, and Ernest Cullen.
  • Besides the national men’s team, a women’s hockey team was also formed, and the team got its first ground breaking victory at the Women’s Hockey World Cup at Mandelieu in the year 1974, where it finished in the 4th place.
  • However, the best performance by the Women’s Hockey team was at the Olympic Games in 1980 which was held at the Moscow Summer Olympics. There has been no looking back for the Indian hockey team since then and both Women’s and Men’s hockey teams have won various titles and championships.


Rules and Regulations Of Hockey

rules, regulations and specifications of hockey

The main objective of the game is to hit the ball with the stick in a way that it reaches the opponent’s goal. Every single time the ball makes it to the goal, the respective team gets a point. At the end of the game, the team with the highest number of points wins, however if both teams have acquired equal points, a draw can be called for.

Some important points that one must make a note of:

  • Each team consists of 11 players.
  • 1 Goalkeeper for each team along with 10 outfield players.
  • The outfield players consist of defenders, midfielders, and attackers.
  • The pitch for the game is supposed to be 100 yards long and 60 yards wide, and has 3 lines running across the width of the pitch which are two 25 yard lines and a half way line to signify to players the different sections of the pitch.
  • At the end of each pitch, there is a goal which has to be 4 yards wide.
  • And around the goal is a 16 yard line which is the only area on the pitch where the respective players are supposed to shoot from.
  • A hard ball is used for Hockey along with a curved wooden stick.
  • While playing, only the flat side of the stick can be used to tackle the ball. If the player is seen using the backside of the stick, a foul can be called upon him or her.
  • The stick can however be turned around to hit the ball both ways.
  • In order to protect themselves, the players wear shin pads and gum shields. Goal keepers tend to wear more layers since the ball flies with full force in their direction most of the time.
  • A single Hockey match consists of two periods of 35 minutes each, with a 10 minute half time interval. In case of a tie, extra time is given.
  • In a hockey match, a goal is worth one point, and it can only be scored within the shooting circle, which is shaped as a semi-circle in front of the opposition team’s goal post. The goals that are scored from outside this point are not taken into consideration.
  • While playing, the ball must be dribbled or passed down by using the flat side of the stick, and the entire ball needs to cross over the line in order for it to be considered as a goal.
  • Goals can also be scored through penalty corners which are given if a foul is committed within the 16 yard area. From a penalty corner, the defending team lines up on the goal line, while the team who is supposed to attack must be outside the 16 yard spot, during which time the player hits the ball towards them from a 10 yard distance. As the ball is played back, a team mate is supposed to stop the ball before it strikes the goal.



Specifications Of Hockey

For regular field hockey, a player requires a helmet with a cage and mouth guard, a Hockey Stick, Hockey Pants, Hockey Gloves, Shoulder Pads, Elbow Pads, Shin Guard, Neck Guard and Jockstrap or Pelvic protector.


Governing Bodies Of Hockey

Hockey India is the sole governing body for the Hockey teams in India. It was established after the dismissal of the Indian Hockey Federation in 2008. However, with the passage of time and in the last few years, the Indian Hockey Federation and Hockey India have established an official agreement where they have decided to oversee the functioning of field hockey in India on both national and international levels.


Championships In Hockey

India’s Ranking in Hockey World Cup

Year Venue Ranking
1971 Barcelona, Spain 3rd
1973 Amstelveen, Netherlands 2nd
1975 Kuala Lampur 1st
1978 Buenos Aires, Argentina 6th
1982 Bombay, India 5th
1986 London 12th
1990 Lahore 9th
1994 Australia 6th
1998 Netherlands 9th
2002 Kuala Lampur 10
2006 Germany 11
2010 Delhi, India 8
2014 Netherlands 9

India’s Ranking In the Olympics-Field Hockey

Year Venue Ranking
1928 Amsterdam 1st
1932 Los Angeles 1st
1936 Germany 1st
1948 London 1st
1952 Helsinki 1st
1956 Melbourne 1st
1960 Rome 2nd
1964 Tokyo 1st
1968 Mexico City 3rd
1972 Munich 3rd
1976 Montreal 7th
1980 Moscow 1st
1984 Los Angeles 5th
1988 Korea 6th
1992 Barcelona 8th
1996 Atlanta, U.S 8th
2000 Australia 7th
2004 Greece 7th





Quarter Finals

On An International Level

Olympics – This international event is held every 4 years. Till the year 2015, the Indian Hockey team has won 8 gold medals, 1 Silver medal and 2 Bronze medals.

World Hockey Cup – The grand Hockey tournament started in 1971, and was organized by the International Hockey Federation. It is held every 4 years and takes place between the Summer Olympics. Pakistan has dominated the tournament since its inception, and India has won the tournament once in 1975.

Hockey Champions Trophy – This tournament was first founded in 1978 by Pakistan’s Air Marshal Nur Khan and the Pakistan Hockey Federation. In the year 2014, India came in 4th while competing against Australia in the third place match.

