September 28, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Stick tackle, stick obstruction

Rules of Hockey.    Stick obstruction, Stick tackle, Stick interference.  

To start a look at a video I found on YouTube almost four years ago. The two players (to give them the benefit of doubt) are demonstrating how not to do a shave tackle from behind an opponent.

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Going through the back of the head of the stick in this way when the player in possession of the ball  has the stick-head behind the ball is what is termed a stick tackle – the tackler has hit the stick and not the ball, from a position from where it is impossible that the ball holder was obstructing the tackler’s stick path to the ball with his own stick. The tackler was ‘behind the play’ not on-side of the ball-holder.

The shave tackle from the rear/side of a ball-holder has to be executed when the ball-holder has his stick positioned over the top/front of the ball or has it away from the ball and it is possible to hook or hit the ball away from him without any stick contact with his stick.

Tackling a player who is dribbling in the open style, stick-head behind the ball, presents no stick tackle problems when done from the front or  front/side, as long as the tackler plays directly at the ball and not over the ball. 

Tackling for the ball when the ball holder is dribbling in the closed (or Indian) style, the stick-head being taken over the top/front of the ball is a contentious issue because some people assert  –  I believe wrongly  –  that a player with his stick in contact with the ball cannot stick obstruction. And therefore a tackle made from the front of a player who is dribbling with the ball in the closed style is a stick tackle, if the head of the dribbler’s stick is hit, even if the tackle is made directly at the ball.

I assert that this is wrong because it would make a legal tackle for the ball an impossibility. Any player with the ball who is reasonably competent in stick handling would have no difficulty in keeping the head of his or her stick ‘on’ the ball and positioned between any such opponent in the act of tackling for it from the front or side-front.

I also assert that if a player prevents a direct tackle for the ball from the front by imposing his or her stick-head between the opponent’s stick and the ball that is a stick obstruction even if the ball-holder’s stick is in contact with the ball.

Tackles on the ball from the front that hit the ball-holder’s stick-head do not occur often because the stick-head can be rotated to both sides of the ball over the top of the ball and also taken around the back of the ball, at far greater speed than a tackler can adjust to the movements of the ball these actions cause – and even when it does occur an umpire is likely to miss it completely or to penalise the tackler based on the sound of a stick clash. Front on tackles tend to be either a jab at what is perceived to be a loose ball or a full stick block with the stick horizontal on the ground. The jab that misses the ball is obviously the more likely to result in an illegal stick to stick contact. 

Stick tackles (and third party obstruction) are probably missed more often than they are seen. The video below shows an example of both a stick tackle and third party obstruction in quick succession (this is a side stick tackle and away from the ball, rather than a front tackle directly at the ball – and the body obstruction is fleeting but effective). They are difficult to see in real time even when they are being looked for from a favourable (side-on) position and it is known they have occurred.

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arg-v-esp-3-stick-obstruction

The ESP player does not have the ball in close control and his stick is lifted away from the ball.

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arg-v-esp-3-3rd-party

The tackler allows the ball to run on as he turns between his opponent and the ball and a team-mate collects the loose ball. Tacklers also use this technique to gain possession of the ball themselves – ‘inserting’ themselves between a ball holder and the ball with a spin-turn: this latter tactic is a straightforward obstruction offence

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arg-v-esp-3-protect-ball-1

The ARG player turns to position his leg between the ball and the ESP player.

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arg-v-esp-3-protect-ball-2

The ESP reaches around the leg of the ARG player and attempts a tackle with the edge of the stick. The ARG player leans into the ESP player to absorb his momentum and the ESP player is penalised for a tackle attempt with contact. The umpire has no idea what the ESP player complains about when the penalty is awarded against him.

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Now we have the opposite – a skillfully executed tackle penalised (with a penalty corner). The umpire failed to notice the direction (and the distance) the ball travelled by the time he heard the stick of the BEL player hit the stick of the IND player (not the other way about). The umpire cannot be faulted for missing which stick hit which and when, but the path the ball took should have been a clue that the IND player had played the ball and not the BEL stick.

A good moment for an umpire self video referral.  

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I was curious, when I first saw this incident on video, about what had happened because the only way the IND player could have stick tackled was to play at the stick of the BEL player over the top of the ball i.e. too high. Either putting his stick on the ground as a block to the ball and letting the ball be run into his stick or actively playing directly at the front of the ball, which he could have done from his position, could not have been a foul even if the BEL player had the ball in close control and was using a closed style of stick-work, shielding the ball with the stick-head. Slow-mo revealed that the BEL player did not have the ball in close control, he was close to getting it in control, but the IND player knocked it away from him while he was still reaching for it after having lifted it to evade the previous defender.
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Stick interference can be fairly easy to spot or impossible to see, done in an attempt to play the ball or to prevent an opponent playing the ball and of course accidentally or deliberately. The one below was easy for the umpire to see and looks like an accident, a badly mistimed tackle.
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The next one was not seen by the match umpire (bodies in the way) and went to video referral. It looks deliberate to me, however deliberate or not, the defender certainly prevents the forward playing the ball and deprived him of possible possession of it.
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http://vid381.photobucket.com/albums/oo252/Conundrum_2008/GER%20v%20NED%201%20b.%20prelim.%20stick%20interference_zpsbytysphp.mp4
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The video umpire recommended a penalty corner “Because the goalkeeper was there” which can only mean that the video umpire saw the stick interference by the defender as unintentional or the scoring of a goal as unlikely. (The match umpire was asked by the GER captain to explain why a penalty stoke was not awarded).

12.4 A penalty stroke is awarded :

a    for an offence by a defender in the circle which prevents the probable scoring of a goal

b    for an intentional offence in the circle by a defender against an opponent who has possession of the ball or an opportunity to play the ball. 

A pool match, close to the end of the fourth period and the German team were winning, so the sky was not in too much danger of falling.

The following stick interference incident was also seen as unintentional.

Intention is obviously a very difficult thing to see…..
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…..and falling and rolling doesn’t even get a green card against the stick interference culprit.
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Occasionally sticks get tangled or hooked accidentally and in theses circumstances, if the game needs to be stopped, the best solution is probably a bully. The award of a penalty corner following the incident below was ridiculous, play could fairly have been allowed to continue with a side-line ball.
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September 26, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Raising the ball into the circle.

Rules of Hockey. Raised hit. Raising the ball into the circle.

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. :-

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 and therefore very badly applied – usually too strictly (it was not as bad 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 from ‘umpire practice’, ‘enshrined’ in the UMB with the phrase “forget lifted – think danger“,  which also ‘forgets’ that opponents in the circle may well 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. The ball was not raised dangerously by the attacker – evasive action was not necessary and was not attempted by the first defender.

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 umpire 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.

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 ball. But was there an advantage gained (or to put that another way, were the opposing team unfairly disadvantaged) 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 (most 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 as 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, forget lifted – think danger).  

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 valid 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. 

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The solution to the problem of the ball lifted into the circle is not very difficult to work out, some deletion, restoration of parts of versions of a previous Rule and the adding of a new Rule – but of course any replacement Rule must be observed.

The first step is to remove the prohibition of the lifted hit 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) 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 – as explained in a previous article – see suggested Rule rewrites)  

Finally a height limit of knee height on any ball raised directly into the opponent’s circle with a flick, scoop or deflection. Naturally these steps would need to be enacted together.

So what happens when the ball is deflected and raised above the limit height into a circle – accidentally or otherwise? A free-ball is awarded to be taken from the point the ball was raised. 

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. It would also be providential as it would give the hash circle a function again.

 

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’. 

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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)

September 20, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: No advantage gained

Rules of Hockey. The body of a player stops or deflects the ball. Now what?

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

It Is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

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

On first reading the Rule and the Explanation of how it is to be applied seems to be straightforward. But, on the evidence of how it is applied, it has to be the most badly written Rule in the rule-book.

Alternatively, very few umpires are taking any notice at all of the Explanation of application that the FIH Rules Committee have provided with the Rule. It does not matter how that instruction is written because umpire are generally applying the Rule Proper and ignoring the provided instructions about how it is to be applied. I can’t think of any other Rule where this approach to the application of it is taken.

In this article, which is only the content of two short video clips, we will look at a team not gaining an advantage because of a ball-body contact – not at all an unusual outcome.

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Description. A shot is taken from close range and the goalkeeper blocks it. The ball rebounds from the goalkeeper’s pads and hit the foot of a defender, who attempted to get his foot out of the path of the ball. The ball deflects only slightly, if at all, off the defender and is then collected by a player of the same team as the defender.

Why is there no advantage gained and therefore no offence ? For two reasons:- Firstly, the ball would still have been comfortably collected by a same team player if the contact had not taken place, so the contact made no difference to the outcome: nothing was gained by the defending team that they would not otherwise have had in this case.

Secondly, the opposing team were not disadvantaged in any way (so even if there had been an offence e.g. an intentional ball-foot contact, following Rule 12.1. there would have been no reason to penalise it i.e. no need for the umpire to intervene).

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

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
b    for an intentional offence in the circle by a defender against an opponent who does not have possession of the ball or an opportunity to play the ball

The incidents in the second video are worse because the absence of any advantage gained by the ball-foot contacts could not be clearer and there was no possibility whatsoever of any disadvantaging the opposing team.

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Description. The initial penalty corner was awarded for a high deflection (not shown) of the ball into an opposing player by a defender in the circle, endangering a player contrary to Explanation given with Rule 9.9.

First penalty corner. The first shot was taken and hit the foot of the defender positioned with his left foot positioned to the front of the goalpost nearer the umpire. The umpire was aware that the ball had hit that foot and then gone out of play over the base-line, but did not know if the shot was on target (which would have resulted in the award of a penalty stroke – the advantage that would then have been gained is obvious). His colleague informed him the shot was going wide of the post: he then, without hesitation, awarded another penalty corner !!! 

For what? There was no advantage gained, the ball was going off the pitch and it still went off the pitch – at the same speed and for all intents and purposes, in exactly the same place. In fact the defending side should have been disadvantaged by the contact, with the award of a 23m restart to the opposing team, rather than the 15m restart they would have had if the ball had gone off without the ball-foot contact.

Second penalty corner. Incredibly, exactly the same scenario was played out during the second penalty corner and again the umpire, consistently (bravo), awarded yet another penalty corner.

Third penalty corner. The shot for the third penalty corner, again intended to be just inside the goal-post, was this time on-target and the defender stopped it with his stick and cleared it away. 

But two penalty corners were awarded that should not have been and this seems to be the norm. During a match there are probably between five and ten times as many free-balls awarded for ball-body contact as for all other offences put together. The vast majority of penalty corners are awarded for ball-body contact – and the astonishing thing is that about 95% of both free-balls and penalty corners should not be awarded – play could and should have been allowed to continue  or in the case of the penalty corner awarded when the ball has continued on out of play, a 23m restart for the attacking team should have been awarded.

It is not difficult to see why this happens and it is by no means a new phenomena. Back in the early 1980’s I was one weekend in a group of umpires who were officiating at a club tournament and heard one of them say, to a relatively inexperienced umpire, that he always penalised all ball-foot contacts because there was always some sort of advantage gained by such contact.

In other words he was bone idle, didn’t like to be made to think and didn’t give a toss about fair play (all of which he would have denied, but he would have been hard pressed to explain why, according to the Rule, penalty should be awarded only when an advantage was gained if an advantage was always gained: why did the HRB bother to point to exception if there was never an exception). He was however considered a good umpire because he was very consistent in penalising both obstruction and ball-foot contact.

Things have changed since then, both forcing and obstruction (ball shielding) are now ignored – driving the interpretation and application of ball-body contact and obstruction to opposite extremes: all and nothing.

  

 

September 17, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: You don’t remember turning do you?

Play and some commentator opinion from the 2012 London Olympic Games.


A foul and a self inflicted injury by the GB player

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Spectacular hockey.

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An injury that should have been prevented and incredible commentary from an ‘expert’.

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An extract from Rule 9.12 (last amended in 2009) from the Rules of Hockey 2015-16.

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.

The word ‘turning’ is not in the Rule Proper or the Explanation of application of the Rule; it is just a short way of saying “moving to position between a close opponent and the ball“.

The additional wording “or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it . is a clarification of ” shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.” that was added to the Explanation of Rule application as recently as 2009.

It should have been possible for a former international player – Melanie Clewlow represented Great Britain at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics – to remember (or to know) in 2012, that players are not allowed to shield the ball from an opponent. But the participants in the hockey tournament at the London Olympics of 2012 and also those at the Rio Olympics of 2016 did not know the Obstruction Rule (even apparently the existence of it) – and some of them may soon be commentating on hockey tournaments, for television broadcasters, as experts. It’s not really a surprise that many top level players have little idea of what the Rules are (although having the opportunity to make video referrals should have changed that – it hasn’t) because they play as they are coached to play and most coaches think that Rules are made to be broken or at least bent a bit.

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What is expressly prohibited by the Obstruction Rule.

Translation.

A player in possession of the ball is not permitted to move bodily into an opponent.

A player in possession of the ball may not shield the ball, with any part of the stick or any part of the body, to prevent an opponent, who is within reach of the ball and who is demonstrating an intent to play at the ball, from playing at the ball.

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

Only “move bodily into an opponent” requires further explanation or interpretation. Does it prohibit, the already prohibited (Rule 9.3), making of physical contact or is it intended to forbid a player, who is in possession of the ball, from moving into the playing reach of an opponent while leading the ball with the body (shielding it). I think the latter is the more likely explanation.

Playing hockey is considerably more dangerous for players when played without a properly applied Obstruction Rule than it is (would be) with it (edge hitting from a ball shielding position, particularly when taking a shot at the goal, comes to mind). Why ‘interpretation’ of the Rule should lead to practice and Rule application which allows and even encourages (it is the player who is attempting to tackle who is generally penalised) actions that are specifically prohibited by the Rule, is a mystery. 

Tackles for the ball are best avoided by the ball holder moving away and thereby keeping the ball away, from – that is, beyond – the reach of opponents.

The only oversight in the Rule is the failure to mention, that to be obstructed by ball shielding with the body of the player in possession of the ball, the player attempting to play at the ball needs to be positioned closer to his or her own goal than the player with the ball is – i.e. to be ‘onside’ of the ball.

 

 

 

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September 14, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Deflections and the falling ball.

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 18th September 2016

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.

      

 

September 12, 2016

Rules of Hockey: Fundamental characteristics and change.

Rules of Hockey.  Previous fundamental changes.

I was recently reading (yet another) article on the demise (lack of success) of international level hockey in Pakistan, which mentioned the introduction of synthetic turf and the abolition of off-side as among the major reasons for this decline.

Both these things were dramatic changes, but were they a cause of change to the fundamental characteristics of hockey? Well synthetic turf probably led to a ‘nose dive’ in ball stopping skills but was in every other way (bar the expense) a great development for the game – attracting more people to play than would otherwise have been the case. The absence of off-side led to tactical changes, but did either development cause a change to the fundamental characteristics of hockey? I doubt it, and despite what the advocates for the reintroduction of off-side say of the virtues of it, I don’t miss the games which were played with twenty players massed within 10m of each side the half line. I do, however, believe the compensation of a goal-zone and other safety measures are needed  http://wp.me/pKOEk-2ln

What are the fundamental characteristics of the game? Perhaps the size of the pitch, the goal and the shooting circle are characteristic and fundamental. The game is played with a stick and ball both of which have defined specifications and (with the exception of the goalkeeper), it is now a fundamental that nothing but a player’s stick is intentionally used to stop deflect or propel the ball (this however was not always the case it was acceptable practice into the 1930’s to trap the ball under or with the side of the foot, only kicking it was not permitted – a fact that is amusing when one hears the present day howls of “It touched his foot” – to which the correct response may be “So what?”).  Hockey is also a non-contact sport (the only large team competitive ball sport that is non-contact, so unique in this way). Beyond these characteristics it is now difficult to find anything else that might be described as fundamentally characteristic (vital to) to the playing of hockey.

The changes.

Obstruction

The prohibition of obstructive play, basically moving to impede an opponent to prevent that opponent playing or challenging for the ball (third party) or the shielding of the ball by a player in possession of it to prevent an opponent playing at it, used to be fundamental characteristics of hockey, but there has been a dramatic change here. Now only ‘third party’ is recognised as an offence.

The Rule on positioning to make a tackle attempt,

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

has made a ball-shielding offence a virtual impossibility because there can be no obstruction without an attempt at a tackle. Most of Rule 9.12 is therefore redundant: this has led to a fundamental change to the characteristics of individual play.

The change to Obstruction Rule ‘interpretation’ started out as an ‘onus on the tackler’ in the Rule Interpretations section of the rule-book in 1993 (a mistake in a Rule which was about obstruction, not about tackling) and then became a new independent Rule 9.13 in 2004.

I have fought ‘tooth and nail’ against these changes to the interpretation of obstruction, which I believe to be the most fundamental changes ever made to the characteristics of the game, but to no effect.

I believe Rule 9.13 should be deleted or at least amended to remove the positioning requirement: demanding that a tackler must not make physical contact while tackling is perfectly reasonable, (even if it is a repetition of Rule 9.3 ), prohibiting an attempt at a tackle based on a possibility of contact is not reasonable – nor is ignoring ball shielding actions that prevent a legal tackle attempt, that is ignoring most of what is described in the current Rule 9.12.(Umpires have chosen to ignore most of Rule 9.12 and apply Rule 9.13 strictly, which is understandable because this is by far the easiest thing for them to do – opting for a simple objective criteria, physical contact of stick or body by stick or body – but this unbalanced practice is extremely unfair and often provides a dismal hockey spectacle)

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Ball-body contact and dangerous play.  

There was another fundamental Rule shift in 2004: it concerned the combination of ball-body contact and dangerous play and the deletion of Rule 13. 1.3 d. which was extant in 2003. 

Rule 13. 1. 3 d  Players shall not raise the ball at another player.

Here a move of wording was made in the other direction, an amended Rule wording became part of the ‘Explanation’ of Rule 9.9. (the Rule which prohibits an intentionally raised hit unless shooting at the opponent’s goal) and a distance limit was added to the previous Rule statement:-

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.

(the prohibitive format Players shall not:- previously used in the Rules concerning Conduct of Play was discontinued in 2004 – this has led to clumsy phrasing and a great deal of confusion in the interpretation of the Rules).

This Explanation sits oddly in a Rule about the intentionally raised hit, because although Rule 13.1.3 d related to any stroke made to propel the ball  (no type of stroke being specified), the raising of the ball towards another player is mentioned in Rule 9.9 only in relation to flicks and scoops (but common sense demands hits raised into close players should in the same way as flicks and scoops be considered to be dangerous play).  Strangely there is no minimum height given for ‘dangerous’, (as there is in the Penalty Corner Rule) so any raising of the ball at another player may be considered to be dangerous play.

The deletion of Rule 13.1.3 d  and the addition of a 5m limit (the absurd assumption being made that a player more than 5m from the player raising the ball could not be endangered by it) cleared the way for the ‘free for all’ we now have with the raised shot at the goal, particularly the drag-flick as a first shot made during a penalty corner (the first hit-shot has remained severely restricted with a height limit of 460mm, for a goal to be scored).

Just how far the control of the game and the “emphasis on safety” had gone ‘off track’ was demonstrated in 2010 when an FIH umpire (and not just a television commentator who did not know the Rules) was heard to inform a protesting team captain during an international match, that no ‘on-target’ shot at the goal could be considered dangerous play: we are still awaiting a statement from the FIH disavowing this nonsense. The speed with which the term ‘suicide runner’ was coined and a change made to the Rules concerning the first hit shot at the goal during a penalty corner after the Athens Olympics, stands in stark contrast to their lack of response on this later issue.

 

Forcing ball-body contact. 

The prohibition on the forcing of ball-body contact by playing the ball at or into an opponent first appeared in 1986 as part of a prohibition on the dangerous playing of the ball and is still linked to dangerous play (see Rule 9.9 above).

Rule 12. 1(e) Players shall not play the ball wildly, or play or kick the ball in such a way as to be dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play, nor play the ball intentionally into any part of an opponent’s body, including the feet and legs.

The intentional playing of the ball into an opponent, oddly later described as forcing an unintentional offence became a separate Rule after 2004 (odd because intention was usually one of the criteria necessary for there to be a ball-body contact offence at all – and in some years the only criterion), but in 2011 the offence was deleted with the following announcement in the Preface of the 2011-13 Rules of Hockey 

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.

Forcing actions are not however being dealt with under other Rules, the offence has been forgotten, a ball-body contact forced by an opponent is now (despite what is given with Rule 9.9) invariably treated as a ball-body contact offence by the player hit with the ball – and the causing of such contact is regarded as a skill ! A balance diagram would show the penalising of ball-body contact far outweighing any consideration of dangerous play or the forcing of such contact. This change has led to a fundamental change in the behaviour of attacking players particularly within the opponent’s 23m area and especially in the opponent’s circle. One could be forgiven for thinking that points were scored for ‘winning’ a penalty corner by forcing ball-body contact and that such forcing was a desireable characteristic of the game – rather than what it usually is – a foul.

Substitution and 15 minute quarters 

The introduction of squads of sixteen players and rolling substitution and the more recent change to fifteen minute quarters has resulted in an even faster paced game and great emphasis on physical fitness. The ‘chess match’ approach to tactics has disappeared; hockey could now more accurately be described as brutal rather than as subtle.

 

I would take any one of the above alterations over the introduction of synthetic turf or the abolition of off-side as a more important fundamental change to the character of the game – and they are not the only important changes. If synthetic turf or the loss of offside are still being rued, not just one or two buses has been missed, a whole fleet of them have. The introduction of edge-hitting, the self-pass, the commonality of the long scoop in recent years (including from a free ball), the ban on playing a free ball awarded in the opponent’s 23m area directly into their circle (ugh), the permit to play at the ball at above shoulder height, all have and will fundamentally alter the characteristics of the game – how the game is played. 

The real problem is working out which of the changes are and will be good – and which awful without well framed Rules to control the development and exploitation of them. Leaving such Rule development to the common sense of umpires to work out ‘on the hoof’ (as with the self-pass) in the frantic environment of a competitive match is to invite (more) disaster.

To give you an idea of the perspective of umpires; umpires in general though the own goal to be a good idea simply because it removed an occasional difficulty for them – determining who had last touched the ball with a stick inside the circle in crowded situations. That there was a dramatic increase in ‘hit and hope’ and often wild hitting of the ball into the opponent’s circle didn’t seem to much concern them.

 

August 28, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Fixation on ball-body contact

Rules of Hockey.

Ignoring instruction on application of the Rule given with Rule 9.9 and Rule 9.11.

This Explanation to Rule 9.9. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous. is now the only “other Rule” with which the forcing of ball-body contact can be penalised, but it is usually ignored if the ball is not raised above knee height (and often when it is so raised) despite there being no height mentioned in the above Explanation (of the application of the Rule).

The ARG player having raised the ball towards the IRE player then just runs into him without making any further attempt to play at the ball with his stick, which is contrary to:-

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

The ARG team requested a video referral claiming a ball-body contact. The only contact made by the IRE player, that is clear, is the ball hitting the hand holding the stick, which is not an offence. It seems to me that the ball is then run into and carried by the ARG player as he runs into the IRE player, but the quality of the pictures and the broadcast frame-rate make it impossible to be certain about that from the provided viewing angles.

The question is :- Why were the other offences, one of which occurred prior to any possible illegal ball-body contact by the IRE player, ignored and the very dubious claim of a ball-body contact offence by the IRE player upheld in the video referral that the ARG team requested?

Working through videos of the matches played during the Rio Olympics it is very noticeable how actions contrary to Rule which are carried out by attacking players, particularly in the opponent’s circle, are frequently rewarded (most of them are ball contact forcing actions, a large proportion of them with a raised ball, which makes them subject to Rule 9.9.) while ball raising actions carried out by defenders, again particularly in their own circle are penalised (goalkeepers tend to be penalised for a kick that raises the ball if it passes within 1m of an opponent). This video clip illustrates this slant.

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A defender positioned in front of the goal defending a drag-flick would be laughed at for suggesting that a ball at that height and that wide of his position – that he had moved laterally towards after it had been propelled  –  was a dangerously played ball, but the attackers had no hesitation in appealing for and the umpire no hesitation in awarding, a penalty corner for this flicked clearance.

One of the most ridiculous scenarios is the penalising of a defender for a foot or leg ball contact when his or her own goalkeeper has inadvertently kicked the ball into him or her from behind – especially when the ball then deflects off the defender and runs loose where it may be contested for or rebounds out of play over the base-line. Players never fail to appeal and umpires never fail to penalise with a penalty corner such non-offences (no intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball and no advantage gained by the defending team, in fact disadvantage caused to themselves – so no offence). 

Here is an example:-

The ball rolled out of play and a penalty corner – and not the correct corner (long) – was awarded in the above case. The defending team did not understand the Rule well enough to object with a properly framed question. For example:-  “We say that there was no intent to make ball-body contact and that no advantage was gained – will the video umpire agree ?” It is necessary to get umpires thinking about the criteria for offence and not just “Was there any contact?” Unless players get ‘savvy’ about this nothing will change and penalty corners will continue to be awarded unfairly and for trivia or following a forcing action by an opponent, simply for the sake of consistency and “player expectation” – yes, umpires blame players for expecting them to make the decisions they make, an excuse that is not even rational. 

Time and time again we see a ball, that is clearly going out of play over the base-line, glance of the leg or foot or even the body of a defender (who is often unsighted or off-balance and unable to take evasive action) and then continue out of play. That sort scenario happening close to the baseline is frequently mentioned by umpires on Internet hockey forums as an obvious instance of where they (and everybody else) could not and would not award anything but a 23m restart. Yet during the Rio Olympics such incidents always led to the award of a penalty corner – and if the incident went to video referral there was no mention, in either question put or answer given, of the criteria for offence. Visual evidence of contact (an objective criterion that alone does not indicate an offence) was sufficient for the award of penalty; advantage gained or intent (subjective criteria, at least one of which is a requirement for offence) were not considered at all. 

Why are top level umpires making decisions like this, which they must know are made contrary to the FIH published instructions and are a cause of much frustration and confusion to those who have read the Rules of the game ?

The above ball-foot contact was not an offence, there was no intent to use the foot and no advantage was gained and those are the only criteria for offence if such a contact is made.

In the following incident (which is similar to the one shown in the first ARG v IRE video clip) there is a dangerous play (and forcing) offence by the attacker not a ball-body contact offence by the defender.

Of course all participants know these things but they act as if they do not.

Since the transfer of forcing as an offence that can be “dealt with” under “other Rules”, but is no longer “dealt with” (i.e. penalised) independently, players in possession of the ball don’t bother to disguise deliberate contact-forcing actions, they no longer even pretend to be attempting to make a pass. The following incident is from a match that took place only a few months after ‘forcing’ began to be “dealt with under other rules”.
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This farce has gone on long enough, hockey should be a game which displays stick-ball skills and players in possession of the ball should not be looking to ‘manufacture’ ball-body contact from an opponent, but skillfully keeping the ball away from opponents. The forcing of a ball-body contact should be immediately restored as a stand alone offence: only the wording needs to change, so that excuse will not be found to avoid applying the Rule.

August 21, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Penalty Corner amendments

Rules of Hockey

Penalty corner sight blocking.     ‘Suicide runners’.     Dangerous play.

The Rules of the penalty corner have been ‘tweaked’ so many times that I will not attempt a complete rewrite. (No fundamental change has been attempted for many years, most amendments have been about the mode of insert and the control of the ball before a shot at the goal is taken or about protective equipment).

I hoped that by now the penalty corner would have been replaced with a power play within the 23m area, but there has been no sign of any further progress on that in the past few years. Being ‘stuck’ with the penalty corner it is necessary to try to improve it rather than doing nothing at all because it might at some point be replaced with a power play.

Back in 2001 John Gawley an FIH Umpire Coach, wrote an umpire coaching paper called ‘The Lifted Ball’; in it he made reference to sight blocking and declared that a player hit with a raised ball should not be penalised if he or she was sight blocked, but rather the shooter should be penalised for dangerous play. But he made no recommendations about the prevention of sight blocking and his observations about the dangers of it have been ignored.  

It seems to have been assumed that most sight blocking was/is accidental and also that it was/is usually caused by defending out-runners blocking the view of the goalkeeper and/or  the defenders remaining in front of the goal, that however is far from being the entire cause (goalkeepers can in any case give instruction on positioning to defending runners). The majority of sight-blocking is planned and carried out by in-runners from the attacking team.

The attacking team also plan and execute these movements to block the path to the ball of the out-running defenders, to give more time and space to the shooter to make the first shot at the goal or to pass the ball to an alternative shooter. This kind of third-party obstruction is rarely penalised – I won’t say never penalised, but I cannot recall ever seeing it penalised, even on match videos. 

The method used to either sight block or run-block is for attacking players to either side of the stopper to move forward a metre or so and then to cross over in front of where the ball will be stopped and then to re-cross while keeping an eye on the progress of the shot so that if the ball is propelled at one of them he or she is prepared to take evasive action. There are several variations on this theme. I have seen an in-runner move directly in front of the place the ball was to be stopped as the ball was inserted and then run backwards towards the goal so as to be able to see and avoid the ball at the last moment when the flick-shot was made. On that occasion a defender on the goal-line was hit in the chest with a ball, he had no chance at all of evading or defending himself, and a penalty stroke was awarded.

This kind of sight blocking is fairly simple to prevent, it just requires a prohibition on attackers moving to position in front of the ball or crossing in front of the ball after the insert commences and before the first shot is made.

The term ‘suicide runner’ has no place in hockey nomenclature (‘murderous shooter’ would be more appropriate given the situation defenders are forced into if they are to defend the goal during a penalty corner – but we should not use that phrase either – no suicide or murder is intended, a game is being played). A shot at the goal is only dangerous to a defender if the shooter makes it so. Trying to shoot ‘through’ outrunning defenders who are perfectly legally trying to intercept the shot with their sticks or to prevent the shot being taken at all by making a tackle, especially when the ball is raised, is the primary cause of danger.

It would bring joy to any player in possession of the ball to have one or two defenders charging headlong towards the ball to attempt a tackle for it anywhere else on the pitch, why should an attacker have any difficulty with such action when attempting a shot at the goal during a penalty corner – especially when the attacking team can anticipate such runs and plan to circumvent them with movement and with passing ?

The change that is needed here is the striking out of the mandated penalty against a defender hit with the ball up to knee height while within 5m of the shooter: it’s unjust, unnecessary and it conflicts with other Rules. On the other hand, if an attacker propels the ball into a defender who is within 5m, at knee height or above then, as now, the shot/pass should be penalised as dangerous.

That brings me to the dangerously raised ball. If the first shot at goal during a penalty corner is not a hit it is suggested that the shot should be height limited at a different level when it is propelled at the position of a defending player who is 5m or more from the shooter. It is suggested that shots made at the goal with any legal stroke (which excludes the hard forehand edge hit) may be legitimately raised to just below sternum height (elbow height, 120cms for senior men). Shots may also be made above defending players or higher than the suggested limit if wide of them. The intent is not to height limit a shot made at the goal but to height limit any shot made at the position of a player.

It is also suggested that a head high shot is ‘at’ a defender if it is within the width of the defender’s shoulders. 

 

 

 

August 20, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Obstruction and physical contact

Rules of Hockey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

Players obstruct if they :

– back into an opponent

– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

or more clearly:-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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August 12, 2016

Hockey Rules: Stick tackle or stick obstruction

Rules of Hockey.

The video clip below is composed from elements of a video of the extended highlights of the U15 Indoor National Championships in the USA in 2014.

A question was raised on Field Hockey Forum about the first incident shown. Was this an example of stick obstruction (obstructing an opponent’s attempt to tackle by imposing the stick between her stick and the ball) or was it a stick tackle (the tackler ‘playing’ the stick of the player in possession of the ball rather than the ball) ?

 

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/stick-obstruction-opinions-wanted.40442/#post-386727

redumpire    Sorry to disagree but that’s not stick shielding / stick obstruction for me. It’s a foul by the maroon player.

The blue player receives the ball legally, it never leaves her stick, she makes no motion away from the ball towards the defender’s stick, she moves in the direction in which she was already moving and the maroon player tries to play the ball by hitting her stick first. It’s a stick tackle by maroon, but nothing serious so a free push to blue is sufficient.

I disagree, there is no foul committed by the player in maroon, on the contrary she is fouled (and the player in blue not only changes direction she makes a full 180° turn).

Redumpire appears to believe (and has stated so in other posts) that if the stick of the player in possession of the ball is in contact with the ball then there can be no obstruction (by the stick of the ball holder of the stick of a tackler). He requires that for stick obstruction to occur there must be a taking of the stick off the ball by the ball holder and movement away from the ball to fend off the stick of the tackler and he states that stick obstruction cannot otherwise occur. He is wrong.

Moving the stick off the ball to fend off the stick of an opponent to prevent that opponent playing at the ball is certainly stick obstruction, but so too is blocking the stick of an opponent by positioning any part of the stick between an opponent’s stick and the ball, to prevent a tackle attempt, that is so even if the stick remains in contact with the ball. What is shown in the video is a very clear example of this kind of obstruction.

There is nothing at all in the Obstruction Rule that would lead anybody to suppose that stick-ball contact by a player in possession of the ball excuses or nullifies the offence of ball shielding. To declare that stick-ball contact precludes stick obstruction is an invention. It may be ‘practice’ by many (subservient) ‘career’ umpires, but it is not an interpretation of the Rule, because there is no wording in the Rule Proper or in the Explanation of application of the Rule that could possibly be interpreted in that way.

What is astonishing about this particular example is that the player in possession, while shielding the ball with her stick and thus obstructing the maroon player, then continues to turn with the ball to also position her body between her opponent and the ball and further obstruct her opponent – which nobody on FHF appeared, at the time I looked at the thread, to notice; it was not commented upon – and then the umpire penalises the tackler (for what?). Is it an offence to attempt a tackle while the ball is being illegally shielded? It would be very strange if this were so because there can be no obstruction unless a tackle is being attempted at the time. A ‘Catch 22’ ? How is a tackler to demonstrate (without a wild hitting stroke or a swing at an opponent’s stick above the height of the ball) that a tackle is being attempted, other than by putting or trying to put the stick to or on the ball, as the player in maroon did, even if it is shielded from her by the stick of the player in possession of it?

The second incident in the clip is also bizarre. The defender places her stick flat on the floor and the player in possession runs the ball into it and then loses balance. The umpire awards a penalty corner apparently for a stick tackle (the umpire made a slashing hand signal to indicate a stick on stick hit). Perhaps a mistake, ‘seeing’ something that did not happen?

Having seen the first incident, which was pointed out on the video posted to the forum, I was curious to know if either of these two young umpires had any idea of the correct application of the Obstruction Rule and looked at the rest of the video.

The other incidents in the above clip demonstrate that neither umpire had even the slightest knowledge of this offence (and of course, if this is the sort of umpiring they are regularly exposed to, the players will have had no idea that there is an Obstruction Rule). The final incident in the video fades in to show a player in possession of the ball walking the ball backwards and moving bodily into an opponent, who was attempting to tackle, and the ball holder then being awarded a free-ball.

Why is it that from the top (redumpire is an FIH TD) to the bottom of the ‘umpiring ladder’ obstruction has become invisible, why this wilful blindness ? The conspiracy at the top has been going on for so long that those at the bottom, following what other more senior umpires are doing, have become genuinely ignorant, even if they should not be ignorant of the Obstruction Rule if they have read the Rules of Hockey. But why the conspiracy? Obstruction may not be a popular Rule (it demands that players develop stick skills and make movement to avoid contravention and it is not easy to umpire – in fact the only way to be consistent about umpiring obstruction with only two match officials is to ignore it, and if there must be penalty, to always penalise the tackler, the obstructed player, if there is any attempt to tackle, which is exactly what is happening), but hockey becomes a farce without a correctly applied Obstruction Rule. Hockey is now a farcical game, when it could (and should) be the best team game ever invented.

Obstruction is of course not the only unpopular Rule; the Rules concerning dangerous play can hardly be described as popular. Is it a coincidence that umpires have also become blind to much of what used to be called dangerous play and it is generally a player who has been hit with the ball – and not the player who propelled the ball – who is penalised? That is also easy and consistent and also wrong.

 

  

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 the one before last. The offence of Forcing has in fact been entirely deleted, it is not ‘dealt with’ at all.

.

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.

Edited  9th. September, 2016.

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

The related Rules and/or Explanation of application.

Rule 9.11. Explanation of application.

It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was no offence

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

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

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

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

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

Note should also be taken of this Rule (or is it advice?)  provided in the section following Conduct of Play: Players, entitled Conduct of Play: Umpires.

12 Penalties

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

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

Advantage combo

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

Coaching note.

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

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August 6, 2016

Field Hockey Rules. Rule 9.7.

Rules of Hockey.
Rule 9.7. The playing of the ball at above shoulder height and
Rule 9.10. the Falling Ball or Encroaching Rule.

Spain v Malaysia World Cup 2014.

Question One.   What would have been the correct decision in 2014?
Question Two.   What would be the correct decision now in 2016?

There are five possible decisions for 2014 and also for 2016, but only one correct answer for each year.

1.  Allow play to continue, citing a) No Offence. or b) Advantage. 

2.  Award a free-ball (15m) to the defending team. 

3.  Award a penalty corner. 

4.  Award a penalty stroke. 

Answers can be posted in the comment box at the end of the page. The preferred form is:-

(for example) Q1.1b.    Q2. 2

Further comment or questions are welcome.

 

 

 

July 11, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: A broken promise.

The Rules of Hockey. 

Edited 17th July 2016

Preface to the Rules of Hockey 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 10, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Not always an offence….

Rules of Hockey. Rule 9.11.

Stopping or deflecting the ball with the hand, foot or body.

Edited 6th August, 2016

The Rule with what since 2004 has been called Explanation.

9.11 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.
It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

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

Terminology. Playing the ball : field player

Stopping, deflecting or moving the ball with the stick.

A field player using part of the body to stop or deflect the ball cannot properly be said to be playing the ball, the ball is played by a field player only with the stick. Appropriate words might be ‘uses’ ‘used’ or ‘using’ or alternatively ‘ball-body contact’

e.g. A field player who uses the body to stop or deflect the ball may have committed an offence. or  

A field player who makes ball-body contact may not have committed an offence.

But offence because of a ball body contact by a field player is unlikely because there are two criteria for an offence to occur and the player concerned must meet one or other of them – or both together.

To explain the Explanation given with the Rule simply it is necessary to take out the statements made in the negative (not an offence) and to set out in full the two criteria given for there to have been an offence following a ball-body contact by a field player.

A field player commits an offence by making contact with the ball with their hand, foot or body when they gain an advantage from doing so.

A field player commits a ball-body contact offence if they make such contact having positioned with the intention of doing so.

Do either of the criteria for offence provided in the Explanation explain the circumstances under which a ball-body contact offence occurs?

Short answer: No.

It is not clear what either “gain an advantage” or “position with the intention of” mean.

“gain an advantage“.

What seems to be the clearer of these two criteria “gain an advantage” is in fact the more confusing because of the other references made to advantage in the Rules of Hockey:- :-

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

Umpiring. 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.

and particularly:-

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

(which might have been better put  – possession of the ball following an offence by an opponent does not automatically mean ….etc.)

Clearly the term ‘advantage’ means two very different things and is used in the Rules of Hockey in two entirely different ways – an alternative phrase is needed because then the different meanings could be clearly separated.

 

It is easy to find many video examples of penalty being awarded against a field-player for a ball-body contact when the contact disadvantaged the player hit with the ball or there was in fact of advantage to the opposing team (for example, a ball that was going out of play over the base-line – for what would be a 15m ball – glancing off the foot or leg of a defender before going out of play, resulting in the award of a penalty corner rather than, the correct, lesser but fair and appropriate penalty, of a restart for the attacking team on the 23m line – which is, bizarrely, still referred to as a long corner).

It is clear from the evidence of ‘umpiring practice’ that any ball-body contact is treated as if there is always a gain of advantage for the team of the player making such contact with the ball – and when that became standard practice, judgement to decide if any advantage had been gained, just ceased.

That a player should make ball-body contact when there are opponents close by and then get or retain possession of the ball and not be penalised, is  now unthinkable – although it should be commonplace. There is the occasional call of “Play on” from an umpire when the ball is outside a circle and there is no opponent within 15m-20m of it and when it would otherwise have gone out of play for a 15m restart for the team of the player who made the contact – or the player making the accidental contact had possession of the ball before the contact occurred and there was no opponent within 10m, but it is not a common response from an umpire to a ball-body contact even where there is clearly no advantage gained – no advantage significantly over and above what the individual or team would have had anyway.

“position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way”.

It is clear enough what positioning with the intention of using the hand, foot or body to play the ball may mean; a player who for example, at the extreme,  throws him or her self onto the ground and into the path of an opponent who is dribbling with the ball, in order to stop the ball in any way possible or who sticks a leg out to intercept the ball as an opponents attempts to go past with it, has ‘positioned’ with such intention – but “position with intention” it is a very odd way of describing such actions, which are in any case covered by other wording within this Rule (e.g. kick, carry) and/or by other Rules, and I don’t believe that proscribing such obvious physical actions is the intent of this clause because it is not simple and clear terminology for that purpose. 

Even when a player is hit with the ball, especially a stationary player or even one who is moving towards the ball with the stick positioned to play at or intercept the ball, it is impossible to be certain about a prior intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball (positioning with intent to do something must be a deliberate action taken in advance of any ball-body contact, and in fact before or as the ball is propelled, but there is no way to read the mind of a player who has positioned defensively between a shooter and the goal, and well beyond playing reach of the ball – the most common situation where an allegation of intention to use the body to stop the ball might be made) and without certainty about intent in an action, where intent is required for there to be an offence, there can be no penalty awarded for it. (See forcing, intentionally raised hit, etc.) 

A field player positioned in front of the goal or on the goal-line to defend the goal, especially when well beyond playing reach of the ball, provides no evidence at all that he or she might intend to use his or her body to stop or deflect the ball if it is propelled at him or her or at the goal behind. How would this prior intention be seen or is it just assumed that if a player does not take evasive action but tries unsuccessfully to play the ball and is hit, the intention to use the body if the ball was missed with the stick must have been there? That is sheer nonsense and ‘catch all’ umpiring – especially when legitimate evasive action is disregarded by umpires, as it is, and defenders often have no option but to try to play a high ball that they would have preferred to be able to evade.

