Hockey guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to hockey ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Photograph: Hockey via Shutterstock

Converted: The most ingenious use of sticks since the drum solo on ‘In the Air Tonight’.

Confused: Like pink champagne, this is one of the few things that’s better on ice.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Hockey - The essential guide

Street cred: While ice hockey is famous for its brawling tough guys, field hockey is normally considered a sport for girls. There's a fine line between cool and uncool.

Who’s good? The Australian men and the Dutch ladies are the teams to beat.

The basics: Best described to an alien life form as soccer with sticks (provided the alien knew what soccer was), it’s 11-per-side, 35 minutes each way, and you have to score within the ‘shooting circle’—an arc in front of each goal.

Athlete to watch: Australia striker Jamie Dwyer has scored more than 150 goals for his country and been voted World Player of the Year in three of the past four seasons. He’s good is what we’re saying.

Not to be confused with: Ice hockey.

As seen in: ‘Chak De! India’ (2007), a hugely successful Bollywood movie about the fictitious adventures of the Indian women’s hockey team.

Do say: 'It's all about the triangles.'

Don't say: 'This is just a bunch of dudes bending over, which I'm totally fine with—a lot of my friends are hockey players.'