Field Hockey Equipment: A Game From The Distant Past
Though ice hockey has arguably gotten more exposure in North America than field hockey, field hockey equipment, because of the age of the game, has been around for several centuries, dating back to ancient civilizations like Greece and Rome. Naturally, with technological advances and evolution of game rules, the game as well as the equipment is far ahead of early times. Today, field hockey equipment is highly regulated, with each piece having to go through rigorous certification procedures before being accepted on the field. The basics of protection, however, have seen little change over the millennia.
Field Hockey: Controlled Aggression
The type of field hockey equipment you need will first be dependent on the position you are playing. While the offense and defense players will typically favor minimal equipment, to keep them light on the field, goalies or goaltenders' equipment is extensive and often expensive. Because of this, many beginners' teams have a few spare sets of equipment for new players so they don't have to invest right off the bat (or in this case, the stick). Also, field hockey equipment need not be as all-encompassing as ice hockey gear, since game moves like bodychecking don't apply here; the game of field hockey is not nearly as violent (but it can be equally fast-paced) as ice hockey â€“ in terms of analogies, soccer is to field hockey what rugby is to ice hockey.
Field Hockey Gear: Essentials And Accessories
Basic field hockey equipment consists of a stick, a ball, shin and mouth guards, optional gloves and eye protection such as goggles. Mouth guards are intended to protect teeth and gums in case of impact with the ball or another player's stick. Shin guards, which are required to be of certain dimensions and thickness, are absolutely the most essential equipment because of the frequency of hits from sticks and the ball. Shin guards should extend all the way from the ankle joint to the knee, protruding above the knee to provide full shin and knee protection. Gloves are sometimes worn to protect the wearer's hands from abrasion when falling, or from blisters and calluses due to extended stick-handling. However, a seasoned player's hands will usually already have the marks of playing the game. Goggles are required by some clubs to protect players' eyes from sticks, balls and also dust.
Field Hockey Equipment: Stick Design
Probably the most effort in choosing field hockey equipment goes into choosing the stick. Apologies to southpaw players, but lefty hockey sticks are not manufactured or allowed professionally. All hockey sticks are necessarily right-handed, and as part of the design, are flat on the left side when held in position by the player. Materials used differ vastly, and the older wooden hockey sticks are quickly being replaced by more durable and light-weight materials like fiberglass, Kevlar (the stuff that they use to make bullet-proof equipment) or, more recently, technologically advanced carbon fiber composites with titanium blends. The bottom hook on the stick is made to a tight curve, which is a relatively recent development, and makes for easier reverse stick play. The handle, which occupies about the top third of the stick, is normally wound with a non-slip material that helps maintain your grip despite sweat or in rain.
Field Hockey Equipment: Hockey Balls
The last piece of field hockey equipment is the ball. It is generally made of a plastic composite over a cork core, with indentations not unlike a golf ball; this last feature prevents the ball from hydroplaning on a wet field and keeps the speed of a rolling ball even. There are even differently colored balls for night hockey games, which are coated with a phosphorescent material to make it visible after dark.
Though basic equipment usually has generic features as required by regulatory authorities, there are numerous manufacturers who incorporated their proprietary designs and innovations, while staying within the boundaries of national and international hockey rules. For the right kind of equipment in your country and area, the first step will be to check with the local hockey board.