In other words this criterion for a ball-body contact offence isn’t clear or reasonable.

So with an Explanation that explains nothing what are umpires to do? The answer to that appears to be that the Explanation of Rule application is ignored and the Rule Proper is applied, which creates some difficulties when the Rule Proper and the Explanation of application are opposites, the Explanation being based on exceptions i.e. “only if” (i.e.’not an offence unless’) – and ‘if what’ (and ‘unless what’) isn’t or can’t be made very clear. Following only the wording of the Rule Proper and disregarding the Explanation omits the criteria for offence and that also necessarily omits the reasons why there may not be an offence.

or alternatively, taking account of the presence of criteria for offence 

there is then always deemed to be an advantage gained when there is a ball-body contact or all such contacts are seen to be a result of positioning with the intention to use the body to stop or deflect the ball, there is therefore no exception to offence when a ball-body contact is made, the Explanation is supposedly being applied but is being contradicted when every ball-body contact is treated as an offence.

It would be less cynical to delete the Explanation, because probably 95% of ball-body contact that is penalised, using Plain English based ‘interpretation’ of the  wording of the present Rule and Explanation, should not in fact be penalised.

 

The Rule and the Explanation of application need rewriting with different criteria.

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/field-hockey-rulebook-rewrite-rule-9-11-ball-body-contact/

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July 5, 2016

Field Hockey Rules. Dangerously played ball. Forcing.

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 3rd August, 2016

The shot at goal and the dangerously played ball.

Forcing ball-body contact.

There is a close link between forcing ball-body contact and the dangerously played ball, frequently they are the same action. A dangerous played ball can be an extreme version of forcing.

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

A ball is considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.

The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place. 

Together with the explanation of application given with Rule 9.9 (intentionally raised hit) A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous. and this from the Penalty Corner Rule 13.3.l  :- 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 …. 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 above explanations constitute the entire guidance in the Rules of Hockey concerning a dangerously played ball which could also be a shot at the goal – and even within this limited guidance there is conflict about height for ‘dangerous’ between that given in Rule 9.9 (any raising of the ball) and that given in Rule 13.3.l (a ball raised to be at or above knee height).

A ball is considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.  was put in place to cover possible claims – that as a player had managed to get out of the way of a ball propelled at him or her it could not be dangerous – by declaring that balls that give cause for evasive action (to avoid injury) are dangerous.

There is always the possibility, indeed it is almost inevitable, that when such a statement is made in Rule guidance, other people will then declare an illogical counterpart, in this case that it is not possible for there to be endangerment unless evasive action has taken place. That is not so, it will often be impossible for an endangered player to evade the ball and in such circumstances they may try to defend themselves by playing it. Such playing at or of the ball does not make a dangerously played ball a safe one.

On the other hand, the endangered player may be hit with the ball – that (despite the Rule application guidance / explanation) puts that player in breach of the ball/body contact Rule, so such raising of the ball into an opponent could and should be considered to be a forcing offence and “dealt with” (penalised) under the dangerously played ball Rule, as one of the “other Rules” that may be employed for such a purpose now that there is no separate offence called Forcing. 

The deletion (in 2011) of the forcing of an unintended Rule breach onto an opponent – principally ball-body contact and obstruction – as an offence in itself, was a bizarre action by the FIH Rules Committee and they have failed to explain that action properly or indeed to offer any good reason for it –

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.

and they were/are even wrong about all forcing actions being covered by other Rules.

Playing the ball along the ground and intentionally into the foot of an opponent was a forcing offence, (‘cack-handedly’ described as forcing an opponent into offending unintentionally. Even at a time when there was no ‘gains benefit’ or ‘gains an advantage clause in Rule 9.11., the only criterion being intent, they just could not stop themselves thinking of any ball-body contact as an offence, but a forced contact cannot be an offence by the player hit with the ball, certainly not an unintentional offence, the  term was an oxymoron (in 2011) intent or voluntarily taken action being the only requirements for there to be an offence).

The deletion of a stand alone forcing offence leaves us with no “other Rule” with which a forcing action, carried out by propelling the ball along the ground into an opponent’s feet, could be penalised (unless done recklessly or dangerously and that along the ground is unlikely to be penalised). Maybe that was the intention, to invert the Rule and change who was penalised, thereby increase the number of penalty corners awarded for ball-body contact and so too the number of goals scored.

But if we assume that the FIH RC would not deliberately be that cynical and irresponsible, there has been an oversight, which could be corrected with an additional * explanation of application clause with Rule 9.11. to deal with forcing actions where the ball is not raised. The additional clause would need to state that no offence has been committed by a player hit with the ball if a ball on the ground is intentionally forced into the feet of that player by an opponent, and play should continue, unless the player hit with the ball is injured or otherwise unfairly or unduly disadvantaged by the ball contact. Forcing a ball-body contact is one thing, doing so recklessly or in a way that endangers an opponent, for example, with a powerful push or a hard hit, another, and such actions are potentially dangerous: they should not be ignored but discouraged with penalty. At the moment all forcing of ball-body (foot) contact that is done along the ground (and almost all forcing of contact with a raised ball) is rewarded, the player hit is penalised, which is the opposite of the intention stated at the time the separate offence of Forcing was deleted.

*(Overlooking or ignoring the explanation of Rule application given with the Rule and therefore acting as if any ball-body contact is an offence, is a common mistake – but is done deliberately “for consistency”. In fact no ball-body contact is an offence unless it is made intentionally or an advantage is gained by the team of the player who made the contact.

The lazy (and consistent) ‘get-round’, which saves the effort of having to make proper (or indeed any) judgement, is the declaration that all ball-body contacts gain an advantage of some sort. That simply isn’t true and it isn’t good enough to declare an offence always occurs. There has to be intent or a clear gain of advantage. It is also illogical, not least because it renders half of the guidance provide by the FIH RC, redundant. What is the point of providing two separate criteria for an offence to have occurred if all ball-body contact is simply assumed to meet the advantage gained criterion and therefore be an offence? No player who has had the ball intentionally played (forced) into their feet/legs/body by an opponent should be penalised for that contact – no matter what the outcome).

I’ll repeat that because it does not describe what is seen in any hockey match: – No player who has had the ball intentionally played (forced) into their feet/legs/body by an opponent should be penalised for that contact – no matter what the outcome.

An intentional forcing action that results in disadvantage to the player who did the forcing gives no cause to interrupt the game and play should continue.

There has been no change following the deletion of Forcing, forcing ball-body contact is still an offence, but now it is supposed to be penalised under other Rules. Why?  I don’t know, but I don’t think the deletion was for the sake of “simplification and clarification” : it’s a good example of unnecessary meddling and obscurantism.

 

The UMB, several times over, instructs umpires to use their common sense, but nowhere is common sense so conspicuously absent as in the judgements made (or absence of judgement, it being replaced with blind obedience to required ‘practice’) about the dangerously played ball, particularly a ball that is played as a shot at the goal.

 

A dangerously played ball  – that is actually dangerous to an opponent – is a ball that is played (and almost invariably raised) in such a way that another player is endangered by it: that is the propelling or deflecting of the ball puts another player at risk of hurt, pain or injury or causes one or more of these to occur.

What does A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous. mean for umpires? Well, that does not say A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres may be considered dangerous. This is not a judgement to be made by an umpire at the time of a specific incident in a match, but a standing instruction given to umpires by the FIH Rules Committee in Rule, which states  (sic)”This action is dangerous play.” This is so even if the player the ball is raised at is not actually endangered (put at risk of injury) – and ball evasion is not a requirement for a breach of this clause of Rule 9.9.

Raising the ball at or into a close player is (or should be) treated as a dangerous play offence as part of the emphasis on player safety and the required consideration for the safety of other players  – but no one would be able to guess that from watching the average hockey match. On the contrary, if an attacking player raises the ball into the legs of a close opponent in the opponent’s circle, he or she can then celebrate the ‘winning’ of a penalty corner with their ‘skill’ (their easy deliberate foul).

A distance of 5m is a problem, it is far too much distance safeguard when the ball is raised towards an opponent up to knee height, even at high velocity – so such actions are usually ignored ** – and as related above the player hit with the ball is penalised (2m-3m would be a  more reasonable ‘safe’ distance, although players hit with a raised ball are presently penalised even when it is raised into them from less than 1m)– but 5m is far too short a distance when the ball is propelled at high velocity at the upper body or head of another player: Rule amendment and additional heights/distances are needed – especially when some participants declare that a ball cannot be dangerous play no matter how propelled at another player from more than 5m. (so ‘anything goes’ at 6m or more?) 

That particular view is a result of the FIH RC declaring (in Rule 9.9.), that a ball raised at another player is dangerous if this is done from within 5m. The “cannot be dangerous beyond 5m” is the construction of a counterpart without any supporting evidence and is a fallacy. Rule 9.8. (the only Rule in which evasion is mentioned) gives no distance limit for legitimated evasive action – so there is none – and a limit (especially one that defies common sense) should not be imposed. But 5m is adopted from Rule 9.9 and the Penalty Corner Rules and subverted to ‘fit’ LEA: such perversions of the intent and purpose of Rules are common

**(except during a penalty corner when, in direct contradiction of the guidance given in Rule 9.9., a ball raised into a defender within 5m that hits her or him below the knee will result in penalty against the defender – the award of another penalty corner is mandatory. This unfair Rule, introduced after the Athens Olympics because of tactics employed by the defenders at penalty corners by one nation during those Games, which should have been dealt with at the time by other means, should be deleted because it is unsafe. It is the run-blocking and sight-blocking antics of the attacking side during the taking of a penalty corner that requires more scrutiny and Rule application). 

Unfortunately no minimum height limit is provided in Rule 9.9. (flicks and scoops are by definition raised) and nothing is said about velocity, so it might have been better to provide this guidance clause as instruction for a forcing offence rather than a dangerous play offence. It is no surprise that the FIH Umpiring Committee (in conjunction with the FIH Rules Committee we are led to believe) have issued instruction/advice in the UBM which contradicts the above instruction given in the Rules of Hockey by the FIH Rules Committee. Such self-contradictions are considered perfectly normal by FIH Officials and anybody who does not understand the presence of them in the rule-book or the UMB or the reasons for them, has not been paying attention to television commentators and the other enlightened individuals, who perhaps pick up such ‘inside’ Rule information in bars and coffee shops during FIH Tournaments – and then expand upon it. Hockey forums on the Internet are also a rich source of such intelligence and polarized opinion.

I think it common sense to view a ball that has been propelled at a velocity, generally in excess of 100kmp, at the upper body (at or above sternum height) or head, of player from within 15m of that player, as dangerous; because at that distance a raised ball of that velocity is still rising and will not have lost much, if any, velocity. Such a shot could severely injure or even kill a player hit with it. Even the best of players have difficulty in coping safely with such raised balls. Fractured skulls, shattered eye sockets and cheek-bones, broken jaw bones and lost teeth are not uncommon ball hit injuries. If playing the ball in a way that is likely to cause such injuries if another player is hit with it, is not to be considered dangerous play, then what is? Only high shots at players made within 5m of the goal and perhaps not even those if they are on-target? That is clearly ridiculous, but it seems to be ‘accepted umpiring practice’ (based on unpublished instruction).

I do not think it common sense, in fact I think it idiotic, to blame a player defending the goal for positioning where there is a risk that he or she will be injured by a dangerously played ball or to declare such positioning to be a or the cause of dangerous play. It is  a perfectly logical argument to state that if the player was not there – not defending the goal – they would not be injured and not even be at risk of injury. But it is not a common sense argument to say that such defenders cause dangerous play and should, to avoid the risk of injury, not try to defend the goal: what would be the point of playing the game or the attraction of it without a contest, without a reasonable defence? 

It can moreover be asserted with the same impeccable logic, that a defender no matter where positioned prior to a shot, would not be endangered if the ball was not raised at him or her. As a cause of a dangerously played ball, raising the ball at a player who is in position before the ball is propelled, wins ‘hands down’ over the proposition that endangerment is caused by positioning in front of the goal. This is because a shooter knows where a positioned defender is before the shot is made and chooses the height, direction and velocity of the shot, whereas the defender can only make a guess about which direction and at what height and velocity a shot will be made.

The solution to the problem lies in finding ways to prevent or deter the making of shots that put defenders at risk of serious, even fatal, injury when they are defending the goal – not in simplistically and unfairly penalising defenders hit with the ball – which encourages dangerous play rather than deterring it. 

The first hit-shot at the goal during a penalty corner has been subject to a (very severe) height restriction since the late 1980’s.  As a result of this restriction the risk of injury and the incidents of injury from an undercut first hit-shot at the goal during a penalty corner dropped dramatically as strikers stopped deliberately undercutting their shots – there being no point in doing so. There was (and still is) the occasional accidental raising of the ball above the stipulated height with a first hit-shot during a penalty corner, but there is seldom any doubt about the correct decision – to penalise the striker (there was an incident in the 2016 Champions Trophy match between AUS and GB were there was initially some doubt because the umpire appeared to be unaware of the Rule) . 

Why is doubt removed? Because the decision is based on an objective criterion – height (which can, if necessary, be checked and proven by video referral, as it was in the AUS v GB match, where the video umpire did know the Rule). The other very significant advantage of a height criterion is that a defender knows with certainty when the ball may be evaded without giving away a goal and when it must played to defend the goal: risk of injury is not removed entirely but much reduced.

High velocity drag-flick-shots made at the upper body or head of a defender are prima facie evidence of a dangerous played ball and no further evidence should be required, but they are not at present generally penalised as such, in fact such shots are very rarely penalised as dangerous play, (I have never seen even a video of a drag-flick shot that hit a defender high on the body or on the head, penalised as dangerous play) so there is obviously a need for objective criteria to determine ‘dangerously played’ for all shots raised at the goal ‘through’ defenders, but especially, because of the prior positioning demanded of defenders during a penalty corner, for all first-shots made during a penalty corner that are not hits, particularly the drag-flick shot (subjective judgement is commonly being subverted by instructions to umpires, instructions which are in fact objective eg. ‘on target’ and not part of the Rules of Hockey, some of which are frankly bizarre and dangerous in themselves) Subsequent shots at the goal should of course, as they are supposed to be at present, made subject to dangerous play. 

Face-masks are not a solution, if anything they make the problem worse by giving shooters the idea that as the defenders are protected there is no reason not to shoot at a defender at head height. In any case defenders still, by instinctive reflex, usually turn their face away from a ball propelled at it, presenting a side of their head to the shot and that is even more vulnerable to ball impact than an unprotected face. (There is an example of this in one of the videos below, AUS v SA).  Helmets would only cause an escalation of the ‘cannot be dangerous’ view. Where does such escalation end? With an armoured penalty corner defence sub-team who only come onto the pitch to defend a penalty corner and with no limitations at all on the taking of any shot? (Which is where we already are with the drag-flick

My suggestion, for when the ball is played directly at a defender, is for a height limit of 120cms (for senior men) – which is about sternum or elbow height and just below the head height of a player standing in a playing crouch with the head of the stick on the ground. Marking the goal with a height indicator would not be difficult with a tensioned strap. Unlike the restriction on the first hit-shot, there is no height limit suggested for any shot that is not propelled at a defender who remains in the pre-shot position – that is, who does not move laterally into the path of the ball. (At head height “at” should be taken to mean “within the width of the shoulders”)

Goal Taped
The  following videos show two examples of the penalising of a defender hit with a dangerously played ball and one example where the shot was probably below the suggested 120cms limit, but was I believe going wide of the goal: three penalty strokes that should not have been awarded.

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I have dozens of such video examples; in all but a single case a defender was penalised (the exception was the penalising of an undercut hit-shot at the goal, made in open play from within 5m which hit a defender on the head – and I noticed that my approving comment on even that decision was queried on an Australian hockey web-site because the shot was ‘on-target’; they will think this article heretical – it’s true that people can get used to anything and will accept everything that other people are seen to accept, no matter how bizarre). Even goal-defenders who evade the ball to avoid injury (despite such evasion being specifically mentioned as an indicator of a dangerously played ball in Rule 9.8.) are penalised – a goal is awarded against their team.

The only objective criterion used at the moment in the judgement of a dangerously played ball (outside of that given in Rule 9.9) is “on-target/off-target” which is not appropriate or even legitimate. Proper use of objective criteria for height, distance, velocity, would do much to make the game as safe to play as it should be (but still not a safe game, hockey is inherently a dangerous sport) and to make it much fairer. It might also encourage ball/stick and passing skills, rather than the  reckless propelling of the ball high and at high velocity in the general direction of the goal irrespective of the positioning of defending opponents – in the hope of “getting something” – or perhaps even worse and all too common at a penalty corner, the deliberate targeting of a defender with a high velocity high raised ball. It does of course require considerable skill to gain position and to shoot at the goal without endangering opponents, but hockey is supposed to be a game of skill, not of brute force.

We are now (several safety Rules having been deleted or ‘disabled’, mostly during the last twelve years) trying to cope with the style of play that has developed for today’s pitches, equipment and the general level of fitness of top level players, with basically the ‘dangerously played’ criteria in Rules drafted in the 1890’s (when the game was played on grass and exclusively by Gentlemen -whose principle sport was cricket, which I understand is a formal religion – and hockey really was “just a game”).


June 28, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Ignorance and stupidity continued.

Rules of Hockey.

The shot at goal that is also raised dangerously at a defending player.

Edited and video added  29th. June 2016.

I was curious as to why, when this forum thread below, (which was the  starting point for my previous article) was not, as is usual whenever a question about a dangerously raised ball or a raised shot at goal is asked, almost immediately locked by a moderator.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/shots-on-target-rule-query.39844/

This post, which I have set out in full below, provided the answer to that question:  see Diligent’s  footnote to it.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/shots-on-target-rule-query.39844/#post-381702

 

Here we have the Mad Hatter and the March Hare in flow. I’ll cast SPetitt  – not to leave (her/him?) out – as Alice, no offence to her/him is intended.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Diligent
Super Moderator (The Hatter)
Well here’s a blast from the past! Barricades are raised for the ‘raised ball and danger‘ debate.

SPetitt said:

To say a shot at goal cannot be dangerous is clearly nonsense, at any level.

Nij said:

It is a really frustrating myth that every good umpire I know is tired of dealing with, especially when the rules and the rules briefing made/make that point directly.

[ Diligent misquotes Nij by cutting him, what he actually wrote was  “It being raised or touching the body after it is, doesn’t imply danger, and it is a really frustrating myth that every good umpire I know is tired of dealing with, especially when the rules and the rules briefing made/make that point directly.”]

Reality check: for performance hockey, the rules allow a raised shot at goal to be not dangerous, so the defender‘s body on the line can be a PS; for beginning and social hockey, the rules allow the same shot to be judged as dangerous, so hitting the defender‘s body can be a FHD. The majority of hockey falls between those extremes, and umpires can give the PS/FHD that is fair for that shot, which hits the defender there, in this game.

We on the forum can argue all we like what the umpire ‘must’ do, but it makes not one jot of difference to the umpire’s call on that shot, in this match, at this level, with those players, at this stage of play, and any number of more subtle factors existing in the brief moment of decision.

Moderator‘s note: it’s not the Umpiring Corner so the thread is not this moderator’s to lock. But some more nuanced contributions might be helpful for a General Hockey readership.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Barricades?  A blast from the past?  The thread is about current Rule and current umpiring practice.

Naturally neither Diligent or Nij did (or can) quote supportive wording for their views from either the Rules or the Rule Briefings that they have referred to  

Diligent. for performance hockey, the rules allow a raised shot at goal to be not dangerous, so the defender‘s body on the line can be a PS; for beginning and social hockey, the rules allow the same shot to be judged as dangerous.

Nij. It being raised or touching the body after it is, doesn’t imply danger,…………. especially when the rules and the rules briefing made/make that point directly.”

– the detail and nature of these ‘Rules’ being entirely the product of their imaginations.

But neither has said  –  no on-target shot at the goal can be considered to be dangerous play – which, as has been shown by video examples in my previous articles, is the myth that is being broadcast.  SPettit pointed this out and correctly asserted that it is a nonsense.  

It is in fact difficult to know just what Diligent has said or means “for performance hockey, the rules allow a raised shot at goal to be not dangerous.” Yes of course they do, they do at any level of play, but what has that got to do with the making and penalising of a shot that endangers another player? What he has written is the same kind of ambiguous pap that he has written in a post ‘Dangerous Shot at Goal’ which he has pinned to the top of the Umpire’s Corner on the forum website. Reality check? If only.

The same shot“, if that shot is made dangerously, will endanger a player, that is force that player to self-defence, no matter what the skill level of the player. Competence in dealing with a dangerously played ball does not mean that the ball was not played at the defending player in a dangerous way – in a way that could have caused injury to that player, and would probably have done if he or she had been hit with the ball. To assert otherwise is to suggest for example, that a player who ducks a ball propelled at her/or his head was not endangered because they managed to avoid being hit – and that ‘reasoning’ runs contrary to the provided explanation of Rule application given with Rule 9.8.

A player who stops a high ball, propelled at say chest height, has been endangered in exactly the same way as one who opts to evade a similar ball. It is not the kind of self-defence taken, but the fact that self-defence was forced by the action of the player propelling the ball that has relevance – and there are of course occasions when no action is taken by a player hit with the ball because they were sight-blocked (frequently deliberately) and did not see the ball coming. 

