Even the roughest, toughest field hockey warrior doesn’t want to ruin her pretty face, does she? But racing around a pitch, dodging hard swinging sticks and fast flying balls without proper eye protection may be asking for it. In fact, every 13 minutes, US emergency rooms treat a sports-related eye injury. These injuries range from corneal abrasions and blunt trauma, to penetrating injuries which may cause temporary or even permanent vision loss. Fortunately, proper eye protection can prevent 90 percent of all eye injuries.
With approximately 64,000 athletes participating in high school field hockey, eye protection has become a hot topic. Girls have become stronger and are capable of hitting the ball faster and harder every year. More teams are “lifting” the ball to advance it up the pitch, increasing players’, parents’, and coaches’ fears about eye injury and concussion. Because of these increased risks, many private-school leagues across the country began requiring protective eyewear as far back as 1999.
Being a ground-based game, field hockey requires excellent downward and side vision for good technique, maximum reaction time, and safety. Field Hockey Eyewear that doesn’t adversely affect an athlete’s peripheral and downward vision are essential.
This type of protective eyewear is now, as of the 2011-12 season, a mandate for public schools nationwide. Issued in April by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the new rules require all high school field hockey participants to wear field hockey approved protective eyewear.
Field Hockey Rule 1-6-5c, ART. 5 states:
All field hockey players shall wear eye protection that meets the current American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM F2713-09) standard for field hockey with either of the following products:
- Polycarbonate lens protective eyewear
Wire protective eyewear
- Protective eyewear must be worn at all times during practice and in games.
Additionally, players are allowed to wear a face mask along with their eye protection for penalty corners, but the mask must be made of fiberglass or plastic and be the style that is molded to the face, rounded at all points and without sharp edges. It is important to note, however, that at this time, manufactures of face masks are not required to meet any type of standard testing protocols. Eyewear manufactures do not test their products with face masks included, and so players who choose to combine the two products assume all responsibility for wearing them together.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) and USA Field Hockey have also approved a newly revised set of guidelines:
- Athletes no longer need a medical reason for wearing approved eye protection.
- All field hockey protective eyewear must meet the current American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard for field hockey.
- If worn, face masks must be smooth, transparent or white, or otherwise dark and plain-colored, and must fit flush with the face.
- Soft protective head covering is allowed
- Plastic goggles with a soft covered frame and plastic lenses are allowed.
Please note that neither the International Hockey Federation, nor USA Field Hockey allow for any cage-type goggles or other protection that protrudes from the face, as these pose a danger to other players if a collision should occur. You can find more information from this USA Field Hockey document.
According to a memo from B. Elliot Hopkins, MLD, CAA, Field Hockey Rules Editor for the National Federation of State High School Associations;
“The protective eyewear is distinguished by two different construction styles, polycarbonate lens style and a wire frame style. Both styles are acceptable for high school competition as long as they meet the ASTM F2713-09 standard”.
The perspective players, parents, and coaches are being asked to take is one of safety for their high school athletes. All questions should be direct to your local high school athletic director.
The following styles of Bangerz Eyewear are ASTM F2713-09 approved for Field Hockey use: