Bquipped Equipment Education

Game On! Field Hockey Equipment Breakdown

Oct 7, 2014

Field Hockey is no joke. Balls are flying, sticks are swinging, and the right equipment makes all the difference in keeping us safe on the field.

Whether you’re new to the game, or have been playing for a while, we thought we’d do a quick breakdown of all the field hockey equipment you need to get in the game. 

Mouth Guards

field hockey mouth guard

The mouth guard is an essential piece of field hockey equipment: it is required at most levels of play. Players usually find it to be the most annoying part of their game; It tends to  be uncomfortable and bulky, like sticking a wad of rubber under your lips.    

Just like Halloween vampire teeth, you slip this stinker right over your existing pearly whites to protect you from taking a stick or elbow in the jaw.

For those of us at the pro or semi-pro field hockey equipment level, I would recommend going to your dentist and asking if he or she can make you a fitted mouth guard.

When the field hockey mouth guard is custom made for you, it will usually fit better in your mouth and protects you more than the mouth guards you find in a sports store. Another interesting fact about mouth guards is that they help protect against concussions. Who knew? In reality, concussions are more common than you think, whether it’s colliding with another player or coming in contact with equipment.   But let’s be honest us girls, we’re mostly focused on not losing our teeth in the game.

Also,  rules have changed allowing for the ball to be raised more during play. Mouth guards are a great way to provide yourself with that extra bit of protection just in case a ball comes flying at your head and you don’t have time to react.

Shin Guards

When you are selecting shin guards, you’ll come across a couple of different kinds. The first being the foam shin guards that provide less protection than the hard shell shin guards.

Foam shin guards are popular among younger players because they are easier to put on. You can roll this kind down toward your ankles, too. Since the game doesn’t involve kicking, like soccer does, most beginners can easily get away with foam shin guards as part of their field hockey equipment.

The second kind of shin guard has a hard shell on the outside. It‘s literally a plastic shell with a lining on the inside. The lining on the inside is a softer material to help protect and cushion the shin, should you get hit by the hockey ball or stick.

For all of you hockey moms out there, some styles of shin guards have a removable layer on the inside that is convenient for washing and cleaning the shin guards, because goodness only knows after a hard practice they stink. 

You also might want to note the difference between more expensive brands of shin guards. If you see a hefty price tag, pay attention to what the shin guards are made out of. The priciest contain a removable lining. However, you won’t need to replace them due to stink for quite a while.

The material lining the shin guard can also make a difference in how comfortable it is against your skin. Before you buy hockey equipment, stick your finger in the package and think about how comfortable it will be during multiple practices. 

Gloves

More and more players are using gloves these days and I cannot blame them. Girls and boys are able to hit the ball at pretty high velocities, and therefore, more and more players are feeling the need to protect themselves. If you’ve ever tried to catch a puck, you understand why.

Most indoor players use one glove on each hand allowing for maximal protection on the playing court. For outdoor field hockey, most players only use one glove on their left hand because this is the hand that is usually lowest to the ground and tends to get hit the most by a ball or stick.

Gloves are entirely optional, though always worn by goalies. You can really use any variety of gloves when you are playing, on both or either hand, it just depends on what is most comfortable for you.


Cleats and Turfs

The style of shoe you choose as part of your field hockey equipment depends on the surface you are playing on. When I talk about surface I mean what kind of playing field you are on; grass, turf, rubber, etc.

On a grass field, players use cleats, with long rubber studs on the bottom of the shoe. Soccer cleats are great to wear for playing field hockey as well. If you look for field hockey cleats in the U.S., you’ll probably be directed to the more popular soccer section of stores. 

Turf shoes, for, um, turf play – in case that wasn’t quite clear - have smaller rubber studs on the bottom of the shoe. This style of shoe is mainly used on a normal turf field or water-based turf field.

A normal turf field is any field that is not grass, and is made out of artificial grass. A water-based field is where the turf is watered before practice and games to help the ball run smoother along the surface of the field.  These rubber treads help prevent slipping.

On most turf fields, you would not want to wear cleats because the cleats stick to the surface and make it harder to run and cut. Turf shoes for field hockey help cure this. 

What’s your favorite field hockey equipment? Hockey sticks aside, tell us how you like to play.


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