Field Hockey Rules. Dangerously played ball. Open play. Penalty Corner, Shot at goal.
A reading through all the Rules of Hockey have to say about propelling the ball in a dangerous way to decide if a shot at the goal (a) in open play (b) during a penalty corner, cannot be dangerous play or must not be made in a dangerous way i.e. must not be dangerous play.
9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play.
A ball is considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.
The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.
9.9 Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal.
A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally. It is not an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field unless it is dangerous.
If the ball is raised over an opponent’s stick or body on the ground, even within the circle, it is permitted unless judged to be dangerous.
Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous.
A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous.
If an opponent is clearly running into the shot or into the attacker without attempting to play the ball with their stick, they should be penalised for dangerous play.
Procedure for the taking of a penalty corner.
13.3. k. if the first shot at goal is a hit (as opposed to a push, flick or scoop), the ball must cross the goal-line, or be on a path which would have resulted in it crossing the goal-line, at a height of not more than 460 mm (the height of the backboard) before any deflection, for a goal to be scored.
The requirements of this Rule apply even if the ball touches the stick or body of a defender before the first shot at goal.
If the first shot at goal is a hit and the ball is, or will be, too high crossing the goal-line it must be penalised even if the ball is subsequently deflected off the stick or body of another player.
The ball may be higher than 460 mm during its flight before it crosses the goal-line provided there is no danger and provided it would drop of its own accord below 460 mm before crossing the line.
‘Slap’ hitting the ball, which involves a long pushing or sweeping movement with the stick before making contact with the ball, is regarded as a hit..
13.3. l. for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous.
A defender who is clearly running into the shot or into the taker without attempting to play the ball with their stick must be penalised for dangerous play. Otherwise, if a defender is within five metres of the first shot at goal during the taking of a penalty corner and is struck by the ball below the knee, another penalty corner must be awarded or is struck on or above the knee in a normal stance, the shot is judged to be dangerous and a free hit must be awarded to the defending team.
It is strange that in an open play situation the only Guidance there is concerning a shot hit at the goal, even a raised shot, is:- A ball is considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.
There is no objective criteria whatsoever – nothing at all concerning the distance from an opponent the ball is hit or the height of the shot or the velocity of the ball – all of which are germane to the propensity of the ball to cause injury and to the legitimacy of evasive action.
There is no mention of any of these criterion in the advice to umpires given in the Umpire Managers Briefing to Umpires either, except to state :-
A forehand hard hit using the edge of the stick is not allowed and should be penalised even for a shot at goal.
Low balls over defenders sticks in a controlled manner that hit half shin pad are not dangerous. (which is most likely about a flicked ball)
Watch the ball on the way up – the ball must not be flicked dangerously towards an opposing player (from Aerial balls)
Be aware of attempts to gain free hits by the ball carrier, for example, by playing the ball dangerously into a defender’s body.
Position of disengaged umpire should allow support of colleague on the height and direction of the shot, the possibility of suicide runners and possible obstruction of runners. (the expression ‘suicide runners’ – a ‘description’ which should not be in the UMB at all in my opinion – must – from Guidance given above – refer only to a defending player who clearly intentionally plays the ball with the body and makes no attempt to play it with the stick)
When the ball is missing the goal and the defender is hit high on the body, decision is a free hit to the defence. (Only when the ball is missing the goal?)
What is carefully avoided in both the Rules of Hockey and the UMB is any reference to the decision that should be made when a defending player cannot take evasive action, for example, when the ball is propelled high and at that defending player and he or she is hit with the ball – when (a) the ball is propelled from beyond 5m of the defender and (b) is not going wide of the goal – is ‘on target’. The reasons given for the award of a penalty stroke do not assist here.
12.4 A penalty stroke is awarded :
a) for an offence by a defender in the circle which prevents the probable scoring of a goal.
b) for an intentional offence in the circle by a defender against an opponent who has possession of the ball or an opportunity to play the ball.
It is obviously not an offence to be hit with a ball that has been propelled at the player hit in a dangerous way.
It is not an offence to make an involuntary (unintentional, forced or accidental) ball-body contact. (Guidance to Rule 9.11) It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they voluntarily use their hand, foot or body to play the ball or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.)
