Edited January 2013.
The penalty corner was introduced into field hockey the early 1900′s, to replace a bully on the 25 yard line following an offence by a defender. Very soon after an amendment to the rule made it compulsory to stop the ball (at the time within the circle), for safety reasons, before a shot at the goal (then not height restricted if hit), could be taken. Since then the rule clauses relating to the penalty corner have had more additions and amendments than any other rule, probably more than all the other rules put together, and it is still unsatisfactory. I think its introduction was a mistake and I believe that if at present we did not have a penalty corner no-one would seriously consider introducing it in its present form to the modern game. We still have it because no suitable alternative has been suggested (or at least none accepted).
I think we might however adopt from ice-hockey the concept of the power-play and use it as a time limited penalty in place of the penalty corner. Below is set out what I think is a workable replacement , which would be conducted as a small open play game , without the shooting restrictions of the penalty corner, but with a dangerously lifted ball or dangerous shot at the goal; that being being one that is 1) lifted at an opponent 2) above elbow height 3) with a velocity sufficient to force an opponent to self-defence (play the ball or evade it) to avoid injury. (The current at an opponent at above knee height from within 5m remains in place - but see post on lifted ball suggesting that 3m is here sufficient)
The penalty-play I suggest is a time limited 5 v 4 power-play. Five attackers, four defenders. It is based on the present penalty corner format, that is a ball inserted into play from the back-line by an individual attacker to other attackers (limited to four) positioned behind a line a given distance from the goal (the 23m line instead of the circle line) who will then, together with the insert attacker, try to score a goal in the time allowed, which is half a minute (trial needed to see if this time is suitable). The defenders are initially positioned as in the present penalty corner.
a. The ball is placed on the back-line inside the circle, at least 10 metres from the nearest goal-post, on whichever side of the goal the attacking team prefers.
b. Four other attackers must be on the field, beyond the nearest 23m line with sticks, hands and feet not touching the ground inside the 23m before the ball is inserted.
c. The remaining attackers and defenders must be positioned behind the centre-line when the ball is inserted.
d. Not more than four defenders, including the goalkeeper, if there is one, must be positioned behind the goal-line or back-line with their sticks, hands and feet not touching the ground inside the field.
If the team defending a penalty play has chosen to play with field players only, none of the four defenders involved in the penalty-play has goalkeeping privileges.
e. No defender is permitted to be within five meters of the ball when the push or hit is taken by the attacker on the back-line.
a. The attacking team have thirty seconds from the moment of ‘insert’ of the ball to complete their attack. If the ball is still in play after that period ‘stop time’ is blown (table or trailing umpire timing) and a 15m awarded to the defending team from in line with the goalpost they choose. (Game restated with whistle). An alternative would be for normal open play to resume, but a signal other than an umpire’s whistle would be required to indicate ‘time up’ and allow the remaining players to engage (perhaps an air-horn used by a ‘timing official’ pitch-side).
b. Game time is stopped when a penalty-play is awarded and is restarted as the ball is inserted. Timing of the penalty-play begins simultaneously with the restart of game timing.
c. The umpire blows a whistle to signal the commencement of the penalty-play and the ball may then be ‘inserted’ into play by an attacker, from the chosen 10m mark and towards the 23m line, where four more attackers have taken up positions of their choosing.
d. Defenders behind the goal-line or back-line are permitted to cross the back-line immediately the ball is played by the ‘insert’ attacker.
e. The involved attackers, initially positioned directly behind the 23m area, may move across the 23m line as soon as the ball is ‘inserted’.
f. Until the ball is inserted no attacker is permitted to enter the the 23m area (the insert player excepted because he may have one foot and possibly both in the circle if he uses a drag stroke to ‘insert’ the ball – the requirement to have one foot outside the pitch being deleted)
g. Attackers and defenders who are not initially involved are to be positioned behind the centre-line but may move up to the 23m line as soon as the ball has been played back into the 23m area. They must however remain outside the 23m area during the penalty-play and may not physically interfere with the playing of it. (Calling instructions to team-mates would not be regarded as interference but obstruction, impeding or attempting to play the ball would be)
h. After playing the ball, the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must not play the ball again or approach within playing distance of it until it has been played by another player
i. The ball may be played by a second attacker (the first being the insert player) before it crosses the 23m, line but a goal cannot be scored until the ball has crossed out of the 23m area and has then been reinserted into the penalty-play area (the 23m area) by one of the four attackers initially behind the 23m line,
j. Hitting the ball directly into the circle from beyond the 23m line or dribbling of the ball into the 23m area and then hitting it directly into the circle is prohibited: the ball must be played into the circle from within the 23m area after a third attacker, to whom the ball is passed by the initial receiver, has played it. (The insert player being the first player, the receiver behind the 23 line the second and a second receiver within the 23m area the third. The initial receiver may pass the ball to any one of the other four involved attackers, receive the ball a second time, and then play it into the circle.) The purpose of this compulsory pass is to prevent an immediate hard hit into the circle for the insert player to deflect into the goal before defenders can adopt marking positions. The aim is to make a penalty power play as close as possible to an open play situation, but with the advantage of a ‘man over’ and a play plan.
