December 6, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: ‘Gamesmanship’

Rules of Hockey. Conduct inappropriate to a competative sport based on game skills.

The Misconduct Rule, once published in the Rules of Hockey (in upper case bold text):-

ROUGH OR DANGEROUS PLAY, ANY DELAY WHICH AMOUNTS TO TIME WASTING, DELIBERATE BREACHES OF ANY RULE, OR ANY OTHER BEHAVIOUR WHICH IN THE UMPIRE’S OPINION AMOUNTS TO MISCONDUCT, SHALL NOT BE PERMITTED.

The Guidance then went on to lay out the available penalties, up to and including a red card, for infractions in the circle, the (sic) 23m area and in the remainder of the playing area. This was all deleted along with the Rule – (clarification and simplification)

It is understandable that breaches of other specific Rules should be separted, but odd that Rule and laid out penalty for ANY DELAY WHICH AMOUNTS TO TIME WASTING OR ANY OTHER BEHAVIOUR WHICH IN THE UMPIRE’S OPINION AMOUNTS TO MISCONDUCT should have been removed from the umpires’ means of game control. There is no evidence that players are better behaved now (or at any time in the interim) than they were in 1994, when the above Rule was last extant.

November 3, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Another ‘convention’

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 10th November 2016 – note on video referral procedure added.

Shoot out and obstruction. Physical contact. Backing into. Positioning between.

Negligence. Stupidity. Complacency. Apathy. Ignorance. Which is it that is causing problems with interpretation?

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The Obstruction Rule (9.12) is, I think, jointly with Rule 9.3, which prohibits physical contact, the second most important Rule in the Rules of Hockey. Only the Rule (Rules) concerning dangerous play can be considered to be more important than these two for the proper conduct of the skills of the game of hockey. So it is painful to read the comments made on the FHF website following the posting of the video below, which either confuse physical contact with obstruction or declare that ball shielding (the principle form of obstruction by a player in possession of the ball) is, by practice and convention, no longer recognised as an offence. Can anyone who has read the current Rules of Hockey hold either view, especially the second? No, that would be impossible. I must therefore ask ‘Why are some people lying about this ?’.

A video of a shootout incident and a question about the possibility of an obstruction offence posted on the FHF website on the 2nd of November 2016.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/penalty-shoot-out-question.41358/

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Gingerbread points to the Rule and Explanations but possibly does not want to ‘go out on a limb’ or ‘rock the boat’. I don’t know if he is a qualified umpire.

redumpire  provides an inadequate explanation of the Rule wording for an FIH Official of his experience and standing.

But it is one of the posts by Careeman, who I think sees himself as a ‘career umpire’ (no pun intended) that I will focus on, as the other contributors (as of Wednesday 3rd November, late evening) seem to be utterly ignorant of the elements of the Rule. Some of his general comments about the obstruction Rule, rather than just about this particular incident are odd to say the least.

It’s difficult to see from the camera angle if the player backed into contact with the goalkeeper or turned wide of her. The goalkeeper did make attempts to tackle for the ball and I can see no reason she would not have suceeded in playing directly at it after the first attempt if the attacker had not previously moved to position herself between the goalkeeper and the ball. I have posted a couple of ‘stills’ below.

Careeman.   Having your back to a player hasn’t been obstruction since about the late eighties/ early nineties.

That is not true. Who told him that?  Only a player in the act of receiving and controlling the ball can, with complete impunity, face towards his/her own goal and have his/her back to an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and trying to play at it. Reading the Rule should have informed him of that fact even if it isn’t very clear about the receiving exception. In fact even a half or partial turn of the body which effectively shields the ball from an opponent, who is within playing distance of the ball and trying to make a tackle, thus preventing that tackler from playing directly at the ball, will be obstructive play. Backing in is mentioned only because this action is often carried out by a receiver of the ball who had been facing his or her own defence when receiving the ball. The original Guidance clause started Having received the ball the receiver must move away in any direction except …etc. Now the wording is, the weaker (pitiful), ..is permitted to move off.. etc. and Having received the ball has been deleted – there is now only a stand alone statement that a receiver of the ball may be facing in any direction – what a receiver must do immediately after having received and controlled the ball has also been deleted.

The important distinction made after 1992 between a player receiving the ball and a player in control of it i.e. in possession (the basis of what was called “the new interpretation”, but which was in fact a Rule Exception, because what constituted obstruction did not change at all) has been ‘lost’ along the way. However, what action/s are considered to be obstructive play have not changed in over fifty years – the exception to the Rule, temporarily granted to a receiver of the ball, did not and has not in any way changed the Rule. 9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.

Are you asking what we think about any potential body contact by backing into the GK because otherwise there is no foul.

There is no Rule requirement for body contact if backing-in to the playing reach of an opponent while in possession of the ball occurs – ball shielding even without physical contact is an offence if it prevents a tackle attempt which could otherwise have been made. Here is the Rule and the relevant Rule Explanation statements:-

9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.

Players obstruct if they :

– back into an opponent

– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent

Physical contact.

Backing-into an opponent and making physical contact while doing so would be physically interfering with the body of an opponent (barging)  and there would be no need for the  two separate statements above if the first one back into an opponent meant making physical contact.

The problem with the wording is that ‘back into’, which describes moving backwards towards and into the playing reach of an opponent, is being interpreted to mean ‘making contact with’, while the clause following describes a physical contact action as interference. It is not possible to back into physical contact with an opponent without interfering with either the body of the opponent or the stick or both. There is no reason that two different kinds of physical contact, backing into physical contact and leading the ball (for example) into physical contact with an opponent should be set out in separate clauses.

The meaning of “back into” is unclear (and that ambiguity could and should be removed). But at present the two separate clauses suggest an action – described in the first clause to be without physical contact, and another – described in the second clause – to be with physical contact: both are obstructive actions. This was clarified in the following Explanations paragraph, the first part of which (before “or“) was part of the Rule Explanation in 2004.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

For me she spins around the keeper and it’s all fine, play on and a good goal.I don’t think there is any contact at all but if there is any it’s not enough to blow.”

That comment as an opinion about physical contact, based on what Careeman saw in the video, was just acceptable until this was addedbut if there is any it’s not enough to blow“.

ANY CONTACT with an opponent is sufficient to penalise for a physical contact offence if it is either dangerous to, obstructs or otherwise disadvantages that opponent: the term used in Rule 9.3 is “touch”. (Tacklers certainly get penalised if they touch an opponent who is in possession of the ball – even if it is being illegally shielded from them – a very different standard is being applied to players in possession of the ball who cause physical contact to occur).

There are in any case three other Rules which deal with physical contact offences, Rule 9.3 (touching), Rule 9.4 (impeding) and Rule 9.13 (while tackling). Rule 9.13 is now often being interpreted in a way that makes an obstruction offence by a player in possession of the ball, who is shielding it from an opponent to prevent a legal tackle attempt, an impossibility. The goalkeeper in the video is a victim of such interpretation.

But why is Rule 9.3 being muddled with Rule 9.12. or even replacing it ? The focus of the answers given has been entirely on physical contact :  positioning between an opponent and the ball (shielding the ball to prevent a legal tackle attempt), the other criterion for obstruction has been completely ignored (is this another convention?).

Positioning between an opponent and the ball.

Leaving aside any suggestion of physical contact and simplifying the Rule Explanation (instead of expressing it as an exception to moving in any other direction) we arrive at :-

A player with the ball is not permitted to move into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

Let’s break that down:-

A player with the ball

is not permitted

to move into a position

between the ball and an opponent

who is within playing distance of the ball

and attempting to play it.

No mention of physical contact there, that is a separate, but included matter, as indicated by the use of the word “or” in the Explanation paragraph.

This means that a moving player in possession of the ball cannot position his or her back (or any part of the body to shield the ball) to a close opponent who is in contention for the ball. This amendment was made as a clarification to the Obstruction Rule, in 2009. It is current Rule, it is not an idea or a practice that was discarded in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s. The Obstruction Rule is about the prohibition of obstruction, it is not a fourth physical contact Rule.

Did the attacker in the above video 1) move to position her body between the goalkeeper and the ball 2) while the goalkeeper was within playing distance of the ball and 3) attempting to play at it ?

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The answers to the first two question are obviously yes – I don’t think that is disputed. although few seemed bothered by it. The third question is not easy to answer. It seems from what little can be seen through the backs of the two players, that the stick of the goalkeeper may have been impeded by the body of the attacker. But only the umpire  (who was the whole time steadfastly watching the goal-line, perhaps to ensure that the goal-line did not move !!?), who was in a position where it would have been possible to see stick impeding (if he had been looking at the play), had it occurred, was the umpire near to the base-line. (That looks like a video cameraman kneeling just outside the circle. Where, if it is, is the footage he shot?)
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A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

Those clauses could be better put, but apart from a need to be more definitive about the meaning of ‘bodily into an opponent’ (towards and into the playing reach of an opponent while shielding the ball to prevent a legal tackle as well as ‘moving into physical contact with an opponent while shielding the ball to prevent a legal tackle’ and not just the physical contact statement) they are unambiguous about one thing, ball shielding while positioning between an oppnent and the ball and thereby preventing a legal tackle attempt, is obstruction.

The Rules of Hockey are purposed to allow players to use stick skills to move the ball in a timely way to elude opponents or alternatively, to execute tackles for the ball. Using the body to shield the ball to prevent an opponent positioning so that a tackle may be attempted, confounds that purpose and such actions are therefore contrary to Rule.

 

Another visit to FHF revealed this post from Nij 
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I share Mark Hansford’s confusion about previous posts and despite the cogent way the above post by Nij is set out, find no explanation or solution offered. He does not present his grounds for argument but correctly outlines the requirements, as other have, and then suggests that not all three have been satisfied – in fact he says only one has and maybe another could be argued for, but has offered no explanation. Which one is clear to him as being met and which one he might be persuaded about he does not say. Perhaps it is so obvious that he feels it does not need explaining. No-one has asked the most obvious question – “Why did the attacker (in no sense a receiver of the ball) turn to position her body between the goalkeeper and the ball?”

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To my initial question “Negligence. Stupidity. Complacency. Apathy. Ignorance. Which is it that is causing problems with interpretation?” I will add Bullying, and then answer to myself “All of these”.

This patronizing (and insulting) advice below, concerning the application of Rule 9.11 (ball-body contact), fits the present attitude to the application  (called interpretation) of Rule 9.8 (Dangerous play) and Rule 9.12 (Obstruction) perfectly :-

This is just one example of interpreting rules consistently with your partner and with other umpires the teams will have. Sometimes their interpretation will differ from how the rule seems, to you, to read. But you must umpire play their way, and never apply your own version. If that leaves you uncomfortable then a bit of lateral thinking should soon enough make the same sense of it for you as it does for everyone else.

The matter now becomes one of indoctrination (like upbringing and religion), reason and argument and even facts, will be of no use, opinion will remain in two ‘camps’, one of which is the set ‘everybody’. I do not like the “everybody except you does it this way” line of ‘argument’ because it is not an argument, it’s just an excuse to avoid explanation or reasonable justification of what ‘everybody’ is doing, as well as being obviously untrue.
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Three obstruction examples. In the first, in 2014, the umpire makes the correct decision (and had a choice of two offences to penalise, because the lifting of the ball into the second defender was also a foul contrary to Rule 9.9). This obstruction looks similar to that of the goalkeeper in the first video above (and the combination, shield the ball, and given opportunity, lift it into an opponent’s legs, is identicle to what the same player tried to do in the third video below – skilful yes, but unfair and not at all, by Rule, how hockey is supposed to be played).
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Whereas this skillfully executed foul, 2012, went unpenalised. I wonder which of the three Rule criteria mentioned above the defender did not meet?
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This time, in another match, the ARG player gets away with it (penalty corner awarded after video referral), even thought the obstruction, with the body, and the impeding with the foot, of the attacking player’s stick were prolonged and clear – except to the video umpire (the match umpire was unsighted) and the commentaters, who focused entirely on the claimed ball-body contact (even though it obviously could not have been an offence, not having been made voluntarily, the criteria for offence at the time. Had advantaged gained been a criterion, the contact – if there was any – would still not have been an offence. What advantage was gained?). The obvious obstructions were not even mentioned beyond subliminal denial, with the absurd observation “There’s nothing wrong with the carry position”
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I need to add here a comment about video referral. The ARG team asking for a video referral precluded the GB team making a counter-claim had they wished to do so. In this example the obstructions of the ARG player, prior to the claimed ball-body contact offence, could have been brought to the video umpire’s attention. The opposing team may not wish to make a couunter-claim, but denying them the opportunity to do so – which would take very little additional time – seems to me to be unfair and the facility should I think be available. When asked to look for a particular action it is not unusual for video umpires to focus entirely on looking for that action, to the exclusion of all other actions, one or some of which might effect the decison made. It is difficult in this particular example to otherwise explain why the video umpire did not notice the ARG player kick and block the stick of the GB player, who was at the time positioned behind her and attempting a tackle, and then turn with the ball to again position her body between the GB defender and the ball.


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October 31, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Consistently irrational.

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 14th November, 2016

The story of foot, foot foot and foot foot foot (and don’t think about anything else). Consistently irrational, consistently irresponsible.

Two questions from an umpire new to FHF, posted on 31st October 2016. I’ll disregard the second question (which I have greyed out), because it is about a Rule which is now far too complicated for me to understand, and focus on the first one. (Try to find an umpire who can explain the Free Hit Rule to you in less than half-an-hour)
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Time to stop having second thoughts

The defender’s foot and then possession surely causes disadvantage, so it’s got to be a FH”.

That reminds me of the advice to prospective Level One Umpires, Diligent wrote in his County Umpires Assosciation Handbook around 2009, during the period that ‘gains benefit’ was not a criterion for a ball-body contact offence (at least not in the published Rules of Hockey).

“The notes to the foot body rule 9.11 says it is an offence ‘only’ when contact with the ball is ‘voluntary’, but in practice an accidental contact that alters the balance of play is just as much an offence as deliberately playing the ball with a foot or the body.

This is just one example of interpreting rules consistently with your partner and with other umpires the teams will have. Sometimes their interpretation will differ from how the rule seems, to you, to read. But you must umpire play their way, and never apply your own version. If that leaves you uncomfortable then a bit of lateral thinking should soon enough make the same sense of it for you as it does for everyone else.”

That is of course “everyone else” except for people like me and like Gold, who’s comment was dismissed by Diligent. Diligent has shifted from advising ‘lateral thinking’ to not having any second thoughts at all.

He may also, from habit, have in this recent posting concealed the use of ‘gains an advantage’ although there is now no need to do so, as it was restored to Rule 9.11 in May of 2015. There is no longer need to resort to a phrase like ‘alters the balance of play’ as a substitute term when an advantage has been gained for the team of a player who makes a ball-body contact.

But let’s get this ‘disadvantaged opponents’ comment put in its proper context and then consider what if any advantage was gained by the team of the defender.

According to the Advantage Rule a penalty can only be awarded when a player disadvantages opponents by breaking a Rule i.e. committing an offence.

Did this defender commit an offence? He did if an advantaged was gained for his team because of the ball-foot contact. Was there an advantage gained? In other words did he or his team get some advantage, some benefit that they would not have had anyway if the ball had not hit the foot of the defender? Diligent cites possession of the ball (although this is not stated as a fact in the opening post, let’s assume it as Diligent did).

