Revised 28th September, 2013
THe Lifted Ball.
Umpire Coaching Document
The FIH Rules Advisory Panel was formed in 1993 and mentioned in the Preface to Rules of Hockey 1998, as a body that would oversee Rules Trials.
Over the years, the Hockey Rules Board (HRB) explored changes to the Rules through the use of Experimental Rules. We have now reached the stage when it is considered appropriate to undertake a number of Trials of possible new Rules before they are formally introduced as Mandatory Experiments. Such an approach will enable a proper evaluation of some quite radical changes. The Trials, which National Associations will be invited to undertake, will be conducted by the Rules Advisory Panel (RAP). Full details of these ideas have been sent to National Associations. If will be their decision whether the Trials take place. The main areas for consideration include the penalty corner, larger goals, direct hits into the circle from free hits, ball not being stopped before a shot at goal during the penalty corner and having a broken line 5 metres outside the circle. Opinions on these and related activities should be sent to Roger Webb, Co-ordinator of the Rules Advisory Panel.
Where the suggested rules for trial had come from and who besides Roger Webb was involved in the RAP remained unclear, but this umpire coaching document authored by John Gawley has been confirmed by Roger Webb to reflect the thinking of the RAP on the umpiring of the lifted ball .
It is the most conflicted document written about the application of the rules of hockey that I have read. It also appears, in part, to form the basis of much of the current muddled ‘interpretation’ of defensive actions and the dangerously played ball. Some statements in it are the near or direct opposite of others, so it reads like a list of alternative approaches rather than a finalised coaching document or advice to umpires.
As far as I have been able I have highlighted like statements in one colour and grouped conflicting statements in another – one group has been generally ignored the other adopted. Which is seen as ‘positive’ for the game and which ‘negative’ will depend on the predisposition of the reader.
Some of the rules and guidance mentioned in the document have since been deleted, I have indicated this in green italic within the text on the first occasion only that each such rule or guidance is referred to. Other comments have also been inserted in coloured italic.
The document has been very selectively used by umpire coaches. The reader will recognise the parts that are current application or ‘interpretation’. The result of this selection has been the development since of some very ‘slanted’ interpretation of player actions and of the Rules and Guidance published by the FIH RC – which has in turn led, it appears, to the deletion of safety rules which were previously thought to be important.
The Lifted Ball
By John Gawley. FIF Technical Delegate. Level 3 Umpire Coach.
No player should ever be put into a position of self-defence against a ball put into the air at any height, be it 15 or 50 centimetres. (now generally ignored when the defending player is more than 5m from the ball and always ignored when a shot at goal is made – the very time a ball is most likely to be raised)
A player having to face a ball approaching in the air should have a clear view of the full flight of that ball and also have time either to move out of its way, or to play or attempt to play it in a legitimate and safe manner. (ignored. An umpire cannot in any case in most instances have any idea of the view of the ball that defenders may have))
So far as Goalkeepers are concerned, they deliberately put themselves “into the firing line” but are equipped to do so. Nevertheless, even they can be forced into self-protection rather than protection of their goal by dangerously-raised balls. (ignored)
- Lift at an Opponent
If the ball is intentionally put into the air at an opponent at any height anywhere on the pitch in contravention of Rule 13.1.1 f Players shall not play the ball dangerously or in such a way as to be likely to lead to dangerous play and Rule 13.1.3b Players shall not intentionally raise the ball so that it lands directly in the circle (this Rule was later deleted) the player who raises the ball is in breach of the Rule. (Rules numbers changed in subsequent years, Conduct of Play became Rule 9)
(There was also a Rule 13.1.3d A player shall not raise the ball at another player extant in 2001, which was deleted after 2003. Gawley, strangely, neglected to mention it here)
Furthermore, the shot may be dangerous or likely to lead to danger. Such a shot may legitimately be defended by the hand in accordance with Rule 13.1.2 a. (“Players shall not stop or catch the ball with the hand. There is nothing to prevent players using their hands to protect themselves from dangerously-raised balls.” (this guidance was later deleted) That statement stands despite the fact that Rule 13.1.3 a (“Players shall not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal”.) permits a shot at goal to be made at any height. A raised shot has to be made at goal, not deliberately at a defender standing either in goal or between the goal and the striker.
