Field hockey v ice hockey – the core differences


Most people would expect different sports with the same name to be very similar in nature. However, apart from hand and eye coordination and stick control, that is where the similarities between ice hockey and field hockey end.

In or out?

It goes without saying that ice hockey needs ice, and therefore, low temperatures within a certain climatic space. And field hockey, as one would expect, is best played on a field with turf. Both locations will, therefore, dictate differences in play. For example, field hockey players have a wider area for their game whereas ice hockey players are constrained by rink size and barriers. Naturally, such locations have an impact on both sports geographical popularity. This means that ice hockey is popular in places like Canada and Scandinavia and field hockey enjoyed by Western European countries amongst others.

Skill and physicality

Field hockey is well known as a sport of tactics, with players utilising skilled passes, dekes and shooting, whereas ice hockey is much more physical, with players wearing more protective wear than their counterparts on the field. Interestingly, ice hockey – although physical – is starting to display more speed and skill. Hockey drill videos are testimony to this! Field hockey is often best suited to team players.

Big shots

Goalies in both sports are well padded, exhibit similar traits and can benefit from coaching tactics, such as those offered by sports organisations such as However, ice hockey goalies have more impact on the final result compared with their field hockey equivalents. Because of its speed, ice hockey goalies will be on the receiving end of more shots – which can come from anywhere – than those who play the same position on the field, with an average percentage save of 0.915. On the other hand, field hockey goalies only need to save a percentage of around 0.7 to be successful, with these mainly coming from the scoring circle.

In both sports, goalies exhibit some impressive traits, including athleticism, concentration and real bravery.

In summary

Both sports are fabulous to watch as well as exciting and stimulating for both player and audience. The main differences as we have discussed is the terrain on which they are played. Both are developing into games of skill and dexterity.


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