October 18, 2017

Field Hockey Rules. Confusing coaching for umpires

The video clip below is part of an umpire coaching video presented by umpirehockey.com. The coaching video runs contrary to the Rules of Hockey and reminds me of the terms ‘Doublethink’ and ‘Doublespeak’ as used in George Orwell’s novel ‘1984′

Before looking at what advice and instruction the 2017 Umpire Manager’s Briefing for FIH Umpires in Tournaments (the ‘UMB’) and the 2017 Rules of Hockey give us about the Obstruction Rule, take a look at the video and determine what it is that the player in possession of the ball is trying to do. What is her intention and do her actions achieve that intention? Then ask:- Are her actions and the intentions that drive them, in compliance with or contrary to the intent and purpose of the Obstruction Rule as given in the FIH published Rules of Hockey?

 Advice from the 2017 UMB (with my added comment )

Obstruction

•Are the players trying to play the ball?  (Is there an opponent of the player in possession of the ball demonstrating an intent to tackle for the ball in the incidents shown in the video?  Yes.)

•Is there a possibility to play the ball?  (Are players attempting to tackle for the ball within playing reach of the ball and in a position of balance from which a tackle could be made? Yes. Players who are intent on tackling for the ball but who are facing or reaching or moving in the wrong direction and so have no possibility of playing the ball until they recover to a balanced position cannot be obstructed)

•Is there active movement to prevent the playing of the ball? (Yes) (The word ‘active’ is here redundant)

•Be aware of professional use of the body to illegally block opponents from the ball, as well players trying to demonstrate obstructions by lifting their sticks dangerously over opponents’ heads. (I am not sure why these two diverse statements are contained in one sentence clause. Distraction? In the video there is use of the body (nothing to do with ‘professional’) by the ball holder in the set up scenario, to prevent the defenders from playing at the ball, but no player lifts a stick over the head of another player; the described stick lifting action is unrelated to illegal use of the body to block off an opponent on a path to the ball, which is seen in the video clip)

•Stick obstruction is a ‘hot issue’ for players. Judge it fairly and correctly and blow only if you are 100% sure

 

Back in 2003, before the reconstruction of the Rules of Hockey handbook in 2004, there was a section in the back of it entitled Rules Interpretations. This was part of it:- (my comment added)

Umpires should be aware of players who are in possession of the ball who:

•back into an opponent; (back into the playing reach of an opponent who is demonstrating an intent to play at the ball)

•turn and try to push past an opponent; (make physical contact with an opponent while moving with and shielding the ball)

•shield the ball with body, leg or stick and stand still when under pressure; (when an opponent is trying to play at the ball – advice which has vanished)

•drag the ball near their back foot when moving down the side-line or along the back-line; (leading the ball with the body to shield it from an opponent – this advice has also vanished. Now that these two clauses have been ‘clarified and simplified’ players commonly shield the ball while in a stationary position or ‘crab’ along a line while ‘protecting’ the ball – and do so without penalty, umpires are no longer watching for these obstruction offences.

A more pernicious result of the disappearance of advice to umpires concerning stationary ball shielding and ‘crabbing’ post 2004 is shown in the video, it is the bizarre notion that if a turn to shield the ball from an approaching tackler is completed before the tackler is within playing reach of the ball – then, no matter how hard a tackler then attempts to reach for and play at the ball (but without breaching Rule 9.13 – contact), there can be no obstruction. This ‘interpretation’ – of what? – turns the Obstruction Rule into a farce.)

•shield the ball with the stick to prevent a legitimate tackle. (I have recently seen it asserted on an Internet hockey forum that stick obstruction cannot occur if the stick of the player in possession is in contact with the ball – this assertion is utter nonsense and is another farcical interpretation – of what?)

 

Exactly the same advice/instruction given above was written into the 2003 ‘UMB’

 

Instruction from the 2017 Rules of Hockey with comment on interpretation. The Rule Interpretations (presented at the back of the handbook) and the Rule Guidance for Players and Umpires, provided with each Rule, was combined and subsumed in 2004 into what was termed Explanation (it is the part written in italic script beneath each Rule Proper, which is presented in regular text)

Continuous ‘Clarification and Simplification’ since 1993 (and especially in and after 2004) led to alteration of the wording of many clauses and to the disappearance of others.

(I think of this ‘Clarification and Simplification’ as Obscurantism and Vandalism. Cynical alterations to the Rule while continuing to declare that the Rules have not changed, only the interpretation of them has, which is an impossibility. One cannot change the interpretation of words, just as one cannot change the wording of a Rule, without changing the meaning and therefore the application of the Rule (unless replacing these words with exact synonyms, which has not happened). Changing the application of a Rule changes its intent and purpose i.e. there is a change to the Rule.

This “No change to the Rule only to the Interpretation of it” has root in what was in fact an exception to the Rule, which was introduced in 1993 as a new interpretation of the Obstruction Rule. The ‘new interpretation’ was that a player receiving the ball could not commit an obstruction offence while in the act of receiving and controlling the ball (thus doing away with the need to make lead runs to get away from markers in order to receive the ball, without immediately being penalised for obstruction as the ball was received while an attempt to tackle for it was being made by an opponent). As the Rule did not change in any other way i.e. what was considered to be obstruction (the criteria) in 1992 remained the criteria for obstruction in 1994 and continues to do so to the present day, what was called ‘the new interpretation’ was and is clearly an exception to the Rule and this was not and is not a change to the interpretation of obstruction – which has not changed significantly since the 1940’s. There have been no other ‘new interpretations’ to the Obstruction Rule introduced since 1993.

Once, however, ‘the door was opened’ to changes of interpretation without there being any change to the Rule, ‘interpretation’ took on a ‘life’ of its own, which was independent of what the FIH Rules Committee provided as Rule in the Rules of Hockey – and not confined to the Obstruction Rule (FIH Umpires began inventing ‘Rules’ – even competed with each other to do so).Interpretation’ of this sort has plagued the application of the Rules concerning a dangerously played ball and the aerial ball – we have nonsense about ‘on target shots at goal’ and ‘raised shots that are missing the goal’ and about a deflection not being an aerial ball (literally ‘not a ball in the air’ and not possibly ‘a falling ball’ when any raised ball must at some point become a falling ball – unless Newton was wrong) – and such ‘interpretation’ (wilful blindness) has destroyed the application of the Obstruction Rule.

 

Rules of Hockey 2017.      Obstruction. (with my added comment)

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

Players obstruct if they:  (the following criteria are incomplete and also require clarification).

–back into an opponent   (a player in possession backing into the playing reach of an opponent while shielding the ball)

–physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent  (a player in possession of the ball moving – including backing in – to cause any physical contact with an opponent or the opponent’s stick)

–shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.  (This applies whether the player in possession is stationary or moving)

A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction. (The explanation for the existence of this oddly worded remnant of the ‘new interpretation was given above – it does not apply to the action seen in the video clip because the player in possession of the ball is not in any sense or at any time a player receiving the ball  – just, incidentally, as the attacking player in a shootout is never a receiver of the ball and therefore has no entitlement or excuse to shield the ball from the goalkeeper when within the goalkeeper’s playing reach)

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.

The clarification added as an extension to the clause (bold text from the word ‘or’) in 2009 – means that a player in possession of the ball is not permitted to move to position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it – but also – see above – a player who is in possession of the ball cannot move to position between the ball and a closing opponent and then remain stationary (or near stationary i.e.not moving away to put and keep the ball beyond the reach of any opponent who is trying to position to make a tackle)) while shielding the ball as that opponent moves to within playing distance of the ball and attempts to play at it. Allowing such play would confounds the purpose of the Obstruction Rule – as it is now confounded by the presentation made in the above video.

Removing advice to umpires from the UMB and the rule-book or presenting contrary video coaching does not alter the Obstruction Rule – A player shall not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball. The fact that an opponent who is attempting to play at the ball was not obstructed as a turn to shield the ball was made, but a second or two later, is irrelevant, there is still a breach of the Rule if that opponent closes and is then attempting to play at the ball and is being prevented from doing so by a body blocking/ball shielding action of a player in possession of the ball. Preventing an opponent achieving a position from which a tackle may be made by movement to block that opponent’s positioning or by movement to maintain shielding of the ball from an opponent who is then within playing distance of the ball is obstruction. That is so even if there is no moving off with the ball by the player in possession of it. i.e. the player in possession remains stationary. Moving the ball or moving with the ball is not a permit to continue to shield the ball from an opponent who would otherwise be able to play at it. A player shall not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.

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.

As observed in a previous article, the wording of this clause would be improved (be clearer) if the words ‘may also be’ replaced ‘is’ – in a way that is different to the way ‘also’ has recently been added to Rule 9.8.

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 may also be 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.

Cris Maloney of Umpirehockey.com is already preaching that Obstruction must be a physical contact offence – that there can be no obstruction without physical contact.  Players have been getting away with Obstruction combined with physical contact for a considerable time, so I suppose he is trying to catch up with what he sees European, Australian, Asian, South American and African teams (the whole world) doing, but it still seems strange to see this idea coached and promoted in a video as if it complied with the Rules of Hockey – because it does not. The effort to keep up with changing interpretations is futile anyway; the more leeway that is granted in the ‘interpretation’ of what should be straightforward and simple instructions the more that will be (is) demanded – and then imposed, simply because it is what high level umpires are doing – that players regularly combine ball shielding with physical contact without penalty is a fact of modern hockey.

Some of these changing interpretations change with dizzying speed. In 2004 the Rule:- ‘A player shall not raise the ball at another player’ was ‘downgraded’ in the rewrite to become part of the Explanation of Rule 9.9 (with a 5m limit added to it); by 2008 it was being declared that an ‘on target’ shot at goal could not be considered dangerous play even if the ball was raised at high velocity high into a close opponent – an opposite application in only four years, which had nothing whatsoever to do with anything that the FIH Rules Committee had published, and was therefore an impossibility, but an impossibility that existed and was almost unchallenged by ‘the hockey community’. Why do hockey writers/reporters confine their writing to match reports and to history and ignore blatant corruption of the game?

Despite the coaching given in the above video clip, shielding the ball in any way that prevents or delays an opponent playing at it directly, when they are trying to do so and would otherwise (if the ball were not shielded from them) be able to do, is an obstruction offence.  That may not be a simple sentence but I trust the meaning of it is perfectly clear.

‘A player must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play at the ball’ is a simple enough Rule statement, unfortunately its meaning has, quite deliberately, been made unclear – by the muddying of the ‘interpretation’ of ‘obstruct’ and of ‘attempting’ – by those who for their own reasons, which I cannot pretend to understand, want hockey to be played in a way that is similar to the way soccer is played. I don’t understand this because there is no possibility of a non-contact sport, which hockey is (and I hope will remain), being played in the same manner as a contact sport, which soccer (Association football) is. The fact that physical contact is permitted in soccer would make the introduction of an obstruction rule for soccer, similar to the Obstruction Rule in hockey, farcical. Only what hockey umpires would recognize as an impeding (holding) offences and third party offences are practical for application in soccer. In the same way, because hockey is a non-contact sport, not having a properly applied Obstruction Rule results in farcical situations in hockey.

Those who want to combine the games of soccer and hockey (and some elements of the game of rugby) could instead attach themselves to hurling – I wish they would. Hurling is the fastest and without doubt the most violent ball-stick team field sport in existence, what an attraction (marketing opportunity) for those who are busy at the moment trying to destroy the game of hockey by selling ‘excitement’.

These people are trying to ‘dumb down’ the skills that playing hockey requires, by promoting the allowing of resort to obstruction and physical contact to maintain possession of the ball – and incidentally making the game much more dangerous to play by advocating the degrading of the dangerously played ball Rules (increasing the number of penalty corners awarded). This does not make hockey significantly more exciting or spectacular and it will not draw to hockey ever larger numbers of players or spectators. Those who believe that doing away with the skills required of players to elude opponents when in possession of the ball, will attract and retain increasing numbers of either players or spectators to hockey are deluding themselves. High levels of stick/ball skills, speed, footwork and great ball passing skills, which are combined to get the better of opponents, are the real attractions of the game.

 

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October 13, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Screaming in a padded cell.

The FIH Rules Committee decided to make no major changes to the Rules of Hockey in 2017. There was some clarification of protective equipment specifications and what were termed minor clarifications to the text of some of the Rule Explanations. The word ‘also’ for example, was added to the Explanation of Dangerous play. (That is a change that may come back to ‘bite’ those who made it).

The 2017 Umpire Manager’s Briefing for FIH Tournament Umpires was consequently declared to be without major change.

But then on page 22 of the ‘UMB’ this pernicious and ridiculous ‘clarification’ is presented – a major change to the (imaginary) emphasis on the safety of players and to fair play.

There are at least twenty major changes that need to be made to the Rules of Hockey but I have been wasting my time and effort pointing them out during the past years. The ‘UMB’ is still referring to out-moving defenders at a penalty corner as suicide runners – as if closing down on an attacker and attempting to intercept the ball or tackle for it is a dangerous play offence during a penalty corner. If that is now the case (according to the ‘UMB’ but not the Rules of Hockey) then the least that can be done to re-establish balance and fairness (because umpires are coached to follow the ‘UMB’ in preference to the Rules of Hockey), is to abolish the penalty corner.

Marked with a vertical line but not a change in 2017 – apparently a defender hit with a high ball that is going wide of the goal has been subjected to dangerous play – endangered. Why else would the shot be penalised? (to miss the goal with a high shot is not of itself an offence). If the same dangerously made shot was ‘on target’ i.e. would have gone into the goal, then the decision should still be a free ball to the defence, because the shot is still a dangerous shot if it endangers an opponent. Playing a dangerously made high shot ‘on target’ does not make it a safe shot. If the shot is dangerous it is dangerous, period. But what will the ‘interpretation’ of that last clause, written by a disingenuous obscurantist (a moron or a liar?) be? Could it be the opposite, if the shot is ‘on target’ the endangered player will be penalised ?? !!

 

October 9, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Dangerous Play. Umpiring blunder

A reckless and dangerous shot at the goal penalised with a penalty stroke. SNAFU.

Ball raised at high velocity directly at a defender who tried to take evasive action – he would otherwise have been hit in the groin. This play was irresponsible, did not consider the safety of another player and met the criteria for a dangerously played ball set out in Rules 9.8. and 9.9.

Only the umpires and the players did not know that. (Simon Mason in commentary mentioned an above knee height shot at a player within 5m, but without much conviction – knee height is in any case only relevant as a criteria when a shot at goal is taken during a penalty corner – it is irrelevant in open play, the criterion then is ‘raised towards’, there is no height mentioned in the Rule).  A video referral was based on the possibility of the goalkeeper getting into position in front of the ball, so a penalty corner was asked for in place of the awarded penalty-stroke (Players showing ignorance of the Rules of Hockey). The video umpire did not consider any other aspect of the incident, the way he ball was propelled for example. SNAFU. The award of the penalty stroke was confirmed. It was the same video umpire who, on the following day, could not identify a very obvious obstruction offence,  combined with a physical contact offence, by an attacker during a shoot-out.

There can be no doubt that if such a raised hit was made at an opponent outside of the circles the player who raised the ball (even if accidentally) would be penalised for dangerous play. Why can’t umpires address similar incidents in the circles with an uncluttered mind?

There can be no ‘advantage gained’ to consider if the player propelling the ball has done so in a dangerous way. The fact that a shot at the goal was being made and advantage was gained (the shot was stopped and a possible goal prevented) has no bearing whatsoever on a ball body contact decision when the ball was propelled at the player hit with it in a dangerous way: in these circumstances forget advantage gained – think dangerous play; penalise the first offence, the dangerous play. It is a sound principle that no player should benefit from breaching a Rule, especially a Rule concerning dangerous play. In the incident shown in the video dangerous play was ignored (in fact rewarded) and the victim of it was penalised.

The umpiring wasn’t generally poor, it was almost adequate in a fast and hotly contested i.e. difficult match.This umpire actually penalised one of the many obstruction offences that occurred: a novelty in what was not a clear cut incident, he might reasonably have penalised the tackler for physical contact.

October 20, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Rules and common sense

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/lifted-into-defender-or-pc.44043/

The Chief     Morning all. Question about yesterday’s game. Scenario is this. Ball played hard along the ground into the D by attacking team from outside the 23. Attacker is first to receive the ball, and has a defender within 1m of him, between him and the goal. Attacker deflects the ball up into the defenders leg, hitting him at the top of the sock. I blew for FHD, lifted into a player within 5m. Obviously the forward disagreed, and at half time the other umpire said he would probably have given a PC…………..

I have commented on the content of this topic thread and the replies made to the opening post before, but I went back to it to see if there were any more replies and any improvement in the responses made, i.e. was there Rule knowledge and common sense in them? Sadly not, the replies are generally daft or even outrageous. There is ignorance of the Rules and the invention of non-existent offences. Only Hockeyfish and S Pettit display common sense, even the usually sensible Kresby agrees with a post that Gingerbread made when he should have distanced himself from most of the statements made in it. The Chief allowed himself to be persuaded that the decision he made was wrong, when it was perfectly correct (hopefully he was just being diplomatic).

Gingerbread.  Shin or not is irrelevant for everything but the specific PC situation in terms of rules. We’ve had the guidance that below shin pad height is generally considered a foul against the defender for general play for a flick or scoop. Gingerbread redeems himself a little by stating in conclusion. “We should judge each scenario under 9.9”  but he demonstrates that he does not really understand Rule 9.9. and he shows no understanding of Rule 9.11.  A player hit with the ball should not, at any ball height, be generally considered to have offended, the criteria for offence are intent and/or advantage gained. The height a ball is propelled (and the distance from an opponent this is done) are reason, along with legitimate evasive action by an opponent, to consider penalty against the player propelling the ball, not the opposing player hit with it.

There are very few respondents, which is not a surprise when much the same question has been asked and answered hundreds of times on this and other hockey fora – without getting any closer to a common sense application of either Rule 9.9 or 9.11. – so I will go through them in turn.

Ravennhorde  Unless dangerously hard PC for me. The 5 metre thing comes from PC rules as does knee height. You’re not dealing with a smash from top of D into a runner here. 

Raised from within 5m towards an opponent is dangerous play according to the Explanation given with Rule 9.9. which is what applies in open play situations such as described in the opening post. The FIH Rules Committee have not instructed umpires to consider ball velocity, but it must be supposed, using common sense, that ball velocity will be considered when judging if evasive action by a defender is legitimate – that the player was trying to avoid injury. It would be useful if the FIH RC did make reference to ball velocity, it has relevance.

Ravennhorde. We tend to treat below the knee the same as a foot. And it’s perfectly normal for attackers to play it on to a defender’s foot in the D to win a PC. This is no different. Yes this is considered normal by a large number of very poor umpires, many of whom have been allowed to officiate at international level and influence the behaviour of others.

 

Nij states that because Rule 9.9 (a Rule about the intentional raising of the ball with a hit) mentions only flicks and scoops raised into an opponent within 5m, then hits and deflections raised in this way cannot be considered to be within the scope of the Rule. Technically he is right but this approach is so lacking in common sense that it must be considered to be stupidity. Common sense suggests that the FIH Rules Committee do not want to have players raising the ball into close opponents no matter what how that is achieved.

It needs to be borne in mind that this Explanation to Rule 9.9 was originally a stand alone Rule clause which declared “A player shall not raise the ball at another player”; no distance, no height and no stroke was mentioned in the original Rule (which was a bad mistake but at the time a common sense of what was dangerous play was assumed to exist). That what was written originally is now presented in the way that it is within Rule 9.9 demonstrates a lack of common sense from those asking umpires to apply common sense.

Nij posted five times to this topic thread and finished off with advice he would do well to heed himself Nij At this point, I have to strongly suggest reading the Rules (and I mean the document called the Rules, not just the individual listed rules) for yourself, because it seems you’re trying to build a logical argument on premises that simply don’t apply in hockey”. he is so off track with his stated opinions that he is a danger to others.

This “The OP is also clear that it’s a deflection, and given that they have deflected the ball towards goal it can be assumed they intend to score if possible, so it makes no sense to mention 9.9 here at all” indicates that he is one of the lunatic fringe that believe that a shot at the goal cannot be considered to be dangerous play even when, as in this case, the ball is deliberately (The Chief had by this point in the thread posted to say that in his opinion the deflection up into the attacker was deliberate) deflected up into the legs of a defender from about 1m. No one with any common sense would consider such a deflection to be a shot at the goal and nor would anyone with any common sense think that a shot at the goal could not be a dangerously played ball.

 

redumpire.  PC for me. Every time.    No reason offered, but this is usual from him; he believes he is an authority. The decision however must be a subjective judgement in every case, the only objective elements are the height to which the ball was raised and if it hit another player, which by themselves are insufficient to make a decision – and certainly not an ‘every time’ statement; there can be no “PC every time” with the information provided. From the description of the action (which is certainly dangerous play) no similar action with the same outcome should ever result in penalty against the player hit with the ball.

The incident arose from a ball hit hard along the ground into the circle from outside the 23m area. It is not stated whether or not it was a free ball but mention of the 23m leads me to think it could well have been. It is ironic that there is a Rule preventing the playing of a free ball, awarded within the opposing 23m area, directly into the opposing circle, put in place for the safety of players, that is to protect defenders from the same kind of dangerous deflection the attacker made into the legs of the defender; bearing that in mind, where is the common sense of those who would penalise the defender in the circumstances described in the OP by The Chief?

The Rule is in place because attackers will try to deflect a ball hit into the circle up into the bodies of defenders if they believe (know – player expectation) that defenders will be penalised if one is hit with the ball. A Rule that is unnecessary and clutters and slows the game and should not for that reason have been enacted, has been put in place because umpires will not use common sense in such circumstances, they will penalise a defender hit with a ball that has been raised with a deflection with the intention of hitting the defender (deliberately and contrary to Rule 9,9 and therefore a ‘cardable’ offence) – penalty corner every time says this FIH Tournament Director, when he should, as part of his official duties during post match umpire debriefing, be rebuking umpires who umpire in that way –  no common sense there.

 

AFJ  Was his sock below his knee? Unless he’s gone for the footballer sock over the knee, then PC. Not dangerous, he just needs to get bigger shinpads. Displaying ignorance of Rule 9.9. and the criteria for offence under Rule 9.11. (I believe AFJ is an international level umpire)

 

Gingerbread Regardless of distance from goal, the ball is a shot if the attacker is trying to score. You can’t blow for “manufactured fouls” any more so deliberately playing the ball into a defender for a PC is “rewarded” with a PC these days unless you consider it dangerous and to me a deflection up into a defender, unless it’s crazy high and fast, sadly has to be PC (or even PS if applicable).

I am made both sad and angry by this nonsense from Gingerbread.”Manufactured fouls” or forced offences (both terms being oxymoron) should be penalised under ‘other Rules’ when they are a breach of another Rule, such as Rule 9.9. Where such forcing of contact is clearly intentional a personal penalty should also be considered and at least a verbal warning given to the offender on the first occasion.

 

Johnreiss  the the 5m rule only applies at pcs. HOWEVER the op suggested that it wasn’t a shot and was deliberately lifted into the defender. Was it a bit or a deflection? If a bit and not a shot it’s illegal under a different rule.( To deliberately lift the ball with a hit is illegal unless it’s a shot. I agree that this was a probable pc as it wasn’t dangerous.. but there is a large dose of yhbt in this scenario

Ignorance of Rule 9.9.  There is no need at all to ‘be there’ to know from the description of the action, given by the officiating umpire, that it was dangerous play by the attacker (the objective criteria for offence are met – raised towards a player who is within 5m). There was no mention of intent to make ball-body contact or advantage gained by the defending team, so why is it assumed? Because by many umpires it is always assumed? Yes, it is generally far easier to assume advantage gained or intent than to identify either – especially when they are absent.

 

Mick Mason You can’t blow danger for something that might have happened had things been different can you? The ball was played into his shin, no danger there, surely it is a PC.      A sharply rising ball hits a close player before it gets above knee height, common sense suggests penalising for dangerous play would be appropriate. The statement following Mick Mason’s initial denial that anticipation of events is part of a decision making process, also displays an ignorance of Rules 9.9 and 9,11.

 

There is a rift between what many participants consider to be a dangerously played ball and what Rule 9.9 declares a dangerously played ball to be (the common sense of it is not observing the description given in the Rule). It may be a convention (the meme) to use as a criterion, above knee height, as given during the taking of a legitimate shot at goal during a penalty corner (a shot from which a goal may be awarded if the ball crosses the goal-line), but that is not the Rule in general open play. Perhaps the FIH Rules Committee should make it the Rule? But that would be to declare that no ball propelled into another player at below their knee height could possibly be dangerous (cause injury) – and that is simply not true – so they are right not to make such a declaration. It has not helped previously to take intention to make ball-body contact into account because those determined to penalise any and all ball-body contact have simply declared that intention is too difficult to see – so they see (assume) advantage gained or intention on the part of the player hit with the ball (such intent apparently being easy to see even when there is no movement by the defender). Is that using common sense?

In fact the mandatory penalising of a out-runner, with a penalty corner, for being hit below knee height with a (raised) shot (especially when within 5m of the attacker propelling the ball) – a penalty measure introduced in 2004 – conflicts with Rule 9.9. and it should be deleted (or amended to read … a shot along the ground that hits etc..) The  FIH RC could instead address the problem by describing objectively what a dangerously played ball is, using various heights coupled with various distances – and place an absolute height limit on any ball raised with a hit, irrespective of intention. The raising of the ball into the circle with a hit is also a cause for concern – even or especially if it is done accidentally – players should be encouraged to develop the skills needed to play in a relatively safe way and penalised when they are careless and do not do so: that is common sense.

It’s hard to believe that the Rules of Hockey has been completely revised twice since 1994. First in 1995/6 by the FIH Hockey Rules Board and then by the (renamed) FIH Rules Committee in 2004, and that year on year, for as far back as I can remember, the task of ‘simplifying and clarifying’ the Rules has continued unabated. The results of these clarifications have been declared each year in the Introduction or the Preface of the rule-book. The Rules and Explanation have been simplified and clarified to the point where the majority of participants now know a great deal about nothing – to misquote an old saw

What is it about the English language that defies the comprehension of it when it is put in writing?  The former British Prime Minister Mrs. Margaret Thatcher once, famously, said ”I don’t know about a thing until I have seen it in writing” (which was evasion when she was asked a question about something she should have known (and did know) a great deal about), but hockey participants would have to say ”I don’t know any Rule for certain even if I have seen it in writing” Mrs.Thatcher knew that what was said could and would change from one moment to the next (simply because it was repeated by one person to another), but what was written in an identifiable document would be the same and mean the same thing to her the first time and every time after that, she read it  – she was also sending a message to those who wished to keep her informed of events – how to do so. Hockey participants have not learned that lesson, despite the FIH Executive informing all National Associations that the sole authority for the Rules and the Interpretation of them is the FIH Rules Committee who produce the Rules of Hockey handbook (and an on-line version) they, instead of reading those Rules and the Explanations given with them, listen to ‘interpretation’ and gossip and rumour and try to imitate the actions of others without knowing why they do so.

I have to repeat what Nij wrote even if he himself would be one of the greatest beneficiaries of his own advice “At this point, I have to strongly suggest reading the Rules (and I mean the document called the Rules, not just the individual listed rules) for yourself, because it seems you’re trying to build a logical argument on premises that simply don’t apply in hockey”: Amen. When not dealing with facts he is able to write cogently and to appear to be intelligent – he reminds me of Keely Dunn.

I also suggest that it is a good idea to read posts on internet hockey fora, but then vital to try and discover the facts from an authorized source and then, probably for the first time, to apply common sense to what they are reading to arrive at a sensible truth.

The UMB five times advises umpires to apply or use common sense and once states that a Rule should be applied sensibly – so ‘sense’ is invoked six times in a short document. That seems a good idea, but what is this common sense they refer to, where can examples of it be seen – in action or in writing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

October 14, 2017

Field Hockey Rules. Misjudgement of Timing and Distance.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/you-make-the-call-xvi.44122/

A video question uploaded to this Internet hockey forum.

The speed of the action combined with the small scale of a video viewing makes a decision difficult. Repeats and slow motion (not available to a match umpire) help to sort it out. The umpire (if mobile and alert) has the advantages of being able to choose the viewing position and a close, life size view of the action.

The attacker seems to have been unaware of:-

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

which is part of the Explanation given with Rule 9.12 Obstruction.

That means that a player, having received the ball i.e who is in possession of the ball cannot then move to position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

By the time the attacker had control of the ball and had begun her turn to shield it from the approaching goalkeeper, the goalkeeper was within playing distance of the ball.

The attacker’s mistake may be the result of this kind of erroneous coaching, which is being provided in the USA – part of the video shows players taking up such ball shielding positions (from a side-line restart) and being advised that what they are doing is not obstruction – when it most certainly is:-

Lest it be though I always think there is obstruction or that it is always, when penalised, correctly penalised, here is an example where obstruction was called and I am not at all sure the call was correct – and I would certainly here have awarded a card to the defending tackler even if awarding a free to his team for obstruction by the attacker. The defender’s pushing action was deliberate and the obstruction called not as obviously a foul as the obstruction of the goalkeeper in the first video above. Did the tackler at any time get his own goal-side of and in front of the ball? That is not easy to see from the video camera angle – but if he didn’t he wasn’t obstructed and a penalty stroke with yellow card should have been awarded.

I watched the match on video and as far as I can recall this was the only occasion on which that umpire awarded a penalty for an obstruction offence – and there was no shortage of these offences which were very clear and which he could and should have penalised.
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There has been no progress on three major issues The dangerously played ball, Obstruction and Ball-body contact, in the last thirty years. If anything even the fundamental principles necessary to an understanding of the intent and application of these Rules has been badly eroded – even completely lost. This loss seems to have begun around 1995 and accelerated greatly after 2004. Those dates coincide with the two major rewrites of the Rules of Hockey, but things have got really crazy since 2008 – that was about the time the FIH Umpiring Committee starting producing the umpire coaching videos and interpretations presented on dartfish.com. A few of the ‘Interpretations of the action’ that are presented are okay, but that is nowhere near good enough, they should all be flawless, not riddled, as they are, with error and omission. 

I wrote critiques of many of those interpretations, particularly those about the self-pass, ball in the air and obstruction. The response from whoever within the FIH was responsible, was to block my facility to download the coaching videos directly from the darfish website – and only that. A minor inconvenience to me, but a major failure of communication and a lack of response, on their part, to the valid criticisms made. None of the flawed ‘Interpretation of the action’, some of which conflict with each other, have been either amended (corrected) or removed and replaced.

October 12, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Why any penalty.

This game, Amsterdam v Wimbledon, threw up two odd incidents, both of which occur fairly frequently. 1) A penalty corner defender who became involved in a contest for the ball outside the circle while still wearing a face-mask. He did not have a reasonable opportunity to remove it if he was to contend for the ball and

2) A high vertical deflection off a goalkeeper which was penalised as potentially dangerous by an umpire before any danger occurred.

There was another high rebound incident involving Amsterdam in another match, in that they were on the receiving end of the decision and looked as bemused as the Wimbledon players did with theirs. Both incidents resulted in the award of a penalty corner and both teams penalised asked “What was the offence?”

The face-mask issue has a very wordy explanation in the rule-book but it is still not completely clear. During the set up of another penalty corner, in the other umpire’s half, later in the match, Michael Hoare asked him when a player was required to remove a face-mask: the answer he was given was “As soon as is practical”

This is what I have found about face-masks in the present Rule Explanation. The first sentence is not relevant to playing while wearing a face-mast but mentions putting one on. Nowhere is there any mention of taking a face-mask off.

Leaving and re-entering the field as part of play (eg when a defender puts on a face mask at a penalty corner) takes place at any appropriate part of the field.

Field players are permitted to wear a smooth preferably transparent or white but otherwise single coloured face mask or metal grill face mask, which follows the contours of the face, when defending a penalty corner or penalty stroke for the duration of that penalty corner or penalty stroke and when they are inside the circle they are defending ; the primary objective of wearing a face mask to defend a penalty corner is safety; wearing of face masks which are consistent with the underlying spirit of this guidance should be allowed;

Field players are not permitted, when wearing face masks, to conduct themselves in a manner which is dangerous to other players by taking advantage of the protective equipment they wear.

Clearly the intention is to prevent players who are wearing face-masks being of danger to other players because of the mask. This is an odd situation because in the USA and some other parts of the world, the wearing of goggles is compulsory in many high school hockey matches and there is a determined on-going campaign to make the wearing of helmets while playing field-hockey compulsory at all levels. There is also a counter-campaign to make the wearing of goggles optional or prohibited in places where wearing them is presently compulsory.

The present Rule is very unevenly applied largely because it is recognized that removing a face-mask while running out to close down on an attacker – even one who is outside the shooting circle – is not a practical proposition: to require it might even endanger a defender, who cannot defend him or her-self (or the goal) from a raised pass or a shot at the goal made ‘through’ their position while removing and safely disposing of a face-mask.


Which creates the greater potential for endangerment of a player, requiring or not requiring that the mask be removed at the earliest possible moment? And how is the earliest possible moment (if that is the option chosen) to be consistently determined? Was there a single recorded incident of injury to an opponent caused by a defending player wearing a face-mask before this Rule was enacted?

(Injury or the lack of it is not be strictly relevant for the introduction of a Rule. There have, for example, been thousands of injuries caused by the drag-flick, some of them extremely serious, but that has not influence the FIH Rules Committee to do anything other than prohibit the use of a drag-flick when taking a penalty-stroke. No effort has been made, no Rule framed to either limit or control its use. Looking for rationally imposed Rules is a waste of time because they are almost entirely arbitrarily produced – and the way a Rule is written generally bears little resemblance to the way in which it is applied).

It has become common practice to allow an out-runner who has made a tackle or interception to continue with the ball out of the circle, how does this practice fit with the declaration about defending while out-side the circle when wearing a face-mask – which appears to be accurate – that the Italian umpire made ?

It is good that umpires are aware of and can apply the minutia of certain Rules, tragic that they are oblivious to the major issues of fair play.

It is for example, worth noting that the initial penalty corner in the face-mask incident was awarded after an attacker committed two deliberate offences, to paraphrase the commentator, to “unlock the defence by finding an unguarded foot“; first ball shielding, the attacker dropping the ball to the rear of his feet as he advanced towards the base-line and the defender, and then a spin-turn into the defender, lifting and forcing the ball into his legs – ( and then immediately appealing for , demanding, a penalty corner award because the umpire was not quick with the whistle. I’d have given the attacker a yellow card – but that’s me, I think that Rules are not made to be broken and that cheating should be punished when both sides have agreed to abide by the Rules)

 

The second incident began with an attacker also using a ball-shield and shunt technique (obstructing) to create room for the raised slap-shot from which a high near vertical rebound resulted off the goalkeeper’s kickers. The goalkeeper did not intend to raise the ball, he was obviously trying to deflect it off the pitch at low level.

The umpire clearly stated to the players, when asked why he had awarded a penalty corner, that he blew his whistle to stop play and prevent any danger from occurring. In other words he made a subjective judgement that danger was likely to occur if he did not stop the game. He (and they) should have realized immediately that a video referral could not be made – and the video umpire should have realized it as soon as he heard that statement – that a video referral was not a possibility, because the video umpire would be asked to look for something that had been prevented by the early whistle – and would moreover, even if danger had occurred, have been the personal opinion of the match umpire that it did so – not something that is open to challenge or to correction following advice from a video umpire.

What the match umpire did was also a bit ‘old fashioned’ in that he was following a previous (more sensible) version of the Rule wording (likely to lead to dangerous play), but not the current wording (which is set out at the start of the video) as no dangerous play occurred (putting the ball up in the air is not of itself dangerous play but, as in this case, it may be judged to be potentially dangerous – only, however, if that is permitted by the Rules. Here the umpire used common sense to ‘overrule’ the Rule, but that should not be happening because the Rules should be based on a common sense of fair play.)

What is the best solution when the ball is accidentally lofted in this way and is likely to lead to dangerous play if allowed to fall among ‘hot-heads’?

It should be noted incidentally, that the defender’s did everything possible to ensure that the falling ball would not cause any danger (good of them, when it could reasonably be argued that the uncontrollable high deflection off the goalkeeper was a result of the high velocity of the close raised shot – that is caused by the action of the attacker – and also that the shot had been set up in an illegal manner). The good sense the defenders showed made this incident very unusual.

I think the fairest thing for the to do in these circumstances is to continue to be ‘old fashioned’, but in a new way and order a restart for the attacking team on the 23m line. Such incidents were previously (prior to the fashion for awarding a penalty corner for any triviality – in order to increase the number of scoring opportunities and make the game more spectacular (dangerous)) dealt with by the award of a bully on that line, but a free ball is fair enough. A penalty corner award is not fair in these circumstances.

 

From the current Umpire Manager’s Briefing for FIH Tournament Umpires (with comment added).

Obstruction

Are the players trying to play the ball?           Demonstrating an intent to play at the ball.

Is there a possibility to play the ball?              Yes/No  –  if no, why not?

Is there active movement to prevent the playing of the ball?     Can movement, to prevent the playing of the ball, ever be inactive?

Be aware of professional use of the body to illegally block opponents from the ball      Professional?

I would prefer that last clause read (not to change it too much) “Penalise use of the body which illegally blocks opponents from the ballonly being aware it is happening is useless, and no foul should be considered ‘professional’; that is a misuse of language. the fact that a player is good enough to be paid to play for a club does not make him or her more likely to be a cynical cheat.

The “be aware” phrasing did not work when it was part of the Advice to Umpires concerning obstruction in the rule-book back in 2002. It was actually argued later, on a hockey forum, that “be aware (of players who stand still and shield the ball when under pressure)” – one of four listed issues (the others included ‘crabbing’ alone a line and turning into an opponent) – did not mean “penalise”, but no suggestion was offered as to what it did mean – the argument was just generally accepted because it was made by an FIH Umpire.

Stick obstruction is a ‘hot issue’ for players. Judge it fairly and correctly and blow only if you are 100% sure.

Any deliberate obstruction should be a ‘hot issue’ when an obstructed player (to be considered obstructed) must be seen to be trying to play at the ball. But an attacker  by “finding an unguarded foot”  can ‘win’ a penalty corner. It is not possible to reach for the ball with the stick in an attempt to play at it during a tackle and at the same time, use the stick to guard the feet – which should not in any case be ‘attacked’ with the ball.  Forwards frequently take advantage of that impossibility and the inane penalties that result from exploiting it in the opponent’s circle.

October 7, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Absurd award of a penalty stroke.

Edited 16th October 2017

I have mixed this article up in the same way as the miscellaneous Rule 9.9. is mixed and scattered about.

The failure to observe or apply the Obstruction Rule has now become standard playing and umpiring practice ( a meme) and the example shown in the first part of second video below does not really merit further comment (Not acceptance but despair. It is impossible to know what umpires are looking for when determining if there has been an Obstruction offence – whatever it is, it is not in the published Obstruction Rule:- see the video immediately below)

Positioning between an opponent and the ball and backing into.

Stick obstruction.

Physical contact, impeding.

[I had notice from YouTube that the video clip I posted on the web-site was blocked, so I substitute stills and provide link to the official EHL Day 4 video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ6dvj2dDB8  The relevant action is at 2 hours 18 mins 03 secs. The match is between Orange Zwart and Harvestehuder. Both teams were awarded a penalty stroke during the shootout, neither of which should have been given]

The action of the attacker above breached all of the criteria for an obstruction offence by a player in possession of the ball, as published in the FIH Rules of Hockey; in addition it was both a physical contact offence and an impeding offence . The attacker simply charged into the goalkeeper while leading the ball with his body and was also guilty of a stick obstruction. I can’t see any offence by the goalkeeper who made a legitimate attempt to play at the ball while it was within his playing reach, but shielded from him.

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I also found the award of the free ball, following the play after the unpenalised obstruction in this second video, to be odd. 

It does not seem to me that there was intent by the player hit to use his foot or leg to stop the ball, he first presents his stick to the ball in an attempt to intercept it, and follows that action with a step towards the ball, but I can’t see any advantage gained by the defending team resulting from the contact that occurred (had the defender simply missed the ball it would have gone directly to another defender and if he too had missed it, then it would have travelled harmlessly across the circle – there being no attacker in a position to intercept it at the speed it was moving). I would not have been surprised if the attacker had been penalised for a ball-leg contact following the rebound back to the him (he also failed to control the ball so it hit his legs). Play could probably have been allowed to continue because he did not get control of the ball (or any other advantage), but blowing the whistle is now almost a reflex when there is any ball-body contact. When an umpire does allow play to continue he is usually described as “brilliant” for doing so – if things run in favour of the team opposing the player hit with the ball – but not otherwise.

In that vein I noticed an odd awarding of a second penalty corner in the match Wimbledon played against Bloemendall following a deflection off the foot of an out-runner during an initial penalty corner. I think that one was a case of the umpire thinking he was in a ‘cleft stick’ because of a daft construction in the Explanation of Application of Rule 13.3.l. A confusion caused by poor use of semantics – (when Plain English has been demonstrated to be inadequate for use in the explanation of application in the Obstruction Rule and other Rules, who needs more confusion). The penalty corner was in any case over, the ball having been stopped outside the 5m hash-line, (so that a goal if scored would earn two points rather than one) therefore Rule 13.3.l no longer applied.

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

Readers might like to consider why the word ‘otherwise’ is used at the commencement of the second sentence.

In my opinion both of these sentences from the Explanation should be struck out of Rule 13.3.l (and the second one, which is repeated in Rule 9.9, should be deleted from that Rule). The first one because umpires generally take no notice of without attempting to play the ball with their stick which the Rule hangs on, and the second because, if the ball is raised, it conflicts with the explanation of dangerous play given in Rule 9.9. – and, because it is not specific about the ball being raised (along the ground is below knee height but very different from 12″-15″ off the ground) it is too vague. It also states a penalty corner must be awarded if an out-running player is struck below the knee. Taking from the umpire scope to use judgement and common sense about intent and advantage gained – in effect turning what is supposed to be a subjective judgement of dangerous play into awrongheaded objective criterion for offence by a defender – when what is needed is objective criteria for a dangerously played ball – usually an offence by an attacker shooting at the goal ‘through’ defenders.

 


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In the event the shot made was still on target after the deflection and caused the goalkeeper some difficulty, he could do no better than to rebound it directly into the possession of another attacker a few meters away and standing in the middle of the goal. Any advantage gained was clearly to the attacking side. The defending side cannot be blamed for the second attacker failing to make good use of the advantage handed to him – that would be contrary to instruction given with the Advantage Rule, concerning reverting to the original ‘offence’ (which was not offence in this instance, there was no reason for the umpire to intervene and award penalty).

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The match Wimbledon played against Amsterdam was better than their performance against Bloemendaal and the umpiring of the Amsterdam match was also far superior. The only thing that spoiled it for me was the blindness to obstruction. I am reminded of the period before the edge-hit became legal play but was widely used without penalty.

I first saw it expertly used in 1995 in Cuba during friendly matches against Argentina. When I pointed out to the Argentinians that the stroke was illegal they laughed and said “Not in our country” (an attitude to the Rules of Hockey that was new to me). Edge hitting was not accepted into Full Rule until 2002, following an extraordinary mandatory experimental period of three years. The ‘hard’ forehand edge hit was later prohibited and is still forbidden, but I have video clips of it being used without penalty, to raise the ball at high velocity into the circle from the right flank – three simultaneous offences – and to score a goal, which was awarded, during a shoot-out).

