Field Hockey Positions

Now that you have the basic understanding of the game, it’s time to learn the positions. There are eleven players for each time on the field. Ten field players and one goalie. It is recommended that you try all the positions before deciding which one you want to stick with. 

When I first learned to play, I played offense, wing and inner. Two and a half seasons later I broke my finger and part of my hand when the ball flew up and struck my hand. The following season the team needed a goalie. My coach told me to get the gear on and go try it out, since I am not scared of getting hit with the ball. Ever since then, I played goalie. And LOVED it!

The main groups are offense, midfield, defense, and of course goalie. 

The main groups can be broken down into more specific players. 


Offensive players (Attackers) can be broken down to left wing, right wing, inner (or center forward) and sometimes a striker. Usually offensive players can work in all of these positions, as they have the same objective…..

to score a goal. Offensive players tend to be quick on their feet and can sprint down the field no problem. They need to find their way down the field towards the cage quickly.

They should be able to get around the defenders. It is important that you can read the defender and be able to get around them. Lifting the ball just over the defenders stick is a skill that should be learned. Shooting the ball is an important skill that will need to be mastered. Since the object of the offense is to score, it is extremely important that the players on offense can score. 


Midfielders are an important piece on the field. They can help the offense and defense stay connected through the game. They are extremely versatile and do a lot of work. Midfielders need to understand both offense and defense, as they will play both at midfield. Midfielders need to have good stamina as they run up and down the field most, if not all, of the game. 

They need to be able to help the offense score, or score goals themselves. Midfielders can fly down the field with offensive players so that they have an advantage of having more players down at the other team’s cage, that way they can try and score. More players means more opportunities for shots and rebounds. More rebounds means more opportunities to shoot again. Hopefully one of them can score. 

Midfielders should also be able to play defense and have the skills of a defender. They should have a powerful strike (or hit or drive) when they hit the ball. You want the ball to get out of your team’s circle and back up towards the other team’s circle. They should also master the skill at jabbing the ball away from the opposing team’s offense, as that is a way of taking the ball away from them. 


The defense is to protect the goal and defend it. The defense is supposed to clear the ball out of their zone and send it back up to their offense. The main positions of the defense are half-backs, fullbacks, and a sweeper. Making sure the ball does not get into the circle or near the cage is important, as that is the job of the defense. 

Defenders should have a powerful drive (or hit). Passing the ball back up the field is an important job for the defender. Jabbing the ball away is another technique used, as it allows you to take the ball away from the other team. Being able to get the ball out of your zone is super important. 

The sweeper is the last line of defense before the goalie. The objective of the sweeper is to “sweep” the ball out of the circle. They need to be able to clear the ball out of the circle quickly and with a pass to the midfielders, or a powerful drive up the field. 


The goalie’s job is to protect the cage and not allow the ball to get past them. The goalie is the only player who is allowed to have the ball touch their body, as long as they stay inside the circle. Goalie’s have incredible reaction time and know the ball can be shot and come at any angle, height or speed. 

Goalies must have incredible balance, body control, but most importantly mental control. Goalie is one of the most fun and most difficult positions. There will be amazing rewards and loads of criticism. Mental toughness is so important because there is a lot of pressure on the goalie. While most of the game is usually not spent at one goalie and one cage, when the ball is down there, it can be the most stressful part of the game. Sometimes your team will outshoot the other team, but somehow your team manages to lose. Goalies need to be able to hold their heads up at the end of the game. It is a team sport.

And not just for the goalie, but for everyone. Will they score? Will the goalie save it? What will happen?

Positive feedback is important, but so is criticism, in order to get better. 

All of the positions in the game are fun and different. Some find it exciting to shoot the ball and score. Others find it fun to stop twelve shots on goal. Some love to run and hit the ball. Depending on what you find fun, what skills you have, and what you want to learn can help you decide on what position is best for you. 

You don’t have to pick one position and stick with it forever. Sometimes you really like one positions, or sometimes you like to play wherever. You can always play more than one position, being versatile is a good thing. It is important to understand the basics and have a good skill foundation.