The word ‘always’ has been in this Guidance since before the ‘gains benefit’ exception clause was removed from the Rules of Hockey and is now redundant- there is now no reason whatsoever to penalise an unintentional ball/body contact.
The possibility of an offence being ‘created’ by a benefit gained from a ball/body contact (which was obviously only possible in the absence of dangerous play by the shooting player) was removed when the gains benefit exception clause was withdrawn – there is now no exception to the current Rule Guidance. (This is obviously an area of Rule that needs to be looked at afresh by the FIH RC; there should be facility to award a penalty stroke when the ball has been directly prevented from entering the goal by the body of a defender – always provided the shot was not made in a way that endangered the defender). .
Conclusion from the given Rules and Guidance?
My conclusion is that this :- for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous. from the penalty corner Rules describes play which is indistinguishable from open play – especially now that off-side no longer exists. This Rule clause has been in the Rules of Hockey since long before the withdrawal of the Off-side Rule and the circle is now just as crowded in open play situations as it generally is during a penalty corner; therefore the conditions within this clause ought to be applied to open play, especially in the absence of any reference within the Rules of Hockey to dangerous play and the raised hit in the circle in open play..The aforementioned Rule clause could be ‘adopted’ in the same way as the ‘within 5m and above knee height’ criterion from the penalty corner Guidance, criterion which are also used generally in open play situations to describe a dangerously played ball .
The Guidance from Rule 9.9. – which refers only to flicks and scoops and does not provide a height limit – is not generally applied by umpires. Technically, according to the Guidance provided in Rule 9.9 any raising of the ball at an opponent within 5m with a flick or a scoop – and therefore, it is reasonable to presume, with a hit also – is a dangerous play offence – but that is obviously regarded as too severe. The UMB gives a ball below half-shin height is not dangerous. but a player struck with a raised ball from within 5m will not usually be awarded a free ball unless struck above knee height. An ‘adoption’ of Rule from the Penalty Corner Rules.
It is reasonable to state:- that in open play shots at the goal, including hits, flicks, scoops and deflections should be permitted to be of any height but must not be dangerous – however what ‘dangerous’ means needs to be described by the objective criterion mentioned above Height, Distance, Velocity and not a subjective judgement of ‘legitimate evasive action’, itself a subjective judgement.
The statement that for a shot at the goal it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous (Rule 13.3.l) logically means that it is a possibility that an ‘on target’ shot at goal can be made in a way that is considered to be dangerous play and can penalised as an offence – otherwise the statement would not be required (in fact in that case there would be a statement within the Rules of Hockey that an ‘on-target’ shot could not be considered dangerous). The assumption is therefore made that if a hit, flick or a scoop above knee height can be considered dangerous when used to make a second or subsequent shot at goal in the penalty corner situation, then such shots can also reasonably be be deemed to be dangerous in open play, and that is so because the two modes of play are indistinguishable.
We have however no idea what an umpire might consider to be a dangerously played ball when it is propelled at an opponent who is more than 5m from the ball at the time it is propelled. This is still an entirely subjective decision based on legitimate evasive action, but we don’t know what legitimate evasive action is either;: this again is an entirely subjective judgement by an umpire – and no objective criteria is recommended by the FIH RC for the judgement of either by an umpire.
Here are a couple of examples of such judgements ‘in action’. In both an opposing player was within 5m of the raised shot. In one two defenders took evasive action but only one did so successfully. In the second incident the defender was unable to take evasive action.
This in open play during a high level match,
This the first shot at goal during a penalty corner in a low level club game.
Not ‘one off’ isolated incidents of ‘brain fade’, unless such ‘brain fade’ is a lot more common that is generally supposed, there are many more such examples on video and these umpires are following instruction from somewhere or think they are doing so.
Who briefed this commentator at the Olympic Games with that nonsense? (This clip from 2008 when a free ball could be taken from from just outside the circle line and could be hit directly into the circle – the placement of a free ball was sensibly moved to outside the hash circle, allowing defenders to defend the circle line, but unwisely, in my opinion, direct playing of the ball into the circle from a free in the 23m area was also prohibited – an unnecessary ’belt and braces’ measure).
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