Field Hockey v/s Ice Hockey

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Hockey is a sport played worldwide and enjoys enormous popularity. A general classification of the sport is based on the arena or the place where it is played. As such, hockey is essentially of two types- ice hockey and field hockey. These two are very distinct sports that are very different from each other. However, they also share many great similarities. Here’s a comparison of field hockey and ice hockey:

Playing Surface

True to its name, field hockey is played on a field that is usually covered with grass or artificial turf. It is an outdoor sport but can also be played indoors when a smooth surface is available. Contrary to this, ice hockey is played on an ice rink. Ice rinks can be located indoors as in ice arenas or outdoors on frozen lakes or ponds. In ice hockey, players move around using ice skates.


In field hockey, players use a small, hard ball and a curved stick. This stick has a flat side to hit and control the ball. Protective gear includes shin guards, mouthguards, and sometimes even facemasks for goalkeepers to protect the goal. In ice hockey, players use a puck and a stick. The stick used has a blade that controls and shoots the puck. Players of ice hockey have to wear more protective gear compared to players of field hockey. Their protective equipment includes helmets, full-face cages or shields, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, shin guards, and skates.

Number of Players

A standard game of field hockey includes two teams with eleven players each. This number also involves the goalkeeper who is a crucial part of the team. On the other hand, a standard team of ice hockey players consists of nearly half the members of a field hockey team, with only six players in each team who can play on the ice at a time, including the goaltender. 


The gameplay in hockey is simple- regardless of whether it is being played on the ground or ice. In field hockey, the objective is to score goals by hitting the ball into the opponent’s goal; using the curved stick. Players move the ball by dribbling, passing, dribbling, and shooting. Similarly, in ice hockey, the objective is to score goals by shooting the puck into the opponent’s goal using the stick into the opponent’s goal using the stick that holds a blade. Players skate on the ice, pass the puck back and forth between teammates, and also engage in physical play including body checking. 

college students playing field hockey


A standard game of field hockey lasts for a solid sixty minutes or an hour. The hour is divided into four quarters of fifteen minutes each. There is a two-minute break after the first and the third quarter. There is also a fifteen-minute interval after the second quarter which is halftime. Ice hockey is also played for one hour or sixty minutes. However, the intervals are divided differently than in field hockey. The hour is divided into three periods of twenty minutes each. And if the teams draw a tie, they play for an additional five minutes. However, we must keep in mind that an hour is just a technicality. In real-time, the game lasts for almost two and a half hours or even more. 


In field hockey, physical contact is limited, and deliberate body contact is not allowed. Stick-to-stick contact is permitted. However, ice hockey is known for its physical nature. It constitutes a significant part of the game. Legal body checks are used to gain possession of the puck or disrupt the opponent’s play. 

Playing Conditions

Playing conditions impact field hockey greatly. Weather conditions such as rain, snow, and field conditions can affect the games played on outdoor fields. All these factors can impact gameplay. However, such problems are not faced in the game of ice hockey which is played in indoor ice rinks for the most part. Located indoors, the games can be played regardless of the weather. 

Popular Regions

Field hockey is more popular in countries like India where it is the country’s national sport, the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia among others. Ice hockey, on the other hand, is popular in countries that receive a significant amount of snow for the games to be held. Examples where the game is popular include Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, and Finland.


Both field hockey and ice hockey have their own unique rules and their strategies. The two games enjoy their popularity and have their fan bases, making them distinct sports despite being in very similar areas.

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Tessa Reynolds
Tessa is a Denver-based Skier who likes to do skiing in the mountains of Colorado, and sometimes in the Ski Resorts. Recently, she visited Switzerland, and she got the chance to ski on the majestic Swiss Alps.