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Janie Harris | NCAA.com | August 20, 2016

Everything you need to know about one of the world's oldest sports

  Syracuse defeated North Carolina for the national championship last year in DI field hockey.

Dating back to the Greek classical era, field hockey remains one of the world’s oldest team sports. Hurling, the sport played during the Greek classical era, closely resembled the modern sport. However, field hockey received its name in fourteenth century England. It also is recognized as one of the oldest college sports in America. Today, field hockey is mainly practiced as a women’s sport in the U.S. and Canada, having over 250 colleges and universities with a team. Still, there are many that do not fully understand the sport, which is why we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about college field hockey to prepare new fans for season to come.

What is field hockey?

Simply put, field hockey is a game where teams come together on a field and use hockey sticks to drive a ball into a net in order to score points. The winner is determined by whoever has the most points at the end of the game.

What is the difference between field hockey and ice hockey?

The main difference is that one is played on a grass or turf field while the other is played on ice. However, there are many other differences as well, including the number of players needed to play, where each originated, the equipment used and the length of the game.

When is college field hockey season?

College field hockey is a fall sport. Typically, the regular season begins in mid-to-late August and ends in late October, early November. Postseason play often occurs in November.

How long is a college field hockey game?

When played on a collegiate level, field hockey games are separated into two halves, each lasting 35 minutes with a seven-minute half time in between.

What are the positions in field hockey?

Each team consists of 11 players, one goalkeeper and 10 outfield players. The outfield positions include defenders, midfielders and attackmen. The amount of which positions are on the field vary based on the style a team adopts and who has the ball.

What does the field look like?

Field hockey is played on a grass or turf field that stretches 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. Three lines run across the width to signify to players certain sections of the field. At each end, a four-yard wide goal rests with a 16-yard line around it, showing players where they are allowed to shoot within. This is called the shooting circle or the “D” for the defensive team. Goals scored outside of this section are not considered goals, and the ball is given to the other team from there.

How many points is a goal worth?

Each goal scored in field hockey posts a single point for the team. There are different types of goals, however. A field goal is a traditional goal scored within the shooting circle. A penalty corner goal is one that is scored after play is stopped and repositioned in response to a foul by a defender within the shooting circle. A penalty stroke goal is one that is scored after a more serious foul where a player is able to shoot one-on-one with the goalie.

Does field hockey use a puck?

No. Field hockey uses a hard ball with a weight between 5.5 to 5.75 ounces. Some hockey balls have small dimples on the surface. Usually the difference depends on if the game is indoors or outdoors. However, all have a non-elastic plastic shell around them.

What are the rules for field hockey?

While there are many rules in field hockey, just like any other sport, there are a few basic ones that should allow fans to understand what is happening in the game.

The rules include:

-Players must have a hockey stick and are only allowed to use one side of the stick to hit the ball.

-The ball must be passed or moved around the field using the stick. No body part is allowed to intentionally come in contact with the ball.

-A foul or infringement is called when a player tries to hit the ball off another player with intent of causing harm to that player, intentionally uses a body part to advance the ball, hits the ball with the rounded side of the stick, raises the stick above the waist, plays the ball dangerously (such as hitting the ball in the air), prevents an opposing player from reaching the ball as a third-party player or hits another player’s stick to interfere with play.

There are two umpires that call each game, each taking one side of the field. For players who repeats an offense, green, yellow and red cards can be given by the umpires. A green card is a warning, a yellow suspends a player for a minimum of five minutes and a red ejects the player from the match.

Who is the best field hockey team?

While this answer may change depending on who you ask, Syracuse is the defending national champion this year for DI field hockey after defeating North Carolina in Ann Arbor, Mich. 4-2 last year. As for DII and DIII, East Stroudsburg University and Middlebury College, respectively, are the defending champions for their divisions.

MORE: DI: NCAA Field Hockey RPI Rankings

Who are the best field hockey players?

Again, this answer may change depending on who you ask, but currently, there are a number of women who lead their divisions in certain statistics last year. 

2015 DI Leaders

Category  Name School Per Game
Assists  Elizabeth Hitti Penn 1.13
Goals Charlotte Veitner UConn 1.70
Saves  Maria Krull Colgate 11.50

2015 DII Leaders

Category  Name School Per Game
Assists  Molly Cuevas Adelphi 0.70
Goals Erika Kelly Stonehill 1.29
Saves  Laura Lawson Mansfield 12.69

2015 DIII Leaders

Category  Name School Per Game
Assists  Dani DeGregory Skidmore 1.05
Goals Rachel Kennedy Bowdin 1.57
Saves  Gabryele Pochron Hendrix 18.71

RELATED: Five fierce players to watch for this year

Who comes up with the rules for field hockey?

The International Hockey Federation, which is the international governing body for hockey, develops the rules for the game, updating them whenever they feel something needs to be changed or clarified.