The Differences Between Ice Hockey and Field Hockey


For some, ice hockey and field hockey might differ only when it comes to the field surface. Either of these games demand different skill sets and techniques. At the same time, in both of them, control over the stick plays a significant role in mastering the game. What’s more, this sport gains more fans every day. Did you know that over 70 nations play hockey worldwide?

In most cases, ice hockey becomes more recognizable. This sport requires a lot of stamina and endurance. Moreover, professional players should invest in good pads, helmets, and other athletic protection as this game can get brutal sometimes.

Do you still struggle to understand the difference between ice hockey and field hockey? Stay

with us to find out more!

Ball or Puck?

If you watch a hockey live stream, you can see how vital the ball and pucks really are. Depending on the field played on, the ball or puck is used most of the time. Field hockey players will use balls for the game as they are easier to bounce on rough surfaces. When it comes to ice hockey, we use disc-shaped puck made from vulcanized rubber to make the material stronger and more flexible. A typical puck is about 6 ounces. The weight and particular dimensions make it more challenging to control it by the players.

Match Fields

The most noticeable difference between ice hockey and field hockey is the surface of the match spot. We play field hockey on grassy turf while ice hockey is usually played on an ice rink. Professional ice hockey players need to be masters at keeping balance on ice skates and move fast on them. On the other hand, field hockey players have to run fast while controlling a ball. Both of those game types demand different but equally challenging physical skills.

Composition of the Teams

Comparing the sizes of both fields, the one for field hockey is much bigger than the other. That is why field hockey teams have a couple of additional players.

Ice hockey teams have:

  • 1 goalie
  • 3 forwards
  • 2 defensemen

Field hockey teams have:

  • 1 goalie
  • 3 halves
  • 2 backs
  • 5 forwards

As you can see, field hockey teams have 11 players, while ice hockey teams consist of 6 players.

Different Sticks

Another dissimilarity between ice hockey and field hockey is the stick designed for hitting either a ball or a puck. Hook-shaped sticks with a maximum length of 41 inches and not heavier than 737 grams are used for field hockey. While sticks for ice hockey can’t be longer than 78 inches.

Game Structure

Both of those games differ from each other when it comes to the game structure. Ice hockey matches take 60 minutes divided into 3 periods, 20 minutes each. Because of the ice maintenance, ice hockey matches don’t have halves. Field hockey is around 70 minutes divided into two 35 minutes halves. In some cases, games can last 60 minutes and be divided into four sessions per 15 minutes.

Scoring Rules

A significant difference between those two games is the scoring rules. In ice hockey, a point can be scored from anywhere. In other words, the puck can be shot from whatever distance. In field hockey, players are allowed to score a point within the D area. What is the D area, you might ask? That’s a semi-cycle located approximately 15 meters away from the high point of the goal. If a player scores a point outside of that section, the goal will not be counted.


In the ice ring during hockey matches, there are offside areas. What are they used for? If the player crosses the blue section before the puck, then that action will be considered an offside. When it comes to field hockey, there is no such thing as offside.

The Bottom Line

Just like every sport, ice hockey, and field hockey demand consistency and different sets of skills. In other words, depending on the type of hockey you play, a different set of skills will be required. For instance, during field hockey matches, you’ll have to run short and long distances as fast as possible. Even though both of those sports seem familiar, there are many differences most of us are not aware of.

We hope this article has helped you understand the difference between ice and field hockey; both are fun sports disciplines to play, but it will be down to a personal choice to determine which one is best for you. If you can’t decide, try them both!

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