- Tackling Lift
There is nothing in the Rules to prevent any player in possession of the ball from lifting it over the stick of an opponent to resist a tackle, be it in the outfield, in the circle, or entering the circle, provided that the condition of Rule 13.1.3 b (“Players shall not intentionally raise the ball so that it lands directly in the circle.”) (replaced with a prohibition on intentionally raising the ball with a hit except when making a shot at the goal) is met. The last point is important: where the ball is lifted in such a manner over an opponent’s stick and enters the circle while still in the air, there is NO offence.
- Tactical Lift
When a ball is deliberately raised in a legitimate manner anywhere on the pitch the umpire should decide upon its merits as advised in the Rules Interpretations of the Rule Book. This form of play is used for tactical purposes, often to reverse the opposing defence. In general, it is fair to say that players who raise the ball in this manner, usually by scooping, consciously try to avoid danger to anyone in the flight path of the ball. The umpire is therefore seeking reasons why such a raised ball SHOULD be penalised. A player receiving a dropping ball should be given time and space in which safely to do so without real or threatened interference from an opponent. (Rule 13.1.3 c “Players shall not approach within 5 metres of a player receiving a falling aerial ball until it has been played and is on the ground.”) (this is very loosely applied, now opponents approach without penalty to within playing distance of the ball or the receiving player as soon as the ball is played) Note that the ball, having been intentionally lifted in this way, may not fall into the circle.(no longer applicable, flicks and scoops may be played into the circle)
On the other hand, the ball is often raised accidentally, usually by a stick interfering with the flight of the ball, rather than by any deliberate attempt to play it.(????) In such circumstances, the ball is likely to fly upwards in an unpredictable trajectory, thus being both dangerous in itself and likely to cause danger. A ball hit some 15 cm in the air into a crowded circle is an example. The Umpire, therefore, is likely to be seeking reasons why this raised ball should NOT be penalised but should wait to determine whether this actual danger.. (? unfinished)
No matter where on the field the ball is raised, and no matter what the circumstances of the lift, the umpire must always judge whether a player has been genuinely endangered in any of the ways described. Umpires should be on their guard against players who simulate ducking out of the way of raised balls simply to try to “con” them into thinking that such a ball is dangerous. Similarly, umpires should not be misled by defenders, often in goal, who allow themselves to be hit by the ball so as to be able to claim that the shot was dangerous. (apparently now adopted as the standard thinking about ‘Legitimate evasive action) The same standards of judgement must be applied wherever and whenever the ball is raised. It is therefore important that umpires recognise, and agree before each game according to the level and playing conditions of that game, what is the likely distance inside which those particular players are likely to have to defend their own persons instead of playing the ball properly.(ignored if a player is more than 5m from ball) Other factors need to be considered for raised shots at goal, however.
