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. 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, 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, but unfortunately, it is because there is still a great deal of ambiguity and conflict within the Rules and Rule Guidance and they are silent on many issues. They are, unfortunately, also 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 different games. (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, because it subverts 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 yet to be accepted. (Now introduced as a Mandatory Experiment in the Rules of Hockey 2013)
The Rules of Hockey need a complete rewrite, even if only to 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.
This is not a forum but comments concerning The Rules of Hockey are welcome.
The main concerns are 1) the dangerously played ball – particularly the raised shot at goal 2) the ball body contact Rule 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. These are all areas in which ‘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 permit to stop and control to ground a ball from above shoulder height in the outfield areas and the abolition of ‘back-sticks’. Some major changes such as the introduction of a Penalty Play in place of the Penalty Corner and change in goal size (particularly height) are also advocated.