The Real Health Benefits Of Playing Field Hockey

Team sports have a wide variety of benefits. The University of Missouri lists problem-solving, teamwork, discipline, and increased self-esteem as just a few of the benefits, aside from the obvious advantages of participating in physical activity. These benefits are true of most team sports, but some sports, such as field hockey, have benefits that are unique to their style of gameplay.

Field hockey, for example, is a good way to improve hand-eye coordination, according to Stick Handling Pro. This is because field hockey is considered a "stick and ball" game. As the American Optometric Association states, improved hand-eye coordination means better performance in these types of games. The association explains that hand-eye coordination is the connection between visual input and physical action. It is necessary for situations where high-speed action is needed, such as hitting an incoming baseball or passing to a teammate in field hockey.

While training this skill through field hockey is an excellent benefit to the sport, it is not among the best benefits players receive. Those come from the way field hockey gameplay forces players' bodies to use stored energy when powering their muscles.

The benefits and the burn of field hockey

Health Fitness Revolution lists 10 health benefits associated with playing field hockey. When looking at the most impressive benefits specific to the sport, there are 2 that stand out. One is the distance that players run over the course of the standard 70-minute game. The other is the start-stop nature of the game, which changes how players use energy.

While Health Fitness Revolution states that players can run quite a long distance during a game, EuroHockey offers specific numbers. Players can run between 6-9 kilometers over the course of a game. The exact number depends on their position, with defenders running an average of 6 kilometers, and midfielders racking up distances closer to 9 kilometers.

This much running usually falls into the category of aerobic activity, but field hockey is a game played with short bursts of intense energy. This is very similar to the way high-intensity interval training (HIIT) works. HIIT improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, as well as blood pressure and cardio health, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Aerobic exercise uses oxygen to power the muscles, while anaerobic exercise uses glycogen. This multifaceted benefit is what really sets field hockey apart and makes it an excellent way to stay fit.