Had the ball missed the foot of the defender it appears, as there were no attackers near (which makes me wonder what the player who took the free was trying to do), it would have travelled the two meters into the circle and the defender team would have been awarded a free-ball. So how was possession of the ball by the defending team following the foot contact a gain of advantage or of any disadvantage to the team who took the free-ball? Were they not in fact slightly advantaged by the contact – able (if the whistle had not been blown) to pressure for the ball immediately in a favourable position close to the opponents circle?

It is a stong possibility that Diligent et al consider all ball-body contact to be not only of advantage to the team of a player hit with the ball but a gain of advantage. some additional benefit over and above what they would have had in any event. They totally disregard what he dismissively refers to as the “notes” to the Rule.

Gold was right to suggest that allowing play to continue would have been the correct decision: umpire intervention was unnecesssary.

So we keep going around in circles, no progress has been made in understanding and applying what is now Rule 9.11. in more than thirty years – and the next generation are being coached with exactly the same dogma “A foot is a foul”  – except that it isn’t necessarily so; in fact a ball-foot contact is very seldom an offence, it’s just penalised as if it is.

Why? Because ball-body contact is an easy objective criterion to judge (see) and it is consistent to always penalise it: fairness and good judgement goes ‘out the window’ along with common sense.

The FIH HRB were so fed up with the constant unnecessary penalising of particularly ball-foot contact, that the Rule was re-written as follows in 1992 (when there was a different numbering system).

12. I (f) A player shall not deliberately stop, propel or deflect the ball on the ground or in the air with any part of the body TO HIS OR HIS TEAM’S ADVANTAGE (save as provided for goalkeepers in Rule 12.11(c)).

How did umpires respond to a ball-body contact being called an offence only when the contact was deliberate and an advantage was gained? They didn’t, other than carrying on doing exactly what they had done before, penalising all ball-body contact.

A couple of years later “deliberately” was modified to “intentionally” and the upper case text was amended to lower case.

The word intentionally was removed from the Rule in 2004. The word ‘voluntarily’ was later substituted in. Diligent’s, fairly typical, response to that (as an umpire coach) is recorded above.

The gains benefit saga which began in 2007 and eventually took us, in 2016, back to the way the Rule was in 2004, is a story of flagrant disregard for the instructions given to National Umpiring Associations, in FIH Executive Circulars, setting out Rules and procedures to be followed, that does not bear repeating – it’s a long and almost incredible story.

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This FIH Circular tells its own tale.

An extract from a letter from the FIH Executive to all Umpiring Associations issued in January 2002.

In November 2001 the FIH Executive Board agreed with a recommendation from the Hockey Rules Board that there should only be one set of interpretations and that the Hockey Rules Board had sole responsibility for producing these. No other FIH body or official could vary the rules or their interpretations.

‘Rules or their interpretations’ refers to those set out in the published FIH Rules of Hockey.

The personel of the FIH Hockey Rules Board remained the same in the year after the committee name change, to the FIH Rules Committee, as in the year before it and the renamed committee continued to work under the same Constitution and FIH Statutes.

It is still the case that no other FIH body (or of course any body or any person outside the FIH) and no FIH official can vary the Rules or the interpretation of them.

(But for some time now I have been capitalizing the words Rule and Rules in my articles to distinguish the FIH published Rules of Hockey from ‘conventions’, like those Diligent refers to above, which are ‘umpiring practice’ but treated by umpires as Rules – or better than and preferable to the Rules)

The term Guidance was changed to Explanations in the 2004 Rules of Hockey: ironically there was no explanation given for the change – and nor for many other changes, of far greater significant, made in that year.

Both sides are responsible and irresponsible for the current mess; umpires for inventing ‘conventions’ from their ‘practice’ and the FIH Rules Committee for, in some instances, making it necessary for them to do so.

The convention, for example, that a dangerously played ball is one that is raised into a player within 5m and at above knee height is not a Rule in general play and never has been. It’s taken from the conditions for a legitimate first shot during a penalty corner (amended in 2004 to ‘deal’ with ‘suicide runners’the tag another convention) and is used only because the FIH RC have failed to provide any other objective criteria for a dangerously played ball. That particular convention, supported with further Explanation (other distances and heights), might reasonably become part of Rule 9 Conduct of play, but other conventions are just absurd.

The notions:- that the falling ball referred to in Rule 9.10 cannot be the result of a deflection: that an on target shot at the goal cannot be dangerous play; that defenders positioned on the goal-line cause danger (introduced on the FHF website in August 2006); that ‘gains benefit’ was not deleted from the Rules of Hockey post 2006 (it did not appear in a rule-book again until 2016); forget lifted-think danger; that a ball raised at a player below half-shinpad height is not dangerous; that there is an obligation on a defender to defend his/her feet (even when there was a Forcing Rule); are but seven other conventions (two of them in the UMB), that have or have had no support whatsoever in the FIH published Rules of Hockey. There are many others, some extant and some, such as the myths associated with the self-pass (for example, direction of retreat), which fell into disuse and now begin to fade from memory.

The book of unwritten ‘rules’ would be a heavy tome – and the inventions just keep coming (or getting recycled when thought to be dead and buried). A player wrote a comment on one of my old (2011) You Tube videos only yesterday (12th November, 2016) that it was Rule that a high raised ball (a head high shot at the goal in the video he was commenting about), could not be dangerous if made from beyond 5m.

That is not so. There is no distance or height limit stipulated for legtimate evasive action, but that is now not good enough. It is obvious that it needs to be clearly stated in the Rules that LEA is not distance limited – or at least not limited to 5m (the distance within which, by Rule, a ball raised at a player must be considered to be dangerous play). Declaring a LEA limit of 15m might be reasonable for a ball directly propelled at another player (as opposed to play leading to dangerous play), to prevent irrational inventions of this sort – not possibly dangerous play if raised at another player from 5.5m.  What ???

 

October 30, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Ball in or out of the circle

Rules of Hockey.

When is the ball in the circle, when is it out?   This matter which is rarely important but critical when it is questioned, is raised on a hockey forum once in every five or six years, and after either a very long at very short ‘discussion’ is unsatisfactorily ‘resolved’. I last posted to Talking Hockey.net forum on the subject about ten years ago, so its probably time to have another go.

Before I get into it this needs to be stated.

1) The FIH Rules Committee should make the matter clear and

2) How an umpire is instructed to assess ‘in’ or ‘out’ should be practical and workable i.e. easily possible for an umpire positioned near to or behind the base line, some 12m – 16m from the circle line.

The matter arises again because of this question and answer posted on FHF.

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Does the answer have a logic of sorts? Yes. Are the deductions or conclusions correct? No, not indisputably , it would be reasonable to come to the opposite conclusions. Does the argument make sense? Well it is written in clear English and is grammatically correct, so it makes sense, but the answer given is not sensible (or common sense) because it does not provide a reasonable and workable solution to the difficulties of the umpire when making these decisions.

To explain why not I’ll make use of large scale diagrams.To start a diagram of Rule.7.1 with the circle ‘line’ shown extended upwards to infinity. The arrow on the ball indicates direction of travel.

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The entire ball is the run-off side of the outer edge of the line, the ball is therefore out of play.

Now a look at the conclusion redumpire came to in regard to a ball in the circle, based on the above information.

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The circumference of the ball ‘breaks’ or overhangs the outer edge of the circle line, so according to the theory offered, this ball is in the circle.What about going out of the circle, when for example having to meet the requirements of the penalty corner.

Is this ball out of the circle – the circumference overhangs the area outside the circle?

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I would expect most people to say that the ball is still in the circle, but I have followed the ‘logic’ of the ball going into the circle when showing it traveling out of the circle. It doesn’t make sense does it? 

Okay, let’s look at an inserted penalty corner ball that has traveled to a position outside the circle.

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That looks remarkably like the diagram of a ball in the circle , drawn following the deductions redumpire made. Only the direction in which the ball is traveling is significantly different – oh, and the circumference of the ball is no longer overhanging the outer edge of the circle line, I moved it a fraction.

And that is the problem, we are dealing in fractions of a centimeter when the umpire is about 14m away, and looking from eye-level at an object (hopefully) on the ground, which may be moving at considerable speed.What can the umpire see that can be used to give a degree of certainty to the judgement of ball ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the circle in these circumstances?

The answer is the colour of the pitch or the white of the line beneath the ball.

That fact presents us with a simple solution to the problem.This ball, traveling into the circle, is in the circle because the circumference of the ball is TOUCHING the outer edge of the circle-line. The colour under the ball will be the white of the line. This solution is not perfect, the centre of the ball might be a centimeter or so back from the edge of the circle without that being detected, but it is a workable solution and I think the best that can be achieved with the facilities available to an umpire on the average hockey pitch or even to a video umpire at an FIH Tournament.

ball-in-circle-touching-line

The attacking side get to ‘steal’ half the width of a ball, instead of nearly the width of a whole ball, compared with ball out of play over a side-line or base-line or ball out of circle following insert during a penalty corner – in other words, ball in the circle, when the ball is traveling into the circle, is an exception to Rule 7.1 , it is not a ‘whole ball’ situation and the Rule needs an additional clause to explain that.

The exception is needed simply because an umpire has no way to judge the exact position of the nearest circumference of the ball in relation to the outer edge of the circle line – and cannot even see the other side of the ball.

I suspect that umpires are already using this technique, (George Brinks reported doing so ten years ago). It needs putting into the rule-book so umpires like Tugsim can find an answer to the question asked.

 

 

 

October 28, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Convention and practice

Rules of Hockey. Pernicious advice.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/scooping-into-player.41310/#post-395176

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Diligent It has become the convention to apply this ‘first shot’ advice to play in general because, although it is not actually a rule, Very Surprised copy

So it is because of ‘convention’ (umpiring practice), that the Explanation of Rule application, concerning a first hit-shot at goal during a penalty corner, is applied in open play (where it is not a Rule, and conflicts with the Explanation of application of Rule 9.9. which is part of open play Rule), and no-one will or should be surprised as this is done for consistency ?

Why wouldn’t anyone be surprised at decisions which consistently ignore what is clearly, by definition, dangerous play, even when the ball raising action is done unintentionally and umpires don’t even pretend to consider the criteria for a ball-body contact offence?

Diligent So if a scoop rises into the shin pad, that’s penalised for playing with the leg (FHA in your example).  Why?

The above pernicious nonsense is then rounded off with part truth 

If it was on or above the knee, that would be penalised for danger (FHD). (We hope, but they are many instances where that is not the case)

and an ill-conceived attempt to cover his back.

At lower levels, most umpires will agree that a ball hit hard and close at a player, which would rise to a dangerous height had it not hit the shin, is also penalised for danger. 

Most umpires? Is that consistent?

Before the introduction (in 2004) of the mandatory penalty, a penalty corner, if an out-running defender within 5m was hit with the ball below the knee, the all important consistency (not fairness or player safety, but consistency) was achieved by assuming that the team of a player hit with the ball always gained an advantage. This ‘practice’ flouting clear instruction from what was then called the FIH Hockey Rules Board and effectively nullified what was then Guidance for Players and Umpires – that ball-body contact could be penalised only if there was intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball or an advantage was gained by the team of the player hit.

If an advantage was always gained from ball-body contact there would be no reason for the FIH HRB to issue Guidance about penalising ball-body contact only when an advantage was gained (that would be unnecessary and illogical, so logically there must be possibility of ball-body contact without an advantaged being gained by the team of the player hit – and that is so, in fact a player hit with the ball is often personally disadvantaged or disadvantages his or her own team).

The only consistency within the sort of umpiring practice Diligent et al advocate is consistency in ignoring FIH Rules Committee instructions provided in the Rues of Hockey. They have invented easy ‘blanket’ reasons to penalise all ball-body contact – substituting an objective criterion, the ball hit the player (at a certain height?), for the Rule required subjective criteria, intent or advantaged gained. while at the same time fiercely proclaiming their right – and ability – to make subjective judgements, which they then deny themselves with their ‘practice’.

All the Rules of Hockey apply to all participants irrespective of the level of play (and Tournament Regulations, applicable at FIH Tournaments i.e. International Level Hockey, say nothing at all about the Rules of Conduct of Play i.e. Rule 9.). Should anyone doubt that, look for yourself. Appendix One.

http://www.fih.ch/media/813189/fih-tournament-regulations.pdf 

A confirming letter from the FIH on the subject.

Rules and Tournament Regulations letter

 

Is the kind of advice Diligent et al give to players and inexperienced umpires part of the Hockey Revolution (apparently now in its second phase): an effort to flip or invert the Rules of Hockey to foment a revolt ?

Long live the revolution !!

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October 24, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Interpretation of action

Rules of Hockey. Interpretation becomes wilful blindness.

Edited 9th November, 2016.

This article focuses on obstructive actions shown in video clips. Describing these actions in words is often regarded as an exercise in imagination and invention – it’s not happening, or if it is, it is only a rare one-off incident, an aberration. One comment was that obstruction occurs once, if at all, in about three hundred matches. Nor is it any use presenting one video clip as an example; this is seen as the ‘slanted’ selecting of an unusual incident “to fit an agenda”, as if having the agenda to rid the game of obstructive play is delinquent. 

So only a few words with each clip after the first one, with a break to show and comment on change to the text of the Rule – which has destroyed it – before continuing with more video clips. There would be no difficulty in finding a hundred examples. I have concentrated on obstruction with contact (or the forced avoidance of contact) in most of the clips because there at least there is some agreement – among those who admit to the existence of the offence at all – that obstruction might have taken place:-

  1. I have no idea why the BEL player was penalised nor why the NED player was not penalised. I am sure that the umpire concerned would be unable to explain or justify this decision within the framework of the Rules of Hockey.

The same can be said of other incidents shown below, I have no idea what Rules the umpires are conforming with.

2) From the other side, attacker moving bodily into defender.

3) Not hockey, but soccer players will be familiar with this kind of play.

4). Too quick to see and penalise?

5). Bodily into?

6). From the other side again, bodily into?

7). Backing into?

8). Backing into?

9). Backing into?

10). Bodily into?

11). Bodily into?

12). Backing into?

It appears from this small random sample of recent World Level matches that the interpretation of a player in possession of the ball 1) “moving bodily into” and 2) “backing into” an opponent, have been changed, but I cannot recall any FIH communication to that effect before or since 2015. What the change might be I don’t know.

13). This is not entirely new of course; here is an example from 2012 where a GB player turns and backs into physical contact with her CHN opponent and injures herself. The entirely innocent CHN player was penalised for something.

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Here is the Rule and the relevant clauses of the Explanation of application:-

Conduct of Play, Rules of Hockey 2017.

9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.

Players obstruct if they :
– back into an opponent
– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent
– shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

Clarifying the last clause and expressing it so that this prohibition is not presented as an exception to “move in any direction”

A player in possession of the ball is prohibited from moving bodily into the playing reach of an opponent or into physical contact with an opponent, while shielding the ball with any part of the body or moving into a position between the ball and an opponent, or moving the ball to the same end, thereby preventing an opponent, who is demonstrating intent to make a tackle, from playing at the ball when that opponent would otherwise be able to do so.