RAISED SHOTS AT GOAL IN OPEN PLAY
The goal is there to be shot at. The goalkeeper is well-protected and has no grounds for protest about high shots at goal. So far as any other defenders are concerned, if they stand in the goal to defend high shots, they must accept the penalty if the ball hits them contrary to Rule 13.1.2 b (“Players shall not intentionally stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their bodies.”). They can be said, perhaps, to have arrogated to themselves the duty of goalkeeper without having goalkeeper’s privileges. High shots include hits, flicks and scoops. (note the assumption made that a defender who is hit with the ball had the intention to be so hit) Having said this, it must nevertheless be remembered that no player should ever be put to the necessity of self-defence, and that includes goalkeepers. Although properly protected, goalkeepers can still be injured by balls projected at them from so short a range and in such a manner that they are unable to adopt a naturally protective posture. In high level games, with physically fit, young, skilled players, it is possible that the minimum safe distance for a rising shot is about (than) 3 metres. In less skilled games, that distance will probably be not less than 9 metres and could be more (reaction times have nothing to do with skill, Gawley confuses anticipation with reaction) . In all cases, the distances may increase dependent on other circumstances, not least whether the players defending the goal have a clear view of the whole flight of the ball from the moment that it is first propelled upwards. Judgement of what is dangerous must necessarily be subjective (That is not entirely true: height and distance are objective criteria which are actual and readily estimated by eye to a high degree of accuracy, and are thus suitable for the making of consistent decisions regarding a dangerously played ball . Subjective judgements are matters of opinion rather than of measurement e.g. “a ball velocity that could cause injury”, which is not a difficult subjective judgement or, where it is relevant, “intent” , which may be very difficult to discern. Fortunately intent where there is dangerous play is irrelevant ). Perhaps the soundest advice for the umpire is to consider that any raised ball is dangerous unless proved otherwise. In general, it is probably fair to say that a rising ball that would not be permitted on the grounds of safety in the outfield should not be permitted, for the same reasons, in the circle, whether for a shot at goal or, indeed, for clearing a shot at goal – a goalkeeper’s kick, for example. The exception is that the intentionally raised hit is permitted in the circle for a shot at goal; otherwise the same parameters apply. Note, however, that this advice is concerned mainly with high shots in OPEN PLAY. In these circumstances, there are usually few players in the circle and, as often as not, the shot is made in a one-on-one situation (this may have been true before the Off-side Rule was abolished in 1997) . During Penalty Corners, where numbers of players are required by the Rules to operate within the circle, other considerations apply, all concerned primarily with Safety.
During open play, rising shots at goal are permitted provided the defending players have time to defend the goal rather than themselves. No player should EVER be permitted to raise the ball, anywhere on the pitch, that is dangerous to other players. If defenders other than goalkeepers dressed in protective clothing or helmeted “kicking backs” (who have goalkeepers’ privileges in the circle), elect to defend their goal, then a shot that would have been permitted against a fully-equipped goalkeeper should be permitted against them. And if they stop or play the ball with their bodies or sticks above their shoulders (above shoulder defending of a shot at the goal was not permitted in 2001), they should be penalised unless they were endangered. (it is difficult to see how high a lifted shot – say above elbow height – of high velocity would not endanger the player it was lifted at - it would certainly force the defending player to either self-defence or evasive action - which defines a dangerously played ball) (The part in red appears to be the standard approach to a shot at a player defending the goal. The critical closing phrase - unless they were endangered.- is ignored)
RAISED SHOTS AT GOAL AT PENALTY CORNERS AND FROM CORNERS
- Players in the Circle
The Penalty Corner demands a maximum of 5 defenders behind their back or goal-line and places no limit on the number of attackers round the circle, though in practice the attackers usually number six or seven. There can thus be twelve or so players in the circle during the conduct of a Penalty Corner. For a Corner, and for other forms of Hit-in and Free Hit to the attackers where there has been a delay in play so as to allow players to gather in and near the circle, there is no limit to the numbers of players who may be in the circle. Eighteen players were counted on one occasion. Hits to the attack from the area of corner flags (corners, hits-in & free hits) are rightfully taken in open play, They are considered here with the Penalty Corner as likely to cause crowding within the circle. It can thus be seen that any ball raised into or within the circle in such circumstances has a great potential for danger. Such crowding underlines the need for umpires to judge whether players in the flight path of a raised ball have time properly to react to it. This is not to say that all raised balls in the circle are dangerous, nor that balls raised unintentionally into the circle are necessarily dangerous, but merely to indicate the potential for danger and hence the need for acute awareness and observation by the umpire.
