Field Hockey Glossary


16 – Another name for a “16-yard hit,” a free hit for the defense at 16 yards from the end line.

16-yard hit – A free hit for the defense that comes 16 yards from its goal after an opposing player hits the ball over the end line or commits a foul within the shooting circle.

25-yard area – The area enclosed by and including: The line that runs across the field 25 yards (23 meters) from each backline, the relevant part of the sideline, and the backline.


Add-ten – A delay-of-game foul called by the referee. The result of the call is the referee giving the fouled team a free hit with the ball placed ten yards closer to the goal it is attacking.

Advantage – A call made by the referee to continue a game after a foul has been committed if the fouled team gains an advantage.

Aerial – A pass across the field where the ball is lifted into the air over the players’ heads with a scooping or flicking motion.

Artificial turf – A synthetic material used for the field of play in place of grass.

Assist – The pass or last two passes made that lead to the scoring of a goal.

Attack – The team that is trying to score a goal.

Attacker – A player who is trying to score a goal.


Back pass – A pass that moves toward the passing team’s end of the field; it’s used to help keep possession of the ball and slow down the pace of the game.

Back post – The far post of the goal from the direction the shot is taken.

Back stick – A foul called for hitting the ball with the rounded face of the hockey stick.

Backline – See “End line.”

Ball – The playing object and focal point of the action. The ball is made of solid plastic and must have a circumference between 224 millimeters and 235mm and weigh between 156 grams and 163 grams. The ball is usually white in color. Other colors can be used as long as they contrast the color of the field.

Ball side – A strategy in marking used to describe a player standing between the ball and the goal.

Basic grip – A style of holding the stick, the right hand is placed near the bottom of the grip and the left hand is placed at the top of the grip.

Blade – The flat side of the stick’s head that is used for hitting the ball.

Blind Pass – Passing the ball without first looking to see if there is a teammate prepared to accept possession.

Breakaway – When an offender beats the last defender and goes one-on-one against the goalie.

Bully – A call used to start or restart play. The referee puts the ball between two opposing players. The players tap the flat sides of their sticks three times and then go for the ball.


Corner flag – A marker used to indicate the boundaries of the field. There is a flag in each corner of the field.

Carry the ball – See “Dribble”.

Center forward – An offensive position that covers the middle of the offensive area and takes shots on goal; often referred to as the “striker.”

Center halfback – A position that requires the player to cover the most ground of any player on the field. The center halfback plays defense, offensive, and midfield while distributing the ball from side to side and front to back.

Center line – A line that divides the field in half. The field is 100 yards (91.4 meters) long, so this is the 50-yard (45.7 meter) line.

Center mark – The spot at the center of the field on which the ball is placed to start play at the beginning of the first half, the second half, or following a goal.

Center pass – A pass used to begin the game or the second half, or to restart action following a goal. The ball is placed in the center of the field, where the center forward passes the ball at least one meter backwards to a teammate. Also see “Pass back” and “Push back.”

Channel – A defensive tactic used to force an opponent to the sidelines and away from the defensive goal.

Channel – A defensive tactic used to direct an opposing player away from the goal and toward the sidelines.

Charging – A play used to draw a foul, it involves running into an opposing player with the intention of playing the ball. If the opposing player blocks the charge with her body, they can be called for obstruction.

Circle – Otherwise known as the “shooting circle,” the semi-circle mark in front of the goals.

Clear – A defensive tactic used to dribble or hit the ball out of the 25-yard area.

Closing down – A play that defensive players use to force the attacker into a position where the defender can take the ball.

Coin toss – A ritual that begins a game and results in one team beginning the game with possession of the ball. A coin is flipped by the referee, and the team that guesses the correct side of the coin gets to either start the game with possession of the ball or choose which side of the field it will defend.

Corner hit – See “Long corner”.

Cover – A tactic used by defenders to protect their goal by staying within a close distance of an opposing attacker. Also see “Mark” and “Guard”.

Cross – A pass that travels from the right side of the field to the left, or vice-versa.

Cut off – To stand between two opposing players who may be able to pass to each other.