It used to be sufficient to declare that a player in possession must not shield the ball to prevent a legal tackle, but we still have disagreement about ball shielding with the stick and ball shielding, especially when in a stationary position, since the loss of umpires’ instructions following the deletion of Rules Interpretations from the back of the rule-book after 2004.

Umpires should watch for players who:-

• shield the ball with body, leg or stick and stand still when under pressure;

• drag the ball near their back foot when moving down the side-line or along the back-line;
• shield the ball with the stick to prevent a legitimate tackle.

Not retaining the first two of those instructions in the 2004 re-write did not simplify or help to clarify the Rule. Had it been retained the holding of the ball against a line or in a corner to run time (a feature of the present hockey) would probably not have been allowed to develop as it has.

 

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except.. is wording taken from the exception to the Obstruction Rule when a player is receiving the ball. It was originally linked, to the now separate sentence in Rule Explanation, in a statement that a receiver of the ball could be facing in any direction i.e. was not prevented from receiving the ball, when closely marked and facing his or her own goal, due to the possibility of being in breach of the Obstruction Rule. The change of syntax, splitting the sentences so that they are now in separate paragraphs or clauses,  radically changed the structure and meaning of the Explanation without much changing the wording. But there were also over time ‘adjustments’ to the wording. The clause was originally written Having received the ball the receiver must move away in any direction except….. No explanation has ever been offered for the gradual change to the non-directive “…..is permitted to move off….” which is very different.

A very possible explanation is that the Explanation was changed to follow what umpires were doing, because umpires (under instruction) were not following the wording of the Rule Explanation – and still don’t. This change distroyed the Rule and then, what at one time was an exception to the Rule, gradually (by ‘practice’) became the way the Rule was interpreted, as if shielding the ball from an opponent was never an offence.

We then had the development of ball shielding combined with physical contact.

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14). What ‘interpretation’ has done to the above Rule. A spectacular waste of time.

15). Shielding, backing in.

16). Backing in, barging.

17). Barging, obstructive tackling.

18). Shielding, barging into.

19). Shield, shunt, move bodily into.

20). The tackle, not the ball shielding and barging into, penalised.

21). Using ball shielding to run time.

22). Move bodily into.

23). At last, at last, obstructive play is eventually penalised – to the bewilderment of the obstructing player, who was using it to run time in the last minute of the match and apparently didn’t know it is an offence to shield the ball to prevent a legitimate tackle attempt.

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October 22, 2016

Recorded example

Rules of Hockey.

I came across this question from redumpire (David Ellcock) on the Field Hockey Forum website.

redumpire

As he is clearly referring to me, I will oblige him by providing evidence of an FIH Umpire (one of the match umpires, not a video umpire) in a World Cup match informing a defender that a clear shot at the goal cannot be dangerous play (Her statement actually went beyond ‘on target’ shot at the goal but the commentator’s remarks did not)).

There is another video clip, from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where the umpire  applies the ‘on target’ criterion, but as it is only the commentator (the same one) who speaks on that clip (but as if reciting something he has been told), I will not post it again here. 

I am very surprised that redumpire suggests he has not seen this video evidence. 

Has hockey gone to Hell? Yes. The fact that dangerous shot issues are still unresolved when there are simple solutions available, is I think, evidence of it. Besides that, ‘interpretation’ of the Obstruction Rule is even more deranged now than it was in 2009 (something I though not possible at the time) and the application of the ball-body contact Rule remains a farce.

The FIH apparently haven’t noticed – see the Rules of Hockey 2017 –  No change to any of the Rules of Conduct of Play (even though there were two additions to Rule Explanations, for Dangerous Play (Forcing) and Obstruction, in the Indoor Rules).

If FHF was not so tightly censored the FIH might be made to notice that what the game has been made into (a version of soccer) does not have universal approval.

October 18, 2016

Indoor and Outdoor Rules of Hockey 2017.

 

Field Hockey Rules 2017.

The Rules of Hockey for the outdoor game were published on 18th of November. As there isn’t any change to the Rules concerning Conduct of Play and other amendments are clarifications or ‘housekeeping’, mostly concerning penalties, I will post comment about the new Outdoor Rules here, above the article I wrote on the Indoor Rules, to avoid duplication.

The FIH Rules Committee have written:- The Rules of Hockey 2017 do contain a number of adjustments that feature in the already published Rules of Indoor Hockey 2017, as applicable to the outdoor game. The FIH believes that it is crucially important the both sets of rules are aligned as closely as possible and, in keeping with that philosophy, has included these adjustments in the Rules of Hockey 2017.

But they have not included some important “adjustments”.

Two additions to Rule Explanation for Conduct of Play have been added to the Indoor Rules since January 2015, as detailed below in my initial article. Neither have been included in the Outdoor Rules when the outdoor equivalents of both could most certainly have been usefully included as:-

1) A restoration of the Forcing Rule 

2) Ball shielding to prevent a legal tackle attempt being (once again) penalised as obstruction. – with additional clarification because what has been written for the Indoor game (below) is extremely vague.

“The FIH believes that it is crucially important the both sets of rules are aligned as closely as possible”.
Do they? So what made the inclusion of these two Rules Explanations – adapted for the outdoor game –  impossible?

 

For a sample list of desirable Outdoor Rule changes and introductions, concerning only dangerous play, that were not made for 2017 (some of which have been awaited for more than thirty years), see the article   A Broken Promise.

http://wp.me/pKOEk-2ln

 

Indoor Rules 2017.

Written on 11th November and edited on the 19th November 2016.

 As the Outdoor Rules do not conflict with the Indoor Rules in general areas of Conduct of Play a look at the Indoor Rules for 2017, issued on 11th November 2016, may give some hints of Rules changes to come in the outdoor game. There are only two additions to Rule Explanation in Conduct of Play. The first offers a glimmer of hope, the second looks like a desperate “do something about it” to umpires, without indicating how to do the ‘something’.  

Indoor has its own version of ‘forcing’ called ‘driving’ and ‘spinning’ and these have been defined in additional Rule Explanation in the Dangerous Play Rule:-

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Playing the ball deliberately and hard into an
opponents stick, feet or hands with associated
risk of injury when a player is in a ‘set’ or stationary
position; and players collecting, turning and trying to
play the ball deliberately through a defending player
who is either close to the player in possession or is
trying to play the ball are both dangerous actions
and should be dealt with under this Rule. A personal
penalty may also be awarded to offending players.
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Maybe there is a chance that forcing will be made explicitly part of the outdoor Dangerous Play Rule or even restored as a stand alone offence as previously. I hope the latter because not all forcing is dangerous play – but all of it is foul, cheating.
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I found the addition Obstruction Explanation below interesting, but it was included in the last Indoor Rules issued for 2016 and the instruction, vague as it is, has not, judging by the matches played at the Rio Olympics, ‘peculated’ through to the outdoor game in the last year.
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Umpires should place particular emphasis on
limiting time spent in situations where the ball
becomes trapped in the corners of the pitch or close
to the side-boards (especially towards the end of
matches) when the player in possession effectively
shields the ball such that an opponent is prevented
from being able to play it Early interventions by the
Umpires will make teams aware that this type of
play or tactic is of no benefit to them.

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How emphasise? How limit?  On what grounds intervene?

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The FIH Rules Committee apparently do know what an obstruction offence is but don’t mention obstruction, “when the player in possession effectively shields the ball such that an opponent is prevented from being able to play it”  is not a bad definition of obstruction.

Why not put that in the Outdoor Rules, much as it was previously? For example:- An opponent is obstructed if a player in possession of the ball shields it so that a legal tackle attempt is prevented when that opponent would otherwise have been able to play directly at the ball

But I don’t hold out much hope of restoration of a sensible Rule or correct and fair Rule application because the above addition to the Explanation of application of Indoor Rule 9.12. is a fudge. There is no mention of an offence or of applying penalty.

 “where the ball becomes trapped in the corners of the pitch or close to the side-boards” How could that have happened? A hole in the floor perhaps?

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Is the obstruction Rule to be ignored except (when the ball is held, by the player in possession of it, in a shielded position, in a corner or at a side of the playing area), towards the end of a match? Perhaps a bell can be rung or a buzzer sounded a few minutes before the end of each match to let the umpire know it is okay to begin ‘limiting’ obstruction (to 5 seconds or 10 seconds perhaps)?

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A  definition of sorts is at least now printed in the indoor rule-book and the word “prevented” has been introduced, so I suppose a start has been made – the FIH Rules Committee seem to  have become aware that there are several problems caused by the present wilful blindness towards ball shielding, but they are not yet ready to do anything meaningful to resolve these problems; like drafting and requiring enforcement of an Obstruction Rule in which the prevention of a legal tackle attempt by shielding the ball from an opponent is a criterion for an obstruction offence.

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A look at the picture on the cover of the Rules of Indoor Hockey 2017 (and a similar one on the outdoor rule-book) gives a hint of the current ‘acceptable’ play that is likely to continue – ball shielding ‘with bells on’. Who decided this sort of play is acceptable? Why and how acceptable? Retaining possession of the ball has now very little to do with stick-work or passing skills, excellence in which is what hockey is supposed to be about and how goal scoring chances are supposed to be created.

indoor-rules-2017-cover

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October 12, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Fair Play

Rules of Hockey. Interpretation of fair play.

Edited 13th October 2016.

Today I take a look at the origins of part of Rule 9.9. The Rule Proper prohibits the intentional raising of the ball with a hit except when taking a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle, but the Explanation of the application of the Rule is a ‘mixed bag’ much of which has nothing at all to do with raising the ball with a hit – it’s a sort of miscellaneous dangerous play Rule. Here it is in full. I have greyed the text except for the part I want to focus on, which is shown in blue

Rule 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.

From these two paragraphs two issues arise – firstly, they conflict if the ball is raised.

Secondly, why a shot is mentioned in the final paragraph when the Rule* stated in the previous paragraph applies in all parts of the field is a mystery.

*(This is from a Rule that had been ‘dismantled’ and then, with the addition of a 5m limit, planted into Rule 9.9. in the January prior to the issue of the Interpretation for Fair Play document (below). The Rule was A player shall not raise the ball towards another player). 

There are obviously other issues arising out of the dismantling of the Rule concerning raising the ball at another player (with any kind of stroke) and the subsuming of it into Rule 9.9. (a Rule about raised hits) with the addition of a 5m limit, but I will pass on to the Penalty Corner Rules because it was incidents during penalty corners in a single match that led to:- 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. Incidentally this is the only Rule Explanation ever to have been written out twice in all rule-books (and unnecessarily and badly so in Rule 9.9. A cut and paste job).

Penalty Corner Rules.

Rule 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. 

The last paragraph of the Explanation of Rule 13.3.l obviously conflicts with 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. from Rule 9.9. because there is no height limit mentioned in Rule 9.9. and a flick or scoop will by definition raise the ball.

So how was this strangely conflicted situation arrived at? In a match in 2004 between South Korea and Pakistan the Korean penalty corner defenders intentionally used their bodies to charge down the drag-flicks of Sohail Abbas close to the circle line. Why? Because at a time the low drag-flick shot was unheard of and it was illegal for defenders other than the goalkeeper to play at the ball at above shoulder height, they (or their coach) ‘reasoned’ that the only way to stop a shot (and almost certainly a goal) from Abbas was to block the ball with bodies at the top of the circle; it apparently didn’t matter how many more penalty corners were conceded or what injuries were sustained as long as goals were not conceded. The tactic should have been dealt with, and the idea ‘killed’ there and then, with the award of a penalty stroke and cards, but it wasn’t. Instead the following document was released a short time later.

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fih-pc-circ-2004-korean      Link to full pdf document. 

fair-play

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Initially the ‘interpretation’ applied to International Hockey only, but it was incorporated into Full Rule in 2005. (Club coaches probably didn’t start to incorporate the new interpretation into their coaching until the 20th May, 2004) The term ‘suicide runner’ was before 2005 being applied to all out-running defenders at penalty corners.

On the back of this development the notion that defenders at penalty corners cause danger by their positioning was developed, even if they didn’t run out to try to intercept shots at the goal, and then – the opposite to the original crime – because they didn’t run out of the goal to try to intercept the ball, but stayed on the goal-line. The fact that it was an offence to raise the ball towards another player at all in 2003 was simply buried beneath this hysterical self-contradictory nonsense. From one extreme to a near opposite interpretation in two years – from (in theory) penalising any raising of the ball at an opponent, to a mandatory penalty corner if a penalty corner defender within 5m was hit with a raised ball at below knee height. It is not mentioned much because there is now no Rule reference, but defenders, beyond 5m, hit with a ball raised to any height were also almost always penalised. A player shall not raise the ball at another player was allowed to quietly fade away and die after 2003, there was no notice posted about the deletion of this Rule, it didn’t matter. Nothing was to be allowed to interfere with the excitement created by the development of the spectacular drag-flick.

With second and subsequent shots during a penalty corner and with shots made in open play both the criteria ‘within 5m’ and ‘knee height or above’ went ‘out the window’. By 2008 (with no Rule support whatsoever) it was ‘practice’, seen during the Beijing Olympics, that an on-target shot at the goal could not be considered dangerous play: from one extreme to an opposite extreme using only ‘interpretation’ in four years. 

This is what happens when Rule is the result of a knee-jerk response to a one off incident (or incidents in a single match) and also (but more so) when ‘interpretation’ or ‘practice’ replaces written Rule. (Another example is of course the interpreting out of existence of the Obstruction Rule, it has become a poorly applied Rule about contact tackling

At no point in 2004 did it occur to anyone to be fair and allow defenders to defend a raised shot at the goal with their sticks above their shoulder height, (that was not permitted for several more years and it took a great deal of thinking about and a limited introduction, which included the mandatory penalising, with a penalty corner, of any defender who attempted to play at an above shoulder height shot that was going wide of the goal). Nor have the powers that be conceded that it would be fair and player safety would be improved (and goal scoring not much effected), if a drag-flick shot (or indeed any high velocity shot at the goal at any time in a hockey match) that was made towards a defender positioned within 15m but beyond 5m of the shooter, was also height limited – the suggested height is 120cm or sternum/elbow height.  

This is of course only the beginning of the story now that all players have free rein to play, including hit, the ball from any height. But they are still not allowed to intentionally raise the ball with a hit other than when shooting at the opponent’s goal: many players appear not to know that or at least do not expect to be penalised for it.
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Unfair perhaps to pick-up on one example of ‘brain fade’ but the umpires in the above example treated an intentionally raised hit as they might (incorrectly) treat a flick that was dangerous during flight.

The intention of the hitter was obviously to play the ball well above the opponent who was positioned more than 20m away from him, but the ball by-passed the opponent at just above his shoulder height as he attempted but failed to intercept it with his stick.

The umpires penalised the player who raised the ball but insisted (much to the confusion of all the players) that the free-ball awarded be taken from the place the (endangered?) opponent was positioned – not from the place the ball was hit. 

Interesting, I have never seen either an undercut hit or a drag-flick shot at the goal from the top of the D (a significantly shorter distance), that forced a defender to duck to avoid being hit on the head , penalised as dangerous play: even many that did hit a defender on the head resulted in the award of a penalty stroke and not a free-ball for the defending team. 