A ball raised high into an opponent from within 5m is dangerous play irrespective of the response to it from the defending player. A ball played at a defender from any distance that forces self defence, (specifically mentioned with the Rule is evasion to avoid injurylegitimate evasive action), is also dangerous play – at any level of play.

The following video clip shows a dangerous shot at the goal; this is propelled at the defender from about 13m.

The above video clip is of a well known incident during a match several years ago between AUS and GB. Australia were winning 4-0 at the time it happened. Neither the shooter nor the defender hit with ball were penalised. Can you recall how the umpire avoided the issues raised by the shot and the fact that the defender was hit in the face with the ball – what the decision given was? It’s one of my (sic) favorite daft decisions in hockey.

I will conclude with comment on two excepts from the Rules of Hockey. This is on the first page of the rule-book.

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.

These are not requests but demands; rules, conditions for legitimate play: MUST.

And from the Introduction.

The Rules of Hockey apply to all levels of the game, …………………..

National Associations may apply to FIH to opt out of particular Rules at levels below their top domestic Leagues and/or for particular age groups, should they so wish.

So unless there has been a formal application, to opt out of certain Rules, made to the FIH by a National Association (above shoulder playing of the ball for example), and this granted by the FIH, all the Rules of Hockey apply, as set out in the rule-book, without exception to all participants at all levels.

That does not mean that inexperienced players should be treated as if they have exceptional skill and experience, but that very skillful and experienced players should not be permitted to play either recklessly or dangerously just because they and their opponents are skillful and experienced.

Skill and/or experience should reduce the risk of there being dangerous play, not increase it. Certainly, a skillful player can stop most balls that are propelled towards him or her, just as a skillful player is able to pass or shoot accurately past and wide of an opponent – and not at an opponent. In fact a skillful player who propels the ball at an opponent is far more likely to have done so deliberately than an unskilled player – and if in doing so, he or she endangers that opponent (forces self-defence or causes injury), then he or she must be penalised accordingly.

Any player at any level of skill is capable of playing without care for others, unthinkingly or recklessly and even dangerously, and must be discouraged or deterred from doing so. Everyone involved in the game must act with consideration for the safety of others.

 

 

 

June 25, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Ignorance or stupidity or both.

Rules of Hockey.

Dangerously played ball.  Shot at the goal.  Ignorance or stupidity?

Edited  28th July, 2016.

A question with poll posted on this forum. Here

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/shots-on-target-rule-query.39844/

My hope for this posted question and poll is that it is made ‘tongue-in-cheek’ and as ‘bait’; a leading article to generate the extremes of response that previous attempts to discuss the subject have and to point up the absurdities of the current application and interpretations so that they may be properly addressed.    


I have a query from a game I played today which I would like opinions on. The reason I ask is that the rules for shots being dangerous and whether or not they are on target are a bit confusing. I can’t tell if the rules have changed a lot over the last 10 years. of if there are just different interpretations.

 The scenario:
I am standing with about 4 yards diagonally our from the post. the ball is out with my team mate on the side line. I am facing him. He pings the ball across to me (parallel to the back line) I then do a sweep around to shoot on goal…
The ball goes about 5ft in the air and is on target – the ball hits a defender in the chest. he is standing about 1 yard off the line (so about 3 yards from me). The umpire blows for a foul saying that my shot was ‘dangerous because the defender did not have time to move away“. was this the right decision?
Other info:
The umpire acknowledged that the shot was on target and that it was a controlled shot (i.e. hasn’t deflected wildly off my stick or been miss-hit). The keeper was behind the defender. but not directly so. he would have had to pull of a decent save to stop the shot (personally I’d say it was maybe 70% likely to go in given the proximity and speed the ball was hit.
Curious as to the replies. especially umpires opinions.
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Here are the answers given on the poll form, from unidentified individuals, by 2pm Saturday 25th June.
Shot survey

Given the current Rules 9.8. and 9.9. how could anybody, never mind the majority of the small number of respondents, think that the attacker did not commit an offence or that the defending team should be penalised, presumably for the gaining of an advantage? 

There is mention of interpretation in the posted questions, so this can be asked: – Is it possible that either Rule could be interpreted differently or even in the opposite way to what common sense and the emphasis on player safety should imply?  Yes it is.

Here are the relevant Rules:-

9.8 (with the first clause only of the explanation of application

Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play.
A ball is considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.

In the incident described the umpire, correctly, asserted that the defender had no opportunity to evade the ball and penalised the attacker for dangerous play. Why is this correct? Because the explanation (which is woefully inadequate because it is incomplete) does not state that a player who cannot take evasive action is not and cannot be endangered by a high raised ball, propelled at high velocity, into his or her body: it just gives one action that is (must be) considered dangerous play in a given circumstance.

The explanation, as far as it goes, covers those situations where evasive action is successfully taken and someone on the team of the attacker who propelled the ball might then claim “But that could not have been dangerous, he was able to get out of the way (and anyway he shouldn’t have been there)”  A claim that is still made frequently, especially when the ball has been propelled high at an opponent who is more than 5m from a shooter. (Again, that a ball that is raised high and at high velocity at another player who is within 5m must be considered to be dangerous play, does not mean that a similar ball propelled at an opponent who is more than 5m (6m? 7m?) from the player propelling the ball, cannot be endangerment and the striker cannot be in breach of Rule 9.8. – which makes no mention of height or distance).   The whole thing is anyway ‘a crap-shoot’ of personal opinion because of the insertion of the word “legitimate” which can be interpreted in many, often opposing, ways. How that ‘crap shoot’ has been resolved (but it hasn’t) is described below. 

The 5m mentioned comes from the explanation of Rule 9.9. (A Rule and explanation of application that is such a mix and a mess of Rules that it makes me want to scream with frustration). This Rule should not have been introduced * and is now often ignored.

*[It was not necessary to introduce a blanket Rule to prohibit all intentional raising of the ball with a hit in all parts of the field. It would however be perfectly reasonable to place an absolute limit on the height to which a raised hit – intentionally raised or not – could be raised without penalty, (perhaps shoulder height subject as always to dangerous play at and below that height) to make impossible the near pitch length clip or chip hits the (sic) present (1987) Rule was intended to deter (the more accurate long scoop makes the clip hit obsolete anyway). It would also be reasonable to prohibit the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit (a hit away from the player hitting the ball), (a new version of a previous Rule ‘lost’ by deletion when the blanket ban on the raised hit was introduced), and also to prohibit hits raised within the circle that were not clearly intended as shots at the goal]. 

That aside, to resume:-


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.

The first paragraph of the explanation can be ignored because it depends on two subjective judgements – intentional and/or dangerous – both of which are ‘interpreted’ out of existence or (in the case of intention) cannot be determined with certainty and the raised hit will not therefore generally be penalised. 

The second clause of the second paragraph hangs on the phase “without attempting to play the ball with their stick” This is widely ignored, a defender moving towards the ball will usually be penalised if hit with a raised ball even if obviously trying to play the ball with the stick (Rule ignorance).

We are left with this:- 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. Which oddly (in a Rule prohibiting an intentionally raised hit, unless it is made as a shot at the goal) does not mention a hit, intentional or otherwise, raised into an opponent who is within 5m of the player propelling the ball. So how is this to be interpreted if the ball is raised as a shot at the goal into a close opponent with a hit ?   Make a guess.

The Rules of Hockey prior to 2004 contained this Rule (and what is now strange numbering).

Rule 13.3.1d  A player shall not raise the ball at another player.

 That rule was of course too severe, there is no mention of endangerment nor of the means of propelling the ball or of height or distance or velocity, and so it was widely ignored. However, instead of adding to it objective criterion, particularly to give some measure of control to the umpiring of the drag-flick (which by 2003 was well established as the preferred first shot at a penalty corner); the fact that defenders were being targeted by shooters propelling the ball high with a flick shot and at about 100kph (now about 120kph) was just ignored (an example of the emphasis on player safety !! ) and in 2004 the Rule was deleted.

I regard this deletion as one of the principle acts of vandalism (there were several others) in what was termed “the simplification and clarification” of the Rules, in the 2004 rewrite of the Rules of Hockey. The old Rule 13.3.1d  didn’t however disappear altogether, it was linked to flicks and scoops and a 5m limit was added to it (so it was possible to add objective criterion) and in this form it was implanted in the explanation of the application of the Rule about the intentionally raised hit. Go figure. The shot at goal (except for the first hit-shot made during a penalty corner) became a free-for-all for the attacking side: “Bugger player safety, defenders shouldn’t get in the way”  a common attitude.

The above forum thread generated the usual mix of complacency and ire and wandered in and out of  a discussion of an incident where a player was hit with the ball in the groin from close range during the making shot at the goal during a penalty corner – and penalised with a penalty stroke ! (This was put down to an umpire making a mistake, he perhaps didn’t understand the Rule – as we all know, unlike players, umpires are human). 

All of these dangerously played ball discussions are either terminated rapidly by a moderator and possibly ‘sin-binned’ or tail off with various contributors fending off criticism of what they did not write while trying to explain again what they did write to people who won’t read what is written anyway or who deliberately ‘misunderstand’ it.

Here is an example of the seeking an answer to the question “Dangerous or not” from an American Umpire Coach who posted on the forum a video of an incident, which to me is clearly dangerous play by the attacking shooter: some of the responses are incredible; for example, the defender caused the danger by her positioning.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/you-make-the-call.37088/

 

The original clip is very brief so I have put together an extended version with repeats and slow-mo. The match umpire awarded a goal so she obviously didn’t think the shot to be dangerous or to be intimidation (a completely forgotten Rule); one has to wonder “Why not?”

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Senior umpires like to think or pretend to think, that they are guarding their right to make subjective judgements – but ‘on target’ is an objective criteria not a subjective one, it can be measured or calculated with video from several camera angles – as can the height and speed of the ball – so they are kidding themselves and others.

One thing is clear, the oral tradition of imparting knowledge and information (wisdom), is still far stronger than the younger written tradition. The power of ‘insider information’ and the ‘secret’ (gossip and rumour) outweighs all published printed Rules; in fact scorn is heaped on those who adhere to the “black and white” of the published Rules printed in the rule-book. It is said that the meaning of the printed word changes over time and has to be ‘adjusted’ as spoken language develops; that appears to be true, but ten or fifteen years seems an extremely short period of time for some of the changes of meaning that have occurred – for example, opposites in meaning to have developed.

Attempting to resolve the ‘crap-shoot’

The notion, which is contrary to all references to the raised ball given in the Rules of Hockey, that an on-target shot at the goal cannot be considered dangerous, is one such bit of ‘insider information’ that has dogged hockey since it was first heard from the lips of an Australian television sports commentator at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

What the authority for this statement is and from who or from where it originated is a secret – it certainly isn’t from the FIH Rules Committee (the only Rules Authority) or in the published Rules of Hockey or the published UMB.

But this nonsense has been accepted (and broadcast and applied), apparently without demur, by international level umpires, who claim to be making subjective decisions about dangerous play (and perhaps believe they are doing so), and it has taken a pernicious grip on general ‘Rule knowledge’ which is proving impossible to shake. It is repeated or reference made to it by television commentators in nearly every televised hockey match.

There is even a ridiculous counterpart which ‘evolved’ later – that a shot raised high at the goal that is off-target is dangerous. Ridiculous because – not only is that contrary to what is given in Terminology in the rule-book (look up ‘Shot at goal’.) – but unless a player is endangered by the ball, that is put to self-defence to avoid injury from the ball (usually evasive action) or actually injured by it, then no ball propelled from beyond 5m, no matter how propelled or deflected, can be considered to have been dangerously played.(The Rule about the first raised hit-shot made during a penalty corner is not about dangerous play – which seems very odd to me – but about the conditions to be met for a goal to be scored during a penalty corner. I had that information given to me directly by email from a former Rules Secretary. It seems the FIH RC are doing their best not to apply objective criterion to the dangerously played ball). 

In these two diverse ‘Alice in Wonderland’ statements we have the development an apparent general acceptance of opposite meanings of dangerous or endangerment – and both statements are absurd, especially when they are taken together: no one has even attempted to offer a justification for either of them or an explanation for the sudden appearance of the first of them during an Olympic Tournament (the second idea, a raised shot is dangerous if it is off-target, didn’t surface in an international match until 2016). I can’t think of a single sane justification for either statement.  

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Videos clips of the original matches where these inventions first appeared. In the first part of the first clip the ball is propelled at a player in a way that is clearly contrary to Rule  – is dangerous play – which the commentator acknowledges.

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In the second the ball is not propelled at a player at all. The hit was intended as a shot at the goal but was off-target. Missing the goal when shooting at it is not of itself an offence.

The umpire was possibly confused by an earlier Rule (that was deleted when Rule 7 -playing of the ball above should height -was amended) in which a defender had to be penalised with a penalty corner for even attempting to play at a ball from a high raised shot that was going wide of the goal (a very silly and unfair Rule it was too) or perhaps confused by the deletion of the Own Goal Rule a couple of years back – whatever, he was confused as well as adamant he was right. The confused commentators did their best to find a justification for the decision – that the umpire was wrong didn’t occur to them.

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June 20, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Shootout incident

Rules of Hockey.

Final of the 2016 Champions Trophy. Incident during the deciding shootout.

Edit. Video of the last incident in normal time added.

What a farce (to say nothing about what happened after the shootout was concluded).

 

The FIH have now posted a Highlights video of the Final on You Tube, which leaves out what happened in the shoot-out before the score was 2-1 to Australia. But they have included the last action in the match – and another farcical decision.

 

June 19, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Understanding when ball shielding is not obstruction

Rules of Hockey.

When ball shielding is obstruction – and when is not.

Beginning with incidents from the CT Bronze match between GER and GB.

Edited. Video and explanation added  24th June 2016


Ball shielding references in the Rule.

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

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

As explained in a previous article the use of the word “from” in the above explanation of Rule application produces a nonsense, and the word legitimate has several meanings so, for clarity, I will substitute “to prevent” and “legal” respectively. This does not alter the meaning and intended purpose of the guidance.

Players obstruct if they :– shield the ball to prevent a legal tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

 

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

For simplicity and clarity (avoiding mixing what is permitted with what is not permitted so that the prohibited action need not be expressed as an exception) I omit the part not relevant to ball shielding.

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.

and the following, for simplicity and clarity, requires two modifications.

A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this is third party or shadow obstruction).

A player who moves in front of an opponent to block them and thereby prevent from them playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this can also be a third party obstruction offence or an impeding offence).

Having set out the relevant Rule parameters (a tedious but necessary task on every occasion the Obstruction Rule is examined, so that we are not tripping over ‘interpretations’), we can move on to the examples from the video.

The first incident is a clear obstruction, a player in possession of the ball within the playing reach of an opponent who is trying to play at the ball, moves to the opponent’s goal side of the ball, so then leading the ball with the body, to position between the ball and the defending opponent, thus preventing the opponent  who is trying to play at the ball from doing so. This turning and ball obstruction is avoided (as in the play in the third incident below) by making the turn away before the defender is in a position (close enough) to make a tackle attempt, it’s a simple matter of timing. The turn needs to be made as late as possible to create space to move into with advantage, but not so late that the turning action becomes obstructive: poor timing – usually too late to avoid giving obstruction – is a very common fault. 

Having been obstructed in his attempt to play at the ball, the defending opponent moves goal-side and directly behind the ball-holder and adopts a blocking position – so he is no longer obstructed because he has ceased to attempt to play at the ball. The offence by the attacker was ignored (or not seen or not understood). 

CT GDR vGB 1

Now we come to one of two exceptions to the Rule and to an example of the kind of hockey it was intended to promote. The attacking player, in black shirt in the middle of the picture, makes a lead run away from his marker to enable a pass by offering himself as a receiver. The run is seen and a pass made, paced so that the receiver will be in place as it arrives.

CT GDR vGB 1a

The ball is received. It does not matter that the receiver is now again closely marked and a tackle is being attempted, a receiving player while in the act of receiving and controlling the ball cannot be guilty of an obstruction offence even if facing his own base-line. The initial passer plays ‘pass-and-go’ and leaves his surprised (at the direction of the pass) marker behind (ball watching).

CT GDR vGB 1b

The receiver, acting as a pivot, controls the ball and immediately makes a return pass (a wall pass or 1-2 ) back to the original passer – very simple. A short dribble, eluding a defender, and another wall-pass, with a third attacker (who also made a run), complete the move with a final ‘pass’ into the goal:Attractive hockey.

CT GDR vGB 1c

The third incident. The GB player in possession of the ball is facing his opponent’s base-line and nearer to the opponent’s goal than the opponent is and has the ball out in front of his feet. It is not possible for a ball holder to give body shielding obstruction in these circumstances. The second defender is not yet within playing distance of the ball – so obstruction of that player is not possible.

CT GDR vGB 2

As the GER player puts his stick to ground to block the path of the ball the GB turns anti-clockwise to face towards his own goal – but although close to the ball, no attempt is being made to play at the ball by the first GER player, who is still behind the play as the turn is started, so no obstruction.

CT GDR vGB 2a

The GB player props with the ball and is momentarily stationary and if at this point the GER #13 had closed and attempted to play at the ball the GB player would have had great difficulty avoiding giving obstruction, but he does not – neither of GER players attempt to tackle the turned GB player –  probably being unaware of the Rule conditions (or even the Rule) they instead put their sticks flat to the ground and adopt blocking positions.

CT GDR vGB 2c

CT GDR vGB 2d

The fortunate GB attacker clips the ball over the grounded sticks and runs away with it.

CT GDR vGB 2e

The GB player could count on the umpire not penalising his play even if it was obstructive and right ‘under his nose’ (see first incident), but both umpires were a considerable distance away (we need more on pitch officials) – so nothing lost in trying the move – in the event there was no obstruction because of the absence of a tackle attempt, the GB player was lucky as well as able to display considerable ‘cool’, awareness and stick-ball skill. 

 

Here is another incident where there was no obstruction and in fact a physical contact offence by a tackler who was behind the ball both before and during his tackle attempt – which was made from a position from where physical contact was inevitable and possibly deliberate.

From his position the umpire could only have been guessing what happened, there is a desperate need for more pitch officials, and also for the education of players about obstruction and physical contact; it did not occur to the Indian player to appeal the decision (I don’t know if video referral was available to him or had already been lost).

The following video is composed of out-takes from a video posted on You Tube more than three years ago. I post another revised version of it because it contains a number of incidents involving turning on the ball or turning with the ball that are not obstructive (and a few that are) as well as an incident of ‘manufacturing’ (and a skilful alternative).

For a player to be obstructed that player must first be trying to play at the ball, in order to do that he or she must be within playing distance of it – those are the basics given in the Rule. The player also needs (for obstruction by the body of an opponent, I leave aside stick obstruction for the moment) to be their own goal-side or level with the ball.

Trying to play at the ball is insufficient if the attempt is being made while the intending tackler is off-balance or facing or moving or reaching in the wrong direction with the effect that they would have no reasonable chance of making contact with the ball even if it was not shielded from them – in other words, but for the ball shielding action of the player in possession the tackler would have been able to play directly the ball.

As will be seen in the video clever and skilful players can move with the ball to induce a tackler to move too far in one direction to be able to recover to a balanced position, sufficient to effect a tackle with any chance of success, when the position of the ball holder is changed (or induce them to stop trying to tackle and instead to position to only block a certain path).  The ‘keys’ (as with most game skills) are space, movement and timing 

June 17, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Subjective or Objective

Rules of Hockey. 

Are what are supposed to be subjective decisions really subjective?

I wrote in my previous article ( http://wp.me/pKOEk-2iD):-”

“The notion that needs to be put aside is that attackers shooting at the goal have an ‘absolute right’ to raise the ball (at high velocity) to any height irrespective of the positioning of opposing defenders – that isn’t so – as the Rules so often say “but this must not be dangerous”. The problem is that no one knows or can know, what ‘dangerous’ means, it’s a matter of opinion.”

But is it a matter of opinion – a subjective judgement? Look at the incidents and listen to the commentary contained in these two video clips.

Beijing Olympics 2008

World Cup 2010.

In the first clip above, a shot which is acknowledge by the commentator to be dangerous play, results in a penalty corner because it seems the objective criteria ‘on target shot at goal’ overrules the objective criteria given in Rule 9.9.concerning a dangerously played ball:-

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.

As that is from explanation of Rule application from the Rule about the intentional raising of the ball with a hit, I think it common sense to believe it must also include hits and deflections raised to above knee height into opponents who are within 5m of the player propelling or deflecting the ball. (Unfortunately the Rules of Hockey are far from perfect – which has to some extent given excuse for the emergence of the extreme silliness described in this article)

The only other objective criteria about the playing of the ball during a shot at the goal is in regard to the first hit-shot made during a penalty corner and that is not about dangerous play but about the conditions under which a goal may be scored during a penalty corner. Raising the ball so that it will  cross- or would have crossed – the goal-line at above goal-board height is not a dangerous play offence, in fact (like the intentional playing of the ball over the baseline by a defender) not an offence of any kind, but it will be penalised, for what has not been made clear.

In the second video clip the umpire steadfastly refuses to listen to the Spanish Captain’s requests that she consult her colleague on the matter of dangerous play and insists that a shot made from within 5m of the hit defender, which hit her at above knee height, could not be dangerous because it was an on-target shot at the goal. Again an objective criteria (and an absurd invention at that) being used to overrule the only relevant objective criterion published in the FIH Rules of Hockey.

