Field hockey v ice hockey – the differences in play

Field hockey v ice hockey – the differences in play
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Field hockey v ice hockey – the differences in play

Anyone not familiar with hockey as a sport may reasonably assume that field hockey and ice hockey are the same game played on different surfaces; however, although both are played with a stick and the principles of the game are the same, they have many differences.

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Field hockey, as you would expect, is predominantly played outdoors on grass or artificial grass. Players use the surface to play direct passes and use the large space to their advantage. Ice hockey is played on ice in an enclosed space and involves using different skills, such as ‘dump and puck’.

Obviously, the type of hockey being played tends to be dictated by the country’s climate. Ice hockey is popular in Canada, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, whereas field hockey tends to be the preferred game in Western Europe, South America and Asia. The United Kingdom in particular has seen a surge in popularity of the sport following the national team’s success at the Rio 2016 Olympics, with not only field hockey but also ice hockey making its mark.


Both versions of the sport rely heavily on hand-eye coordination and fitness. Until recently, field hockey was a very physical game; now, more and more attention is being put on the skills required and the tactical side of the sport. For both those playing hockey for the first time and experienced players looking to improve their game, resources such as offer hockey training drill videos to help coaches and players develop their skills.

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Kit and goalies

Ice hockey involves skating at high speed; therefore, contact is inevitable. Players of ice hockey wear lots of protective gear, whereas field hockey players wear a more traditional field sports kit. Due to the speed of the ball, the goalies of both sports are visibly padded and have their faces well protected. Like many sports, both field hockey and ice hockey rely on goals; therefore, goalies need to be brave and ready to defend during the match. In general, ice hockey tends to have higher scoring matches with potential shots coming from anywhere on the rink, whereas field hockey players aim to strike from the scoring circle.

Whether you play field hockey or ice hockey, the game is exciting and competitive and a great team sport for players and supporters alike.

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