k. If an attacker, who was not one of the initial four between the 23m line and the centre-line at the commencement of the power play, crosses into the 23m area before the time limit of the corner has expired, a free-pass will be awarded to the defence on the 23m line at a place of their choosing. (the trailing umpire will watch for this offence)
l. If a defender, who was behind the centre-line at the commencement of the power play, crosses into the 23m area before the time limit of the corner has expired another penalty-play (and a personal penalty) may be awarded.
m. If a yellow or red card is issued to any defender during a penalty-play (including those behind the centre-line at commencement) and another penalty-play is awarded the subsequent penalty-play will be with three defenders only (and so on to two etc.). If the goalkeeper is guilty of an infraction that should result in being sent to the half-line, another defending player may be nominated to retire during the subsequent penalty power.
The penalty-play is completed when:
a. a goal is scored
b. an attacker involved in the penalty commits an offence (free-pass at place of offence or 15m if closer to back-line)
c the ball is played over a side-line.
d. the ball is played over the 23m line for a second time but does not go out of play (normal play resumes)
e. the ball is played over the back-line. (intentionally playing the ball over the back-line by a defender will result in a normal play corner, not another penalty-play).
f. a penalty stroke is awarded.
g. there is a no offence stoppage which would normal play result in a bully (another penalty play will be awarded – but see article suggesting an alternative penalty http://wp.me/pKOEk-Kd
h. the time limit expires. (15m free-pass for defence) or as a trial alternative (normal play resumes).
a. If a defender commits an offence, which disadvantages the attacking side sufficiently for the umpire to stop play, another penalty-play will be awarded – unless a penalty stoke has been awarded.
b. If play is stopped during the taking of a penalty-play because of an injury or for any other reason and a bully would otherwise be awarded, the penalty-play must be taken again – but see http://wp.me/pKOEk-Kd
c. If one or more of the defenders positioned behind the goal-line or back-line breaks early, that is before the insert player has played the ball, a caution will be issued and the penalty-play reset. (Persistent breaking in this way – that is once again after a warning has been issued – may be penalised with a reduction in the number of defenders and on the third occasion with a penalty stroke.)
a. Except in case of injury (see below) there will be no substitutions between the time a penalty play is awarded and the whistle to commence it is blown. Once the whistle to commence is blown the players not directly involved in the penalty-play (any player initially beyond the centre-line before commencement) may be substituted.
b. If a player is injured during a penalty-play and another penalty-play is awarded the injured player may be substituted before the subsequent penalty-play commences.
c. Neither the defenders or the attackers involved in a penalty-play are confined the 23m area while it is ongoing but the initial four from each team cannot exchange place with team-mates not in the initial line-up for each penalty-play.(It may be necessary for those nominated to take part in a penalty-play to wear a distinctive article of clothing such as an arm-band)
d. If a fully kitted goalkeeper is suspended during a penalty-play he may be replaced with another player in goalkeeping kit from within the on-field players or from the bench. If he is replaced from the bench the captain must nominate one of the players involved in the penalty-play to leave the pitch (which could be himself). Should the goalkeeper be awarded a red card he or she must leave the pitch area immediately but may be replaced and another defender nominated to retire to the half-line if another power play is awarded.
a. The match is prolonged at half-time and full-time to allow completion of a penalty-play or any subsequent penalty-play awarded or a penalty stroke awarded during the penalty-play.
There could of course be an immediate dip in the number of goals scored from this penalty (which is intermediate between a free-pass and a penalty stroke) because passing drills that will create opportunity for a scoring shot will have to be worked out, but teams should soon become as proficient at that as the small group setting up a drag-flicker are now. Ah yes, the drag-flick, won’t be required.
Link to Index of Rules http://wp.me/p3tNmd-3