Dribble – The act of controlling the ball with short strokes of the stick while on the move. Also see “Carry the ball.”

Dangerous Play – A foul called for anything that could likely result in injury, such as pushing, tripping, hacking, or raising the ball toward an opponent who is less than five yards away.

Defender – See “Fullback.”

Defensive line – The field players positioned closest to the defending goal in the formation. These players are often known “ defenders.”

Deflection – A term used to describe a ball that has been redirected from its original path after a player’s stick has touched it.

Dive – The term used to describe when a player or goalie lunges forward to stop or propel the ball forward.

Dodge – A term used to describe the action of getting past an opponent by maneuvering the ball around her.

Double-v grip – A style of holding the stick, both hands are placed at the top of the stick; the right hand is placed slightly below and on top of the left hand.

Drag flick – A move used by advanced players to take a legal lifted shot on goal during a penalty corner.

Drive – A hard hit made by putting both hands together at the top of the stick and striking the ball.


Elimination – A term used to describe any maneuver used to get past an opponent or take the opponent out of the play. This is also known as a “dodge.”

End Line – The painted line that designates each end of the playing area. Also known as the back line, the end line runs the width of the field. The portion of the end line between the posts of the goal is called the goal line.


Field – The name for the playing area. The field is 100 yards (91.40 meters) long and 60 yards (55 meters) wide. It’s divided by a center line and two 25-yard (23 meter) lines, one in each half of the field. Also see “Pitch.”

Field goal – Any goal scored during regulation play (non-penalty play).

Field player – A participant in the game who is not a goalkeeper.

Flagrant foul – An intentionally rough or dangerous play, as deemed by the referee. A player who commits a flagrant foul is issued a red card and ejected from the game.

Flat pass – A pass that travels straight to the right or left to a teammate.

Flat Slap – A hit similar to the drive; both hands are placed together when striking the ball, but the stick is held lower on the grip.

Flick – To raise the ball from the ground into the air with a quick movement of the stick. The ball must not rise more than 18 inches above the playing surface.

Foot – A foul that results from kicking the ball or using the feet to gain an unfair advantage. This does not have to be intentional.

Forehand – The position of the stick in accordance to a player’s body. The stick is held to the right of the body and the ball is played forward with the flat side of the stick facing forward.

Formation – The setup and positioning of players on one team.

Forward – An offensive position with a primary job of attacking the opponent’s goal.

Foul – A penalty call given to a player who breaks one of the rules of the game.

Free hit – A play awarded to a team when the opposition commits any infraction outside of the shooting circle. It takes place at or near the spot of the infraction, and all opposing players must stand at least five yards away from the player taking the hit.

Front post – The post on the goal closest to the person taking the shot.

Fullback – A position on the defensive side of the field that focuses on keeping the opposing team’s forwards from scoring. See “defender”.


Give-and-go – When a player passes the ball to a teammate who receives the pass and immediately sends the ball right back to the player who originally passed it. This is an offensive tactic used to get around an opposing player. Also see “Wall pass.”

Goal – The term used to describe the act of one team getting the ball to cross the opposing team’s goal line between the goal posts. Each time a goal is scored, the scoring team is awarded one point. The team with the most goals (or “points”) at the end of the game is considered the winner.

Goal backboard – A piece of wood that is inside the bottom part of the goal. It is approximately 18 inches (45 centimeters) high.

Goal line – The portion of the back line that is between the goal posts. The ball has to cross this line for a team to be awarded a goal.

Goal side – To stand between an offender and the goal.

Goalkeeper – The one player on the field for each team who is allowed to use the kickers, leg guards, and a goalie stick to defend the goal. The goalie also wears pads on the hands, but she cannot use those pads to swat the ball down. The goalkeeper wears a helmet and facemask, along with abdomen, chest and leg protectors.

Green card – A card issued by the referee as a warning for a minor rules violation.

Grip – n. The material on the top of the stick that helps the player hold the stick. v. A hand formation used to hold the stick.


Hacking – Slang term for “stick interference,” a foul called by the referee for tackling another player’s stick instead of the ball.

