Field Hockey VS Ice Hockey – The Differences And Which One Is Tough To Play?

Last Updated on September 23, 2021 by

The two sports have the same concept and the game objective is to score more points than the opposing team. However, Ice hockey and field hockey both have differences in the number of players in a team, scoring, penalty/foul, surface & size of the playing area, game structure, and stick handling. Ice hockey is tougher to play than field hockey because it is more aggressive. For a beginner, it might seem as if the two sports are the same thing because they both involve hitting a small ball with a stick. But they are distinctive and one is tougher than the other. In this article, we’ll show you the key differences between field hockey and ice hockey. Let’s roll! 

Field Hockey VS Ice Hockey – Key Differences

Field Hockey VS Ice Hockey Key Differences

We’ve listed some major differences between the two sports for a better understanding. 

Field Dimensions 

Ice hockey has a smaller rink size measuring 61 meters (200 ft) × 30.5 meters (100 ft) with a corner radius of approximately 8.5 meters (28 ft). The standard size of a field hockey playfield is much larger than the rink of ice hockey. It is a rectangular field measuring approximately 91.4 meters (100 yards) × 55 meters (60.1 yards). 

Playing Surface 

The playing surface is the most noticeable difference between the two sports. One is played on the ice while the other is on a grass field. Infield hockey, a water-based astroturf is more preferable because it helps the ball to move really fast. It is a more preferable option to the astroturf with black pebble that slows down the pace of the ball. Whereas ice hockey, bad ice isn’t preferable because it causes the puck to be harder to play with or bouncy. 

Structure Of The Game

Infield hockey, a game is played over a total duration of 70 minutes with 35 minutes for the first half and 35 minutes for the second half. In some rare cases, a field hockey game may be played within 60 minutes and divided into four quarters of 15 minutes. In ice hockey matches, each game is structured as a 60-minute game which is divided into three-quarters of 20 minutes each. Since the ice needs to be maintained frequently, the game of ice hockey does not have two halves. 

Number Of Players

Field hockey has more number of players in a single team. A field hockey team consists of 11 players: 1 goalie, 3 defenders, 4 midfield, and 3 forwards. Whereas ice hockey only consists of 6 players in a single team. This includes goalie, 2 defensemen, and 3 forwards. 


In ice hockey, there are no restrictions on players to stickhandle with the front and back of their stick blade. However, field hockey has no offsides. You can simply run around on the pitch to anywhere. 


There are restrictions on the scoring area where players are allowed to score from in the game of field hockey. You can only score from within the D area. The D area is normally a semi-circle measuring about 15 meters at the point from the goalposts. No goal will be count if the ball was shot from outside the D area. However, that’s not the case with ice hockey. As a matter of fact, you can score from anywhere on the rink. If your shot goes in, no matter where it is shot, it will be counted. 


There are normally lower-scoring attempts in field hockey because of the small size of the scoring area with a save percentage of about 70%. The padding of the field hockey goalie isn’t as big as that of ice hockey and the goalie uses a similar playing stick like other players. Also, the netting of the goal is quite larger. However, in ice hockey, the goalie usually faces a higher volume of shots in a single game with a save percentage of about 91.5%. Goalies in ice hockey have larger padding with a smaller net to cover. Also, goalies in ice hockey have a larger stick with a different paddle at the bottom. 


In ice hockey, an offside is determined by two large blue lines. If a player crosses the blue line before the puck crosses it, then the player is ruled offside. The offside rule was established to encourage passing in the game of ice hockey as it helps remove most of the advantages enjoyed by the forwards. Two things happen when a player is ruled offside. It is either the offensive players withdraw the possession to be retained by the defensive team or the referee blows the whistle to halt the game. On the other hand, there are no offside rules in the game of field hockey. As a field hockey player, you can score from anywhere on the pitch. 


Field hockey dates back as far as the earliest civilization of the world. It was in the British Isles that the modern game of field hockey was established. It was first played in ancient Egypt before the modern game started in England in the mid-1800s. In 1861, the first formal field hockey club “Blackheath Football and Hockey Club” was established. Since most of the early civilizations that play the game lived in a warm climate, there were no observances to play it on ice. Ice hockey was established after the first set of rules was written in stone in 1887.      


Field hockey is not as aggressive as ice hockey. There are a lot of physical contacts, body checks, and fights in the rink of ice hockey which makes it attention on its own. The aggressiveness of ice hockey requires players to put on more protective equipment. 

Penalties And Fouls 

The table below consists of the dos and don’ts of field hockey and ice hockey. 

Field HockeyIce Hockey
The play will be stopped and possession is given to the opposing team when the ball hits your feet or body.Players don’t get penalized when the puck hits any part of their body during play. Players can use their feet during the game. 
You are not permitted to raise your stick above waist levelPlayers are allowed to raise their stick above the waist level but if it mistakenly hits another player above the neck it is a penalty
An opponent must not be attacked by two players it must always be one on one situation all the timeAn opponent player can be attacked by multiple players. It is not a must that it should be one on one situation 
You must face your opponent shoulder to shoulder or directly, players can’t be tackled from behindYou can tackle an opposing player from behind but must play not hold, hook or trip, it should be towards the puck
You must not touch your opponent with the stick on any occasion You can touch the opponent with your stick but it must not be too aggressive

Closing Thoughts 

Field hockey and ice hockey are quite similar in some aspects but they still have their differences. If you’re a beginner or a fan looking to venture into either of the two sports, this informative article will guide you through the similarities and differences for better understanding. We’ve come to the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good and reliable resources in your quest to know the differences between field hockey and ice hockey. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!

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