What is obvious is that the umpires at these FIH Tournaments (and the television commentator) are quoting ‘with authority’ from other sources. Those sources can only be the Tournament Directors and/or the Umpire Managers who conducted the pre-tournament Rules Briefings. The giving of such instruction, that is instruction contrary to what is given in the Rules of Hockey and the substitution of unapproved ‘Rules’ for the approved Rules of Hockey by individual FIH Officials and by other groups, who are not the full FIH Rules Committee, was specifically prohibited by the FIH Executive in a circular in 2001 – it’s not a new problem.

It seems that umpires easily give up what they pretend to vigorously defend, their authority and right to make subjective decisions based on the Rules of Hockey and the actions and perceived intentions of players in relation to them during a hockey match. Why? For consistency? There is no merit in being consistently unfair and wrong. So that they will be reappointed to officiate other matches? At what cost to their own opinions and identity?

There is no reason why more objective criterion to define a dangerously played ball cannot be introduced into the FIH published Rules of Hockey (in fact they are sorely needed) and there is no justification at all for the use of objective criterion, not in the Rules of Hockey (and rightly so), to be invented and imposed by other – specifically prohibited – means.

June 15, 2016

Rules of Hockey: Hit and flick a strange contrast

Rules of Hockey. The raised shot at the goal particularly during a penalty corner. The hit and the flick – opposite extremes.

Edited 16th June 2016.

The strange contrast between the Rules and the application of Rule concerning a first hit shot at the goal during a penalty corner and shots using other means of propelling or deflecting the ball

It has previously been argued that there is justifiably a difference in the way the hit shot (specifically the first hit-shot made during a penalty corner) is more strictly controlled compared with a flick stroke because:-

1) the ball may be propelled with greater power/velocity using a hit rather than a flick.

2) the height and direction of the ball is more easily and better controlled when a flick stroke is used – and therefore a flick shot is safer.

The first argument is twenty or more years out of date and the second assumes that shooters will (as they should) always try to avoid hitting a defending opponent with the ball. Whereas in fact, if we accept the argument about greater control and consider what is seen, shooters often deliberately target post-defenders, generally by propelling the ball at their upper body or head. This is of course denied by shooters who declare they are shooting not at a defender but at a particular point within the goal (behind a defender) and generally shoot blindly in that direction and at that height  – as they can after hours of practice shooting at the goal from a particular position in the circle.

In these circumstances the flick shot (the high drag-flick) cannot be considered to be a safer means of shooting at the goal than the raised hit, and when the ball is (deliberately or otherwise) propelled with a flick stroke at an opponent at high velocity, it should be subject to height restrictions just as the first hit-shot is, but not the same height restrictions (a return of the logging goalkeeper would not be welcomed).

Second and subsequent shots at the goal, made with any type of stroke, should, if made at an opponent be similarly height restricted, unless the shot is taken from within 5m of the defending opponent – see Rule 9.9.

Rule 9.9. prohibits any ( because no height is mentioned) raising of the ball at an opponent who is within 5m and does not make an exception when a player is shooting at the goal – and the UMB (in ‘backhand’ fashion and in contradiction) declares that a ball played into an opponent at below half-shin-pad height, is not dangerous (Which leaves us to suppose that a ball raised at/into an opponent at above half shin-pad height (20cms?) is, or at least may be, considered to be dangerous play – no distance is mentioned in the UMB) – but the ‘accepted’ approach, the ‘dangerous height’ within 5m., for no reason except that there is no other objective criterion available within the Rules, is from the penalty corner ‘below knee height’ first hit-shot limit, introduced with the goal backboard in 1998/9 (the conditions for the scoring of a goal with a first hit-shot have since been tightened up considerably – even such a shot hit without opposition into an empty goal will be penalised if it crosses the goal-line at above the height of the goal boards – while there appears to be no objective criteria at all with which a flick-stroke may be judged to be safe or dangerous or otherwise controlled by the umpire – extremes that make the game ridiculous to those not familiar with them).

The reason most often advanced for penalising a player hit with the ball while that player is defending the goal is “acceptance of risk” – the argument goes, “The defender knows the ball may be raised and knows that there is a risk that he or she may be hit with the ball, but chooses nonetheless to position in front of the goal.” But accepting the risk that an opponent may commit a dangerous play offence is not an offence and nor is positioning in front of the goal in order to defend it – neither is such positioning a reason not to penalise the raising of the ball at a defender in a way that endangers that defender. Besides that, the risk accepted is that of the accidental raising of the ball at an opponent by a shooter, not deliberate targeting or ‘blind’ high shooting at a position known to be occupied by a defender. No player can reasonably be obliged to accept that an opponent may breach a Rule, especially, a dangerous play Rule – carelessly, recklessly or deliberately – with impunity.

 

In the second clip in the video a defender positioned on the goal-line tries to play at a ball that has been (deliberately?) raised at him at shoulder height and at high velocity, he is hit with the ball and penalised (because he has gained an advantage for his team) – had he evaded the ball as the line-defender successfully did in the third clip, but also missed the ball with his stick, the ball would have gone into the goal and a goal would have been awarded.  (despite genuine and /or necessaryI prefer to avoid the word legitimate here because it is ambiguous in this context –evasion being the definition of a dangerously played ball – and reason to penalise the shooter, unless one accepts one of the many weird argument made. E.g. that “A defender cannot legitimately position on the goal-line and expect Rule protection”; or another, that “A defender causes danger by positioning on the goal-line.” – or a third, that “A defender positioned behind his or her stick always intends to use the body to stop or deflect the ball if they miss it with the stick.” – what nonsense – but this next is the worst yet, “An on target shot at the goal cannot be dangerous play.” coupled with “A high raised shot that is going wide of the goal is dangerous.” : both ludicrous inventions with no Rule support whatsoever.)

A defender is generally obliged to try to play at a high ball propelled at him/her, which he or she could possibly evade and would undoubtedly prefer to, because no notice whatsoever is taken of genuine and necessary evasion to avoid injury and of what is clearly dangerous play (endangerment of an opponent) by the shooter.

 

What is a reasonable height limit for all shots at the goal – other than the first hit shot during a penalty corner – that are also raised at or towards a defender? I think sternum (elbow) height – 120cms for senior men, 110cms for women – are reasonable limits (easily marked on goals with tapes from post to post around the back of the goal). Shots at the goal  which are also travelling towards defenders (including deflections by attackers), may then be made legally at below the limiting height or alternatively not at a defender, but at the goal wide of or above the height of defenders – the only other consideration for the umpire, when the ball is played high at/towards a defender, is if the ball is travelling at a velocity that could injure anyone hit with it.

The notion that needs to be put aside is that attackers shooting at the goal have an ‘absolute right’ to raise the ball (at high velocity) to any height irrespective of the positioning of opposing defenders – that isn’t so – as the Rules so often say “but this must not be dangerous”. The problem is that no one knows or can know, what ‘dangerous’ means, it’s a matter of opinion.

See following article   http://wp.me/pKOEk-2iQ

 

June 13, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Intentionally raised hit

Rules of Hockey. 

Edited 9th. August, 2016.

An intentionally raised hit that is not intended as a shot at the goal from within the opponent’s circle is illegal.

A raised hit which is not intended as a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle is illegal even when it is not dangerous (it is the accidentally raised hit that need not be penalised unless dangerous – or of disadvantage to opponents).

Both of these examples also show a raised ball falling into an area where it could be contested for while still in the air – that too is a foul – and there are two offences if a same team player plays or attempts to play the ball and does not allow the defending opponent to play it to ground without interference.

Them’s the Rules.

When umpires cannot (or will not) detect that a ball has been intentionally raised then the Rule needs to be changed so that objective criterion and not subjective criterion can be used.(For example, for play from outside the circle, a prohibition on raising the ball into the circle with a hit, intention irrelevant).

The following video I originally posted to YouTube in connection with an article on the Obstruction Rule, but the raised edge hit seen, which was clearly not intended as a shot at the goal, was an illegal action and should have been penalised. Instead of penalty against the attacking team a goal was awarded, a deflection of the ball into the net by the player the raised hit was passed to.
.

.
If the same umpires cannot determine if a raised hit is intended as shot at the goal or as a pass (and if in doubt give the benefit of the doubt to the defending side) then they should give up umpiring; they are themselves a danger to players because they do not penalise and thereby deter dangerous play.

That the sort of play shown in these video clips is rewarded rather than penalised, is absurd when there is a (daft but strictly enforced) Rule prohibiting the playing of a free-ball, awarded within the opponent’s 23m area, directly into the opponent’s circle – for safety reasons !!

I suggest, that for reasons of player safety, that in addition to prohibiting any raised hit made within the circle that is not intended as a shot at the goal, no player should be permitted to play or play at the ball at above shoulder height while that player is within the opponent’s circle. 

 

 

June 10, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: What is obstruction ?

Rules of Hockey. Obstruction – what is it?

Edited 8th. August, 2016

The Rule is:-

Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball. Which tells the newcomer not familiar with hockey very little.

To find out what is meant by ‘obstruct’ it is necessary to look at the explanation given with the Rule. The explanation is itself a scattered text, added to and deleted from piecemeal over many years and (deliberately?) destroyed by “simplification and clarification”

(Think of “simplification and clarification” in the same way as you might the function of ‘The Ministry of Truth’ in George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’. My feeling is that an influential person in the FIH Umpiring hierarchy, who possibly suffered greatly as an unskillful player under the extreme interpretation of the Obstruction Rule prior to 1992 – maybe sometime in the 1960’s or 1970’s – has resolved to subvert and effectively remove this Rule from the Rules of Hockey – an action typical of the swings from one extreme to another that has plagued other Rules – and he and his followers are making a good job of doing so but to the detriment of the game ).

 

Here is the text of the explanation of the Rule.

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.

.
Simply reordering the presentation of the paragraphs will do much to aid understanding, but it will also be necessary to reorder some of the wording within the paragraphs, to change some words to more suitable ones and add or delete others; to restore the exception of receiving and add the exception of the opponent player behind the play – which has always been there and applied but has never been written into the Rule.

Despite all the ‘simplification’ there is considerable repetition within the explanation of application of the Rule, due to bits just being ‘tacked on’ (or hacked off). For clarity I have not attempted to remove duplication, I have in fact emphasised it, but removing it would not be a difficult task. 

To begin with the oldest part of what was once the Rule and then called Advice and Guidance to Players and Umpires and now forms the last paragraph of the  current Explanation.

Current Rule blue text, amended explanation violet text

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.

(Wording which badly muddles two distinct forms of  the offence mainly because the clause (this is third party or shadow obstruction) is misplaced).

Definition. A player in possession of the ball who is positioned to block or who (intentionally or otherwise) moves to block an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intent to play at it, preventing that opponent from playing or attempting to play directly the ball, when they would otherwise have been able to do so, is obstructing the opponent.

The Rule also applies if a player (not in possession of the ball) moves to block the direct path of an opponent to the ball (it applies in this case even when that opponent is not at the time within playing distance of the ball) to deny that opponent opportunity to play at or challenge for the ball which the opponent would otherwise have had. This is known as third party obstruction. It is frequently deliberately practiced by the attacking side during a penalty corner to block the path of outrunning defenders (including goalkeepers) towards the ball, in order to provide additional time for the attacking striker to shoot at the goal.

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 last clause “or into a position…etc.” was the last amendment made to the Obstruction Rule, it was added in 2009 – in an attempt to ‘stop the rot’, which the 2004 rulebook rewrite failed to halt – but notice has been taken of only “A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction” – the part that was added in 2009 has just been ignored)

A player with the ball is not permitted to :-

lead the ball or back into (the playing reach of) an opponent  or

move bodily into an opponent (making contact or obliging an opponent to give way to avoid contact) or

move into a position between the ball and an opponent (or move the ball to the same effect) when that opponent is within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intent to play at the ball.

Two word summary:  Move away.

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.

Players obstruct if they :
– move backwards with the ball or lead the ball with the body, into the playing reach of an opponent who is demonstrating an intent to play at the ball 

– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent

– shield the ball with their stick or any part of their body to prevent an opponent from playing directly at the ball when that opponent is trying to play at the ball and would, but for the ball shielding, have been able to do so.

Exceptions

Receiving the ball

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
.

The above two clauses are all that remain of the revolutionary “new interpretation” of obstruction introduced in 1992/3 (which was initially several rulebook pages in length), but they are now pretty much the entire and unofficial reinterpretation of obstruction – even physical contact initiated by a player in possession of the ball is not now penalised. These clauses, as they are applied – in isolation – don’t prohibit any obstructive action by a player in possession of the ball, one has only to watch a hockey match to see that this is so. What is supposed to be a Rule exception, granted temporarily, only to a player in the act of receiving and controlling the ball, has become the Rule – without offering any instruction or explanation. This (tongue-in-cheek) could be called simplification (it is for the simple minded) but it is certainly not clarification.

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

Exceptionally, a player when in the act of receiving and controlling the ball may be positioned (be stationary) or have moved or be moving to position between an opponent and the ball, even an opponent who is within playing reach of the ball and even when not facing towards the opposing goal-line, without being immediately in contravention of the Obstruction Rule for ball shielding.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction ….except…..

However once the ball has been received and controlled the player now in possession of the ball must immediately move away from opponents with it (or pass it away) to put and keep it beyond the playing reach of opponents or otherwise play the ball to elude any attempt to play at it by opponents – such play, feints, repositioning the ball etc. (stick-work) must not be obstructive, that is the ball may not be further shielded, with either stick or body, from an opponent who is trying to play at it.

That was the “new interpretation” in 1993 but the ‘deconstruction’ of this interpretation began in 1994, even before most umpires had become familiar with the nature and purpose of the original change – briefing notes were out of date before the ink was dry on the paper. (We had something similar happen when the self-pass was introduced, umpire coaches inventing interpretations ‘out of thin air’ – and then discarding them without explanation – and the FIH RC are still trying to sort out the resulting mess in the Free Hit Rule). 

Now we come to an element that has been established for as long as the game has been played but remains unwritten.

Behind the play.

A player in possession of the ball with the ball positioned to the front of the feet, who is facing and/or moving in the general direction of the opponent’s base-line and who is closer to the opponent’s goal than an opponent who is attempting to play at the ball, cannot bodily obstruct that opponent – the opponent is ‘behind the play’ (not own goal-side of the ball-holder and also in this sense behind the ball) or ‘not on-side’. A tackling opponent can however still be stick obstructed in these circumstances if, as they attempt to play at the ball, their stick is knocked or fended away from the ball with the stick or leg or hand or arm of the player in possession of the ball.

I hope the above has clarified, even if not simplified, the explanation of the application of the Obstruction Rule.  

Tags:
June 9, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Missing the obvious

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 8th. August, 2016

Obstruction; Intentionally raised hit; Dangerous play; Falling ball.

Another Field Hockey Forum discussion on the dangerously played ball which was terminated before the essential points were developed or solutions found/suggested.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/dangerous.39679/

 

The focus of the forum discussion was on the legitimacy or otherwise of the evasive action taken by the defender.

The first difficulty is the meaning of the word ‘legitimate’. In the context it may mean legal or genuine or necessary. Evasive action even if not genuine or necessary is very unlikely to be considered illegal so that can be discounted.

The evasion of the ball looks to be genuine but unnecessary – because 1) just before the ball reached his position it was intercepted by a opposition forward and deflected into the goal, and

2) It may not have been on a path to hit the defender – but that could not have been known to the defender at the time he decided to evade – that is when he realised the ball was being raised (with an edge hit) and was going to travel towards him at high velocity. Where does that leave us – was it legitimate evasive action because it was taken genuinely or not so, because other events (which the defender could not have foreseen) occurred to render it unnecessary?

In this particular case that is academic because there were two fouls (which nobody appeared to notice) committed by the attacker who hit the ball into the goalmouth before he made the hit, and the hit itself was a foul, resulting in a raised ball (clearly intentional) that was not a shot at the goal – it was in fact a pass.

There is also a Rule absurdity here; the ball was raised high (at about shoulder height) with a hit towards two players who were well within 5m of each other and who would probably contest for the ball, so that was potential dangerous play by the player who raised the ball (to use the wording of the UMB now that the better “play likely to lead to dangerous play” has been deleted from the rulebook).

By the time the ball reached the two players in front of the goal it was falling – so, by Rule, the attacker should have given way and allowed the defender to play it. There is nothing in the Rule concerning the falling ball to suggest that the ball need be above head or shoulder height for a foul to occur when it is or may be contested for in the air by opposing players.

How many Rule breaches by the attacking side were there? Three, four, more (?), and yet a goal was awarded.

 

I want to take another look at the unsatisfactory wording of 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 ball” if the meaning of ‘obstruct’ is understood and the word ‘attempting’ is not given a bizarre interpretation (two big ‘ifs’).

The problems begin immediately, in the first clause, and I will here deal only with this immediate problem. 

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 ‘legitimate’ obviously does mean ‘legal’, but probably not ‘genuine’ and clearly not ‘necessary’ – legitimate is not often a good choice of word in any Rule because it is so ambiguous)

Why is the word “from” used? 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.

Simply replacing shield the ball from” , which makes no sense when combined with the rest of the clause, with shield the ball to prevent , (which is exactly what ball holders are now doing with impunity, illegally preventing an opponent (from) playing at the  ball), makes sense of what is supposed to be explanation of application of the Rule and would be sufficient as a repair.

 

 

May 21, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Physical contact and Obstruction

Edited  27th May 2016

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

But it is not a new development.

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

 

 

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

 

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

May 14, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: A curious muddle

 Edited 2oth May 2016

I wonder when one of the senior umpires is going to have the courage to say in public what is obvious to all – the ban on playing a free-ball directly into the opposing team’s circle from within the opponent’s 23m area and the 5m restrictions (and the amendments to them) imposed since 2009, are not simple or clear additions to the Rules of Hockey: they are evidently still not understood. They not useful either, serving no good purpose (what evidence for improvement to player safety or game flow is there ?): they should be deleted.

Replacements? 

Briefly:-

1)  Safety.   Prohibit the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit in any phase of play (irrespective of intention).

Replacing a Rule which was ‘lost’, deleted as unnecessary, when the prohibition on the intentionally raised hit, except when shooting at the opponents goal, was introduced in the late 1980’s to curtail the pitch length chip or clip hit – when all that was needed for such control was an absolute limit on the height of a hit that was not a shot at the goal. A control, along with clear height limits for dangerous play, that could still be usefully introduced in place of the current prohibition on raising the ball with a hit other than when shooting at the opponent’s goal.

At present we have ineffective prohibition of the intentional rasing of the ball with a hit – ineffective because it depends on the near impossibility of determining intention with certainty –  when not shooting at the opponents goal, and in practice no control at all of the raised shot made at the opponent’s goal.

 

2) Compliance.  Introduce a second whistle to restart play when the game is interrupted to award a free-ball (blown as soon as the ball is stationary in the correct place – irrespective of the positions of members of the offending team unless there is interference with the free by a member of the offending team and cause for further penalty).

3) Flow.    Treat an early taken self-pass (when properly retreating defenders have been given no opportunity to get 5m from the ball) as an advantage played – normal play to resume as soon as the ball is moved.

Restore attacking free-ball within 5m of the opponent’s circle to be taken from outside the hash circle (recently deleted but the only 5m restriction introduced in 2009 which did make sense – with free play into the circle a self-pass from just outside the circle becomes more of an advantage than a penalty corner would be)

 

There is one further amendment to the Rules of Hockey which could and I believe should be enacted for safety reasons before the Rio Olympics; it is an addition to the recently amended Rule 9.7. concerning the playing of the ball at above shoulder height:-

Suggestion:

Playing or playing at the ball when it is above shoulder height is prohibited to any player who is in the opposing team’s circle.

It is very strange that a ball that is scooped (or raised accidentally with a hit or deflection) high into the circle in open play can (subject to dangerous play) be hit on the volley at the goal, especially when umpires are openly declaring  – contrary to Rule as well as to common sense – that an ‘on target’ shot at the goal cannot be considered dangerous; and yet, a free ball awarded in the opponent’s 23m area cannot, for safety reasons, be played directly into the circle, even along the ground ……..”Curiouser and curiouser ! “

 

May 11, 2016

Field Hockey Rules. Obstruction, conflicts of interpretation.

Conflicting views of Obstruction debated on fieldhockeyforum.com

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/why-is-this-not-obstruction.39318/

The attacker clearly deliberately prevents, by her movement to position between the goalkeeper and the ball, the goalkeeper, who is within playing distance of the ball, from attempting a tackle, as the goalkeeper obviously intended to do and could have done, but for the attacker’s illegal positioning, which is clearly contrary to the additional wording  – in bold below – added to the explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule in 2009: –

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 is by her positioning the attacker obstructs with her body the goalkeeper’s path to the ball.

It is asserted by some that “bodily into” does not mean “bodily towards” (despite there being a separate Rule prohibiting physical contact and for offence the movement of the ball-holder “into” having to occur when the opponent is within playing distance of the ball) and therefore because there is no contact the attacker’s movement is not illegal. I don’t accept this “no contact” reasoning because the separate Rule concerning impeding does not require contact to be made (just as third party obstruction does not) and the goalkeeper is certainly impeded.