But now we have a precedent in a ‘top flight’ International Match of umpires penalising for dangerous play, when the endangered player was more than 20m away from the striker. That should be enough, based on previous response to single match incidents at this level, to cause a new supporting ‘interpretation’ (now that we no longer have Rules)  to be introduced for January 2017.

flyingpiglarge

Very Surprised copyflyingpiglarge

It has been pointed out to me that people were claiming prior to 2004 that a defender positioned on the goal-line caused danger. That may be so, but I didn’t hear that at the time and if they were, they were doing so in direct conflict with the 2003 Rules of Hockey if the ball was raised towards an opponent; if for example an above knee height drag-flick was used as a first shot during a penalty corner and the ball was propelled directly at a defender.  

The more usual claim prior to 2004 was “acceptance of risk”, an equally vacuous idea in view of the clear Rule A player shall not raise the ball towards another player (and Common Law), because no player can be obliged to accept an opponent’s breach of Rule as a risk that will not be penalised (which may in fact cause penalty to be given against the player offended against, the defender).

After the issue of the 2004 rule-book the new 5m limit removed one of the rational repudiations of ‘a defender is causing danger by positioning on the goal-line‘ claims, but certainly not all of them. These claims (repeatedly made and argued against on Internet hockey forums, particularly between 2006 and 2009) have never had any Rule support. They come from ‘practice’, “in my opinion”, “what every umpire I know is doing” and from ‘interpretation’. But what Rule wording it (was/is) that (was/is) being interpreted in this way and how these opinions originated has never been made clear.

It does not seem to have occurred to the ‘sellers’ (their own term) of ‘interpretation’ that there must be a valid source wording that is being interpreted. Rules are not created (and cannot be legally created) by rumour and ‘interpretation’ in the absence of an FIH authorised Rule wording to interpret. The Explanation of application of the Rule, given  below the Rule in italics, should in any case provide any necessary interpretation – and if it does not that should be remedied by the FIH RC

Senior umpires have a vital role to play in the creation of the Rules of Hockey (and Explanation), but they, just like other participants, must play out this role by submitting suggestions and recommendations to the FIH Rules Committee, either directly or via their Umpiring Associations: not create their own ‘Rule’ via ‘practice’ (and pass this practice on to less experienced umpires they advise or coach,calling it interpretation), which eventually obliges the FIH Rules Committee to follow this or that ‘practice’ to avoid obvious conflict with the published Rules of Hockey.

I am awaiting the response of the FIH RC to the ‘long established’ ‘forget lifted – think danger’, just one small example of direct conflict – this with the wording of the above (inappropriately framed, ‘all over the place’) Rule 9.9. A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.

I hope the response will not be just more deletion of the published Rules of Hockey.

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August 20, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Obstruction and physical contact

Rules of Hockey.

The diminishment of the Obstruction Rule. Shielding the ball. Hiding the ball. Lack of stick-ball skills.

Cris Maloney and I have been in correspondence via email for a number of years. Many readers will be familiar with his Hockey USA Rule coaching videos on YouTube and his posts on FieldHockeyForum.com under the tag UmpireHockey.com  

In a recent ‘Preseason Field Hockey Information’ presentation circular he introduces himself as follows:-  ” I direct the national rules briefing videos given by Steve Horgan, write the rules comparison table, created the JUMP IN umpire training program, and I’m a field hockey umpire, author, and developer (programs and products). Over the last 40 years, perhaps the best label I’ve been given was simply field hockey evangelist. Those who are familiar with me know I have a special interest in advocating for field hockey umpires which in turn improves our sport.”

I too want to improve the sport for umpires  – and for everybody else as well. I recently wrote to Cris when a question about stick obstruction was posted to FHF along with a video of the Final of the USA U15 National Indoor Championship, which contained the incident the question was asked about. I looked at the remainder of the video and it was obvious that the two young umpires who officiated that Final had no idea what obstruction was. This is the only Rule area where Cris and I do not broadly agree. He replied to me as follows:-

“Here’s the thing, it isn’t a foul to hide the ball with your body or stick. It is a foul to use your stick or your body to impede another player’s body or stick. Basically, that means there has to be contact…though no one admits it.”

That statement came as a shock I didn’t realise just how far apart we were on the meaning of the wording and the correct application of this Rule.

Below is my edited (and added to) reply to him. 


Let’s take a look at the relevant clauses to the Explanation of application of this Rule to see how they fit with the following assertions made in your reply:-

It isn’t a foul to hide the ball with your body or stick.

It is a foul to use either body or stick to impede an opponent’s  body or stick.

For there to be an Obstruction offence there must be physical contact by the obstructing player (but that is not admitted). 

 

Rule 9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.

Players obstruct if they :

– back into an opponent

– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent

– shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

Taking the above clauses in reverse order. I believe “to shield” to have clear meaning and that meaning does not necessarily involve physical contact, the verb means ‘to protect’ or ‘to hide from’. Shielding or hiding the ball with the body or stick prevents (or delays) physical contact – between the stick of an opponent and the ball – it is done for that purpose and the Obstruction Rule prohibits it.

As explained in previous articles about the Obstruction Rule, I read “from” in the third clause of the Explanation as “to prevent” because “from” in this context does not make grammatical sense, and I prefer to use the word legal rather than the ambiguous word ‘legitimate’.  – shield the ball to prevent a legal tackle, with their stick or with any part of their body.     does not change the meaning of the clause but is I think clearer language.

Physical contact is included in the criterion for offence, it is specified in the previous clause, physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent  but it is not the only criteria.

– back into an opponent” can mean back into physical contact with an opponent (but why then repeat the prohibition on physical contact i.e. “physically interfere with”). It can also mean to back into the playing reach of an opponent without making contact: I believe that is what is meant and why the word ‘interfere’ rather than ‘contact’ is used. 

The clause means that a player in possession of the ball cannot legitimately ‘back into’ a position where a tackle attempt could be made but for being prevented by the positioning of the body of the player who is backing in i.e. positioning between the ball and an opponent who is within playing reach of the ball and demonstrating an intent to play at it.

This latter interpretation is supported by the second prohibition in the clause below. It is the part underlined, which was added to the Explanation in 2009 as a clarification – that backing into is not the only ball shielding action that is prohibited, any such movement is prohibited –  it was the last amendment made to the Obstruction Rule:-

– A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

Expressing the above clause more simply, by leaving aside the physical contact already described in the first part (and also in a separate Rule clause) and by not expressing this prohibition as an exception to the unnecessary advice that a player with the ball can move in any direction (a ‘remnant’ of what was once an instruction (not a choice given to but a demand made of) a receiving player to move away from opponents having received and controlled the ball – which should be restored), we arrive at:-

– A player with the ball is not permitted to move into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

Moving into (by for example ‘backing’ or alternatively ‘turning’) “into a position between” is not a prohibition of physical contact but specifically when in possession of the ball, of positioning to shield the ball from an opponent when within the playing reach of that opponent .

It is therefore obviously a foul to hide (shield) the ball with either the stick or body to prevent or delay an opponent who would otherwise be able to play directly at the ball from doing so  – by forcing a tackler to go around the body or stick (both or either of which may be the obstruction) of the ball holder in order to attempting to play at the ball  – this clause in the Explanation of application of the Rule declares it to be so.

Players obstruct if they shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

or more clearly:-

Players obstruct if they shield the ball, with their stick or any part of their body, to prevent or delay an opponent from attempting to play directly at the ball .

It is also a foul to lead the ball with the body (by for example dragging the ball behind the body (feet) while sideways on or facing an opponent and moving into the playing reach of that opponent) moving i.e. positioning, so that physical contact is made or an opponent is obliged to retreat to avoid physical contact

There does not have to be physical contact for an obstruction offence to occur. I cannot subscribe to the declaration that for an obstruction offence to occur there must be physical contact because that is plainly a false statement. I can agree only with the second of the three statements Cris Maloney made in his reply to me: I vigorously oppose, as I must, the first and third of them. 

Watching the Rio Olympics it was clear that some umpires did penalise obstruction only when there was physical contact which was initiated by a player in possession who was shielding the ball while moving bodily into an opponent (would they admit to that when they don’t admit to misapplying Rule 9.9 and Rule 9.11 – especially where they overlap i.e. when the ball is lifted into an opponent ?). But it was also clear that other umpires did not penalise obstruction even when there was physical contact caused by a ball shielding player in possession of the ball, despite there being not only an Obstruction Rule (as given in part above – the ‘third-party’ clauses have not been included here) but a separate Rule (9.3) which prohibit any physical contact (stick or body) and also another Rule (9.4) which prohibits impeding. 

The Obstruction Rule could be written without any reference at all to physical contact or impeding and could mention only a single purpose of it – to prohibit ball shielding or ‘hiding’ the ball, with the stick or body of the player in possession of it, to prevent an opponent who would otherwise be able to do so, from immediately playing directly at or attempting to play directly at the ball.

Ironically, now that obstruction (ball shielding) is generally being ignored as an offence, there is a great deal more physical contact than there was when the Rule was reasonably enforced, that is when attention was paid to the wording of the Rule Proper and the Explanation of application given with it – and not penalising obstruction does not significantly reduce stoppages, because tacklers are penalised for the slightest contact infringement. A second purpose of the Obstruction Rule is to reduce incidents of physical contact in contests for the ball by removing a cause of it – the frustration of a tackle attempt by ball shielding.

How to avoid giving obstruction. Put and keep the ball beyond the playing reach of an opponent “move off in any direction” or pass the ball away in any direction (“off” and “away” are interchangeable but I feel “away” to be the clearer term) and if neither is possible, then have developed the ball-stick and movement skills to elude a tackle attempt while keeping the ball ‘open’. The latter option is the more difficult because it requires the development of a high level of stick-ball skill, which is why the unskilled (the lazy) need to find ways to avoid it. Hockey has been ‘dumbed down’ to allow participants with little skill to play it at a low level, which is fine, but players should not still be playing ‘dumbed down’ hockey once they have progressed significantly beyond the novice stage.

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August 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Playing ‘Advantage’

Rules of Hockey.

Edited  9th. September, 2016.

The critical difference between “Play on (no offence)” and playing ‘Advantage’ following a ball-body contact that is an offence.

The related Rules and/or Explanation of application.

Rule 9.11. Explanation of application.

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 gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

The above explanation is current and not as it was in 2014 when this match was played. At the time the criteria for offence were a voluntarily made contact or positioning with the intention of stopping the ball with the hand, foot or body.

The previous ‘gains benefit’ criterion was deleted from the Rules of Hockey by the FIH Rules Committee on issue of the 2007-9  rulebook in January 2007. However, Mr. Peter von Reth over-ruled the FIH Rules Committee in February 2007 (an impossibility but it happened) and insisted that ‘gains benefit’ continue to be applied as it was in 2006.  So although ‘gains benefit’ (as the present “gain an advantage”) was not restored to the Rules of Hockey until January 2016 (active via FIH Circular May 2015), umpires who wanted to progress did as they were told by Mr. von Reth in the intervening eight years – and what the top level umpires were doing was carried by ‘cascade’ to all other levels. The incident in the video can therefore be examined as if current Rule (gain an advantage) should have been applied to it as well as the Explanation extent at the time (voluntarily made contact) because that was what was happening.

12.1 Advantage : a penalty is awarded only when a player or team has been disadvantaged by an opponent breaking the Rules.

(”breaking the Rules” is a neat bit of ambiguity introduced apparently with the intention of fudging the distinction – which was previously very clear – between an offence and a breach of Rule which was not an offence, because it did not meet the criteria for offence. This whole confusing mess arising from the deletion of the word ‘intentionally’ from the Rule Proper).

The MAS player hit with the ball did not commit an offence but he was in breach of the Rule – a ridiculous situation created by a long sequence of deletions and additions to both the Rule Proper and the Explanation of application (or Guidance) since the 1980’s (one of which required, in the Rule Proper, that there be a deliberate ball-body contact – and in what was at the time called the Guidance, an advantaged gained by the contact. None of various versions produced by the HRB/FIH RC over the past thirty plus years have made the slightest difference to the way umpires ‘interpreted’ ball-body contact – and that continues to be the case). 

12.3 A penalty corner is awarded :
a for an offence by a defender in the circle which does not prevent the probable scoring of a goal

There was no offence

2.2 Advantage :
a it is not necessary for every offence to be penalised when no benefit is gained by the offender ; unnecessary interruptions to the flow of the match cause undue delay and irritation.

There was no offence to penalise but had the MAS player intentionally made contact with the ball in this incident (an offence) then ‘advantage’ could have been played. Advantage from the ball-foot could not have been played if the ESP player gained an advantage from an unintentional contact by the MAS player, it would be illogical to assert that both players/teams had advantage following a single ball-body contact by a single player, the MAS team were in fact disadvantaged by the foot contact made by their player.

I have posted the relevant part of the match video, with commentary, exactly as it was posted to YouTube within the full match video so that the comments and opinions of the umpires as well as the commentators may be known. What is obvious is that everybody accepted or believed that the ball-foot contact by the MAS player was an offence, when it clearly was not, meeting none of the criteria for an offence.

  1.  The contact was not made voluntarily.
  2.  The MAS team did not gain an advantage from the contact, they were in fact disadvantaged because of it, the ball being slowed and deflected so that it was easily collected by the second ESP player – who had an advantage ‘handed’ to him.
  3. The MAS player did not position with the intention of using his foot to stop or deflect the ball – he was in fact surprised by the deflection off the stick of the ESP player in front of him when the ESP player failed to control the ball and could not avoid being hit with it.  

So despite what he said he did the match umpire did not give or allow an advantage, he could not have done so because there was no offence, he in fact simply allowed play to continue because there was no reason for him to intervene. He could perhaps have usefully called out ”No offence-play on”.

Note should also be taken of this Rule provided in the section following Conduct of Play: Players, entitled Conduct of Play: Umpires.

12 Penalties

12.1 Advantage : a penalty is awarded only when a player or team has been disadvantaged by an opponent breaking the Rules.

So even where there is a breach of Rule or an offence there is no reason to penalise if the opposing team have not been disadvantaged by it. How often that could be pointed out to the umpire who penalises ball-body contact as a reflex. In the incident under review the ESP team were certainly not disadvantaged by the ball-foot contact of the MAS player, they probably gained advantage because of it.

Advantage combo

The incident then took on a surreal slant as the video umpire, ignoring the ball shielding and ball-leading of the second ESP player as he moved to turn towards the goal (clearly an obstruction offence – but I will not go into the detail of that here), invented an interference with ‘the advantage’. Which advantage he was referring to is unclear but the penalty corner was apparently awarded because the ball-foot contact at the top of the circle did not lead to a clear advantage for the ESP team – which is a very strange interpretation of both Rule 9.11 and Rule 12.1.

Coaching note.

Pictures 4, 5, 6 above. The first ESP player, having seen the MAS player at the top of the circle deflect the ball and the second ESP player take control of it, should – instead of stopping and standing with his hand up in the air in appeal – have continued to play and rapidly supported the second ESP player to give him a back-pass option. A quick short back-pass would then have created an easy chance for the first ESP player to shoot at the goal from directly in front of it or to past to the third ESP player closer to the goal.

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July 11, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: A broken promise.

The Rules of Hockey. 