- Penalty Corner
The defenders (including the Goalkeeper) are prohibited from deliberately raising the ball from a hit within the circle, or indeed outside it – Rule 13.1.3 a applies. The attackers, however, MAY deliberately raise the ball from a hit or other type of shot in the circle, but only for a shot at goal – not for a hit across the circle, for example. The one caveat to this permission is that the FIRST hit at goal at a Penalty Corner must comply with Rule 15.2 l (“If the first shot at goal is a hit, the ball must cross the goal-line at a height of not more than 460m (the height of the backboard) for a goal to be scored, unless it touches the stick or body of a defender.” (since amended)
Generally, the ball that is raised in the circle has a possible element of danger. But remember that any player may raise the ball over the stick of an opponent to resist a tackle. Once the first hit at goal in a Penalty Corner has been made, all subsequent hits (at the goal) may be at any height consonant with safety, as already described. However, still with the Penalty Corner, any other stroke to raise the ball may be made at any time, with no limit being placed on the height of the ball at any part of its flight. The only caveat on these forms of shot – usually scoops or flicks – is that of safety. And let us remember that the Penalty Corner Rule – specifically those sections applying to the first hit and the need first to stop the ball on the ground (stopping the ball no longer applicable) - ceases to apply if the ball goes beyond 5 metres from the circle before re-entering it (Rule 15.2 (“If the ball travels more than 5metres from the circle, the penalty corner rules no longer apply”).
- The Scooped Ball
The ball that is flicked or scooped from near the inside edge of the circle so that it goes high over all heads and falls so that it will enter the goal just below the crossbar is not very likely to be dangerous when falling; the player(s) in the goal-mouth will see the ball raised, will see it during its flight, and will have time to decide how to defend the falling ball. They therefore have no excuse for playing the ball with their sticks whilst it is above their shoulders, (August 2013. After trial of ‘stop or deflect’ in the EHL in 2012, ‘playing’ of the ball above shoulder height in International Level matches is permitted via change to Tournament Regulation and permit has been granted for immediately use in the UK – and other – National Premier Leagues. Overall this is a desirable change but I believe the expansion to ‘play’ – rather than a reduction to ‘stop and control to ground’ – i.e.not removing ‘deflect’ – to be a mistake. Allowing deflecting the ball as a pass or as a shot at the goal from above shoulder height is unnecessary and potentially very dangerous. I would prefer also that no player was permitted to play at the ball – or attempt to do so – at above shoulder height in the opponent’s circle.) for hitting the ball away in a dangerous manner, nor for using any part of their body to stop the ball. Only if the flick or scoop is at very short range, or if there are players in the line of sight between striker and goal, might the striker be penalised, and then usually only if the ball is still rising or if it is so low throughout its flight as to be obscured, for the receiver, by other players. Umpires should remember that the same conditions for dealing with a dropping ball apply for shots at goal as elsewhere on the pitch i.e. the player receiving the ball must be given time and space (5metres) in which to receive it safely.
- The Rising Shot
Having accepted the caveats noted above for the Penalty Corner, let us broaden thought to embrace the crowded circle. The same considerations previously mentioned still apply, i.e. the goal is there to be shot at, and defenders who arrogate to themselves the duty of goalkeeper must accept the penalty if they prevent a goal other than legitimately with their sticks.(note that the ‘perhaps’ before ‘arrogate’ has already disappeared from this (sic) new idea [of undetermined origin] – and, as above, positioning in the goal is seen, incorrectly, as an intention to use the body to play the ball) But, given the crowding already discussed, it is even more important that players defending any raised ball, regardless of its height, should have a clear view of the ball’s trajectory and have time either to remove themselves from its path or to play or try to play the ball legitimately. If they do not have such time, the ball raised at them must be considered dangerous and penalised immediately (ignored). But umpires should be on their guard against players who deliberately allow themselves to be hit by the ball so as to be able to claim that the lift was dangerous. It is the rising ball that is most likely to cause most danger, either because it can strike a player’s body, where its energy is likely to be absorbed, or because it can touch part of a stick and fly off unpredictably, with no loss of energy, to hit another player.