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A few players have become so skilled at obstructing their opponents (lots of unpenalised practice) that it almost looks like a legitimate part of the game – there is certainly no protest about it (and also there are now some very skilled edge-hitters – which was not generally the case when the stroke was first made legal). Other players, like the one in the second video above, use ball shielding with the body and moving into opponents to cover an absence of stick-work and other skills there is now no need for them to develop (some edge-hitters are on the other hand so inept – inaccurate – and dangerous, having little or no control of direction or ball height, that they should be banned from attempting the stroke until proficiency can be demonstrated outside of a competitive match).

I have little doubt That the Obstruction Rule will sooner or later be amended (deleted) by the FIH Rules Committee and become an offence within the physical contact Rules (some already believe that to be the case, it’s not, but that appears to be sub-official coaching in the USA) and I have no doubt that if that happens it will be defenders who are legitimately attempting to tackle – like the goalkeeper in the shootout video clip above – who will be penalised, not the players who are ball shielding and barging into them: obstructing and committing a physical contact offence.

What a mess is being made of a game that is supposed to be about eluding opponents with stick-ball skills and evading them with footwork skills combined with passing skills.

October 5, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Deliberate deflection into opponent

 

Edited 6th October, 2017

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/lifted-into-defender-or-pc.44043/

The Chief. Morning all. Question about yesterday’s game. Scenario is this. Ball played hard along the ground into the D by attacking team from outside the 23. Attacker is first to receive the ball, and has a defender within 1m of him, between him and the goal. Attacker deflects the ball up into the defenders leg, hitting him at the top of the sock. I blew for FHD, lifted into a player within 5m. Obviously the forward disagreed, and at half time the other umpire said he would probably have given a PC. Note that I was the defending team’s umpire, and the other umpire was from the attacking team.

This umpire later posted that he considered the raised deflection of the ball into the defender to have been deliberate, in which case, in my opinion, there can be no doubt that his decision was correct. (The only two criteria for a ball-body contact offence are not mentioned at all in the opening post – which is correct – because in the circumstances, a foul by the player propelling the ball, they are irrelevant). This is a forcing offence because forcing is still an offence if as a result of the forcing action another Rule is breached (all forcing actions, i.e. any forcing that was previously an offence under the now deleted Rule 9.15, having been declared by the FIH Rules Committee, at the time of the deletion, to be covered by other Rules)

Preface Rules of Hockey 2011-13.

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.

But it is not now a separate stand alone offence. Is that simple and clear? No, not least because the above information is not written into the current rule-book. Any umpire not aware of what was declared as a fact in 2011 is currently left with the false impression that a forcing action cannot be considered an offence. Is this situation because of negligence or incompetence on the part of the FIH Rules Committee? Yes, both, it is usually the case that those who are incompetent also negligent and visa-versa.

The posts to the topic thread in response to the above “Was I right?” illustrate why the current Rule 9.9.  is one of most badly written Rules so far concocted by the FIH Rules Committee.

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.

Clearly the height to which a lifted ball is raised is irrelevant (because no height is mentioned) but the ‘interpretations’ offered in the posts in the topic thread do not recognize that: even the opening poster unnecessarily takes the trouble to point out the height to which the ball was raised.

The Rule Proper is about an intentionally raised hit, but only flicks and scoops are mentioned, in the provided Explanation of Application, as possibly dangerous strokes (these are strokes which by definition raise the ball) – so it seems to be assumed that the Rule means a raised deflection or raised hit from within 5m of an opponent cannot be considered to be dangerous play, (despite the Rule Proper being about raised hits), particularly if a raised hit is or may be supposed to be (however unlikely that is to be the case), an attempted shot at the goal. It has even been stated, following this ‘interpretation’ that Rule 9.9. does not apply at all in the above described circumstances. These idiots don’t get even the simplest and clearest of Rule instructions correct so it can be no surprise that they mangle the published Rule 9.9. because, as it has been written and presented by the FIH Rules Committee, it is neither simple nor clear (and is in addition contradicted in two separate advisory/instruction statements in the UMB)

A deliberate deflection of the ball into the legs of a defender is seen by most of the posters to the topic thread as cause to award a penalty corner (or perhaps even a penalty stroke) if the ball is hit along the ground into the circle in open play (or from a free ball if that is taken from outside the 23m area), but playing the ball directly into the circle from a free ball awarded inside the 23m is prohibited for safety reasons (to prevent a ball bring deflected dangerously into a defender in such circumstances).

We not only have this very badly written Rule, I have touched on only a couple of the many things wrong with it, we have few more, that like it, should not be in the rule-book at all. Readers will no doubt be able to find several other faults with Rule 9.9. There are unsurprisingly a multitude of faults common to the application of it: which are the opposite of common sense.

September 26, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Consistently irrational

Rules of Hockey.
I wrote this article last year and deleted it at the beginning of this year to trim down the number of articles displayed in the blog menu, but I now feel it should be restored as it is (sadly) still relevant and the forum posts which prompted it are still available to read. Besides that, the ridiculous ‘Dangerous Shot on goal’ post, written by Diligent, is still pinned to the head of the Questions for outdoor umpires section of the forum, (a critique of this post by Diligent is presented here :- https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/field-hockey-rules-diligents-tar-baby/ ) and  the FIH Circular I mention in the article (the existence of which most participants will be unaware of) is still extant and still widely ignored – every umpire appears to believe that umpires have a right to compose their own Rule interpretations and call them subjective judgements (the interpretation of the wording of a Rule, which should be a given by the FIH RC and also a matter of common sense and a general consensus of the meanings of words (use of good dictionary), not an individual opinion, is an entirely different thing from the subjective (or objective) judgement of an action – which must be that of an individual umpire. Both the interpretation of Rule and a judgement of actions are required to reach a decision about the legality or illegality of an action during play).

This is the story of foot, foot foot and foot foot foot (and don’t think about anything else). It is also a story of consistency; 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 (I can’t explain it to anyone else), and focus on the first one. (Try to find an umpire who can explain the Free Hit Rules to you, in less than half an hour, so that you believe you fully understand them).

Here is another later sample of the kind of questions that still arise:- http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/fha-within-5m-of-circle.43991/ 

foot-1foot-2foot-3foot-4
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Before considering the questions arising from the ball-foot contact  it is necessary to point out that the situation here above is complicated and confused by an unnecessary Rule, the prohibition on playing a ball directly into the opponent’s circle from a free ball awarded in the opponent’s 23m area. That is, Rule 13.2.f and most of the 5m restrictions, especially those pertaining to the self pass, which arise from it. These should be deleted. Only the requirement that opponents be (or immediately try to get to be) 5m from the ball when a free ball is being awarded and the (now deleted) condition that no free ball awarded for an offence within the area of the hash circle can be taken from within it – but instead just outside of it –  made good sense and should be retained/restored.

If the FIH are really concerned about dangerous play within the circle they should address the issues 1) the raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit – irrespective of intention. 2) the raised shot at the goal (by providing expanded objective criteria which describes a dangerously played ball – and ensuring they are properly applied) 3) the playing of the ball in the opponent’s circle when it is still above shoulder height,- which should be prohibited and 4) by replacing the penalty corner with a power-play within the 23m area (which has been talked about for at least twenty years).

Diligent          “Time to stop having second thoughts.

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

That (turning of what should be, under current Rules, subjective judgements into objective criteria – ball-body contact contact and possession of the ball) reminds me of the advice to prospective Level One Umpires, Diligent wrote in his County Umpires Association Handbook (he is, bewilderingly, a Level one umpire coach) 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 Jan 2007 – May 2015).

“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 (miss-typed) comment was dismissed by Diligent- he ignored it. Diligent has shifted from advising ‘lateral thinking’, to his point of view (in 2009), to not having any second thoughts at all (2016). Both suggestions being patronizing twaddle.

He may also, from habit, have in the more recent posting, continued to conceal 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 any need to resort to a phrase like ‘alters the balance of play’ as a substitute term, when an advantage has been gained by the team of a player who makes a ball-body contact (in other words, no need to continue to change the interpretation of wording of the Rule, so that a player hit with the ball may consistently be penalised even when that player has not committed an offence).

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 under the present prohibition of direct play into the circle from a free ball.

According to the Advantage Rule a penalty should only be applied when a player disadvantages opponents by breaking a Rule i.e. by committing an offence – and is applied when the team offended against have or will get an advantage if allowed to play on, and are permitted to play on rather than awarded a free ball or a penalty corner.

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 as an advantage gained (although possession 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, without possibility of interception, the further two meters into the circle and the defending team would have been awarded a free-ball, i.e. possession. 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 and play had been allowed to continue) to pressure for the ball immediately in a favourable position close to the opponents circle (and be able to play the ball directly into the circle if they regained possession of it), instead of having to contain a free ball awarded to the defending team? (Such judgement is a matter of common sense and anticipating the path the ball will take)

It is a strong possibility that Diligent et al consider any ball-body contact to be not only of advantage to the team of a player hit with the ball but a gain of advantage, that is some additional benefit over and above what they would have had in any event – and also that there is always an advantage gained by the team of the player hit following a ball-body contact (which is nonsense). 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 but perhaps a call of “No offence – play on” would have been helpful to the players.

So we keep going around in circles, no progress has been made in understanding and applying what is now Rule 9.11. (or now Rule 12 Advantage) in more than thirty years – and the next generation are being coached with exactly the same memes “A foot is a foul” “Ball-body contact always gains an unfair advantage”- except that these things aren’t necessarily so – in fact, according to the present criteria for offence, a ball-foot contact will very seldom be an offence – but it will currently be penalised as if it is always so.

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 and reasonable application of the wording of the Rule and the provided Explanation of application.

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See the extremely wide, description of a meme and meme source.      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

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The FIH HRB were so fed up with the constant unnecessary penalising of particularly ball-foot contact (which generally followed a forcing offence that was not penalised), 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 the instruction that a ball-body contact should be called as 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 – the existing meme was too powerful to break – and still is.

A couple of years later the Hockey Rules Board gave up; “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 and ‘voluntarily’ was later substituted in. Diligent’s, fairly typical (but incredible, and irrational) response to that (as an umpire coach) was put on record in a county umpiring handbook “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.” the memes which had been evolved, won – and hockey is poorer for it.

Rules can be no better or more useful than the people who apply them. The above coaching, of newly qualified and candidate umpires, instructs them to ignore the wording in the rule-book (not to think about it) and instead to imitate what other umpires are doing (which assumed, no doubt accurately, that other umpires were/are also ignoring or ‘reinterpreting’ the FIH RC provided wording), but whichever way you ‘cut it’ ‘accidentally’ cannot mean or be the same as ‘deliberately’, no matter what happens to the balance of play.

The gains benefit saga which began in 2007 and eventually took us, in 2016, back to the way the Rule was in 2004, in a newly destroyed rule-book (there followed several years of replacing instruction which was deleted in the 2004 rewrite), is similar; a story of flagrant disregard for the instructions given to National Umpiring Associations in FIH Executive Circulars, which set out Rules and procedures to be followed, that history does not bear repeating here – it’s a long and near incredible tale.

This FIH Circular tells its own story (Consider why was it thought necessary to issue this instruction).

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 – there can be no others.

The personnel of the FIH Hockey Rules Board remained the same in the year after the Committee’s name change, from  the FIH Hockey Rules Board, as in the year before it and the renamed Hockey Rules 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:   the FIH Rules Committee remain the sole authority with this power. Only the FIH EXecutive have the power to veto or approve a Rule or interpretation prior to publication – this power has not been extended to include umpire coaches, or anyone else, after publication of the Rules of Hockey.

(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 memes, 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 that change – and nor for many other changes of far greater significant, made in that year.

Both sides of ‘authority’ are responsible and irresponsible for creating the current mess; umpires for creating memes  (‘conventions’ evolved from their ‘practice’) and the FIH Rules Committee and the Executive for, in some instances, making it necessary for them to do so.

The meme, 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 (a shot from which a goal may be scored) during a penalty corner (it was amended in 2004 to ‘deal’ with ‘suicide runners’that inappropriate tag another meme) and is used in open play only because the FIH RC have failed to provide any other reasonable objective criteria for a dangerously played ball. That particular meme, supported with further Explanation and additional criteria (other distances and heights), might reasonably become part of Rule 9 Conduct of play (which it is not at present), but some other memes are just absurd and those who apply them ridiculous.

The memes:- 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 (neglecting that, even if not dangerous, an intentionally raised hit – which is an illegality – could unfairly disadvantage opponents); 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 separate Forcing Rule); are but seven other memes (two of them in the UMB), that have or have had no support whatsoever in the FIH published Rules of Hockey: they are in fact corruptions or even inventions. There are many others, some extant and some, such as the memes associated with the self-pass (for example, direction of retreat), which fell into disuse (because they were so obviously unfair and/or unworkable) and now begin to fade from memory.

The book of unwritten ‘rules’ (the Book of Hockey Memes) would, if they were written (nearly all are unwritten except as unauthorized opinions in an Internet forum), be a heavy tome – and the memes just keep coming (or getting resurrected and recycled when thought to be ‘dead and buried’). A player recently wrote a comment on one of my old (2011) You Tube videos, that it was a Rule that a high raised ball (a head high shot at the goal in the video he was commenting about), could not be dangerous because made from beyond 5m.

That is not so, even the suggested format of this supposed/invented Rule is absurd. There is no distance or height limit stipulated for legitimate evasive action, but that is now obviously not good enough . 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 at present be considered to be dangerous play – which does not logically suggest that a ball raised at an opponent from beyond 5m is legitimate play ) . The FIH RC 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 memes of this sort evolving. But LEA should now also go the way of the dodo; it is near useless as a criterion for a dangerously played ball, because it is a subjective judgement which is frequently impossible to be certain about: suitable objective criteria need to be put in place.

Not all objective criteria are suitable. Cannot possibly be dangerous play if raised at another player from, say 5.5m ? What?  That is worse than the rubbish ”a shot at goal cannot be dangerous play if ‘on target’ ” – which was (that meme should now be dead) basically a permit to ‘target’ defending players with a raised shot and expect them to be penalised if hit with the ball – which contrasts starkly, as a safety attitude, with the irritating restrictions on a free ball awarded in the opponent’s 23m area.

 

September 23, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Memes not Rules

I have come to realize (at last) that we have Memes of Hockey, there are now no Rules but there is behaviour which, at some long ago time, was once based on written and published Rules. Newly introduced Rules are rapidly subverted and become Memes.

What are Memes?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

What are Rules?

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/rule

Oddly (and it is put oddly in the Rules of Hockey handbook), imitating another umpire is advised against in both the Rules of Hockey and the FIH Umpire Manager’s Briefing for Tournament Umpires.

Umpiring. Objectives. 1.3.g. natural: an umpire must be themselves, and not imitate another person, at all times.

Copying without reasoning. The use of the words ‘ape’ and ‘mock’ in dictionaries, to describe imitation, is telling.

Ironically, the person who coined the word meme, Richard Dawkins, now appears to be ambivalent about its meaning and use – he would fit right in as a hockey umpiring coach.

 

September 17, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Level Rules

Edited 21st September, 2017 – another video with comment added.

A forum thread about the possibility of introducing different Rules for differing standards of play.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/dangerous-play-at-different-levels.43695/

A couple of moments at the Euros have really brought the complexities around having 1 set of rules for every level of play home to me…

We had Paul Gleghorne making a heroic last-ditch tackle v Germany – noted correctly as downright dangerous by his own team-mates post-game. Today’s first goal from Austria was a perfectly executed overhead smash.

The issues come with lower level games controlled (loosely) by less experienced umpires and/or roped in players – trying to manage players who see this sort of thing and look to emulate it – often recklessly (but, to them, within the rules). And even more dangerously, you get the club u10 hotshots doing the same sort of thing, often with very inexperienced peers around them.

Not criticising either of the players above at all, or the umpires – as there’s nothing to criticise, they are playing by the rules and know the risks. The danger around drag flicks gets most of the attention – and rightfully so – but there’s much more to it than just set pieces

I hate myself for saying this – but is it time for different rules at different levels and/or specific guidance around what constitutes danger (to yourself or to the opposition) at different levels of the game. In advance, I can see myself many flaws in this approach, which I’m sure you’ll all point out. But conversely this brings more danger into the game as we stand…(stands back 🙂 )

I agree with parts of this post but find other parts of it silly. Umpires and players are not in general playing by the Rules of Hockey as written by the FIH Rules Committee and published by the FIH. I also disagree with Diligent’s observation, made in a following post, that the Rules are written with care – a perfectly executed overhead smash shot at the goal would be an impossibility at any level with carefully written Rules  – because it would be illegal.

(That the FIH Executive approved a Rule change that permitted in one step, an above shoulder shot at the goal, when in the previous version of the Rule, even an attempt to play at the ball by a defender, when an above shoulder height shot was going wide of the goal, was penalised with a penalty corner, illustrates a lack of care about observing the supposed emphasis on player safety and is, incidentally, unfair. The penalising of an attempt to defend such a shot was unreasonable, but instead of the FIH Executive requiring that situation to be corrected, they approved the creation of a much worse situation.

This irrationality is similar to the conflict created when the own goal was introduced. It was already prohibited to play the ball directly into the opponent’s circle from a free ball awarded in their 23, area, but the possible dangers from a pass into the circle from a free ball paled in comparison to the wild ‘hit and hope’ which followed the introduction of the own goal – Why didn’t someone on the FIH Rules Committee or the Executive see that that would happen before the own goal idea was approved to become Rule? Thankfully it has since been withdrawn. It is to be hoped that the present remaining unnecessary and pointless restriction on a free-pass awarded within the 23m area will also be withdrawn very soon – along with equally daft restrictions attached to the self-pass).

How would a set of Rules for the level of this match, part of which is shown below, be written? The age range seems to be 40 years and up.
It is also not uncommon for clubs to run ‘badger’ teams a mix of vets and colts with a few players of an age between the two, generally of 3rd or 4th team standard, which are the league levels these teams tend to compete in. What Rules should they play to? Should leagues of different level apply individual league Rules irrespective of the age and standard of the players competing in them?

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No, different Rules for different levels will not work satisfactorily. It can be seen from the above shown incident that the umpire concerned (currently and at the time, subjected to the cascade system of coaching) had no clue how to cope with the supposedly ‘flat field’ of the Rules we now have. A ‘flat Rule field’ which apparently assumes the average player (all Rules applying equally to all players in all hockey played under the auspices of the FIH ) to be of international standard (the defender apparently should have been able to defend himself and he was penalised only because he was not able to do so and therefore a ball-body contact occurred). How would making the Rules more complicated by making them different at different standards of play help an umpire? Not only would there be confusion among players who play at a variety of levels, a young individual could  for example play for school and club and County and in International matches, but how would umpires progress to higher levels with different Rules, after spending some time umpiring to the Rules applied at a lower level?  Should the FIH abolish the present cascade system?

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The abolition of the cascade method of coaching (doing – copying – what other, more senior, umpires are seen to be doing) might, based on what is seen in the above video clip be a very good idea. It could be replaced with clear coaching based on sound principles.

The incident shown above was part of a set issued in Australia, as umpire coaching, under the heading Suicide Runners, (A term that should never have been included in any officially published document but has been written into in the FIH Umpire Manager’s Briefing for Tournament Umpires for many years) I cannot now recall what the decision of the umpire was in this incident (it should obviously have been a free ball to the AUS team) but every time I watch this clip I am disgusted by the cynical appeals from the NED #2, who ran towards the umpire, clearly claiming, with hand signal, that the AUS defender had been hit below the knee with the ball, and from the NED #10 who stood pointing down at the fallen AUS defender apparently claiming that the AUS defender had committed a foul. Both claims were utter nonsense, the ball actually hit the AUS player on the top of his arm near to his shoulder and at the time he was hit he was clearly attempting to use his stick to intercept the shot – therefore not clearly attempting to use his body to do so.That the player who made the flick shot fouled the defender is so obvious that it should not need stating – but there are those who would argue the opposite.

(They argue that a player attempting to use the stick to play the ball while the body is positioned behind the stick is deliberately using the body as a back-up for the stick in case he or she misses the ball and so if hit with the ball, will have offended – such silliness should be disregarded, it is not even rational, as in many situations, including this one, a correct ball stopping technique with the stick demands that the body be positioned behind the stick – and Rules, if they are to be fair, cannot be unreasonable or demand the impossible of a defender.)

“Today’s first goal from Austria was a perfectly executed overhead smash” There is no good reason why the introduction of playing of the ball above shoulder height – which was initially touted as being for the purpose of receiving a high-level pass and controlling it to ground – should not have been restricted to playing of the ball in the areas of the pitch outside the opponent’s circle, and above shoulder play, by attackers in the opponents circle, remain illegal; that would be reasonable and would also indicate a proper concern about player safety.

This is a measure that should be now be immediately introduced, before someone is badly injured or killed by an ‘overhead smash’. It is no good saying that the Rule states that above shoulder play must be carried out in a controlled manner, it may not be and with (oh dear, too late) dire consequences: such shots should not be attempted at all. It is true that it is impossible to remove stupidity by Rule and that even when all above shoulder playing at the ball was prohibited to attacking players, some attackers still made above shoulder height shots (and some umpires allowed them to get away with doing so – see video clip below – awarding a goal, instead of a free ball to the defending team and of course a card to the offender). Presenting the opportunity for reckless (and yes stupid play) by making the above shoulder height shot at goal legal is tantamount to negligence, as well as a failure to honour the promises made at the time the off-side Rule was abolished in 1997.

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The answer to the problem of appropriate Rule application, which is basically one of how to apply the Rules concerning dangerous play, ball-body contact and obstruction is :-

1) To put a realistic emphasis on the safety of players (rather than the imaginary or ‘virtual’ emphasis that now exists and subscribes to the idea, that at the highest levels,  almost no ball will be considered to be dangerously played ) and stop the pretense, the paying of lip service to something which just isn’t happening: there is no emphasis on player safety. There is an emphasis on ‘creating’ ‘spectacular’ hockey and on maximizing opportunities for the scoring of goals, which is pretty much the opposite of an emphasis on safety.

2) As far as is both possible and practical remove the necessity for subjective judgement in the application of the Rules of Hockey. Most, but not all, judgement of intent could be dispensed with. I believe it necessary that the word intentionally be restored to Rule 9.11 – ball body contact – to prevent the penalising of unintentional contacts, especially those which are forced by opponents (which are a bane of the game), but the word (and similar terms, such as ‘deliberately’) could otherwise be absent from the Rules of Hockey.

That the subjective judgement of a dangerously played ball (propelled from beyond 5m of an endangered player) depends on legitimate evasive action, that is entirely depends in turn on the making of another, undefined and undefinable, subjective judgement, is ludicrous. The answer to the problem is the converse of the statement contained within the parenthesis in the previous sentence – a ball will be considered to be dangerously played if it is raised towards an opponent who is within 5m.(Explanation Rule 9.9) Other objective criteria to determine if a ball has or has not been propelled in a dangerous way, are easy to describe. The parameters are various heights, depending on various distances, ball velocity and also (and primarily) whether or not the ball is directed towards another player.

The fact that the set of objective criteria in Rule 9.9. is not at present applied as it should be is not a reason to abandon the use of objective criteria, but the opposite, to change the standard of application and make objective criteria the mainstay of Rule application. Determining whether or not a ball has been dangerously propelled (or lofted to land on a certain point) is usually a difficult or impossible subjective judgement given the present resources for making such judgements, but they would be a relatively easy given the appropriate objective criteria (which would require a rewriting of the Rules). Expanding subjective criteria would, on the other hand, not be helpful at all.

I can hear the howls of anguish and outrage, the protest that subject judgement comes from hard work and long experience. Yes, I agree – but that is one of the greatest problems of basing the application of Rules on subjective judgements, the need for experience, preferably long experience. Good judgement comes from long experience, but that experience comes at a cost, that of many bad judgements which are learned from – and many umpires don’t improve with experience anyway, they learn nothing from their bad judgements, largely because they are not informed that they are bad or will not believe it when they are told (generally because they are able to point to repetition of similar examples of decisions from senior umpires who are hailed as “highly respected”).

The umpire who made the penalty corner decision in incident shown in the first video clip may above have been told after the match by the defenders, what an arsehole he was to do so, but it is unlikely that an umpire coach had a talk with him or that he would have learned anything from the making of that mistake (and who anyway is coaching the umpire coaches?).

Did either of the senior umpires (they briefly conferred and confirmed with signal) learn anything from the appalling decision shown in the video below? I doubt it, but it is easy to see where the umpire in the first incident shown above could have picked up his umpiring ‘skills’ and even why he could have thought himself to have been correct despite any criticism he might have received from the players.

It is not the standard of play that should dictate the application of Rule. The published Rules should be based almost entirely on objective criteria rather than the subjective judgements of individuals – which are in fact often not subjective judgements at all, but based on, often absurd, coached objective criteria which are invented ‘out of thin air’ by the coaches themselves. Such an invention was, the now discredited idea, that an on target shot at the goal could not be dangerous play, which, bizarrely, depended entirely on the objective criterion ‘on-target’ to ‘trump’ all other considerations (including player safety).

That absurd notion (‘born’ in 2008) might explain the umpiring seen in the first and third video clips above, in matches which took place in 2010 or 2011, but it did not then and does not now square with the FIH declared emphasis on player safety which is set out – without a number – on the first page of the rule-book (and is therefore overlooked or ignored?).

The initial poster states that the danger around the drag-flick gets most of the attention. Does it? I think that is an illusion or wishful thinking. Aside from stipulating that a penalty-stroke cannot be taken using a drag-flick it is not possible to learn of the existence of the drag-flick from a reading of the current Rules of Hockey, it is not even defined in Terminology, and not  mentioned at all in relation to possible or potentially dangerous play. These facts put the supposed ‘attention to dangerous play’, the emphasis on player safety and the notion of carefully written Rules into perspective: a more apt description of this attention and emphasis would be wilful negligence.

We have not yet got one acceptable and workable set of Rules, forget varied multiple sets, that is the road to chaos.

 


 

September 8, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Physical contact, impeding.

Leaving aside the Rules concerning the use of the stick, there are three Rules which in varying degrees prohibit physical contact. The first is clear, severe and comprehensive; it might even be described as extreme – but to protect ball and stick skills it needs to be; there must be an absolute prohibition of physical contact and the achievement of that cannot depend on the intent of any player making such contact because the recognition of intent depends on the subjective judgement of individuals, which has proved in other areas of Rule to be, to say the least, unreliable (and often irrational and/or irresponsible)

9.3 Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other players or their sticks or clothing.

The second-

9.4 Players must not intimidate or impede another player.

The second Rule 9.4, first prohibits intimidation. I penalised a player for this offence in a match about twenty-five years ago but it was the first and only time I ever did so (in the first few minutes of the match he deliberately undercut the ball ‘on the fly’ past the head of a ball-chasing player who was attempting to close him down, when the closing player was still more than 5m from him). I have never seen or heard of any other umpire penalising this offence. I think intimidation and potentially dangerous play are closely linked and I don’t know why the drag-flick shot directed at head height at an opponent – or directly at an out-runner, during a penalty corner, is not often penalised as deliberate intimidation (which it frequently is) and a card awarded to the offender – but determining intent is of course a problem.

Impeding might be described as getting in the way or path of a player to prevent them moving in the direction they wish to. It should be considered to be distinct from third-party obstruction, which is about preventing a player from moving on a path where they would otherwise have been able to intercept the ball or challenge a teammate of the obstructing player for possession of the ball: third party must relate to the position of the ball in relation to the obstructed player, but the ball need not be within his or her playing distance at the moment of the offence.

Impeding is not often penalised as it usually occurs away from the ball and it is generally missed by officials – it is common during planned attacking penalty corner routines, to block defending out-runners, and goalkeepers are often subjected to it in all phases of play. I have penalised an attacking player for barging into a goalkeeper while a team-mate of the attacker, on the right flank, was in the act of making a pass into the circle. The action of the central attacker was contrary to both Rule 9.3 and Rule 9.4: the position of the ball and who had possession of it, were irrelevant. It is however not necessary to make contact with a player in order to impede that player, what is sometimes called shadow-marking may be sufficient for this offence to occur.

The impeding described in this Rule cannot (unless there is physical contact caused by the tackler) reasonably relate to the tackling of an opponent for the ball, because a tackler will almost always impede the progress of an opponent in possession of the ball, to and with the ball, while making a tackle for the ball, especially if the tackle is successful

 

The third physical contact Rule, 9.13  is not only badly written it is completely unnecessary as the included body contact action is covered by Rule 9.3. The Explanation with it could have been attached to Rule 9.3.

9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact.

Reckless play, such as sliding tackles and other overly physical challenges by field players, which take an opponent to ground and which have the potential to cause injury should attract appropriate match and personal penalties.

Why do I declare Rule 9.13 to be badly written?

Read it. What is it about? Is it tackling, positioning or body (body to body or body to stick) contact?

Can a tackler always know – unless intentionally making body contact (and we need to avoid adding ‘intentionally’ to any Rule in which the use of it as a criterion can reasonably be avoided because of the difficulties associated with determining intent) – that he or she is in a position where contact will or will not be made if a tackle attempt is made? In other words can a tackler, who is within playing distance of the ball, always predict how a ball holder will react when a tackler is about to make a tackle, that is how the ball holder will move, as or if a tackle attempt is made? Clearly not. The ‘position’ requirement and the knowledge it assumes are therefore unreasonable.

I dislike this Rule because of its emphasis on penalising a tackler, when tackling is possibly the most difficult skill in the game, and because it is used as an excuse not to penalise obstruction by a player in possession of the ball, which in turn ‘dumbs-down’ the skills required to hold possession of the ball. A player attempting a tackle is in fact often penalised for physical contact that has been caused by actions of the player in possession – leading into, backing into, moving bodily into – by various means including spin-turns. Here is an example:-

The GER player is compelled, in order to avoid body contact, to move out of the path of the NED player who has turned to position between the GER player and the ball and is moving bodily into him – two of the criteria for an obstruction offence. I have no doubt that if the GER player had held his ground, as he was entitled to do, instead of backing off to avoid a collision, the umpire (who was blind to the obstruction that occurred) would have penalised the tackler for a contact offence – a contact caused entirely by the actions of the ball holder. The GER player was obviously aware of that possibility.

An alternative wording for Rule 9.13 could be suggested, but that is unnecessary because this Rule is unnecessary: Rule 9.13 is redundant, as well as perversely slanted, and it should be deleted.

 

September 6, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Doublespeak and dissemination of ignorance.

Video and comment added 27th September 2017

This thread on fieldhockeyforum contains some very strange opinions about what happened (interpretation of the action) and what the correct decision should have been (application of the Rules) following the incident shown in the first video below.

That the match umpire should have decided that the BEL defender was guilty of an obstruction offence was odd, but perhaps understandable given his position and the speed of the action, which he could see only once. but there was no excuse for those with access to video replay – including the video umpire – to repeat his mistake.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/crabbing-or-shielding.19582/#post-302924

CardHappy is a senior umpire and an umpire coach and it is disappointing to see a normally sensible person writing the following ‘half-baked’ nonsense in an online hockey forum.

CardHappy. That was not obstruction. The onus is on the defender to get in a position to be able to play the ball without body contact. The attacker did not back into the defender they were moving into space and the defender could have avoided body contact.

Deegum: Under what rule do you penalise deliberately running into a player?

And this is the problem. You don’t penalise someone for this. It is the outcome that you penalise eg. Obstruction, 3rd Party Obstruction, Danger etc. Unless it is specifically written in the rule book.

For the player in possession of the ball to be penalised for obstruction in this video he would have had to have gone into the player who was already in position. This was not the case as you can see the defender was moving across towards the intended path of the attacker. If the defender had stayed still no body contact would have occurred. Of course no defender would do this and he tried to get the ball but ran into the attacker’s path. It is very easy for an inexperienced umpire to award a free hit to the player that looked like they came off worse in a tackle.. luckily the umpires involved were not inexperienced.

CardHappy, Jan 27, 2014

 

 

CardHappy. “That was not obstruction. The onus is on the defender to get in a position to be able to play the ball without body contact. The attacker did not back into the defender they were moving into space and the defender could have avoided body contact“.

There was an obstruction offence by the ENG player, who moved bodily into the BEL player (a criterion of obstruction as well as a physical contact offence) while the BEL player was attempting to play at the ball – that he did not back into the BEL player is beside the point.

There is no onus on a defender to get into a position to play the ball without body contact (that is long deleted, 2004, ‘Rule Interpretation’, written in 1993) The relevant Rule, 9.13. states that a tackle must not be attempted from a position where physical contact will result. i.e. where the physical contact is caused by the action of making a tackle attempt – which is a significantly different wording.The tackle attempt was not the prime cause of the contact between the two players – leading the ball while shielding it, was. Here is an example of play where the supposed onus on the defender to position where a tackle attempt can be made without contact is an impossibility – the defender was forced (an offence by the attacker) to back away to avoid contact. The Rules cannot demand impossibilities.

 

 

In the first incident shown above the physical contact was caused by the player in possession of the ball charging into the tackler as the tackler played the ball. There is no obligation (onus) on any player to get out of the path of an opponent who charges into that player while he is legitimately attempting to play at the ball, as the BEL player was. The BEL player, despite the attempted ball-shielding by the ENG player, actually had his stick in contact with the ball when he was barged over by the ENG player. 

The second post from CardHappy is arguably more mistaken than the initial one

“And this is the problem. You don’t penalise someone for this (running into another player). It is the outcome that you penalise eg. Obstruction, 3rd Party Obstruction, Danger etc. Unless it is specifically written in the rule book.”

Moving bodily into another player is specifically prohibited by more than one Rule; almost anyone else making the above comment in a forum post would have been ridiculed – and rightly so. Too much ‘respect’ has been given to CardHappy’s opinion on this point (redumpire , a TD, who should know better, later endorses his post). It appears that forum members look first to see who made a particular comment when deciding whether or not to disagree with it and often don’t even bother to properly read what is written, especially when it is posted by one of the ‘accepted’ individuals. (I am not one of ‘the accepted’ on this Internet hockey forum, I have in fact been banned from it since 2009, for disagreeing with Rule interpretations some other contributors and moderators tried to force me to agree with: much of the time I was a contributing member my posted opinions were confined in the Sin Bin).

For the player in possession of the ball to be penalised for obstruction in this video he would have had to have gone into the player who was already in position.

That statement is utter nonsense, it mixes a criterion for a physical contact offence with that for obstruction. Obstruction relates to positioning to prevent or delay an opponent playing at the ball – which is exactly what the ENG player did, the physical contact was incidental, but also a criterion for obstruction in ball-shielding situations while in possession of the ball – moving bodily into – the ENG player, in possession, caused contact by moving into the path of the BEL tackler while pivoting about the ball in order to block him and shield the ball from him.

This was not the case as you can see the defender was moving across towards the intended path of the attacker.

It is not an offence for a tackler to move towards or across the intended path of an opponent who is in possession of the ball – it is an offence for a player in possession of the ball (as the ENG player was) to move to position between an opponent and the ball when the opponent is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it: as the BEL player was

If the defender had stayed still no body contact would have occurred.

True, but had the player in possession of the ball stayed still (or not turned to shield the ball while leading it) no body contact would have occurred.

Of course no defender would do this and he tried to get the ball but ran into the attacker’s path.

Nonsence – see rebuttal above.

It is very easy for an inexperienced umpire to award a free hit to the player that looked like they came off worse in a tackle.. luckily the umpires involved were not inexperienced.

The only thing ‘lucky’ about this ‘experienced’ umpiring is that they (video umpire included) had the luck to get away with the decision to award a penalty corner for Obstruction by the BEL player – penalising an offence that did not occur. Both should have received ‘a roasting’ from the TD or the umpire manager after the match, but I doubt that happened.

 

I now turn to the remarks made by the commentators, Simon Mason in particular. Immediately the initial penalty corner decision was made and the BEL team asked for a video referral. Simon Mason speculated about what the question put to the video umpire would be.

“The question here I think will be; Was Mantel carrying the ball in a position where he actually manufactured the foul by carrying the ball behind his right foot with his body forward? “ (of the ball?). Mason observed that the ENG player Mantel was ‘carrying’ the ball to the rear of his right foot and that he was leading the ball with his body when the collision occurred, but he began ‘off track’, making an assumption that there was an offence by the BEL player (because the umpire did so?), an offence that the ENG player ‘manufactured’. Why would a ‘manufactured’ offence be penalised by a competent umpire?

The word obstruction very rarely passes the lips of any match commentator these days; they seem unable to accept the existence of Rule 9.12. but frequently mix a physical contact offence with an obstruction offence when there is physical contact and call it obstruction. Obstruction is ‘the invisible gorilla’ for umpires and commentators.  Mason gave a reasonable description of the seen actions – leading the ball with the body while ‘carrying’ it to the rear of the feet – which are in themselves obstructive actions (illegal shielding) when an opponent within playing distance of the ball is prevented or delayed from playing directly at it because it is fully (usually forcing a ‘go around’ or a ‘stop and hold position’ action) or partially shielded from him by the player in possession of it.(On this occasion the tackler was given no opportunity to ‘go around’ or to stop to avoid contact)

The rest of the relevant commentary, given after the question has been put to the video umpire, is broken, as the commentators interrupted their own thoughts.

“As Mantel drives right …….the BEL player is saying that Mantel actually pushed him…..I think from this angle…….Mantel is allowed to carry the ball there,…. there is nothing wrong there,… he is just crabbing through space”.

Had Mantel been moving with the ball out in front of his feet and the BEL player had run into him while attempting a tackle, there would have been a breach of Rule 9.13. by the BEL player (and/or a breach of Rule 9.3 or 9.4 physical contact, impeding) – not an obstruction offence. As it was the ENG player Mantel, was ‘crabbing’, as Mason states, with the ball to the rear of his feet and while attempting to shield it from the BEL player with his body – an obstruction offence. “There is nothing wrong there; Mantel is allowed to carry the ball there; he is just crabbing through space” is wrong and similar to the “there is nothing wrong with the carry position” comment that Mason made about the obstructive actions of Carla Rebecchi in an ARG v ENG women’s match at around the same time as the above men’s match.

https://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U&sq=everything+wrong

Simon Mason knows what obstruction is, but it seems that he will now not accept that it is of itself an offence – without any physical contact occurring.

 

It is now necessary to consider the Rules knowledge of the players, who as participants, are obliged to know the Rules of the game they are playing. Knowing the Rules and asking umpires (also participants) to apply the Rules as they are given in the published rule-book would put players into frequent conflict with umpires, and in fact players respond to game incidents in the way that umpires, by means of previous decisions – ‘practice’ – have trained them to. This is called ‘player expectation’ by umpires and is used as an excuse to continue with the developed practices (of uncertain origin) umpire coaches have imposed on both umpires and players. ‘Umpiring practice’ is generally an ever expanding subversion of the published Rules of Hockey – invention is as rife as denial.The reader will be familiar with many of the inventions so there is no need to repeat them here – and reinforce them.

It was claimed by the second commentator that Mantel had successfully ‘won’ a penalty corner and that that was what is had intended to do. Certainly he tried to hit the leg of the first defender he encountered by raising the ball at him from close range (player expectation that a player hit with the ball will be penalised), but missed, the ball then went beyond his playing reach and he had to accelerate to catch it. As he controlled the ball he pulled it back and turned clockwise pivoting about the ball so that he was the opponent’s goal-side of it, this action shielded the ball from the rapidly approaching BEL defender who was intent on making a tackle and also led to physical contact between Manel’s leg/hip and the BEL defender – which knocked the reaching BEL defender/tackler off his feet.

It is telling that in the incident above that the players seemed unaware of the meaning of the signal that the umpire made after awarding the penalty corner and assumed that the penalty was awarded for physical contact  (or that physical contact was the same thing as obstruction) – subsequently claiming that the ENG player had pushed the defender rather than the other way around. To claim that their player had first been obstructed (as he was) did not occur to them, possibly because ball shielding is not presently considered by players to be an offence, which is undoubtedly due to the fact umpires very seldom penalise it unless it is combined with a physical contact offence. Players now automatically shield the ball when they get into any sort of contested situation (they are actually coached to do so) and would be astonished to be penalised for taking this action.

A player who receives the ball in a shielding position is obliged to move away from opponents to put and keep the ball beyond the reach of a tackler – and may then turn and use stick-work and footwork to evade a marking opponent who is drawn into a tackle attempt. Turning into an opponent and moving bodily into an opponent are both specifically forbidden actions.

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We have a widespread dissemination of ignorance of the Obstruction Rule which is propagated by umpiring practice (player expectation) and by the doublespeak posts made to internet hockey fora which are similar to some of those made in the forum topic thread referred to above.

The lack of interest shown in getting dangerous play decisions correct is scandalous, and interest is deliberately kept low by moderators who prematurely close discussions or threaten to Sin Bin or ban those who persist in asking questions about dangerous play – particularly about the dangerously played ball.  Threads about obstruction are also given very short shift and no reasonable explanation for the present ‘interpretations’ is forthcoming. Could anyone explain why the GER player, in the third incident in the above video clip, was not penalised for shielding the ball while moving bodily into opponents and causing physical contact?

(Some might even think the one of the defenders guilty of a physical contact offence just because physical contact occurred and these people cannot conceive that a player in possession is the guilty party, not one making a tackle attempt – but defenders are not obliged to disappear out of the path of a ball holder who is moving into them while shielding the ball; on the contrary they have been offended against.)

Seeing play of this sort go unpenalised, in other words umpiring of this sort, does incredible damage to the understanding and application of the Rules because players and umpires of below international standard assume it is correct (and imitate it) because of the level of the umpire concerned. Indeed the fact that it occurs at international level is used as an argument that it is (must be) correct – even when it is dead wrong.


 

 

 

 

To be continued….

Comments from the match commentators.

September 3, 2017

Field hockey Rules: Positioning between an opponent and the ball.

Second goal for Netherlands in Women’s Euro Nations Final 2017 Belgium v Netherlands

Obstruction. Rule 9.12 Explanation (part)

Originally (1993) this was part of Rule Interpretation which was framed to instruct a receiver of the ball to move away with the ball from opponents (or pass it away)  immediately it had been controlled.

Current wording

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.

Clarification.

A player with the ball is NOT PERMITTED to move to position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

any directiondoes NOT include a direction of movement which will cause obstructive positioning – such positioning is specifically excluded – “except“.

The BEL #2 player was obstructed and a free ball should have been awarded to the BEL team for this offence.

August 13, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Vast Majority Consensus

I want to make some observations about consensus, ‘vast majorities’, and social norms and I believe the best way to ‘set the stage’ is to relay comment made about an incident shown in one of the video clips I posted on YouTube; my reply to that comment and the ensuing discussion, because Michael Magolien, the umpire who made the initial comment, then supported it with arguments which have previously been refuted many times over, in forum posts and in this blog (with no effect, except possibly ‘entrenchment’. There are a couple individuals who have told me in forum posts they hold the views they do only because those views oppose my views – which makes them sad cases really). Michael admits during our exchange (below) that he contradicts his own beliefs (he agrees with mine) when applying Rule “as others are doing” or (the same thing) as he has been instructed to do, but will nonetheless continue to umpire in the same way.

The above video opens with an umpire erroneously penalising a defender who has had the ball raised into his legs from within 5m. The umpire even says, (as an afterthought, when he began to reflect on his decision, while talking to the video umpire) “although it was raised” (betraying Rule knowledge that conflicted with his penalising the player hit with the ball).

