Ice and field hockey, though they share a name, are very different sports, at least to an extent. Even though the basic idea is the same, the conditions in which the games are played make it a different experience entirely. Besides, ice hockey has a significantly larger following, making it a much more likable game in terms of the fan experience. That being said, field hockey actually predates ice hockey, though it is widely played in seventy countries around the world. In terms of Olympic history, field hockey was introduced in 1908 during the Summer Games, but ice hockey had to wait until 1920 to become popularized.
So what are the real differences between ice and field hockey? Let’s start with the obvious: the playing conditions. Because ice hockey players have skates that propel them across the ice, actually traveling across the field is a breeze, provided that no one is attacking you while in transit. On the other hand, field hockey players have to run long distances across a huge grassy field, making it quite the cardio workout. Still, most people would agree that in terms of the manner of movement, ice hockey players have the bigger challenge with regards to their transport. It is, after all, much easier to fall on skates than it is on cleats. There is also greater physical contact in hockey and therefore a faster reaction time is required.
Another crucial difference between ice and field hockey is the equipment required, specifically the scoring device. While ice hockey uses a flat rubberized puck, field hockey elects the use of a hard, white, plastic ball. They are designed as such for maximum velocity along their fields of play. Most hockey pucks weight around six ounces, though sometimes two-pound metal pucks are used for wrist strength training. They are never, however, used in games as they are highly dangerous. Because pucks allow for crazy high velocity, it is not uncommon to find them whizzing across the ice at around a hundred miles per hour. The record is held at a hundred and ten miles per hour by Denis Kulyash, a player from Latvia. Because they are so quick, pucks are very difficult to intercept or catch, adding to the complexity of the game. Hockey balls also move quite quickly, Indian player Sandeep Singh being particularly well known for his ninety miles per hour drag-flick shots.
The amount of active players at any one time is also an essential aspect of these two games as it drastically changes the types of plays that happen at any one time. Field hockey requires more players given the size of the field. This sport requires five forwards, three halves, two backs, and one goalie. Ice hockey teams, on the other hand, boast three forwards, two defensemen, and one goalie. While the forwards and defense players have self-explanatory positions, the goalies require further development. There are essentially three ways of playing goalie in hockey: standing, butterfly, and hybrid. A standing style of playing means that sticks, torsos, and sometimes even legs are used to remove the ball or puck from the net. A butterfly style, on the other hand, is more useful in ice hockey given that it primarily protects the lower half of the net. The hybrid style utilizes both techniques equally, creating a usefully unpredictable playing style.
Finally, it is the amount of physical contact that makes for the biggest difference between the sports. Ice hockey literally requires a certain amount of checks, but players are also prone to falling on the ice or slipping on stray sticks.