When the circle is crowded, such as at Penalty Corners and for hits from near the corner flag areas, there is a high potential for danger from any raised ball. Umpires must be alert to the risks involved but should not over-react merely because the ball is in the air or the body of a defender in the goal is struck by the ball. They should instead consider whether players have the necessary time and distance to avoid physical contact with the raised ball in favour of playing or attempting to play it legitimately, and not flinch from applying the appropriate penalty if avoiding action could have been taken. (There is some muddled thinking in that statement, as legitimate avoiding action – legitimate evasive action – defines a dangerously played ball) The necessity for the first HIT at goal at a Penalty Corner not to cross the goal-line at a height greater than 460mm should also be borne in mind. END.
The parts of the document highlighted in red are broadly the ‘current thinking’ and those highlighted in blue, even where they are part of the written rules and guidance issued by the HRB, are generally ignored. One of the most striking things about the document is, that having dismissed evasive action as an attempt ‘to con’ the umpire, there is no alternative way of determining if a ball has been played dangerously at another player offered. It’s “a subjective judgement” , but what criteria is that subjective judgement based upon in order that it may be applied consistently? The latest ‘thinking’ – that a shot on target cannot be dangerous - is a direct result of the adoption of parts of this document, but couldn’t be further away from the opening statements of it. This approach is however consistent, where no judgement relating to danger need be made – because an ‘on target’ shot cannot be dangerous – making inconsistent judgements about dangerous play is not a problem – very easy for the umpire. But is such an approach fair or in line with declared FIH policy on matters relating to player safety? I don’t think so. It may be said to be fair insofar as umpires apply it to both teams in the same way, but there is a profound unfairness evident between the approach to attackers and defenders, especially between shooter and defender in the circle.
In the same year this document was published the Rules Advisory Panel ceased to exist. Job done? It wouldn’t appear so, rules trials increased significantly after that date. Internal politics, ‘stepping on toes’ and ‘ruffled feathers’, seems a more likely reason – umpires had (openly) moved into laying down the rules – the prerogative of the Hockey Rules Board (now called the FIH Rules Committee)
One of the priorities now for the FIH Rules Committee - (if they are to retain any influence or credibility) must be to provide criteria for the recognition of the dangerously played ball: criteria that is fair, objective and can be applied consistently, without reliance on subjective judgement (the umpire’s opinion) alone. In the critical areas of the dangerously played shot at the goal and obstructive play i.e. ball shielding (both unique to hockey), umpires have demonstrated that consistency – and easy decision making – is achieved by ignoring these offences or pretending they do not exist; so umpires must confine themselves to applying the rules as given – not making or ‘reinterpreting’ them – their role in this area is to interpret the actions of players in relation to the written rules – not to ‘rewrite’ the rules (but without actually writing anything or referring to anything given by the FIH Rules Committee in the published Rules of Hockey).
The Rules of Hockey for 2013 -2015 have now been issued and include two Mandatory Experimental Rules, the Direct Lift of a free, which I have been advocating for years, and the Own Goal, which I think is a bad idea, especially as nothing further has been done to control the raised hit into the circle.
The opportunity to address deficiencies in the Rules concerning the dangerously played ball, in particular the introduction of objective criteria to define it, and the current ignoring of ball shielding as an offence has once again been allowed to slip by.
Among a number of other issues the penalty corner remains unchanged, the ban on the playing of a free ball, awarded in the opponent’s 23m area, into the circle remains, as does the mess of 5m restrictions cluttering the Self-Pass.
The Direct Lift is the one improvement, but without prohibiting the lifting of a free, awarded outside the opponents 23m area, into the circle – and so the development of set-pieces based on that – this improvement is likely to lead to more dangerous situations in the circles.
The introduction of the facility to intercept a ball at above shoulder height is welcome – but deflections (passes and shots) and hitting at the ball at above shoulder height should not be permitted.
Link to Index of Rules http://wp.me/p3tNmd-3