Halfback – See “midfielder” or “link.”

Hat trick – When a player scores three goals in one game.

High ball – A foul called for lifting the ball above the knee and within five meters of another player.

High stick – A foul called for raising the stick above shoulder level.

Hit – A strike of the ball using a downward swinging movement of the stick. This stroke is used to make long passes or to take shots on goals. Also see “drive.”

Hooking – A foul called when a player uses the stick to hook an opponent’s stick or leg.


Indian dribble – A type of dribbling that became popular after the addition of synthetic turf. The dribble includes moving the ball left and right by turning the stick over the ball.

Injector – The player that does the push out on a penalty corner.

Inner – A forward or midfield position that has the player(s) positioned at or near the center of the field when there are more than three players on one line.

Interception – When a player takes possession of the ball away from the other team.

Interchange – A temporary switch of positions by teammates during play.


Jab – A defensive tactic that has a player poke continuously at the ball to force the attacking player to lose possession.


Kevlar – A composite material sometimes used to make field hockey sticks.

Kicker – A protective piece of equipment that covers the front and sides of a goalkeeper’s shoes, allowing her to kick the ball without experiencing pain.

Kicking back – A field player or substitute who takes the place of the goalkeeper when the starting goalkeeper is unavailable. This player is allowed to use her feet to stop the ball while inside the defensive shooting circle. A kicking back must wear a distinguishing jersey. In the event of a defensive penalty corner or a stroke, the kicking back must wear a throat protector, chest protector, and helmet.


Line-up – Also known as “formation,” the setup and positioning of players on one team.

Leading pass – A type of pass where one player sends the ball a few yards ahead of a teammate to signal the player to run toward the open area.

Link – See “Midfielder” and “Halfback.”

Long corner – A free hit for the offense on the sideline five yards from the backline. These are awarded to the offense when a defender accidentally hits the ball over the backline. Also see “Long hit” and “Corner hit.”


Man-on – Player lingo describing the warning of a teammate with the ball that a player from the opposing team is coming to attack them.

Man-to-man defense – A defensive strategy that has all defenders on one team closely guarding specific, assigned players on the opposing team. Each defender remains within a close distance of their opposing player in order to protect their goal and stop the opposition from gaining possession of the ball.

Man-to-man marking – A defensive strategy where each defensive player chooses a player from the opposing team to mark.

Mark – A defensive tactic where the defending player positions herself ball side and goal side against her opponent and defends her until the ball is cleared out of the defensive zone.

Midfielder – A position that covers the middle of the field. Players at this position have both offensive and defensive responsibilities. Their job is to get the ball from their team’s defense and move it up the field to the offense. Also see “Halfback and “Link.”


Obstruction – A foul called by the referee if a player uses either the stick or the body to block or keep another player from hitting the ball.

Offensive line – The field players positioned closest to the opposing team’s goal in the formation. These players are often known as “forwards.”

Officials table – A table located on the sideline in the middle of the field (at the centerline) where referees check players’ equipment, monitor players’ conduct on the bench, allow substitutions, and fill out the official score sheet.

One-handed grip – A style of holding the stick, only one hand is used to hold the stick at the top of the grip.

Open player – Any player who is unmarked by a defender.

Over-grip – Stick grip that is placed on top of worn or old grip to improve a player’s hold on the stick.

Overtime – A specific amount of time or a set stanza that is added to the end of the regulation for the purpose of breaking a tie. Two versions of overtime are used: Standard overtime, where teams play for the most goals scored within the period; and sudden-death overtime, where the first team to score is declared the winner.


Pass – The term used to describe the action where one player gives possession of the ball to another. Common forms of passing include pushes, slaps, hits, aerials, and deflections.

Pass back – The play that begins the game and the second half, and restarts action after a goal is scored. During a pass back, all players must be on their team’s side of the field and all opposing players must be at least five yards away from the ball. One of the offensive players will pass the ball to a teammate who must be at least one yard behind the player passing the ball. Also see “Center pass.”