Edited 17th July 2016

Preface to the Rules of Hockey 1997

The Board continues to explore ways of improving the flow of the game whilst retaining the fundamental pattern of play. Having considered the results of world-wide trials of the offside Rule, the Board has to decided to introduce a mandatory experimental Rule under which “offside” is withdrawn.

It is expected that the balance of influence will swing from defenders to attackers and will result in more goals, less congestion around and in the circle, and more flowing hockey with fewer stoppages.

To prevent opponents from behaving in a potentially dangerous manner, their conduct near the goal will be subject to constraints.

This was of course ‘whitewash’ or ‘hogwash’ if you prefer  It is expected that the balance of influence will swing from defenders to attackers and will result in more goals, less congestion around and in the circle, and more flowing hockey with fewer stoppages. ” but was the kind of promotion that was to be expected from the proponents of what might prove to be a deeply unpopular change, when the FIH Hockey Rules Board really didn’t have a clue about how this change would impact the playing of the game. That it was thought that there would be less congestion in and around the circle or fewer stoppages is astonishing. But I am not concerned about those statements, they were guesses, matters of opinion and no sensible person put much store in them because that was recognized. On the whole the abolition of off-side was a good thing on such a small pitch.

But this: To prevent opponents from behaving in a potentially dangerous manner, their conduct near the goal will be subject to constraints.” should have been meant and taken seriously. It has annoyed me greatly that this undertaking has not been honoured and it makes me more angry year on year, as not only was there no sign of these constraints being drafted, trialled and enacted immediately following the eventual deletion of the Off-side Rule, the constrains on dangerous and reckless play that were already in place began to disappear rapidly – and now they have all vanished.

The only constraint introduced, said to be for reasons of safety, has been the laughable prohibition on playing a free-ball, awarded in the opponent’s 23m area, directly into the opponent’s circle. Why is that laughable? Well “more flowing hockey” takes a bash, but it was a ridiculous introduction because, despite the Rules that exist (so because of the way they are interpreted), players are now ‘accidentally’ raising the ball (intent cannot here be seen ??) at above shoulder height into the circle in open play for other players to hit, often from above head height and at point blank range, at the goal (so much for constraints)The restriction on the free-ball awarded in the 23m area is therefore a near irrelevant from a safety point of view. This restriction is now just something that occasionally clogs up a match. The only good thing to have come from it is the introduction of the 23m restart that has replaced the corner as a result of the clog the award of a corner created because of the prohibition on the direct pass. The sooner we see the back of this silly prevention of a direct pass from a free-ball into the circle (and the bag of 5m restrictions that accompany it), the better. Only the ‘Own Goal’, a dangerous innovation which for a year or so was extant at the same time as the free-ball restriction -an absurd combination – was more ridiculous. 

I have some constraints in mind (I have written about all of them previously in my Rule rewrite articles) I list them below in no particular order. Most of them are ball-height restrictions “3D” hockey requiring “3D” restraints.

1) Introduce a goal-zone to prevent ‘crowding’ of the goalkeeper and point-blank volley hitting and deflections from passes – high and low – made into the goal-mouth

2) Prohibit the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit (away from the immediate control of the hitter/dribbler) – intention irrelevant.

3) Prohibit raising the ball into the circle to above knee height with any other stroke or with intentional deflections or with a ‘dink’ hit made while dribbling with the ball.

4) Prohibit playing of or at the ball at above shoulder height when in the opponent’s circle.

5) Withdraw the Rule prohibiting an intentional raised hit (that is not a shot at the goal from within the opponent’s circle) and replace it with an absolute height limit (shoulder height) on any hit that is raised in any part of the pitch outside the opponent’s circle – intention irrelevant, dangerous play not a consideration.

Raised hits made inside the opponent’s circle that are not intended as a shot at the goal (i.e. raised hit passes or ‘crosses’), to remain prohibited – intent to raise the ball irrelevant.

Intentionally raised hits that are intended as shots at the goal are not height restricted but are subject to dangerous play Rules (See 6). 

6) Introduce a dangerous play height limit (sternum or elbow height) on any raised ball – (including  a shot at the goal, made from within the opponent’s circle),  propelled at another player from within 15m, (slightly more than the distance from which a scoring shot may be made at the goal), at a velocity that could hurt a player hit with it – intention irrelevant. 

(High velocity can be determined objectively by loss of velocity and the falling of a raised ball. Simply: – Is the ball rising or falling on reaching the elbow height of another player it has been propelled towards?)

A ball raised at knee height or above and at any velocity at an opponent within 5m (but better 2m or 3m) with any stroke or a deflection to be considered dangerous play.

7) The scoop and lob are not height restricted but cannot be played directly into the opponent’s circle. 

8) Prohibit the continual bouncing of the ball on the stick to above knee height after moving into the playing reach of an opponent – otherwise the ball may be repeatedly bounced to shoulder height in this way – but not to above shoulder height.

9) Raising the ball off the ground and then hitting it away on the volley as it falls or on the half-volley as it rebounds from the surface of the pitch is a prohibited action in the opponent’s circle, and anywhere on the field of play if done towards an opponent (See 6).

10) Amend the Rule on playing the ball above shoulder height so that a player playing such a ball is obliged to bring it immediately and safely to ground and may not hit or deflect it away as a pass to another player. The ball may be deflected away only into clear space in the run path of the player making the deflection, where it is intended to be and possible it be collected by the same player.

11) Aerial passes (scoops or lobs) made into an area where they may be contested for by two or more players from opposing teams already in that position are to be deemed play leading to or likely to lead to dangerous play and penalised as such at the place the ball was raised – that is where the danger or potential danger is initially caused. (Encroaching offences, on the other hand, to be penalised where the encroaching offence occurred – usually at the point the ball is falling)

12) There are a number of circle incidents that are presently penalised with a penalty corner when they could, more fairly and appropriately, be dealt with by the award of a free ball on the defender’s 23m line. Some of them were previously dealt with by the award of a bully. High deflections off goalkeeping equipment, trapped ball, etc.

 

An alternative to some of the above recommendations might be the introduction of a lighter and softer ball, with possibly the option or requirement to use lacrosse style helmets and face shields, but I think that lacrosse, hurling, ice-hockey and hockey ought to remain separate and distinctive sports for the foreseeable future (some aspects of ice-hockey could possibly be adopted by indoor hockey – no baseline and no penalty corners for example ). I believe that a proposal to significantly change the weight and hardness of the ball would have no support at all. However hockey, especially with the recent amendment to Rule 7, despite its hard and heavy ball, is already becoming too similar to hurling for the reasonable safety of participants and action is required to address that issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Physical contact and Obstruction

Edited  27th May 2016

There seems to be an assumption being made – which has no Rule support –  that obstruction/shielding of the ball requires physical contact to be initiated by the ball holder before an obstruction offence can occur when the ball is being shielded by the player in possession of it from an defending opponent within the defender’s playing reach and the ball holder is moving into/towards the defender.

This is of course the opposite to the attitude taken to a player who is trying to tackle for the ball, where not even an attempt to tackle can be made from a position where there will be (may be?) physical contact (Rule 9.13). This is heavily slanted in favour of the player in possession of the ball, who has the advantage anyway – in other words the current ‘interpretation’ (of what part of Rule 9.12 exactly?) is unfair; the balance, which is supposed to exist, between Rule 9.12 and 9.13 has been lost.

What a receiver of the ball should do, having received the ball, has been ‘watered down’ since 1993 (must, may, is permitted to) to the point where there is now no direction/instruction and no prohibition at all. In fact there is now no difference ‘in practice’ between what a player in controlled possession of the ball is permitted to do and the way in which a player in the act of receiving the ball is permitted to shield it. What was permitted only to a receiver of the ball, while receiving and controlling it, has become (by ‘interpretation’) what is allowed in the play of a player already in controlled posession of the ball – the exception has become the Rule i.e. there is no Rule. 

The changes due to the ‘new interpretation’ which made such a huge tactical difference to the game after 1992/3 (a time before a great number of the current high level players were born and certainly before the vast majority of them had any Rule knowledge at all), are insignificant compared with what a ball holder is now being allowed to get away with.

 

I write “get away with” because the only significant addition (*) to the Obstruction Rule since 1993 was made in 2009, to clarify (not successfully) with an unannounced clause extension in the explanation of application (no reference was made to this change in the Preface of the rulebook), which states that a player in possession of the ball may not move to position between an opponent and the ball when that opponent is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it.

*(there were extensive deletions of necessary guidance (and of all of existing Interpretation) made in 2004 when the rule book was rewritten in a metric page size format; nearly all instruction concerning a receiving player, and what that player should do after having received and controlled the ball, the foundation of the ‘new interpretation’, simply disappeared, and what is left – that a stationary receiver may be facing in any direction – does not make much sense in isolation

The present interpretation, which I think is perverse and not what the (sic) Rules Committee intended in 2009, seems to be that if such ball shielding occurs before an opponent intent on making a tackle comes to within playing reach of the ball (or is moved/backed into/towards by the ball-holder when beyond playing range), which is not contrary to Rule,  then that shielding can legitimately continue after the ball holder is within the playing reach of an actively defending opponent – but such ball shielding is contrary to Rule.

an opponent cannot legally attempt to play directly at the ball because it is being shielded by the body of a ball-holder : such ball shielding cannot therefore be legitimate as it obstructs the path of an opponent to the ball, but the (non) application of the Obstruction Rule at the moment is to ‘say’ to a player in possession of the ball that it cannot be shielded from an opponent unless he or she feels like shielding it, certainly no action is taken by umpires to deter ball shielding or enforce the Obstruction Rule; by enlarge the Rule is simply ignored.

The remedy (and there needs to be a remedy to restore balance to the contest between attackers and defenders) is simple; clearly prohibit ball shielding when a player who is in controlled possession of the ball is or moves to become or is closed on to become within the playing reach of an opponent who is demonstrating an intent to make a tackle – thus requiring movement in good time away from the playing reach of a tackler to avoid an obstruction offence – in other words demanding player movement and ball movement, that is ‘game flow’, rather than ball shielding and the blocking off of opponents, often with the ball-holder in a static or near static position: that is apply the Rule as it is intended to be applied. 

I believe that this is how the Obstruction Rule was intended to be applied anyway pre 2009 and certainly post 2009. (prior to 2004 Rules Interpretation included the advice to umpires, that if a defender could have played at the ball directly but was prevented from doing so only because of the movement and/or positioning of the player in possession of the ball, then that defender was obstructed  – clear and simple) This advice seemed to have been deleted because it was contrary to a different agenda, that is to make hockey look similar to soccer so that television viewers could understand it: the Rules that got in the way of this aim were/are considered unimportant. 

 

The 2009 amendment was made to try to address the misjudgement (lack of response) which had by that time become prevalent and which was basically ignoring that the ‘new interpretation’, (which was in fact an exception to the Rule rather than an interpretation that in any way changed what obstruction was – and is) allowed temporary ball shielding only to a receiving player and then only while that player was receiving and controlling the ball prior to moving away (from?) with it or immediately passing it away.  

The original (1992/3) intention was to enhance game flow and encourage tactical development (particularly backpassing and the opening of angles) by preventing/deterring tacklers from demonstrating ‘obstruction’ by clattering into receiving players (who were previously technically often illegally shielding while receiving the ball if they had not made a lead run to create the space necessary to get beyond their marker’s playing reach). The need to make a lead run away from markers to create space in which to legitimately receive the ball was eliminated post 1994 (not entirely a good thing, lead runs are useful for other space creating and angle changing purposes and those skills are lost as many players have never needed to develop them for another purpose – in order to receive the ball

Now, at the other extreme (Rules always seem to be applied at one extreme or the other – without common sense – there can be no denying that the pre-1992 interpretation was extreme ), we have players in controlled possession of the ball using their body to shield the ball past opponents and even clattering into opponents who are trying to position to tackle or to block the ball and it is the defenders who are being penalised (for contact) not the ball holder who is making illegal use of the body and usually initiates any physical contact, the defender often being stationary or even trying to back out of the way.

Doing the direct opposite of what was unfairly done before is not usually a sensible compromise, it just reverses the direction of unfairness.

Here is a fairly recent example (2015) of deliberate obstruction by a defender which should have been penalised with a penalty stroke. The contrast between this and the ‘automatic’ penalising of any ball/foot contact, even when there is no intent and no advantage gained from such contact, is astonishing.

But it is not a new development.

This obstruction was eventually penalised when a second attacker was also obstructed at the same time as the first one continued to be, the much delayed penalty was not however a penalty stroke for a deliberate offence, as it should have been, but a penalty corner.

 

 

And it just keeps getting worse and worse, as attackers also explore and expand ball shielding options – which appear to be unlimited:-

 

In each case opponents move out of the way of ball-holders, moving bodily towards them , to avoid physical contact: while the ball holder is moving into the defender’s playing reach or when already within their playing reach moving towards them. It seems to be the case that if a defending opponent ‘holds ground’ in these circumstances it is they who are likely to be penalised for any body contact made and not the ball-holder who is clearly the offender: this is wrong.

December 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rules. Forcing, deletion of Rule.

Exactly five years ago the following announcement was made in the Introduction of the 2011-13 Rules of Hockey under Rules Changes.

Edited 28th May 2016

The changes in this edition of the Rules essentially seek to simplify the game without altering its fundamental characteristics.

The Rule which used to say that “players must not force an opponent into offending unintentionally” is deleted because any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules.

 

Both of the above statements, whatever the original intention, turned out to be false.

 

(There was also a new Rule (13.7) introduced, dealing with penalties for an offence during the taking of a penalty corner and amendment to Rule 13.10, the penalty stroke, as well as what were referred to as clarifications, indicated by margin marks).

Interpretation of the change.  Any forcing action made (intentionally or otherwise, because intent is not mentioned in any of the “other Rules” referred to* – a welcome simplification) which directly caused an opponent to be unintentionally in breach of a Rule could (and presumably would) be penalised under other existing Rules.  Rule breaches are ‘dealt with’ in only two ways, by the use of penalty or by application of the Advantage Rule, so this interpretation of “dealt with” can be considered to be reasonable.

*(The only other Rules that could be contravened by a forcing of ball-body contact are Rule 9.8, the Rule concerning the dangerously played ball – legitimate evasive action is not confined to balls propelled from within 5m – and Rules 13.3.k and 13.3.l, which respectively concern non-compliant and dangerous shots made towards the goal during a penalty corner

 

Here is an example of an intentional forcing action    – forcing a ball-body contact from an opponent by (here deliberately) raising the ball into his legs from close range, in this case from within playing distance of the ball.

 

 

Instruction given with Rule 9.9. 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. 

Flicks and scoops are by definition raised.

The above instruction given with Rule 9.9. is what remains of another Rule which was ‘deleted’ (in fact transferred to become part of the explanation of application of Rule 9.9.) in 2004  (in much the same way as the once separate offence of forcing was transferred to other Rules in 2011). 

Players shall not raise the ball at another player. 

Neither the present Rule 9.9. or the deleted 2003 Rule 13.1.3 d, (sic) mentions height or velocity; the only differences between them (other than the very significant addition of a 5m limit which has been ‘interpreted’ by some to mean a ball cannot be dangerously raised at a player from more than 5m – a nonsense) is that this instruction is now guidance or explanation of Rule application, rather than Rule Proper.