Nothing but the illegal positioning of the attacker prevents the goalkeeper from playing at the ball or moving towards the ball to play at it. That this is not seen as obstructive, either because there is no physical contact (because the goalkeeper gives way to avoid it and is penalised for doing so) or because an attempt is not made to play the ball, but only because that was made impossible (without contravening Rule 9.13.) by the illegal actions of the attacker, is bizarre.

Why has “demonstrating of an intent to play at the ball” – previous clear wording – been deleted and replaced with this disputable interpretation of the shorter but ambigous word “attempting” ? “Demonstrating an intent to play at the ball” means “attempting” and it is temping to use the shorter word (for speed and simplicity) but doing so does nothing for clarity.

At no point in a shootout is the attacking player shown in the video a receiver of the ball (the only time ball shielding is, temporaily, pemitted against an ‘on-side’ opponent),  she has controlled possession of it from the start, there should therefore be no shielding of the ball whatsoever once the goalkeeper is within playing distance of it – and if the attacker turns to shield the ball before coming with the playing reach of the goalkeeper she cannot then back body first into the goalkeeper’s reach and then step across her while shielding the ball (the attacker does both). 

It is sad to see stickwork replaced by blocking and impeding with the body in the attempt to by-pass an opponent – and dubious soccer tactics replacing the stick and ball skills of hockey.

Then we have an opposite interpretation.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/why-is-this-a-pc.39429/

This is obviously a deliberately ‘manufactured’ offence or the forcing of an unintentional offence onto the defender (no longer an offence in itself but supposedly covered by other Rules  – it is however difficult to know what other Rule might be invoked ).

The NZ player having feinted and wrongfooted the EGY player clearly intentionally plays the ball ‘through’ the EGY player and away from himself to the far side of his EGY opponent in a way that puts his opponent between himself and the ball and he then cannot further play the ball without making contact with the EGY player  (illegal because of Rule 9.3.  and the duplicate Rule 9.13) and so he claims to be obstructed. (Was he in fact trying to hit the defender’s foot and ‘win’ a penalty corner ? A practice which is the result of another failure to apply the Rules as written)

Ironically, if the EGY player had possession of the ball in a similar situation and had turned to shield it from the NZ player, some forum contributors  “having their cake and eating it” would  declare, as they have in the previous video, that there was no obstruction because the NZ player was not in a position to play the ball and could not therefore be attempting to play at the ball – even if he was within playing reach of the ball and demonstrating an intent to play at it and the ball shielding was deliberately carried out.

The ‘third party’ claims made by some posters are absurd. The initial passer of the ball (the first party) cannot also be the second party, the player obstructed by the third party, who will be a member of the opposing team. There was in any case no pass attempted.

A suggested rewording of the Obstruction Rule.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A player in possession of the ball

who is :-

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

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

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

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

.
A player in possession of the ball :-

must not move bodily, while leading and shielding the ball with any part of the body including the legs, towards or into an opponent in a way that causes body contact or obliges an opponent to give way to avoid body contact (Rule 9.3).

 

The Tackler.

A tackle may not be attempted from a position where physical contact will result (Rule 9.3)

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

.

The ‘Receiving’ Exception to the Rule.

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

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

a) pass the ball away or

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The ‘Manufactured’ Exception to the Rule.

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

 

Third-Party Obstruction.

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

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

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

Stick Obstruction

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

February 17, 2016

Field Hockey Rules. Addition to Rule 13.2. the Free Hit

Rules of Hockey. Rule 13.2. the Free Hit.  Amendment.

Edited 2nd March 2016

The amendment and explanation, dated 16th February 2016, along with the Rule in full, is set out on the FIH web-site

http://fih.ch/news/fih-confirms-rule-amendment-to-attacking-free-hits-within-five-metres-of-the-circle/

This comment is also included:-

This latest amendment is a further indication of FIH’s openness to change, a key attribute vital to the Hockey Revolution – the 10 year strategy aimed at making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation.

I disagree. I see this further amendment as evidence of closed minds determined not to change what they have put in place.  The continued use of the term ‘Free Hit’ is minor evidence of this traditional intransigence. That a ‘Free Hit’ may be directly lifted, with a flick or a scoop, but not intentionally with a hit, is ample reason for a change of terminology to Free-ball or Free-pass or even just ‘a Free’, to avoid confusion and conflict.

But to the main points: – There is little eveidence that prohibiting the playing of a free ball, awarded in the opponent’s 23m area, directly into the circle, could or has in any way improved game safety –

especially not when compared, with a simpler alternative, a ban on raising the ball directly into the circle, intentionally or otherwise, with any hit away from the player in possession, in any phase of play  (hit away” allowing for ‘3D’ dribbling)

(the prohibition of the intentionally raised hit, other than when shooting at the opponent’s goal, put in place in the late 1980’s to outlaw the long high chip hit, is itself a mistake, an absolute height limit, irrespective of danger, together with objective descriptions of the dangerously played ball would have sufficed – and the latter is long overdue from a sport authority that claims to place emphasis on player safety).

– and the reason given for this prohibition is a bad joke when not Rule but umpiring practice, concerning a dangerously played ball during an on target shot at the goal or the penalising of a player, often deliberately forced into ball body contact with a raised ball, is considered, current practice is generally contrary to the published Rule.

Nor is there any evidence that a requirement that the ball be moved 5m before it may be played into the circle improves the flow or speed or fairness of the game – quite the contrary – and without the first prohibition above this second one becomes unnecessary.

The introduction of the self-pass did not require the introduction of the above two measures at the same time and because they were introduced the potential of improvement to the game as a result of the introduction of the self-pass has not been fully realized – the self-pass has been hobbled, not only when taken within the opponent’s 23m area, but over the entire field of play.

A reading of Rule 13.2. the Free Hit, should be enought to convince doubters that here the FIH Rules Committee have created a ‘tar-baby’ and not an inspiration. The more amendments that are made the more difficult to understand and complicated to umpire it becomes. Deletion of the two current requirements mentioned above along with the re-introduction of a prohibition on raising the ball into the circle (but this time only with a hit stroke – other strokes could be ball-height limited) would be a sensible course of action to improve game safety.

Amendment of the Rule concerning the playing of the ball at above shoulder height (mentioned elsewhere in this blog) https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/field-hockey-rulebook-rewrite-rule-9-7-playing-at-the-ball-at-above-shoulder-height/

is also vital: the Rule would not have been framed as it has been if a safety concious and concerned governing body was doing its job properly.

 

January 6, 2016

Field Hockey Rules. Stick Obstruction.

Edit 29th May 2016

A photograph published on the fieldhockey.com web-site showing a player moving with the ball while in controlled possession of it (dribbling), stick-head in contact with the ball, stick obstructing an opponent who is attempting to tackle.

I am being specific about ball-holder movement while in control of the ball and/or with the stick in contact with the ball because I have read opinion from high level umpires that obstruction cannot take place if either (or both) of these conditions, movement with the ball and/or stick-ball contact are met. That of course is utter nonsense – and co-exists with another nonsensical opinion, that a player in possession of the ball cannot obstruct if not moving. Put these two together and obstruction (illegal ball shielding) becomes impossible by a player in possession of the ball – which leaves only third party obstruction. How can any sensible person believe that these ‘interpretations’ were what the FIH Rules Committee intended when drafting the Rule ?

Stick Obstruction
Given the ball-holder’s balance and foot position it is I think reasonable to suppose that he followed this stick obstruction by stepping ‘through’ the tackler’s stick and imposing his body between the tackler and the ball – this is not skilfull playing of the ball with the stick  to elude opponents, a skill hockey players are supposed to develop and exhibit – it is a lack of skill and cheating: foul.  

Players would not play like this if they were not getting away with doing so.

Why are they getting away with such actions when they are clearly contrary to the conditions of the Obstruction Rule? Contravention is not difficult to see

In fact, it is usually the tackler who is penalised (for an often imaginary contact offence) when he or she has been obstructed as in the examples below:-

.

.

The following incident, bewilderingly led to the award of a penalty stroke, instead of a declaration of fouls – stick obstruction followed by moving to impose his body between the ‘keeper and the ball – against the attacker.

The offences could not be clearer or the opportunity to see them more conveniently presented then in a shootout, yet they are not seen – or if seen, not acted upon. Why? Why is the Obstruction Rule in hockey applied as if a cross between the way obstruction is applied in soccer and in basketball i.e hardly at all, when it is fundamental to the fair and proper conduct of this non-contact game ?

December 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rules. Forcing, deleation of Rule.

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

Edited 28th May 2016

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Instruction given with Rule 9.9. If the ball is raised over an opponent’s stick or body on the ground, even within the circle, it is permitted unless judged to be dangerous.

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous. 

Flicks and scoops are by definition raised.

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

Players shall not raise the ball at another player. 

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

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

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

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

December 5, 2015

Field Hockey Rules. Forcing. Advantage gained. The Advantage Rule

Edited  8th June 2016

During the World League Australia v Great Britain match at the beginning of December 2015 there were three penalty corners awarded to the Australian team that require closer examination. I’ll begin with the second of them because it was the only one that involved that form of cheating known, very forgivingly, as “finding a foot”, previously known as a forcing offence.

I need to start the examination by a look at the, now deleted as a separate offence, action of forcing the ball into contact with the body (usually the foot or leg) of an opponent.

In the Introduction to the 2011-13 Rules of Hockey under Rules Changes, the deletion of the offence of forcing was ‘explained’ as follows:-

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” (previously Rule 9.15)  is deleted because any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules:…

That does not say that  (sic) Playing the ball clearly and intentionally into any part of an opponent’s body as an attempt to manufacture an offence is no longer an offence, but that where another Rule is breached by such an action – and it is stated that any such action is covered by other Rules – what was once a separate forcing offence will bedealt with under those other Rules.

Unfortunately this possibly well intentioned reasoning is flawed; it demonstrates an ignorance of the Rules of Hockey (or is an outright lie) and also an ignorance of human nature (or an unsupportable faith in it), because not all forcing actions can be “dealt with” by other Rules and because we immediately had an ‘interpretation’ made up that declared that “dealt with” did not mean “penalise”. The justification for this ‘interpretation’ was that if the FIH RC meant “penalised” they would have written “penalised”. It turned out that this interpretation of “dealt with” really meant ‘ignore’ –  no-one promoting this deviant interpretation ever did explain what “can be dealt with” does mean if it does not mean ‘may be penalised’.

There are only three legitimate ways of dealing with an offence under the Rules of Hockey, the first is – if possible – to allow advantage to the team offended against, the second is to allow play to continue if opponents have not been disadvantaged by an offence (neither of which are often readily applied in a forcing offence situation) and the third is to penalise the offence.

Okay, the ball is played into an opponent –clearly and intentionally” are now gone, possibly one reason or even the real reason for the change.  What other offence might such an action be? There is only one possibility, dangerous play, specifically a breach of Rule 9.8. i.e. causing legitimate evasive action or a breach of Rule 9.9:- 

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.

The UMB is not the Rules of Hockey but if we accept from it the advice that:- “Low balls over defenders sticks in a controlled manner that hit half shin pad are not dangerous” then, putting that advice together with the Rule, any ball played towards an opponent within 5m, at above half-shin pad heigh, must be considered to be dangerous play (and intent is irrelevant).

I didn’t write these Rules, I am quoting them while trying to fill in the gaps with reasonable deductions based on what is given. The “within 5m and at or above knee height” criteria, taken from the height limitation on the first hit shot made during a penalty corner, cannot displace the explanation of application given in Rule 9.9. which relates to all phases of play.

Regrettably this change only simplified the Rules by creating an absurd unfairness, as what had been forcing offences continued to be simply ignored. They were previously ignored with the pretense that “clearly and intentionally” was always too difficult to see or be certain about  – umpires then treating all ball-body contact as an offence by the player hit with the ball (there apparently is no such difficulty in assuming either intent or advantage gained by a player hit with the ball) .

The other change made at the same time in the 2011-13 Rules of Hockey was the prohibition of playing the ball directly into the circle from a free awarded in the opponent’s 23m area – which could win a prize for the introduction of unnecessary complications – so not two changes that can be considered to be a success in the process of simplification without altering the fundamental characteristics of the game.

The following clip is of what is very clearly a forcing of a ball-leg contact. Participants seem oblivious to the fact that such forcing is an offence but now ‘dealt with’ under the dangerous play Rules  –  if it is in fact dangerous play i.e. a breach of the conditions of either Rule 9.8. or 9.9. 

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The ball is not raised very much so may have been beneath the ‘non-Rule’ level of half shin pad, in which case (if the advice from the UMB is accepted) there is no Rule that ‘deals with’ this sort of deliberate forcing, despite what the FIH RC have declared to the contrary: an uncomfortable conflict. 

There is no shortage of examples in other matches of the deliberate forcing of a ball/body contact, often at well above knee height, resulting in penalty against the player hit, it occurs so frequently that a spectator unfamiliar with the game might believe such play to be a legitimate aim or ‘the‘ way to ‘win’ a penalty corner and not in fact a dangerous play offence. 

Particularly the last of the three incidents in the following clip

 

Back to the original match

The second incident.
 


I am not sure if the umpire penalised for the attempt at a tackle which involved physical contact or for a ball-body contact offence. If the penalty corner was awarded for the tackle attempt then the defender got off lightly, as that action could and probably should have been penalised with a penalty stroke (as should the much more blatant and forceful example later in the video clip). This, from the 2015 Rules of Hockey, under Applying the Rules in the Introduction :-

The FIH Rules Committee continues to be concerned that some Rules are not applied consistently.

Rule 9.12: obstruction. Umpires should penalise shielding the ball with the stick more strictly. They should also look out for a tackling player who by pushing or leaning on an opponent causes them to lose possession of the ball.

has not been acted upon as much as it should have been.

There is obviously no positioning by the defender with intention to use the foot to stop the ball and I can’t see any gaining of advantage (this must be a subjective judgement). The two players involved end up in a tussle for the ball at the top of the circle; if the ball had missed the defender’s foot there would probably have been a tussel for the ball between two other opposing players – no difference – and play could and should have been allowed to continue.

 

The third incident.



This decision is bizarre and wrong. Having allowed play to continue because the ball had fallen to the advantage of the AUS team, the umpire seems to have awarded them a penalty corner simply because they did not manage to use their advantage to create a shooting opportunity. There was no offence by the GB player, there is clearly no intent and he can hardly be said to have gained an advantage – and therefore committed an offence – if the opposing team had advantage and the umpire allowed play to continue because of it. This kind of decision making is called ‘brain fade’. Of course the umpire, like many others, possibly didn’t consider the criterion for offence and make a subjective decision based on them, he simply followed the false objective mantra, “A ball-foot contact is an offence”.

But we also have this from the Applying the Rules , Advantage, in the section of the rulebook entitled Umpiring.

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

No penalty is applicable anyway when advantage is applied following a ball-body contact by opponents because, barring intent, if the opponents have not gained advantage from the contact there is no offence. It is not possible for both teams to have gained an advantage or have advantage following a ball-body contact by a single player.

Rule 9.11. It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

That explanation of the application of the Rule might be improved by removing the word “always” or by starting with  It is seldom an offence….

But the Rule proper:-  9.11 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body 

would be much  improved by simply reinserting the word “intentionally”:-

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

The above explanation of application would then be unnecessary and the Rule clear, but that (horror of horrors) would mean rewriting the Rule in the way that it was previously written (up until 2004) and then requiring umpires to apply it as it as written  i.e.not penalising unless there was certainty about intent, in the same way as they insisted on doing when the forcing of contact was penalised only if clearly intentional (but in the case of forcing not even then). 

 

December 4, 2015

Field Hockey Rules. Rules 9.11 and 9.12 Opposite approaches, all and none.

“A suggestion of contact”

Incidents which took place in the last minute in a match between Argentina and England Women during the last World Cup qualifying rounds. I take a close look at these because they epitomizes the difference in approach to the application of Rule 9.11. which concerns ball-body contact and Rule 9.12 which is the Obstruction Rule. First the incidents on video. It is not difficult to see what is ignored and to where the focus of attention is directed.

Breakdown

PDF links to the three sets of frame photographs and text for easy viewing.

Combination 1

Combination 2

Combination 3

CP Combination 1

CP Combination 2

 

 

CP Combination 3

The text in the last frame is a little difficult to read so I will repeat it here.

There is no frame or sequence in which it is possible to be definite about there being a ball-leg contact and of course much more than that is required for there to be an offence. As this match was pre- January. 2015 there needed to be clear intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball or a voluntarily taken action to do so. There does not appear to be any sort of intent.

Even if the post January 2015 criteria, an advantage gained, is used. If there is a contact it does not slow or deflect the ball in any way and play continues just as if there was no contact – so it is reasonable to state that there was no advantage gained

– and it is far from certain that there was any ball-body contact at all.

 

The Rules

Rule 9.12. Obstruction. (omitting third party) 

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.

 

Following the above criterion there can be no doubt that the ARG player committed an obstruction offence on at least two counts. The ENG defender behind her was within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it when her stick was kicked away from the ball. The ARG player did then move to position between the ENG player and the ball to prevent her playing at the ball by shielding it with the body.

 

Rule 9.11 Ball -use of body.

9.1 1 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.

lt 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.

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

“Gains an advantage” is now the first of the two criteria listed for offence after a player has used the body to stop, deflect or propel the ball; from 2006 – 2015 it was not in the Rules of Hockey as a criteria for offence for breach of Rule 9.11 (but was applied anyway).

So was there an advantage gained by the England team because of a ball-body contact? No because if there was a ball-body contact there was no deflection or acceleration or deceleration of the ball and no discernible change to play or outcome because of it.

Was there intent to use the body to stop, deflect or propel the ball with the body? None is discernible, therefore there was no offence arising from a breach of Rule 9.11. It is not even certain that there was a breach of Rule 9.11. There may even have been a breach of Rule 9.9. by the ARG player as the ball was flicked up and towards the ENG player.

 

Why are umpires applying the criterion for offence given in these two Rules in a way that is the opposite of the meaning and purpose of them? Ignoring obstructive offences and treating all ball-body contact (or even the suggestion of a contact) as an offence does not improve the game, it spoils it.

   

 

 

November 8, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 13. Penalties. Power play.

Preliminary suggestions for the procedure for the taking of a power play, which it is proposed will replace the present penalty corner.

Edited 10th. August, 2016.

Penalty Corner

Rule 12.3. a-e Rule 13.3. a-m Rule 13.4. Rule 13.5. a-g Rule 13.6. Rule 13.7. a-f

Action. Deletion and replacement with a Power Play

Reason. The Penalty Corner, never reasonably safe, has been allowed to become stupidly dangerous and also to have a ‘stranglehold’ on the publicising of the game, the playing tactics of it and even the development of the hockey stick (for the drag-flick). There has been talk of replacing the Penalty Corner for at least twenty years (in fact ever since the drag-flick became as powerful a shot as an undercut hit) and even some limited trials of a Power Play in 9’s Tournaments (in which a substantially wider goal was used) have taken place in the last ten years, but no real will to change anything is evident. Nothing mandatory or worldwide has been imposed; certainly nothing like the extraordinary long Experimental Period given to the introduction of edge-hitting. There is always the excuse that next year (or this year) is a World Cup (or an Olympic) year and the qualifying tournaments, which appear to be near continuous, are always “in the way”. On top of that we now have professional tournaments (perhaps a way in?). The quest and demand for spectacular goals (for television), seems to be an obstacle rather than an opportunity to try something different.

Please offer suggestions for a fair and workable Power Play.

The only information I have about the workability of a Power Play (one where score ratio is not either 99% or 1% ) has been obtained from reading the Rules of the Lanco 9’s and from watching YouTube videos of game highlights from a few of these tournaments. What I read and saw conflicted in several areas with my own preliminary thoughts and previous writing about a possible format. For example in the Lanco 9’s the number of defenders (three rather than four), the very limited time (30secs) and the permitting of addition attackers to make (a gut wrenching) run from the half-way line, to join in the attack (but apparently prohibiting the defenders to increase their numbers in the same way – but I may be wrong about that) is very different from what I expected or envisaged.

My preliminary ideas included four defenders v five attackers, ball inserted to outside the 23m line and then passed in, with play then continuing between just those nine in the 23m area until a goal was scored or the ball was put out of play or out of the 23m area (with various options for continuation or restart of play after that) or one or other side committed an offence, with a time limit from commencement (insert of the ball) of one minute. Normal open play Rules, no first hit-shot height limit. The use of a new Goal Zone to prevent both goal-hanging by attackers and goal blocking by defenders, no player other than the goalkeeper permitted to remain on the goal-line. This format gives scope for the development of an indoor style passing game.

All the ‘bits and pieces’, reasons to award, continuation at half and full time etc. etc. already exist for the penalty corner and much can be directly transferred.

So what is holding up other trials? Perhaps it is the fact that the present Penalty Corner Rule has a great many clauses and a replacement that splits the two teams into four groups and needs to be timed, requires even more clauses and nobody can be ‘bothered’. 

If it isn’t broken why fix it ?” is a common attitude to any suggested Rule change, but the penalty corner is ‘broken’; it was never safe and is now unreasonably dangerous and the way the dangerous play Rules are applied within it (some being overridden) is grossly unfair. There may also (certainly will be) resistance to the disappearance of the drag-flick, but it is mainly (but not entirely) the development of the drag-flick and the fact that absolutely nothing has been done to constrain the use of it, that has made the introduction of an alternative to the penalty corner an urgent necessity.

