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Safety Tips: Field Hockey

Get 20 players and two goalies running around on a field, and collisions are bound to happen. With everyone carrying wooden sticks and hitting a hard plastic ball, you can see why field hockey players face a risk of getting hurt.

To keep things as safe as possible while playing field hockey, follow these tips.

Why Is Field Hockey Safety Important?

Because field hockey is a contact sport, injuries are common. While most of these injuries are minor, serious mishaps like broken bones and concussions can happen.

Ankle sprains are the most common field hockey injury. Other frequent injuries include knee sprains, muscle strains, muscle tears, ligament tears, and overuse injuries (RSIs), such as tendonitis, lower back pain, and stress fractures.

Contact with a stick or the ball can fracture (break) or sprain fingers, hands, or wrists. And if a stick or the ball hits someone in the face, it can break teeth or injure the eyes.

Gearing Up

The right protective gear is important for any sport, and field hockey is no exception. Here are some things to think about when it comes to safety gear:

Goalie Gear

At the highest levels of field hockey, players can shoot the ball nearly 100 mph. Even when it's not moving that fast, a field hockey ball is very hard. In addition to courage, goalies need head-to-toe protective gear:

Before You Play

Getting yourself in good shape before field hockey season starts will help make you a better player and go a long way toward preventing injuries. Start working out and eating right a few months before the season is set to begin. Better yet, get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet year-round, and then you won't need to worry about being in shape for the season.

Here are some other things to keep in mind before you start practicing or playing:

While You Play

Know and obey the rules of field hockey, especially rules that have to do with how sticks may be used and when the ball can be lifted in the air. Unsafe play is a major cause of injuries and will get you carded. Red cards will get you kicked out of a game, and many leagues will suspend you for additional games for dangerous play.

Keep your head up and be aware of your teammates and opposing players at all times. Collisions are more likely if you go charging blindly down the field and don't pay attention to other players.

Learn and use proper techniques, particularly when it comes to stickhandling, tackling, and shooting. Illegal use of the stick and lifting the ball when other players are near are common causes of injuries.

If you get a cramp or feel pain while playing, ask to come out of the game and don't start playing again until the pain goes away. Playing through pain might seem brave, but it can increase the severity of an injury and possibly keep you on the sidelines for longer stretches of time.

A Few Other Reminders

There's nothing particularly dangerous about field hockey, and it's been played for thousands of years. But injuries can happen if people don't pay attention to what's going on around them or play in an unsafe manner. Follow the rules and some basic precautions and be aware of other players, and you should be able to avoid most injuries.

Date reviewed: December 2014

Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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