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Field hockey is an ancient sport, but the modern day version was developed in England in the middle of the 19th century. It was introduced in the U.S. as a women’s sport in 1901. The sport has grown into an extremely popular sport among high school and college-aged women throughout North America.
Field hockey is a contact sport, and with 22 players dashing about whacking a ball with wooden sticks, collisions and other mishaps are bound to take place. Field hockey injuries are common, which is why field hockey insurance is a critical part of any field hockey team or league risk management plan.
Field hockey can be played on an outdoor field or indoor synthetic surface. Most synthetic surfaces have improved greatly over the past few years but many injuries are sustained while playing on this type of surface, which can pose financial vulnerabilities for the coaches and organizers. The surface usually has an unforgiving base, such as concrete, so the surface does not “give” like natural grass does. The surface can causes players to have problems with knees buckling and ankle sprains. The coach/organizer could be liable for either inadequate maintenance of the surface or for improper instruction.
Field Hockey Injuries
While most field hockey injuries are minor, broken bones, concussions and other more serious injuries certainly occur. The most common field hockey injuries are ankle sprains. Knee sprains, muscle and ligament tears, and overuse injuries, such as tendonitis and stress fractures are also common. Contact with a stick or the ball can fracture (break) or sprain fingers, hands, or wrists. And if a stick or the ball hits someone in the face, it can break teeth or injure the eyes.
The first step toward safety is making sure players are protected with the proper gear.
- Shoes: Molded cleats or ribbed soles are best. Screw-in cleats carry a higher risk of injury.
- Shin guards: Field hockey shin guards wrap farther around the lower leg offering more ankle protection than soccer shin guards.
- Goggles: U.S. high school field hockey players are required to wear eye protection. Some goggles are made of steel cages that protect the eyes, but many players opt for plastic models for less peripheral vision interference.
- Mouthguards: Required by many leagues and always recommended, mouthguards protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongue.
- Gloves: These are optional, but help reduce the risk of broken fingers and keep hands warm in cold weather.
- Masks: To protect against facial injuries, defenders may choose to wear protective masks, though rules on their use vary from league to league.
A hockey ball can be shot at speeds exceeding 50 mph, which makes for a dangerous missile. Goalies are in the line of fire and therefore require additional safety gear:
- Helmets with a facial cage or mask are required.
- Mouthguards and throat protectors are usually required.
- Goalies wear padded pants, pelvic protectors, leg guards, and kickers (foam guards that fit over cleats).
- Chest pads, arm guards, and elbow protectors, which are usually all connected, should be worn by all goalies.
- Hand protectors should be the correct size with abundant padding to block hard shots.
The video below offers tips and suggestion on proper fit of goalie gear.
Safety on the field
Unsafe play is one of the most common causes of field hockey injuries. Players should continually be reminded of the rules and made to follow them.
Players need to be aware of teammates and opposing players at all times. Collisions are less likely to occur when athletes keep their heads up and pay attention to other players.
Players should be instructed on proper stick handling, tackling, and shooting techniques. Illegal use of the stick is a common causes of injuries.
Other safety factors
- Coaches should be certified.
- First aid should be available at every practice and game. Coaches should be certified in first aid and CPR.
- Have a responsible adult at every practice and game. This person should be aware how to contact medical personnel for quickly treat concussions, fractures, or dislocations.
- Players must stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after practices and games.
- All jewelry should be removed before playing.
- A safety plan for injuries, inclement weather and child abuse should be in place, along with a comprehensive field hockey insurance policy.
What Our Clients Have To Say About Our Field Hockey Insurance Programs
- “Quick email response and turned around certificate of insurance in 15 minutes- I would say EXCELLENT!” – Colette Poirier, Wilton Field Hockey Association
- “Called to check verification and within minutes I had the proof of insurance I needed. Extremely fast service, and super nice staff.” – Darrell Robinson, Stevenson Park & Recreaation