Special Edition - USA Field Hockey Weekly Report, April 19, 2011
This is an interesting topic within field hockey and an unsettling situation for field hockey in the USA. The NFHS has allowed for the voluntary use of goggles for years. Both the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and USA Field Hockey allow for voluntary use of protective eyewear that does not protrude from the face in certain situations (medical for FIH) and USA Field Hockey provides the athlete the option, but does not make the use of protective eyewear mandatory.
The argument goes that goggles currently in the marketplace adversely affect an athlete’s peripheral and downward vision. Many of the goggles used in hockey today are designed to accommodate lacrosse, which is an aerial game.
Field hockey is a ground-based game. Excellent vision downward and natural side vision, without the need to lower the head or turn from side-to-side, are a necessity for good playing technique, maximum reaction time, and to provide for safety.
Another more psychological aspect of the game, especially among those that are young, is the concern that the provision of some protective gear, such as goggles, often makes the athlete feel impervious to injury. It is sort of a Superwoman/man feel that can result in athletes taking risks that without the protective gear they would not take. This behavior not only places the risk-taking athlete in line for injury, but potentially others that the athlete may encounter in the process.
Protective eyewear will continue to be optional for athletes participating in USA Field Hockey events. USA Field Hockey allows the use of a smooth, preferable transparent or white but otherwise dark, plain colored face mask which fits flush with the face, soft protective head-covering or eye protection in the form of plastic goggles. Cage style protection will continue to be prohibited at all USA Field Hockey events.