A team consists of eleven players - five forwards, three half-backs, two backs, and a goalkeeper: this formation is not, however, compulsory. A few hints on the game will be of interest to would-be players.
A goal is scored when the ball is driven between the goal-posts. The ball may be caught with the hand, but must be immediately dropped, or stopped by the foot - to be at once withdrawn afterwards; but it may not be carried or thrown or kicked, or moved in any way except with the stick. Infraction of these rules calls for a penalty. The same is demanded should a player, at the completion or beginning of a stroke bring any part of her stick above the shoulders.
Hockey is frequently denounced as a rough game, but the rules are all against roughness. Tripping or pushing of any kind is forbidden, as is the pushing of oneself between a player and the ball, or any such form of obstruction; nor is hooking or striking at an opponent's stick permitted.
Generally speaking, the ball should be hit along the ground, and " undercutting ' is prohibited; but the scoop stroke is permitted (except when a free hit is given), and the ball may be struck while in the air, providing the striker does not give " sticks." A free hit to the opposing side is the usual penalty for rule breaking.
When played according to the rules, and in the proper spirit, there is nothing rough or dangerous in the game, and objections on this head have no real foundation. But a player must be fit and strong, for she has to continually be on the move, and the regulation period for each "half "is thirty-five minutes, while the ground is, or should be, too yards in length, and 55 yards in width.
The novice's difficulty is off-side; the seasoned player's commonest fault over-anxiety to score, particularly if she be a wing forward, when the temptation, on getting the ball, is strong to race down the side line and endeavour to shoot a goal on her own account, although the proper play would be to shoot back to a fellow-player in the centre. Though the forwards have a sufficiently
Recreations busy time, the place on the field that gives the hardest work, the most running about, the greatest care for the exercise of self-control (to avoid off-side) is that of the halfback. She must follow up to back up her forwards in attack, be ready to intercept any return shot that may get past them, and when they are driven back headlong by a vigorous attack, should the ball be carried past the half-back line, it is her place to speed towards her own goal and strive to check the rush. And always to be careful to avoid touching the ball until it has been touched or played by an opponent, should it be sent onward by one of her own backs or the goalkeeper, unless there be at least three of her opponents nearer to their own goal-line than she is. If not, then she will be off-side, for which the penalty of a free hit is given. This off-side rule applies to all of the players. No player, however, can be off-side in her own half of the ground, nor if an opponent last touched or played the ball.
To quote all the rules governing the game would require more space than is available in this article. Most of the important rules have been referred to, such as those relating to the stick, the dress required, team constitution, method of using the stick, and conduct towards opposing players. The following regulations may, however, be mentioned.
Fifteen yards in front of each goal a half-circular chalk-line is described, joining the goal-line on either side of the post. The space enclosed is the "striking circle," and the ball must be struck from within this circle for a goal to be scored, even though otherwise it may pass between the posts.
The game is started by two opposing players bullying - i.e., striking at the ball from the middle of the centre-line, which is to be chalked.
Infractions of rules inside the circles are punished by a free hit if the attacking side be in fault, and by a penalty "bully " or "corner " if the defenders have been guilty.
When free hits are taken no player must be within five yards of the striker.
Should the ball pass over the side line, it is brought into play by being bowled or rolled back in any direction the roller-in may choose. She must be of the side opposing that last touching the ball previously.
Unfair rolling-in is penalised.
If the ball be sent over the goal-line without scoring, it is bullied off again twenty-five yards out, but if the defenders send the ball over their own goal-line a corner or penalty corner is awarded the attackers. A practical hockey lesson for beginners will be given in Part 2 of Every Woman's Encyclopaedia.