During this first incident the commentators were prattling on about ‘great skill’ because the ESP player who raised the ball, ran a few meters with it in control on his stick, with his head up – and intended to hit the MAL player when he raised the ball at him with a flick. Running with the ball in control on the stick with the head up (holding the ball in peripheral vision) is an exercise of novice level. It’s not possible to play hockey well without this skill, so no player who does not possess it to a high degree has earned the right to be playing hockey at international level. Intentionally raising the ball at an opponent from close range is not a legitimate skill, it is an offence (commentators appear to be required to forget any Rule knowledge they may once have had)

Incidentally, illegal raising of the ball towards another player has nothing at all to do with the criteria for an over-height first hit-shot made during a penalty corner – i.e. knee height or above (penalising for dangerous play only when the ball is raised towards a close opponent, at or above knee height, is a ‘convention’ which is a result of ‘herding’ – a meme) there is no minimum limit for “raised towards” in the Explanation provided with Rule 9.9., which is the relevant Rule in open play.

The video incident Michael Margolien made comment about is the last one in the clip, in which the other umpire makes a similar decision, awarding a penalty corner against a ESP player who has had the ball intentionally raised into his legs by a MAL player, from very close range. Both umpires might  have made different decisions if the ball had been raised to above knee height (and it is only ‘might’ there are plenty of examples of players being hit with a ball raised significantly above knee height from within 5m and being penalised for failing to avoid being hit, even when evasion was not possible), but there is no reason in the Rules of Hockey to differentiate between a ball that has been raised at knee height or above from one that has been raised into the shin of an opponent.

(The statement in the Umpire Managers’ Briefing  – for FIH Umpires at Tournament level – that a ball raised to below half shin-pad height (20cms ??) in a controlled way is not dangerous, has been in the briefing for a number of years. The FIH Rules Committee have declined to incorporate that statement into the Rules of Hockey, specifically the Explanation of application given with Rule 9.9., so it is not a criteria in any Rule. But a player into whom the ball has been raised at below knee height – even if significantly above half-shin-pad height – is likely, as we see here, to be penalised, even if the contact was intentionally forced by an opponent. Other recent articles in this web-blog contain videos examples of intentional, above knee height contact forcing, resulting in penalty against the player hit – fortunately this has not become common unless the incident could have been a shot at the goal and the umpire a disciple of weird inventions).

   https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/field-hockey-rules-misapplication/

 

Michal Margolien 3 weeks ago
The defender should be responsible for their feet (last section of the video), especially since there was an attacker right behind them.

Reply

ZigZagHockey 3 weeks ago

You are saying that if a defender fails to defend a forcing offence (yes forcing is still an offence if ‘other Rules‘ are contravened) and is hit with the ball then the defender should be penalised. That cannot be so, it is illogical. The attacker was in clear contravention of what is given in Explanation of application to Rule 9.9.; that is the attacker committed a dangerous play offence – and it looks to me as if he did so deliberately.
I must add that if it is considered that a defender is obliged to defend his feet and legs (which should not in any case be ‘attacked’ with the ball), then the player in possession of the ball is obliged, by the same reasoning, to have the skill to make a pass without hitting his opponent with the ball. It is unreasonable and unfair to demand a difficult skill from a defender but not to require basic competence from an attacker who is in possession of the ball.

I neglected to point out in that reply, that only a few minutes previously, the MAL players had demonstrated that they possessed the skills necessary to avoid playing the ball into opponent’s legs, when they wanted to avoid doing so – and to instead play hockey (which was very attractive – spectacular).

I have often commented that if a ‘practice’ is not in the Rule book it is not a Rule, but a half-way situation was created by the Rules Committee in 2011. The ‘deletion’ of the forcing Rule was not a deletion at all, but a ‘bait and switch’- the FIH Rules Committee stated, in the Preface of the 2011 Rules of Hockey, when commenting on the ‘deletion’, that all actions of this sort can be covered by other Rules, so in effect there are still a number of forcing Rules (not just one as previously), but they are not referred to as forcing offences and the Forcing Rule Proper has disappeared. This is not a ‘simplification and clarification’ – especially as not all actions which could previously have been penalised as ‘forcing’ under the Rules of Hockey in 2010, can be penalised under any other current Rule – it is a mystification, obscurantism. There is no forcing Rule in the Rules of Hockey but (most) forcing actions are still an offence.

Those not aware there was a forcing Rule in 2010, which has been transferred to “other Rules” since 2011, have no means of knowing, from the 2017 Rules of Hockey, that all forcing actions are offences: the fact cannot be verified without reference to a rule-book that is more than six years old, and by then establishing that no other relevant changes to the Rules have been made since 2011. The idea of carrying forward, from previous versions of the Rules of Hockey, information that has been deleted at some point, isn’t viewed very favorably by most participants – even when the deletions – carried out, it is always claimed, with simplification and clarification in mind, have resulted in some very oddly written Rules and bizarre interpretation and practice.

Reply
Michal Margolien 3 weeks ago

I do understand your reasoning and I like it 🙂 However, this is how hockey umpiring is interpreted and umpired these days and is being consistently blown (aka players expect it).

Reply

ZigZagHockey 3 weeks ago

Michal, I would prefer that you offered argument against my reasoning other than declaring ‘that is how it is interpreted these days”. why do we have bizarre interpretation; that is interpretation that does not logically interpret the wording given in the Rule and Explanation of Application? Convince me to change my mind, give me reason to do so.

Reply

Michal Margolien 2 weeks ago
I’m not trying to convince you to change your mind because I agree with your reasoning! 🙂 But on the pitch I will be consistent with other umpires and will blow it as an offence.

Reply

ZigZagHockey 2 weeks ago
What is the point of consistency when it is incorrect, when what you are penalising is not an offence by the player you penalise but by the opponent? Why be consistently wrong?

I made little progress as an umpire for two reasons. I was forty-seven years old before I joined an Umpiring Association, although I had been umpiring since the time I was at school. That was because during the period I was playing, umpiring and playing at the same time was actively discouraged to avoid conflict of interest if an umpire could be appointed to officiate in the same league in which he or she was playing – which was daft because such conflicts should have been easily avoided by an appointments official (now that officials use computers they are avoided). But also because I absolutely refused to make decisions that were contrary to the Rules of Hockey just because other umpires were doing so.

I also did not make decisions based on what players expected, for the same reason – after all ‘player expectation‘ is shaped and conditioned by the decisions umpires have previously made. Using ‘player expectation‘ as a reason for making a decision is therefore circular reasoning and not a valid excuse for not applying the Rules correctly.

It has always annoyed or amused me to hear the fatuous excuse ‘player expectation’, as it has usually come from those who frequently and loudly declare that players do not know the Rules of Hockey. Okay, that may be so, but how can players know the Rules of Hockey if umpires are applying something else? They can only learn what is in the rule-book and then become aware that this is not adhered to.

I don’t regret not being a high flying umpire, I made the choice to play on into my early fifties – and enjoyed playing, and I was in any case asked to officiate in many high level games, which I think I did without disgracing myself or annoying players more than they deserved.

Reply

Michal Margolien 2 weeks ago
I very much agree with you!

Reply

ZigZagHockey 2 weeks ago
Okay Michal, I don’t want to see a ‘train crash’ of your umpiring career but, you cannot agree with me and in good conscience continue dong what you know to be incorrect. What are you going to do about that?

I suggest you talk about Rule application to other umpires,‘ especially the ones who are officiating with you during the season. Best of luck.

Reply

Michal Margolien 2 weeks ago
Martin, well I guess that this discussion should be with the HRB and not between the two of us 🙂

As long as this is the vast majority consensus interpretation with the HRB, umpire managers, umpires and the hockey world in general, this issue is not that important to me in my life to fight for it but I cross my fingers for you.

Reply

ZigZagHockey 2 weeks ago

I see the FIH Rules Committee (no longer called the HRB), who write the Rules, as opposed to what has been created by umpires’ managers and hence by umpires. But it seems they too prefer a quite life and sorting out the differences is not important to them.
Disappointing.

And there the conversation ended. I need to insert two more videos (both posted on YouTube in 2011) and describe a match incident which will illustrate points related to the above conversation. The first video:-

The above incident was discussed at length on a hockey forum and the consensus (with no dissenters) was that the umpire blundered. There is clearly no intent to use the foot, advantage gained was not in the Rules at the time (but applied as if it was  – which was the result of bullying by a single individual FIH official and not at all a majority decision), but there is clearly no advantage gained by the defending team, so there was no offence and a corner should have been awarded, not a penalty-corner. Just as obviously (even though this would be relevant only if there has been an offence – so not relevant in this instance) the attacking team were not disadvantaged because of the contact. Had the umpire concerned previously been in a forum discussion about a similar incident there can be little doubt that he too would have said during that discussion that the award of a penalty corner was incorrect and a corner correct. So what is going on when these kinds of decisions are made, why do umpires make decisions they know to be incorrect?

Such decisions are not uncommon. I recall another, in an international match involving the Argentinean Women’s team (against Germany I think), where the ARG goalkeeper kicked the ball into the back of the legs of an ARG defender positioned within 1m of the base-line. (Had the ball not hit the defender it would have gone to another ARG player, positioned wide, near the edge of the circle and the base-line.) After hitting the defender the ball spun on the ground and then trickled out of play over the base-line; no attacker got close enough to take advantage of the loose ball (but not much effort was made to get to it as all the players expected a penalty-corner to be awarded). A penalty corner was awarded. I believe that if the umpire concerned saw that incident in a game officiated by someone else, and thought about it, her view would have been that the award of a penalty-corner was not correct. Even if she had *(bizarrely) considered the ball-leg contact to have been an offence, there would have been no reason to award anything other than a corner, because the opposing team were not disadvantaged by the contact (they in fact gained advantage because of it – correctly a corner should have been awarded and the award of that corner would have been an advantage to the attacking team in the circumstances i.e compared with what would probably have happened if the defender had not been hit with the ball ).

* The award of a penalty-corner when a goalkeeper kicks the ball into the back of the legs of one of her own team is a bizarre decision. The player hit never intends to be hit with the ball and it is extremely unlikely that there will be any advantage gained by the defending team – the only other criteria for offence – quite the contrary, so what possible offence could there be? I have video clips of this happening in four different matches and on each occasion the umpire awarded a penalty corner, instead of, correctly, there being no significant injury to the player hit, allowing play to continue.  When the player hit is injured, then what? A bully is probably the fairest decision – there will be a no fault stoppage. I can see these assertions, particularly the last one, causing apoplexy in certain quarters, but I make them nonetheless, because unless an attempted clearance kick by a goalkeeper is dangerous to another player and also disadvantages the opposing team, there is no reason for the umpire to intervene.

A problem seems to be that umpires at the highest levels are receiving very simplistic coaching aimed at producing consistent decisions (which are supposed to be subjective rather than objective decisions, but cannot be subjective because of the nature of the instructions given). What the top umpires are doing is then cascaded to other levels – but a cascade is not a suitable method of passing down what are supposed to be subjective (i.e. personal judgements)  based on two criteria – intent or advantage gained – which both require judgements to be made. Simplistic coaching, based largely on a meme such as “a defender’s foot contact in the circle is an offence for which a penalty corner must be awarded” and “a ball-body contact will be of advantage to the team of the player making it.” does not make allowance for the exceptions, the numerous instances where a ball-foot or ball-body contact in fact disadvantages the team of the player who made it – and is not by any criterion an offence.

A simple instruction, which possibly fits in many cases, becomes, when blindly followed, a cause of blunder. The only hope is that a blunder will be pointed out immediately by an umpire coach or TD (but too late for the team that suffered because of it) and the umpire will learn from the experience and do better next time. Too often however a blunder is ‘whitewashed’ or denied and the decision endorsed and the mistake is repeated – and possibly even pointed to as an example of good practice – maybe in a hockey forum.(Some of the decisions and the ‘Interpretations’ explaining them, posted as umpire coaching on Dartfish.com, fall into this category of mistake. Obstruction 3 and Obstruction 6 for example.  http://www.dartfish.tv/Player?CR=p38316c12660m320006)

Without very similar specific experiences to draw on the umpire needs to take time to reflect (not difficult if the ball has gone dead, but there is anyway generally no great rush required when considering whether or not to award a penalty-corner – blow the whistle to stop the game and then think!) and decide if an exception to a general instruction would be correct. This is referred to, in the physiological and social sciences, as using System 2 (slower deliberation and reflection) rather than System 1, (where the decision is made ‘automatically’ and is more reaction and reflex than it is thinking – the decision is made before there has been sufficient time allowed for conscious though – such responses are generally more useful to well trained players reacting to events in play, such as avoiding or stopping a raised ball, rather than to umpires making Rule decisions based on those same actions).

To illustrate this kind of automatic thinking, here is a question from a physiological experiment, which has become the kind of thing asked on some job and college application forms to test the ability of applicants to think clearly (logically). It is not difficult to arrive at the correct answer if the information given (by analogy the Rules of Hockey) is taken note of, in fact it is a very easy problem, but unless candidates have seen it before, the majority, especially when under time pressure, give a wrong answer.

A child’s bat and ball cost a total of £1. 10p.    The bat costs £1.00 more than the ball.     How much does the ball cost?

Now that you have been primed to take care you should have little problem arriving at the correct answer. (allow yourself three minutes, System 2, even if your initial answer occurred to you in less than three seconds, System 1 – and you believe it to be correct). You can if you wish post your answer as a comment. A solution is provided at the bottom of this page.

I embedded written comment in the second video, below, when I posted it back in 2011. It is one of the most outrageous examples of an umpire following player expectation I have seen (but others come close to it). At the time the match was played (2010 World Cup) the intentional forcing of a ball-body contact was still a stand alone offence – and there can be no doubt about the intent of the ENG player. Why would any umpire reward such a blatant breech of a Rule , by an attacker, with a penalty-corner? The umpire who was officiating at that end of the pitch did so. (This particular breech, by the way, because the ball was not raised, contravened no other Rule except the now deleted Forcing Rule). I believe that the vast majority of umpires would say, if asked, that the umpire blundered – given time to think it over, he probably would himself.

The second video:-

I have not used many examples but I believe that the vast majority of umpires (and even those directly involved) would not – on reflection – have awarded a penalty corner in any of the above instances. I don’t think that the vast majority consensus is as Michael has portrayed it to be. How many senior umpires disagree with the instructions they are given, but, as he does, carry them out anyway, so that they can continue to be appointed to umpire at a high level – and to ‘progress’? Probably the vast majority. The cascade system and social or peer pressure to conform to “what others are doing” that it produces, will also hide the fact that the vast majority of club umpires don’t have a clue why they are being pushed in a direction that makes no sense at all, but this apparently is not important enough to them, for sufficient of them, to want to try to do anything about it.

There is hope; the seemingly unassailable Soviet Union and its Communist government collapsed with astonishing speed when the majority of its citizens realized that they despised the style of living that was imposed on them by this system – and that they could do something about that, even if it was very hard to do so – impossible is nothing.

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A child’s bat and ball cost a total of £1. 10p.    The bat costs £1.00 more than the ball.     How much does the ball cost?

The response generally given almost immediately, the reflex or intuitive answer (gut feeling) is that the ball costs 10p., but a closer examination of the given costs, starting with the fact statement that the bat costs £1.00 more than the ball shows that to be an error.

Solution.

if it is assumed that the ball costs 10p and it is given that the bat costs £1.00 more than the ball, then the bat costs £1.10 – but £1.10. is given as the total cost of both together – and a ball price of 10p would give a total of £1.20.

It should now be obvious that the cost of the ball is 5p – that the bat costs £1.05 (£1.00 more than the ball) and then the total is £1.10. which matches the initial fact statement.

The solution can be arrived at by constructing an algebraic equation, by substitution (which was used to demonstrate) or by trial and error, but whichever is used it will take more time to arrive at a solution than a ‘gut reaction’, unless you happen to be very used to doing maths problems and can work out the answer in the same way that you ‘work out’ what 2 + 2 comes to (‘working out’ is here deeply embedded knowledge – learning – together with long experience, or simply memory)

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It has to be pointed out however that if an umpire makes a decision based on remembering what he or she did the last time there was a ball-body contact (or worse, follows a decision another umpire made in a previous match) it is very unlikely (impossible) that a subjective decision has been made. Every incident of ball-body contact is unique and requires a separate subjective judgement to be made, this judgement must be based on the actual actions seen in relation to the criteria for offence provided in the Rules of Hockey.

 

 

 

August 7, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Pictures and words

Edited 11th August 2017

It is most peculiar how something which is just an oft repeated personal opinion (which, in my view, is mistaken) becomes something “we” have established.

There is a great deal of academic and scientific interest in ‘precisely nothing’ (an acceptable definition of ‘nothing’ has been avidly sought for years) when all the time all these people had to do was to look at a photograph of a hockey match in progress. But, sadly, a photograph of an incident during a hockey game is not picture of precisely nothing and one can ‘tell’ a great many things from a photograph.

redumpire began dismissing photographic evidence before it became possible to embed video clips into posts (and video clips were always, in his opinion, selected to portray a ‘slant’ – of course they are, but the fact that videos show that a Rule has not been applied in particular incidents, does not mean it usually was properly applied by that umpire – or others – in other similar incidents. An absence of evidence could be said to be precisely nothing. I would be delighted if someone could post a video clip showing an umpire correctly penalising a ball-holder for obstruction, but it has to occur in a videoed match before a video of it can exist).

I prefer the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” It is relatively easy to demonstrate that the wording of Rule, or the interpretation of the wording of a Rule, is being flouted by showing pictures and videos. It is true that a reasonable hypothesize about what happened just prior to and/or just after a photographed moment may have to be made, but that does not mean a silly wild guess is necessary, but that intelligent speculation is required,  and that must be based on experience and what is seen in the picture. In the matter of body contact (which is what the above remark from redumpire was about) and many cases of obstruction, a reasonable deduction can be made from the positions and obvious balances of the players – and any obvious physical contact.

For example, it is obvious from the picture to the left  (by looking at the ball holder’s  feet and knees) in which direction he is moving and where his next step will position him relative to the player trying to make a tackle. It is also obvious that the defender is within playing reach of the ball and is demonstrating an intention to play at it. In fact an obstruction offence (with leg and stick) is already occurring and an umpire need not wait for the ball holder (in this case a forward attacker) to be fully positioned, bodily between the defender and the ball (blocking him off completely) – as he will do, before calling the offence.

This is not just guesswork – like ‘find the ball’ contests usually are – it is deduction. The attacker’s balance dictates his next movement, he cannot next lift his left foot off the ground, he must first place his right foot on the ground, and to do that he needs to complete his step to his right. One could say that the attacker may not be going to move to the right with the ball, he will plant his right foot and then may move (turn) to his left; his stick position indicates this is an easy possibility, he will nonetheless obstruct the defender, already has done so, with the positioning seen in the picture (see Rule Explanation below). Did he reach that position legally? It’s hard to see how he could have done.

All but one of the following pictures shows an incident of obstruction, none of them were penalised and none of the original captions to the photographs mentioned obstruction , that would be very ‘old fashioned’.

The right side picture in the middle of the page above, shows an obstructing player (in red) who has not prevented a tackle, the ball has been knocked away from him by the defender. but he will no doubt continue to obstruct the tackler and may regain possession of the ball while doing so.

In the picture bottom right the CAN attacker makes contact with the BRA defender, with an elbow to her face and a hip to her arm, when turning into her just outside the circle: It might as well have been a soccer match for all the notice taken, by the CAN player, of the Rules concerning obstruction and physical contact. The aim of making hockey similar to soccer has been achieved, but no good will come of it.

Interpretation of the actions seen in the above photographs must be slanted to convey what is seen.

And now the wording of the Rule and an interpretation of the Explanation of Application provided in the rule-book, or rule-apt.

[I see that the recently released apt is going to be updated automatically – that is very worrying; the ‘glanced at once’ rule-book in an umpire’s bag had the merit of not changing after he or she had skimmed it. The days when the Rules Committee – the HRB – met once a year to discuss changes to the Rules were very frustrating because the process of change was so slow, but the possibility that the Rules may be ‘updated’ (reinterpreted) almost weekly, gives the impression of a lack of forward planning and proper consideration for the consequences of any previous change (to interpretation not to Rule), that may be made, (there is still a procedure for Rule change which must be observed). The ability to ‘update’ interpretation at any time facilitates Double-think and Doublespeak].

The present Obstruction 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.


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.

The Rule does not tell us what obstruction is. So here is a common sense definition:-

Obstruction is illegally preventing an opponent playing at the ball when, but for the illegal action, that opponent would have been able to play at it.

The Rule then outlines the illegal actions that cause obstruction to occur

– back into an opponent. This means that a player while in possession of the ball cannot back into the playing reach of an opponent who is demonstrating an intent to play at the ball – that is illegal (see explanation below).

physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent.  Besides Rule 9.13, which prohibits illegal (contact) tackling, there are two other Rules (9.3 and 9.4) which forbid any physical contact with an opponent, so it is fairly safe to assume that this prohibition refers to physical contact by a player in possession of the ball,  by for example, backing into physical contact with an opponent, thus causing an obstruction, or obliging an opponent to give way to avoid physical contact, again an obstruction, because that prevents the opponent making a tackle attempt. These two points were at one time emphasized in the instruction/guidance about what a player, who received the ball, then could and could not do ( or previously, was obliged to do) – nowadays that is not very clear.


A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction. This has been badly put. What is a fact and what is meant is that a player when receiving the ball may be facing in any direction, because, when a player is receiving and controlling the ball, the Obstruction Rule is suspended, it does not apply to this player.

It does not matter whether the receiving player is stationary or is moving at the time the ball is received. ”Stationary player” is a remnant of a previous version of Rule Guidance which pointed out that a receiving player could not obstruct even if stationary when receiving the ball. This needed to be pointed out, because prior to this change a receiving player would be obliged, if closely marked, to make a lead run to get sufficiently far away from a marker (beyond his or her playing reach) to receive the ball without being immediately penalised for obstruction as the ball was received. (This guidance was later ‘misread’ to create the invention that a stationary player could not be guilty of obstruction when in possession of the ball – the opposite of what the Rule Guidance indicated).

The ‘new interpretation’, introduced after 1992/3, which was in fact not a different interpretation of obstruction (what constituted obstruction did not change – and still has not changed) but an exception to the Rule: it relieved a player receiving the ball from the task of creating the space previously necessary to do so. (There was a lot of talk immediately after the introduction of the ‘new interpretation’ (the exception) of a receiving player being used as a high pivot in the style of basketball or soccer, immediately ‘bouncing’ the ball back to supporting and overlapping attackers – no one envisaged the static blocking or backing into the opponent’s circle while shielding the ball, that now takes place – it was simply inconceivable. It should still be seen as an unacceptable action i.e. considered contrary to Rule – but generally isn’t)

What a receiving player had to do once the ball was received and controlled (a very brief time in high level hockey) was previously set out, but like A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction, what was previously known as Rule Guidance has been ‘simplified’ (but not clarified), so that it is no longer understood, and is also unrecognizable as a reconstruction of the previous Rule Guidance (rewriting for simplification and clarification should not change the meaning and original purpose of an interpretation, it should do what it says, make the existing interpretation clear by expressing it more simply)

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent.   Originally this clause began Having received the ball the receiver must pass the ball away or must move away in any direction except bodily into an opponent. ”Away” meaning the ball had to be passed away immediately or the receiver had to immediately move, to put and keep the ball beyond the playing reach of opponents, (or evade any opponent who was chasing the ball, using stick-work and footwork skills, but without shielding the ball while doing so). Umpires were advised to watch for players who stand still and shield the ball when under pressure (so much for the impossibility of obstructing if stationary when in possession). Shielding a ball along a line and turning into an opponent were other listed actions to be watched for.

The fact that a player in possession of the ball cannot shield it with stick or body to obstruct an opponent, means that a receiver, having controlled the ball, should still move away at once to take the ball beyond the playing reach of any competing opponent.  But the current  ”is permitted to move off” does not convey anything of the sort (the ‘clarification’, in a two step process, going via may move away ‘muddied’ what had originally been a clear instruction must move away. Compare “is permitted to move off” with “must move away” Is the first (the current Explanation) a simplification and clarification of the second (the original Guidance) ? Do they mean the same thing?. No and no.

In 2009 there was a clarification of the first criteria given above  back into an opponent. The wording or (move) into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it. was added to give the current clause. This made it clear that it is a position between the ball and an opponent that must not be moved into (and that physical contact is therefore not necessary for there to be an obstruction offence). In other words (to repeat) a player cannot legally back or turn into a position between the ball and his or her opponent i.e. into the playing reach of an opponent – nor of course can a player in possession of the ball legally remain, while either moving or stationary and while shielding the ball, in a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intent to play at the ball. (Demonstrating an intent to play at the ball is superior wording from a previous version of Guidance, which I have borrowed for this article to explain the Rule as it now is – this phrase ought to be restored to give clarity to the Rule as the phase ‘attempting to tackle’ is used as an excuse not to apply the Rule when a tackle attempt has illegally been made impossible).

Moving the ball from side to side or slow ‘weaving’ of the body while dribbling to maintain a shielding position is non compliant if the ball is still within the playing reach of an opponent, but cannot be played at, because it is shielded from that opponent with either stick or body. That is if the direct path to the ball for an opponent is obstructed by a ball holder and that prevents an opponent, who is trying to play at the ball from doing so, there is a breach of the Obstruction Rule. Not a lot of people know that, as Eric and Ernie (the comedians, Morcombe and Wise, famous in the UK) used to say.

The last clause:- 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.

is very close to the entire Obstruction Rule as it was written before the 1950’s. It unfortunately mixes and muddles third-party obstruction and obstruction by a tackler – which were all that were considered at the time – with, the currently more prevalent obstruction by a player in possession of the ball, so it needs some clarification. Re-positioning of the word also helps, as does extending the list of scenarios in which obstructions occur. 

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 may also be third party or shadow obstruction). This applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges) during a shootout, when a penalty corner is being being taken or when a tackle attempt is made.

But more work is needed on the above clause; third-party obstruction probably needs a separate clause, as does obstructive tackling.(i have written a separate article with suggestion for a rewrite of the Obstruction Rule

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/field-hockey-rulebook-rewrite-rule-9-12-obstruction/

There are only two forms of body obstruction (1) running between an opponent and the ball to block the opponent’s path to the ball. This is often carried out as a forehand tackle, generally from behind and from the opponent’s left or as a ‘third-party’ blocking action (from any direction) to allow a team-mate to take possession of the ball, or (2) the more recent development, rarely seen prior to 1993; an ongoing ball shielding action, maintained to prevent an opponent attempting a legal tackle. Form (1) is generally well umpired (although there were some startling exceptions during the Rio Olympics). Form (2) is generally ignored, sometimes even when combined with physical contact. When there is physical contact during an obstructing action is is generally the defender who is penalised – even when entirely innocent (like the innocence of the stationary BRA defender in the picture commented about above).

It’s a very simple Rule – so simple that it is difficult to avoid repetition when explaining it being carried out by a player who is in possession of the ball.  If a player is compelled to ‘go around’ (or try to go around) an opponent in possession of the ball, or an otherwise path blocking opponent not in possession of the ball, (a third party), in order to attempt to play at the ball, that player is obstructed – if, but for the blocking/shielding action, he or she would have been able to play at the ball.

It has become a complicated Rule because there is an inexplicable reluctance to apply it and all sorts of ‘reasons’ are invented to avoid doing so e.g. “too difficult”, “players do not expect to be penalised” (circular reasoning), “everybody umpires this way” or “this is what I have been told to do” (both of which are a ‘cop out’ when a subjective judgement is called for), “not attempting to play at the ball” or “not in a position to play at the ball”, (when either or both actions – 1)  attempting a tackle, without making physical contact and 2) positioning to tackle – have illegally been made impossible by the prior actions of the obstructing player.

(In much the same way excuses are found for not applying the Rules concerning dangerous play, particularly a dangerously played ball).

Instead of there being an onus on players not to obstruct opponents, which is what an Obstruction Rule is (or should be) about, there is now, apparently, an obligation on an obstructed player to become unobstructed (to go around). That is analogous to the notion that a player defending the goal causes danger, by positioning or has the responsibility to have the skill to defend him or her self, if the ball is raised at him or her by an opponent – gobbledygook and switching of responsibility in both Rules.

 

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August 2, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: The Good Old Days 4

Rules of Hockey 1959-60 

10 General Details. These were the Rules of what we now refer to as 9 Conduct of Play.  I have not bothered about the technical descriptions of field, stick, goal etc. and not concerned myself with the offside Rule (which I would not want to see restored). There is a great deal of necessary guidance and information missing from this version, but some of the Rules, particularly those relating to ball-body contact, advantage and obstruction, contain good sense, which is missing from the modern Rules.

Strange as it may seem I preferred a game in which opponents were not likely to be swinging a stick-head towards my ears and I never have understood why hockey players make a ‘golf swing’ to hit a hockey ball – it’s unnecessary and often, because it takes so long, counter-productive, as well as potentially dangerous – and although there is a Rule prohibiting dangerous use of the stick, I recall many an occasion in which it was not applied when it should have been, even when swings at the ball were made at above shoulder level, long before any playing of a ball at above shoulder height was permitted.

I have attempted to place the Notes to each Rule immediately beneath each Rule, in the manner adopted after 1995, rather than as a block on the page opposite to the page on which the Rule was set out, as it was the practice prior to 1995. Photocopies of the original pages have been placed at the end of the article.

10. GENERAL DETAILS

(a) The face of the stick only may be used for playing the ball.
No player shall take part in, nor interfere with, the game unless he has his own stick in his hand.

(b) When striking at, or approaching, the ball, no part of the stick shall be raised above the shoulder, either at the beginning, or at the end of a stroke, in such a way as to be dangerous, intimidating or hampering to an opponent; and the umpire shall penalise a player
who raises his stick in a way likely to lead to these offences.

The Rule did not forbid the raising of the stick above shoulder height when approaching the ball etc. that is just a fallacy that persists. But it imposed penalty if these actions were dangerous, intimidating or hampering to other players. My experience of it was different however; umpires tended to penalise any raising of the stick-head above shoulder height, even when there was no other player who was close enough to be endangered by this action…..

(The fact that a player could be penalised for ‘sticks’ when taking a free ball – when all players were required to be 5 yards from the ball and therefore could not possibly be endangered with a stick swing, conflicts with the instruction not to penalise sticks unless dangerous and if no unfair advantage was gained or no opponent was disadvantaged, but I have not yet seen a version of the Rules of Hockey that was not conflicted in some way and the 1959-60 version contains very few conflicting statements, possibly only this one). 

…….that is acted as if they read only the first part of the Rule sentence and also chose an easy objective judgement over a slightly more difficult subjective one – a theme that runs through much of current hockey umpiring. I never had any difficulty complying with whichever version an umpire was applying. The trick to keeping the stick-swing low is to keep the elbows down and close to the body and to use the wrists and body rotation to whip the stick-head through the ball. A much faster way of hitting a ball, than a long high back-swing, (with usually at least one elbow up level with the head) – and there is no loss of power, particularly when a hit is carried out in combination with a hitch-step.

A ball above the height of a player’s shoulder shall not be played by any part of the stick.

This rule should in my opinion still apply when a player is in the opponent’s circle.

10 (c) The ball shall not be undercut ; nor shall it be played in such a way as is either dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to –dangerous play. The scoop stroke, which raises the ball, is permissible provided that it complies with the foregoing provision of this Rule and except as specially provided in Rule 13 (b). (A Free Hit – It was not permissible to raise a free ball with any stroke except in the women’s’ game, in which a height restricted flick – in those days referred to as a scoop – was permitted)

The ball may be hit whilst it is in the air provided that the player does not contravene paragraph (b) of this Rule.(The raising of any part of the stick above shoulder height in a dangerous way)

GENERAL DETAILS. NOTES ON THE RULES—

10 (c) This Rule is intended to prevent injury to players, and umpires should be very firm in penalising undercutting or scooping the ball in a way dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play.

It is noticeable that there is no definition or description of what constitutes dangerous play or play likely to lead to dangerous play, but it is clear that it involved raising the ball towards another player, particularly with an undercut hit.

A lot of injury has been caused in the last three decades by relying on the subjective judgement of umpires in this area. if attackers shooting at a goal which defenders were defending knew that a height defined high shot at goal, which was also made towards a defender, would always result in penalty against the shooter, for dangerous play, they would find alternative ways of scoring goals, in the same way that penalty corner strikers learned how to hit a low shot in the 1980’s, before the drag-flick was invented to circumvent the Rule restricting ball height from the first hit shot. That the FIH RC have done nothing to control drag flicks and reduce the dangers caused by them, is disgraceful. They should be too embarrassed to proclaim that there is an emphasis on safety, because that is simply untrue.

Where possible, the player should be penalised who, by lifting the ball, leads up to dangerous play, or causes a breach of the Rules by other players, and not the player who, for example, is induced to give sticks through the lifting of the ball by an opponent.

This is an example of the forcing of self defence and the forerunner of the Forcing Rule.

Hitting the ball in the air is not permissible if the stroke is in itself dangerous.

The practice of carrying or bouncing the ball on the stick is disapproved, because it becomes dangerous play, when the player concerned is tackled by an opponent who is thus forced to play the ball in the air. Whenever it is continued to this point, the oflender should be penalised under Rule10 (k) (Misconduct)

A Guidance which should be returned to Advice to Umpires in the rule-book, and written into the UMB (if there is an insistence on publishing this document to compete with the Rules of Hockey – which it does in several ways).

10 (d) The ball shall not be stopped on the ground or in the air intentionally by any part of the body except the hand. If the ball be caught , it shall be released into play immediately. The foot, or leg, may not be used to support the stick in order to resist an opponent 

10 (d) Before penalising a breach under the first sentence of this Rule, the umpire must be satisfied that the player intentionally used some part of his body (other than his hand to stop the ball, either by :-—

(i) moving into the line of the ball, or

(ii) so positioning himself that his intention to stop the ball in such a manner was clear, or

(iii) making no eflort to avoid being hit.

(d) The ball shall not be stopped on the ground or in the air intentionally by any part of the body, except the hand. If the ball be caught, it shall be released into play immediately. The foot, or leg, may not be used to support the stick in order to resist an opponent.

The emphasis on intentional use of the body (which I have highlighted in bold) to stop the ball for there to be an offence is something that should not have been removed from the ball-body contact Rule.

(e) (i) STATIONARY PLAYER ∶ If the ball rebounds from or glances off a player who is stationary and the umpire is satisfied that this was not caused by any intentional use of the body, there is no breach of this Rule however much the ball rebounds or is deflected ; or however great an advantage to the player or to his side is gained thereby.

(ii) MOVING PLAYER : If a moving player is struck by the ball which he cannot avoid and there is no appreciable rebound or deflection the same considerations as in Clause (e) (i) apply.

(iii) MOVING PLAYER ∶ When the ball is hit at a player who is not stationary but who cannot avoid it, there is a breach if the ball is kicked, carried or deflected ; but the umpire should not penalise unless it results in a substantial advantage to the player or his team. If the stroke was, in the umpire’s opinion, dangerous, the striker should be penalised under Rule 10 (c). (Dangerous play)

The above Guidance, with its emphasis on ‘no offence’ without intent, should be included in the current Explanation of Application of Rule 9.11. (and the later forcing Rule, which has been rendered invisible, by attaching it to “other Rules” which do not cover common breaches, should also be restored). The use of the hand to catch the ball was reintroduced briefly in the early 1970’s and then disappeared, but it was still permissible to use the hand in self-defence. That a permit has now also disappeared, leaving evasive action as the only legal means of self defence other than playing the ball with the stick. The fact that umpires rarely (never?) see evasive action as reason to penalise the player who propelled the ball for dangerous play is an indication of the present ’emphasis’ on player safety.

(e) The ball shall not be picked up, kicked, thrown, carried or propelled, in any manner or direction, except with the stick.

This Rule obviously applies only to field-players, because goalkeeper were and are permitted to propel the ball by kicking it; the current Rule could usefully prohibit a goalkeeper from picking the ball up by gripping it in any manner (between stick and kicker for example).

(f) There shall be no hitting, hooking, holding, striking at or interference with the stick of an opponent.

(f) No interference with sticks is permitted.

(g) A player shall not obstruct by running in between an opponent and the ball, nor shall he interpose himself or his stick in any way as an obstruction to an opponent, nor attack from an opponent’s-left unless he touch the ball before he touch the stick or per-son of his opponent. There shall be no charging, kicking, shoving, tripping, striking at, or holding an opponent by any means whatsoever.

(g) Subject to the application of the “advantage” Rule, umpires should be particularly strict on obstruction and the other forms of interference dealt with in this Rule, even If the ball is still being played on the forehand. It should be noted that obstruction does not necessarily depend on the distance of the players concerned from the ball.

A player even if in possession of the ball, may not interpose his body as an obstruction to an opponent. A change of direction by a half-turn of the body with this result may amount to a breach of this Rule. It should be noted, however, that even a complete turn does not constitute a breach unless an opponent has thereby been obstructed in an attempt to play the ball. Obstruction occurs frequently at the roll-in and
should be watched for carefully. The slide tackle used by some goal-keepers often leads to obstruction.

Simple enough, obstruction is any movement of the body which positions it between a opponent and the ball in a way that prevents the opponent playing directly at the ball. If an opponent has to ‘go around’ to get to the ball he or she has been obstructed. I played hockey at a time when this “ It should be noted, however, that even a complete turn does not constitute a breach unless an opponent has thereby been obstructed in an attempt to play the ball”. was ignored, but I rarely had any difficulty with it. I do however  have great difficulty accepting current common practice, players deliberately shielding the ball to prevent a tackle attempt while by-passing an opponent and being allowed to get away with doing so.

(h) A goal-keeper shall be allowed to kick the ball or stop it with any part of his body, but only whilst the ball is inside his own circle. He shall not be penalised if, in stopping a shot at goal, the ball, in the opinion of the umpire, merely rebounds ofi‘ his body. In the event of his taking part in a penalty bully, these privileges shall be denied him ; and he shall not be permitted to remove his pads or any equipment other than his gloves.

This is an area where the older Rules are draconian, a goalkeeper’s task is difficult enough without a goalkeeper being denied the freedom to play the ball in any way that does not endanger other players.

(h) A goal-keeper is not allowed to strike at the ball with his hand, or breast it out with his body. Umpires are disposed to be too lenient towards breaches of the Rules by goal-keepers. The more usual breaches are running between an opponent and the ball when it is about to go behind, opening the legs to let the ball go through when an opponent is within striking distance, and making a wild stroke at the ball when clearing.

The goalkeper must not be allowed further privileges than those given him by this Rule.

(i) If such an incident occurs during a penalty bully, the penalty bully should be played again.

(k) The penalties for rough and dangerous play, or misconduct, should be noted carefully. Persistent breaches of the Rules may suitably be dealt with under this Rule. If rough or dangerous play becomes prevalent, a word of caution to the offender, or offenders, should effectively prevent the game from getting out of hand.

PENALTIES.—Those for breaches of this Rule inside the circle should be noted in conjunction with Rule 18.  (Penalty Bully)

(i) If the ball become lodged in the pads of a goal-keeper, or in the wearing apparel of any player, or umpire, the umpire shall suspend the game and shall restart it by a bully on the spot where the incident occurred (subject to Rule 9 (d) ). (No bully to be played within 5yards of the goal-line)

This ought now be dealt with by the award of a free ball to the opposing side on the 23m line, the present award of a penalty corner is excessive and unfair.

(j) If the ball strike an umpire, it shall remain in play.

(k) Rough, or dangerous, play shall not be permitted, nor any behaviour which, in the opinion of the umpire, amounts to misconduct.

The restoration of a blanket misconduct Rule is open to abuse but nonetheless I believe it is something that needs to be restored.

(k) The penalties for rough and dangerous play, or misconduct, should be noted carefully. Persistent breaches of
the Rules may suitably be dealt with under this Rule. If rough or dangerous play becomes prevalent, a word of caution to the offender, or offenders, should effectively prevent the game from getting out of hand.

PENALTIES.—Those for breaches of this Rule inside the circle should be noted in conjunction with Rule 18.  (Penalty Bully)

I have often been accused of wanting to take hockey back to the early 1990’s, that is true in part, untrue in other parts, there is quite a bit from the 1950’s I would like to see restored – The first part of 10 (d) for example and all of the Notes to it. – and much of that was in place by the late 1930’s – but I would not want all of the Rules extant in 1960, and thirty years beyond that, to be imposed again. it is however quite surprising that people of that time were able to come out of their caves and could write and could even construct reasonable Rules for a game – but of course people have not lived in caves and have been writing and making Rules of one sort or another, not just for a few decades, but for thousands of years. (There is not much evidence that the peoples of Europe ever actually lived in caves – too cold – but it is a fact that they painted the walls of many and they probably used such caves for ceremonial purposes).

There is no evidence that people were less perceptive or less intelligent or less practical, two hundred years ago than they are now – indeed there is good evidence that people are now flooded with so much information that they ‘screen’ most of it out of their consciousness, even information which is necessary and useful to them does not ‘register’ as it should and is not learned. People commonly  ‘switch off’ part way through a sentence they are supposedly reading, unable to cope with anything that contains commas or contains more than about a dozen words – and who remembers what television programs they watched only two or three days previously or what emails they have read in the past week? About 99% of the communication we are exposed to is simply discarded. We do need to be selective about what is deliberately retained, but is any selection taking place when ill-remembered  or misread forum gossip is regarded as the “latest Rule interpretation” and is applied as if Rule?

.

The above paragraph was prescient, this article appeared in my in-box the following day:-

https://blog.ashampoo.com/en/2017-08-02/are-we-outsourcing-our-brain?utm_source=ashampoo&utm_medium=automail&utm_content=are-we-outsourcing-our-brain&utm_campaign=blog

Here is a paragraph from it.  (my bold)

Ask psychologists and you will hear that repetition and frequent use strengthen your memory. After all, it’s use it or lose it. Do we only need our long-term memory in times of power outages or bad Internet connectivity? Certainly not! Our knowledge and ability to judge hinges on the information permanently available in our minds, not on Google’s search results.[…] The brain wants to be challenged.

(I would say ‘needs’ rather than ‘wants’ – I find myself revising the text of almost everything I read, it has become a habit. For example, the word ‘only’ in the above quoted paragraph is, in my view, misplaced; it should be positioned after the word ‘memory’.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I constantly amend what I have written, certainly in the days immediately following publication, but often weeks or even months later, and even then I am rarely satisfied with the resulting article).

 


August 2, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: The Good Old Days 3

The potted history does not contain much information for those who are not familiar with the Rules (or do not have the appropriate rule-books) for/at the times the various changes were made. I can recall some of the changes made after 1957 and can add to the notes below (I now struggle to remember what I did last week or where exactly I left a cup of tea or my glasses a few minutes ago).

…but there are some items which still have relevance to the modern game.

In 1938 any form of interference with sticks was prohibited and
in the same year the intentional use of any part of the body, except
the hand, to stop the ball was forbidden.

Prior to 1938 it was permitted to hook the stick of an opponent to prevent that opponent playing the ball. Nowadays such an action would cause outrage and a yellow card would certainly be awarded to the culprit. Stick obstruction still causes irritation or anger.

Use of the body to stop the ball was a permitted part of the game, and even after 1938 use of the hand was permitted. Use of the hand was later banned, except in self defence. The self-defence exception was certainly in the Rules of Hockey up until 2004. I don’t know why it was deleted, leaving evasive action as the only recourse in cases of endangerment. I recall a period in the early 1970’s when use of the hand to catch the ball was permitted, provided it was immediately released to drop perpendicularly to ground, i.e. the ball was not propelled in any way. The change must have been difficult for umpires to judge and didn’t last long

15. BEHIND.—If the ball be hit by, or glance off, the person of
a defender over his own goal-line, observe that the decision
must, unless a goal be scored, be one of three:

(1) If unintentionally, from not nearer than his own twenty-
five yards l
ine—a free hit.