Hockey Champions Challenge – The international tournament was first introduced in 2001 by the International Hockey Federation, and has been played every 2 years since then. In 2001 India was the winner, and in 2011 India was the runner up against Belgium.

Hockey Champions Challenge II – This is an international field hockey tournament that was introduced by the International Hockey Federation in 2009. The tournament is held in an uneven year and is played by eight teams based on the eligibility criteria set by the International Hockey Federation. The Indian women’s hockey team won the 2009 championship.

Commonwealth Games – These games are held every 4 years for the members of the commonwealth nations, and Hockey has been a Commonwealth Games Sport since 1998. India won the Silver medal in the year 2010 and 2014.

Sultan Azian Shah Hockey Tournament – This prestigious tournament is held annually in Malaysia, and it was first started in 1983. India came in third position in 2015.

On A Domestic Level

Hockey India League – This is a professional league for field hockey competition in India that is organized by Hockey India. Hockey India League started in January 2013, and the tournament goes on for a month.

Logo for Hockey Indian League

The HIL consists of various state level teams such as Delhi Wave Riders, Kallinga Lancers, Dabang Mumbai, Punjab Warriors, Uttar Pradesh Wizards, and Ranchi Rays.

World Series Hockey – Even though the name of the tournament gives the impression that it may be played with international teams, the tournament is solely limited to Indian hockey teams on a national level. The tournament has clubs from 8 different cities, and has replaced the Premier Hockey League tournament.

Hockey has various domestic tournaments as well that are played on an annual or quarterly basis in most states across the country.


Famous Personalities In Hockey

Dhyan Chand – When it comes to Indian hockey, this is the one person that cannot be overlooked.

Dhyan Chand - The wizard of Indian hockey team

Besides being a matter of pride and prestige for India, Dhyan Chand was regarded as one of the best Hockey players of his time.

He was referred to as the ‘Wizard’ due to his amazing skill and control while tackling the ball. It was primarily because of him that India won gold medals in the 1928, 1932, and 1936 Olympics. The last game he played was in 1948, and till date he is the only Indian Hockey champion with the highest number of international goals, which were 400 in total. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Indian government during his tenure as a sportsman.

Balbir Singh – In the history of Indian Hockey, Balbir Singh is considered as one of the best centre-forwards. He was the second player to represent India and due to him the Indian Hockey team won three consecutive gold medals in the 1948, 1952, and 1956 Olympics.

He was a skilled coach as well for his team, and under his patronage India became the third placed team in 1971 Men’s Hockey world cup. He received the Padma Shri award in the year 1957, and was the first sportsman to receive this esteemed award.

Dhanraj Pillay – When we speak of the best forwards in Hockey, Dhanraj Pillay’s name is never missed. The former captain of the Indian Hockey team was well known for his superb dribbling skill.

Besides getting national fame and recognition, Dhanraj Pillay received a lot of international acclaim as well. He was awarded the Arjuna Puruskar in 1995, and the K.K Birla award in 1998 for excellence in sports. Besides this, he was the only Indian Hockey player who was chosen for the World Eleven Side during the 1994 World Cup that was held in Sydney.

Sandeep Singh – Former captain of the Indian Hockey team, Sandeep Singh is one of the most outstanding Hockey players on the field. Most of the goals scored by the Indian hockey team are by him, and the reason his story with Hockey becomes more inspiring for everyone is because he was shot in one leg, but managed to shine despite the hurdles and obstacles. He generally features as a full back and is a penalty corner specialist for the team.

SV Sunil – A professional and highly skilled Indian Hockey player, SV Sunil represented India during the 2012 Olympics held in London. An excellent midfielder and drag flick specialist, Sunil was also the winner from open play in the match against Pakistan in the 2012 Azlan Shah Cup tournament.

Ritu Rani – When it comes to Women’s hockey team, Ritu Rani is one iconic sports celebrity who is an inspiration for all the aspiring female hockey players in India. The energetic player hails from Haryana, and started her sports career at the age of 12 under the guidance and training of the Shahbad Hockey Academy in Shahhabad Markanda, Haryana.

Ritu Rani - Indian hockey player

Ritu made her sports debut with Hockey in the year 2006 at the Asian Games in Doha and she was also a part of the 2006 World Cup in Madrid. She has led the Indian Women’s team to several victorious moments, and till the year 2015, Ritu Rani completed 200 matches for the Indian Women’s Hockey team, and achieved a memorable landmark in her career as a Hockey player.

At YoGems, we have various coaches and experts who are well versed with the sport of Hockey, and can help guide your child in the right direction. Get in touch with us today, and let your child achieve nothing but the best!



Shivangi Gupta is a Content Writer Expert at YoGems. With years of experience in writing blogs, articles and guides, she writes about every sport. Also, she is good at sports and expert in shooting and won numerable awards at various events. She started receiving shooting training under her father at the age of 6. To get updated with her posts, stay tuned to the website.