Passing lane – The open space between two players used to pass the ball back and forth.

Penalty corner – A play awarded to the offensive team if a foul is committed by the defensive team within the shooting circle. The ball is placed on the backline 11 yards (10 meters) from the nearest goalpost and ejected by an offensive player to her team waiting on the outside of the shooting circle to take a shot on goal. Also see “Short corner.”

Penalty spot – A spot marked seven yards from the goal. Penalty shots or strokes are taken from this position. Also see “P-flick” and “Stroke mark.”

Penalty stroke – A penalty shot on goal where an offender is awarded one shot against only the goalie. The ball is placed seven yards (6.4 meters) from the goal and only the goalkeeper is allowed to defend. The call is mainly awarded when a defender fouls an opponent in the shooting circle.

P-flick – Slang term for “penalty spot” or “stroke mark,” a spot marked seven yards from the goal where penalty shots or strokes are taken.

Pitch – See “Field.”

Playing the ball – Stopping, deflecting or moving the ball with the stick. Players, excluding the goalie, are only allowed to play the ball with the flat side (usually the left side) of the stick.

Pull – A type of dodge used to maneuver the ball around an opponent. In this dodge, the ball is dragged (pulled) from the left to the right, right to left, or backwards.

Push – Moving the ball along the ground using a pushing movement of the stick after the stick has been placed close to the ball. When a push is made, both the ball and the head of the stick are in contact with the ground.

Push back – To move back as a team from the offensive side of the field to the defensive side.

Push in – When one team knocks the ball out of bounds and the other team hits the ball back in play quickly from the sideline in an effort to take the other team by surprise.

Push out – A pass made by the ejector on a penalty corner to the offense on top of the shooting circle.

Push pass – This type of pass is used to move the ball short distances quickly. It is called a push pass because the ball stays in contact with the stick as the ball is pushed on to another player.

Push up – To move as a team from the defensive side of the field to the offensive side.


Raised ball – A foul called by the referee for lifting the ball more than 18 inches off the ground. Also see “High ball.”

Rebound – A term used to describe a ball that bounces back into play off the goalie’s pads.

Red card – A card that referees pull out of their pocket when a player is guilty of an intentional foul, such as deliberate body contact or verbal abuse of officials. The result of a red card is the penalized player being ejected from the game and suspended for her team’s next game.

Referee – An official responsible for enforcing the rules during a game. There are two referees and each is responsible for half of the field, the field being split diagonally. The referees will stop the game when a foul occurs. Also see “Umpire.”

Replacement grip – Stick grip used to replace worn grip. The original grip is completely removed and the replacement grip is applied in its place.

Reverse drive – A hit where the ball is struck with the inside edge of the stick using a backward swinging motion.

Reverse hit – A hit made by turning the stick 180 degrees over the ball to hit it from left to right with the flat side of the stick.

Reverse spin – A move where the player turns to the right in a circle with the ball on the reverse stick. This move is used to dodge an opposing player and open up space for a pass to a teammate.

Reverse stick – To turn the stick so that the blade points to the right, allowing a hit or push in that direction.

Reverse stick push – A type of hit where the stick is turned or reversed over the ball in a light swinging motion from left to right.

Roster – An official list of players, the players’ positions, and the players’ numbers that each team submits to the officiating crew prior to the game.

Rusher – A defensive player chosen to sprint toward an opposing player taking a shot at the top of the shooting circle during a penalty corner.


Scoop – A move where the player raises a stationary or slowly moving ball off the ground with a shovel-like movement of the stick.

Send the ball – A command made by a player telling a teammate to hit the ball from the defensive side of the field to the offensive side.

Shield – To stand in front of the opposing goalie or field player to decrease their visibility and ability to get to the ball.

Shin guards – Pads used to protect a player’s shins.

Shooting circle – An area in the shape of a capital “D” and made up of two quarter-circles. It measures 16 yards out from each goal post and is joined by a short straight line. An attacking player must be within this area to score. Also known as the “D.”

Short – Shorter way to say “penalty corner” or “short corner,” a play awarded to the offensive team for a foul committed inside the shooting circle by the defensive team.

