A guide to the hockey playing positions
Hockey, also known as field hockey, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 active players each on the field. The purpose of the game is to score as many goals in the opposition area as possible, while not conceding a goal in one’s own half. The team that scores the most goals is declared the winner of the match.
Generally, a team consists of one goalkeeper, two full-backs, three half-backs and five forward players, with five or seven substitutes on the bench. However, a team can play with different formations that suit their style of play.
Here are the most common hockey playing positions:
When the opposition has the ball, a custodian’s primary job is to keep the ball out of his goal.
Along with the centre-half, the position of the goalkeeper is the most important in field hockey, as this player has the best possible view of his opponents as well as his own team members. By having a clear view of the proceedings, the custodian can easily manage the team from behind or can advise his team members on their positioning and implement new strategies.
Another major job of the goalkeeper is to patrol the circle top or play as a sweeper whenever the ball is in the opposition half.
There are generally two fullbacks in field hockey, but the number varies from team to team. Full-backs are mainly responsible for ensuring that the opposition’s chances to score a goal are minimized.
Full-backs should not only try to stop the attacks on their side but also cover other full-backs. They also have the responsibility of taking free hits inside their own half.
Many full-backs around the world are also known for their scoring ability, through penalty corners.
Half-backs must work together with the full-backs to ensure that the opposition has as few chances to score as possible. They also play a key role in providing quality passes to the midfield and forwards while generating constructive attacks.
Half-backs often take attacking free hits inside the opposition half, and support attacks on the wings by providing sharp crosses.
The centre-half is one of the most crucial positions in the game of field hockey. It is the position from which the whole game can be controlled, and often has a profound effect on the result of the game.
The centre-half’s main responsibility is to distribute the ball in all directions, especially forward balls. They also support the attack from the midfield and should be able to switch the direction of attack regularly.
The players in this position also support defenders in preventing the opposition players from scoring a goal.
Inside Forward (Right/Left)
The main role of inside forwards is to support the centre-forward in attacks. They should also be able to spray decisive passes to teammates who are supporting the attack, and to try and score a goal whenever they are in a favourable position to do so.
The players in this position should also be able to fall back and support the defence in stopping the opposition attacks.
Winers are mainly responsible for building up attacks on the sidelines by linking with the centre-half, half-backs or the inside forwards. They should be able to control the action on the sidelines.
It is not necessary for wingers to fall back and support the defence; they can stay upfield and position themselves to construct a counter-attack through the wings.
Wingers are also responsible for taking any available free hits on the sidelines and spraying balls inside the circle in order to give teammates the opportunity to score.
The centre-forward is the most important attacking position in the game of field hockey. A player in this position should always be available to receive the ball from his/her teammate and try to score a goal whenever the opportunity presents itself.
A centre-forward must be able to make runs in the gaps to receive the ball while attacking the opposition half. S/he should always press the ball forward whenever the opposition is building up play from their team’s half. The player must also link up with the inside forwards, centre-halfs or the wingers to build up constructive attacks.