To the text of the current Rule 9.9. explanation of application “within 5 meters” and “is considered dangerous” has been added and “towards” has replaced “at“, none of these amendments significantly changes the way in which contravening play at close range should be dealt with. 

Umpires may also feel obliged (even though it is not part of the Rules of Hockey) to follow the UMB advice, which declares that a ball that has been raised over an opponent’s stick in a controlled way and hits that opponent below half shin pad height (20cms?) is not dangerous, but there is no reason at all to suppose that any ball raised into an opponent at above half shin pad height should not be penalised, especially if the player is hit with the ball or otherwise disadvantaged in any way.

So why is it current umpiring practice to make directly opposite decisions to the those the Rules of Hockey instruct should be made? It is not a skill or even legitimate play, to raise the ball from close range at or into another player’s legs or body, it is a foul.

November 2, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Stick Diagram

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Edit 30th November 2015  Diagram with ZigZag Ambi overlay added.

The part of the Stick Rule concerning dimension as it was written in 1990 and as it last appeared correctly in the Rules of Hockey in 2003.

The Stick

4.4 Dimension and weight.

a. the length of the extended open curved end of the stick in the direction of the positive X axis is 100mm maximum (shown by the line D)

b. the stick may deviate from the line(s) A and/or A1 by a maximum of 20mm (shown by the lines B and B1 respectively)

c. inclusive of any additional coverings used, the stick shall pass through a ring having an interior diameter of 51mm

d. the total weight shall not exceed 737 grammes.

The current description of permitted protrusions to the edges of the handle.

2.4. It is permitted for the handle to be bent or curved to protrude beyond the line A once only to the limiting line B at maximum or but not also to be bent or curved to protrude beyond the line A1 once only to the limiting line B1 at maximum.

I have no idea why the change was made, I believe it to have been a mistake in transcription, made when all technical specifications concerning equipment were removed from the Rules of Hockey and published in a separate booklet in 2004. Technical specifications for equipment were returned to the Rules of Hockey in 2006 and the mistake has been repeated in all rule books published since then.  

The current Stick Diagrams.

The current diagrams makes a very good job of concealing the configuration and dimensions of the edge protrusions that they are supposed to be illustrating.

 

Stick Diagrams

 

Suggestion.

A replacement diagram of the face side of the stick with the corrected Rule text set out within it and with an illustrated explanation of the permitted combinations of bends or protrusions to edges of the stick handle.

 

 

Stick Diagram with text

 

 

Permitted stick bow dimensions and diagram. 

 

Bow of Stick copy

 

I have not even seen a bow measuring device, only a diagram of one and I don’t know of anyone who owns one, so it is difficult to comment about it, other than to say it seems to be a very complicated shape to carry out a simple task that could be done with a cylinder or tube with an OD of 25mm. The only other equipment needed is a flat surface (an ironing board would provide a suitable flat surface pitchside, such tables are easily portable and quick to set up), a short ruler or set square and a tape measure.

When the former Secretary of the FIH Rules Committee, Roger Webb, asked for my opinion concerning degree and position of stick bow, I suggested 25mm as a maximum and that the position of maximum bow should be no more than 200mm from the mid-point of the length of the stick and preferably within 150mm.

The bow that was then permitted was 50mm and there was initially no restriction placed on the position of maximum bow. When maximum bow was, very quickly, reduced to 25mm, the low-bow stick appeared. The 25mm low-bow presented the face of the stick to the ball at about the same angle as a stick with a 50mm bow at the mid-point did – so then the position of maximum bow on the stick was regulated, it is now to be a minimum of 200mm up the handle from the base of the stickhead, which puts it at between 325mm and 350mm from the mid-point of the length of a stick, depending on the length of the stick: almost twice what I suggested.

When the late Richard Stacey and I compared our experiences, when asked by the FIH for our advice about stick configuration and reinforcement and going to the trouble of giving it, we concluded that we had just wasted the time and the effort it took to gather together the necessary information and respond with diagrams and recommendations, because all our recommendations were ignored or acted upon only when ‘the horse had long bolted from the stable’.

Suggestions.

Concerning the Stick Diagram illustrating permitted protrusions to the edges of the stick – replacement as described above,

Concerning Bow (not rake, rake is a bend to the heel edge of the stick, not the face of the stick) – none.

ambi-over-suggested-diagram

 

 

The overlay on the suggested diagram is a representation of the configuration of the ZigZag Ambi. The protrusions to the edge sides of the Ambi are about half the width of what is permitted.  In setting the maximum permitted protrusions 20mm was added to the width permitted by the limiting diameter of the FIH Stick Ring, to allow for goalkeeping sticks already in existence at the time which had an edge protrusion of about that much just below the handle grip.

The head of the stick, the part below the line C-C  is not limited along the X axis and can therefore protrude considerably more than 20mm on the heel side as well as the toe side, but such a protrusion would be a handicap rather than of benefit in a stick intended for use by a field player.

The slightly set back head achieved a better head shape for ball control than an ultra tight heel bend and also, with the use of lamination, overcame the problems of bending wood  –  which in 1985 and until 1992,  was the only material that a stick head could be made with.

The configuration shown is circa 1987. Later versions (developed after 2006) had a more extended toe (80mm). The goalkeeper sticks (Save and Reach, first produced in 1990 and 1992 respectively)always had a toe up-turned to the 100mm maximum permitted. 

 

 

 

 

November 1, 2015

Field Hockey Rules Rewrite: Umpiring. Means of Control. Second Whistle.

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

The current Rule 1.4.d

Edit video added 15th November 2015.

use all the available tools for control
Action. Amendment. Addition 

Reason. Clarification. Improvement of control.

Suggestion.

Useful comment and suggestions are welcome.

The headings below could be greatly expanded for umpire coaching purposes but the primary purpose here is to propose the introduction of a ‘second whistle’ so I will focus on that proposal and the reasons for it.

Rule 1.4.d. Know how to use all the available control techniques (tools).

Positioning         Presence             Body Language               Timing              Whistle              Signals              Voice         Cards

 

 

Second whistle.

When a free-ball is awarded or a sideline ball or restart is to be taken, play will recommence with a second whistle signal, the first whistle signal having been made to interrupt play and signal penalty (or in the case of a sideline ball usually not made, being unnecessary). The second whistle signal will be given immediately the umpire is satisfied that the ball is stationary and in the correct position.

The giving of the second whistle signal will not be delayed because players of the team the free is awarded against have not retreated or are not retreating to attempt to get 5m from the ball. If there is such failure to comply with the Rule requirements from the team the free has been awarded against, further umpire intervention and more severe penalty may be required.  

Whenever there is a free ball awarded or a side-line ball or a restart on the 23m line is being taken, the team about to take it will be required to start with the ball in the correct (an acceptable) position and to make the ball stationary. Players will sometimes try to gain an unfair advantage by not complying with one or other or neither of these requirements. It is far easier and quicker to ensure compliance before such events occur than to stop play and to reset or reverse the free-ball or re-start. One way to do this is to make it impossible to continue play until there is compliance.

At present the umpire blows the whistle to signal intervention and gives an hand-arm signal to indicate in which direction (to which team) a free ball has been awarded. Only if the ball is not made stationary or is not placed reasonably close to where it should have been placed when the free is taken will the umpire be required to take any further action. But sometimes necessary further action because of non-compliance is not taken, when it should be.

In the video below (which is one of the large number of umpire coaching videos about the self-pass produced by the FIH and presented on dartfish.com) the umpire blows the whistle and signals direction but does not maintain sufficient presence to ensure that there is Rule compliance from the team awarded the free ball. (This compounded the mistake he made by incorrectly penalising the NZL player for obstruction – if that was the reason he penalised the NZL player – when the RSA player should instead have been penalised for an impeding offence).

That an umpire coach should select this play as an example of an umpire correctly applying advantage, because complying with the Rule might have disadvantaged the player taking the awarded free ball, is incredible.

That aside, the situation could not have arisen if it was standard practice for an umpire to whistle to signal intervention and the stopping of play whenever that was considered necessary and also standard practice to blow the whistle for a second time immediately the ball was satisfactorily positioned and stationary. With such standard practice the players of the team awarded a free ball would comply with the Rule requirements for the taking of a free ball as rapidly as possible and not, as at present, try to avoid compliance if they think they can rush the umpire into going along with such contravention (or they believe, often correctly, that the umpire will be either too flustered and confused or too lazy to call play back and have the free taken correctly or to reverse it).

==============================================================

(The following part is taken from a previous article on the FIH umpire coaching videos about the self-pass. The comment with it is edited and shortened for this article)  

Self-pass 4 FIH Umpiring Committee umpire coaching video – Analysis  

 

4 Self pass Interp - incredible

 

The comment about the moving ball is very strange ‘interpretation’. It is a Rule condition of the ‘Free Hit’ that the ball be stationary. Umpires sometimes ‘bend’ this Rule if there is clearly an attempt made to make the ball stationary (something that has ‘wandered in’ from indoor hockey) but ignoring the requirement, because complying with it might disadvantage the taker, is not an option. If players get into the habit of making the ball stationary (which can be done in an instant) the problem doesn’t arise and the fact that the second whistle will not be blown until the ball is both stationary and in the correct place should encourage rapid compliance with the requirement – and very shortly improve game flow by removing a need for further interventions when a free ball is taken. 

==============================================================

This second video, below, is not one of those produced by the FIH for umpire coaching but it is a good example of a situation where obliging an umpire to ensure there was Rule compliance and then – and only then – blowing the whistle for a second time to permit play to recommence would have ensured fair play.

The positioning of the ball for what was supposed to have been a 15m ball and the number of touches made before the restart was considered taken are both matters for concern in the following incident. (The umpire then compounded this sloppiness by awarding a free ball to the Spanish side, penalising the ball-body contact of the New Zealand player, instead of, as he should have, awarding a free to the New Zealand team because of dangerous play of the Spanish player.).

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 13.2. Procedure for the taking of a free hit. Self-pass

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Edited   31st. July 2016

Current clause 13.2.c.

when a free hit is awarded to the attack within the 23 metres area, all players other than the player taking the free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball.

Action. Amendment, removing same team player 5m requirement.

Reason. Requiring all players to be 5m from a free ball disadvantages the team awarded the penalty. That was proven in 1997 when a similar provision was applied to a free ball taken anywhere on the pitch. The change did not last into 1998 before being abandoned. There is no reason to suppose the results will be any different this time around – the Rule was being ‘adjusted’ and ‘bent’ (ignored) within two weeks of being imposed. (The only good thing to come out of the 1997 Rule requirement that all players be 5m from the ball at a free ball was that it got me thinking about the difficulties of the isolated taker of a free ball and I thought of a self-pass. By the year 2000 I had mulled over the pros and cons of the idea sufficiently to begin advocating, on George Brink’s hockey forum, the adoption of the self pass as a means of taking a free ball or re-start, even though by that time the 5m restriction on same team players had been long withdrawn – it was not reintroduced until the mess it created when first introduced had been forgotten). It is necessary for opponents to be or to immediately retreat to attempt to be, 5m from the ball when a free-ball is awarded. Requiring same team players to be 5m from the ball often nullifies any advantage that the award of a free-ball might have given or may compel the use of a self-pass in unfavourable circumstances (as it usually did when a corner was awarded before the introduction of the 23m restart).

======================================================================

Current clause 13.2.f.

from a free hit awarded to the attack within the 23 metres area, the ball must not be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres or has been touched by a player of either team other than the player taking the free hit.

If the player taking the free hit continues to play the ball (ie no other player has yet played it) :

– that player may play the ball any number of times, but

– the ball must travel at least 5 metres, before

– that player plays the ball into the circle by hitting or pushing the ball again.

Alternatively :

– another player of either team who can legitimately play the ball must deflect, hit or push the ball before it enters the circle, or

– after this player has touched the ball, it can be played into the circle by any other player including the player who took the free hit.

 

The following Rule clause was added via an FIH Circular issued on 23rd. May 2015.

A player within 5 metres of the ball at the taking of the free hit is not allowed to engage with play prior to the ball having travelled at least 5 metres.

This is an example of the Rule following the text of the interpretation of the Rule given in the UMB. The expressions “cart before the horse” or “tail wagging the dog” don’t fully capture the absurdity of that.            

The same circular also adds clauses about defenders moving and positioning within the circle and describes in which cases they can defend to the edge of the circle and shadow attackers and in which cases cannot do so. I don’t fully understand the requirements and nor, I believe do many other people. (I don’t like them because I don’t understand them, but more so because they are clearly tied to, an extension of, the weird 5m restrictions which have dogged the free ball, particular when taken as a self-pass, since 2009). I will post a link to the document and leave it to the reader to work out the purpose and application of the new clauses. Good luck.

Rule-13-Attacking-Free-Hits-within-5m-of-the-circle-for-UMs

Action Deletion.

Reason

The 5m restrictions and requirements for ball travel complicate the game and unnecessarily slow it down in a critical area of the field.

Exception. That a free ball awarded for an offence by a defender between the shooting circle and the hash circle should be taken from outside the hash-circle, is a measure that the FIH Rules Committee have recently deleted. It is the only one of the crop of 5m restrictions introduced in 2009, that I propose be restored because, if it is once again permitted to play a free-ball awarded within the opponent’s 23m area directly into the circle and same team players are not required to be 5m from the ball (two big ‘ifs’ at the moment, but two reversions that would improve the game), a free awarded close to the circle line could be of greater advantage than the award of a penalty corner. 

===========================================================================

The final clause of 13.2.f is an oddity. I can’t see why it was placed in this Rule nor understand the reason for the Rule that is given. It is not illegal to raise the ball to fall into the circle with a scoop not even from a free-ball, but this rule is written as if it is an automatic dangerous play offence – and also an offence to raise a scoop pass in a way that will allow it to be intercepted by players inside the circle – very strange.    

It is permitted to play the ball high above the attacking circle so that it lands outside the circle subject to Rules related to dangerous play and that the ball is not legitimately playable inside or above the circle by another player during its flight.

Action. 

I have suggested several Rule amendments and the introduction of new Rules concerning various aspects of raising the ball and the playing of the ball above shoulder height in this later article  http://wp.me/pKOEk-2ln 

The term ‘Free Hit’ has been replaced with ‘Free-ball’.

=============================================================================

Suggestion.

Useful comment and suggestion welcome.

 

13.2 Procedures for taking a free-ball, centre pass and putting the ball back into play after it has been outside the field :

All parts of this Rule apply as appropriate to a free-ball , centre pass and putting the ball back into play after it has been outside the field.

a    the ball must be stationary

b.   the ball must be placed where (within playing distance of – 2m) the offence for which it was awarded occurred (unless an offence occurs within a shooting circle).

c.  When the offence for which a free-ball is awarded occurs between the hash circle and the shooting circle the ball must be taken back out side the hash-circle and placed opposite to where the incident occurred.  

d.   when a free-ball is awarded all players of the opposing team who are not 5m from the ball must move without delay to attempt to get to be at least 5 metres from the ball.

If an opponent is within 5 metres of the ball, they must not interfere with the taking of the free-ball or must not play or attempt to play the ball. If an opposing player is within 5 metres of the ball but is not playing the ball, attempting to play the ball or influencing play, the taking of free-ball need not be delayed.

The free-ball need not be delayed even if an opponent is attempting to play at the ball or to influence play. Play can continue if the side taking the free are not disadvantaged or have an advantage from the taken free,  but in such cases the umpire should award a personal penalty to the offender at the first opportunity presented. 