If the drag-flick is constrained, that is objective criteria concerning the propelling of the ball at an other player in a dangerous way, are introduced (there is hope for that now that drag-flickers have discovered that a low flick is as often as successful as a high flick – or more so) it may not be necessary to do more to the penalty corner than ‘tweak’ it a bit – but discussion on the dangerously played ball has become as heated and as irrational as the gun control debate in the USA is. There is no sign of any drag-flick safety measures being introduced, they are not even discussed.

The current Rules: Penalties. Penalty Corner 

A reading of the current Rule can be skipped but it is necessary to include it here for comparison purposes.

13.3 Taking a penalty corner:

a the ball is placed on the back-line inside the circle at least 10 metres from the goal-post on whichever side of the goal the attacking team prefers.

b an attacker pushes or hits the ball without intentionally raising it

c the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must have at least one foot outside the field.

d the other attackers must be on the field, outside the circle with sticks, hands and feet not touching the ground inside the circle

e no defender or attacker other than the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to be within 5 metres of the ball when the push or hit is taken

f not more than five defenders, including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges if there is one, must be positioned behind the back-line with their sticks, hands and feet not touching the ground inside the field

If the team defending a penalty corner has chosen to play only with field players, none of the defenders referred to above has goalkeeping privileges.

g the other defenders must be beyond the centre-line

h until the ball has been played, no attacker other than the one taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to enter the circle and no defender is permitted to cross the centre-line or back-line.

i after playing the ball, the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must not play the ball again or approach within playing distance of it until it has been played by another player.

j a goal cannot be scored until the ball has travelled outside the circle

k if the first shot at goal is a hit (as opposed to a push, flick or scoop), the ball must cross the goal-line, or be on a path which would have resulted in it crossing the goal-line, at a height of not more than 460 mm (the height of the backboard) before any deflection, for a goal to be scored

The requirements of this Rule apply even if the ball touches the stick or body of a defender before the first shot at goal.

If the first shot at goal is a hit and the ball is, or will be, too high crossing the goal-line it must

be penalised even if the ball is subsequently deflected off the stick or body of another player.The ball may be higher than 460 mm during its flight before it crosses the goal-line provided there

is no danger and provided it would drop of its own accord below 460 mm before crossing the line.

l for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous

A defender who is clearly running into the shot or into the taker without attempting to play the ball with their stick must be penalised for dangerous play.

Otherwise, if a defender is within five metres of the first shot at goal during the taking of a penalty corner and is struck by the ball below the knee, another penalty corner must be awarded or is struck on or above the knee in a normal stance, the shot is judged to be dangerous and a free hit must be awarded to the defending team.

m the penalty corner Rules no longer apply if the ball travels more than 5 metres from the circle.

13.4 The match is prolonged at half-time and full-time to allow completion of a penalty corner or any subsequent penalty corner or penalty stroke.

13.5 The penalty corner is completed when:

a a goal is scored

b a free hit is awarded to the defending team

c the ball travels more than 5 metres outside the circle

d the ball is played over the back-line and a penalty corner is not awarded

e a defender commits an offence which does not result in another penalty corner

f a penalty stroke is awarded

g a bully is awarded.

If play is stopped because of an injury or for any other reason during the taking of a penalty corner at the end of a prolonged first or second half and a bully would otherwise be awarded, the penalty corner must be taken again.

13.6 For substitution purposes and for completion of a penalty corner at half-time and full-time, the penalty corner is also completed when the ball travels outside the circle for the second time.

b the player taking the push or hit from the back-line feints at playing the ball, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line but is replaced by another attacker : the penalty corner is taken again.

If this feinting leads to what otherwise would be a breach of this rule by a defender, only the attacker is required to go beyond the centre-line.

c a defender, other than the goalkeeper, crosses the back-line or goal-line before permitted, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced by another defender : the penalty corner is taken again.

If a defender at this or any subsequently re-taken penalty corner crosses the back-line or goal-line before permitted, the offending player is also required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced

A penalty corner is considered as re-taken until any of the conditions of Rules 13.5 and 13.6 for its completion are met

A subsequently awarded penalty corner, as opposed to a re-taken penalty corner, may be defended by up to five players

If a defender crosses the centre-line before permitted, the penalty corner is taken again

d a goalkeeper, or player with goalkeeping privileges, crosses the goal-line before permitted, the defending team defends the penalty corner with one fewer player : the penalty corner is taken again

If a goalkeeper, or player with goalkeeping privileges, at this or any subsequently re-taken penalty corner crosses the goal-line before permitted, the defending team is required to nominate a further player to go beyond the centreline, and they cannot be replaced

A penalty corner is considered as re-taken until any of the conditions of Rules 13.5 and 13.6 for its completion are met

e an attacker enters the circle before permitted, the offending player is required to go beyond the centreline : the penalty corner is taken again

Attackers who are sent beyond the centre-line may not return for re-taken penalty corners, but may do so for a subsequently awarded penalty corner

f for any other offence by attackers : a free hit is awarded to the defence.

Except as specified above, a free hit, penalty corner or penalty stroke is awarded as specified elsewhere in the Rules.

 

Suggestion.

There are several Rules and many clauses to each Rule, preliminary amendment always leads to expansion of the number of clauses as sorting takes place and then duplication is reduced or eliminated. This instance is no exception. Numbering, syntax, tense, plural and singular etc. etc. will take several readings to sort out and these readings will have to be done at well spaced intervals.

There is also the introduction of a goal-zone – employed in a different way to the way it is to be in open play – (see proposal    http://wp.me/pKOEk-2cL    ) and the splitting of the attacking team, in particular, into those involved in the power play and those not. In addition the timing of a power play is a new issue and there is also an effect on match timing. Substitution during a power play is to be permitted and the conditions that have to be met need to be described. For the aforegoing reasons and also because this is a preliminary proposal, there may be some duplication and while many more Rule clauses have been added, not so many have been deleted, so the suggestion is lengthy.

Whether or not it is necessary to be concerned about defenders breaking early or attackers moving early into the 23m area is debatable. The metre or so sometimes gained by such premature breaking is unlikely to be a significant advantage or disadvantage when a shot at the goal cannot be set up for immediate execution anyway and such ‘breaking’ is not critical to outcome, but I have left these prohibitions and the penalties for them in place for the moment as they make for a ‘tidy’ if pedantic procedure. Numbering of the Rules and clauses needs amending, that is a detail I have not paid much attention to at this early stage.

The proposal can be enacted without using the goal-zone if some other workable way to prevent crowding of the goal-line can be suggested.

 

Useful comment and suggestions welcome

Power play.

13.3 Power play procedure:

a.   A goal can only be scored when the ball has travelled outside the 23m area and has then been played back into the shooting circle by one of the nominated attackers. 

b  The ball is placed on the back-line inside the circle at least 10 metres from the goal-post on whichever side of the goal the attacking team prefers.

c  An attacker pushes or hits the ball to another attacker, positioned outside the 23m line, commencing the power play  (The placement of the feet of the inserting player is not prescribed) 

d  Three defenders will be position behind the base-line and outside the goal-zone, the goalkeeper will position behind the goal-line.

e   The other defenders will be positioned on the field and behind the half-way line

f  Only the goalkeeper may defend the goal from within the goal-zone during a power play, the other three defenders are not permitted to enter the goal-zone 

g  Four attackers will be positioned on the field and behind the 23m line, a  fifth attacker will insert the ball from the baseline.

h  The other attackers on the field must be outside the half-way line.

i   No player other than the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to be within 5 metres of the ball when it is taken

j   Until the ball has been played, no attacker other than the one taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to enter the defensive 23m area and no defender is permitted to cross the centre-line or back-line.

k   After playing the ball, the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must not play the ball again or approach within playing distance of it until it has been played by another player.

l.  Immediately the ball is played back into the 23m area by a second attacking player positioned behind the 23m line, the attackers and defenders initially positioned behind the half-way line may move up to the 23m line of the defending team, but may not cross it until the power play is completed. (this allows rapid transference to normal play if the ball is put out of play over a side-line by either team or played back over the 23m line by the defending team

m   Only an attacker in possession of the ball may enter the goal-zone during a power-play; that attacker must immediately move out the goal-zone if possession of the ball is lost or that attacker makes a pass to another attacker. 

n  No shot at the goal may be made in a way that is contrary to Rule 9.8. Dangerously played ball. (see  http://wp.me/pKOEk-2cq for proposed Rule

 

13.4  

Time and timing

On award of a power play match time is stopped.

There is separate timing of the power play.

Defenders should have no need to ‘kit up’ as they do now but thirty seconds will be allowed for both teams to prepare for the penalty.

The attacking side have one minute in which to try to take advantage of their numerical superiority by scoring a goal. The timing of the minute starts as the ball is put into play by an attacker from the base-line at the commencement of the power play.

If the one minute of time permitted expires while the ball is still in play the power play is terminated, and the defending team will restart play with a free ball to be taken from a position in front of the goal on the 23m line. Match time is restarted when the 23m ball is taken (“taken”, here, below and elsewhere, means a stationary and correctly positioned ball is moved by the player taking the free ball or restart – the introduction of a second whistle would remove all doubt about when a free or restart is taken  http://wp.me/pKOEk-2d6)

When a power player is considered completed in the following circumstances, time is restarted as described in each case.

a    A goal is scored – time is restarted when the restart on the centre spot is taken

b    A free-ball is awarded to the defending team – time is restarted when the free-ball is taken.

d    The ball is played over the back-line by an attacker – 15m ball to defending team – time is restarted when ball is moved by the player taking the 15m

e    The ball is played over the back-line by a defender. A 23m restart for the attacking team opposite the place the ball when out of play – time is restarted when the 23m re-start is taken (this assumes that a ball played intentionally over the back-line by a defender will no longer be considered to be any different for restart purposes than one accidentally played out) 

f    A penalty stroke is awarded – if a goal is scored from the penalty stroke then as (a). if a goal is not scored then as (d)

g   A bully is awarded – time is restarted when the sticks of the players engaged in the bully touch.

h   If the umpire orders the resetting of a power play the timing of the initial power play will cease and  one minute will then be allowed for the completion of the re-set power play as it commences. Match time will remain stopped until the re-set power play (and any subsequent re-set) is either completed or terminated and an open play restart takes place.

Exception. Where goal difference between the teams is five goals or more, match time will not be stopped when a power play is awarded but the power play will be time limited.

i.   If an attacking player plays the ball out of the 23m area for a second time the power play is voided – match timing resumes as a free ball awarded to the defending side, opposite to the goal and on the 23m line is taken.

j.  If a defending player plays the ball over the 23m line normal play resumes immediately.

k.  When the ball is put out of play over a side-line by either a defender or an attacker the power play is terminated and match timing resumes when the side-line ball is taken.

Time extensions.

l  The match is prolonged at half-time and full-time to allow completion of a power play or any subsequent power play or penalty stroke.

m   If play is stopped because of an injury or for any other reason during the taking of a power play at the end of a prolonged first or second half and a bully would otherwise be awarded, the penalty corner must be re-set.

 

13.5 A power play is completed when: 

a   a goal is scored

b   a free-ball is awarded to the defending team

c   the ball is played over the 23m line for a second time 

d   the ball is played over the back-line.

e   time to complete the power play expires  

f   a penalty stroke is awarded

g   a bully is awarded.

h.  when the ball is put out of play over a side-line. 

 

13.6  Feinting by attackers and premature moving into the power play area by attackers or defenders.

Attackers or defenders who are sent beyond the centre-line for a breach of this Rule may not return to participate in a subsequently re-set power play, but may do so for a power play subsequently separately awarded as penalty for any offence under Rule 9 Conduct of play. 

b     If the player inserting the ball from the back-line feints at playing the ball, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line : the power play is re-set but will then taken with only four participating attackers

c.    If during a re-set power play, re-set because of feinting by the player inserting the ball, the attacker then making the insert also feints at playing the ball a free ball opposite to the goal and on the 23m line will be awarded to the defending team.

    if feinting to play the ball leads to what otherwise would be a breach of this rule by a defender, only the attacker is required to go beyond the centre-line.

d    If a defender, other than the goalkeeper, crosses the back-line or goal-line before being  permitted to do so, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced by another defender : the power play is re-set.

If a defender at this re-set power play or any subsequently re-set power play crosses the back-line or goal-line before being permitted to do so, this offending player (unless the goalkeeper) will also be required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced

If a defender crosses the centre-line or 23m line before being permitted to do so, the power play may be re-set if the umpire considers the action to have disadvantaged the attacking side. A warning or a caution may in any case be given to this player.

e    If a goalkeeper crosses the goal-line before being permitted to do so, the defending team will be required to nominate a player to go beyond the centreline, and that player may not be replaced for the re-set power play. The defending team will defend the re-set power play with one player fewer.

If a goalkeeper, at this re-set power play crosses the goal-line before being permitted to do so, the defending team will be required to nominate a further player to go beyond the centreline, and that player may not be replaced for the re-set power play. The goalkeeper should be cautioned or warned (see proposal green card not a suspension     http://wp.me/pKOEk-2cY   ).

Should any defender cross the goal line or base line before being permitted to do so during a power play previously re-set for the same kind of offence, a warning or caution should be given as well as sending the player behind the centre line. For a third infraction a penalty stroke should be awarded. 

f    If an attacker who is a member of the five initially engaged in the power play enters the 23m area  before being permitted to do so, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre line and may not be replaced : the power play is re-set.

g   If an attacker who is a member of the five initially engaged in the power play enters the 23m area  before being permitted to do so, during a power play previously re-set for a similar offence, a free-ball will be awarded to the defending team.The free ball will be taken from in front of the goal and on the 23m line.

h   If an attacker who was initially positioned behind the half-way line moves into the 23m area before a power play is completed a free ball will be awarded to the defending team on the 23m line in a position opposite to the goal.

i     if a defender who was initially positioned behind the half-way line moves into the 23m area before the power play is completed the power play may be re-set if the umpire considers that the action disadvantaged the attacking team. Even where the power play is not re-set the player concerned should be cautioned or warned on the first occasion.

A power play is considered as untaken or incomplete until any one of the conditions of Rules 13.5, 13.6, and 13.7  for its completion or voidance is met. 

 

13.7 Illegal entry of the goal-zone

a    If a defender enters the goal-zone during a power play and in so doing prevents a goal or denies opportunity to an attacker to score a goal a penalty stroke will be awarded.

b    If a defender enters the goal-zone during a power play but this action does not disadvantage the attacking side a re-set of the power play may be ordered at the discretion of the umpire. In the event of a re-set the offender will be sent behind the half-way line and may not be replaced for the defense of the re-set power play. Even if the power play is not re-set the defending player should be cautioned or warned on the first occasion there is such a transgression.

c    If an attacker makes illegal entry into the goal-zone or illegally remains in the goal-zone instead of vacating it as quickly as possible, a free ball will be awarded to the defending side, to be taken opposite the goal on the 23m line.

 

13.8. Substitution during a power play.

Re-set power plays must be executed and/or defended by players remaining from the initial nine participants unless injury disables one or more of them.

Substitution because of injury will be permitted for the re-setting of a power play only from the players who were on the pitch at the time the initial power play was awarded and who are still on the pitch.

When a power play is awarded substitution is permitted by either team immediately the power play commences. No player substituted onto the field of play after a power play is awarded may participate in that power play or in any re-set of it because of breaches of Rule 13.6. but may participate in a subsequently awarded power play for any offence under Rule 9. A player substituted off the pitch at the commencement of a power play may not participate in a re-set of that power play.

 

November 7, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Umpires Conduct of play. Rules 11.1. 11.2. 11.3.

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Rule 11 Conduct of play: umpires

Action Amendment

Reason. Two officials are insufficient for there to be an official reasonably close to action around the ball at all times

Current Rule

11.1  Two umpires control the match, apply the Rules and are the judges of fair play.

 

11.2. Each umpire has primary responsibility for decisions in one half of the field for the duration of the match.

 

11.3. Each umpire is responsible for decisions on free hits in the circle, penalty corners, penalty strokes and goals in one half of the field.

.

Not ‘cast in iron’ other suggestions welcome.

Suggestion.

11.1. An umpire and four flag-officials control a match and ensure that it is played according to the Rules of Hockey.

The umpire positions and moves in the area between the two shooting circles.

 

11.2. The umpire has primary responsibility for all decisions.

 

11.3. Each flag official is responsible for bringing to the umpire’s attention (flagging) a) breaches of Rule   b) confirmation of or dissent about any decision made and c) any other matter which may require intervention.

Each flag official is responsible for patrolling one quarter of the playing field and will move in an arc between the near goalpost and the halfway line in that quarter, depending on which team is attacking and on the positioning of the other flag-official on that side of the field. There should generally be achieved at least a three-point view of play on the ball and all play should be viewed from close range by at least one official.

 

Communication between officials and when and how flags are to be used will need to be decided and then  ‘ironed out’ with practice and improved with experience.

The position of flag-official might be a useful introduction to international tournament (or national league) play for umpires not experienced at these levels.

This proposal will be difficult to implement in club hockey below national league level , where it is already a problem to find sufficient officials, but there should not be such difficulty where there is competition for appointment.  

 

 

November 2, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Stick Diagram

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

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

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

The Stick

4.4 Dimension and weight.

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

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

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

d. the total weight shall not exceed 737 grammes.

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

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

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

The current Stick Diagrams.

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

 

Stick Diagrams

 

Suggestion.

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

 

Stick Diagram with text

 

 

Permitted stick bow dimensions and diagram. 

 

Bow of Stick copy

 

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

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

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

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

Suggestions.

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

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

 

Diagram overlays

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

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

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

The configuration shown is circa 1987. Later versions had a more extended toe.

 

 

 

 

November 1, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Umpiring 1.3.g. Imitation

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

The current Umpiring 1.3.g

natural :

an umpire must be themselves, and not imitate another person, at all times.

Action. Amendment, clarification and expansion.

Reason. I can’t think of a reason to amend that statement but I’ll do it anyway.

I am reminded of the advice I came across, in a County Umpiring Association Handbook, a few years ago, in which an umpire coach, having informed aspiring Level One candidate umpires that an accidental ball-foot contact was as much as offence as deliberate kicking of the ball with the foot, if there was an effect on the game (at a time when there was no ‘gained benefit exception clause’ in Rule 9.11) and then went on to advise them to do what they saw good umpires doing and not to try to make their own sense of what was written in the rule book. he was in other words asking for ‘dumb imitation’, making of decisions in the same way as others were seen to be making them without any understanding or even attempt to understand why decisions were being made in a particular way – and frequently in a way that conflicted with any reasonable reading of the FIH published Rules .  

He was referring to the application of Rules, ‘practice’, whereas the above statement is I believe advising umpires not to try to copy the style and mannerisms, methods of signaling etc. of the more senior umpires they know or see, but to behave entirely naturally: be themselves.

It is important that umpires develop their own style and not be distracted by trying to to copy someone else’s methods, and also that they completely understand the purpose and intended application of every Rule in the FIH published Rules of Hockey. A umpire is not selected because he or she makes a penalty corner or goal signal ‘with flair’ – and if they are, then the umpires in that area, who have concentrated on knowing the Rules of the game and on keeping fit (perhaps by playing hockey), might just as well take up fishing or golf, there are many ways to be miserable. 

Suggestion

Be yourself- players won’t dislike you any more for that than they will anyway when you are umpiring.

 

November 1, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite. Rule 12.1. Penalties Advantage

A  suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

The current Rule 12.1

Penalties.

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

Umpiring 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.

Action.  Amendment

Reason. Clarification of words used, resolving possible conflict or muddle. Defining ‘advantage’.

 

Suggestion.

Useful comment and suggestions welcome.

Penalties.

Advantage: a penalty need be awarded by an umpire only when a team has been disadvantaged by an opponent who has committed an offence, if an offence committed by an opponent does not disadvantage a team then there is no reason to interrupt play. 

Exceptions.

1)   it is extremely unlikely that play will be permitted to continue without penalty in the case of a dangerous play offence, particularly where injury is caused to a player.

2)   a penalty stoke may be awarded to the attacking team if an opponent directly prevents the scoring of a goal while being unintentionally in breach of Rule 9.11. ball-body contact – always provided the defender’s ball-body contact was not caused by intentional forcing play or dangerous play by the attacking team.

3)   a free ball may be awarded to the defending team when a player makes unintentional ball body contact, in breach of Rule 9.11, while within the opponent’s 23m area and that player or a member of that player’s team, retain or regain possession of the ball and can play on to the disadvantage of the defending team

Umpiring 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 a player commits an offence and opponents can still play on with advantage, an umpire must allow the advantage if that 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 not have less opportunity to develop play than they would have had if the offence had not occurred,  but it is not necessary, for advantage to be applied, that the advantage be superior to the opportunity the team offended against would have had to develop their play if the offence had not occurred.  Betterment is not a requirement for the application of advantage, the criteria is equality – no significant difference of opportunity.

d    having decided to play advantage, a second opportunity must not be given by reverting to the original penalty if the team given reasonable opportunity to develop their play then fail to do so.

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.

.   

