Hockey has very unique equipment, most of which cannot be found in other sports. Some of this equipment is not used in amateur games, for example some of the goalkeeper’s clothing, but all of the described equipment can be found in professional and competitive games.

The Ball

Hockey balls are round, hard plastic spheres which are usually covered with indentations to reduce hydroplaning on wet surfaces. The ball can reach great speeds when hit by experienced players, and can result in injury if a player is hit by one.

The Stick

Players are all equipped with a stick, the end of which is round on one side (the back) and flat on the other (the front) and shaped with a hook. The stick is around 3m feet long and has a long handle which is held by the players, so they do not have to bend much further than their normal height.

Traditionally, the stick was made from wood, although fibreglass, kevlar and carbon fibre composite alternatives are widely available today. The ball can be played with any part of the stick apart from the rounded side. If the back of the stick does touch the ball, this is counted as a penalty against the offending player’s team. The front or flat side of the stick is always the natural side for a right handed player; left handed players do not have their own sticks made for them, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage.

Recent innovations in stick design have found that, if the depth of the face bow is increased, then it is easier to get high speeds from a drag flick and stokes are easier to play. When this change was made to hockey sticks, the Hockey Rules Board initially placed a limit of increasing the depth by only 50mm, but even this was found to be excessive and increased play speed too much. In 2006, the maximum depth was limited to 25mm, so the power with which the ball could be flicked was limited further.

Player’s equipment

All players wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth in the unfortunate event of being hit in the head by the ball or a stick. Mouthguards are required in all professional games, and a player will not be allowed onto the pitch without a mouthguard. Most amateur games, as well as those played in schools and universities, also follow this practice for safety reasons and to try and replicate a competitive game as accurately as possible. Some players will also wear shin guards, although this is personal choice and is not a necessary requirement. Players also sometimes wear goggles, but, again, this is personal choice.

Goalkeeper’s equipment

The new rules introduced in 2007 greatly focused on the goalkeeper’s equipment, making it essential that helmet, kickers and leg guards were worn. Many goalkeepers will wear additional equipment to this, including padded shorts, gloves, chest guards, neck guards, groin protectors and arm guards.