Many sports are similar, branching off from a common source. Although soccer and field hockey do not appear to have developed from the same root, there are more than a few commonalities between the two. Both have the same objective -- to outscore the opposing team -- and fundamental similarities in field and team structure, although the equipment and playing time in each game differs.
The field in each sport is often referred to as the "pitch." A field hockey field is 100 by 55 or 60 yards, while soccer fields must be at least 100 by 50 yards, but can reach a maximum of 130 by 100 yards. Both sports have two goals, one at each end of the field, but field hockey goals are smaller in comparison. A half-circle marks the ground in front of a field hockey goal. Soccer goals are surrounded by rectangles, the six and 18 yard boxes, respectively. Soccer and field hockey fields are marked with a 50 yard or half line; field hockey also marks the field 25 yards from each end line.
In each sport you will find 11 players on a side -- 10 field players and a goalie or goalkeeper. Soccer and field hockey are fluid sports in which players run over all areas of the field to score and defend against goals. Defense and offense-specific players exist in both sports, as do players in the middle, or midfielders. Although technically able to roam anywhere on the field, defenders or fullbacks mainly play defense while offensive players or forwards look to score. Goalies typically stay around the goal. However, in soccer the goalie can use his hands anywhere in the 18-yard box, but he must use his feet if he goes outside that area.
Compared to soccer, field hockey requires more equipment. Each player carries a stick with a flat and rounded side; players can only touch the ball with the flat side. Field hockey balls are small and hard, consisting of solid plastic. Field players are required to wear mouth guards and shin guards for protection, while goalies must wear goalie pads that include shin and chest protectors, facemask, throat protector and other optional padding. In soccer, everyone on the field, including the goalkeeper, must wear shin guards. Goalies also wear gloves and long sleeve jerseys with minimal padding on the arms. Soccer balls are larger and filled with air.
Soccer and field hockey are divided into two halves of play -- professional soccer halves last 45 minutes while professional field hockey halves are 35 minutes. If the score is tied at the end of regular play, soccer and field hockey teams get two additional periods in which to score. In field hockey, the number of players on the field is reduced and the first team to score wins. In soccer, the number of players remains the same, and you typically play out all the time allowed. If the score remains tied in either sport, the game moves into "penalty" play in which each team selects five players to shoot -- in a one vs. one opportunity -- on the goalie.