Short Corner – See “Penalty corner.”

Short-handle grip – A style of holding the stick, both hands are placed midway down the grip.

Shuttles – A warm-up routine that has a team split into two lines (facing each other) and practice passing the ball back and forth.

Side in – A pass that puts the ball back into play after it has gone out of bounds. Also see “Push in.”

Sideline – The boundary marker that runs the length (100 yards/91.4 meters) of the field. Free hits are taken from the sideline after the ball is hit out of bounds.

Slap – A type of hit where the stick is kept close to the ground when striking the ball.

Spin – A move where a player turns to the left in a circle with the ball on the stick; it is used to dodge an opposing player and open up space for a pass to a teammate.

Split the defense – A tactic used to confuse the opponent’s defense by passing the ball between its players.

Square pass – A pass across the field made in order to change a team’s overall point of attack.

Stick – The object each field player uses to pass, hit, and shoot the ball. Sticks can be made of wood or fiberglass. They have curved heads that are flat on one side and rounded on the other. Only the flat side of a stick can be used to strike the ball.

Stick interference – A foul called for using the stick to hit an opponent’s stick, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Also see “Hacking.”

Stopper – An offensive player who stops the ball on a penalty corner in order for another attacker to take a shot.

Striker – An offensive player whose main responsibility is to score goals. Also see “Forward.”

Stroke – A penalty shot that is awarded when an attacking player is fouled on a scoring opportunity inside the shooting circle. The fouled team chooses one player from the team to take a shot on goal with no defenders standing between that player and the opposing goalie.

Stroke mark – See “Penalty spot.”

Swatting – A foul called against a goalie for making a swinging motion at the ball.

Sweeper – A defender who plays between the defensive line and the goalkeeper.

Switch the field – A play that has a team send the ball from one side of the field to the other in a fluid motion.


Tackle – An attempt to take the ball away from an opponent with the stick.

The “D” – Another name for the “shooting circle,” the semi-circle mark in front of the goals.

Third-party obstruction – A foul that is called when one player blocks an opponent so that a teammate can play the ball.

Through pass – A pass that moves the ball forward to a teammate between defending players.

Time – Player lingo for a command to let a teammate know that they have time to dribble the ball.

Time-wasting – A penalty called for any action or non-action that keeps play from continuing or resuming within a reasonable period of time.

Trailer – A defensive player on a penalty corner who follows the rusher in an attempt to block a direct shot on goal or cut off a pass by the offense.

Trapping – A penalty for stepping on the ball or covering it with the body.

Triangle – A defensive formation used by midfield players.

Triangle passing – A passing strategy involving three players. The player with the ball remains between the two open players who form the remaining points of a triangle. Passes are made between these three players and the triangle is constantly moving around the ball.

Tripping – A penalty that has a player use the stick to trip an opposing player.

Two v. One – A warm-up routine that has two offensive players attempt to pass past one defender. The number of people in the warm-up can vary.


Umpire – See “Referee.”

Undercutting – A penalty for a hard swing of the stick under the ball used to raise the ball into the air.

Unsportsmanlike conduct – A foul called for dangerous play, using obscene language, or taunting. Results in a green card (warning), yellow card (five-minute suspension), or red card (player disqualification). When players are suspended or disqualified, their team must play with fewer members than the opposition.

Upper V – Slang term used to describe the top corners of the goal.


Wall Pass – See “Give-and-go.”

Water down – To soak the artificial surface in water before a match. Wet turf holds the ball to the ground better than dry turf.

Wings – A position at which the players play near the sidelines.


Yellow card – A card that referees pull out of their pocket when a player is guilty of an intentional foul, such as rough play or high stick. The result of a yellow card is the penalized player being suspended from the game for five minutes or longer depending on the referee’s discretion.


Zonal Marking – A defensive tactic that has players responsible for guarding a specific zone or area on the field.

Zone marking – A defensive strategy where field players mark specific areas on the field, rather than specific players, and defend against any opponent who enters their zone.

Share the knowledge