Each winter, many schools offer their students both indoor and outdoor hockey; enabling players to play either or both sports. While both versions of the game are very much alike, there are a few key differences that make them very different games.

In SA, there are many players who play both sports professionally; namely, Celia Evans (Gauteng), Nicole la Fleur (Western Province) and Kara Stella (KwaZulu-Natal). While it may seem that there is little difference between the two games, each requires a different way of thinking and these players need to be able to switch between their indoor and outdoor thinking patterns.

However, not everyone is as versatile, and players often need to choose which variation best suits them. We take a look at the key differences between indoor and outdoor hockey to help you decide (if you have to choose) which game is the best match for you.


  1. Indoor hockey is played in a gym and outdoor hockey is played on Astroturf/ grass.
  2. Indoor hockey has a slightly smaller field area than that of outdoor hockey, enabling more control of the ball in the restricted space.
  3. The gym field area in indoor hockey is side-lined by sideboards; allowing the ball to rebound in play; unlike that of outdoor hockey where the ball goes out of the field area, resulting in a break in play.
  4. The goals of indoor hockey are slightly smaller than that of outdoor hockey.


  1. There are less players on the field; indoor hockey is played with 5 players per side (4 players on the field and 1 goalkeeper), outdoor hockey has 11 players on the field (10 field players and 1 goalkeeper).


  1. Indoor hockey is a much quicker game.
  2. Indoor hockey is 20 minutes per a half (shorter in junior matches) with a five minute interval and field hockey is 35 minutes per half, also with a five minute interval.
  3. Due to the smaller field area in indoor hockey, the ball is only allowed to be pushed and not hit.
  4. In indoor, the ball mast be played on the ground; except for a shot at goals.
  5. Penalty rules are different.


  1. Indoor hockey requires slightly smaller equipment; particularly the stick which is lighter and more flexible.

Next time you have to choose one or the other at your school, make sure you think about these factors so that you can get the most out of the hockey season!