(2) Ifs unintentionally, from nearer than his own twenty-
five yard
line—a corner.

(3) If intentionally, from any part of the ground—a penalty
corner.

Note that, in deciding whether an ordinary or a penalty
corner should be awarded, the only point at issue is whether
the “behind” was intentional or not. The fact that, in sending
the ball behind, a defender saves a goal, must not ‘influence
an umpire in his decision.

It is amusing that we have come full circle, and since 2016, a ball played unintentionally over the base-line by a defender now results in a restart free ball on the 23m line. (this is not at all a new or ‘modern’ idea). I wonder what signal umpires used to award such a free ball in 1959 ? It wasn’t the broken windmill (there is no section on umpire signals in the 1959-60 rule-book).

Differentiating between a ball played over the back-line within the 25 yard line and from beyond the 25 yard line (a 16yard hit out being awarded in the latter case  ???) was tried for a period in the early 1980’s and was then abandoned. The third clause is still extant, but I think the award of a penalty corner to be extreme and believe that any playing of the ball over the baseline by a defender, intentionally or not, should result in the award of a free ball on the 23m line, that would be fairer and more appropriate.

August 2, 2017

Field hockey Rules: The Good Old Days 2

Continuation of : – The Constitution and work of the International Hockey Board.

The First step to the Advantage Rule.

The Advantage Rule, which is now Rule 12.1, but also ‘scattered’ elsewhere in the Rules of Hockey is at present greatly misunderstood, particularly when there has been a ball-foot contact.

Unless the ball-foot contact is intentional it cannot be an offence if opponents are able to play on with advantage, because the only other criteria for offence is advantage gained by the team of the player who made the contact. (It is not possible for both teams to gain advantage, one over the other, at the same time, i.e. from a single incident). If there is no intent and play can continue with an advantage to the opposing team the umpire is not applying the Advantage Rule if he or she allows play to continue, there is simply no reason to intervene because there has been no offence, there being no advantage gained by the team of the player who made the contact.  Where there is no offence the Advantage Rule cannot be applied i.e. an advantage allowed to the opposing team, play just continues.

That might seem counter-intuitive but sometimes logic does appear to be that way to those who are not familiar with it. If any and all ball body contact was an offence (which is how many umpires treat such incidents) then allowing opponents to play on if they gain an advantage following a ball-body contact by an opposing player would be a logical application of the Advantage Rule. The fact that advantage gained is a criteria for a ball-body contact offence can cause correct application of the Advantage Rule to appear odd (illogical) when it is not. What is illogical is seeing any and all ball-body contact as an offence when that is clearly not the case.

Here is an example of illogical application of the Advantage Rule. ‘Gains benefit’ was being applied at the date of this match even though it should not have been – the clause pertaining to it having been deleted some years previously (in 2007).

Neither of the ball-foot contacts seen in the two incidents was a offence, both being entirely accidental (and unavoidable) – and there was no advantage gained by the MAL team from either contact; quite the contrary, in the second incident, the opponents obtained an advantage (which the umpire acknowledged), as the ball was slowed and deflected directly to a ESP player following the MAl player’s leg contact.

The errors in the second incident were 1) considering any ball-body contact to be an offence 2) the impossibility of simultaneous advantage being allowed to both teams (the MAL team did not gain an advantage) – causing 3) misapplication of the Advantage Rule. The error in the first incident was penalising an unintentional ball body contact and/or seeing a benefit gained when there was none (but that is my opinion, a subjective opinion).

It is telling that despite Rule 9.9. the commentators saw nothing wrong with the deliberate raising of the ball into an opponent, considering it a legitimate skill.

To continue….

The start of the penalising of ball body contact is also mentioned in the ‘potted history’ of Rule changes contained in this Rule book. I’ll come to that ‘potted history’ later.

On ‘potted histories’ I find it annoying and bewildering that there is no accessible archive of the previous versions of the Rules of Hockey, even the FIH web-site provided only a potted history (I am not sure it is still there), there isn’t even access to the Rules of Hockey issued on and since the major rewrites of either 1995 or 2004.

Left handed play

Among the first alterations in the rules was one prohibiting left-handed play, which was explained in the notes as left-handed play in the way of left-handed batting at cricket.

I have no idea how left-handed play was regarded in cricket at the time, but I wonder if it was legal in hockey to play the ball with both sides of the stick-head in the early days. There is no reason to suppose the game was always played using only the a left-side face. Other similar games which became established in the Britain and Ireland in the same period, hurling and shinty, were and are both played with both sides of the stick. There can be no doubt that the clever circumvention of the prohibition on left-side play led to the invention of the short-head stick and to the development of what is known as the ‘Indian dribble’, but the introduction of edge hitting has made a nonsense of the present prohibition on using the right side of the stick-head to play the ball. Allowing the ball to be played with both sides of the stick-head (and restricting edge hitting with a height limit) would now be a safer option and it would make good sense – and it would not lead to the loss of the Indian dribble or a reduction of stick-work skills but to an expansion of them.

I read on a USA website recently that physical contact was at one time permitted in hockey. That is possible, maybe even probable but I had never seen any thing or heard anything about this possibility previously. If physical contact was allowed at one time I think it would have been ruled illegal very soon after 1900 if not some time before that.

Introduction of the Penalty Corner 1908.

At the time any raising of the ball by undercutting it was an offence and, although there was no height limit for a first shot at the goal during a penalty corner, a ball raised with an undercut hit would have (or should have) been penalised.  The ‘tweaking’ of the Rules of the Penalty Corner began almost immediately and it is now, by far, the part of the game with the largest number of Rules and Rule clauses and the one to which the largest number of changes have been made. I believe the introduction of it was a bad mistake because it has always been too dangerous to defending players. It’s long past time it was replaced with a power play within the 23m area: even some international players have called for the abolition of it (Fox and Middleton for example, both England Captains)

August 1, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: The Good Old Days 1

I came across a copy of the Rules of Hockey dated 1959 for sale (at an exorbitant price) on eBay a while ago and could not resist buying it, because I started playing hockey in September of that year and it was the version of the Rules to which I would first have been exposed. The first page lists three Amendments made in 1960, minor adjustments which these days would be called ‘housekeeping’ or clarification, so clearly the Rules for 1960 were considered to be near enough the same as they were for 1959 and it was not felt necessary to go to the expense of reprinting the cover for the year 1960.

The committee that has been, since 2011, called the FIH Rules Committee was then called the International Hockey Board and that was the forerunner of the FIH Hockey Rules Board. In 1990 soon after I became involved in the hockey stick trade, the late George Croft, who was then Hon. Sec. of the HRB pointed out to me (we were both members of Surbiton Hockey Club and saw each other regularly) that all the hockey sticks on sale at the time were heat stamped with a badge claiming that a stick complied with the requirements of the International Hockey Board, a name that had ceased to describe the Rules Committee decades before. Following that conversation I had a stamp manufactured stating that my ZigZag designs complied with the requirements of the Hockey Rules Board. It is ironic, considering the orchestrated furore about the legality of them, that my sticks were the only ones on the market that were correctly stamped, and that they always did comply with the requirements of the Hockey Rules Board, as set out in the Rules of Hockey : and still do.

International hockey in the UK in 1959 and for some years after, meant matches between what are now referred to as the Home Countries. There were no other International matches played in the UK during my school days. Television was in its ‘infancy’, only one of my friends in my street had a television at home in 1957, and computers had not even been imagined, so I did not get much exposure to high level hockey (once a year at Hurlingham). There wasn’t even much football shown on television in those days, not that I would have sat down indoors and watched a match when I was eleven years old, I spent my evenings, weekends and holidays, outside with other kids, running around and  getting my knees dirty. There were trees to climb and bomb-sites to explore.

The British gentlemen would have considered it fair and right and proper that the UK had four votes on the committee and the rest of the world were allowed four after 1957. The ‘foreigners’ were after all playing to different Rules prior to that date and the British were not going to change their ways. We may think of the modern era of hockey as commencing after 1861 with the adoption of a standard ball and pitch, but the modern unified game did not really begin until 1948 or even some years after 1957, the year in which the FIH were granted parity on the Rules Committee. I believe the Rules to which Olympic Tournaments were played prior to 1960 would have been negotiated and agreed for each occasion.

In 1960, what we now know as Rule 9. Conduct of Play, was termed 10 General Details and to these were added Notes on the Rules. I think the wording of some of the General Details and Notes to be better than the wording we now have. I will post Rule 10 along with some other information, which might be interesting to those who would like to know how the Rules originated and developed, in another article. The rule-book, which includes a very brief potted history of Rule changes since 1938, The Rules Governing the International Hockey Board, The Constitution of the Board and some separate notes for the women’s game, contains only 39 pages. It originally sold for one shilling and three pence (15p when there were 240p in a pound) and I have just paid almost £13 for a copy. In the Good Old Days a hockey stick cost £4.50 (a really expensive one was £12) but wages were also very low at the time. 1 started work in 1964 and then earned the princely annual salary of £555. before tax.

August 1, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: The invisible gorilla

 

The experiment in which observers were asked to count the number of passes made by one team in a three-a-side passing/space finding exercise, is well known because someone in a gorilla costume strolls into the game, pauses to face the camera, and then strolls off. More than half of those participating in the original experiment, by carefully counting passes, did not notice ‘the gorillia’ at all. They would not believe what they were told by those who did see it until shown the video again, when they were not involved in counting passes. Subsequent reruns of the experiment involving participants who were not aware of the previous ones produced the same results, even in (more so in) large audiences watching a cinema screen. There are number of these awareness/observation type video. Some ask for focus on a particular type of action shown and then ask “Did you spot (some other incident/object/change) taking place? Others just require observation and ask how many changes to a scene you noticed. The following observation/awareness videos range in difficulty from simple/easy to difficult and/or very complex – and then I have added three video clips of passages of play in hockey matches where focus on a particular aspect was asked for – and comment on the effects of a focused search by a video umpire.

The following video is another version of the ‘invisible gorilla’ but there are two changes made to the set up, not many people spot both of them, although one is quite easy to see. Try it.

The following, deliberately ‘corney’ ‘Who done it?’ play has a large number of changes to the stage set-up. So many that it will probably be necessary to make written note of them as the video is watched, so that if they are spotted, they can be recalled. The butler is holding a rolling pin at the start but is then to be seen holding a candlestick; other changes are just as obvious, but some are subtle.

In contrast, this section of a security video has only one incident of note, a pickpocket ‘at work’. The thief is not easy to spot because there is a lot of distraction and the clip is almost three minutes long. It’s somewhat like noticing a well rehearsed and executed third party obstruction during a penalty corner: not all skills are desirable.

 

The following match incidents led to a question about dangerous play on fieldhockeyforum.com and the participants in the discussion were so focused on whether or not there was a dangerous play offence that they missed several other offences. (The umpire awarded a goal). Count the missed offences.

 

 

This play, from a match between ARG and ENG, led to a video referral by the ARG team, who wanted a penalty corner awarded because of a claimed ball-body contact offence by an ENG player. The video umpire was asked to look for a ball-body contact, similar to observes being asked to count the white team passes in the invisible gorilla ciip, and failed (as did the commentators) to take note of any other offence prior to the claimed contact. (A penalty corner was awarded and the ARG team scored from it. That goal, in the last moments of the match, gave them a draw and secured their place in the World Cup, which they won).

 

 

I wrote a blog article about the incident some time ago.

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/field-hockey-rules-rules-9-11-and-9-12-opposite-approaches-all-and-none/

In another blog article I have previously commented that denying a team, against whom a video referral has been requested, opportunity to put in a counterclaim (which would not take a significant amount of time) unfairly ‘slants’ the video referral process in favour of the first team to request a referral, because it is likely to give rise to the kind of blindness to other events that a focused viewing of an incident can produce. In the above example a video umpire, asked to look for a ball-body contact offence, failed to notice what were very obvious obstruction offences (invisible gorillas). I believe the referral process ought to allow counterclaim for incidents that can be looked for by the video umpire at the same time as the initially referred incident (Video umpire are supposed to take other relevant incidents into account when they make a recommendation but they generally fail to do so).

Here is another case of a focused search by a video umpire, this time for a ball-foot contact. What was missed was more difficult to see  in this case than in the ARG v ENG incident above. There is no evidence that the ball hits the foot or leg of the ENG player after it is squeezed upwards between the sticks of the GER player and the ENG player, but then the GER player contests for the ball without trying to present his stick to it, his stick, was trailing behind him as he leaned on, barged, impeded and obstructed the ENG player. (GER were awarded a free ball) The ENG team could not even ask for a referral because such a request would have interfered with the original referral.

Books in which reference is made to the phenomena of the ‘invisible gorillia’ (and many more interesting ideas besides)

Daniel Kahneman     Thinking, Fast and Slow.
Cass R Sunstein       Simpler, The future of Government.

(Contains good chapters on simplification of rules and also on looking back at previous regulation to see if it still (or ever) fulfilled the intentions of the legislators after they enacted it.

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July 30, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Obstruction, but what kind of.

Rules of Hockey: Obstruction – the wording.

I think there is unsatisfactory wording in the explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule – the Rule Proper is not too bad “Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ballif the meaning of ‘obstruct’ is understood and the word ‘attempting’ is not given a bizarre interpretation (two big ‘ifs’) as will be seen in the videos below.

The problems begin immediately, in the first clause.

Players obstruct if they-

shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with the stick or any part of the body
(My underlining)

(in this instance, unlike the case of ‘legitimate evasive action’, ‘legitimate’ here above, obviously does mean ‘legal’, but probably not ‘genuine’ and clearly not ‘necessary’. ‘Legitimate’ is not a good choice of word for the Rule because it is ambiguous – I leave it out)

Why is the word “from” used? “from a legitimate tackle” It is generally the case that a legitimate (legal) tackle cannot be made or even attempted (Rule 9.13) if the ball is being shielded by a ball-holder from an opponent; so the ball is not being shielded from a legitimate tackle, a legal tackle cannot be made, is in fact being prevented, and illegally so, the ball being shielded with just that purpose.

This is clearer:-

Players obstruct if they:-

shield the ball with the stick or any part of the body to prevent or delay an opponent playing at the ball.

Replacing shield the ball from…” , which makes no sense when combined with the rest of the clause, with shield the ball …..to prevent… , (there is no need to mention a tackle at all, the Rule Proper does not), makes sense of what is supposed to be an Explanation of application of the Rule – which does not at present make sense – and the suggested changes would be sufficient as a repair to enable a basic understanding of the Rule. The word ‘from’ could be retained, if it is felt to be necessary to the syntax, but placed elsewhere

Thus: – Players obstruct if they:- shield the ball with the stick or any part of the body to prevent or delay an opponent from playing at the ball. but the inclusion of from adds nothing to the meaning of the sentence, it simply gives flow to it, making the sentence a little easier to say.

There are also changes to the final clause necessary, to sort out the muddling of obstruction (usually by a player in possession of the ball – obstructive tackling being an exception) with ‘third party’ obstruction.

At present the final clause reads:-

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.

This could usefully be rewritten:-

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 can also be third party or shadow obstruction). This sometimes happens if a player runs across or blocks an opponent (including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges) during a tackle, a shootout or when a penalty corner is being taken.

Oddly third party obstruction is generally well understood and properly penalised, while obstruction by a player in possession of the ball is not. The cause of each of these offences is the same:- preventing an opponent from playing or attempting to play the ball when he or she would otherwise have been able to do so. The only difference is that for a ‘third party’ offence it is not necessary that the player obstructed be within playing distance of the ball at the time of the obstruction. All that is required for ‘third party’ is that but for the obstructive positioning of an opponent the obstructed player would have been able to reach the ball or be in a position to make a challenge for it. For obstruction by a ball holder it is also required that the obstructed player be within playing distance of the ball and but for the obstructive positioning of the ball holder the obstructed player would have been able to play at the ball.

It is denying an opponent the opportunity to play at the ball by illegal positioning between the opponent and the ball that constitutes the offence of obstruction. i.e. preventing an opponent from attempting a legal play at the ball: that is fundamental.

In the video below (which is an outtake from the umpire coaching video) we have an unusual ‘half-way’ situation. The ENG player is not initially in possession of the ball and nor is she a ‘third-party’, she is challenging for the ball. Does she obstruct the USA player? The ‘acid test’ must be “If the ENG player did not turn, as she did, to block off the USA player, would the USA player have been able to reach and play at the ball?” I think the answer to that question is “Yes”, so the USA player was obstructed. It does not matter that the USA player pushes the ball slightly beyond her playing reach before the ENG player imposes her body between the USA player and the ball because she was within playing reach of the ball when obstructed.

 

 

My opinion conflicts with that of Cris Malony, who comments on the incident which is part of a video clip from UmpireHockey.com He suggests in commentary that rather than being obstructed the USA player commits a contact offence (there would obviously be no need to penalise that offence in these circumstances as doing so would severely disadvantage her opponents) I believe that there is no contact offence – at least not by the USA player. The USA player was moving forward; the ENG turned in front of her and then propped with the ball and even moved a little backwards, the USA player was simply unable to avoid running into her but does her best not to. This video was apparently put up to coach umpires how not to make error by penalising for obstruction; when what is really needed is video coaching to enable umpires to recognise obstruction and to encourage them to penalise it when it occurs to the disadvantage of opponents: something that is not happening as much as it should at present.

       https://youtu.be/MnPwIy6VBB4 .com

The shootout incidents, in the umpire coaching video incidents above, are a mixed bag. I see the first of them as obstruction, but the second and third as legal play, because in these latter incidents the ball is not taken into the playing reach of the goalkeeper. These days however the Obstruction Rule seems to be suspended during shootouts; there are several videos on my YouTube channel which illustrate lack of necessary decision, and application (or interpretation) by umpires which does not fit with the wording of the Rule. Here  are two where the attacker commits two offences, obstruction and physical contact (and in the second stick obstruction as well), without penalty against the obstructing player.

.

.

The above incidents are not at all unusual, it is usually declared that the goalkeeper was not trying to play at the ball or was not in a position to play at the ball – without taking account of why that was – prevention by obstruction. In the second one, a penalty stroke was awarded despite the only offences that occurred – initially stepping backwards and into physical contact with an opponent while shielding the ball (three actions, each a criterion for obstruction), and then a fourth, the offence of stick obstruction – being committed by the attacker, not by the goalkeeper.

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July 27, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Intersubjectivity

There are several meanings given to the term intersubjectivity which are outlined in the following Wikipedia article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersubjectivity

It begins.  In its weakest sense, intersubjectivity refers to agreement. There is intersubjectivity between people if they agree on a given set of meanings or a definition of the situation. It has been defined as “the sharing of subjective states by two or more individuals.

There is, for example, agreement among the followers of several religions that humans have a spirit or soul and that there is a heaven, and also a hell, where the soul may be sent for eternity after physical death by a God; although there are many things the same religions do not agree about at all: such as which has the only God. Such agreement is generally referred to within a single religion as a universal or overwhelming consensus (or divine revelation), meaning that the holders of consensus views will dismiss and brush aside as irrelevant, any objection by individuals or even quite large groups of people. (The establishment of Protestantism, the name itself meaning ‘protesting’, is an object lesson in the self-destruction of so called Christians, as in the following centuries Catholics and Protestants, in turn dominant, set about murdering each other as fast as possible, notably in England, Ireland, France and Germany, but in other European countries too.)

There are many historical examples of individual objectors to widespread intersubjectivity (faith) being punished for dissent, even executed for it, as heretics, so the imposition of consensus, which should be a contradiction in terms and an impossibility, was and is very much a reality. Noam Chomsky has much to say about the imposition of consensus as far ‘the media’ and big multi-national corporations are concerned. No-one can be unaware of the outrage of muti-national corporations -banks etc. – over the democratic vote that the UK leave the European Union and how they have worked – with media help – to persuade voters that the result of a majority vote was or is unconstitutional and unfair and that the large minority are being badly treated. We are treated to the hilarious spectacle of one set of politicians accusing another of lying to voters before the referendum – when everyone should know that both sides ’embroidered’ or concealed facts – and are still doing so. The same kind of tactics are being used in the on-going debate about ‘global warming’, this produces total confusion, because there is no accepted authority that can be believed (it is not even clear which bodies are the authorities), with the result that most people distance themselves from all discussion of the subject. Discussion of the dangerously played ball is treated in the same way by those who participate in hockey related activities because the Rule is so subjectively applied that it has become just a matter of personal interpretation or opinion.

One of the best known examples of an imposed consensus is to do with a previous religious doctrine that the earth is the centre of the universe and therefore the sun and stars revolve around it. When Copernicus knew he was near to his death he published his observations and conclusions concerning the revolution of the earth and other planets around the sun, but two hundred years after his death many astronomers still placed the earth at the centre of the universe and insisted the sun traveled around it. One notable exception was another scientist, whose observations supported the views of Copernicus, by the name of Galileo Galilei. Galilei did publish his views and because of them was summoned to appear before the Inquisitors of the Roman Catholic Church and forced to recant. He was then placed in house arrest for the remainder of his life.

I have recently been exposed to an argument based on nothing more than a declared intersubjectvity or a supposed consensus. My life and freedom of movement are not under threat because of it, but my sanity may well be, as fighting against an irrational consensus feels to me much as I imagine arguing with a thickly padded brick wall might feel. This is a battle that has been going on for more than thirty years, and as Galileo was able to write two books during his house arrest, (but was not of course able continue to write and publish his arguments for the concept of a solar system to replace a central earth system), I have some idea how he must have felt. I can publish my comments about the Rules of Hockey and the application of them, but share with Galileo, being cast as a lone dissenter who is fighting what is declared to be a lost battle against the ‘common sense’ of ‘everyone else’.

Except that is not true. Many people agree with much of what I have written and have said so to me. The frustrating thing is, that in spite of that, they still follow what they themselves admit to be a bizarre consensus. The latest example arose from comment (which I have set out below and, more fully, again in a later article) made to this video which I posted to YouTube some months ago. The comment concerns in particular the last incident shown on the video clip. The first incident is very obviously a deliberate foul by the ESP player in possession of the ball. For which he wanted a penalty corner awarded, but was eventually given a free ball as the defender’s feet were outside the circle. The still from the video below shows, the different later incident in the same match, the moment the MAL player (the comment made was about), deliberately lifted the ball over the opponent’s tackle attempt and into his leg. There was no intention to make a pass or any attempt made to take the ball around the defender.

 

Michal Margolien

The defender should be responsible for their feet (last section of the video), especially since there was an attacker right behind them.
·

ZigZagHockey
You are saying that if a defender fails to defend a forcing offence (yes forcing is still an offence if ‘other Rules’ are contravened) and is hit with the ball then the defender should be penalised. That cannot be so, it is illogical. The attacker was in clear contravention of what is given in Explanation of application to Rule 9.9.; that is the attacker committed a dangerous play offence – and it looks to me as if he did so deliberately.

I must add that if it is considered that a defender is obliged to defend his feet and legs (which should not in any case be ‘attacked’ with the ball), then the player in possession of the ball is obliged, by the same reasoning, to have the skill to make a pass without hitting his opponent with the ball. It is unreasonable and unfair to demand a difficult skill from a defender but not to require basic competence from an attacker who is in possession of the ball.
·

Michal Margolien
I do understand your reasoning and I like it 🙂 However, this is how hockey umpiring is interpreted and umpired these days and is being consistently blown (aka players expect it).

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ZigZagHockey
Michal, I would prefer that you offered argument against my reasoning other than declaring “that is how it is interpreted these days”. Why do we have bizarre interpretation; that is interpretation that does not logically interpret the wording given in the Rule and Explanation of Application? Convince me to change my mind, give me reason to do so.

Michal Margolien
As long as this is the vast majority consensus interpretation with the HRB, umpire managers, umpires and the hockey world in general, this issue is not that important to me in my life to fight for it but I cross my fingers for you.

 

ZigZag Hockey.

(part) It has always annoyed or amused me to hear the fatuous excuse ‘player expectation’, as it has usually come from those who frequently and loudly declare that players do not know the Rules of Hockey. Okay, that may be so, but how can players know the Rules of Hockey if umpires are applying something else? They can only learn what is in the rule-book and then become aware that this is not adhered to.

Michael agrees with me, supports my reasoning and wishes me luck, but he does not intend to do anything other than follow the dominant intersubjectivity, so for how long is this “vast majority consensus interpretation” to exist, if it is not, as it should be, challenged by umpires? The Australian international player Simon Orchard recently criticized umpiring practice and although an umpire himself (as I was for over thirty years) was roundly condemned by the very people who should have supported him – other umpires.

There is of course a minority consensus, the one between the FIH Rules Committee and the FIH Executive about what is printed in the Rules of Hockey, but it seems that when it comes to the interpretation of words and the application of the published Rules, there are FIH Committee Members who have opinions concerning ‘common practice’ and other opinions, which conflict with their views about common practice and about the use and understanding of the English language.

In the 16th Century not many people were much bothered about whether the Earth went around the Sun or the Sun around the Earth. They certainly were not prepared to put themselves at risk of imprisonment or death by challenging the consensus imposed by a powerful church. People have not changed much in this regard in the last five hundred years (but religions have been replaced to a large extent by other entities). I just happen to be one of those individuals who would prefer not to have opinion imposed on me and declared by others to be my own (or that it should be my own just because ‘the vast majority’ are said, by a few proponents, to agree with it) – the current arguments about global warming come to mind again – one side shouting “Imminent danger” and “scientific concensus” and the other “Fraudulent manipulation of data”.

I think it essential that an umpire be able to distinguish between an objective and a subjective opinion and be able to make an honest subjective decision (based on evidence and the required criteria for an offence) when required to do so in a hockey match; that is a decision based on the actions seen and a literal interpretation of the wording of the Rules of Hockey, whatever other people may think about that interpretation. But of course most don’t think or make decisions at all, it’s done for them, and the criteria is not subjective, but objective:  the ball hit a leg so that ‘use’ of the body must be penalised without regard for subjective criterion (intention or advantage gained), because that is ‘the interpretation’ and what players expect (an irrelevance based on circular reasoning ). Umpires themselves should rid the game of such clueless application, not connive in the imposition of it.

Since writing this article I have come to consider the wider term ‘meme’ to be a suitable replacement for ‘intersubjectivity’ in the context of the regulation of hockey; see:-

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2017/09/23/field-hockey-rules-meams-not-rules/

 

July 21, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Dangerously played ball change of definition

A reminder from redumpire on fieldhockeyforum that the Rules of Hockey for 2017 -, come into effect in England on 1st August 2017, and that there are some changes.

The change to the definition of a dangerously played ball (the ‘dead horse’) is significant even if it does not at first sight appear to be so.

To ride for a while on another well worn hobby-horse, I am mindful that a change of one word in the ‘Rules Interpretations’ (a section in the back of Rule Books prior to 2004) destroyed the Obstruction Rule after 1994 and was the cause of a dramatic change to the way in which hockey is played, which was not intended at the time (by 2002 there was instruction to umpires in the rule-book towatch for players who stand still and shield the ball when under pressure” – but I get ahead of myself and mention things out of sequence).

The one word change:-
Having received the ball the receiver must move away in any direction except… was changed to Having received the ball the receiver may move away in any direction except …..

That one word change (in effect the biggest change to the Rules of Hockey in the last fifty years) turned an instruction and clear directive into a comment and a choice, and by subsequent interpretation ((sic) now that the door was open to additional interpretations without their being any change to the wording of the Rule Proper), allowed a receiver to remain stationary after having received the ball if he or she choose to do so. (It was then declared by various groups that a player in possession of the ball could not obstruct if stationary – an absurdity). Repeating myself: – by 2002 there was instruction to umpires in the rule-book to “watch for players who stand still and shield the ball when under pressure“, so the HRB were clearly not happy with an ‘interpretation’ that took the opposite approach – but that didn’t make any difference to those who took it: no surprise there.

By 1998 the late George Croft, who was at that time the Hon. Sec. of the Hockey Rules Board, felt obliged to write in the Preface of the 1998 rule-book “Despite what some people think there is still an Obstruction Rule.” The mistake the Hockey Rules Board made was to introduce the change there was to the Obstruction Rule when a player was receiving of the ball (1992) as a new interpretation when it is (it is still extant) in fact a limited exception to the Rule (which applies only when a receiver is in the act of receiving and controlling the ball). That is still the case; what constituted Obstruction in 1993, did so after the rewrites of 1995 and 2004 and still does in 2017. The oft repeated, particularly between 1994 and 2004, “There has been no change to the Rule….“, meant exactly that.

To try to rein in the bolted horse of unauthorized ‘interpretation’, in 2002, at the behest of the HRB, the FIH Executive Committee issued a circular which informed and instructed National Associations that only the HRB could alter a Rule or an Interpretation of a Rule; nobody else, no individual official, no other group, were (or are) permitted to do so. Regrettably that was like shutting the stable door long after the horse was over the horizon, and the horse has never been recaptured (it has bred with other escapees and there are now a herd of these horses running wild). Nowadays it seems as if anybody and everybody can invent an interpretation of any Rule  and declare it to be a subjective opinion they are entitled to have  – and, if they are an umpire or umpire coach, to impose. (The unresolved dichotomy between attempting and preventing a tackle, muddled with the positioning of both the ball holder and the tackler, is a case in point)

The more recent (2004) is permitted to move off in any direction except is not an improvement on (the 1994) may move away The meaning is about the same (off and away have different meanings but the key point here is movement of or with the ball to put or take it beyond the playing reach of opponents), but anyone not familiar with previous Rules could be forgiven for thinking that at some previous date a receiving player was not permitted to move off with the ball – a net-ball rule, which would be an absurdity if ever applied to hockey.

It is the part after except that should now be considered part of the instruction in Rule 9.12, but as it is expressed as an exception and therefore in the negative, this instruction is not as clear as it could be and it is commonly ignored.

Unfortunately the statement following  ‘except’ is not contained in the first ten words of the Explanation of application of Rule 9.12 (although as the latest amended it could reasonably be the first paragraph of it) and few participants appear to read beyond the first sentence presented in the Explanation of application of any Rule or to very quickly ‘switch-off’ and ‘skim’ the wording instead of reading for understanding.

 

Mounting another hobby-horse

 

The change to the definition of a dangerously played ball.

There is no danger of falling asleep while reading the Explanation of application of Rule 9.8, which is the Rule concerning a dangerously played ball. The entire thing is a single short sentence – now comprising only fourteen words, (but to keep learners alert, to encourage endless quarrels, and to be a reason for Rule confusion and ignorance, other Explanation of application concerning a dangerously played ball is scattered about in several other Rules. e.g. Rules 9.9, 9.10, 13.3.k. 13.3.l, etc. – and some parts appear to conflict with others. When it is declared, as it frequently has been over the last twenty years, that this or that change has been made with the aim of simplification and clarification, I feel, in view of the mess that has been created, that those who made (and make) such claims were (are) being more sarcastic or cynical than I could possibly be despite the practice I put in).

 

I describe the change as a welcome one (because it gives an argument against those who insist that there can be no dangerously played ball if evasive action is not taken) but also inadequate, because the statement A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action leaves a basic flaw of the statement in place – which is describing “dangerous which is a subjective judgement, in terms of “legitimate“, which is also a subjective judgement, and moreover one that it is impossible to be certain about.

A second, but smaller flaw, is the use of the ambiguous term ‘legitimate’, but at least this magnificent expansion (the additional word) nods towards the possibility that legitimate evasive action is not the sole determination of a dangerously played ball – something that has been obvious for many years.

Does legitimate in the context mean legal or genuine or necessary (to give some dictionary definitions)? These are neither inclusive or exclusive meanings. Evasion can never be illegal, that is never be contrary to Rule.9.8, but it may be genuine without being necessary, a player may duck a ball moving at high velocity towards his or her position which is deflected or intercepted before reaching that player. Necessary evasive action (necessary to avoid being hit with the ball) will, on the other hand, always be genuine because it is necessary.

Not taking evasive action may not be an illegal choice or not a choice at all, if for example there is inadequate time to react to the ball or it is not seen by the player before he or she is hit with it, or if the player is forced to self defence with his or her stick (possibly because the player is certain, from previous experience, that if he or she evades the ball to avoid injury when a shot at the goal is made, and the ball goes into the goal, a goal will be awarded; not, as should be the case, a free ball awarded to the defending team). I think it reasonable to conclude that legitimate evasive action would more sensibly be described as action necessary to avoid possible injury with the ball – and it would be wise to avoid use of the equivocal term ‘legitimate’.

Is necessary evasive action necessary because the player taking it believes it to be necessary or because an umpire does so ? If it is the umpire who makes this judgement (and that is usually the case because an umpire can overrule the opinion of a player), how does he or she do so? Is the judgement based on the player’s skill level – which is also a subjective judgement, one which requires expert knowledge of the individual players involved (or, an unreasonable assumption, that all players of a certain level will always have the skill needed to safely play any ball propelled at them in any way whatsoever), or is it based on mind-reading? That a player managers to safely play a ball that has been raised in a way that could injure him or her is not a reason to suppose that the ball was not played at that player in a dangerous way. On another occasion the same player could very well be injured by a similarly raised ball.

The forcing of self-defence (with the stick) by the endangered player should also in certain circumstances (related to distance and height) be considered to be dangerous play by the player who propelled the ball.

There is an obvious need for objectivity when describing a dangerously played ball, i.e. objective facts that can be verified by video or measuring instruments or other comparisons; for example:


1) The ball is propelled towards an opponent,

and

2) The ball is propelled at high velocity (something that can be accurately timed over distance) Is the velocity the same or almost the same as that of a ball hit with maximum power.   Is the velocity of the ball likely to result in the injury of anyone hit with it or is there a only a velocity which will result in the ball falling to ground before it has traveled 5m? The umpire, being human like all players, might consider “If a ball hit me at that velocity would it hurt or injure me?”. 

and/or

3) The ball is raised above various given heights (half shin-pad, knee height, elbow height, shoulder height) based on the distance from an opponent from which it is propelled.

and/or

4) The ball is propelled from within various given distances (playing distance, within 5m, within 15m) based on the height to which it is raised.

Evasion is not always required for a ball to be considered dangerously raised; the present Rule 9.9. has for many years stated that a ball raised with a flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5m is dangerous play (there is no minimum height mentioned) without there being any mention of evasive action, but not much notice is taken of this Rule. The cynic in me thinks this laxity reflects the current state of the declared emphasis on player safety.

 

Putting the above objective criterion in place may require a the addition of two or three hundred words to the Explanation of application (which could result in the simplification of other Rules). At the pace the problems concerning the making of ‘dangerously’ judgements are being addressed – one word at a time over a period of (20 +) years (which, as has been shown above, is not always safe practice) – there might be an adequate Rule in place by the year 3000, but there probably will not be, because the problems of using  subjective judgement almost entirely, rather than objective criterion to determine  ‘dangerously’, are not yet being addressed. These problems have not yet even been acknowledged to exist. Even the fact that subjective judgement of a dangerously made shot has, in some instances, been replaced with the objective criteria ‘on target’, has  not been acknowledged to have had impact on the subjectivity of such decisions, when they are clearly not subjective decisions at all.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step – but the right direction is a consideration if the intended destination is to be arrived at. One small step has been taken, but what next, in which direction are we going?

July 15, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Misapplication.

Edit. 20th July 2017 more video added.

World Cup Final 2014.  Sports commentators, perhaps misguided by the notion that if an FIH Umpire applies or fails to apply a Rule in a certain way (using ‘common practice’) then that way must be correct, cause confusion among viewers by lauding a foul by a NED player as if it was proper and a desirable skill.

Below is what the FIH Rules Committee wrote under the heading ‘Rule Changes’ in 2011 in the Rules of Hockey – when ‘forcing’ was deleted as a stand alone offence.

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. (my bold)

(My apologies that above statements, which remain extant, are more than six months ‘old’ and were given in writing in a previous rule-book – and are therefore ‘black and white’ and ‘ancient history’ – unlike the ‘latest interpretations’, stories of unknown origin, which are passed on by word of mouth – it is difficult to think of a more inaccurate form of communication – or in Internet hockey forum, the worse form of cascade).

If an illegal playing action results in penalty in the opposite direction to that which it did (or should have) previously then there has been a fundamental change to the way in which the game is officiated and therefore played i.e a change in its characteristics.

The aim of simplification was achieved, it is simple to always penalise, no matter what the circumstances, a player who makes a ball-body contact: this is what is happening and it is simple-minded.

The words “any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules” can only mean in the context, that any forcing action can and should be penalised using other Rules already in place at the time. But by 2014 ‘the interpretation’ was the opposite, it was always the player forced to ball-body contact who was penalised.

In fact this was also the case prior to 2011, when the forcing (of ball-body contact in particular) was still clearly an offence, by the player doing the forcing. So as far as umpires were concerned there was no fundamental change in 2011, they just kept doing what they had ‘always’ done and misapplied the ball-body contact Rule – often when the forcing action was also clearly dangerous play.

At one time (1992) ‘what umpires had always done’ i.e ignored the written Rule or ‘interpreted’ it in a bizarre way (in a way opposite to the way it was intended to be applied) so infuriated the Rules Committee (at the time called the FIH Hockey Rules Board) that the criterion for a ball-body offence was changed to – both deliberately using the body to stop or deflect the ball and the gaining of an advantage.

That change to the criterion for a ball-body contact offence made no difference whatsoever to the way umpires applied the Rule, they just continued doing exactly as they had done prior to 1992, when the two criteria were –  intentional use of the body or a gain of advantage (and they umpired as if any ball body contact always gave an advantage to the player hit with the ball, which was what led to the change made in 1992. That ‘penalise all’ approach to ball -body contact is familiar to us now, in 2017).

(‘Gaining a benefit’ was deleted in Jan 2007 – without making any difference at all to umpiring practice (Peter von Reth would not allow it to), and only reinstated, as ‘gains an advantage’, in May of 2015, so we have recently completed yet another cycle of the ball-body contact ‘no change to umpiring practice’ merry-go-round.

The most recent development in the forcing and ball-body contact saga has been the introduction (2017) of a ‘drilling’ dangerous play offence in indoor hockey (dangerous forcing using high ball velocity combined with a spin with the ball from a shielding position)- but with no counterpart in the outdoor game – despite a declaration from the FIH that the Rules for the two games will be kept ‘in sync’ as far as is possible.

The action of the NED player in the first video is a ‘shield, spin and drill’ and the defender had very little chance of avoiding the ball-body contact the attacker intended would result. I can’t see what advantage the defending team gained from the ball-leg contact, so I don’t know why the defender was penalised. The match commentators had no doubt that the forcing of the contact was carried out deliberately, they just had no idea that such forcing is supposed to be penalised (as any forcing may be) under “other Rules” – that is no surprise, this action never has been penalised as it should be.

‘Drilling’ following a spin-turn from a ball shielding position developed because ball shielding (obstruction) has not been penalised as it should be since around 1994.

The following video shows an attacker deliberately raising the ball into the legs of a defender from within 1m; the ball then deflecting off the defender to the advantage of the attacker (so the defender could not possibly have gained an advantage because the attacker did, the ball-leg contact was clearly not intended by the defender, so according to the Rules of Hockey the defender did not commit an offence). The attacker declined to play on, the umpire awarded a penalty corner

 

Dangerous play, arising from a dangerously played ball, has not been penalised as it should be since around 2002 (following the publication of The Lifted Ball an umpire coaching document, produced in the previous year). There followed in 2004 a number of Rule deletions and amendments which eventually led to the ‘on target shot’ nonsense.

An blatant example (below) of deliberate forcing by an attacker who preferred to ‘win’ a penalty corner rather than attempt to shoot at the goal even though he was in the circle and goal-side of the defender he fouled. This was combined with what is technically dangerous play (the ball propelled at low velocity so unlikely to cause injury, but contrary to Rule 9.9 as it hit the defender, from within 5m – and also at at above knee height – but that latter point is not a criteria for the offence, the Explanation of application of Rule 9.9. mentions only the raising of the ball towards an opponent, it does not stipulate a minimum height). Penalty corner awarded.

.

Here is another blantant example from the 2014 World Cup Final.


.

The umpire was positioned directly behind the player who was hit with the ball and could have had no idea how high it was raised (it hit the defender on his thigh) but he waved away protest from the NED players. He should however have been aware that the AUS player charged bodily into the NED defender following raising the ball into him. Why the NED players did not go to video referral I don’t know; bitter experience perhaps, but the goal scored against them from the corner must have been more bitter to swallow. What was laughable about this incident was the amount of trouble the umpire went to to ensure that the ball was placed on the base-line before it was inserted, very close to the line was not good enough: an insistence on technical Rule compliance which was at odds with the seriousness of the deliberate dangerous play/forcing Conduct of Play offence he rewarded the AUS team for. The match commentators saw nothing untoward about the AUS player’s forcing action, the physical contact or the award of a penalty corner against the NED team; they expected the award of the penalty corner the AUS player went ‘looking for’.

Rule 9.9. Explanation of application. 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.

There is a lot of confusion between this Explanation of application given with Rule 13.3.l. which is about a first shot at the goal during a penalty corner:-

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.

and what is given as Explanation to Rule 9.9 regarding dangerous play.

In open play, which is subject to Rule 9.9 but not Rule 13.3.l. a ball may not be raised towards (at, into) an opponent within 5m – there is no minimum height given for there to be a dangerous play offence when the ball is so raised. The Umpire Mangers’ Briefing(which is not the Rules of Hockey) states that a ball raised into an opponent, in a controlled way, at below half shin-pad height (20cms?) is not dangerous (this statement conflicts with what is given in Rule 9.9 – such conflicts should not happen)

General practice is to (sometimes) penalise for dangerous play only if the ball is raised into an opponent at or above knee height, but there is no Rule support whatsoever for this practice in open play. The video umpire based her recommendation for a free ball to the AUS team on the ball being played into the AUS defender at knee height. The match commentators were sure a penalty corner would be awarded – so the Rule knowledge of the video umpire was marginally better than that of the commentators, but not correct. There can be no doubt that had the ball been raised into the defender’s shin, rather than into her knee, a penalty corner would have been recommended by the video umpire.

 

 

The fundamental characteristics of hockey have been dramatically changed in the last twenty years because of changes to the application of the Rules. Some, but very few, of the changes made to the Rules have resulted in betterment of the game, however, if applied correctly, many more of them would have done (and fewer changes would have been made necessary). The self-pass is a good example of an opportunity missed, caused first by bizarre ‘interpretations’ (for example direction of retreat by opponents) and then by the introduction of unnecessary Rules in relation to it (moving the ball 5m before playing it into the circle, which was a result of the unnecessary Rule that a free ball awarded in the opponent’s 23m area may not be played directly into the circle) The prohibition on an intentionally raised hit is an example of an unnecessary Rule which led to a need to introduce more Rules and also to ‘interpretation’ “forget lifted” to circumvent it (why not instead clarify the dangerously played ball Rule by adding objective criterion?)

There are still a number of ‘loopy’ Rules in place (as dangerous or nonsensical as the now deleted ‘Own goal’) but the biggest danger to players and the future of the game is ‘interpretation’ and ‘common practice’ (umpires being instructed to ‘overrule’ the Rules provided by the FIH Rules Committee), examples of which are seen in the above videos from some of the most senior umpires in the world  – i.e. personal opinion – derived from direction and coaching – that bears no resemblance to the meaning of the wording given in and with the FIH Rules of Hockey.