 

 

 

November 1, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 12.3. Award of a penalty corner. Alternative penalty

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

The current Rule 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

b   an intentional offence in the circle by a defender against an opponent who does not have possession of the ball or an opportunity to play the ball
c   for an intentional offence by a defender outside the circle but within the 23 metres area they are defending

d   for intentionally playing the ball over the back-line by a defender

Goalkeepers or players with goalkeeping privileges are permitted to deflect the ball with their stick, protective equipment or any part of their body in any direction including over the back-line.

e   when the ball becomes lodged in a player’s clothing or equipment while in the circle they are defending.

There is also this, from Rule 13.3.l Procedure for the taking of a penalty corner:- 

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.

A player struck with the ball below the knee in these circumstances has not necessarily committed an offence, but the award of a penalty corner is nonetheless mandatory: an odd conflict. This particular reason for the award of penalty should be abolished as it is unjust and also encourages reckless and even dangerous shooting ‘through’ (at) out-running defenders. Those who say defenders shouldn’t run out and remain positioned between the shooter and the goal (and who usually also criticise defenders who remain positioned just in front of the goal-line to defend the goal) have yet to offer a reasonable suggestion for a defensive action by defenders that would be acceptable to both parties. But the aforegoing is part of the argument for the abolition of the penalty corner and can be deferred for the moment.

There is also a proposal to abolish the present penalty corner and replace it with a power play, a play which will take place within the 23m area of the team penalised.  

 

Action. Amendment and proposal for the introduction of an additional, less severe penalty, than a penalty corner (or a power play).

 

Reason. Fairness. 

When a defending player, most often the goalkeeper, deflects the ball up high off his or her equipment within the circle, an umpire will usually penalise the defender for play likely to lead to dangerous play, if there are players from both teams in the circle who might then contest for the ball. This seems harsh, as such upward deflections are generally unintended (being completely unavoidable and/or accidental or the goalkeeper was trying to parry the ball up and behind the goal) were at one time dealt with by having a bully taken 5 yards from the circle.

When the ball was trapped in equipment, again usually the protective equipment of a goalkeeper, the restart was with a bully. I am not sure why the FIH Rules Committee decided that these accidental incidents should be penalised with a penalty corner and I don’t think it right (fair) that they are.

The intentional playing of the ball over the base-line by a defender is also unnecessarily harshly penalised with the award of a penalty corner. it is an action that should not be penalised at all because it is not an offence.

The recent abolition of the corner (long) and the replacement of it with a restart on the 23m line will get players accustomed to taking restarts from that line and also in planning how best to take advantage of them, so it shouldn’t be a big step to introduce a penalty restart (a free ball) taken centrally (or in line with the offence or incident) – especially if the FIH Rules Committee can be persuaded to delete the restrictive prohibition on playing the ball directly into the circle from a free awarded in the opponents 23m area.

Suggestion.

Useful comment and suggestions welcome

Rule (12+) 23m ball. 

A penalty to be taken as a free ball from a position opposite to the opponent’s goal and on the 23m line will be awarded following:-

a)  A deflection by a defender within the circle that puts the ball high into the air from where it will fall between players from opposing teams and could lead to dangerous play.

b)  The accidental trapping of the ball in the clothing or equipment of a defender within the circle.

c)  

There has previously been suggestion from others, that unintentional ball-body contact by a defender in the circle could be penalised with a free awarded from a position outside the circle. I am ambivalent about the penalising of an action that is not an offence, but that might be a better and acceptable alternative to what is happening at present.

There will be other kinds of incidents for which the award of a 23m free ball to the attacking team (or defenders?) would be suitable resolution, so the list is for now left open.   

 

 

 
 

November 1, 2015

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

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

The current Rule 1.4.d

Edit video added 15th November 2015.

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

Reason. Clarification. Improvement of control.

Suggestion.

Useful comment and suggestions are welcome.

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

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

Positioning         Presence             Body Language               Timing              Whistle              Signals              Voice         Cards

 

 

Second whistle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

4 Self pass Interp - incredible

 

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

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

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

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

November 1, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite. Field & Equipment Specifications. Penalty Spot.

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

The current Rules 1.2.d and 1.3.j 


1.2. d all marks must be made in white.

1.3 j penalty spots 150 mm in diameter marked in front of the centre of each goal with the centre of each spot 6.475 metres from the outer edge of the goal-line.

Action. Amendment

Reason. When a television camera pans across the circle while following play it often happens that the eye is drawn to the white penalty spot and track is lost of the ball: it is not necessary that the penalty spot be white and be such a distraction, nor is it necessary that the penalty spot have a diameter of 150mm on synthetic surfaces.

Suggestion.

1.2. d all marks except the penalty spot must be made in white. The penalty spot should be marked in a dark colour preferably black or brown.

1.3 j penalty spots 50 mm in diameter are to be marked in front of the centre of each goal with the centre of each spot 6.475 metres from the outer edge of the goal-line.

 

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 14.1. Personal Penalties

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Personal penalties.

The current Rule 14.1. For any offence, the offending player may be 

a cautioned (indicated by spoken words)

b warned and temporarily suspended for 2 minutes of playing time (indicated by a green card)

c temporarily suspended for a minimum of 5 minutes of playing time (indicated by a yellow card)

For the duration of each temporary green and yellow card suspension of a player on or off the field, the offending team plays with one fewer player.

d permanently suspended from the current match
(indicated by a red card).

For each permanent suspension, the offending team plays for the remainder of the match with one fewer player.

A personal penalty may be awarded in addition to the appropriate penalty

 

Action. Reversal of a recent change. Amendment to word order.

Reason. An addition should add something and not remove something. The loss of the warning card without a suspension attached was a loss of an important ‘step’ on the ‘control ladder’.

I don’t like the word order ‘fewer player’, it feels wrong and I don’t think it better than the term it replaced ‘less player’, although I can see why that was replaced.

A red card cannot be issued for “any offence” but for “an offence” one may be. There are a few other tweaks.

Suggestion.

Useful comment and suggestions welcome.

I have proposed a reduction in the minimum suspension time of a yellow card, to 2mins, and restored the ‘no suspension’ status to the green card. There is nothing to prevent umpires going directly to a yellow card if they wish to do so and indicating the length of the suspension to be served is a simple matter of hand signal.

The current Rule 14.1. For an offence, the offending player may be 

a cautioned (indicated by spoken words)

b warned (indicated by a green card)

c temporarily suspended for a minimum of 2 minutes of playing time (indicated by a yellow card)

A yellow card may also be awarded with a suspension period of 5 minutes or 10 minutes or more, depending the nature of the offence and on whether or not a personal penalty has been issued to the same player previously or even to another player for a similar offence.

For the duration of each temporary yellow card suspension of a player on the field or on the bench, the offending team plays with one player fewer than they had on the pitch prior to the suspension.

d permanently suspended from the current match
(indicated by a red card).

For each permanent suspension, the offending team plays for the remainder of the match with one player fewer than they had on the pitch prior to the suspension..

A personal penalty may be awarded in addition to an appropriate team penalty

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 10.3.c. Use of hands and arms by a goalkeeper

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Edited 15rd. November 2015

The current Rule 10.3.c.

goalkeepers wearing full protective equipment and players with goalkeeping privileges are permitted to use arms, hands and any other part of their body to push the ball away.

The action in rule c above is permitted only as part of a goal saving action or to move the ball away from the possibility of a goal scoring action by opponents. It does not permit a goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges to propel the ball forcefully with arms, hands or body so that it travels a long distance.

Action. Alteration of the Rule and Reversal/Deletion of the Rule guidance which limits ball propelling actions.

Reason. There is no good reason to limit ball propelling actions by goalkeepers that are no more dangerous, and probably less so, than propelling the ball with leg-guards and kickers. The action in rule c above is permitted only as part of a goal saving action or to move the ball away from the possibility of a goal scoring action by opponents. It does not permit a goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges to propel the ball forcefully with arms, hands or body so that it travels a long distance.

Suggestion.

Goalkeepers wearing full protective equipment and players with goalkeeping privileges are permitted, subject to dangerous play, to use their arms, hands and any other part of their body to propel the ball.

The ball may be propelled with the hands and arms in the same way as it may be propelled with kickers and legguards, that is hit i.e. swatted with glove or hand protector, but it may not be caught, picked up or thrown.

 

 

 

October 31, 2015

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

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Edited   31st. July 2016

Current clause 13.2.c.

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

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

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

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

Current clause 13.2.f.

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

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

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

– the ball must travel at least 5 metres, before

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

Alternatively :

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Action Deletion.

Reason

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

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

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

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

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

Action. 

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

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

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

Suggestion.

Useful comment and suggestion welcome.

 

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

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

a    the ball must be stationary

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

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

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

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

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

 

e   the ball may be moved with any legal stroke.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

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

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

 

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

 

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.16. Throwing objects.

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey


The current rule 9.16.

Players must not throw any object or piece of equipment onto the field, at the ball, or at another player, umpire or person.

 

Action. Amendment. Change of penalty.

Reason. Fairness.

Tongue-in-cheek I misquoted this rule as a justification for penalising a forcing offence when writing about Rule 9.11.ball-body contact, but why not? A ball is an object and players often talk of throwing a scoop pass and even a flick. Okay, maybe stretching meaning and intent, but I think the deletion of the offence of forcing flies in the face of common sense and the supposed emphasis on safety and it has to be restored in some way.

 

Seriously, the penalty I would like to see changed is for the act of throwing the stick at the ball from outside the circle to prevent the ball going into the goal.

Successfully preventing the ball from going into the goal by throwing a stick at it from within the circle will result in the award of a penalty stroke and probably also a personal penalty. Doing the same thing from outside the circle will, at present, generally result in the award of a personal penalty and a penalty corner. This is the only example I can think of (and which I have seen occur on three occasions) where of the award of a penalty corner and not a penalty stroke for a foul committed outside the circle is not just or fair.

I can imagine other bizarre scenarios where a penalty stroke would be fair but a penalty corner is correct (is Rule compliant) but I have never witnessed any of them occurring. 

 

Suggestion.

No need to comment, I know I am wrong about the penalty, but it just doesn’t feel right the way it is.

 

Rule 9.16. Players must not throw any object or piece of equipment onto the field, at the ball, or at another player, umpire or at any other person.

If a defender positioned outside the circle throws a stick at the ball to prevent the ball going into the goal and succeeds in this aim, that defender must be issued with a personal penalty and a penalty stroke awarded.   

 

 

 

 

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.12. Obstruction.

A suggested rewrite  of the Rules of hockey.

The current 9.12

Edited  28th July,  2016.

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

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

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

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

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

Action. Amendment.

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

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

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

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

The suggested rewrite below adds only a clarification of “move into” and the concept of an ‘on-side’ tackler to the existing Rule – but much has been lost previously by ‘interpretation’, which seems to be a code word for ‘ignore’, the meaning that has been lost since 2004 is restored.

Suggestion.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A player in possession of the ball

who is :-

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

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

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

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

.
A player in possession of the ball :-

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

 

The Tackler.

A tackle may not be attempted from a position where physical contact will result (Rule 9.3)

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

.

The ‘Receiving’ Exception to the Rule.

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

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

a) pass the ball away or

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The ‘Manufactured’ Exception to the Rule.

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

 

Third-Party Obstruction.

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

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

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

Stick Obstruction 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.14. Entering the opponent’s goal – A Goal Zone.

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey.

The current Rule 9.14.

Players must not intentionally enter the goal their opponents are defending or run behind either goal.

Action. Amendment and Expansion, the introduction of a Goal Zone

Reason. Promises made in 1997, when Off-side was abolished have not been honoured; there has been no Rule introduced to curb potential close in dangerous play by opponents, now free to position anywhere up to (and beyond) the baseline irrespective of the positioning of defenders. The recent introduction of above shoulder playing of the ball and the development of edge-hitting as well as what is termed 3D hockey has made defending the goal more difficult and dangerous than at any previous time.

Suggestion.

This is new so untried and any suggestion to improve it is welcome. Obviously the first step is a trial.

A Goal Zone or Goalkeeper’s Zone marked out in a similar way to the marking out of the shooting circle, but with the measurement, from the inner edge of the face of the goalposts to the outer edge of the Zone line, to be a radius of 2m. 

The Goal Zone would serve as a miniature off-side area, no attacking player permitted to enter it before the ball had done so and to vacate it immediately the ball is played out of the Zone. Dribbling with the ball directly into the Zone would of course be permitted.

The Zone would prevent most of the physical blocking and crowding of the goalkeeper that now occurs frequently and also prevent opponent’s ‘goal-hanging’ prior to the ball being raised with a hit or flicked across the face of the goal by an attacker from a position on the base-line. Point-blank deflections into the goal from attackers positioned on or very close to the goal-line before the ball was passed would be eliminated. 

At 2m radius the Goal Zone is small – the goal-line is almost within playing reach from outside the zone –  and the zone could possibly be extended by a further 50cms, but I don’t think it should be made any larger than that. 

 

Rule 9.14 Players may not enter the goal zone of the goal their opponents are defending until the ball is in the zone.

Players must vacate the goal zone their opponents are defending immediately the ball is played out, or otherwise goes out of the goal zone. (For example, because (a) the ball rebounds from a goal-post, or (b)  the ball is propelled into the zone, directly across and out again, without being played from within the goal zone).

Players may not at any time enter the goal their opponents are defending.

No player may run off the pitch behind either their own goal or the goal their opponents are defending, and back onto the pitch on the other side of that goal 

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rules. 9.2., 9.3., 9.4., 9.13. Physical Contact

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Use of Stick.

Physical Contact

The current Rules.

9.2     Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a dangerous way.
          Players must not lift their stick over the heads of other players.

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

9.4     Players must not intimidate or impede another player.

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.

Action. Amalgamation and deletion.

Reason. Reduction and simplification.

This group of Rules has a great deal of duplication, Rule 3, Rule 4 and Rule 13 are very similar, Rule 13 being just a more specific instance of the type of offence, physical contact, being dealt with by Rule 9.3.

There are broadly three types of dangerous play; the dangerously played ball (the most common) dangerous use of the stick and dangerous physical contact . Whether it is best to deal with each of them under separate Rules or separately, in an umbrella Dangerous Play Rule, is a difficult question to answer, but physical contact is an offence even when it is not dangerous play, as is much illegal use of the stick. The present FIH approach is separate Rules.

I think that both of these previous versions of the Rule are framed in a better way than the present Rule 9.2.

(not) take part in or interfere with the game unless they have their sticks in their hand.

(not) use their sticks in a manner that is dangerous, intimidating or hampering

and they could usefully be edited and combined. This is from a time when the Rule 9.3 and Rule 9.4 were combined:-

(not) hit, hook, charge, kick, shove, trip, strike at or personally handle other players of their sticks or clothing.

Combination makes sense because physical contact during a tackle attempt will generally be stick-body or stick-stick contact or be both as well as body-body contact. Separation makes sense because dangerous use of the stick may not involve any physical contact not even with the stick of an opponent.  

There are  ‘forgotten’ i.e. unused Rules; intimidation (Rule.9.4) is either ignored as ‘not dangerous play’ or the intimidating action is penalised as dangerous play. So is the Rule containing this term required, when the only other term in it is ‘impeding’, which is either a physical contact or obstruction offence or possibly both? Probably not, so I will delete Rule 9.4.because it is redundant. Rule 9.3. and Rule.9.13 can be amalgamated as Rule 9.3. so a separate Rule.13. becomes redundant.

 

Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other players or their sticks or clothing. The meaning is clear enough, but the words used are not now the most appropriate. The words “interfere with” especially in the physical sense have become a euphemism for inappropriate or illegal sexual behaviour.  ‘Physical contact’ seems to be the clearest term and the words barge, push, pull, and hold could also be employed in the context.

 

Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact. I don’t like the wording of this Rule because of the way in which it is interpreted. There are two aspects.

1) The wording is better than it was previously because the Rule used to be couched in such a way that it could be interpreted to mean that physical contact with the stick or body of an opponent during a tackle was legitimate provided the ball was played prior to the physical contact. I think that view, once widely held, has almost disappeared follow changes to the wording.

2) But now the Rule stumbles over the insertion of the word ‘position’. What is intended, the purpose of the Rule, is to prohibit any physical contact by a tackler with an opponent, who is in possession of the ball, while the tackler is attempting to tackle for the ball.

An interpretation, which I think is deviant, prohibits a tackle attempt being made without prior positioning which will make physical contact an impossibility – and in doing so makes an obstructive offence an impossibility; because it is very easy for a player who is shielding the ball to prevent an opponent positioning where he or she may play at the ball without there being any possibility of physical contact. The circle is completed when it is declared that obstruction by a player in possession of the ball cannot occur unless an opponent is attempting to play (tackle for) the ball and the meaning of the word ‘attempting’ is not defined.

 

What is missing is a simple statement that field-hockey is a non-contact sport.

 

Suggestion.  

The four Rules become two.  Not ‘cast in iron’, useful comment and suggestions welcome.

 

Rule 9.2  Players on the field may not take part in or interfere with the game unless they have their sticks in their hand, they must not use the stick any way that may be intimidating of hinderance or dangerous to an opponent. 

The action of raising the stick over and across the head of another player is specifically forbidden as dangerous play.

Contesting with an opponent for possession of a falling ball is prohibited as dangerous play, one player, generally the player from the same team as the player who raised the ball,  must withdraw in such situations.

Bouncing the ball on the stick at above knee height, while running with it, is permitted while beyond the playing reach of an opponent who may contest for it. If the bouncing action is continued beyond this point, to within the playing reach of an opponent, it may become play leading to dangerous play and subject to penalty.

 

Rule 9.3  Field-hockey is a non-contact sport. Players must not make any physical contact with, for example push, pull or hold, the person or the stick of an opponent even while in the act of tackling or positioning to attempt a tackle for the ball.   

 

October 30, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.10. Falling ball and encroaching offence

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

The current Rule 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.

Action. Amend the Rule and write the other half of it, the making of an aerial pass.

Reason. 1) The Rule has not been amended much since the most common reason a ball would be falling from above head height onto the positions of closely grouped opposing players was an accidental deflection off a players stick or foot or off the goalkeeper’s equipment (still a common occurrence).

Now the more usual reason a ball may be falling from considerable height is because a scoop pass, known as an aerial pass, has been made. Aerial passes made over 60m are now common in the men’s game and in excess of 40m common in the women’s game. But the control of the scoop or aerial pass is weaker now, when the aerial pass is much stronger and much more frequently used, than it has been at any time in the last twenty years.

It is usually assumed in Rule guidance that the maker of an aerial pass will make a pass to a player of his or her own team who is in clear space or make a pass into clear space for a team-mate to chase. (Previous guidance that a scoop pass should not be made to a team-mate when there is an opponent within 5m (yards) of his or her position has long since disappeared).

One reason a foul by the player raising the ball to fall into a contested area, is not often considered in the current application of the Rule is a consequence of the assumption that passes will not be made into contested areas. The other reason is a recent transfer of obligation (by ‘interpretation’) to the team-mate of the player making an unsafe pass – a requirement, which is not in the Rule (but can be put into it) to retreat if within 5m of an opponent who is positioned where the ball will fall. 

The making of an unsafe aerial pass and bouncing the ball on the stick while running with it into the playing reach of an opponent, are the two major elements of “play leading to dangerous play” the second part of the Dangerously Play Rule.

2) The safety requirements of the present Rule “not approach within 5 metres…until it has been received, controlled and is on the ground”  are too severe. 5m is a considerable distance to give to an opponent on a hockey pitch,  and so the requirements are generally ignored or ‘interpreted’ in a bizarre way. Ignoring the conditions of the Rule is of course a cause of dangerous play occurring more frequently than it should because there is little or no deterrent.

Suggestion.

These proposals are not ‘cast in iron’, useful comment or suggestions are welcome.

The ball is generally assumed to be falling from considerably above head height although there has never been anything in the Rules to suggest or confirm that assumption.

Players must not approach within 3 metres of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball until it has been played by the receiving player. 

The ball may be raised and become a ball falling from above the head height of players either as a result of a deliberately made pass or accidentally as the result of a deflection off the stick or body of a player. The rule as it concerns receiving and encroaching is applied in the same way in both situations. Obviously a falling ball which arises as the result of an accidental deflection cannot be penalised as the intentional making of an unsafe pass – a pass deliberately made to fall onto/into an area occupied by opposing players.

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 by retreating to be at least three meters from the receiver until he or she has played the ball.

If the ball is scooped to fall onto the positions of close opposing players and the team-mate of the passer does not retreat or even contests for the falling ball, then both the passer and the contesting player will have committed an offence. The team-mate an encroaching offence and dangerous play – usually dangerous use of the stick. Penalty, for play leading to dangerous play, should be awarded against the player who raised the ball, to be taken at the place the ball was raised – and the same team player who illegally contested for the ball, should be awarded a personal penalty.

If the ball is scooped to fall onto the positions of opposing players and the team-mate of the passer does retreat as required the passer has committed an offence (play leading or likely to lead to dangerous play)  but, as opponents have not been disadvantaged by it and can play on, there will be no reason to penalise that offence. No penalty

If the ball is scooped to fall to an opponent who is in clear space at the time the ball is raised and subsequently a player of the same team as the passer encroaches to within three meters of the receiver before the ball has been played, then only the encroaching player has committed an offence. Penalty at the place the ball was falling. Free ball against the team for the encroaching offence and a personal penalty as well if the ball was also illegally contested for.