The hockey balls that you use on game day have to undergo a strict series of testing to make sure that they play evenly on a number of surfaces, and that they conform to a bounce test, among other standards. They must also be a specific size and weight. So, if you notice while playing that the game ball is marked, dented, or otherwise damaged, you should request that the umpire change the ball. A damaged ball could affect the game's play, and put you and your team at a disadvantage.
For the practice balls that you use, they will generally be hollow, and are often plastic, making them susceptible to breaking and cracking over time. In a study published in 2008 in The Engineering of Sport, various tests showed that at low speeds, the greatest impact on field hockey balls is to the plastic covering. As the ball is hit harder and faster, the materials that make up the ball have a big impact on if it will deform or break. Since practice balls usually have a hollow core, this makes them more likely to break down over time when compared with the field hockey balls that you use on game day. This is also one reason why practice balls have a lower price.
So when should you replace the ball? Just like on game day, if you see that a ball is dented or cracked, remove it from your practice collection. It could split or crack further, and create a dangerous situation where pieces of the ball come flying off. Without eye protection, there is the possibility of injury due to this type of damage, so play it safe and grab a new ball.
Remember to keep in mind that the temperature also affects the durability of field hockey balls. Cold weather play makes the plastic of a practice ball and the polyurethane cover on game day balls more brittle and likely to crack or break. You want to have the peace of mind to know that when you deliver your strongest drive, the ball you are using will not break apart. Take a little extra time to inspect the ball when the temperature is below 60 degrees.
When it is time to replace a lost or broken ball, you can rely on Longstreth Sporting Goods to have the type of ball you want, from a brand that you trust. That goes for all field hockey equipment, from the store that focuses on your specific needs as a female athlete including the best and the most durable Field Hockey Sticks!