Tuesday, June 18, 2024

What are the differences between hockey and ice hockey?

It’s not uncommon for games to have different varieties. Just look at football and Gaelic football. Rugby league and rugby union. Or regular roulette and penny roulette at casino.com, among others. But of all the sports that share similarities, hockey and ice hockey are often the most commonly mixed up. That’s especially true with the latter referred to as merely ‘hockey’ in the North American area.

Although they might share similar names, there are plenty of differences between the two. From how they’re played, their respective rules and the locations that they find popularity in, what will be referred to here as field hockey and ice hockey are divided by plenty of aspects.

Playing fields

To address the obvious, the first thing to know is that the two different variations are played on different types of terrain. Field hockey is played on a water-based astroturf field while ice hockey is played on an ice rink.

With this significant difference in terrain comes different physical demands for the players. While both games are very fast-paced, field hockey has a much larger field of play where players must have good stamina to cover large distances while ice hockey requires excellent balance in order to maintain composure and speed while on skates.

While field hockey, like most sports around the world, has been postponed until the rules on social distancing have eased, many players have still found a way to play on a smaller scale.


Both kinds of hockey require similarly shaped sticks in order to play with, though what the player actually hit differs in each. Field hockey uses a small, plastic ball with a centre made of cork for weight, while ice hockey uses vulcanized, rubber pucks.

Another major difference when it comes to equipment includes what the players themselves wear. Field hockey players where the standard team-coloured shirt and shorts/skirt with regulation trainers.

Ice hockey players, on the other hand, are decked out from head to toe in protective gear that includes a helmet, shoulder pads and chest protector, elbow pads, mouth guard, protective gloves, padded shorts, shin pads and a neck guard – not to mention a ‘jock’ protector.


This need for protective equipment is a result of ice hockey being an incredibly physical game, with body checking and blocking being a valid form of tackling. This can lead to a lot of physical confrontations and fights amongst ice hockey players, though these are always controlled and always end in a handshake.

In both games, the goal is to beat the other team by shooting the ball or puck into the goal. In field hockey, the pace and positioning of players is key to success and arguably requires more skill, while the sheer brute force of ice hockey is equally demanding.

In field hockey, there are 11 players on each team including the goalkeeper, with positions split into backs, halves and forward positions. On the smaller scale rinks, ice hockey is split into two teams of 6, with one goalie, two defensemen and 3 forwards.


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