This blog is mainly about the Rules of Hockey and is written primarily for those who are already familiar with the FIH Rules Committee publication – which all participants in a hockey match are obliged to know and abide by. It does not pretend to be the Rules of Hockey – which may be found here:-
but offers suggestions that, hopefully, may improve the Rules and Guidance, and interpretation of them, and thereby the game for players, umpires and spectators.
The author is Martin Conlon. A former player (Blackheath HC , Slough HC, Hounslow HC, Surbiton HC, Maidenhead HC, and Lusitanians) former umpire (Surrey Umpires Association), former hockey coach (Cuba to Junior World Cup and Pan American Games), retired but still alive and kicking.
My concern is that the Rules of Hockey, as published by the FIH via the Rules Committee, are followed. And to that end, firstly, to seek explanation for deviant ‘interpretation’ and/or invention of Rule and Rule Guidance from those who practice or support it, and secondly, to make suggestions for the improvement of the Rules and Rule Guidance, so that they are fair, easy to understand and easier to abide by and apply. It may seem odd that this should be necessary after ‘major rewrites’ in 1995 and 2004, (1995 saw an expansion of Rule Guidance, 2004 a contraction) but unfortunately, it is because there is still a great deal of ambiguity and conflict (rather than the announced simplification and clarification) within the Rules and Rule Guidance and they are silent on many issues. They are, unfortunately, also widely ignored, umpire coaches appearing to ‘go their own way’, which is in large part a reason why umpiring practice and the Rules of Hockey seem to relate to a different game or at least one played to ‘other rules’. (see http://wp.me/pKOEk-Ed particularly the second part)
Promoting the following of the published Rules of Hockey is considered a subversive activity, in the main by umpire coaches and senior umpires, because it challenges some ‘common practice’ in Rule interpretation and application that has arisen, particularly in the last ten years, but which cannot be justified by reference to anything published by the FIH Executive the ultimate authority or by the only legitimate Rules authority – the FIH Rules Committee (previously known as the Hockey Rules Board) – which is appointed by the FIH Executive.
I consider the making of suggestion for the improvement of the Rules and new Rules to be essential to the future health of the game. The present Rules of Hockey are not perfect, they never have been, but some Rules which have been removed could be restored, some of the present ones deleted, and some new ones added, to make the whole better than it currently is. The self-pass for example, which I suggested in 2001, has now been adopted by the FIH, after trial in the European Hockey League, and has made a significant improvement to the game, but I am dismayed at the many 5m requirements that have restricted the free and fair use of it, so there is still much to do in that area. It’s ‘twin’, the direct lift of a free with any stoke except a hit, has at last been accepted into the Rules of Hockey from January 2013.
These articles on the Self pass; the intentionally raised hit and (one about) ball body contact – as they have been interpreted and applied – give an idea of the sort of conflicts that I feel need to be resolved. They have been written over an extended period, more than four years, so there is much repetition within them – not least in the giving of the Rules of Hockey, which I always quote when writing about them.
http://wp.me/pKOEk-12e Free Ball – Suggestions
http://wp.me/pKOEk-12M Inventing Rule Guidance
http://wp.me/pKOEk-vu Back door ‘Rule’ and the UMB
http://wp.me/pKOEk-Yf Self Pass – Speed
http://wp.me/pKOEk-11O Rule Text following Interpretation.
The Rules of Hockey need a complete rewrite, even if only to repair and expand the existing guidance, so that it is clear and makes sense. The reordering and replacement of some of the wording , (for example, doing away with the multiple use of the word ‘legitimate’ when it has a different meaning in each context – Legal ? Genuine ? Necessary? - would help; as would withdrawing the word ‘voluntarily’ from the explanation to Rule 9.11 and restoring the word ‘intentionally’ to the Rule – which would render most of the ‘explanation’ of that Rule unnecessary).
The main concerns are:-
1) The dangerously played ball – particularly the raised shot at goal ‘through’ an opponent and the ball raised into the opponent’s circle, especially with an edge-hit.
2) The widespread abuse of the ball-body contact Rule and the (long deleted) gains benefit exception.
3) Obstruction, specifically shielding the ball to prevent a legitimate tackle attempt and – increasingly
4) Moving bodily into an opponent while in possession of the ball, to either make contact or force the opponent to retreat to avoid contact.
5) Dangerous use of the stick.
6) Contesting for an aerial ball – a recent addition. (Edit, August 2013, a change to Tournament Regulation and early adoption into the UK NPL that goes beyond, too far beyond, what was allowed above shoulder height in the EuroHL last year gives me additional cause for concern for player safety).
These are all areas in which ‘interpretation’ or ‘common practice’ in Rule application, conflicts with what is given in the Rules of Hockey. There are myriad trivial matters raised, such as renaming of the ‘Free Hit’ for example, and some larger ones,such as the abolition of ‘back-sticks’ and the removal of the recently introduced ‘Own Goal’ which are recommended. (I see it as peculiar that a ‘back-sticks’ Rule, that I believe is now unnecessary, and cause of great difficulty for the beginner, is insisted upon, but obstructive ball shielding, particularly with the body, is apparently seen as unimportant, when I see correct application of an Obstruction Rule as fundamental to the way in which the game is played) Some major changes such as the introduction of a Penalty Play in place of the Penalty Corner are also recommended.
This is not a forum but comments concerning The Rules of Hockey and the interpretation and application of them, are welcome.
My views are of course my own and I fully accept that not all will agree with much of what I write. I will be pleased to receive counterargument on any point I have made concerning the Rules of Hockey or serious alternative Rule or Rule Guidance suggestions from anyone who wishes to give them.
Links to other articles can be found in date order in the side bar of each article or within this subject index (which is in date order under Rule number – so some articles, which refer to more than one Rule, are cross referenced) http://wp.me/p3tNmd-3