 

e   the ball may be moved with any legal stroke.

f   the ball may be raised immediately using a flick or scoop stroke, but it must not be raised using a hit (a reason not to call a free-ball a free-hit).

g    If the player taking the free-ball, having made the ball stationary, then makes a ‘pass’ to himself or herself – an action known as a self-pass – normal play resumes immediately, just as it would, now that the 1m requirement has been deleted, immediately the ball was moved,  if that player had made a pass towards a team mate with a push or hit or flick or scoop (or propelled the ball away in any direction),

h.   in the event of a self-pass, a properly retreating opponent who is ‘caught’ within 5m of the ball by the speed at which the self-pass is taken, is not obliged to continue to retreat to be 5m from the place the self-pass was taken, but can immediately seek to engage the pass taker (self-passer) and challenge for the ball.

The reason for this is that the decision to take the self-pass before properly retreating opponents have been given the opportunity to get to be 5m from the ball is the choice of the taker and is treated as an advantage played – the self-passer taking advantage of the opportunity to make the self-pass as quickly as possible and begin to dribble with the ball.

Whether or not it is wise, a tactically sound decision, to take a self-pass as rapidly as possible after the umpire has blown the second whistle* or instead to wait for a second as he or she would probably do if making a pass to a team-mate, is a decision for the taker of the free-ball to make and it has no bearing whatsoever on the legality of the subsequent actions of opponents.

However, if an opponent is within 5m of the ball when a self-pass is made and this is because that opponent has made no or insufficient effort to get to be 5m from the ball, despite having had opportunity to do so – and that player then engages with a self-passer when the self-pass is made, the umpire should penalise that player, either immediately or if that would disadvantage the side awarded the free-ball, at the first opportunity presented. 

Committing an offence that effects the taking of a penalty awarded against the same team for a previous offence will usually warrant the award of a personal penalty and, if the incident occurs within the 23m area, a penalty corner as well. 

   

 It is permitted to play the ball high above the attacking circle so that it lands outside the circle subject to Rules related to dangerous play and that the ball is not legitimately playable inside or above the circle by another player during its flight.

There is reason to limit the raising of the ball into the circle with a flick or a scoop, particularly from a free ball, perhaps with a height limit, but it is not current Rule, see http://wp.me/pKOEk-2ln for further suggestions on limiting the raising of the ball.

 

*Second Whistle see.  http://wp.me/pKOEk-2d6

 

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.12. Obstruction.

A suggested rewrite  of the Rules of hockey.

The current 9.12

Edited  30th November,  2016.

Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.

Players obstruct if they:
— back into an opponent
— physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent
— shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this
is third party or shadow obstruction). This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges) when a penalty corner is being taken.

Action. Amendment.

Reason. The Rule is a fundamental element of the fair conduct of a non-contact game and is at present almost totally ignored due to deviant interpretation of Rule purpose and word meaning.

Comments and suggestions are invited from those who can remember the time the Obstruction Rule was properly applied. For those for whom the existence of it is a revelation, and possibly an unpleasant surprise, Hi.

The Obstruction Rule obliges a player in possession of the ball in contested situations to move the ball beyond the reach of opponents (by dribbling or passing) and to possess the ability, the stick-work skills, to retain the ball while facing opponents who are competing for it.

Hockey is not like soccer in this respect: soccer is a game which permits physical contact in challenges for the ball and also allows a player in possession of the ball to shield it from opponents and even hold them off, to prevent them from playing at the ball – hockey Rules permit neither action, physical contact nor ball-shielding. That naturally means that hockey is more difficult to learn to play properly than soccer is, but playing hockey without an Obstruction Rule is akin to playing tennis without an net – it requires little skill and the side/player in possession will almost always score. Keeping possession of the ball becomes for competent players almost as easy as it is in basketball, but hockey then becomes duller than basketball because the time, shooting and zone limits imposed on basketball players, to prevent endless possession by one side, do not exist in hockey.

The suggested rewrite below is basically the Rule as it now exists, it adds only a clarification of “move into” and the concept of an ‘on-side’ tackler to the existing Rule – something which has always been there but never stated – and restores “must move away” in place of the present “is permitted to move off”: a clear instruction replacing an empty statement, empty in that it is neither prohibitive or directive and serves no purpose.

Suggestion.

Rule 9.12  Players must not shield the ball from an opponent with any part of the body or with the stick in a way that prevents or delays that opponent playing directly at the ball when that opponent would otherwise be immediately able to do so.

 

Shielding the ball to prevent a tackle attempt is called obstruction.

A player in possession of the ball illegally obstructs an opponent with his body or stick when:-

the opponent is level with or own goal-side of the ball (‘on-side’ of the ball)                                        

and
the ball is within the playing reach of the opponent who intends to play it

and
the opponent is demonstrating an intent to play at the ball                                                

and
the only reason the opponent cannot play directly at the ball is because the direct path to it is obstructed by (any part of) the body or stick of a player in possession of the ball.

Obstructive ball shielding is therefore an offence that has to be forced by an opponent while attempting to tackle or position to tackle and in so doing demonstrates that the path to the ball is obstructed and the opponent who is intent on tackling is prevented from playing at the ball only because the ball is shielded by the body or stick of the player in possession of it.

An obstructive offence may be forced by an opponent immediately that opponent comes to within playing reach of the ball and demonstrates an intent to play at it.

A player in possession of the ball

who is :-

(a)   faced with an ‘on-side’ opponent who is within playing distance of the ball  and who is attempting to play at the ball, may not move (turn) with or on the ball to position the body and/or stick between the ball and the opponent with the effect of blocking that opponent’s direct path to the ball and by this means or by moving the ball to the same effect prevent a legal attempt to tackle.

(b)   beyond the playing reach of a closing opponent who turns on or with the ball to position the body between that opponent and the ball or move the ball to the same effect IS NOT allowed the time and space leeway, after the opponent has closed to within playing distance of the ball, that is, exceptionally, given to a player in the act of receiving and controlling the ball. The ball must be kept beyond the playing reach of a closing opponent in such circumstances, OR before the opponent is obstructed the player in possession of the ball must again turn on or with the ball to face opponents or position the ball, so that it is no longer shielded from an opponent.

A stationary or slow moving ball-holder who obliges an opponent who is intent on playing at the ball to ‘go around’ a ball-shielding position to attempt to play at the ball, when that opponent would otherwise be able to play at the ball directly, is obstructing that opponent.

Within the criteria given above, an Obstruction Offence occurs when a player in possession of the ball, whether moving or stationary, positions the body in relation to the ball or the ball in relation to the body, so that the execution of a legal tackle attempt by an ‘onside’ opponent, who would otherwise be able to play at the ball, is not possible without that opponent having to move around the body or stick of the player in possession of the ball in order to play at it.

.
A player in possession of the ball :-

must not move while leading and shielding the ball with any part of the body including the legs, into the playing reach of an opponent or move bodily into an opponent, causing contact, or oblige an opponent to give way to avoid body contact (Rule 9.3).

 

The Tackler.

A tackle may not be attempted from a position where physical contact will result (Rule 9.13)

A player who is within playing distance of the ball and intends to make a tackle, but who is not in a position of balance from which a tackle attempt may be made, is for example, facing or moving or reaching in the wrong direction to reasonably execute a tackle attempt, cannot be obstructed.

.

The ‘Receiving’ Exception to the Rule.

Exceptionally, a player who is in the act of receiving and controlling the ball is temporally exempted from the possibility of a ball shielding offence.

A receiving player is permitted to receive the ball while facing in any direction and while either in a stationary position or while moving. Such a receiving player will not be obstructing any opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it, even if shielding the ball from that opponent while receiving it.The receiving player, however, having received the ball and controlled it, must in these circumstances then immediately either:-

a) pass the ball away or

b) move away from opponents with the ball to put and keep it beyond their playing reach and/or turn on or with the ball to face opponents, so that the ball is no longer shielded from them.

 

It will be necessary for a receiving player who elects  to turn on or over the ball, after the ball is in control or as the ball is controlled, to:-

a) make such a turn before an opponent is within playing reach of the ball or after having taken the ball beyond the playing reach of the opponent or

b) create space for a turn having duped the opponent into moving or reaching in the wrong direction, before there has been any obstruction.

 

Once an opponent is within playing reach of the ball the only options then available to the ball holder will be:-

a) to either turn on the ball while moving the ball away from the reach of the opponent (which may be achieved with foot-work and/or stick-work ) or

b) to move away with the ball to put and keep the it beyond the opponent’s reach, and then to turn on or with the ball  – and/or to pass the it away.

 

Once the ball has been received and controlled the receiving player may not,  in a way that shields the ball from opponents who are within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intent to tackle for it, dwell on the ball in a stationary or near stationary position or while so positioned move the ball  to shield it and thereby prevents a legal tackle attempt.

After having received and controlled the ball, making feints over the ball while stationary or slow moving or ‘dribbling’, which comprises of ‘weaving’ from side to side without taking the ball beyond the playing reach of the opponent and while maintaining a ball shielding position (thus preventing an opponent from playing at the ball or from positioning to do so), will be considered an obstruction offence.

The receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule facilitates the receiving and controlling of the ball and continuation of play without the receiver immediately committing an obstruction offence when closely marked by an opponent who is intent on making a tackle – nothing more.

The ‘Manufactured’ Exception to the Rule.

A player in possession of the ball who plays it to the far side of an opponent (who is, for example, attempting to channel the ball holder or block the ball with the stick or execute a tackle) and then runs into that opponent claiming to be obstructed, has not been obstructed if there has been no movement to obstruct by the defending player. If there is physical contact the player who was in possession of the ball is, in these circumstances, the one more likely to have committed an offence. (This was a part of the previously deleted Forcing Rule which should be restored).

 

Third-Party Obstruction.

A player who is not in possession of the ball who moves in front of or blocks the path of an opponent to stop that opponent legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing. This form of obstruction is known as third-party obstruction because the obstructing player often carries out this action so that a team-mate (the second party) has more time and space to reach and/or play the ball. It can also be regarded as an impeding or even as a physical contact offence in these circumstances.

It is not necessary for the obstructed player to be within playing reach of the ball at the time a third-party offence is committed, it is only necessary that but for the offence, the obstructed player would have been able to intercept the ball or would have been in a position to challenge a team-mate of the obstructing player for the ball and was denied that opportunity. This form of obstruction is often carefully planned to create passing space in mid-field and is often deliberately carried out during penalty corners to a) give the stopper and shooting player more time to set up and make a shot and b) to block line of sight to the ball to defenders. It is in the latter case often a very dangerous action and should be watched for and penalised. 

For there to be a third party obstruction It is generally necessary for the obstructing player to move to block the path to the ball of the obstructed player and third party obstruction cannot otherwise occur, but exceptionally, a player in possession of the ball may deliberately use a stationary team-mate as a shield by dribbling the ball very close to him or her so as to impose the team-mate between an opponent who is intent on tackling for the ball – leaving the tackler, with the choice of going around or stopping or barging into the stationary third player i.e. in an obstructed position.

Stick Obstruction 

The same principle applies to stick obstruction as applies to obstruction with the body. Positioning the stick between the stick of an opponent and the ball is obstruction if that action prevents the opponent playing the ball. It makes no difference if the stick of the player in possession of the ball is in contact with the ball or not. If, for example, the stick is positioned Indian dribble style with the stickhead over the top front of the ball in contact with and covering it, or the stick is used away from the ball to fend off the stick of a tackler as the tackler’s stick is moved towards the ball. Both these kinds of action are obstructive, if direct playing of the ball by an opponent, who is within playing distance of the ball and is attempting to play at it, is thereby prevented.

 

The other difficulty the soccer player coming to hockey has is the insistence that the ball not be played with the back (the rounded side) of the stick. This often causes the novice player, unable to easily turn the stick-head, to turn anti-clockwise with the ball on the face side of the stick-head and in so doing to obstruct opponents (such obstruction, even by top level players, is currently being ignored).

Since the introduction of the use of the edges of the stick to play the ball in the 1990’s (previously specifically forbidden) the retaining of the offence of back-sticks makes little sense, especially as even with slow-motion video replay it is often impossible to determine if a player used the edge or back of the stick to play (hit) the ball.

Abolishing the offence of back-sticks would make introduction to hockey to the novice significantly easier and also considerably broaden the range of stick/ball skills available to the competent player and would not now lead to a fundamental change in the way hockey is played (or indeed to the ‘Indian dribble’ disappearing – field hockey stick-work is not and would not become, similar to the style of stick-work used in ice-hockey – not least because the sticks used are dissimilar). 

Ignoring the Obstruction Rule, an action which does fundamentally alter the way in which the game is played, while being strict about back-sticks offences (where they are seen) is, I believe, the making of two mistakes. 

 

 

 

 

October 30, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.7 Playing at the ball at above shoulder height.

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Edited 7th August, 2016


The current Rule 9.7

Players may stop, receive and deflect or play the ball in a controlled manner in any part of the field when the ball is at any height including above the shoulder unless this is dangerous or leads to danger.

Action. Rewrite.

Reason. The Rule tries to be both directive (but weakly so) “Players may” and prohibitive, “unless this is dangerous or leads to danger”, which is expressed as an exception and also without specifying what the dangers may be or suggesting how they may be avoided.

The previous Rule prohibited any playing of the ball at above shoulder height and the only exception, defending an on target shot at the goal, was extremely limited and hedged with penalty, for example, even attempting to play at an above shoulder height shot that was going wide of the goal was an offence for which the award of a penalty corner was mandatory.

Okay playing the ball at above shoulder height is now permitted, the focus of the Rule should now be on what is still not permitted and/or what will be considered to be dangerous play. The above Rule is far too loose, there is no defined or definable restriction at all.

Suggestion.

This particular situation has not arisen previously in the game of hockey, so I am ‘flying blind’, feel free to make any useful suggestions.

 

or play the ball” is far too wide and unrestricted a term and asking for play with the stick in control or with a controlled stroke at the ball does not improve it. What I think should be done is to determine what the intercepting or receiving player should be trying to do and what he or she should be prohibited from doing. A start can be made by asking “Why was the Rule changed?” Once that is established, it is possible to provide limits to prevent players going way beyond what was intended to be facilitated. I can insert videos here to show exactly why the change was needed.

 

The German player seen in the video brought a ball, that had bounced up high off the ground following an aerial pass, quickly and safely directly to ground and into his own control. There was no possibility of his endangering anyone by doing that. Technically the umpire was correct there was a breach of Rule and had it been allowed the Australian team would most certainly have been disadvantaged – very possibly by the scoring of a goal.

And there we have it – safely directly to ground and into his own control, with no possibility of endangering anyone.

Now a Rule needs to be framed around those concepts. It can be seen at once that there is no need at all for facility for the receiving player to hit or deflect the ball away (actions that the term ‘play’ includes) and that those actions can be excluded by prohibition or by limiting them to the taking of the ball into the control or path of the receiving player. Players were not asking for anything more than that.

A player who is receiving a falling ball and who plays the ball when it is above shoulder height, must bring the ball to ground and into his or her own control, safely.