Players, who are required to be aware of the Rules of Hockey and play according to them, have no chance of doing so with the ‘interpretations’ shown above. While players who deliberately breach the Rules, are coached to flout them, get away with doing so because what they are doing has become ‘accepted’ and ‘common practice’ – the memes of hockey.

 

July 9, 2017

Sardar Singh

An article from a New Delhi newspaper published on fieldhockey.com on 7th July 2017 which I found incredible.

New Delhi: Hockey India (HI) has lodged an official complaint to International Hockey Federation (FIH) about the ill-timing of former captain Sardar Singh’s interrogation by Yorkshire police during the Hockey World League in London in relation to a year-old sexual assault case filed by an England international hockey player of Indian-origin.

In the letter sent to International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Jason McCracken on Wednesday, HI president Mariamma Koshy referred to a 19 June incident where acting on a complaint filed by an England junior-level hockey player on 17 June relating to a year-old sexual assault case, Sardar was summoned to Leeds for questioning.

As it was on the eve of India’s high-voltage Pool 8 match against arch-rivals Pakistan, which India won 7-1, the hearing was postponed to 20 June.

“I am writing to formally make a complaint before FIH of the recent incident that happened during Hero Hockey World League Semi Finals that took place in London in June 2017, the incident being referred to by Hockey India related to a frivolous complaintfiled by a lady in June 2017 in Leeds for incidents which took place in 2013,”  the letter addressed t0 McCracken read.

“We request that complaint is shared/forwarded with/to relevant concerned in FIH for proper enquiry and request that our complaint also be shared with the Executive Board of FIH,” the letter further read.

Enclosed were incident reports from team manager Jugraj Singh and Sardar.

In Jugraj’s version, he said that Sardar was impacted heavily by the questioning and that after the incident India lost three back-to-back matches.

‘The effect of the same can be very well seen on Sardar Singh by sitting in cramped position for 11 hours both ways in a car and 4 hours ofsitting on a chair for questioning. We had to make Sardar not play in match against Holland for almost 70 percent of the time due to stiffness of body. It may be noted here that Sardar Singh is the main playmaker of the Indian team,”Jugraj said.

‘The incident affected the morale of the Indian team and the team lost focus & purpose and the performance of the team can be seen in matches which happened after the incident of Sardar Singh. The team lost against Holland the next day and also lost against Malaysia & Canada (both lower ranked than India) and before the incident, Indian team had won all 3 pool matches,” he added.

This was the second time Sardar has been questioned by the police in the middle of a tournament regarding the same case.

During the Hockey World League Semifinal in Antwerp in June 2015, the complainant accused Sardar of physically assaulting her.

Sardar, in his defence, cited ten alleged complaints filed by the complainant, a resident of Leeds. In those listed accusations, most were closed due to lack of evidence, Sardar wrote.

“I want to play for my country peacefully and I am being harassed by this lady,” Sardar wrote.

Why do the Hockey India think that the International Hockey Federation are the correct body to write to in relation to inquiry actions taken by Yorkshire Police? There is clearly a lack of understanding within Hockey India of the structure and authority of both Yorkshire Police and the FIH. There is no reason to suppose that the FIH have any influence with Yorkshire Police.

Do Hockey India believe that Yorkshire Police should have sent officers to India to interview Sardar Singh or that they should have just ignored the opportunity to speak with him that his presence in the UK afforded them?

If Yorkshire Police had any awareness at all about the timetable of the tournament they might have requested Sardar’s attendance in Leeds after the conclusion of the Indian Team’s involvement in it. Did Sardar notify the police that he was returning to the UK and would be available for interview after that date? Hell, no – well I doubt that he did. Perhaps he did not know that the police wanted to interview him about this matter??? Did the police insist that the interview had to take place on 20th June rather than a few days later?

Why is an allegation of sexual assault seen as frivolous by Hockey India and trivia like the results of games in a hockey tournament presented as important in comparison? It is clear that neither the Yorkshire Police nor the victim of the alleged assault regard the incident as a frivolous matter – and nor should anyone else.

July 7, 2017

Missing the ‘bleeding obvious’

A few days ago the Netherlands women beat the New Zealand women in a semi-final match and then went on to win the final. There was an article on fieldhockey.com about what was described as a scintillating semi-final match. I have been unable to find any video of this match or of the concluding shootout which decided the winner, but according to a written report, a video referral by the NED team overturned a goal awarded to the NZ team because the ball crossed the goal-line 0.2 seconds after the 8 seconds allowed. Had that goal stood it appears that the NZ team would have won.

Anyone not familiar with the way the game is officiated might be thinking “Wow, they apply the Rules to the letter“.

Published with the fieldhockey.com article was a photograph from Planet Hockey, and looking at that, the natural reaction might be “Why don’t the umpires apply the Rules?“. One or other of these players is committing an offence – and if it is the goalkeeper then a penalty stroke should have been awarded.

I know that some people will say that nothing can be determined from a still, especially a single photograph, and that what is shown could be construed as both an impeding offence and a physical contact offence by the goalkeeper. (Was a penalty stroke awarded? I don’t know) or an obstruction by the attacker and there is no way of telling which it is – which came first.


But that misses ‘the bleeding obvious’ which is that the NED player must have moved to position herself between the goalkeeper and the ball prior to what is seen in the photograph.

Did she do that when the goalkeeper was within playing distance of the ball and trying to play at it (an offence)? I don’t know.

Did she then step backwards, moving bodily into contact with the goalkeeper (two offences)? I don’t know, but it looks as if she did.

Did the attacker go on to put the ball into the goal and be awarded a goal? I don’t know.

What I do know is that what is shown in the video below has become common practice and it is highly likely that the NED player shown above initially did something similar to shield the ball from the goalkeeper.

This is from another Semi Final: this one from the World League.

No doubt those who see no offence in the video will declare that although the defender was trying to play at the ball he was never in a position to do so. But why was that?

The attacker moved to position himself between the defender and the ball – while still beyond the playing reach of the defender, so nothing wrong with that, but it is ‘bleeding obvious’ he then moved bodily into the playing reach of the defender, who was at the time trying to play at the ball, while maintaining that shielding position  – and he then shielded the ball past the defender while the defender was within playing reach of the ball and still trying to play at it. That, according to the wording of the Obstruction Rule, is obstruction on two counts (which are repeated – and extended – in the paragraph relating to movement with the ball by a player in possession of the ball).


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 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.

Note that physical contact is not necessary  –  or move….. into a position between the ball and an opponent – for there to be a moving into offence. The offence is ball shielding and not necessarily physical contact – any physical contact caused by the movement of the player in possession would be an additional offence.

 

The last paragraph of Rule Explanation relates well to what the NED player in the photograph is doing – blocking.


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.

Such blocking is not confined to third-part offences or impeding offences.

 

During a shootout it is not as easy for a ball-holder to shield the ball past a goalkeeper as it is to do so past a field player, because a goalkeeper is permitted to use the body to play the ball and may ‘log’ full-length in the attempt to do so. Therefore the majority of attackers in a shootout try, while shielding the ball, to get the goalkeeper to fully commit and go to ground so that they can then use speed of foot to move away from the goalkeeper’s reach. Very few players appear to have the skill or the confidence to carry out a spin-turn on the ball that will take them sufficiently beyond the goalkeeper’s reach to make a shot while the goalkeeper is still on his or her feet. Close shielding to prevent the goalkeeper playing directly at the ball, despite being an offence, appears to be the norm. Attacking players actually prefer to get the goalkeeper very close, even in contact (while blocking him or her from the ball), so they know exactly where the goalkeeper is when they have their back to him or her, and then know how far they need to move laterally in order to be able to make a successful hit shot. At one time players would be embarrassed and ashamed to have to rely on such play to retain possession of the ball and those who needed to do so were scorned as being without stick-work skills: this type of play was certainly not coached as it is now and regarded as a desirable skill. That this kind of play is now ‘acceptable’ is entirely due to ‘interpretation’ but it is not interpretation of anything written in the Obstruction Rule.

 

I greatly enjoyed the last paragraph of this fieldhockeyforum post on another related topic

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/defending-blocking-a-tomahawk-reverse-shot.42872/#post-409858

 

The play of the “Arse of Doom” was possibly informed by the defending seen from, in particular, individuals in the Australian, Dutch and Indian National teams in recent tournaments. It is clear that there is an “Ignore it” instruction to umpires regarding ball shielding: missing the ‘bleeding obvious’ has now been cascaded to become an ‘interpretation pandemic’ which is out of and beyond control.

An example from the 2014 World Cup Final

 

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July 2, 2017

Field Hockey Rules. Deflected Falling Ball (again)

Edit. 07.07.2017    Addition of stills showing player positions at the time, and just after, the ball was deflected upwards

The Rule referred to by Simon Mason in commentary is Rule 9.10.

9.10 Players must not approach within 5 metres of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball until it has been received, controlled and is on the ground.

The initial receiver has a right to the ball. If it is not clear which player is the initial receiver, the player of the team which raised the ball must allow the opponent to receive it.

He correctly states that ‘the 5m Rule’ is the only consideration (to determine the legitimacy of the goal). The umpire refers to the video umpire but his only question is “Was the ball played by the stick of the attacker”.

Does the Explanation of Rule application change anything in this scenario?  i.e. was there a clear initial receiver and if so, who was it?

Clearly the goalkeeper is the initial receiver, at the time the ball was deflected upwards off the defending CAN player, the ENG player was considerably more than 5m from the place the ball fell and the goalkeeper was within 1m of it. Therefore there was an encroaching offence by the ENG player.

Why was the Rule ignored? A goal should not have been awarded.

There has been mention elsewhere of the guidance from the FIH Umpiring Committee given via an Interpretation of a video presented on the Dartfish website.

http://www.dartfish.tv/Player.aspx?CR=p38316c12660m183532&CL=1

Interpretation: –

The GER player passes the ball up the pitch. In trying to intercept the pass the ENG player deflects the ball high into his own 23 metre area. The ball is going to land between an ENG defender and a GER forward, potentially leading to dangerous play. A free hit is awarded to GER where the danger was created since the ENG defender did not give the GER forward the opportunity to receive the ball.

But this interpretation is not relevant to the CAN v ENG incident because in the GER v ENG match shown on Dartfish the ball falls between two opposing players who were already within 5m of each other when the ball was deflected upwards.

This encroaching offence below from AUS v BEL is more like the incident in the CAN v ENG match.

I suggest that because of the swing at the ball by the AUS player in the above video, besides there being an encroaching offence there was also other dangerous play. So two deliberate offences – and a yellow card should have been given. The ENG player in the CAN v ENG match does not play at the ball in a way that could have endangered the goalkeeper – but that, because of the prior encroaching offence, is irrelevant.

Neither of the two incidents referred to above in support of the Rule occur in the circle – and it has to be conceded that a ball that is falling into the goalmouth after a deflection off a defender creates problems that a ball falling considerably more than 5m from the goal-line is unlikely to cause.

No goalkeeper or any other defender can be reasonably expected to allow an attacker receiving the ball off a defensive deflection falling within 5m of the goal-line to receive and control the ball to ground without contest: it might be considered unreasonable to demand such compliance if the ball is falling anywhere within the circle. An attacker within 5m of the goal-line and under a falling ball is moreover extremely unlikely to attempt to control the ball to ground – a volley shot of some description is far more likely. For a Rule to demand that a defender allow 5m of space is unreasonable (perhaps even impossible) and grossly unfair in these circumstances and no Rule should be either unreasonable or unfair.

These situations could be resolved by penalizing a deflection that gives rise to a potentially dangerous situation rather than allowing a subsequent dangerous action to occur. There is support for this approach in the Interpretation given in the Dartfish video above and also in the current UMB, both of which use the phrase “potentially dangerous”. All that is needed is to change the wording of Rule 9.8. back from what it is now

9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play.


A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.
The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.

to what it was previously:- 9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which is likely to lead to dangerous play.

but it would be preferable to use both phrases

9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way that leads to or is likely to lead to dangerous play.

  A deflection leading or likely to lead to dangerous play is then an offence and a free ball or a penalty corner, as appropriate, may be awarded.

I believe that it should also be an offence for any attacker to play or play at the ball when in the opponent’s circle if the ball is still above shoulder height.

For completeness it needs to be an offence if the ball is raised with a hit (away from the control of the player in possession) into the opposing circle and a height limit (elbow height perhaps) also needs to be put on any ball played into the opponent’s circle with any other stroke.

If there is supposed to be an emphasis on player safety lets have an emphasis on player safety

The previous prohibitions on raising the ball into the circle (which did not mention intention) were ‘lost’ when the Rule prohibiting any intentionally raised hit, other than a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle, was introduced. That Rule (9.9) has since been ‘eroded’ by ‘practice’.  Forget lifted – think danger which also seems to mean forget falling but cannot reasonably do so where there may be a contest for the ball.

The umpiring in the opening video is more erosion and an absence of common sense. It is likely, that as the ball was coming from his left and the attacking player approaching from his right, the umpire could not have been aware of the attacker’s position when the ball was raised if he was following the play. But this is the first thing the video umpire should have looked at and it should have been the umpire’s first question. It was after all the first thing that occurred to the commentators and something the umpire should have known he did not know and needed to know to make a sensible decision. Where there is no video available the trailing umpire, being in these situations in a position to see both the deflector and the attacker at the same time, should be consulted.

The video stills show that the ENG player was at least 10m from the goal at the time of the deflection and, because of the height the ball reached before it started to ascend, that he could not have been unaware that he would commit an encroaching offence.

Since discovering this sequence at the tail end of the video I am inclined to think that the umpire should have been more aware of the ENG player’s position. The ball was put up in front of the umpire’s position and slightly to his right – not falling towards the goal after being put up on his left, as I first thought it was when seeing the incident from another camera angle.

An example of umpire ‘brain fade’ he allowed the encroaching offence, which he must have seen, to fade from consciousness because he focused instead on whether or not the ball had touched the stick of the attacker – which in the circumstances was irrelevant.

 

This article should be read in conjunction with

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/field-hockey-rules-a-broken-promise/

 

June 26, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Diligent’s tar baby

I have described as a ‘tar baby’ the ‘sticky’ entitled The Dangerous Shot On Goal that has been attached to the head of the Umpiring section of the fieldhockeyforum website.
I wrote a critique of it some years ago but as Diligent has decided to expand on it and I have made reply to that expansion (below) I think it appropriate to restate my opinion of the so called consensus and place it above my reply to the recent expansion.

I have separated the sentences of Diligent’s consensus post so that I can make observations on them in written order rather than trying deal with them all together in a longer comment at the end.

Every internet forum has had these debates, and the strong opinions have led to a deal of nastiness.

I agree, I have been on the receiving end of a great deal of this nastiness. Two hockey forums have vanished because of this nastiness. First the forum on hockeyweb.com and then the one run by George Brinks on what was previously known talkinghockey.com but is now fieldhockey.com

There are two extreme positions:
– if it is a shot, it cannot be dangerous (any danger is the defender’s fault for being there);

That statement contains two extreme positions but both are on the same ‘pole’. They are both bizarre, the first conflicts with the Rules of Hockey and the second with common sense and with Common Law

(No one can be said to accept a risk of dangerous play – the risk of the ball being recklessly or deliberately propelled at them in a way that could cause injury – when such dangerous play is contrary to the Rules of the game. It is not possible to impose or suppose the acceptance of such risk because of legitimate positioning on the field of play because it is not possible to impose or suppose acceptance of a risk that results from a reckless or deliberate breach of a Rule. The only risks that can be said to be accepted are the risks associated with unintended or accidental actions).

– the danger rules are being ignored, with too many dangerous shots allowed as goals, or injured defenders penalised with a PS.

That statement is not an extreme position it is an accurate description of what is happening and it can be backed up with video clips from a great many high level matches. It would be an extreme position to suggest that all raised shots are dangerous or that any ball played towards an opponent is dangerous – nobody has suggested taking either position: height limits and extended distances within which to apply them have been suggested: these are not extreme suggestions but sensible measures in line with the FIH declared emphasis on player safety.

On the occasions when the flame wars have subsided enough to let reasonable contributors reach a consensus, that consensus has been:

– it all depends on the shot, the speed and distances involved, the skill-level of defenders and attacker, the state of play, the importance of the competition, and many other factors known only to those who were there.

I am reminded of climate scientists who are angry at the so called ‘consensus’ concerning the effects of carbon dioxide produced by human activity on global warming or climate change, but because of the way poll questions were framed are included in a claimed 98% consensus of scientists who say that global warming is caused predominantly by human produced CO2. That statement not following the conclusion that should have been reached from the questions that were asked in the poll. I can understand their anger and their amazement at the blatant manipulation of their answers.

I wonder how Diligent arrived at his consensus – I can recall the questions being asked but I have no recollection of any answer that was generally accepted – few answers were actually given or even by many who did respond, any attempt made to give answers. A few actually went to the trouble of stating in a post that they would not get involved in any discussion about a dangerously played ball and had posted just to state that. The usual response from those who should have been able to provide useful insights was stonewalling or a yawn or comments about dead horses and of course a great deal of nastiness – there was also a great deal of ignorance and stupidity put on display.

I can recall being told there was a consensus but I, and many others, formed no part of it – there was an opinion we were informed ‘everybody’ held. Of course I and others of my ilk could not possibly be described as ‘reasonable contributors’ or as part of ‘everybody’ because we insisted on reasons or justification for ‘not possibly dangerous’ opinions being given by those who held what we considered to be the bizarre views Diligent mentions above as being extreme – asking for reasons is apparently not a reasonable contribution to a discussion: neither is offering contrary opinion backed up with reason and/or evidence.

I can agree with only this first statement, it all depends on the shot, the speed and distances involved and then only partially, because it is insufficient. I will add, it also depends on the height to which the ball is raised and if the ball is propelled towards a player – these four objective criterion are crucial  and should form the basis of an adequate dangerously played ball Rule

The state of play (the score?) and the importance of the competition are irrelevant. Why should either have any bearing at all on a dangerously played ball decision? And many other factors known only to those who were there (such as?) That is meaningless. There are of course possible additional factors such as sight-blocking and third-party obstruction but they don’t alter the fact that the ball has been propelled in a dangerous way, they just make defenders even more vulnerable to such a shot.

– at the highest levels of hockey, very little is judged as dangerous, on the assumption that defenders have the skill to take on almost any shot.

A daft assumption. Whether or not a ball is dangerously played – puts an opponent at risk of injury – has nothing whatsoever to do with the skill-level of the defender/s. A player who is forced to self defence from a ball raised to, say, head height- be it by attempting to evade the ball or attempting to play at it with the stick, is endangered in the same way and to the same degree no matter what her or his level of skill may be. Humans are physiologically the same no matter what skills they may possess; bones fracture or break, flesh bruises or cuts or is abraded, in the same way and for the same reasons, no matter what the level of play may be.
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Playing the ball at an opponent in a way that may injure that opponent if self-defence is not successful is dangerous play, but it is also dangerous play even if the self-defence is successful (A dangerously played ball is defined as one that causes legitimate evasive action – which leaves out half of the possible action that could be taken in self-defence – but does not depend on the attempted evasion being successful – or should not do so).

It must be  pointing out that an attempt to play at the ball is forced on a defender when it is known that an umpire will not respond to legitimate evasive action by a defending player  – to avoid a high shot – by penalising the shooter, but will award a goal – which is common practice. In such circumstances umpires are largely responsible for the risk that has to be taken, because  they compel an attempt to play the ball; they are therefore also responsible for any resulting injury.  

I am inclined to agree that the skill level of the attacker is of relevance – but only to the penalty imposed – I expect a top level player to be able to consistently hit, from the top of the circle, the shaft of a hockey stick, that is positioned vertically on the goal-line; so I also expect such players, even under high pressure, to be able to avoid propelling the ball at positions occupied by defending players – even in a goal that is ‘only’ 3.66m wide (which they are obliged to do , following the Rule “All players must play with consideration for the safety of others” – yes it is a Rule – but one that has been nullified by ‘interpretation’).

Where defenders are ‘targeted’ or the ball is propelled at them recklessly the umpire should be awarding a card to the attacker as well as a free ball to the defending team – but, although I have seen hundreds of recklessly dangerous shots made (many of them deliberately targeting an opponent), I have never seen a card given to a player for this action.

but umpires “might still follow the guidance to the Rules 9.9 and 13.3.l. That a shot striking someone above the knee from within 5m can be considered dangerous.

That should say “must follow Explanation of Rule application provided with the Rules“. I don’t accept that an umpire has a choice in this matter (and what was previously called Guidance for Players and Umpires has, since 2004, been called Explanation – although much of it falls well short of adequate or even clear explanation.)

The Rule Explanation states “ is considered dangerous” not “can be” – there is no choice given. Such misreading or misquoting leads to misapplication of the Rule by those who take advice from Internet forums without checking for themselves what is given in the rule-book.

Rule 13.3.l provides a great deal more than a reference to an out-runner during a penalty corner being hit above the knee with a first shot at the goal. That ‘more’ is set out in my reply to the expansion post below.

– at beginning and social levels of hockey, inexperienced players must not be left feeling unsafe, and wild shots should be penalised to encourage attackers to care for safety.

Agreed, the same is true at all levels of the game. The wording in the Preface to the Rules of Hockey makes it clear that all the Rules apply to all players and all officials. i.e. to all hockey that is played under FIH Rules.

– so umpires can reasonably extend the ‘within 5′ to 7, 10, or even 14, and sometimes rule it ‘dangerous’ even if the ball misses everyone.

No they cannot, no official can alter a Rule or an interpretation of a Rule see – Circular from the FIH Executive to all Hockey Associations in  2001. (Umpires might agree with team captains and coaches before a match to to apply enhanced safety standards during a particular match – hitting of the ball in a match between men and women for example – but they may not vary individual decisions – Rule interpretation – based on subjective judgements).

– at the majority of hockey in-between, it is back to the umpire’s judgement, based on experience, what they’ve read on the Internet, and discussions in the bar.

Was that a Freudian slip? What about the Rules of Hockey?

– so after a game with such a decision, you’ll have this debate with a fellow umpire and a couple of other players.

What such decision? Extending 5m to 14m or calling dangerous a shot that did not endanger anyone? The decision in need of discussion is much more likely to be a failure to penalise for dangerous play and the awarding of a goal.

My observations of attempts by players to engage umpires in discussion about a decision made in a match that finished a hour or so beforehand are a) the umpire will have no recollection of the incident (and his colleague will be unable to offer help) or  b) He will insist he is right even when it can be demonstrated by reference to a Rule that he is wrong. It is at this stage that statements like”That is the way I have been told to umpire it” or “Everybody umpires that in this way” are trotted out  – sub-text – throw your rule-book away  or c) There will be outright refusal to discuss any decision made during the match on the grounds that it can now make no difference, so such discussion is not useful. In fact umpire responses to questions after a match are very similar to their responses to forum questions on the same topics. The mixture of boredom and arrogance is not an attractive one.

Summary:-

Diligent’s post entitled The Dangerous Shot on Goal doesn’t provide any answer to the most asked questions in hockey. What is a dangerously played ball? and “When (in what circumstances) should a goal shot be considered to be dangerous? ” Over 12,000 views of The Dangerous Shot On Goal post should tell us something about the level of interest in obtaining answer to such questions. It did, on the other hand, present the umpire as an omnipotent all-knowing deity, totally in charge, so umpires, unless they are honest, love it. (To be fairer many of them probably didn’t read it carefully and didn’t give it much further though because the errors are so obvious and so well known that they have become mantra).

Expansion.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/ps-question.43138/page-3#post-412094

Diligent.  In short: the ‘legitimate’ in the rule follows the umpire’s judgement, not drives it. In case anyone protests: this is a perfectly normal interaction between the rule, the judgement, and the decision: the ball rolls to the outside edge of the line (sideline, back line, goal line) before a player pulls it back; if the umpire judges it stayed in play then play continues; if the umpire judges it over the line then no, it’s over the line, and we have the appropriate restart. Happens all the time. Evasive action is no different.

He is right ‘legitimate’ does often follow an umpire’s judgement  – but I am going to protest: that is so so wrong – not least because legitimate evasive action will seldom (perhaps I should say “never”) occur after a ‘dangerous’ decision has been made. The only scenario that I can think of where (actual rather than potential) danger would usually be penalised before evasive action is taken is an over-height first hit-shot made during a penalty corner – when evasive action becomes irrelevant to the decision made anyway (and the umpire would have to be very quick – probably too quick – to blow the whistle before there was evasion).

Whether a ball has gone over a line or not is not in the same sense a judgement i.e. a subjective decision, it is an observation. The ball either did or did not go over the line and that is an entirely objective decision based on facts which can be verified by video replay and/or by measurement from video i.e. independently by another person – objectively by comparing the position of the ball with the position of the line. Legitimate evasive action is at present (from beyond 5m) an entirely subjective decision – it cannot be independently verified because it is a personal opinion (apparently based on whim) –  so very different. Where there is no video umpire what should be objective decisions can become matters of opinion i.e. subjective and not subject to appeal. Other than increasing the number of on-pitch officials there is very little that can be done about this.

But (taking the cue from the phrase ‘from beyond 5m’) ‘dangerous’ need not be almost entirely subjectively judged. The rule would be much clearer and fairer and applied more consistently if there was more objectivity about what a dangerously played ball is – in other words if there were additional objective criterion to describe it. The frequently ignored ‘Within 5m and above knee height’ are insufficient for the task (but at least they are there and referral to a third party is possible)  also insufficient, but there i.e in existence, is the present, entirely subjective, almost unread and certainly generally misapplied, Rule 13.3.l. as it relates to the flick shot during a penalty corner.

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

There may be protest at this interpretation, but that somewhat convoluted Rule statement refers to ALL flicks, and scoops, including the first, not just to second or subsequent flicks and scoops. It refers to second or subsequent hits, and mentions them specifically (but not separately as it should), because a first hit-shot is dealt with in a preceding Rule clause. No flick or scoop shot may be made at the goal in a dangerous way during a penalty corner (nor, I must add, at any other time). That conclusion from a reading of Rule 13.3.l is just common sense – and the Rule should also kill ‘stone dead’ any notion that a shot at the goal cannot be dangerous play. Why would the Rules prohibit something that is not possible?

What is “a dangerous way”?  If you want a sensible answer to that question I suggest you stay away from anything written by an umpire coach, particularly (returning a compliment) anything ‘Diligent’ has written, but regrettably, I cannot direct you to anything else, other than the woefully inadequate current Rules of Hockey, from The FIH.

John Gawley’s 2001 umpire coaching paper “The Lifted Ball” once widespread on various hockey related web-sites, is now difficult to find on the Internet, I doubt it is there, but it is so conflicted that it should be avoided anyway – unless you would enjoy identifying the ‘cherries’ that were picked from it in 2004 (and then ‘modified’ in ‘practice’) and those ideas that were discarded.

The statement “A dangerously played ball is one that causes legitimate evasive action.” is treated more as a joke than Explanation for the application of Rule 9.8, and the raising of the ball high into the legs or body of an opponent from close range (which is contrary to both Rule 9.8 and Rule 9.9)  is, without the shame that should be attached to such action, considered to be a skillful way of winning a penalty corner in the opposition’s circle (it is usually done when the opponent is within playing distance of the ball and evasion near impossible) and not what it is, a dangerous play offence (many video clips of this practice occurring are available).

A Rule Authority cannot delete forcing as an offence while at the same time claiming to place an emphasis on player safety. Gawley got that right:he wrote “No player should ever be forced to self-defence“, but that statement never made it into a rule-book. It is evident from both instruction “from above” (see posts in the above forum topic thread) and from observed umpiring practice that the decision that will probably be made if a defender is hit with a raised shot will be a penalty-stroke, because the defender “chose to position in front of the goal” i.e. attempted to defend the goal.

Defending the goal !! A heinous action, worse than not having the skill to defend themselves (even if a defender should not be ‘attacked’ with the ball); whatever next? Deliberately defending the goal !! I’m shocked.

 

 

 

June 18, 2017

Hockey Pro League

Pro League hits world hockey like a tsunami

From web-site fieldhockey.com published on Saturday. 17 June 2017 10:00

Hockey India League will also be affected by the Pro League
By Sameer Singh

The International Hockey Federation’s Pro League strategy has hit the sport like a tsunami, all set to disrupt the way the game has been played across the globe and disrupting the traditional calendar of the domestic leagues.

The FIH plans to keep aside the first six months of every calender year—from 2019 —for the nine-nation home and away Hockey Pro League, with matches played week in and week out. The professed aim is to fuel the growth of the game.

It will require a major realignment of not just the usual international calendar of events, but also throw the domestic competitions into disarray, including the Hockey India League. And it can rule out the chances of regular hockey players from playing a major part in indoor competitions, which form a staple portfolio for the European players.

Four years in the making, the Hockey Pro League has come up with a rider from the wise men of the FIH that has left the hockey world rattled. The FIH mandarins may have devised and adopted from top league in other sport, but seems to have entirely overlooked the domestic events structure across hockey’s three major continents: Europe, Asia and Oceania.

At the Hockey World League Semi-finals at the Olympic Park in London, hockey officials are talking in hushed tones about the impact of the FIH decision to dedicated six months from January to June for the international Pro League.

If countries still want to retain their traditional season, the domestic and the international games will have no link whatsoever. Losing the elite international players altogether, it could take away whatever sheen remains in domestic competitions,‘ he said.

‘Putting all their eggs in one basket may be the way forward for the FIH, which has decided to scrap even show-piece events like the Champions Trophy, but it might be a big risk for young hockey players just to focus on the professional playing career,‘ he asserted. ‘International players pursuing professional degrees at universities and practising professionals would probably now have to make a critical decision about sticking to hockey.‘

Other hockey folks were wondering whatever would happen to people whose primary professional careers are outside hockey!

An Argentine official, in London for the World League Semi-finals, wonders how the national associations will be able to retain the players for half the year without offering professional contracts, and if they all can afford to do it. ‘Not all countries offer their players full-time professional contracts. It may be fine for a few nations with deep pockets, but how are we all going to find the money,‘ he said.

The FIH had already made it known that the traditional structure of international tournaments, including show-piece events other than the World Cup, will have to make way for the Hockey Pro League, which will be confined to nine nations for men and women alike.

Outside these nine nations, from whom the FIH is looking at generating its finances as well, the rest of the hockey playing national might as well take a hike. If there are plans within the governing body for these countries, they are kept under wraps and would be far-fetched. Any plans for other contenders making the elite group of these nine nations will come into the frame years down the line.

In Europe, Asia and Oceania, the prime focus on hockey is during September to March. The national competitions and also the indoor season (in Europe) takes
place in these months.

The FlH’s devised time frame for matches ‘week-in and week-out‘ has also left some people bewildered.

Which teams would like to come to play international hockey in London in January or February, or for that matter who would look forward to playing at the National Stadium in New Delhi in June. Perhaps, the FIH knows a thing or two about the weather patterns.

About European leagues

– European League -the name league is a misnomer, it is actually a knock-out tournament played in the winters whose early rounds are played in September October— before the mid-winter break for indoor hockey season — and the finals are played in February-March.

– Holland and Belgium follow similar scheduling patterns – matches are played September to November, the mid-season break during which Indoor hockey takes over. Leagues resume in March and run until end-May or early-June.

– England follows a similar pattern, matches from September to November, followed by a break and indoor hockey. The English league resumes in February and ends in April.

– Germany- Pattern is not too different, but slight change as matches are played from March to June-July, a month’s break between July and August, the league games are played August until October. Field hockey takes a break from November,when Indoor hockey takes over (and continues until Feb-March).

Mumbai Mirror.

Comment

There are some issues that Sameer Singh has not mentioned in his thoughtful article and I also will no doubt miss others, but I will mention that the Chief Executive of the FIH has declared that the nations who will participate in the first round of the Pro League – the selected nine men’s and nine women’s National Teams – will do so without change for four years: so I presume that there will be no relegation from or promotion to the Pro League during this period. It is therefore inevitable that the results of a good many matches in the Pro League, especially in the first two or three years, will be irrelevant. Will such matches attract a large number of spectators or the interest of a television audience – not to mention the players?

What is going to happen after the initial four years? Another round of subjective selection of nations who will be invited to participate with perhaps only the first four placed in the last year of the initial rounds assured of a second invitation?

As the declared aim of the Pro League is to raise funds for the further development of hockey across the world there must be an obligation on the FIH to employ national level players involved in the Pro League on contracts for a remuneration that would not leave them worse off than they would have been in other full-time employment but at the same time, not be so high as to beggar national associations or clubs who try to persuade them to play other international hockey or in a domestic national league in the remaining time: a fine balancing act with problems to be resolved no matter where the remuneration bar is set. Are players to negotiate their own contracts and insurance? Will individuals require the services of agents?

I’m torn about what has been proposed. I believe a Pro League should have at least three divisions and involve a great many more national teams – maybe that will come in time. On the other hand I rue what is likely to be the beginning of the total destruction of domestic National League hockey or at least the level to which it is played. National League hockey could become like County hockey became in the UK after the introduction of the National League (or even the London League for the Home Counties). A level in which only up to U18 and club second team players, at Senior level, had any interest at all in participating – so it lost all hope of competing as a spectacle with the superior playing standard of the newly established leagues and was no longer a ‘stepping stone’ to international level hockey. I can recall playing at clubs where no-one in the club First Xl could be bothered to attend a County trial especially as getting selected would almost certainly mean missing some club League matches. Clubs sent 2nd Xl and even some 3rdXl players to County trials. Maybe selection to a club team participating in a National League will mean more to the players (besides remuneration) than playing in the Pro League but that seems unlikely and we may approach the point where international players may not be able to play for their clubs at all and therefore not be able to have a meaningful club affiliation. How will a downgraded National League provide players capable of competing at international level six or seven years from now? On the other hand, besides the increased possibility of injury, the workload imposed on international players – already very high – could become impossible and that could lead to a down-turn in the standard of international hockey as less experienced substitutes are drafted in.

The Pro League could be the best idea ever tried in hockey but it could equally be a disaster. We should have a better idea of which it will be after the second year of competition is concluded. It is to be hoped that what is said at that point, by players and clubs as well as by National Associations, will be listened to and acted upon.

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June 6, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Physical contact via obstruction, a lack of skill

I deleted more than forty articles from this web-blog at the beginning of the year, this one among them (which, seeing recent Tournament play, was clearly a mistake). I now restore it, slightly modified and with a different title, because I feel the subject matter is too important to ignore. The development of the skills involved in avoiding obstruction should be emphasised as fundamental to the playing of hockey and those skills should be encouraged and protected by correct umpiring  – which requires an understanding by umpires (and hence players) of what obstruction is and is not.  It is not simply a physical contact offence, physical contact is not an essential requirement for there to be an obstruction offence. To find out what obstruction is it is necessary to read the Rule and the provided Explanation of Application – all of it.

Rules of Hockey.

The ‘diminished’ Obstruction Rule. Shielding the ball. Hiding or ‘protecting’ the ball.    Lack of movement skills and footwork and 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. With views like that held by those responsible for umpire coaching, it can be no surprise those two umpires had no understanding of the Obstruction Rule. That no one else admits how or explains why they are openly ignoring the very specific instructions given with the Explanation of Application of the Obstruction Rule is not a surprise.

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


Let’s take a look at the relevant Rule and the 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 Explanation of Application 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: the Obstruction Rule specifically 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’ (which can mean legal or genuine or necessary depending on the context in which it is used). – 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 nor one that is essential for there to be an offence.

– back into an opponentcan mean back into physical contact with an opponent (but why then repeat the prohibition on physical contact with. “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. the ball-holder is moving to position 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 (word for word) by the second prohibition in the clause below. It is the part underlined, which was added to the Explanation of Application in 2009 as a clarification – that backing into is not the only ball shielding action that is prohibited, any such positioning movement is prohibited if it results in the ball being shielded from an opponent – 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 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 to (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, thereby preventing an attempt to play at the ball.

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 even 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 directly facing an opponent and moving into the playing reach of that opponent) towards and into the playing reach of an opponent and it is also a foul to move i.e. position, so that physical contact is made or an opponent is obliged to retreat to avoid physical contact

But 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 it is plainly false. I agree with the second of the three statements Cris Maloney made in his reply to me: I vigorously oppose, as I must if I observe the Rule, the first and third of them. All his statements are justified by him as what top umpires are seen to be doing.

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 9.8, 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 who was 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, (which however need not involve physical contact but may do so).

The GER player involved in the incident shown above (who himself had been guilty of a prior obstruction offence) was given a green card for voicing his opinion of the umpire’s failure to penalise the IND player for obstruction/moving into/barging.

The Obstruction Rule could be written without any reference at all to physical contact 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.

In the above passage of poor play the GER defender was penalised, apparently for a contact tackle, but then the ‘messy’ taking of the free-ball and the subsequent obstruction, positioning between / backing-in / barging, by the IND player was ignored. This kind of play and umpiring was not unusual in Rio, it was the norm. Not attractive hockey.

Not penalising obstruction does not significantly reduce stoppages, because tacklers must try to play the ball and 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 opponentmove off in any direction or pass the ball away in any direction (“off” and “away” are interchangeable words here 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, they should be developing the skills that make the game enjoyable to play and attractive to watch.

An AUS defender almost knocked of his feet by a NED player who backed into him, while ‘protecting’ the ball and barged him out of the way soccer style – play continued.

Facts and truths are not the same thing, ‘the truth’ (according to the etymology of the word truth) is what is believed (by ‘everybody’), which may have nothing at all to do with the demonstrable facts of a matter e.g. the wording of a Rule. This is how faith is developed and how the ‘high priests’ (FIH Umpires) become highly respected practitioners, they practice, expound and develop ‘the truth’ – what they themselves believe or have been instructed to believe –  facts are an embarrassment to them.

If Cris Maloney is to base his future umpire coaching videos on what is seen of the Rule application of FIH Umpires he will have to start preaching that a player in possession of the ball cannot be guilty of a physical contact offence. It has already been declared (see article on stick obstruction http://wp.me/pKOEk-2g1) that if a player has his or her stick in contact with the ball that player cannot stick-obstruct – which is a nonsense. Such nonsense is commonplace, it has also been declared and has been maintained to be fact by many people for a long time  that obstruction cannot take place if a ball-holder is stationary. (since 2003 to be exact because in 2002 there was an instruction to umpires in the rule-book to watch for (penalise?) players who stood still and shielded the ball when under pressure). But it has also been declared, with the same certainty, that if a player in possession of the ball is moving the ball with the stick or is moving with the ball no obstruction is possible: so taken together there is, according to those who make these declarations, no conceivable circumstance in which an obstruction offence could occur. And if these declarations are not to be taken together we are left to choose which ‘interpretation’ (invention) to believe without there being any evidence to support belief in any of them, while those who make these conflicting statements umpire accordingly and continue to argue amongst themselves.

We can be sure these umpires will not stop inventing their own version of hockey, but where do they go from permitting physical contact by a player in possession of the ball – which is a fundamental change to the way, according to its published Rules, hockey should be played ?

It was noticeable that the need to penalise physical contact by a tackling player i.e. a ‘break-down’ tackle, was emphasised in the FIH video produced about the role of the Umpire Managers in Rio (this action was however still frequently ignored during the tournament see the video below – in which a GB player makes a tackle on a USA player, in possession of the ball, from a position and in such a way (a forehand tackle from the ball-holder’s rear left side) that obstruction and physical contact were inevitable and unavoidable, but the umpire suspended the USA player for the contact).

Physical contact initiated by a ball-holder, didn’t however, despite being a frequent occurrence, (see AUS v NED video above, the third one , for a blatant example), get a mention in the FIH umpire coaching video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJTfPlgknUo

May 28, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: “It is generally accepted…”

Edit. Posts from FHF contributor nerd-is-the-word and comment added.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/hitting-the-ball-mid-air-on-goal.42837/page-3

Perhaps I am no longer an isolated voice pointing out something that everybody else denies has happened or is happening, but I have been writing about the conflict between what I think is ‘generally accepted’ to be publicity pap “the emphasis on safety” “consideration for the safety of others” “playing responsibly”, and the realities of competitive hockey, for many years and have received much more abuse than praise for my pains.

If there was genuine concern about dangerous play and  player safety the Rules would be different: giving just two examples- 1) the Rule prohibiting the raising of the ball at another player would not have been (2004) deleted/transferred, ‘watered down’ to become a confused  Explanation of Rule 9.9 and a 5m limit added to it, and then be ignored (2008 Olympics) if such a raised ball was a shot at the goal.  2) Forcing, particularly the forcing of self-defence, which is never mentioned except as a lack of skill on the part of a player hit with the ball, would not have been deleted (2011) as an offence in itself.

I have to disagree with Krebsy’s presumption that much of the present conflict has the support of or was instigated by “the FIH”. What is “the FIH”? As far as the Rules of Hockey are concerned the term means both ‘a who’ and ‘a how’: it should mean the FIH Executive Committee.  There is a process for drafting and adopting a Rule proposal into Full Rule and if that process is not adhered to by the proper parties then that proposal, idea, opinion, call it what you will, is not and cannot be a Rule of Hockey. This fact does not appear to be generally understood. It does not matter a straw how FIH Umpires are applying what they think are Rules – if the application or interpretation they are applying is not printed in the rule-book or as is sometimes the case, even conflicts with what is in the Rules of Hockey – it is not a Rule.

The procedure demands that the FIH Rules Committee – no one else, no other body, no other person or group of people  – draft a proposed Rule and then submit it to the FIH Executive for approval. If the proposal is approved by the Executive (who may instead send it back to the Rules Committee for further work) it may then be included in the Rules of Hockey. This process often takes some years, as trials or Mandatory Experiments may be necessary before a decision can be reached. The FIH Rules Committee cannot draft and then approve a Rule on their own. The FIH Executive cannot both propose and then approve a Rule or a Rule amendment on their own; there is a separation of powers and both committees perform their tasks independently (I find it odd that any individual could be a member of both committees but this has happened). This system is slow but it works tolerably well.

But the official procedure is badly undermined by another part of “the FIH” the committee who has charge of the appointment and training of umpires The FIH Umpiring Committee, who are said to ‘liaise’ with the FIH Rules Committee on Rule proposals and on the application of Rules which have been approved by the Excutive and are part of the Rules of Hockey.

Gingerbread mentions in his post above the opinion of a L2 (umpire) coach and of an FIH Umpire. He does not appear to understand that a dangerously played ball decision is usually entirely subjective – in other words the opinion solely of an umpire officiating the match – an un-involved L2 umpire coach or an FIH Umpire cannot, unless there is also a clear breach of an objective Rule criteria, offer a contrary opinion about a personal judgement made by any other umpire at any level i.e. say such a decision is wrong – at best they might say that they would not in the circumstances have made the same decision. (That such decisions are generally entirely subjective is I feel unsatisfactory, because they are often both technically wrong and unfair, but cannot be challenged. Umpires tend to see subjective decision making as a strength of the current system and vigorously defend their ability to make such decisions , I see it as a weakness.) It is telling that Gingerbread goes not to the Rules of Hockey but to the irrelevant opinions of more senior umpires (to what others are doing), which in the circumstances he describes have nothing at all to do with the Rules of Hockey .

