What is Field Hockey?

   Hockey is a stick-and-ball game first played by the ancient Persians. Its modern form originated in England in the middle of the 19th century. The first organized hockey club, the Blackheath Club, was formed in 1842; and a uniform set of rules was adopted in 1886 by all English clubs. The first international match was played between England and Ireland in 1895. From England the game spread to many countries—India, France, The Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, Germany, and the United States. It is interesting to note that, until beaten by Pakistan in the final game of the 1960 Olympics, India had won every men's Olympic title in hockey since the game was introduced into the Olympic Games program in 1928.
   Field hockey is played by two teams of 11 players each, on a grass-covered field or composition area. The pitch is 100 yards long and 55 to 60 yards wide. The goal at each end is 7 feet high and 12 feet wide. Originally a cricket ball was used, but a white plastic ball is now preferred. The hockey stick now most popular is the short, crooked Indian stick, which is fast replacing the larger, hooked English one. It is from 36 to 38 inches long and weighs between 18 and 22 ounces. The object of the game is to hit the ball into the opponents' goal from within the striking circle, a semicircle drawn 16 yards in front of the goal. The ball is hit with the stick. The goalkeeper only is allowed to kick the ball, and then only when it is in the striking circle. If the ball is hit into the air (and this is not done intentionally), it may be arrested, not caught, by a hand, and the ball must drop straight to the ground. It must never be thrown; however, after the ball has been struck outside the playing area, it is then rolled into play again. To avoid injury the rules prohibit any player from placing his body between the opposing player and the ball and from raising the stick above shoulder level either forward or backward. A game consists of two 30-minute periods for women and of two 40-minute periods for men. The team scoring the greater number of goals is declared the winner.

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