A ball that is above should height must not be hit, hit at or deflected away from the receiver beyond what is necessary to put it into his or her own path and from where it may be chased and collected immediately and cannot endanger or be contested for by opponents.

The making of passes to other players by hitting or deflecting away a ball when it is still above shoulder height is prohibited.  

Any playing of a ball that is above shoulder height is prohibited to a player who is in the opponent’s circle.

 

October 30, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite. Rule 9.11. Ball-body contact

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Edited 15th July 2016.

The Current Rule 9.11.

9.11 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.

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 gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

It is not an offence if the ball hits the hand holding the stick but would otherwise have hit the stick.

Action. Amendment. 

Reason. The Rule is poorly written and incomplete, giving for example, no meaning or limit to the term ‘advantage’ in the exception – which is not clearly set out as an exception to the Rule.

The current Rule is not ‘working’, here is an example of typical application:-

The umpire disregarded the criterion for offence (intent by a field-player to use the body to stop, deflect or propel the ball or advantaged gained from doing so unintentionally) in other words ignored instructions given for the application of the Rule and ‘automatically’ (without further thought) awarded a penalty corner as the ball rolled off the pitch after hitting the defender: there was clearly neither intent nor advantaged gained by the defending team, they were in fact disadvantaged by this accidental contact but umpires and players are long trained to respectively carry out and to expect this incorrect reflex penalising of any ball-body contact (the weak excuses offered are consistency of decision and player expectation).

Suggestion.

With the exception of the Rules concerning the penalty corner, this Rule has been amended more often than any other in the past thirty years (without any effect at all), so it should only necessary to choose from the parts of previous renditions that made sense and then add one clause (concerning goalkeepers), to devise a fair and workable Rule: getting it applied correctly will be another matter entirely but we should at least start with a non conflicting Rule and instruction for application. 

Useful comment and or suggestion is welcome.

9.11 Field players must not intentionally stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.

There is no offence committed if the ball simply hits the foot, hand or body of a field player, play should continue unless the player hit with the ball is injured. Where there is injury caused by a ball contact and there has been no forcing of contact or dangerous play by opponents, the game should be restarted with a bully.  

Exception.1.  Unless there is forcing of contact or prior dangerous play by opponents, for example a shot at the goal made in a dangerous way or the ball is illegally raised into the player hit with the ball, the umpire will properly penalise a player hit with the ball, even if the contact is entirely unintentional, if that ball contact directly prevents the ball going into the goal of the team of the player hit and thereby prevents the award of a goal. The penalty will be a penalty stroke.

Exception 2. Should an attacking player in possession of the ball in the opponent’s 23m area, particularly in the opponent’s circle, make body contact – usually foot or leg contact – with the ball and that player or a member of that player’s team retains or regains possession of the ball and are then able to continue their attack, that will be considered an unfair advantage and a free ball will be awarded to the defending team at the place the contact occurred or, if that was in the circle, a 15m ball will be awarded.

There are no other exceptions, if a player plays the ball into the legs or feet of an opponent and is disadvantaged because of that contact that will be of no interest to the umpire. The umpire’s only concern will be that the playing of the ball into a player does not injure, endanger or otherwise disadvantage that player. Any intentional forcing of ball-body contact should be considered to be a foul by the forcing player. If a player intentionally plays the ball into the feet, legs or body of an opponent that player should be penalised with a personal penalty and the team of the player hit awarded a free ball.

Goalkeepers. 

Goalkeepers are not permitted to pick the ball up – raise the ball off the ground – by gripping it in any way, nor are they permitted to hold the ball to the ground in any way, by for example lying on it or by tapping and holding it under a kicker to prevent an opponent from playing at the ball. These latter ball-body contact actions will also be considered obstructive play and penalised as such.

 

The above Rule proposals and the penalties suggested are slightly different (okay, hugely different) to much of what will be seen in current practice, but I believe that they are fair and in keeping with a stick and ball game which is supposed to be played in a skilful way. The offence of forcing should not of course have been deleted (2011) and is restored: the statement that forcing would be “dealt with” under other Rules was one that was quickly forgotten or only ever a pretence.

 

 

October 30, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.9. Intentionally Raised Hit.

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Edited 20th August 2016

Amendment to ball-bouncing and raising a ball to hit it.

The current Rule 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.

 

Action. Amendment to reverse the present criterion. Reinstatement of previous Rules. 

Reason. forget lifted-think danger

The current Rule is a badly enforced mishmash of unrelated or only loosely connected statements. For example, the statement, taken from the Penalty Corner procedure Rule, about a player running into the ball, is out of place in a Rule prohibiting an intentionally raised hit. Mention of dangerous play as a result of raising the ball into an opponent with a flick or a scoop is also out of place. The proposed amendment will remove the subjective judgement of intention entirely and replace the subjective judgement of dangerous play with objective criterion for non-compliance or dangerously played.

Suggestion.

All of these proposals are suggestions and not ‘cast in iron’, useful comment and alternative suggestion is welcome.

 

Players must not, except for a shot at the goal from within the opponent’s circle, raise the ball to above shoulder height with a hit.

Shoulder height is an absolute limit, irrespective of any danger, for any raised hit in any part of the field outside the opponent’s circle.

It is not an offence to raise the ball with hit except when hitting the ball:-

a) from a free ball or any re-start

b) so that it will fall, beyond the immediate control of the hitter, directly into the opponent’s circle.

c) inside the opponent’s circle when the hit is not intended as a shot at the goal.

d) in a way that will contravene Rule 9.8. The dangerously played ball. (see http://wp.me/pKOEk-2cq)

 

An intention to raise the ball in a way that is non-compliant (i.e. above shoulder height) is irrelevant, it is a breach of the Rule even if done accidentally: a deliberate breach of the Rule should attract a more severe penalty..

Exception. A player who is in controlled possession of the ball, both before and after hitting it, i.e.  is dribbling with the ball, may raise it up to knee height with a hit while entering the opponent’s circle in order to evade opponents but:-

The practice of putting the ball up and then hitting a shot at the goal on the volley before the ball falls to ground or as it bounces up from the ground, on the half-volley, following a lift made specifically to achieve such bounce, is to be discouraged and in such circumstances the ball may not be raised to above elbow height with the hit.

The practice of running with the ball while bouncing it on the stick  – up to shoulder height  – is not prohibited until and unless it is done at above elbow height within the playing reach of an opponent who may contest for the ball. If it is continued to that point it should be considered dangerous play or play likely to lead to dangerous play and penalised. Ball bouncing at knee height or below is permitted even in contested situations. It is not permitted to bounce the ball on the stick to above shoulder height in any circumstances. 

A distinction needs to be made between dribblers carrying out what are termed 3D skills, especially as they enter the opponents circle and then take a shot while the ball is still in the air, and what might be termed a hurling style hit shot. This is a matter for common sense and subjective judgement made with an emphasis on the safety of players. If the ball is hit while it is in the air, particularly when taking a shot at the goal, it should be hit downwards if there are defending players other than a fully protected goalkeeper between the striker and the goal. 

 

 

 

 

October 30, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.8 Dangerously Played Ball

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey.

Edited 26th April 2016

The current Rule 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.

 

Action: Amendment.

Reason. There is no Rule because there are no criterion for either of the two offences mentioned, that there is a breach of the Rule is entirely the personal opinion of an individual umpire. This situation gives players no guidance about what is or will be considered to be a dangerously played ball or play leading to dangerous play. It is vital that players should know these things.

I’ll start with Players must not play the ball dangerously. That is easy even if “dangerously” is poorly defined. Having spent some time pondering whether to use or in a way that leads to dangerous play , an after the fact of dangerous play decision or to use the previous wording or in a way that is likely to lead to dangerous play which allows the umpire to make a decision prior to dangerous play actually occurring, if he or she judges that dangerous play is probable, I have decided on a third option  – to use both. Why choose only one or the other when both are required?  – so or in a way that leads to or is likely to lead to dangerous play has been added to the proposal.

What objective criterion is used for the determination of ‘dangerously played ball’  is adopted from other Rules, particularly those of the Penalty Corner and Rule 9.9. so I will continue by gathering together the relevant parts of those other Rules.

From Rule 9.9.

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.

It should be noted that the last Rule clause above does not require legitimate evasive action, so such evasive action is not a requirement for a breach of Rule 9.8. just something that must be taken into consideration if it occurs.

From Rule 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 beon 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.

From Rule 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.

Again there is mention, in the above Rule clause, of the possibility of a dangerously played ball without the requirement that there be legitimate evasive action taken; there are in fact objective criterion for a dangerously played ball a) at or above knee height and b) into a player who is within 5m of the first shot. (That 5m should be from the front foot position of the maker of the first shot because the ball could be in contact with the stick for almost 2m in front of a shooter taking a drag-flick shot).

The first clause of Rule 13.3.l addresses any shot at the goal made with a stroke other than a hit –for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous and second or subsequent hit strokes, the first hit stroke having been dealt with (more severely with a low maximum height for a goal to be scored) under Rule 13.3.k. but does not state how a shot at the goal made during a penalty corner may be considered dangerous play, leaving only legitimate evasive action – an entirely subjective judgement by the umpire (not the player taking the evasive action !!) – when the ball is raised at or into a defender when that defender is more than 5m from the ball.

The Rules state clearly that a shot at the goal must not be made in a dangerous way i.e. must not be dangerous to other players  – not cannot be dangerous i.e. impossible for an on target shot to be dangerous.

The must not be dangerous imperative would not be included in the Rules if it was not possible for any on target shot at the goal to be dangerous. In this situation – where there is declared to be an overall emphasis on safety – only an idiot would interpret “must not” to mean “cannot” i.e  the “not possible” meaning of the ambigous term “cannot”.

 

The suggestion.

All of these proposals are suggestions and not ‘cast in iron’, useful comment and alternative suggestion is welcome.

It is evident, despite persistent claims to the contrary, that a shot at the goal can be considered to be dangerous play and that it would be sensible to adopt from Rule 13.3.l “but this must not be dangerous” concerning all shots at the goal in any phase of play, in the same way that “defender (sic) is within five metres….and is struck on or above the knee in a normal stance, the shot is judged to be dangerous” is already so adopted: so I will do that.

The other necessary step is to provide an objective criterion for ‘dangerously played’ when an opponent the ball is played towards is more than 5m away from the striker at the time the ball is propelled. I believe that sternum height (which is about elbow height) is a dangerous height (being the area of the heart) at which to propel the ball at or into another player, if that is done with a ball velocity that could injure that player – and I suggest that most shots made at the goal from more than 5m of defender, when those defenders are positioned between the shooter and the goal, are made at a velocity that could injure: there will be exceptions, lobs for example, in which case the umpire applies common sense and subjective judgement. 

I am not suggesting that the ball may not be propelled at the goal, even at very high velocity, at above elbow height, but that it should be considered to be dangerous play if a ball is propelled at (the position of) another player at elbow height or above – and not wide of or above defending players.

I believe that the combination “knee height and 5m” is an unnecessarily severe safety measure for competent players (but not for U12 and younger or for novices) and generally ignored anyway, so I have reduced that distance to 2m. That change requires the creation of a third zone, but I can’t  at the moment think of a way to avoid that. 

 

Players must not play the ball in a way that endangers other players or in a way that leads or is likely to lead to dangerous play.

A ball will be considered dangerously played when it is propelled or deflected towards another player, even as a shot at the goal, when the other player is a field player or player wearing only a helmet as additional protection and is :-

a) within 2m and the ball is raised, at any velocity, into that player at knee height or above (this is a forcing offence as well as dangerous play).

b) within 5m and the ball is raised, at a velocity that could cause injury, into that player at between knee height and elbow height.

c) at any distance and the ball is raised, at a velocity that could cause injury, into that player at above elbow (sternum) height.

A ball that is played at a player in any of the above ways will still be considered to have endangered that player even if the player evades the ball or manages, having been forced to self-defence, to play it safely with the stick.

In the event of evasion to avoid injury or forced self-defence caused by a dangerously played ball, the umpire should immediately penalise the player who propelled the ball, in line with the declared emphasis on safety unless:-

a) the dangerous action was entirely accidental, for example an unintended deflection, and the team of the endangered player can play on with advantage.

b) the endangering action was careless or reckless play, but the opposing team can play on with advantage; in these cases penalty can be delayed, but should not be forgotten.

A ball that is raised into a fully equipped goalkeeper can endanger him or her but, much depends on the protective equipment the goalkeeper is wearing, how the ball is propelled and from what distance. Endangerment must in this case remain an entirely subjective decision.

 

A velocity that could cause injury is not an entirely a subjective judgement because ball velocity will be comparable with the ball velocity of a powerfully made hit or drag-flick at the high end or, at the low end, a lob or a short flick (a flick that would not carry in the air beyond 5m) and so be largely an objective judgement, but there is a substantial element of subjective judgement involved. 
Below are two, all too rarely seem, examples of an umpire, the New Zealander Kelly Hudson, correctly penalising a dangerously raised ball.
.

But even while discussing the injury to the player hit on the head the television commentators could not stop themselves saying “The attacker was entitled to take the shot” and “She (the defender) did stop a shot at the goal“. Both were fixated on the possibility that the defender had committed an offence. We need to be clear about ‘entitlements’ and what is and is not an offence. Yes, the attacker was entitled i.e. not prohibited, from taking a raised hit shot at the goal provided the shot made did not endanger another player, so in this case the attacker committed a dangerous play offence.

The acceptance of risk is often advanced as a reason to penalise defenders who are , and let us be clear about this, entitled to take up defensive positions between a shooter and the goal (there is no other way to defend the goal). Yes, there is a risk and one that is accepted by defenders, that such positioning may result in them being hit with the ball. That does not mean that such positioning is done with the intention of being hit with the ball and nor does it mean that if the defender is hit with the ball the defender has committed an offence.

For offence there are three conditions and acceptance of risk is not one of them. First, the ball must not be played at the defender in a dangerous way (if the ball has been played dangerously at a defender we need go no further, a free ball must be awarded to the defending team). Defenders do not have to accept that opponents may breach any Rule with impunity just because they are shooting at the goal – that is not an accepted risk. Then (if the shot is not considered to be dangerous play) we have either intentional use of the body to stop, deflect or propel the ball and/or an advantage gained by the team of the player hit following ball-body contact. When there is neither intent nor an advantage gained there is no offence and in most situations (i.e. where there is no injury) play should continue without any intervention from the umpire.

Umpires very rarely apply Rule 9.11. correctly. Time and time again we hear a video umpire declare “Yes there was a ball – (sic) foot/leg/body – contact you may award a penalty corner.” without making any reference to intent or to advantaged gained. This is plain wrong, contact alone is not sufficient to declare an offence has occurred. Teams should not be asking for video referral just to establish if there was a ball-body contact unless it also gave an a clear advantage to the team of the player hit. It is also wrong, in fact absurd, to act as if a shot made at the goal cannot be dangerous just because it is on target: “on-target” does not mean “not dangerous” and opponents are not targets. 

I have no doubt that had the above incident occurred in a men’s game, especially one of such importance and when their team were losing, that the attacking team would have been demanding at least a penalty corner because the defender’s head stopped a goal-bound shot. Women have much more sense, but it is to the credit of the Dutch team that there was not a hint of appeal for penalty against the injured defender, it was fully accepted that the fault was that of the attacking striker: that of course is how it should be.