I have had experience at a low level of the ‘generally accepted’ way of applying Rule, which has no Rule support, being demanded of me. During October 2009, in the period after the deletion of ‘gains benefit’ from Rule 9.11. I umpired a very one-sided match between a strong veterans team and a club 4XI which was a mixture of colts, vets and a few experienced players of 4th team standard in a club which ran six teams. The veterans won 12-0. That evening, without saying anything at all to me, the captain of the losing team complained to the County Umpiring Association that I had not penalised ball-body contact at all, allowing play to continue whenever it occurred i.e. I had not applied Rule 9.11 correctly.

The veterans team were not happy with my performance either, because it was very unusual and allowed them little in the way of the ‘breathers’ the award of  a free-ball provides, but because their team contained some experience umpires, they at least understood what I was doing – they also quickly understood that shoving the ball onto an opponent’s foot was not going to ‘win’ them a free ball and they were therefore obliged to beat opponents with speed and/or stick-skills or play a passing game: in the passing game they were far superior to their opponents.

The result of the complaint was a visit from an official from the Middlesex County Umpiring Association the following weekend. He informed me of the complaint and asked me what was going on and I informed him that I had applied Rule 9.11 exactly as it was (sic) currently written in the Rules of Hockey – the criterion for a ball-body contact offence at the time was intent or voluntarily made contact and there was no other.  (I have to say that at the time I though that the complete deletion of gains benefit was an error by the then FIH Hockey Rules Board and that in some instances it should have remained applicable (I have written in another article – http://wp.me/pKOEk-2cx – suggestions for a gains benefit clause for Rule 9.11), but the application of it in 2006, prior to the deletion, was a ‘generally accepted’ umpiring practice in which any ball-body contact was seen as the gaining of a benefit, which made a nonsense of having that criteria (as an exception to not an offence) at all – and the removal of that dumb ‘interpretation’, even if it meant removing the criteria, was a good thing because the ‘interpretation’ itself removed the criteria).  I was in 2009 however not in a position to impose ‘gains benefit’ at all (even if there was benefit gained by a ball-body contact- which was seldom) as the criteria was no longer in the Rule.

Having listened to what I had to say the County Official then said “Martin I don’t want you applying the Rules according to what is in the rule-book, I want you to umpire as other umpires are umpiring” (thereby exceeding his authority). I replied that  I could only do as other umpires were doing if what they were doing was in accord with what was given in the Rules of Hockey. I was never again appointed to umpire a match in Middlesex. I should add that having coached an international team and previously regularly umpired at First XI level, I was not utterly distraught at my ejection as an umpire at 4th team level (who would be?) but I was annoyed because of the reason for it.

That experience has some similarities to the dilemma top umpires are put in when told by FIH Tournament Directors or FIH Umpire Managers to take a certain line to particular instances (with what are supposed to be their own subjective judgements) like a ball raised into a player in front of the goal or a ball-foot contact by a defender in the defended circle. Do they apply the Rules of Hockey and risk not receiving any further appointments – even risk being downgraded – or do they comply with the required, completely unauthorised, inventions and achieve their aim of becoming “hugely experienced and highly respected FIH Umpires” ?

The ‘gains benefit’ saga is a prime example of a change being imposed in a way that was without any authority whatsoever. The history of this episode is one of the reasons I ‘dug my heels in’ when (in effect) told to comply with it.

Due to the ‘generally accepted’ way of applying ‘gains benefit’  prior to 2007, mentioned above, the FIH Rules Committee deleted that criteria for a ball-body contact offence in the Rules of Hockey issued in January 2007. In February 2007 Peter von Reth authored an ‘Official Interpretation’ on the FIH website in which he explained (without offering a rational explanation) that he and the Chairman of the FIH Rules Committee had agreed to the reinstatement of the ‘gains benefit’ clause and it would continue to be applied as it had been applied in 2006.

Here is the irrational explanation for the reversion that was offered:-

The 2005/6 Rules indicated that it was not an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player unless that player or their team benefits from this. However, as with other rules, this continues to be an offence if benefit is gained. Rule 9.11 should therefore continue to be applied taking into account any benefit gained by the player or their team.

/http://fih.ch/news/official-fih-explanation-concerning-%C3%B4%C3%A7%C3%BFrule-911/

Why is that statement irrational? Because “unless that player or their team benefits from this” means exactly the same as “if benefit is gained“, so the entire explanation offered is contained in the words “However” and “Therefore” and justified by “general discussion” and the unspecified feedback apparently received from various parties and a few National Associations, after the change to the Explanation of Rule 9.11. was made public.

The previous long-term disquiet about the way the Rule was being applied under the 2005/6 Rules of Hockey and those of previous years  – the reason for the change made by the FIH Rules Committee, active from Januray 2007, after the usual consultations with all parties when a change is to be proposed to the FIH Executive, had taken place, was just brushed aside.

This ‘no change’ action cannot have been the result of a legitimate procedure, not having been initiated by the FIH Rules Committee or approved by the FIH Executive and it is entirely possible that Peter von Reth, having been out-voted in the Rules Committee, simply hijacked the FIH website to impose his will.  On reading that ‘Official Interpretation’ my reaction, knowing that he had exceeded his authority, was “Over my dead body”.

Why didn’t the FIH Executive reprimand Peter von Reth and issue a counter-statement affirming their previous decision? I suppose for the sake of the appearance of unity (like a match umpire seeing a colleague make a horrible blunder but not intervening to correct it)  and the avoidance of loss of face for one of the most senior of the FIH officials, he was a member of the FIH Rules Committee and Chair of the Umpiring Committee at the time.

There was no unity: gains benefit did not reappear in a rule-book until 2016 – in the form “gains an advantage”, but for more than eight years umpires applied it as if it was part of a Rule in the Rules of Hockey.  The FIH Rules Committee and the FIH Umpiring Committee via Umpire Managers were using different versions of the Rules of Hockey and the latter were not applying the published version. Where did ‘the FIH’ stand on this? Who knows? There was a resounding silence but it is clear that the FIH Hockey Rules Board did not support the reinstatement of the ‘gains benefit’ clause. 

How many other ‘interpretations’ (inventions/distortions/subversions) are applied in a way similar to the way ‘gains benefit’ was generally applied between February 2007 and May 2015?   Quite a few (and without the dubious ‘benefit’ of being in any way declared an Official Interpretation).

Regrettably the fact that an FIH Umpire is seen to penalise or fail to penalise a particular action is not an indication that it is or is not in breach of a Rule of Hockey. “All FIH Umpires umpire this in this way“, an oft used justification for a particular decision (a Keely Dunn favourite), is not at all an assurance that “this way” is in compliance with the Rules of Hockey.

The statement “An ‘on target’ shot at goal cannot be dangerous play”, was first heard in public – from a television commentator – during Tournament play at the 2008 Olympics, where an emboldened Peter von Reth was the Tournament Director. There has been, as Krebsy has pointed out, no correction  to this statement (which was repeated by an umpire to a player during a match in the 2010 World Cup) issued by ‘the FIH’, so here we go again.

There has to be change to the current system. There are a far greater number of umpire managers than there are members of the FIH Rules Committee; perhaps it would be better if senior umpire managers were formed into a rules committee that acted in place of and in the same way as the present FIH Rules Committee? But then do we want the Rules of Hockey to be determined by umpires, who, as is generally accepted, know nothing at all about playing hockey? The present FIH Rules Committee has about the same number of umpires as it has former players. The latter, it is generally accepted, especially if they played at international level, previously knew nothing at all about the Rules of Hockey. These generalisations about the Rule and hockey knowledge of players and umpires respectively, although there is a grain of truth to them, are of course a nonsense, but so is much, even most, of what is now generally considered to be acceptable umpiring.

On the subject of nonsense we need not look much further than than these conflicting posts by nerd_is_the_word (NITW), a contributor to FHF.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/hitting-the-ball-mid-air-on-goal.42837/page-3

 

The defender causes danger by positioning etc. was an argument for penalising the defender, if hit with the ball, initially advanced by Keely Dunn back in August 2006, when she first joined FHF. I ‘crossed swords’ with her over it on the forum at the time. Whether it was her own idea or a proposal given to her by her ‘FIH insider’ I don’t  know. NITW has obviously given this nonsense no further though, he just repeats it. He is clearly not in complete agreement with all that Kerbsy wrote, but with just the second sentence.

Has he cast me as a conspiracy theorist? Surely not, I have written history, but that there was a conspiracy, by a few FIH officials, to subvert a Rule of Hockey in February 2007, cannot be denied: the conspirators announced the nature and purpose of the subversion and their conspiracy, at the time.

But then a few hours after his previous post NITW writes this:-

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/ball-hit-body-play-advantage.42895/page-2

 

“lf l was defending, and had been hit in the chest, and the umpire told me that they didn’t see the lift but did see it hit me, I would be livid that the umpire had clearly seen a dangerous ball (he has seen it hit me in the chest) but will then be penalising me for being hit in the chest.”

Why should he be livid with the umpire for following a practice he himself has advocated – penalising a defender hit with the ball if he chooses to position to defend the goal?  – Well yes of course he should be livid in those circumstances; a dangerously played ball cannot reasonably result in penalty against a defender hit with it.  Completely agree with that NITW. The lad is clearly very confused and needs help. He even appears to believe, looking at a later post, that the FIH have issued a directive which they have not put in writing. Sorry mate – not in writing (and addressed to all National Associations), not a Rule directive from the FIH Executive – and therefore not part of the Rules of Hockey.

 

.

May 23, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Pernicious umpire training or coaching

An interesting bit of history related on Field Hockey Forum that no one picked up on. I wonder why not? I am sure there are many similar stories.
http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/hitting-the-ball-mid-air-on-goal.42837/

The statement that no shot other than a first hit-shot at a penalty corner can be deemed dangerous is obviously false. If we read on through the procedure for the taking of a penalty corner we come to this:-

13.1.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 statement which would be entirely unnecessary if it were not possible for a shot at the goal to be considered dangerous play.

Then of course there is the ball raised into an opponent from within 5m (as a shot at the goal) – an action which is stated within Rule 9.9 to be dangerous play (no matter what a idiotic television sports commentator (2008 Olympics) or a Russian FIH Umpire (2010 Women’s World Cup) might say to the contrary). http://wp.me/pKOEk-2jw

I would not have believe that report by Isfreaks – it’s bizarre (especially the bit about an umpire over-ruling a dangerous play decision made by a colleague in the colleague’s circle) – except for the fact of having had similar experiences of outrageous statements. At a Level one umpiring course taken as a refresher around 2004, as a requirement, because I had been out of the UK for several years, the course manager told the assembled, mainly novice, trainees , that a defending player hit with the ball in front of the goal should always be penalised with a penalty stroke. When asked about a dangerous shot (not by me) she said that that made no difference at all, a penalty stroke should still be awarded. I was ‘incandescent’ but the two ‘minders’ my club had sent with me, in anticipation of such provocative statements by the umpire coaches (and my likely reaction to them), kept me in my seat.

Around 2006 the Australian Hockey Association started a hockey forum on their website. In this forum an unidentified female Australian FIH Umpire made a similar “always a penalty stoke” declaration. When I posted to the forum to point out that that could not be correct because it took no account of dangerous play I was immediately banned from the forum for life. I reported this on the Talking Hockey forum. The late Gordon Stewart, known on hockey forums as Deegum, then wrote to the Australian HA forum to say that he believed that I was correct and that what had been declared by the FIH Umpire was in error. The forum was closed down shortly after. Argument with the opinions of an FIH Umpire was not to be tolerated.

Also in 2006, Keely Dunn a third level FIH Umpire joined Field Hockey Forum and in her first post (of more than 10,000) declared that a defender positioned on the goal-line caused dangerous play: starting my disagreements with many of the ‘Rules’ pronouncements that she made – she often at that time referred back for advice to an ‘insider’ at the FIH before restating her opinions. She did not reveal who the all-knowing, comfirming ‘insider’ was. Later, when she got more confidence, her ‘interpretations’ appeared to be all her own work – she was responsible for the implausible (daft but believed and accepted) invention that “aerial Rules do not apply to deflections” and the equally vacuous “aerial Rules do not apply to a shot at the goal” (Why not if a lob shot is taken?). It is still possible to find FHF contributors repeating those assertions.

Most of the above opinions relate to a raised shot at the goal and appear to have origin with an FIH ‘insider’; who could it be? Who would have the audacity to declare as Rule, opinion about dangerous play, which was directly contrary to published Rule as well as to the supposed emphasis on safety and to common sense – and apparently have the authority or have the position to force others, including established FIH Umpires and television commentators, to take notice of such declarations?  Who is the rotten apple at the centre of high level umpire training? There has to be one, it cannot be a coincidence that so many FIH Umpires have been found promoting an identical and obviously wrong “cannot be dangerous” line in umpire coaching sessions and on hockey forums: this pernicious nonsense is not coming from the FIH Rules Committee, the sole Rule Authority. You know – the people who write the rule-book.

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May 19, 2017

Field hockey Rules: Spin turn

Found on the Field Hockey Forum website.

Edit. 14th. July 2017.  1) FIH video umpire coaching on prevention of a tackle attempt.  and  2) Comment on positioning behind the play.

Criteria for offence

Moving to position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing reach of the ball and attempting to play it.

Backing into (the playing reach of) an opponent i.e. moving (turning) to position between a close opponent and the ball to prevent a tackle attempt.

(There is a umpire coaching video, Obstruction 8, from the FIH Umpiring Committee, about obstruction on the Dartfish website.

http://www.dartfish.tv/Player?CR=p38316c12660m736932

The accompanying ‘Interpretation of the action’ gives prevention of a tackle attempt as the reason obstruction was called)

Riley Fulmer #23 baseline fun.

A post shared by Tim Fulmer (@tremluf) on

A video shared by Tim Fulmer (@tremuf) on May 14 2017

The Obstruction Rule and relevant parts of the Explanation of Obstruction. (my additional notes, highlighting and bold text)

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

– back into an opponent (if there is physical contact caused by the player in possession when backing in, that is a second and separate offence or a combination of offences).

– shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.(shield the ball, with their stick or any part of their body, to prevent a legal tackle )

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.

Unless the umpire was of the opinion that the defender made no attempt at all to play at the ball the initial turning action by the attacker seen in the video was an obstruction offence. Certainly once the attacker had her back to the defender and was shielding the ball from her, a legitimate (legal) tackle attempt – which might otherwise have been made – was prevented – thatis obstruction.

From a technique point of view the attacker gets far too close to the defender – within her playing reach – as she begins her turn on the ball and she then moves further into the reach of her opponent while shielding the ball i.e. she moves bodily into the defender, although she does not make contact, mainly because the defender gives way to avoid it. That close to the base-line the attacker did not have the space to turn clear of the reach of her opponent but did not use any other stick-work or footwork technique to change direction or create more space for herself.

The defending is very weak; the defender should have held her ground, made use of the base-line to close the space and also made a much more determined attempt to get her stick on the ball – with both hands on the stick.

An attempt to play at the ball is not however graded by degree, either there was or was not an attempt made to play at the ball. If there was any attempt to play at the ball made by the defender, before or as the turn was made, and/or the ball the ball was shielded to prevent her playing at the ball, there was an obstruction offence.

There is no indication in the Rule Explanation that it is necessary for a defending player who is backed into to be attempting to play at the ball at the time for there to be an obstruction offence, especially if the defender is obliged to move away to avoid physical contact occurring. Many defenders do however give way in these circumstances because they might otherwise be penalised for making contact while tackling – contrary to Rule 9.13.

9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact.

Once the ball is shielded the defender is in a no-win position – an unfair situation.

 

The tackle attempt.

This was weak and inadequate to win the ball, but still an attempt to play the ball which might have succeeded if the attacker had not previously interposed her body between the ball and the defender.

I expect this defence regularly lose heavily because they are not working together. The defender behind the tackler is doing nothing but decorating the pitch and the one approaching from in front of the goal is closing too late and too slowly to tackle the turning attacker at her weakest moment (which is shown in the picture). The attacker should have had no chance of making a push pass across the goal from the base-line against three defenders if they were correctly positioned.

But it does not help that the umpire does not appear to know that there is an Obstruction Rule or simply ignores the fact. It is however possible that the umpire considered the defender to be behind the play – i.e. the attacker and the ball to be nearer to the goal than the defender was – so there could be no obstruction. But at the start of the turning action the defender was the nearer to the goal – having been obstructed (prevented from attempting a tackle), she then gave way and gave positional advantage to the attacker and is behind the play during the tackle attempt she then made – shown in the still.

It is no surprise, that without offering any reason for their opinions, both of these umpires (below) reject the possibility of obstruction – (and both attempt to change the subject, and incidentally to show how observant they are – the position of the umpire and the circle line respectively). Diligent once wrote in a forum post that “obstructions occurs, if at all, about once in three hundred matches” so he is predisposed, perhaps as a matter of faith, to reject any claim of obstructive play and no better will come from him.

redumpire makes no attempt to explain his blindness to the offence (his interpretation of the wording of the Rule) but he is anyway given to making pronouncements, as here, rather than to giving explanations for his opinions.

When players question when coached to spin turn in this way (obstructively), as they must if they have read the Rules, “Isn’t that against the Rules?” do they just accept “That is not the way the wording is interpreted.” In other words, word meaning is irrelevant? Apparently so.

Such acceptance is understandable from a player in possession of the ball, who benefits from being able to shield it without due penalty, but what about those trying to defend against a player who turns to shield the ball and prevent a tackle attempt? Do these defenders not have a voice? Maybe they keep quite because umpires are also blind to  defenders ‘crabbing’ along the base-line while ‘protecting’ the ball – an offence, which when it occurs within the circle should be penalised with a penalty stroke.

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May 18, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Shot made when the ball is in the air.

This post was put up on FHF more than a week ago and has had little response. This is typical of threads in this subject area, the dangerous shot at the goal, even though such shots are not a trivial matter or an infrequent occurrence and this is a highly contentious area of Rule because of what is called ‘interpretation’. Recent changes to the Rules concerning the playing of the ball at above shoulder height make AnnGoalie’s questions highly relevant.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/hitting-the-ball-mid-air-on-goal.42837/

The incredible first reply to it was from redumpire (David Ellcock), previously an umpire of many years experience in the English National Premier League and an experienced accredited FIH Indoor Umpire, Mr. Ellcock is now regularly appointed as a Tournament Director for International events and in that capacity frequently debriefs umpires following International matches. His reply to the questions put is therefore woefully inadequate because he knows very well the criterion umpires should be applying when making judgements about a dangerously played ball – be it a shot at the goal or otherwise. Not only does he not take the opportunity to answer AnnGolie adequately, he allows some obvious misconceptions about the dangerously played ball to be inferred without correcting them. Pah!

href=”https://martinzigzag.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/hit-shot-at-high-ball-2.jpg”>

This matter is not “really complex”; there are a number of different possible scenarios but few of them overlap and there is one simple overriding question:-

“Was a player endangered (injured or put at risk of injury) because of the way the ball was played (raised) at him or her?”

Another way of putting the same question is:-

“Was a player forced to self defence to try to avoid injury because of the way the ball was propelled (and raised) towards him or her?”

Even that question need not be asked if the ball was raised towards a defender within 5m of the hitter – that, according to what is given with Rule 9.9 (which refers to flicks and scoops but common sense should include raised hits and intentional deflections) is dangerous play.

Whether a ball already up in the air, which is not raised further, should be considered a raised ball could be debated, but again common sense can be employed if the outcome is similar to that of a ball that has been raised from the ground, especially if it is directed at an opponent at above shin guard height. This is not a complex matter, a raised ball is considered dangerous because it is put into the air and is therefore at a level where it might cause serious injury, a ball already in the air when hit can sensibly be treated in the same way.

The only self-defence mentioned in the Rules  is ‘legitimate evasive action’ (it defines a dangerously played ball) but forcing a player to defend his or her head or upper body with the stick, from a ball propelled at high velocity , in order to avoid injury, should be considered as much an offence as the forcing of evasive action. The propelling action which causes both types of self defence may well be the same – the outcome will be identical – the endangerment (putting at risk of injury) of an another player.  There will also of course be occasions when self defence is not successful and the endangered player is actually hit with the ball and injured – that too must be considered dangerous play – not a ball-body contact offence.  

Ann Goalie writes: –

“Others however charged it as a shot on goal, and therefore anyone in the way of the ball should try to stop or not stand there (own risk idea).”

A shot at the goal which is ‘on-target’ is to be treated no differently than a shot that is going wide of the goal and neither of these shots should be treated any differently than any other ball which is raised towards an opponent in a way that endangers that opponent. Outside of the first hit-shot made during a penalty corner that a ball is a shot at the goal is an irrelevance from a dangerously played ball Rule point of view. The notion that an ‘on-target’ shot at the goal cannot be considered to be dangerous play is itself a dangerous idea and an absurdity.

There is Rule support for a shot at the goal being considered dangerous, it is hidden away in the Rule concerning the taking of a penalty corner (which is where the commonly applied “within 5m and above knee height” criteria for the dangerously played ball also originates):-

13.3.k 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.

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

 

Obviously (or maybe not so obviously) the wording provided there is no danger and it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous would not be necessary in Rule 13 – 13.3 (l) or the explanation provided to  13.3, (k) if it was not possible for a shot at the goal to be dangerous play. 

Now that is complex – we have to seek out specific prohibitions to ascertain that a shot at the goal can be dangerous because of inane (insane) practice that developed on the back of uncorrected rumour, started within umpiring circles in around 2006 and ‘accepted’ by 2008. The assertion that a shot at the goal cannot be considered dangerous play is still, as in this FHF thread, often left uncorrected by those who not only should know, but do know, better. Even the hint of such a notion should be firmly squashed whenever it appears. The other, possibly even more pernicious nonsense, is the “own risk” or “asking for it” assertion – which is also a ‘cannot possibly be dangerous play’ statement. Nij produced a fuller but rather bitty version of it in one of his posts:-

That might seem to be complex because it proposes an exception to the Rule but it is in fact tortuous gobbledegook. The proponents of it think it produces more exciting and spectacular hockey and it possibly does, but at the cost of forgetting about player safety completely and stopping pretending there is an emphasis on safety and also forgetting about responsible play and consideration for the safety of others – which are supposed to be part and parcel of a ‘family sport’. Basically the idea is that if a defender intentionally positions between a shooter and the goal (the only positions that can be adopted if the goal is to be defended) then that defender voluntarily forfeits the right to the protection of the Rules concerning a dangerously played ball and accepts the risk that he or she may be hit with the ball – and that is utter crap because it means a defended shot at the goal cannot be dangerous play (false) but also a shot at the goal which is defended can be dangerous play. Because there can be no endangerment if there is no-one there to be endangered, so endangerment from a shot at the goal can occur only when the goal is defended (generally true) – it is not possible for both the statements in bold italics to be correct.

Everybody who steps onto a hockey pitch with the intention of taking part in a competitive hockey match accepts the risk that they may be accidentally hit with the ball and injured or they may be injured in some other way – by accident. It is not possible to make Rules to cover accidents like unintended deflections and miss-hits of the ball – but penalty should still be applied if an accidentally miss-hit ball forces self-defence from or injures an opponent. ‘Acceptance of risk’, goes no further than that, it certainly does not include an attacker intentionally propelling a raised ball towards and ‘through’ an opponent positioned between the shooter and the goal. That is not an acceptable risk because propelling the ball at an opponent in this way is intentionally forcing that opponent to self-defence to avoid injury – and that is a dangerous play offence. An offence by an opponent is not an acceptable risk, it’s an unacceptable action, that is why it is penalised (or should be).

Bizarre as it may seem to Nij and others of his ilk, players who are shooting at the goal are supposed to make every effort to avoid propelling the ball at an opponent – to not play recklessly – to not avoidably put an opponent at risk of injury or to injure an opponent. This is why stick-work and other eluding skills are developed, hockey is supposed to be largely a game of skill rather than one of power and brute force. There is not a free-for-all situation where a defender who is hit with the ball can then be said to have caused their own endangerment because of positioning between the shooter and the goal. Endangerment is caused by the player who propels the ball on an elevated path towards another player, no matter what the position of that player was at the time the ball was propelled. The correct response to shooters who assert that the defender was “in the way” or that the defender knew that there was a possibility that the ball could be (might be) raised towards them, is “So what?” and “But you knew where the defender was when (before) you made the shot and you still made it at the defender – that’s your fault.” Acceptance of risk is confined to the acceptance of risk from legitimate but unfortunate play, that is to accidents, not to the outcome of intentionally taken actions such as the ‘targetting’ of a defender or to reckless play.

The post by Gingerbread needs a comment because although he ‘nods’ towards the dangerously played ball Rules he misquotes by omission and turns the Rule on the player running towards (into) the ball on its head.

The rule explanation Gingerbread refers to reads:

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 first paragraph hangs on the words “without attempting to play the ball with their stick” – which Gingerbread leaves out entirely. The Rule is intended to prevent defenders deliberately using their bodies to stop or deflect the ball or to deter them from charging physically into the shooter. Closing down on the intended shooter to reduce the shooting angle and other options or the making of a tackle attempt are not prohibited. I don’t agree with his assertion that, a defender who moves into the path of the ball, who misses a raised shot with the stick or deflects it with the stick into his or her own body, has always offended – it depends on the direction of movement (across or along the path of the ball) the nature of the shot, height and velocity are relevant; as well as the gaining of an advantage by the player hit.

Otherwise indicates that the defenders have not used their bodies instead of their sticks. The penalising of a defender for being struck below the knee during a penalty corner is a strange contradiction of Rule 9.9 as it applies in open play. I don’t like this penalising because it encourages strikers at penalty corners to be reckless with their shooting, because it costs them nothing, and to intimidate out-runners with low level but high velocity shots into their legs, instead of looking for a way around the out-runners. Just ‘blasting’ the ball ‘through’ a running defender is hardly attractive or skilful hockey – and this action is not injury free for defenders.

I hope that if Ann Goalie ever comes across this article some of her questions will have been answered. On the matter of an attacker deflecting or hitting the high initial shot of a team-mate towards the goal, the criterion are the same – endangerment of an opponent, the forcing of self-defence, injury. At present it is legal to hit the ball towards the goal even from above shoulder height – I wish it was not and have written in another articles about that. The falling ball creates it own set of problems with the encroachment Rule and identifying an initial receiver; that becomes complex largely because that particular Rule is badly written.

April 16, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Advantage allowed v Advantage gained

Edited 26 April 2017

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/is-a-high-save-receiving-an-aerial.42626/

The above FHF umpiring thread wandered into yet another contentious area and into the making statements I am going to disagree with.

The reasoning and conclusions of both of the posts below are incorrect because they conflict, for different reasons, with Rule instructions and with common sense.

The above scenario describes a player trying to lob the ball over the keeper and then closing on the keeper to try to play the ball again ( I’m assuming, I think reasonably, that the rebound off the goalkeeper’s chest did not travel horizontally as far as the lob shot the attacker made – and the attacker, after shooting, did then close the distance between himself and the goalkeeper) . This is a contravention of Rule 9.10. – an encroaching offence –  the ball is a falling raised ball and the attacker is a same team player, in fact the player who raised the ball. I need go no further. Free ball to the defending team.

If the above statement is taken to be general and not about the specific incident described above, potentially much more convoluted situations are being described and we wander into the application of the Advantage Rule and into what should and what should not be considered to be an offence.

The statement I take issue with is “No advantage is possible because of the attacker’s subsequent offence” I take it that Nij means that the umpire cannot apply advantage in relation to a goalkeeper’s dangerous play offence because the attacker, whom the ball has been played into by the goalkeeper, has committed a ball-body contact offence.

The question arises: – Can a player the ball has been dangerously played into, be said in all circumstances, to have committed a ball body contact offence which should be penalised? I think the answer (with the exception of incidents which occur during encroaching) is “No” because if it is “Yes” the Rules (particularly Umpires 2.2.b  – below) are then contradicted and a conundrum is created

A look at the Advantage Rule, part in Penalties, but most of which is contained in advice and  instructions to umpires under the heading Applying the Rules.

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

*This actually means when an opponent has committed an offence because the complete list of circumstances necessary for the award of penalty, which follows the above statement, in every case refers to an offence – and not just a breach of Rule – as reason for the award of the specified penalty.

Umpires

1.4 Umpires must :

e    apply the advantage Rule as much as possible to assist a flowing and open match but without losing control.

Applying the Rules

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

b    when the Rules have been broken, an umpire must apply advantage if this is the most severe penalty

c    possession of the ball does not automatically mean there is an advantage ; for advantage to apply, the player/team with the ball must be able to develop their play

d    having decided to play advantage, a second opportunity must not be given by reverting to the original penalty

e    it is important to anticipate the flow of the match, to look beyond the action of the moment and to be aware of potential developments in the match.

So rather than (sic) “the umpire cannot apply advantage because of the subsequent  ball-body contact by the attacker“, the Rules say an umpire must apply advantage following such a dangerous play offence by a goalkeeper if playing advantage is the most severe penalty available. Advantage was the most severe penalty available in the above instance because the attacker had an immediate opportunity to control the ball and shoot at the goal and score. To suggest that the playing of advantage by the umpire following the offence by the goalkeeper in this case (and others similar to it) gives or creates an advantage for the attacker and that therefore the ball-body contact by the attacker is an offence, contradicts the umpires instructions and decision and sets up a nonsense (that the umpire’s decision to allow advantage creates an offence by the player the advantage was allowed to by the umpire).

The simplest and I think most sensible approach (one that could be explained to a child) is to state that where a ball is played dangerously by one player into another, the player hit with the ball cannot (except where there has been an encroaching offence) have committed an offence and, if possible and also if to the advantage of the team of the player hit with the ball , play should be allowed to continue. 

This could be expressed as an exception to Rule 9.11 or as part of a restored Forcing Rule.

 

 

 

 

 

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April 12, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Dangerous play and the falling ball

Comment made about any article in this blog from individuals who deliberately hide their identity will be treated as what it is – spam or trolling – and trashed.

Edited 16th April 2017.

The following five FIH Statements/Rules (all contained in the current rule-book) have led to disagreements in two threads on the fieldhockeyforum website in the past week which has resulted in both of the threads being locked by a forum moderator who does not believe in allowing disagreements to reach resolution. The subjects of the argument are firstly, “who is responsible for causing dangerous play when a ball is lofted to fall onto the position of opposing players who might contest for it?” and secondly, following from that, where should penalty be awarded?

This topic has been argued over at least ten times in the past five years but there is no sign of resolution – or even of suggestions to resolve the conflict – both ‘sides’ are as polarized as ever. There are two reasons that this impasse has come about – a poorly written Rule and stupidity – but they distil down to one reason – stupidity: there is no good reason why any Rule should be so poorly written that a polarization of opinion is caused and certainly none for the FIH RC doing nothing about that.

One reason that the Rule is now badly written is historical i.e. Guidance for players and umpires and also Rules Interpretations (the latter previously i.e. prior to 2004. in the back of rule-books) has been deleted and not replaced with adequate (or any) Explanation of Rule application: this process was called simplification and clarification. The vacuum has been filled with ‘umpiring practice’ – some of it from the Umpire Manager’s Briefing for Umpires at FIH Tournaments (the UMB – a document produced by the FIH Umpiring Committee), some of it from various personal opinion.

 

Preface 

Responsibility and Liability


Participants in hockey must be aware of the Rules of Hockey and of other information in this publication.
They are expected to perform according to the Rules.


Emphasis is placed on safety. Everyone involved in the game must act with consideration for the safety of others.

 

9.Preamble

Conduct of play : players
Players are expected to act responsibly at all times.

9.10 Players must not approach within 5 metres of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball until it has been received, controlled and is on the ground.

The initial receiver has a right to the ball. If it is not clear which player is the initial receiver, the player of the team which raised the ball must allow the opponent to receive it.

9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play.

A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.

The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.

(This bizarre forum discussion gives an idea of the diverse views http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/is-a-high-save-receiving-an-aerial.42626/  This is a quote from the thread which displays the type of rational or logic employed in argument  “(Raised) shots at goal are not aerials, they’re not ‘falling raised balls’, even if they do happen to be falling by the time they reach the keeper.”  The word aerial does not appear in the Rules of Hockey but any ball raised off the ground in any way can be considered to be an aerial ball (the literal meaning is “in the air”, as opposed to being ‘on or along the ground’).

The raised shot at the goal is subject to Rule 9.9 when raised towards an opponent within 5m and the first hit shot during a penalty corner is height limited with there being a requirement that second or subsequent shots, however made, be not dangerous; so the idea that “Aerial Rules do not apply to shots at the goal is incorrect, as is the notion that a falling ball that is a shot at the goal (a lob for example) is not a falling ball and is not subject to Rule 9.10. ALL falling balls, no matter how raised, are subject to Rule 9.10. (but the FIH RC could usefully put forward some guidance about ball height)

The two camps base their arguments on one of two approaches to what is written in the Rules. One side claims that the Rules ought to be read as written and interpreted literally, that is according to the literal meaning of the words used. The other side claims a common sense or common practice approach (called interpretation) and use phrases like ‘the spirit of the Rule’. These two approaches should not be in conflict, but they are because there is a lack of common sense.

The idea that umpires can make up Rule or Interpretation if they cannot remember the Rule is more absurd than the statement that a falling ball is not a falling ball, as per Rule 9.10, if a shot at the goal. This kind of invention is also contrary to explicit instruction from the FIH Executive that nobody, no individual and no body, other than the FIH Rules Committee can amend Rule or the Interpretation of Rule. Rule becomes Rule after the FIH Executive approves a recommendation for amendment from the FIH Rules Committee – and not in any other circumstances – even the FIH Executive themselves cannot unilaterally propose and then enact Rule change concerning the playing of the game.

.

The particulars of the danger from a scoop pass argument are:-

danger is caused by the player who lofted the ball to fall onto a position occupied by opposing players who might contest for it.

This is the more difficult option to umpire because it is necessary for the umpires to take account of where players were positioned at the time the ball was raised (it is about as difficult to judge as off-side used to be)

versus

danger is caused by a player of the same team as the player who lofted the ball being close to an opponent in the area where the ball will fall and not moving 5m away from that opponent before the ball is within playing distance.

This is relatively easy to umpire; a decision about where the free ball should be taken from does not need to be made afresh in each case: it is always from the place the ball was landing. The player who raised the ball is ‘forgotten’ if the ball is raised safely and is safe in flight (does not cause legitimate evasive action)

The fly in the ointment or the need for an exception.

In some situations, a high deflection off a defender into his or her own circle for example, it would be grossly unfair to require a same team player to retreat to give opponents 5m of space to control the ball on the ground before approach can be made. Consideration may need to be given, for safety reasons, to prohibiting any raising of the ball (above a given height) into the circles and/or to prohibiting players from any playing of or playing at a ball at above shoulder height when in the opposing circle.

Particulars:– Rule 9.10  Players must not approach within 5 metres of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball is written as if a ball will never be lofted onto the position of two or more players who are closer then 5m apart and contesting players are always positioned at least 5m apart at the time the ball is raised (this is because at one time it was clearly stated in the Rule that it was illegal to raise the ball so that it would fall onto the position of players who were close to each other at the time the ball was raised).

There is no requirement in the Rule for a same team player within 5m of an opponent who is an initial receiver, to retreat 5m or any other distance. Neither “allow” or “not approach” mean “move further away” or “retreat”. This is a point there seems to be some difficulty some participants ‘absorbing’ or understanding but it is difficult to find a way of putting “not asked for”, ”not required” or “not demanded” more simply.

When it is considered how close a tackler may be to an opponent in possession of the ball and not be considered to be attempting to play at the ball for the purposes of the Obstruction Rule, surely an opponent can be permitted to receive and play the ball to ground without interference by a close opponent i.e. receiving can reasonably be ‘allowed’ by an opponent who remains only 2m away (that is beyond playing distance without an unbalancing lunge or a dive for the ball). But is it reasonable to allow a player some distance away to loft the ball to fall between players who are at the time only 2m apart? I will leave other particulars to someone with the tag nerd-is-the-word, a contributor to FHF.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/the-other-locked-aerials-thread.42592/

nerd-is -the-word

I have read this argument a few times when it comes to overheads and i just feel the need to point out how ridiculous this argument is, for a whole multitude of reasons:

A) why would defenders bother throwing an overhead rather than just smashing the ball to the other end if all they want to do i realease pressure.

B) what kind of defender finds enough space to throw an overhead (5m+) and picks a crowded area to throw into rather than the space around that crowd.

C) even if a defender chooses to throw an overhead in a random direction, that happens to be into a crowd of two people, why do people talk about the danger being the defenders fault rather than his teammate who had ample time to step away?

D) if teams a throwing their release overheads only 40m ( any more and they very little chance of throwing into a crowd) and then immediately turning over the ball via a fh, then their oposition would take that any day of the week.

E) im going to state this again, what defender chooses to throw the ball into a crowd to release pressure? Not ones that have any clue what they are doing. If danger occurs from these long range flicks then it is ALWAYS because of the players in the landing zone.

It will be no surprise that ‘nerd’ also believes (as evidenced by previous posts to FHF) that defenders in front of the goal cause danger when a shot is raised at their position on the goal-line. I can’t believe, from my previous experiences with this individual’s ‘reading’ and comprehension, that he has read and understood the opening post of the topic thread never mind the whole thread.

The tactic of lofting the ball to fall from great height directly onto the position of an opponent is a well tested one and works tolerably well when the receiving player knows that there are chasing same team players who will pounce on any deflection and ‘leave him for dead’. I last saw it employed a long time ago, to great effect, by Calston Fischer, who ‘showered’ high scoops onto a relatively inexperienced Martyn Grimley during a very rainy European Championship match between Germany and England. The tactic suited the weather perfectly, stopping a skipping ball near ground level was hard enough in the conditions and Grimley was left flat-footed behind the play on several occasions.

‘Nerd’ misses the point of S.Pettit’s remark, which is that there is nothing to deter a player repeatedly lofting the ball into contested positions if penalty for causing danger can never be from the place the ball was raised but always at the point of landing. Besides that, it is a principle of the Rules that a player who commits an offence should never be permitted to benefit from that offence, but (assuming that it is granted that an offence is committed) a gain of ground of 40m+ on every occasion is such a benefit. 

Lofting the ball to fall where it maybe contested for while it is still in the air is anyway a matter of behaving responsibly and also of acting with consideration for the safety of others, as well as a possible breach of the second clause of Rule 9.8. creating (causing) a potentially dangerous situation.

It’s time the FIH Rules Committee had a rethink about Rule 9.8 and Rule 9.10.

 

Addition

The conclusion of yet another thread around the same subject. http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/is-a-high-save-receiving-an-aerial.42626/


But if somebody suggests that the free to the defending side should be taken from where the ball was raised, that is “against whoever put it there” as Kresby states, rather than a 15m being awarded, Diligent is likely to lock this thread as quickly and for the same reason, as he locked the other two related threads.

I am not happy with the notion that only a falling raised ball can lead to a dangerous aerial contest for the ball because it is not true and so does not make much sense. The statement in Rule 9.10. that a raised ball must not be dangerous in flight seems in any case to contradict that suggestion. It is common practice at a penalty corner for attackers to follow-in on a high drag-flick shot looking for a rebound if there is an initial save (see opening post of thread) – the potential for dangerous play in this situation is obvious and that, by Rule, second or subsequent shots must not be made in a dangerous way does not make this attacking practice any safer for defenders.

March 31, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Explaining

Here is a nice bit of ambiguity highlighted in a ‘discussion’ between the owners of the tags redumpre, Umpirehockey.com and Cardhappy, it’s about the umpire’s signal for a bully.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/fih-rules-of-hockey-app.42487/

What is the ambiguity? Whether the hands are together moved upwards and then downwards alternately (with perhaps a touch at the top?) or one hand is moved up while the other is being moved down each hand being alternately moved up and then down- one hand being up when the other is down – but no contact. –

What does ‘alternately’ mean in the description given in the rule-book?

(I guess we can no longer accurately say “rule-book” now that we have a replacement apt – a development which makes me uneasy considering the way Rules have previously disappeared or been invented, with either the exact form of previous existence or the fact of invention being later denied. It’s more difficult to deny a printed document than an internet web page, a copy of which has not been printed out. I have always been uneasy about the fact that previous rule-books are not archived and readily accessible for comparison, we have only an incomplete ‘potted history’ of the Rules)

I have always used the latter method, but Cris Maloney (umpire hockey.com) is right, that signal is not similar to the required bully action that is being signalled – it’s nothing like it – but this signal method is the traditional practice and it is understood – hence the ‘blindness’ and the sarky criticism. I am ashamed to say that is why I used it, ashamed because I have been very critical of others for applying Rules in a particular way just because their peers do so – same as them, I just didn’t give it any thought – and thought is necessary each and ever time a decision is made.

Explaining things is not always easy – although not difficult in this case – but redumpire (David Elcock) seems to believe that by repeating the word ‘alternately’ and using bold text when doing so, he explains it and its use (the Englishman abroad speaking to a resident native, slowly and loudly in English) – common words and simple constructions of them have to be used i.e. language that is completely and identically understood by both parties.

This quote is attributed to Albert Einstein.

If you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough. although of course he did not say that, it has been ‘edited’ to make a more ‘catchy’ statement from what he did say. The original statement is likely to have been as from this report of a conversation with another scientist, recalled after Einstein’s death.

“All physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart, ought to lend themselves to so simple a description that even a child could understand them” Not nearly as ‘snappy’ (or simple) a statement.

This is also attributed to Einstein and I think is more likely to be accurately reported even if it isn’t grammatically correct  – it’s truncated (by Einstein, who’s mother language was not English) perhaps to avoid repetition of the word  “possible”( although “necessary” would have been a better word choice) .

Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler (than is necessary to enable complete understanding).

Richard Feynman came closer to the popular ‘quote’,  but he was probably paraphrasing Einstein. Feynman was asked by the Dean of Cornell University (where Feynman was a physics professor) to explain to the faculty why spin half-particles obey Femi-Dirac statistics (I don’t even understand the terms of the question although I have a vague idea what statistics are and have read a biography of Dirac). Feynman, no doubt correctly, thought that the explanation to the faculty would have to be pitched at undergraduate (or freshman) level and went off to prepare his lecture. A couple of days later he contacted the Dean and reportedly (recalled after his death) said ” I couldn’t reduce the subject to freshman level. That means we don’t really understand it.”

Einstein by “a child” possibly meant a very smart twelve year old, rather than the six year old mentioned in related quotes from others. Six year old children are unlikely to have the vocabulary necessary to follow even fairly simple explanations of complex situations and – if the theories of the educational psychiatrist Piaget are accepted – are not sufficiently mentally developed to form the necessary abstract concepts from all that is said to them: concepts that even a quite dull adult (a barmaid or a grandmother are the usual adults picked on in other quotes) would probably be able to construct from simple language. The average eight year old would, quite rightly, take great exception at this, but the definition of a moron is a adult person (over twenty-one) with the mental capacity of a child aged between eight and twelve. (It is a very old and probably very inaccurate, definition).

Where am I going with this? I have been reflecting on what was said to me by a hockey coach as we stood watching the game between Surbiton HC and Wimbledon HC last Sunday – and thinking about explanation and understanding. I repeatedly asked him why certain incidents played out in front of us were not penalised as obstruction. His ‘explanation’ was that this was the way the Rule is interpreted. When I asked him to explain the interpretation, he could not. He admitted that it was contrary to what was given in the Rule and not how the Rule used to be applied – although he agreed that there is no reasonable explanation for any change to the interpretation of obstruction in the last twenty-five years – “but that (what we were seeing) is just how it is.

