Hockey – Players and their Roles

Hockey has started its course from the English Public Schools to Olympics level. Each hockey team must have 11 members who should always be ready on the field to start the match. Total number of members in a team are 16 of which five are substitute. The guidelines on how to play the game is given by the International Federation of Hockey.

Substitution of players can be done any number of times. At any point of time, the team can give rest to a player and call a substitute on his behalf. The 11 players consist of one goal keeper, and the rest shall be in the field. The breakdown of suggested attributes for each player is as follows −


Arguably, the goalkeeper is the most important player in the whole team. The responsibility of the goalkeeper is to defend the goal post and prevent the other team from hitting a goal.

The key responsibilities of the Goal Keeper are listed as follows −

  • Should be fast and also agile.

  • Should be proficient at both right and left foot.

  • Should be able to judge the shooting angle and close them down.

  • Should be a good communicator and be able to organize the defense.

  • Should be able to go down in a correct manner at defensive moments and at required moment should remain in standing position.


The position of the goalkeeper needs to meet the following requirements.

  • Should be able to save the straight shots towards the goal.

  • Should be able to minimize the attacking team’s score by organizing the defensive attacks.

  • Should establish good communication with other defenders.


The defenders are positioned at four locations. They are right half, left half, right back and left back. The chief role of the defenders is to defend the back four. They should work as a team and try to minimize the score of their opponent.

The main attributes of a defender are as follows −

  • Should be able to turn sideways and get back swiftly.

  • Should be having strong basic skills. Effective in trapping the opponent, passing the ball and tackling the situation.

  • Should be able to prevent opponent attack and put the ball away from the danger zone.

  • Should understand both man-to-man as well as zonal defense and decide the correct approach to use.

  • Should be able to have a good vision of other players and gather knowledge of best passing opportunities.


The three distributions in the midfield positions are inside right, inside left and center half. The midfield is the team’s engine room. It links the attackers and the defenders. It should avoid opponents to have clean breaks through the middle of the field. Midfielders should be major game distributors and have a great awareness of the game.

Attributes of a midfielder are as follows −

  • Should possess a great acceleration with fitness, fast and agile.

  • Should possess strong all-round basic knowledge of hockey.

  • Should have a good knowledge in passing, ball carrying, receiving and shooting.

  • Should have a great awareness and vision of the game.

  • Should be able to switch play or change the point of attack.

  • Should be able to understand the defenses and choose the right one at right time.

  • Should be able to understand the lines and angles of attack and defense in the play at midfield.


The first role of a striker is to generate opportunities of scoring. These must be done by working as a team, creating width and depth on the attack, create a link with midfield and taking the best of all the possible opportunities.

Specific attributes of a good striker are as follows −

  • Should be able to get a clear view on the lines and angles of attack and defense.

  • Should be able to deploy pressure on the opponent defenders.

  • Should be able to move fast and should be agile with high acceleration and pace change.

  • Should have a good vision on the game and awareness of moves.

  • Should have a constant movement where the key actions are creating space, attacking opportunities and leading the team.

  • Should be able to execute and identify the best opportunity for shooting.