Michelle Vittese of the women's Olympic field hockey team. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Sara Dayley
St. Louis (KSDK) -- Field hockey is a sport that is growing rapidly in the St. Louis area among both men and women, but it has been an Olympic sport for decades.
Men's field hockey competition made its debut at the 1908 London Olympics, but the women's competition didn't hit the scene until 1980.
In order to get to the gold medal match, both the men's and women's competitions begin with a preliminary phase, where the 12 teams are divided into two pools of six.
From there, each team plays every other team in their pool. The top two teams in each pool qualify for the semi-finals and those winners will then go head-to-head for the gold.
Field hockey is a fast and physically demanding game and players need to have speed, strength and stamina. They need excellent ball skills, great hand-eye coordination and the ability to play tactically as a team. As for action across the pond, the women's field hockey gold medal match is on Friday August 10th, and then men will vie for the gold on Saturday, August 11th.