(in fact the ‘new interpretation’ of the Obstruction Rule written into the back of the rule-book under Rule Interpretations, post 1992 was almost entirely deleted in 2004. All that remains of it in the current Explanation of Rule 9.12 is the incomplete stand alone statement that a stationary receiver of the ball may be facing in any direction (why not?). Everything else in the interpretation was already in the Rule (or other Rules) prior to 1992 or could be deduced or inferred from them – there was no change to the Obstruction Rule beyond the introduction of a very specific leeway given to a receiver of the ball while receiving and controlling it (in other words the “new interpretation” introduced in 1992, was an exception to the Rule, not a change to the interpretation of what was (and is) obstructive play by, for example, a player in possession of the ball – that did not change in 1992 (was not changed at that time by the FIH Hockey Rules Board) and has not been changed since, either by the Rules Board or by the (renamed) FIH Rules Committee. We seem now however to be floundering along on what officials can remember of the deleted interpretation, because they will not let go of it, despite the fact that it is deleted and was anyway very poorly written by someone who obviously did not understand the game. This deleted interpretation, having demanded conditions for a tackle attempt that were impossible to comply with, then concluded, in contradiction :- ” However, umpires should note certain forms of obstruction which are often incorrectly overlooked. In particular, preventing a legitimate tackle (my bold) by intentionally (introducing for the first time intention to obstruct, which is not in the Rule) shielding the ball with the body or leg is obstruction.
Stick obstruction and interference is prohibited; no player may strike at or interfere with an opponent’s stick. The player with the ball may not use the stick to shield or protect the ball from a legitimate tackle.
The mix of fact (written here in blue text) and fiction which was presented in this interpretation was very confusing.

preventing a legitimate tackle  by shielding the ball with the stick, body or leg is obstruction.

In view of that statement, a child seeing current hockey as it is played and officiated, could point and ask “Why is thathow it is“?” and expect that those officiating, coaching or playing the game to be able to explain (and properly justify) what is now going on – but they cannot or will not do so – we get a stonewalling “That is the interpretation.” rather than an explanation.

I was not asking for an explanation of the behaviour of protons or electrons, for which the scientific ‘explanation’ seems to be “that is just how it is” (that is physical behaviour associated with particle theory combined with conflicting behaviour associated with wave theory, which seems to be illogical, and is thus far unexplained), but I was asking for a justification for players using obstructive tactics (attempting to shield the ball past opponents) and umpires  responding to these obstruction offences in a way that is directly opposite to the way a reasonable reading of the wording of the Rule , using common understanding of the simple language used in the Rule, would lead any rational person to expect the game to be played and the Obstruction Rule applied.

Maybe the language isn’t as simple as it needs to be, or more words are needed: after all “alternatively” isn’t a complex concept, but clearly additional words (about the hands) would give clarity to the over-simplified instructions concerning the bully signal – I don’t think that ‘obstruction’ or ‘prevention’ are any more complicated as concepts than ‘alternately’. That said simplification is not an easy undertaking – it is surprising how much is assumed to be well known by the person an action is being explained to.

Redumpire and Cardhappy could (and should) have recognised that without clear indication of how the hands were being referred to, there is ambiguity in the use of the word “alternately”, but that would have deprived them of the opportunity of a ‘put down’.  The subject isn’t important enough to justify the unthinking, unreasonable and rude responses and the bad feeling generated by them. The question from Cris Maloney might be considered trivial but it was not unreasonable to ask it and also to expect a polite and considered reply. According to the novelist and satirist Swift, the inhabitants of Lilliput and Blefuscu went to war over the importance of which end of a boiled egg to open – the responses given to question s about obstruction are as inexplicable. The same kind of responses are made (or refused) to questions about the dangerous shot at the goal, the penalising of ball-body contact, and the interpretation of “attempting”.

All Fools Day was the following day but they got an early start.

I like Cris Maloney’s response, a few days later, which mentions the ‘broken windmill’ signal now given to indicate a 23m free ball to the attacking team when the ball goes out of play over the base-line off a defender’s stick. Why can’t the powers that be get it into their heads that they themselves have deleted what used to be called a long corner and more recently (a massively important name change when it was made !!?? ) a corner, and replaced it with a restart on the 23m line. There is no good reason why the signal should not be the umpire’s right hand pointed with extended arm directly towards/over the base-line (some umpires are already using this signal) There is no need to point to the corner of the pitch, in fact to do so is ridiculous – to be required to do so, absurd.

There is now no such thing as a ‘corner’, but, going back to the match I was watching, ball shielding, with stick or body, to delay or prevent an opponent, who is intent on playing at the ball, directly doing so, when they would otherwise be immediately able to do so, is (still) usually an offence called obstruction – in only two situations should an exception to this Rule be made.

Ask any umpire what these two situations are  – and he or she is likely to be dumbfounded by the question, but they still won’t penalise what is obstruction when they see it. Many of them are unable to recognise obstructive situations – having been told and having accepted that they do not exist or, as one FHF moderator (Diligent) would have it,  “It (obstruction) occurs once, if at all, in about three hundred matches“. I’d say that those figures would be about right if the topic was intentional use of the body to stop or deflect the ball, but in most matches accidental or forced ball-foot/leg contact is the reason most of the  free balls are awarded and the reason for the majority of penalty-corners ‘won’.

 

March 4, 2017

The best umpire in the world.

Christian Blasch has recently been voted best umpire of 2016.

Edited 17th March 2017.   Outcome of video referral requested by Simon Orchard.

A look at some of his umpiring prior to 2016 from among my collection of video clips.

Dangerous shot at the goal. 2011. EHL Final

Starting with a topic that is a contentious old favourite. A shot raised at head height at goal which is also at a player positioned on the goal-line. This shot although a drag-flick and not a hit – and therefore legally raised to any height unless dangerous – was similar to the miss-hit shot that hit Stephen Blocher on the head during the Olympic Semi-Final in 1988, in that the player was sight-blocked by his own goal-keeper and saw the ball too late to avoid being hit (or didn’t track it at all). Causing legitimate evasion (to avoid injury) is the (inadequate) definition of a dangerously played ball.

There was no ‘gains benefit’ clause to Rule 9.11 in 2011 (it was deleted post 2006 and did not appear in the rule-books issued for 2007-9, 2009-11, 2011-13 and also 2013-15 – I separate them for emphasis) – so what was the offence by the defender? He certainly did not intend to be hit on the head – and how anyway would it be ascertained that he intentionally or voluntarily allowed himself to be hit? The fact that he was hit with the ball was not sufficient grounds for any penalty under the Rule extent at the time, but the shooter could reasonably have been penalised for a dangerously played ball.

This was an extension of the “foot in circle = penalty corner” ‘philosophy’ i.e. any last field-player hit in front of the goal = penalty stroke: don’t bother about a reason for the penalty. This example is quite mild compared with decisions by other umpires e.g high raised shots at opponents from within 5m, which are definitely dangerous play due to the objective criteria “raised and within 5m”.

The following clip shows one of the most absurd awards of a penalty stroke I have seen on video.

I can only suppose that the umpire had been instructed that a shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play.

Back to the EHL Final – Blasch ignored the attempts of the players to play the falling ball which had deflected upwards off the defender’s head, particularly the attacker who jumped up to make a double handed over-head ‘smash’ at it, at a time when any playing of the ball above shoulder height by an attacking player was illegal. Not technically an offence because the ball was ‘dead’, the whistle having been blown, but reckless and dangerous actions, with an opponent down injured, which should have received a rebuke. The decision made is a matter of opinion (but it should not be, ‘dangerously raised’ can easily be determined by simple objective criteria – height and velocity and at a player. It is negligent of the FIH not to impose such criteria within the Rules – and leave ‘dangerous’ an entirely subjective decision). In my opinion the shot was dangerous and the decision set a bad example. The simplistic ‘solution’ – “penalise the defender” (because high shots are spectacular and are to be encouraged to make the game more ‘attractive’) is not acceptable, especially within the framework of “an emphasis on player safety”.

 

Raised shot at the goal

This shot, below, (match 2014) was judged to be dangerous based on criteria that Blasch himself invented on the spot and was a direct contradiction of the instructions given in the Rules of Hockey under Terminology. Shot at goal.

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This following is from the same match but not in the circle controlled by Blasch.

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This shot is certainly dangerous because it causes a defender within 5m of the striker to take evasive action to avoid being hit. The fact that the shot was also off target is irrelevant. No penalty was awarded against the striker, a 15m ball was awarded simply because the ball had been hit out of play over the base-line by an attacker – which would have been correct if the shot had not been dangerous. The restart is identical in both cases – the reason for it is not.

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Obstruction.

Although there can be no doubt that the ESP player positions his body between the ENG player and the ball, when the ENG player was within playing distance of it and demonstrating an intent to play at it – playing at the ball thus being prevented because of the positioning of the ESP player, which is a good working definition of obstruction by positioning or shielding – except that in this instance the ENG player was behind the ball and his opponent i.e not goal-side of either while making his initial tackle attempts, and when the whistle was blown. This was a position from where he could not be obstructed by the body of his opponent. The physical contact by the ENG player as he attempted to tackle for the ball (Rule 9.13) was also either ignored or not seen. This was an unusual decision, more often than not a defender who attempts to tackle when the ball is shielded from him or her will be penalised even when there is no body contact at all.

There were several other examples of ball shielding in this match which were not penalised as they should have been. This one was penalised before it actually occurred There is little doubt that the ESP would have obstructed by shielding the ball illegally but he didn’t actually do so before the whistle was blown. Blasch seems to be indicating to the bemused ESP player that he used his stick or positioned the ball in an illegal way.

 

Obstruction

2015 EHL Semi-Final. A different approach.

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First of the men’s matches on the clip below; Blasch allows the Australian player to use his body to turn to position to shield the ball and back-in to ‘bulldoze’ his opponent out of his way – clearly both obstruction and a physical contact offence.

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More of the same. this sort of thing is usually combined with physical contact after drawing the tackler into close proximity and backing into and ‘rolling off’ him – it’s a tactic used in soccer to elude a close marker while in possession of the ball but illegal in field-hockey.

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Advantage – physical contact, barging

2015 EHL Semi-Final

A deliberate barge to knock an opponent off the ball which should have been penalised with a penalty-stroke and a yellow card – Blasch waves play on – citing advantage. The supposed advantage came to nothing.

 

Forcing in breach of conditions given within Rule 9.9.

The first two incidents were in the circle under control of Blasch. The second incident might be described as opportunistic rather than a deliberate foul by the attacking player who did not have the ball under control. All resulted in the award of a penalty corner. The first and the third should have resulted in a free for the defending team and the second to a call of “play on – no offence”. We are now at the stage where it might also require the issue of a card to deter players from the practice of deliberately lifting the ball into the legs of opponents to ‘win’ a penalty, rather than playing hockey.

 

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Forcing, barging.

Raising the ball into the legs of an opponent and then charging into him as he tries to stop/control the ball. As the near-line umpire and closest to these actions, Blasch should have put a stop to this tactic which is in contravention of at least three Rules.

The double touch on the taking of the self-pass and the subsequent award of a penalty corner were farcical, but that incorrect award was ultimately the fault of the video umpire.

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Accidental ball-body contact – no advantage, no intent – no offence. Play should have been allowed to continue, the contact disadvantaged rather than advantaged the defending team.

 

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The Raised Hit.

Illegal reverse edge hit Bel v Aus WL Final 2013

This raised edge hit was not dangerous, but deliberate and it disadvantaged the AUS team, so an offence – which should have been penalised with a penalty corner as it occurred in the 23m area. The Umpiring Committee have no authority to subvert this Rule with the contradiction forget lifted-think danger in the Umpire Managers Briefing for Umpires at FIH Tournaments (UMB) – a subversion which has been cascaded to all levels and has resulted in the ball being frequently intentionally raised into the opponent’s goalmouth from the flanks (which is usually dangerous or leads to dangerous play) without penalty against the attacking side.

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Misquoting Rule. 2013

Blasch correctly penalised this raised hit because it was actually or potentially dangerous. I include this clip because of the sing-song misquoting of Rule with which this commentator frequently misguides viewers. His ‘Rule quote’ during the 2008 Olympic Games, about an on-target shot at the goal (repeated in 2010 at the Women’s World Cup) is a blunder typical of him. The problem is that he is believed (over the rule-book) by viewers, including players and umpires, and somebody must be briefing him, but not correcting him.

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Falling Ball 2012

It is possible that Blasch was sucked into the nonsense that Rule 9.10, about the falling ball and encroachment, does not apply to deflections, (or that top level players have the skill or good sense to avoid endangerment in these situations), but he should have known better.

A goal was initially awarded and then overturned on video referral because the ENG player hit the ball while it was above shoulder height (???). The prior encroachment, on a clear initial ENG receiver, and the attempt to play at the ball at well above shoulder height by the PAK player was overlooked by the video umpire.

Blasch should have awarded a penalty stroke against the PAK player (two deliberate dangerous play offences in the circle) before the ball fell to the level it was contested for. It was inevitable it would be contested for in this situation and that this was likely to be dangerous to one or both players. The average lowly club umpire would have made a more sensible decision for this incident than either Blasch or the video umpire did.

A properly famed Rule concerning the raising of the ball into the circle would have fairly and safely resolved this incident with the immediate award of a free to the attacking team from where the ball was raised.

(The blog article referred to in the video has been deleted, as I do a clear out of posts about every two years and begin again to keep the blog reasonably up to date and with a manageable number of articles )

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A mix in one match of intentionally raising the ball into opponents, obstruction offences and a physical contact offence. 2012. The umpiring is at below acceptable Level One standard.

 

2012. The,very skilled, NED player ‘manufactures’ a potentially obstructive situation, but then makes no attempt to play at the ball – he instead charges into the BEL player and hits him on the head with his stick held high and horizontal. Blasch awarded the NED team a free ball for obstruction by the BEL player, instead of giving the NED player a red card for this deliberate dangerous assault.

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Ball intentionally raised with a hit, into the circle, to the disadvantage of opponents – an offence not penalised. An accidental ball-foot contact then penalised with a penalty corner at a time when there was no ‘gains benefit’ clause to Rule 9.11. The Rules being applied in a way the opposite to the way in which they were written.

 

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Preventing a tackle attempt. 2012. The clip opens with at least two obstruction offences before the attacking run was made into the NED circle. Blasch did not recognise any of the blocking and ball shielding as obstructive play.

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2016

I downloaded the matches played in Rio at the 2016 Olymnpic Games, but got so disheartened at the Rule application I saw as I went through them that I made video clips of incidents from less than half of them and I have not downloaded or reviewed any hockey matches since then.

I notice that four of the pool matches the Spanish team played were allocated to Blasch. Was a message being sent to the Spanish following their dissent at a bizarre dangerous play decision he made in a match in 2014 and also previously, in a match during the 2012 Olympics, in which he shoved away of an ESP player who was demanding a video referral that could not be given?

But better results from the Spanish, who seemed to have run out of ideas in the two previous World Level Tournaments, they even surprised the Australians, who might have viewed the match as ‘points in the bag’ prior to the encounter, by beating them by the only goal of the game. Spain lost a pool match only to Belgium and then a Quarter Final to Argentina, the two finalists, and finished in a credible fifth place.

GB v ESP. Obstruction and then forcing, contrary to the required application of Rule 9.9.

Ball shielding 2. The following nine incidents, all from this one match, are similar to this second one. Shielding or ‘protecting’ the ball has now become automatic even when it is a foul, un-penalised physical contact by a ball shielding player (turning or backing into opponents) is common.

Ball shielding 3

Ball shielding 4

Ball shielding 5

Ball shielding 6

Ball shielding 7

Ball shielding 8

Ball shielding 9

Ball shielding 10 and barging. Time running with less than a minute of the match remaining.

BEL v ESP Shield and shunt. The player in possession of the ball moves with it in such a way that his ball-shielding position between his opponent and the ball is maintained – a clear breach of the Obstruction Rule – but not penalised .

AUS v NED

Ball shielding. Correct application of the Obstruction Rule would prevent this illegal, and unattractive style of play.

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Barged obstructed 2. The NED player at the top of the circle receives the ball and then turns over it to barge the contesting AUS player out of his way. Blasch didn’t see any offence.

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Barged obstructed. The NED defender deliberately contests for the ball in a way that was certain to make physical contact with the AUS attacker (Simon Orchard). Blasch saw nothing wrong with this and Orchard was obliged to use a video referral. The obstructive physical contact was deliberate and should have resulted in the award of a penalty-stroke. Having looked at the incident again I now know that the referral ( a request for a penalty corner) was turned down and play restarted with a 15m. This incident alone justifies Orchard’s later article which declared antipathy towards top level umpires he has encountered. The foul by the NED player was a ‘cast-iron’ instance of a foul that matched the criteria for the award of a penalty stroke.

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So is Christian Blasch one of the best umpires in the world and the best of 2016?. Yes, despite his inconsistent and even bizarre umpiring (decision making and behaviour), it is likely that he is, because Simon Orchard is right about the standard of top level umpiring and that these umpires do not understand the game or the meaning and purpose of the Rules to which it is supposed to be played (any more than a ‘bookie’ understands how to ride a horse in a race but can be an expert judge of ‘form’ and horse racing). Those who copy the top umpires are also ‘lost’.

What I find most worrying is that Blasch is a member of the FIH Rules Committee and that he may carry his demonstrated attitudes to the Rules and to dissent into that Committee. We don’t need another autocratic bully who will dominate the Rules Committee in the way that his mentor and umpiring predecessor did – to the detriment of the game.

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March 1, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Refusal to refer.

Rules of Hockey.

Tournament Regulations
Team video referral
4.1 a
team referrals will be restricted to decisions within the 23 metre areas relating to the
award (or non-award) of goals, penalty strokes and penalty corners and, during a shoot-out competition, whether a shoot-out should be re-taken. The award of personal penalty cards may not be the subject of a team referral;

A great deal of fuss and unpleasantness – as well as delay to the game – would have been avoided if the players and the involved umpire knew that a corner award could not be the subject of a video referral.

But why is (now the award of a free ball on the 23m line) excluded from the available referral process – even if what leads to it occurs in the circle? Is it not an incident within the 23m area which is easily got wrong ?

The Spanish team were bewildered when they got no answer to the question “Why can’t we have a video referral?”  The umpire pretended it was because the request was out of time – did he know no better?

The same as occurred in this incident, two years later, which also caused some unpleasantness, but no shoving of a player by Blasch this time. :-

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In the incident in the game against Belgium the decision by Blasch was wrong –

Terminology. Shot at goal
The action of an attacker attempting to score by playing the ball towards the goal from within the circle.
The ball may miss the goal but the action is still a “ shot at goal ” if the player’s intention is to score with a shot directed towards the goal.

and I don’t believe either that it took more than twenty seconds for the Spanish team to realise a goal had not been awarded and ask for referral – the reason given for refusal to refer. The correct ‘T’ signal was not used but only an unreasonable pedant would insist upon that in the circumstances. Blasch himself should have referred his own decision.

The Spanish team must have had a feeling of déjà vu or “Here we go again”. 

The other people who demonstrated that they are without Rule knowledge were the commentators, so in that respect they were like most television soccer ‘pundits’.

 

 

February 26, 2017

Field Hockey Rules. Protest

It has been an interesting week with Simon Orchard, a current Australian international player, being critical of the ignorance of umpires about the game – and of course the knee-jerk response, from many umpires, that Orchard is ignorant of the demands of umpiring was made repeatedly. I made comment in the Hockey Paper and also in reply to a WordPress article by an Australian umpire and I was not complimentary to Orchard in either.

On reflection I think I was too harsh towards him. His action was brave considering he is still an international player – it might even be considered foolhardy as it will not have pleased his National Hockey Association or probably any umpire he encounters in future matches. Possibly he is approaching voluntary retirement from international level play and felt the need to speak out while he still had the platform to do so. My main criticism of his article was the lack of presented evidence, but that lack is understandable because it would have meant the criticism of identified umpires (not a wise action for an international player) and it also takes a considerable time and effort to gather such evidence. Presenting a general statement about the state of umpiring based on one incident is just laughingly dismissed as a ‘one off’ mistake – and “umpires are human” is an oft used meaningless excuse. But making a statement based on long experience is also challenged if detailed facts are absent.

Several umpires made comment about his lack of umpiring experience (without knowing whether that was true or not) and his understanding of umpiring (leaving aside their mentioning hard work and commitment and the huge amount of time spent on training courses – which international level players would know nothing about), but this is a one-way street and a lost argument; Orchard could easily become (or already is) an umpire capable of officiating a National League match well in a month – no umpire currently umpiring at NL level or above is capable of becoming a senior international level player ever. Only a tiny number are capable of playing at National League level or even training to do so. There is nothing stopping Orchard going on to become an international umpire.

Another notable figure in the news is the FIH Umpire Christian Blasch, who this week received the award of Umpire of the Year for 2016. If there is an umpire who could be described as ‘bulletproof’ it must be Blasch, who is regarded almost as a deity by the umpiring fraternity. He is now 42 years old – and as umpires may continue to be appointed to international matches until 31st December following their 47th birthday he may still be active for about another five years – possibly for longer than Orchard will be playing at international level.

I have 480 video clips which I have assembled over the past seven years, mainly for the purpose of illustrating the articles I write in this blog. I have not previously taken much notice of which umpires were officiating the matches from which I took incidents to write about, but I started yesterday to go through them to see how many I could find in which Blasch was an umpire, particularly the umpire engaged with the incident I was reviewing. He features in quite a few as tournament matches tend to be more widely televised in the latter stages and he is given charge of an above average number of FIH Tournament Semi-Finals and Finals. I will come back to this when I have finished my researches, but I can say that from what I have found so far that Orchard is not wrong in his assertions if the example of one of the acknowledged best is the benchmark. Terms like erratic and inconsistent are appropriate and both the ignoring of Rule and the invention of ‘Rule’ are repeatedly in evidence, even from this ‘infallible’.

I leave that matter to one side for now and take a look at an incident I came across that led to a video referral. It is relevant to an article on Advantage I recently edited. Co-incidentally the video umpire for that incident, in a match between Malaysia and Spain was also Deon.  

(Blasch was the disengaged umpire during this incident, below, which took place in his colleague’s circle)

Decision contrary to Rule 2014 WC ESP v BEL

Readers will no doubt immediately spot the mistake (invention?) by the video umpire. The ball glanced off the toe of a defender in the circle and was collected by an attacking player, it was then contested for by another defender.

Deon was right that there was no advantage – there was no advantage to the defending team – but he inverted the Rule, because there was also clearly no intent by the hit defender to use the body to stop or deflect the ball, so there was no offence but he assumed an offence and wrongly employed the Advantage Rule 12.1.

He also ‘reinvented’ a Rule criterion because ‘advantage’ was not one of the criteria for a ball-body contact offence in 2014, having, as ‘gains benefit’, been deleted on issue of the 2007 Rules of Hockey. ‘Gains an advantage’ was restored to Rule 9.11, following an FIH Circular, in May 2015 and then reappeared in the rule-book which was effective from January 2016. That umpires openly persisted in applying ‘gained benefit’ or ‘gained an advantage’ despite it not being part of Rule 9.11. for more than eight years prior to May 2015 is a fair indication of the notice they took and still take of the FIH Rules Committee and how what the FIH RC produce, the Rules of Hockey, is subverted.

I can’t detect much difference between “voluntarily” and “positioning with intention to use the body in this way” and, as far as I am aware no FIH official has made any attempt at an explanation of a difference, so intent of one sort or another was really the only criterion for a ball-body contact offence in 2014.

That there was no advantage to the attacking team following the defender’s foot contact was not (and is not at present) a reason to penalise a ball-body contact – and that there was no advantage to the attacking side in this incident was not true anyway – which is why there was no advantage gained by the defending side, it is not possible that both teams could simultaneously gain an advantage over the other because of a single contact incident – logically, one or other did or neither did. The ball was deflected directly to another attacker and play continued with the attacker who received the deflection then making a mess of the shooting opportunity he managed to create.

Should a second defender stand back in such circumstances and allow a clear shot at the goal so that an attacking team have advantage and a penalty corner cannot therefore be awarded following an accidental ball-body/foot contact? That would be plain daft and not at all what the Rule demands now – never mind in 2014 when there was no ‘gains advantage’ to consider. No, there being no offence, play should just have continued to take its course – advantage was irrelevant.

Whether or not gains benefit should have been deleted, rather than amended by the FIH RC, is another matter entirely, but the deletion was caused by umpires assuming as a matter of course – for consistency – that all ball-body contact gained an advantage, which made nonsense of the Explanation provided with the Rule – something had to give.

The obvious conflict between umpiring practice and the Rule wording in a series of rule-book issues between 2007 and 2015 was however an embarrassment – and gains benefit should not have been deleted entirely anyway, so it obviously had to come back – it is a pity it was returned just as it was in 2003 and the opportunity was not taken to make necessary amendments to it.

The video referral “for a foot contact” should have been rejected (The question put should not even have been accepted in that form – and referrals of that sort should not be accepted now – ball-body contact is not automatically an offence, intent or advantage gained are required).

The problem with these kinds of decisions at this level is that they are taken to be correct – “It MUST be the right decision, he’s an FIH Umpire” is a common uncritical attitude. Sadly that is not true; FIH Umpires are human and as prone to error as the rest of us – and they seem to be even more prone to inventing ‘Rules’ (or receiving contrary instruction) than the average club umpire – who will be in error because he or she copies what is seen and heard, on television or video, being done by high level umpires, rather than following what is given in the rule-book.

Yes the content of the rule-book is inadequate, but it IS as it IS. The responses of individual umpires to match incidents may vary this way and that, without prior communication, from place to place and from time to time for no apparent reason – despite (or even because of) the UMB. The rule-book can be amended and it will stay as amended until it is amended again a year or many years later. Get the rule-book to the standard of an acceptable working document and work to it and disagreement and discontent will subside and eventually disappear as consistent interpretation is agreed and written into it (easier now as the Rules of Hockey may be amended by the FIH as and when required, not only every two years as previously). 

Both former Great Britain Captains, Middleton and Fox have recently criticised the continuance of the present penalty corner format (because it is too dangerous) and I hope that others will join them and Orchard in protest at what is presently accepted in that and other areas of Rule and the application of Rule, and that what is now a whisper will become a roar.

The Rules of Hockey are not the preserve of umpires, they are for the use and advice of all participants. Participating umpires are as obliged to abide by them as players are.

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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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Vague?  Yes. How emphasise? How limit?  On what grounds intervene – perhaps by applying the Obstruction Rule?

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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 reintroduced, 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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Neither of the players with the ball can be described as being in the act of receiving the ball – so the Obstruction Rule applies to both  and both have positioned themselves between an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intent to play at it (although there may be some argument about the intentions of the blocked off player shown on the cover of the Indoor rule-book, there can be no argument about the intention of the player in possession of the ball). Maybe it is the intention of the Rules Committee  to illustrate, as a guide to umpires, a breach of this Rule on the covers of both the Indoor and Outdoor rule-books ?

There are recent videos of hockey matches containing several hundred examples of unpenalised obstructive play; a neglected resource the FIH Umpiring Committee could make good use of. The majority of the very few video clips on the subject, published as umpire coaching, notably via Dartfish.com, have so far concentrated on play which is (erroneously) said to be not obstructive, here is an example (in which I have embedded comment), The ‘Interpretation’ provided with the video is given below:-

Interpretation: –

The GER team try and pass the ball out of defence. The GER
player receives the ball and initially moves it out of the playing
distance of the ARG player. When the GER player turns with the
ball, the ARG player is not actively trying to tackle or play the
ball, so there is no obstruction. [….] When the GER player plays the
ball over the stick of the ARG player, it runs out of her playing
distance for an ARG side-line ball. The contact between the two
players’ sticks is accidental and does not affect play.

 

I think it both amazing and absurd that anyone could declare that the ARG player was not trying to play at the ball, when she was clearly prevented, by the GER player, from reaching the ball by obstructive actions, (1) the GER player turning to position between the ARG player and the ball, followed by 2) stepping over the ARG player’s stick and further blocking her path to the ball, and then 3) side-stepping ‘through’ the ARG player’s stick (blocking it) as the ARG player tried to go around her while reaching for the ball. The initial turn is not seen as quickly leading to an obstruction offence as the ARG player closed on the ball, which was not kept beyond her playing reach and neither are the actions 2 and 3 mentioned in the provided ‘interpretation’. This is willful blindness – seeing only what supports a previously decided agenda and omitting relevant information. I have inserted a marker in the Interpretation [….] where the missing actions should have been described. There can be no doubt that but for the illegal (obstructive) actions of the GER player the ARG player would have been able to play at the ball. It is true that the action by the GER player was quick and accurate – skillfully executed – until she managed to tangle her own stick with the stick of the ARG player (not mentioned), but skillfully executed fouls are still offences and must be treated as such. Carrying out offences efficiently does not turn them into legitimate actions.

October 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Obstructive tackling

Rules of Hockey. Spin tackle.

What I have termed a spin tackle may have been happening for some time, but I have not noticed it. I can’t recall seeing it during the 2012 London Olympics or the 2014 World Cup. Now however it ‘jumps out at me’ because of the frequency of occurrence – and because it seems to be seldom penalised. 
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The first GB player impedes the stick of the USA player and that obstructs her – that should have been penalised with a penalty corner (or possibly a penalty stroke). The umpire either missed that offence or allowed (a dubious) advantage because the USA player did not immediately lose possession of the ball.

The USA player does then lose close control of the ball and the second GB player gets her stick to it and ineffectually jabs at it – but the USA player, who is still in contention for it, immediately spins into a position between the ball and the GB player, barging/backing into her opponent and knocking her stick away while doing so, regains control of the ball and then moves away to give herself room to take a reverse edge shot.

(I don’t know why umpires position close to the base-line and the goal-post, at tournaments where there are video referral facilities, when from that position the umpire could not have seen much of what the USA player did to regain control of the ball.)

So we have a combination breach of Rule 9.12 Obstruction and of Rule 9.13 Tackling with body contact, concurrently by a single individual. These are fouls which usually occur between competing players, a player in possession of the ball who obstructs and an opponent who makes body contact while trying to overcome the obstruction and make a tackle; here is a still of an example of such play:-

But, as they say, the game is developing, it’s getting more like soccer every day. I don’t know what the umpires decision was in the incident shown in the photograph, she may well have allowed play to continue instead of awarding a penalty stroke for the first offence – deliberate obstruction – or even penalised the contact tackle which followed. The Obstruction Rule is intended to prevent this sort of ‘play’ occurring.

The following incident is a straightforward movement to position between an opponent and the ball to dispossess the opponent. This too is soccer-like. There is no possibility of ‘tackling’ on the forehand a player in possession of the ball from the left side in this way without body contact, and also obstruction, resulting -even a reverse stick tackle is not easy without making contact from this side, although a great deal easier than it was when the Rule was first framed, a time that stick-heads were much longer and reverse play difficult in any circumstances.

 

The wrong player was penalised (with both team and personal penalty) in the incident below.

If the ball is beyond the stick reach of chasing players there is a different situation, competing for the ball becomes a foot-race, that was not the case here, the USA player was in possession of the ball when obstructed and physically blocked.

During the incident shown in the video below, instead of attempting to play at the ball with a reverse stick, which would be more usual when attempting a tackle from the left of an opponent and trying to avoid making physical contact, the NED defender goes for a forehand challenge and in doing so inserts himself between the AUS attacker and the ball and then pivots about the ball to ‘lever’ and barge the AUS player off it. A deliberate contact offence contrary to Rule 9.3 and also to Rules 9.12 and 9.13. The award of a penalty stroke would have been an appropriate penalty, together with a yellow card – instead the video referral by the AUS team, who asked for a penalty corner, was rejected. The restart was from a 15m ball  awarded to the NED team. The decisions made in these two incidents were astonishing considering the emphasis placed on penalising break-down tackling, in the umpire coaching video, which was issued prior to the Rio Olympics by the Tournament Umpire Managers.

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October 5, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Obsessed

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 27th February 2017.

I was recently ( October 2016) asked why I have “this obsession” with the Obstruction Rule, a question which struck me as odd because I recall having an opposite attitude to ‘umpiring practice’ in regard to obstruction when I first started to write about this Rule around 1998.

In a previous article, now deleted, I described going, in 1968, to a Hockey Festival in Germany and coming across the most extreme interpretation of the Rule and what was called ‘turning’ that I had ever encountered. In a game I was watching, a ball was played from deep on the left flank for the left-winger to chase. This was in the days when there was an off-side Rule and the through-pass put the chasing left-winger well clear of opponents and on his way to the goal. The pitch was of shale and a bit uneven and the ball popped up causing the winger who was then close to it to over-run it. He turned to collect the ball and the umpire immediately penalised him for ‘turning’ and awarded a free to the opposing team. There was not another player within 15m of him. I was astonished, but the winger, (and everybody else on the pitch) accepted the decision as if it was normal, they were used to this interpretation and behaved as if it were correct.  (This sort of thing explains in part why many players never bother to learn the FIH published Rules – they are an irrelevance in such circumstances and knowing what they are just causes annoyance with the umpiring that is encountered).

I also had experience of an extreme interpretation of shielding in one of my own games. I was running in possession of the ball towards an opponent and as he made a long forward step in an attempt to tackle me I side-stepped to my right and took the ball past him. We passed each other closely but without touching, his lunge forward caused him to be off-balance, with no chance of contact with the ball or of recovery of position. I was penalised for running between my opponent and the ball – apparently I should have passed by him beyond his theoretical playing reach, rather than his actual playing reach from his off-balance position. 

The Obstruction Rule up until the early 1990’s was strictly enforced, by some over- strictly, but it was generally not that daft. It did not almost prevent the playing of the game. I later learned that these interpretations were peculiar to an individual who had control of umpire selection in that area of Germany and it was ‘local’.

The video clip below, which was produced in 2003, was probably the work of someone used to the pre-1992 application of the Obstruction Rule, but even by the understanding and common application (‘practice’) of the Rule in 1992 it is completely wrong. There is no obstruction shown in this part of the video clip. It has always been impossible to obstruct with the body a player who is not own goal-side of the ball and who is behind the play i.e. behind both the ball and the player in possession of the ball, as the player in red in the video is positioned. (and at no point does the blue player pull the ball back, as the commentator/coach declares she does, nor does she illegally shield it from her opponent with her body, it is always in front of her feet as she moves towards the opponent’s base-line).


I don’t know what players and umpires made of this video when it was first produced. Those who saw it probably just ignored it because by 2004 the Obstruction Rule was for all intents and purposes ‘dead’.  I then found myself on the ‘other side of the fence’, going from having attacked the absurdity of turning or shielding when there was no-one turned on or the ball shielded from, to having to attack the equal absurdity of these fouls, often combined with physical contact, not being penalised at all, in fact the obstructed player often being penalised for a ‘phantom’ tackle.

Compare the above ‘obstruction’ with the below 2016 penalising of a tackle attempt, bearing in mind that there has been no change to the Rule except a tightening up and clarification concerning positioning between an opponent and the ball by a player in possession of the ball, added in 2009  – and there has been no announcement of any change of interpretation at all made by the FIH and no change made to the wording of the interpretation of the Rule since 2001 (and that was ‘housekeeping’ which did not in any way alter the existing interpretation, so there has been no change of any significance since 1994).

My persistence in pointing out the 2009 amendment to the Explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule, on the websites talkinghockey.com and fieldhockeyforum.com was rewarded with bans from both. George Brinks told me the Obstruction Rule was ‘dead’ and my insisting on writing about it was driving people away from his forum. Here, below, is my notification of my permanent exclusion from fieldhockeyforum.com – a typical umpire ‘interpretation’ by Magpie (a previous moderator), a convenient invention without any justification whatsoever.

ban3_zpsfb960238
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Neither of these people were interested in what I was actually advocating, they incorrectly assumed I wanted a return to the pre-1993 era. The following clips indicate what I consider to be both legal and attractive hockey – I am not at all opposed to turning on or with the ball as long as it is not obstructive play.

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The art of evasion with the ball by turning is about timing, spatial awareness, footwork, ball-control (stickwork) and, to a lesser extent, speed – and when properly done, which is a difficult combination of skills, it makes for attractive hockey. Not at all what we are generally getting at present.

Because of the 2009 amendment to the wording of the Explanation of application, the present (2017) Obstruction Rule is actually more proscriptive of obstructive action by a player in possession of the ball than the Rule was in 2004 – but ‘practice’ is very different.

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This swing from one far extreme to another has also occurred in other Rule areas (I have also been accused at various times of being ‘obsessed’ with – fieldhockeyforum have also effectively banned any discussion of the shot at goal as a dangerously raised ball – the ‘final word’, a weak and inaccurate article by Diligent (Chris Horton), one of the forum moderators, having been pinned to the top of the Umpiring Section. 

The control of dangerous play had gone from the prohibition of any raising of the ball towards another player, a (poorly enforced) Rule extant in 2003, to the deletion of the Forcing Rule (2011) and collected along the way (2008) the invention that an on target shot at the goal could not be considered dangerous (which although dangerously absurd is ‘practice’, and so far more powerful than any Rule published by the FIH.RC could ever be). The following video is an example where this “cannot be dangerous” invention seems to be the only possible explanation why the umpire did not penalise the shooter but awarded a penalty corner against the defender who was hit with the ball.

 

The ball-body contact Rule has been plagued with alternate reintroductions and deletions of ‘gained advantage’ and ‘intentionally’ (often in other forms such as, ‘gains benefit’ and ‘voluntarily’ or ‘deliberately‘). Sometimes these changes have been made to the Rule Proper and sometimes to the Explanation (of application). Sometimes both terms have been used, at other times neither. At present the Rule Proper appears to conflict with the Explanation, so those who regard the Explanation as ‘notes’ and not as direction, apply the Rule in an entirely different way to those who read and apply the Rule using all the provided instruction (which is obviously what is intended by the FIH RC when giving such instruction). Yet others ‘cherry-pick’ the Explanation, so the ball-body contact Rule is now applied as severely, and as illogically, as I saw the Obstruction Rule (according to local ‘practice’) being applied in 1968 – to the point of ruining the game.

Here is a sample of umpire coaching (also by Chris Horton) published in a County Hockey Umpiring Association Handbook in 2009, a time when ‘gains benefit’ was not in the Rule Explanation. The criteria for offence were a voluntarily made contact or positioning with intent to use the body to stop the ball.

The notes to the foot body rule 9.11 say 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.

  So “in practice”, according to the above opinion (and employing “alters the balance of play” in place of ‘gains benefit’), the Rule can be applied in a way that is the opposite of what a reading of the Rules of Hockey would lead any reasonable person to expect. Isn’t that wonderful? If the above advice to new umpires strikes you as perverse you would be astonished by an account of how ‘gains benefit’ came to be continued to be applied after 2006 despite the fact that the FIH Rules Committee had deleted it on issue of the 2007-9 Rules of Hockey. ‘Gains advantage’, the replacement of ‘gains benefit’, did not appear in the Rules of Hockey until 2016  (effective from May 2015 by order via a FIH Circular) but, ‘practice’ was always ‘the Rule’, not what was printed in the rule-book .

Then we have the Rule on the raised hit, which started out as a prohibition on the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit. That prohibition after many see-saw changes, was extended to all raising of the ball into the circle and then deleted (the usual extremes, all or nothing). The present Rule on the intentionally raised hit (which should not have been introduced in such an extreme form, all that was needed was a height limit to prevent the long high chip hit) has been undermined to the extent that it is virtually ignored because of the forget lifted-think danger mantra which has become ‘practice’.

The Rule on the falling ball has been messed up by firstly, change to the wording of and then ignoring, the second clause of the Dangerous Play Rule  …or leading to dangerous play. and secondly, by poor wording of Rule 9.10. (for example, the deletion of “at the time the ball was raised” from the Guidance) The results are different views on the placement of the free ball awarded for danger and other contravention following a scoop pass (an aerial) and an attempt to make a ‘one size fits all’ type of decision about that placement for at least three very different scenarios – which is absurd – but ‘practice’. 

And it goes on. I have sufficient ‘Rule obsessions’ to obsess about a different one every day of the week. All a complete waste of time of course, but that is what games are for, to occupy our time and to prevent us using our intelligence on more important matters.  

                      

September 26, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Raising the ball into the circle.

Rules of Hockey. Raised hit. Raising the ball into the circle.

Edited 25, March 2017.

The potential for danger of the ball raised into the circle has long been recognised, probably for almost as long as hockey has been played in the modern era. Prior to the introduction of the ban on the raised hit in the late 1980’s (except when taking a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle), it had been for many years illegal to raise the ball into the circle. There were over time several variations of this Rule and it also went through the extremes, but it was never prior to the current version an offence only if done intentionally or only if danger actually occurred – the long established prohibition of raising the ball directly into the circle with a hit was a simple Rule that was easy for players to understand and observe and for umpires to apply, but for some unknown reason it could not be left alone :-

1) There was a long-standing prohibition on raising the ball into the circle with a hit.

2) then (usually for single year each time) a free-for-all on deletion of that Rule (or another). 

3) then a very hedged reintroduction of prohibition of any raising of the ball into the circle, which was complicated (there were exceptions) and therefore very badly applied – usually too strictly (it was not as daft or as complicated as the present ban on playing a ball directly into the opponent’s circle from a free awarded in their 23m area, but the same absurdity was present

4) finally (I have reduced the number of steps because some changes were just a recycle or a ‘see-saw’ of a previous version) the present situation where the ball should not be intentionally raised into the circle with a hit (because all intentionally raised hits outside the opposing circle are prohibited), but there is nothing at all said in the Rules of Hockey about flicks and scoops into the opposing circle nor about raised deflections. 

The problem with the present Rule is wilful blindness to intention within ‘umpire practice’, ‘enshrined’ in the UMB with the phrase “forget lifted – think danger“,  which also ‘forgets’ that opponents in the circle may be disadvantaged by an illegally raised hit from outside the circle, even when they are not endangered by it – and that is precisely why attacking players raise the ball into the circle.

(generally the ball is raised with a slap hit, although edge hits – both (an illegal ‘hard’) fore and reverse edge hits are employed – as well the full power forehand top-spin ‘banana’ hits which were once popular with penalty corner strikers. We now have only “forget lifted”. To remember “think danger” would be to be able to keep in mind two possibly conflicting thoughts and still be able to behave rationally).

The video clip below is of a hit being made into the circle and what resulted from it. This incident demonstrates that it does not matter what the Rules are if they are not applied. Have a look at the video and see if you agree with the final outcome, which was the recommendation of the award of a penalty corner, after a video referral by the defending side, questioning the initial penalty corner award, was rejected. I have no idea what the question put to the video umpire was, but there are several grounds upon which a properly framed referral should have been upheld.

 

 

One.  The ball was raised intentionally with a hit in the area outside the opponent’s circle. Rule 9.9. prohibits this action.

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 also an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field if it is raised in a dangerous way. Technically the ball was not raised dangerously by the attacker – there was no opponent within 5m and evasive action was not necessary and was not attempted by the first defender – but clearly self-defence from a raised ball that could have injured him was forced on the second defender and it would be reasonable to consider such raising of the ball as play (by the striker) resulting in dangerous play.

Let us suppose the umpire though the ball may have been raised accidentally.

 

Two.   The ball was hit hard with the fore-hand edge of the stick, a prohibited action.

9.6 Players must not hit the ball hard on the forehand with the edge of the stick.

Let us suppose the umpires did not see the edge hit and thought a slap-hit with the face of the stick had been used.

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The ball was deflected off the stick of one defender and hit a second defender on the body.

