The Rules of Hockey5s

by USA Field Hockey

To recap from A Dive into Hockey5s, Hockey5s is a short format version of field hockey that is designed to be fast, skillful, and adaptable in order to expand the sport of field hockey to athletes all over the world. The key points are that it is short format, very fast and skillful, adaptable, and has simplified rules. Now that the basics of the game are understood, it is time to immerse fully in the rules of Hockey5s.

Download the FIH Rules of Hockey5s

To start off, it’s important to know that the basic underlying rules of Hockey5s are the same as 11v11 field hockey. Hockey5s is similar to indoor field hockey in this regard - the same basic principles are there, but the rules are modified slightly for a different aspect of play. So, to simplify the rules of Hockey5s, outlined below are the major differences and deviations from the rules of 11v11 field hockey.


The Court

The field of play in Hockey5s is referred to as the ‘court’. The court has boundary boards on the sidelines and endlines, so that the ball stays in play. (If the ball goes out of bounds, the same basic procedure as an out of bounds ball in 11v11 field hockey is used.)  The court is smaller than a normal field hockey pitch – about two thirds the size – and can be comprised of virtually any surface. There is a center line and two quarter lines, much like the 50-yard and 25-yard lines in 11v11 field hockey.

Match Time

The match consists of two 10-minute halves. (Very quick!)


Composition of Teams

Due to the smaller court size, there are less players on the field. There are five players from each team – four field players and one goalkeeper.



Method of Scoring

Instead of having to be inside a designated circle to score, an attacking team can score from anywhere within their attacking half.


Procedures for Taking Penalties

If the attacking team is awarded a free hit inside their attacking quarter, they take that free hit back up at the quarter line. If the defending team within their defensive quarter are awarded a free hit, they take that hit from around where the foul occurred. The golden number for meters in this game is 4. Players must be 4 meters away from the player taking a free hit, and when taking a free hit, the ball must travel at least 4 meters before it is played at the goal.



Instead of penalty corners, there is a simpler procedure called a challenge. The challenge is awarded similarly to the penalty corner, except instead of being called for fouls in the circle, it is awarded for fouls within the attacking half. To take the challenge, one attacking player stands at the quarter line with the ball, while the defending team’s goalkeeper stands in goal. The rest of the player stand at the center line, and are able to resume playing as soon as the attacker on the quarter line plays the ball. The attacking player taking the challenge cannot shoot the ball until the ball has traveled at least 4 meters. 

As before, it is important to note that Hockey5s is adaptable. While the rules in an elite level match say you need to have four field players and a goalkeeper, community level games can be played with four field players and no goalkeeper if needed. If boards are not accessible, it is okay for your local team to play without them. Court sizes and materials are strict for international matches, but can vary within certain limits for lower level games.

Fans, keep on the look out for more from USA Field Hockey about Hockey5s, the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Hockey5s Pan American Cup roster, and more!

To learn more about the 2023 Hockey5s Pan American Cups, visit the event page.



Click here for FIH’s guide to Hockey5s, rules of Hockey5s, facility guides, and Hockey5s academy webinar and courses.

Click here for USA Field Hockey’s Hockey5s Resource Page.

Contact USA Field Hockey Sport Development for more information at for more information.