Do Field Hockey Goggles Protect Eyes, But Result In Concussions?

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Posted on 7th September 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized


It would seen like a no-brainer, pun intended, that field hockey players should wear goggles to prevent injuries. But actually, whether goggles work as a safety measure is the topic of debate. Some believe that goggles can lead to concussions.

The Star-Ledger of Newark published a story Wednesday about the impact of a national safety rule that now mandates that field hockey players wear eye protection while on the field. “When It Comes To Goggles, Field Hockey Experts Don’t See Eye To Eye” was the headline.

The first paragraph of the story is about woman who has played field hockey for at least two decades, and says that she has never seen an injury that would have been avoided if the player had been wearing goggles. And according to The Ledger, many veteran coaches in New Jersey are taking issue with the goggle requirement, which was instituted by the National Federation of State High School Associations. 

What the beef with goggles?

Not only coaches, but USA Field Hockey has voiced its objection to the mandatory goggle rule. It contends that more concussions take place when players wear goggles. The contention is that if a ball or stick hits the goggles, this hard plastic safety gear itself will injure a player’s head and brain.

USA Field Hockey told the The Ledger that it is doing research on goggles and concussions, and hopefully that will shed light on the matter. In the interim, this season 62,000 high school field hockey players in America will be wearing the goggles, according to The Ledger.  



  1. Cris Maloney says:

    When the NFHS decided to require that athletes in its high schools wear goggles it was done over the objections of USA Field Hockey and the NFHS’s own field hockey rules committee.

    Supporting the NFHS’s decision was the NFHS’s “Medical” Advisory Committee (among the members of the “medical” advisory committee are retired gym teachers — the entire make up of the “medical” committee is as of yet not published by the NFHS).

    The NFHS claimed at the time, and it continues to claim, that in the 5 to 7 years that some states have had a mandatory goggle rule zero goggle related injuries had occurred — no concussions due to players running around with lowered heads and decreased vision, no problems with visual impairment caused by goggles decreasing reaction time to deflections, no goggle-to-player impact injuries……not a single one.

    Many in the field hockey community heard that claim in complete disbelief. I for one, and I’ve been playing coaching and umpiring since the late 1970s, have never seen an injury goggles would have prevented.

    And, now that the nationwide mandate has been in effect for two months — *pre-season plus September” — what has the result been? As a test, why not ask the NFHS about the impact goggles has had and how they measure the success of the requirement?

    Recently (September 27th), a website was established to test the validity of the NFHS’s claims that requiring goggles was safe. The site,, allows people to report goggle related injuries.

    In less then a week, more than two dozen were reported. Most have been reported by coaches, umpires, and certified athletic trainers. The reports have come in from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Nearly 100% of the reports claim that goggles caused or made the injury worse. All but one of the reported injuries involved cage/wire frame-type injuries. is the first and only nationally available, standard reporting mechanism that is open to the public for reporting goggle related injuries in field hockey. Without releasing personal information, data will be reported to the NFHS and researchers studying the impact that mandating goggles has actually had on the sport of field hockey.

    The site is the brain child of a task force of dedicated individuals from within the field hockey community. The task force includes medical professionals (orthopedic surgeon, trauma surgeon, vascular surgeon, general surgeon), a doctoral student at Yale University, and a board member of USA Field Hockey.

    If your readers see an athlete experience a goggle related injury, please ask them to report it!

    Thank you,


    Cristopher Maloney
    Task Force Member —
    Author — How to Umpire Field Hockey
    Publisher —
    Founder — Garden State Games Field Hockey Event
    Editor — (Umpires, Rules, Ask the Umpire)

    7th September 2011 at 2:03 pm

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