Three.  Being hit with the ball is not necessarily an offence by the player hit (which is ‘dealt with’ by the following Rule and the (now conflicting) Explanation of application)

9.11 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.
The player (who stops or deflects the ball with the body) only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

Clearly the player who was hit with the ball did not position with the intention of using his body to stop the deflected ball. But was there an advantage gained because the ball was stopped by the body of this defender? To decide that it is necessary to determine where the ball would most likely have gone if it had not hit the second defender.

What seems probable from the video evidence is that it would have deflected into the possession of a third defender.

The less likely alternatives are that it would have run loose and have been contested for by players from both teams or that  (unlikely) it would have gone off the pitch over the base-line for a 23m ball to the attackers, before any player could take possession of it.

My conclusion is that two umpires (match umpire and video umpire), appointed to this tournament, being among the best available in the world, would not miss either an intentionally raised hit of this sort or the illegal use of a forehand edge-hit, but they might have ignored those two criteria and instead have focused on dangerous raising of the ball, following forget lifted – think danger. But in ‘forgetting’ lifted they also (in this instance) overlooked that opponents had been unfairly disadvantaged by two concurrent deliberate offences

The two criteria for a ball-body contact offence are routinely ignored, so it is not necessary to offer an explanation for that happening in this particular instance. But there is no reason (other than penalising the prior illegal raising of the ball) why either umpire – but especially the video umpire – should not have considered where the ball would have gone if it had not hit a defender – and then decided that there was no advantage gained by the defending team.

In this incident two deliberate offences by the striker of the ball, either of which could be said to have disadvantaged the defending team, were ignored and an accidental ball-body contact, incidental to the raised ball, which was not an offence, was penalised with a penalty corner, so SNAFU (Situation Normal All F***** Up)

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The solution to the initial problem, the ball raised (deliberately or otherwise) into the circle is not very difficult to work out, but of course any replacement Rule must be properly observed.

The following four suggested amendments would need to be enacted together.

The first step is to remove the prohibition of the lifted hit in the area outside the opponent’s circle. 

The second, to institute an absolute height limit (of shoulder height ?) on any hit ball in the area outside the opponent’s circle (not dangerous play related, dangerous play being a separate issue with other ball height limits imposed -see  http://wp.me/pKOEk-2cq) that ‘deals’ with the long high clip or chip hit (similar to the modern long scoop) the initial ban on the intentionally raised hit was supposed to deal with (it also deals with the extraordinary number of times there is an ‘accidental’ raising of the ball, to considerable height, with an edge-hit made in the area outside the opponent’s circle).

Now we have a ‘clean slate’.  

The third, prohibit any raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit. (this means a hit away from the control of the hitter and excludes low ‘dink’ hits made by a player dribbling with the ball who retains possession of the ball)  

The fourth, a height limit (of knee height ?) on any ball raised directly into the opponent’s circle with a flick, scoop or deflection.

And finally, a (belt and braces) prohibition on playing or playing at the ball when it is above shoulder height within the opponent’s circle.

 

So what happens when the ball is deflected and raised above the limit height into the opponent’s circle – accidentally or otherwise? A free-ball, to be taken from the point the ball was raised, is awarded. 

It’s perfectly possible to instead prohibit scoops or high deflections into the area inside the hash circle, if that would be considered to lead to safer and/or fairer outcomes – if the ball  lands and then rebounds high off the pitch for example. It would also be providential as it would give the hash circle a function again.

The restoration of prohibition of the raising the ball (especially high) into the circle and a prohibition on playing at the ball when it is above shoulder height inside the opponent’s circle, is the very least that should be offered by way of ‘compensation’ and safeguarding following the deletion of off-side in 1997. (see article A Broken Promise  http://wp.me/pKOEk-2ln)

 

The above video is of an example of play which is more akin to hurling than it is to hockey; there are at least three breaches of the Rules of Hockey by the attacking side.

I suppose in the incident below, from the 2012 Olympics (so when any attempt to play the ball at above shoulder height by any player except a defender defending the goal, was illegal), the umpire attempted to allow ‘advantage’ when the ball went up off the goalkeeper. But allowing ‘advantage’ (even when appropriate, which was not the case in this example as the potential for subsequent dangerous play was obvious) should not permit the allowed play-on to ignore other Rules. Again it does not matter what the Rules are if they are not applied or incorrectly applied.

September 22, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Combination fouls, Rule interpretation

Rules of Hockey. Combining physical contact offences with obstruction. Interpretation of obstruction.

Edited 30th September 2016. Videos with comment added.

In a recent article

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/field-hockey-rules-obstruction-and-physical-contact/ 

I responded to the assertion that the offence of obstruction requires that there be physical contact made. The assertion is not true, but I thought it would be useful to take a fresh look at the penalising of obstruction to see how umpires respond to it when it is combined with physical contact. The results of my focused search are dismaying. It seems more likely that a defender who has been backed or shunted into will be penalised for the contact or the incident will be ignored, than that the defender will be awarded a free-ball for either offence by the opponent.

The combination of obstruction and physical contact is not new, it’s as old as hockey, but there have been developments in the technique in recent years. Here (video below) is the ‘old-fashioned’, from the side and behind obstructive barge, still in active service but not now always penalised especially if the ‘tackler’ runs from behind and between the player in possession of the ball and the ball (usually from the left) with minimal contact – this is a form of the original “running between a player and the ball” mentioned in early rule-books (another being ‘third-party’, usually occurring when both players were beyond playing distance of the ball). The umpire awarded a 23m restart for the attackers from this incident (still referred to as a corner and indicated by a comic combination of signals), seeing neither the physical contact with or the obstruction of the ball holder as a foul.

 

The video below is of an incident that occurred in a World Cup match in 2010. I was shocked by it when I first saw it. Firstly, because the separate actions of the AUS player 1) going over the top of the ball and physically blocking the GER player and 2) deliberately, and powerfully, forcing the ball into the feet of another GER player (a separate offence at the time) – are shocking in themselves because of the degree of physical force used – and secondly, because neither offence was penalised: a GER player, one of the victims of these assaults, was penalised for the forced ball-foot contact.

I am no longer shocked by such actions or by such umpiring, I have become used to it because I watch quite a lot of international level hockey via video, but I am heartily sick of hockey being played and officiated in this way. Hockey should be a game of stick and ball skills without any intentional ball shielding or physical contact at all, such skills are ‘spectacular’ when well executed (if other people prefer to see players with sticks knocking ‘seven bells’ out of each other – or even want to engage in it- there is an equally fantastic game called hurling they would do well to experience).   

This particular incident was head-on and brutal; much shielding/contact play is now carried out in a more subtle way, but it still often results in a player being knocked to the ground and to injury. 

Below is a recent example of the Dutch demonstrating to the Australians how well they have learned this trick and developed it into a ‘turn-into and lever away from the side’ approach to prising the ball away from an opponent – a slight improvement on the Australian ‘into over the top of the ball’ tactic which could possibly injure both players, but still involving strong physical contact and obstruction.

Watching the video and awaiting the outcome of the video referral by the Australians, I was wondering if the video umpire would have the ‘bottle’ to recommend a penalty stroke or go with the safe and ‘acceptable’ option of a penalty corner: he did neither. Having watched the video repeatedly, I still can’t understand why he rejected the referral and a 15m was awarded to the NED team. But interpretation and opinion are strange things, which appear to have little to do with the wording of the Rules of Hockey. At the time I posted the first video above, in January 2011, I received comment to it from a couple of individuals, that in their view the GER player had committed an offence by running into the back of the AUS player when the AUS player was in possession of the ball – I assumed, and hope, they were just trying to ‘wind me up’.

Both of the above are tackling incidents (and both contravened four Rules simultaneously, Rules. 9.3, 9.8, 9.12, and 9.13  –  plus the now deleted 9.15 in the first clip  –  which is quite an achievement considering it was a member of the opposing team that was penalised in both cases).

Direct physical contact and obstruction are also used by players already in controlled possession of the ball, especially when they are trying to break past an opponent into the circle.

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The turn and back-in with physical contact is used so frequently as a means of achieving circle penetration (and has been for a long time now) that it has become almost standard: the uninformed might be forgiven for thinking it is legal. There is of course nothing at all wrong with turning on or with the ball but it requires good timing, to avoid physical contact – most players turn too late and/or not wide enough. Unlike soccer, in which receiving players facing their own goal are encouraged to make contact with and use that contact to ‘roll’ off an opponent, in hockey there has to be movement of a ball-holder away from an opponent rather than into an opponent and there needs to be sufficient early lateral movement made to avoid physical contact. The ‘trick’ by the GER players in the video above was clever and used a turn with high foot speed, but it was two fouls – physical contact and obstruction – although of course neither was penalised.

As always it helps when the opponent makes a charge or reaches for the ball and is committed to moving in a direction or is off-balance, so the space available for the ball holder to move into is obvious. It is very difficult at low speed or from a near stationary position to spin-turn past an opponent who is able to retreat and is alert to the possibility of a turn on the ball, but the high speed ‘spin-turn’ requires space and also considerable skill to execute successfully – i.e. lots of practice at full speed before it is used in a competitive match.
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Players in possession of the ball also commonly shield it behind the feet while moving sideways or leading the ball diagonally forward and they frequently knock opponents aside or oblige opponents to give way, to avoid making physical contact with them, while doing so (opponents retreat because any physical contact by a tackler might be construed as a breach of Rule 9.13, which forbids a tackle attempt by a player from a position in which physical contact will occur, and umpires are much stricter about contact tackling than they are about ball shielding, which in fact they generally ignore – that is why the decision in the second video above so surprised me, the first thing the defender did was to ensure he made physical contact, to block off the progress of the attacker).

In the incident shown below the German player, who was himself here guilty of prior ball shielding, became so irritated with the umpire for not awarding the GER team at least a penalty corner for the play of the IND defender, that he made comment which earned him a green card.  

I can understand his frustration; it is incredible that the umpire could stand watching that passage of play and see no offence that required his intervention and a penalty award. The game continued with a side-line ball.

 

It is now very noticeable in hockey matches that players usually stand off an opponent in possession of the ball when that opponent is in a ball shielding position – the extreme opposite to the way tacklers behaved towards a ball shielding opponent prior to 1992. I hope that some day a sensible compromise will be achieved, but that day is a long way off at the moment. 

 

   
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The comparatively trivial incident shown below was on the line of sight of the umpire who therefore had a foreshortened and blocked view of the players (the nearer player blocking view of the further) and it happened very quickly, so he missed it entirely. It looks to have been accidental, but the player in possession of the ball did run past it, even if unintentionally, so he was leading the ball, and he did then obstruct the defender – the defender seems to have had no idea he had been fouled or had got used to such fouls not being penalised, so made no protest. There is however no different in Rule between this incident and the first one shown above, both were obstruction and both were also physical contact offences. There should of course be a more severe penalty for offences which are deliberate and more so for those carried out so forcefully that they are dangerous to opponents.

 

The above incident contrasts well with the one below, which is a case of a not immoveable object meeting an irresistible force and having to give away. 


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Turning on the ball and with the ball could and should be a quick and attractive skill, but most of it is pedestrian. Some of it is static, in that it makes no progress and is not intended to do so – it is often done with the sole aim of positioning to ‘slam’ the ball into the feet of an opponent from close range, horrible – and we can also do without the play epitomised by holding the ball in a corner of the pitch for a couple of minutes, it’s ugly, boring and makes a mockery of the Rules of the game.

Resolving the issues. 

The Obstruction Rule, concerning ball shielding by a player in possession of the ball, is easy to understand using simple criteria regarding an opponent who is trying to dispossess the ball holder. 

The tackling player must be

  1. within playing reach of the ball.
  2. demonstrating an intent to play at the ball.
  3. in a position where he or she could play directly at the ball if it were not shielded by the body or stick of the player in possession of it.

It is the second part of the third criterion above that is ‘forgotten’ “if it were not shielded by the body or stick of the player in possession of it.

We have now instead only the first part of that statement applied “in a position where he or she could play directly at the ball”, which of course presents an impossibility if a ball holder moves his or her body or moves the ball, in response to any adjustments of position made by an opponent who is trying to tackle for the ball.

There is an impossibility created because the body (spin and pivot) movements of the ball holder, who is of course closer to the ball, can be completed more quickly than those of the positioning or re-positioning tackler, who has to move around the body of the ball-holder without touching the ball-holder. And ball movements with the stick, to position the ball, so that it is maintained in a position to the far side the ball-holder’s body from the tackler, will always be made much more quickly than a tackler can adjust his or her tackling position. 

I do not believe that the FIH Rules Committee, when drafting Rule 9.12. and 9.13. intended to set up a situation in which a legal tackle for the ball by a single individual would or could be made impossible – but that is the result of the ‘interpretation’ of “attempting to play it” (from Rule 9.12 below) that is currently being applied. It can take two or three tacklers some time to ‘pry’ a ball held by an opponent out of a corner of the pitch or away from a side-line and even then it is often done at the expense of a side-line or free-ball to the opposing team.

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.

That can be made more concise by getting rid of the use of an exception and the unnecessary observation that a player with the ball can move off (move away from opponents) in any direction – and putting aside moving bodily into an opponent – we can also then achieve the clear prohibitive statement:

A player with the ball is not permitted to move (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.

Rule 9.12.Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball. Forbids obstruction of a tackler. Rule 9.13. Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact. Effectively forbids a tackle for the ball when an opponent is shielding it with his or her body – because in such situations there may be body contact.

If the ball holder ensures that an opponent cannot even attempt to play at the ball without making body contact – by continually moving either his or her body or the ball – we have a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. Replacing what has been lost by ‘simplification and clarification’ “…if it were not shielded by the body or stick of the player in possession of it.” is perfectly fair and resolves the conundrum.

My search of previous rule-books  after writing the above, discovered wording in the Rules Interpretations section of the rule-books prior to the major change to the Obstruction Rule in 1992/3 (A change which allowed a receiver to accept and control the ball before moving away from opponents rather than after moving away to make space to receive the ball, without being guilty of an of an obstructive offence. This change remains the only change made to the Obstruction Rule since 1993 other than the clarification “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.” ) The wording (below) is not identical to that of the three criteria I remembered, there are in fact four criteria, there is also a stipulation that a tackler should not interfere with the legitimate actions of the player in possession of the ball (presumably a reminder not to make any physical contact in the days before a separate Rule 9.13 existed), but the criteria are otherwise similar statements.

BODY OBSTRUCTION AND INTERFERENCE
A player may not place any part of his body or stick between an opponent and the ball. Such actions are called obstruction and may also be referred to as screening the ball or blocking.


Obstruction can only happen when:
a) an opponent is trying to play the ball
b) an opponent is in a position to play the ball without interfering with the legitimate actions of the player with the ball
c) the ball is within playing distance or could be played if no obstruction had taken place.

Again, it is the second of the last criteria listed “or could be played if no obstruction had taken place.which is now ‘forgotten’.

These interpretations were not deleted when the entire Rules Interpretations section was removed from the back of the rule-book, they were redistributed, initially as Rule Guidance prior to 2004 and then as Explanation (of application of the Rule), often with change to the wording used, but not with a change of meaning or purpose of them. But some statements or parts of them, were lost along the way because of ‘simplification and clarification’. Unfortunately some simplification did not result in clarification, quite the reverse. For example, the following very specific list of prohibited obstructive actions, from the 2002 rule-book, didn’t all get included in the ‘streamlined’ 2004 rewrite, even though the application of the Rule would be much clearer if they (particularly the third and fourth listed) had been – and hockey would have been much the better for it.

Umpires should be aware of players who are in possession of the ball who:
back into an opponent;
• turn and try to push past an opponent;
• 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.

Were the missing actions (regular text) left out of the 2004 rule-book and then umpires adjusted their umpiring? Not at all, it was the other way about (just as with the offence of Forcing in 2011). Umpires were ignoring these actions so, presumably because ‘umpiring practice’ was so obviously and embarrassingly at odds with the published Rules and Advice to Umpires, that what was published was ‘adjusted’ to comply with ‘practice’. (But it is not, possible to keep up with changes to ‘practice’; backing into an opponent while in possession of the ball, a criterion that was included the 2004 rewrite and still in the Rule Explanation is now seldom penalised). 


A reminder of current ‘interpretation’ (the result of an overlooked and omitted criteria) in ‘practice’ This is the kind of play and umpiring guaranteed to drive spectators and television viewers away from the game, there is nothing attractive about it. 

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http://vid381.photobucket.com/albums/oo252/Conundrum_2008/Whereinterpretationhasgotus_zps640e3d76.mp4

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A different view.

Below is an umpire coaching video which presents an interpretation of what is not obstruction that I cannot agree with (the opening sequence for example is in my opinion only “not obstruction” because no attempt is being made to make a tackle. The backing-in then demonstrated by the ball-holder is certainly a physical contact offence, but not obstruction because there is still no attempt to make a tackle. The absence of a tackle attempt changes in the set up ‘play scenarios’ and there then is obstruction taking place).

It is the view of Cris Maloney of UmpireHockey.com, who produced this video, that physical contact is required for there to be an obstruction offence. I have been unable to get him to change his mind on this point. I asked him to withdraw this video and replace it with another based on a literal interpretation of the wording given in the Rules of Hockey, but he has not done so, which is disappointing as I need his support.

He points to current top level umpiring practice in support of his position on the matter. It is what top level umpires do – their ‘interpretations’ and ‘practice’ –  rather than the wording of the Rules of Hockey that influences the coaches of both players and umpires in their preparations for competitive matches. The wrong approach to the application of the Obstruction Rule has become a ‘runaway train’.

It is not the FIH Rules Committee who decide how the Rules of Hockey, that they draft and provide, will be applied. A strange situation that the FIH Executive, who approve the Rules drafted by the FIH RC (but have no say in the ‘interpretation’ and Rule application practiced by umpires), should address.

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The video below contains action that prompted the umpire to penalise for obstruction, but the only reason I can see that he did not penalise the offender about ten second earlier is because he penalised only when the ARG player combined obstruction with physical contact, by backing into the GER player who was attempting to tackle for the ball. In other words he did not see any of the ball shielding actions prior to the physical contact as obstructive play contrary to Rule 9.12.
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The GER player was (at least three times) 1) within playing reach of the ball 2) demonstrating an intention to play at the ball, and 3) the only reason he could not play at the ball was because it was (here deliberately) shielded from him by the body of the ARG player: that’s obstruction, it is incorrect to wait for obstruction to be compounded with physical contact before penalising it. It is difficult to know what criteria umpires are using to determine obstruction. Here (video below) is the same umpire, early in the same match, apparently penalising a GER player for obstruction as soon as he moves to position between the ball and the ARG player who is closing to make a tackle attempt. 
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Penalising obstruction in this way is very unusual but it occurs occasionally, seemingly at random. Such penalty is in stark contrast to the lack of penalty, for long ball-shielding and holding ‘dribbles’, that are used to waste time in the corners of the pitch  – which should not be allowed to happen.

(Amusing to see the ARG player attempt to take a quick self-pass and then change his mind and pretend he was positioning the ball – in the wrong place. A second whistle is needed to control free-ball situations.)
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September 14, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Deflections and the falling ball.

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 10th April 2017   Added – a link to sample ‘discussion’ of the problem on fieldhockeyforum.com  – in a thread where posts were deleted and the topic locked by an ignorant moderator.

Falling Ball.      Aerial Passes.   Deflections.     Dangerous Play.    Penalty Positions.

This article is about the aerial pass and the falling ball in general but, wanders into several related contentious areas.

initial-setup

Diagram One. Aerial Pass from a free-ball.

The introduction of facility to raise the ball with a flick or a scoop directly from a free-ball and most other restarts (the insert of the ball during a penalty corner may not be intentionally raised) is one of the factors that has led to an increase in the use of the aerial pass. In view of this increase the Rules concerning the falling ball, which have never been entirely clear, need revision.

Diagram One illustrates an ideal and very unlikely scenario in that:-

1) During a free-ball Player A does not need be concerned about a contravention of Rule 9.9. because player C is at least 5m from the ball and A is unlikely to contravene Rule 9.8, by causing player C to take evasive action, unless the scoop is ‘fluffed’

2) Opponents D and E are a minimum of 5m from the intended receiver B before and during the making of the aerial pass 

3) D and E remain a minimum of 5m from B as an accurate pass is made. 

4) The pass is too high to be intercepted by D, therefore B is the clear initial receiver.

5) Player B is allowed to control the ball to ground before either player D or E approach to within 5m of it.

All but the first item in the above list are “and pigs will fly”. In real life as soon as it is realised that Player A intends to throw an aerial pass either D or E will move to closely mark B  and unless they are considerably more than 5m from B one or other of them will be standing next to B long before the ball has reached the apex of flight and the umpire has some idea of the target area, that is where the ball will fall. This may not be so with lob passes, which may be directed to a player less than 15m away from the passer, and the passage of play can be easily seen from a single viewpoint, but it is usually the case when aerial passes are made to players 40m – 60m or more away.

Often the best an umpire, who has been watching the making of an aerial pass, to ensure the ball is raised safely, can do, is to note the general locations of the players in the assumed landing area as the ball begins to fall from the apex of flight. It is usually the umpire towards whose end the ball is falling who makes a decision but, this umpire may not begin to observe what happens surrounding an aerial pass until the ball is actually falling (this is often too late and he or she should be more aware of the relative positions of possible contestants for the ball, because this umpire is generally not involved in the watching for safety of the raising of the ball).  It is not necessary for the umpire towards who’s end the ball is coming to watch the ball at all, he or she can get a very good idea of where it is heading, once aware a scoop has been made, by watching the reactions of the players – and that is by far the more useful thing to do.

Even comparatively simple judgements are subject to ‘brain fade’ if the umpire is ball watching particularly when the ball is on the way up.
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The quality of this video clip is not good but it can be seen (despite the camera movement blur) that the defending player was probably more than 10m from the intended receiver when the ball was raised.

Two umpires, who happen to be positioned slightly off the line of flight of the ball as an aerial pass is made are more likely together to be accurate in their assessment of player positions and whether or not there has been an encroachment offence (a breach of Rule 9.10) because it is likely that all the players involved will be in ‘frame’ for both umpires for the duration of the incident. So for accuracy of decision a lot depends on where an aerial pass is made from and in which direction it is propelled. In general aerial passes made from the left side of the pitch and near to or within the 23m area to land in or near the opposing 23m area on the right flank are likely to be easier to observe for Rule compliance then either central scoops directly down the centre of the pitch or those made from anywhere on the right side of the pitch towards the centre or left flank. The flight path of these passes cannot be anywhere near the line of sight of either umpire, but that is not to say accurate decisions about player positions are impossible, they are just more difficult.

The video shows an aerial passe made by the Belgium team in the second half of a WL match against Australia a few years back. There were some very odd decisions made in that match regarding the receiving of an aerial pass, to the extent of awarding a free ball to the wrong team, as well as a startling leniency from the umpires towards repeated contravention of Rule 9.10. (allowing an advantage to develop following an offence is not a reason not to award a card at the first opportunity to the opposing team offender where one is appropriate).

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Turning to more likely scenarios we have below, in plan view, play by player A which is in breach of Rule 9.8. – but, assuming a clear safe scoop from a free ball, not the first part of the Rule, playing the ball dangerously, but the second part  –  “or in a way that leads to dangerous play“.

(The wording used to beor in a way that is likely to lead to dangerous play“. I think both phrases ought now to be included in the Rule wording so that the second clause of the Rule reads: – or in a way that leads or is likely to lead to dangerous play because the current wording appears to oblige an umpire to wait until dangerous play has actually occurred instead of exercising his or her judgement about the potential for danger to players following certain actions and intervening just before it does occur).

double-dangerous-play

Diagram two. Double dangerous play.

 

 

The direct aerial pass  made by player A to player B, who is closely marked by player D, looks like a straightforward instance of dangerous play by player A, because it is possible, even probable, that the pass will to lead to dangerous play, that is a contest for the falling ball by both player B and player D.

If B and D do contest for the ball while it is still in the air * (that is dangerously) then, following the Explanation given with Rule 9.10 there is a second and third offence committed by player B, who is a player of the same team as the passer of the ball.

*(Umpire intervention is unnecessary if players D and B allow the ball to fall to ground before competing for it, but a wise umpire will have penalised player A  just before the ball is within playing reach of players B and D if player B has not already retreated. The umpire cannot reasonably stand by when it looks very likely that there will be dangerous play and by not intervening simply allow it to occur. This is a matter of timing; it is necessary for the umpire to allow time for the players to orientate and calculate where the ball will fall – they too cannot do that with reasonable accuracy until after it has reached the apex of flight – but not to wait, until after contest and dangerous play has occurred, to penalise ). 
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So there are then three offences, player A contravenes the second clause of Rule 9.8 and player B contravenes both what is given in the Explanation of Rule 9.10 and also the first clause of Rule 9.8, particularly if the ball is contested for when still above shoulder height, i.e. at about head level – but who caused the danger? This is an important question because it determines where, in such circumstances, the penalty (if it is a free ball) must be taken from.

Both players A and B cause danger but player A does so first and without the action taken by player A (the scoop pass into a position occupied at the time by opposing team players) player B would have been given no opportunity to cause danger, so if a free ball is awarded (rather than a penalty corner) it should be taken at the place that player A raised the ball. 

Sometimes this scenario does not lead to dangerous play, if it does or not will depend on what player B does well before the ball has fallen to within playing reach. The Explanation of the application of Rule 9.10. states that where there is no clear initial receiver “the player of the team which raised the ball must allow the opponent to receive it”  but how “allow“?

Obviously that means that player B should not interfere to prevent or inhibit player D in receiving and controlling the ball and that is clearly best done by moving away to allow space to player D to accept and control the ball. How far should player B move away? Many would say at least 5m. So why doesn’t the Rule specify that in these circumstances player B should or must move away from player D and also specify the distance?  The Rule mentions only ‘allow’ and ‘not approach’ an opposing player receiving the ball. ‘Not approach’ is obviously not a condition that can be freshly breached if the intended receiver is already closely marked at the time the pass is made. A marker is not ‘approaching’ even a moving opponent if he or she moves with the marked player and maintains the existing close distance between them. The answer to the Rule question (and a possible solution to the problem which arises) may be discovered when we come to examine deflection scenarios.

For the moment it is sufficient to say that if player B does allow player D to receive the ball without interference (preferably by moving away) then the three offences mentioned above do not occur. (If the Rule wording were to include “or likely to lead to dangerous play” there would still be an offence by player A, but as the ‘likely dangerous play’ would not materialise if player B moved away, there would be no unfair disadvantage caused to the team of player D and no need for the umpire to intervene, indeed Rule 12 Penalties Advantage would prevent an umpire from doing so 12.1 Advantage : a penalty is awarded only when a player or team has been disadvantaged by an opponent breaking the Rules.).

A player who makes aerial pass to team-mate who is in a position where the ball may be contested for in the air and it is so contested for, should be discouraged from doing so (again) with severe penalty. Umpires should not hesitate to take the ball back to point of lift to award a free-ball when a pass is lofted to fall onto a position already occupied by players who might contest for it while it is in the air and nor should they hesitate, if there is repetition, to award cards and if the offence occurs within the 23m area, a penalty corner, for such infractions. If there is to be an emphasis on safety (and there is supposed to be), umpires should penalise emphatically what clearly is, cannot be other than, deliberate dangerous play.

Umpires should award a free ball, at the place the ball falls, against the team of the player who offends by encroaching (especially when beyond 5m of an opponent receiving the ball at the time the ball was raised) and contesting for the falling ball (and award a personal penalty to the individual). There is little difference between the offences committed but a vital difference as regards the place of penalty between a player contesting for the ball when it is not clear who the initial receiver is and a player who approaches a receiving opponent from beyond playing distance of the ball to contest for the ball. In the case of encroachment from beyond 5m of the receiver the player who made the aerial pass has certainly not committed an offence (it is not an offence for a player to make a scoop pass to an opponent who is in clear space), only the encroaching player will have offended.

An aerial pass into a contested area is a pass made to a member of the opposing team and although players may have reason to make such passes – e.g. 1) gaining ground or using time 2) hoping for a stopping error from an opponent and a favourable deflection – the practice should I think be discouraged because it is potentially dangerous.

It is now necessary to go back to the difficulties umpires may have with determining if player A in the diagram above has committed an offence i.e. is guilty of play leading to dangerous play, and look at how umpires are dealing with this problem.

A review of videos of a great many international hockey matches over several years, and hundreds of Internet hockey forum posts which give opinion on the subject, reveals that the problem is dealt with in the same way as other ‘difficult’ problems: it is generally ignored – there is even a procedure given for doing so. Safe on lift, Safe in flight,

I have not seen a single instance where a contested aerial ball was penalised by awarding penalty against the player who lofted the ball to fall into, what was clearly at the time the ball was raised an, area occupied by opposing players and which remained so occupied and then the ball was contested for. I have read on an Internet hockey forum of instances  (usually a complaint from a co-umpire or a question from a player) where an umpire has in a match well below international level (correctly) penalised a player who lofted the ball into a contested area, where dangerous play followed, by awarding a free-ball at the point the ball was raised. That umpire has always been roundly ‘condemned’ (by the usual few) for not following ‘accepted practice’ (which appears to bear little relation to the Rules of Hockey in this and other areas). These ‘condemned’ umpires are never accused of not following the Rules of Hockey. 

The ‘accepted practice’ is to observe if the ball has been raised without endangering a player within 5m (and I would take issue with some of what is here seen as ‘not endangering’); to consider if the ball is safe in flight (whatever that may mean) and then to forget the contribution to the subsequent action of the player who raised the ball – which is to ignore the Rule (…or in a way that leads to dangerous play) –  and focus entirely on the actions of the player to whom the ball was intended. If that player is close marked by an opponent and without moving away from his or her marker contests for the ball as it falls, that is (correctly) seen as dangerous play, but the penalty is always awarded at the place this second offence occurred, that is at the place the ball was falling – and that is not correct. 

As a result of this incorrect ‘practice’ there is no deterrent whatsoever to the making of ‘hopeful’ and potentially dangerous aerial passes into areas crowded with players from opposing teams. The worst that can happen by way of team penalty against the offending team is a free-ball from a position probably half the length of the pitch away from where the original offence, play leading to dangerous play, occurred – hardly “within playing distance of the offence”. 

Another consequence of this ‘practice’ is that the relative positions of players at the time the ball was raised which is vitally relevant, because there may be encroaching by an opponent rather than a failure to move away by the same team player, particularly during the early flight of the ball – is also either missed or ignored simply because umpires are not now looking for these relative positions, they (the umpiring of an aerial pass is a two umpire task) are entirely focused on danger occurring only at the place the ball lands often without taking proper account of (being completely unaware of) how this danger has occurred – see the example in the first video above.   

   

The making of an aerial pass to a marked teammate.

Diagram three. Lead runs.

Diagram three. Lead runs.

 

 

A player making a long aerial pass to a team-mate can seldom be certain that the ball will land in an uncontested area, even if the ball is initially passed into what was clear space, but it is possible to ensure, that if an aerial ball is contested for, it is one or more players of the opposing team who will have offended. The tactic is much the same as it was when lead runs had to be employed (prior to 1993) to ensure there was no obstruction of an opponent when receiving a ground pass. The only differences are that an aerial pass can be played directly over a position occupied by opposing players and ground passes in such situations tended to be shorter than the average aerial pass.

The only contentious issue with lead runs is the aerial played to drop short of the position of a same team player. Umpires sometimes incorrectly penalise the same team receiver rather than (the illegally encroaching) opposing player – this usually happens because of an ‘on-line’ or foreshortened view point, with the distance between the players being misjudged. If an intended receiver makes a lead run as the ball is being raised and manages to get more than 5m from his or her marker, that marker cannot then approach within 5m of the player, who is now the initial receiver as well as the intended receiver, until the ball is in control and on the ground (which is far too severe a requirement and widely ignored, see video below – so it needs amendment. “Amended how?” is another discussion).

Deflections.

deflection-off-opponent

 

 

A deflection of the ball high into the air off the stick or body of a player is not an aerial pass, but it still gives rise (sorry) to a falling ball, and Rule 9.10 is about a falling ball however it came to be raised and to be falling and not per se about passes (or about deflections for that matter). The words “a falling raised ball” may, to some, suggest that the ball has been raised intentionally from the stick of a passer, but that is reading into the word “raised” something which just isn’t there. If Rule 9.10 referred only to intentionally made aerial passes then another Rule would be required to deal with accidentally raised deflections.

There never has been a height mentioned in the Rule on the falling ball (because I suppose that there would then need to be another Rule about playing or playing at a ball in the air above or below that height), but convention has been that a ‘falling ball’ is one that, after being either intentionally lofted or accidentally deflected, is falling from considerably (several meters) above shoulder height (the previous height limit of legal playing at the ball). From sufficient height in any case that players could reasonably be required by Rule 9.10 to act and react to it before it fell to within playing reach.

A ball in the air that is not what is meant by ‘a falling ball’ i.e. a ball that is raised to about head height or lower generally gives little time for considered action and is more sensibly dealt with under the first clause of the Dangerous Play Rule.

This absence of a playing height creates a ‘grey area’ in the control of contesting for the ball that is in the air but within playing reach, particularly the ball that is between head and knee height off the ground – and not necessarily at the time a falling ball – but that is a problem for another time and another Rule.

A deflection off an opponent creates a very different situation than a direct aerial pass between two members of the same team. For a start the intent of the player who raised the ball to raise it will usually be absent, always so if the deflection is off an unintended ball-body contact, off a foot for example and the ball may deflect in an unpredictable height and direction  (stick deflections that raise the ball are, simply as a matter of control of ball height and direction, very seldom deliberate outside of the opponent’s circle).

Secondly, where the ‘initial receiver’ of the subsequent  falling ball is not clear an entirely different set of players are now the ones who “must allow an opponent to receive it“. This can cause huge problems and lead to some unfair outcomes – suppose the ball is falling into the goalmouth within two or three meters of the goal-line and the two player concerned are an opposing forward and the goalkeeper. We go back to why a player who has to allow an opponent to receive a falling ball is not specifically required to move away to be 5m from the ball or even specifically required to retreat at all, but only to ‘allow’ an opponent to receive the ball: no goalkeeper is going to retreat 5m out of the goal and no other defender could reasonably expected to do so either.

But not specifying retreat (only forbidding approach) does not solve the basic problem – a very unfair situation is created, maybe entirely accidentally, and the umpire, because defending players quite reasonably will not allow an opponent to freely receive a falling ball close to the goal may have no option but to award a penalty corner or a penalty stroke.

The answer is not (as some have) to declare that “The aerial Rule does not apply to deflections” (because it most certainly does and because not all deflections – off same team players for example – will lead to grossly unfair outcomes). There is no difference in Rule application as far as receiving the ball and allowing the ball to be received, between an intentional pass and a deflection, especially if the deflection is off the stick of a player of the same team as the one who initially hit the ball that led to the deflection. The solution is to devise a way of preventing a ball from being raised into the circle to the endangerment or unfair disadvantage of the defending side particularly when a deflection (stick or body) is off one of their own team.

As this article is overlong and has drifted into another area, raising the ball into the circle, which is not entirely to do with the falling ball, I will cut that part out and start a separate article here –   http://wp.me/pKOEk-2qd  –    on the raising of the ball into the circle.
(I am going to pass on the problem caused when a scoop or high deflection results in a ball hitting the ground and then bouncing high, possibly into the circle, as there isn’t a defined way of dealing with this issue. Are such bounces to be treated as part of the initial pass or deflection or a separate issue? I don’t know, but the issue probably  depends on how high the ball bounces and it requires further thought)

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In the above incident and the following one below, an encroaching offence wasn’t taken into consideration at all. Both went to video referral and in both the goal award was overturned (the referral upheld). In both cases a penalty stroke could have been awarded along with yellow cards for encroachment offences. It is interesting that since these games were played change to the Rules means that in similar circumstances the goals would now probably stand – both were disallowed for above shoulder playing of the ball. 

(As an aside, when a video referral is made only one team can ask a referral question and that can result, as in these cases, in an absurd outcome. Why not allow the other team to make a counter claim if they wish to? That is unlikely to take up much additional video umpire time. We could for example have one team claiming a penalty corner should be awarded for a ball-foot contact in a circle and the opposing captain pointing out that there was no intent and no advantage was gained. The present system gives referral right to the first team to ask for it and automatically denies it to their opponents – that is not entirely fair and can lead to the video umpire considering only one side of the question).
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This cannot be the last word on deflections, accidental or otherwise, or indeed on the aerial pass, but this article is already longer than I intended it to be, so although I will undoubtedly edit it later (I always edit my articles, sometimes months after they were first written and add video if I find any relevant clips) enough for now.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/danger-wheres-the-fh.42463/

This topic thread started in a different area but became about danger and the receiving of a falling ball and the obligations of a same team player. As can be seen there is a great deal of confusion – largely because of a badly worded Explanation of application of the Rule and bizarre ‘interpretation’ or ‘practice’  – and many umpires have been coached to take the wrong approach, taking no account of player positions at the time the ball was raised. S.Petitt (post in the forum thread) is misunderstood and lambasted by those who have not bothered to read exactly what he wrote, but he is correct

      

 

August 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Double offence.

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 11th August, 2016

The hiding of the offence of forcing. ‘Winning’ a penalty corner. ‘Finding’ a foot.

Preface Rules of Hockey 2011-2013

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.
(My underlining and bold)

In a short time however, especially with current umpiring practice with regard to ball-body contact, it has been, inevitably, forgotten that there ever was an offence called Forcing and that it is now supposed to be “dealt with” under other Rules. That can be no surprise as the offence is no longer mentioned in the Rules of Hockey and its existence (or the suggested ‘dealing with’ of forcing actions) cannot now be made known to newcomers to the game because that is not printed in the current rule-book but in one issued several years ago. The offence of Forcing has in fact been entirely deleted, it is not ‘dealt with’ at all.

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An old coaching adage, that to be considered competent, a player must be able to defend in and around his or her feet, has now been adopted, in a corrupted form, to invent an unwritten ‘rule’. The adage meant that a defenders needed to be adept at stopping an opponent ‘beating’ them by just pushing the ball past them to either side of the feet or between their feet and running away with the ball.

In speech the phrase got truncated to (the included) ‘defending the feet’. That in turn, but perversely, became an invented obligation to defend the feet and then, also to be seen as an offence if a player failed to defend his or her legs/feet; despite that fact that it was still at the time (and until 2011) clearly an offence by a player in possession of the ball to ‘attack’ a defender with it by playing the ball at or into the defender.

There is no Rule support whatsoever for the idea that there is an ‘obligation’ to defend the feet, but the Forcing Rule has been replaced by an ‘interpretation’ (of what?) that inverts what was the Rule, so that the penalty outcome from a forcing action is (quite illogically) the direct opposite to what it was previously.

There is no obligation in Rule to defend the legs/feet (or any other part of the body) from a ball intentionally played into/at a defending player and it is not automatically a foul, by the player hit, to be hit with the ball (see the Explanation of Rule application to Rule 9.11): on the contrary such action should still, where other Rules do cover the forcing action (generally dangerous play or the intentional raising of the ball with a hit), be called as a foul on the player propelling the ball. But there is still a great deal of confusion about that point and the Rule has already been forgotten by some, as can be seen from this hockey forum thread  http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/rules-regarding-self-hit-being-5-away-from-a-free-hit.40421/#post-386512  part posted on and after 10th August, 2016.

The video below is from a match in 2010, a year after the self-pass was adopted into Full Rule. That a retreating defender should get out of the way of a charging self-passer is an invention that is still lodged in the mind of some players – but hopefully not any longer in the minds of umpires (Bondy is right). It was of course the ESP player who should have been penalised, especially as the ball had travelled more than 5m before he committed his fouls and the offence of Forcing was still at the time in the rulebook.    

Unfortunately (despite the above quoted declaration to the contrary by the FIH RC – opening paragraphs) even where there is a willingness to deal with forcing actions, not all forcing can be dealt with by other Rules – but the two actions shown in the first video clip above (from a match in 2014) were so covered. Neither forcing action resulted in penalty against the player who did the forcing, despite both actions being clearly intentional and both a breach of Rule 9.9.

It is an offence to raise the ball into the body or legs of a close opponent, even if it is done unintentionally. Doing it intentionally should result in a card for the offender, not the reward of a free-ball or a penalty corner – but any umpire correctly awarding a card for this offence in the current climate of (dictated) ‘practice’ and ‘player expectation’ (created by umpiring practice) would be considered ‘very brave’, code words for ‘quite mad’. How is it that it is unusual and ‘brave’ for an umpire to apply the Rules according to the wording given in and with those Rules? I have never seen Rule 9.11. (or Rule 9.9.) consistently applied in any hockey match as they would be if the wording of the Explanation of Rule application given with the Rule Proper was followed. 

Hockey is not being played as it should be played nearly enough (see the delightful goal shown in the second part of the video clip for how hockey should be played) . The game is being dumbed down (beating or eluding an opponent is not necessary if the ball can simply be played into the feet of any challenging opponent and that is rewarded with penalty. And retaining possession requires little skill or none at all, if the ball holder can just impose his or her body between an opponent and the ball to prevent a tackle attempt). Hockey may eventually be destroyed by the failures to apply, both the Ball-body contact Rule and the Obstruction Rule as they should be applied: that is in a way that encourages the development of stickwork and passing skills.

The game has also become much more dangerous in the last ten years due to a failure to deter dangerous play and the ‘relaxation’ (or perversion) of Rules concerning play which until very recently was considered dangerous. The most obvious of these is the abandonment of any consideration of dangerous play when an on target shot is made at the goal and the permitting of above shoulder play without adequate safeguards. 

August 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Playing ‘Advantage’

Rules of Hockey.

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 or deflecting 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 contrived, in February 2007, that the FIH Rules Committee be over-ruled (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 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 – Rule 9.11).

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, 1992, required in the Rule Proper, that there be a deliberate ball-body contact – and 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 as it deflected the ball towards an ESP player who would otherwise not have received it.

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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 the MAS player 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 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 19th March 2017

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 and no sensible person put much store in them because that was recognized. On the whole and providing the promises made were kept, the abolition of off-side was a good thing despite being of significant disadvantage to a defending team.

But the promises were not kept. 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 (following forget lifted – think danger) for other players to hit, often from above head height and at point blank range, at the goal (so much for constraints and for thinking about danger)

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 elbow 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 at above elbow height. 

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 that 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 because that would cause  a number fundamental and unwelcome changes to the playing of the game. However hockey, especially with the recent amendment to Rule 7 (permitting above shoulder play), despite its hard and heavy ball, is already becoming too similar to hurling for the reasonable safety of participants and actions need to be taken to address that issue.

“Back in the day” and “When I were a lad” hockey was played with apparent enjoyment even though it was forbidden to raise any part of the stick above shoulder height when playing, attempting to play or even when approaching the ball – and I could still hit the ball with considerable power. The Sticks Rule was perhaps too restrictive (applied even when there was no opponent within 5 yards) but in those days the statement that there was an emphasis on player safety meant that there was an emphasis on player safety written into the Rules – and applied – it was not just wishful thinking.

And, when I began playing hockey, there needed to be three opponents their goal-side of the ball for the receiver of the ball on the attacking team to be considered on-side. A player could in fact be penalised for off-side before a pass was made if he or she was in an off-side position and considered to be influencing the play of the defending team. (application was later amended to the soccer version at the time the pass was made but I am not sure that the Rule was ever so amended). This was okay because the side in possession of the ball had such a huge advantage and even on-side tackling was difficult with the pre -1980’s long head sticks.

The team in possession of the ball still has a huge advantage even if tackling is easier because of developments in stick design, it’s very difficult to tackle legally from behind a player in possession of the ball.