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Common field hockey injuries

Field hockey is not technically a contact sport, but contact does occur. Most field hockey injuries result from being hit with a ball or stick, causing bruises, fractures, and sometimes, concussions. These injuries primarily affect the hands, lower legs, head, and face.

Because field hockey players run hard and change direction quickly, players may also sustain muscle strains, ankle sprains, and knee injuries such as ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears.

How do field hockey injuries happen?

Foul balls

Hitting the ball at an angle to make it rise (“undercutting”) and intentionally hitting an opponent with the ball are major fouls in field hockey — and can lead to serious injuries.

Sticks and hand position

Because of the way field hockey players grip their sticks with the lead hand low to the ground, hand and finger injuries, including fractures, are common.

Tough turf

Artificial surfaces, like Astro Turf or Field Turf, are essentially thin carpets sitting on hard concrete. Running on these surfaces can cause fatigue, muscle pain, and shin splints. Falling may result in hand injuries, cuts, bruises, joint pain, and head injuries.


The impact of colliding with another player or being hit in the head with a stick or the ball can lead to head injuries. Concussions make up about 7 percent of field hockey injuries. Coaches, staff, and parents who observe concussion symptoms should remove players from the field and seek medical attention. Concussion symptoms include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • loss of balance


Playing too often or for too long can cause overuse injuries. Low back pain, tendinitis of the hip, knee or ankle, and stress fractures may prevented by making sure players have enough time rest and recover between games and practices.

How can players avoid field hockey injury?

Wear protective gear

  • Mouth guards protect the teeth from injuries caused by contact with sticks, balls, and opponents.
  • Goggles protect players’ eyes and are required by a growing number of leagues.
  • Plastic or foam shin guards protect players’ lower legs. Make sure the guards fit snugly and cover the area from the knee to the top of the shoes.
  • Close-fitting gloves reduce the risk of hand and finger injuries.
  • Helmets are not required in most leagues. However, parents and coaches may recommend that young players wear head protection, particularly if they are playing on hard surfaces or if they are at risk for head injury.

Goalkeepers wear several pieces of equipment to protect themselves from balls and sticks. This equipment includes:

  • helmet
  • throat protector
  • chest protector
  • padded pants
  • arm and hand pads 
  • leg guards
  • kickers (pads that go over the feet)

Leave jewelry at home

Earrings, necklaces, rings, and other jewelry may cause abrasions and lacerations when players fall to the turf. Also, jewelry can get caught or be pulled during play. Take off all jewelry before every practice and game.

Elements of a safe playing environment

Proper playing conditions are important and sometimes overlooked factors in preventing field hockey injuries. Here are some tips for creating a safe playing environment:

The field

Before playing or practicing on real grass, coaches, staff, and players should remove all debris (glass, rocks, and other harmful objects) and find any holes, bumps, or hazards. Addressing these problems ahead of time will greatly reduce the chance of falls, sprains, and cuts.

If playing on an artificial field, it’s a good idea to water the field before every game and practice. This helps prevent sprains and strains because shoes are less likely to catch or lock on the damp turf.

The weather

Hot weather poses hazards for all field hockey players, especially young athletes. Make sure there is plenty of water on hand to keep players hydrated. Be sure to rest players regularly on hot and humid days.

On rainy days, check field conditions to guard against excessive slipping, sliding, and falling. Be ready to call the game or practice in case of thunderstorms.

How we care for field hockey players at Boston Children’s Hospital

As the largest and most experienced pediatric and young adult sports medicine practice in the country, the Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children's combines personalized care with innovative treatment for each athlete we treat.

Our Sports Medicine team consists of sports medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, podiatrists, athletic trainers, sports psychologists, dietitians, and many others who collaborate in every aspect of our patients’ care and their recovery.

The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, part of the Sports Medicine Division, is dedicated to the prevention of sports injuries. Through research and clinical training, we offer practical strategies that help young athletes reduce their risk of injury while enhancing their sports performance. Our rehabilitation and strength training programs help injured athletes return to play stronger and healthier.

Whether injury prevention or recovery is your goal, we have the skills and dedication to help your child remain active in the sports they love.