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

Free Ball     self-pass      second whistle     flick or scoop  into circle

 

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means of taking a free ball or re-start, even though by that time the 5m restriction on same team players had been long withdrawn – this restriction was not reintroduced until the mess it created when first introduced had been forgotten).

It is necessary only 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).

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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 need for these requirements and nor, I believe do many other people. 

(I don’t like them because I don’t understand why they have been introduced, 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 have posted 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 made good sense. I propose it 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 (which I here propose) and same team players are not required to be 5m from the ball (two big ‘ifs’ at the moment, but two reversions that would much improve the game), a free awarded close to the circle line could be of greater advantage than the award of a penalty corner. 

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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, (it would be a good idea if it was made illegal) but this rule is written as if it is an automatic dangerous play offence – and also an offence to raise a scoop pass from a free ball 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’.

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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 nor can they 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 – avoiding “a free hit can be raised with any stroke except a 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* ( see http://wp.me/pKOEk-2d6 ) or instead to wait for a second as he or she would probably do if making a pass to a team-mate, is a decision for the taker of the free-ball to make and it has no bearing whatsoever on the legality of the subsequent actions of opponents.

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

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

   

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

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

 

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

 

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.12. Obstruction.

A suggested rewrite  of the Rules of hockey.

The current 9.12

Edited  20th March 2017   To clarify “moving into”

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

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

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

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

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

Action. Amendment.

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

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

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

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

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

Suggestion.

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

Shielding the ball to prevent an opponent playing at the ball 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 immediately 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 play the ball or positioning to tackle and in so doing demonstrates that the path to the ball is obstructed; the opponent who is intent on playing the ball is prevented from doing so 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 by an opponent to play at the ball

A player in possession of the ball who is:-

(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 in his or her attempt to play at the ball 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 opponents.

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 attempt to play at the ball by an ‘onside’ opponent, who would otherwise be able to immediately play directly 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 by moving towards an opponent while shielding the ball, oblige an opponent to give way to avoid body contact (Rule 9.3).

 

The Tackler.

A tackle may not be attempted from a position where physical contact will result (Rule 9.13), but obstruction may be demonstrated; it is in fact a requirement that obstruction is demonstrated for the offence to occur i.e. that a legal attempt to play at the ball is being prevented.

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 play at the ball with a reasonable expectation of making contact with it with the stick, cannot be obstructed except as already noted, when the movement is forced to avoid physical contact from an opponent who is leading and shielding the ball.

.

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 1) before an opponent is within playing reach of the ball or 2) 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 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 play it, dwell on the ball in a stationary or near stationary position or while so positioned move the ball to shield it and thereby prevent a legal attempt to play at it.

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

The receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule facilitates the receiving and controlling of the ball and continuation of play without the receiver immediately committing an obstruction offence when closely marked by an opponent who is intent on playing at the ball – 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/or 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 stick-head 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 as well as the objects played with (ball and puck) 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 absurd. 

 

 

 

 

October 30, 2015

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

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Edited 17th February 2016.

The Current Rule 9.11.

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

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

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

Action. Amendment. 

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

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

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

Suggestion.

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

Useful comment and or suggestion is welcome.

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

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

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

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

Intention to use the body to stop or deflect the ball should be judged in as objective a manner as possible. Intentional contact will, for example, be foot to ball rather than ball to foot. A player who is moving along the flight path of the ball (an out-runner during a penalty corner for example), rather than laterally into the flight path of it, has not demonstrated an intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball. A player who moves laterally into the flight path of the ball while attempting to use the stick to play the ball and is hit, has not intentionally used the body to stop or deflect the ball. Intent in such cases must be as clear as was previously demanded by the Forcing Rule.

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

Goalkeepers. 

Goalkeepers are not permitted to pick the ball up – raise the ball off the ground – by gripping it in any way, nor are they permitted to hold the ball to the ground in any way except with the stick (but without thereby preventing an opponent from playing at the ball), by for example, lying on it or by trapping and holding it under a kicker to prevent an opponent from playing at the ball. These latter ball-body contact actions will be considered obstructive play and penalised as such.

 

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

Sports that developed as club games in the same era as field-hockey did – hurling, shinty, lacrosse, ice-hockey – have always permitted the use of the feet or other parts of the body, to stop, deflect or propel the ball or puck. Field-hockey also initially permitted this. I spoke with older members of Blackheath Hockey Club (my first club) when I was a youngster, who recalled the skill of trapping the ball under the foot within the opponent’s circle and then hitting a shot at the goal during the taking of a penalty corner. Trapping the ball under the sole of a boot or trapping it with the instep during play was perfectly acceptable under the Rules of Hockey in the 1930’s.

What was not permitted by that time was to propel the ball by kicking it. I don’t know the year in which it was decided that any ball-body contact that gained an advantage should be considered an offence and playing the ball was something that field-players could legally do only with the stick. Whenever it was, the idea was to promote stick-ball skills and discourage the lack of them. But, as is so often the case, the good idea has been taken to a ridiculous extreme and become an absurdity. The forcing of ball-foot or leg contact or otherwise raising the ball at an opponent, now often covers a lack of ability (skill) to elude an opponent by fair means. (The needless introduction of a mandatory penalty corner, if an out-runner at a penalty corner is hit on or below the knee with the first shot taken, was the low-point of this absurdity – but it has got lower since then. That was probably the seed for the incredible idea (complete nonsense) that an on target shot at the goal could not be dangerous play)

Accidental and especially forced ball-body (foot) contact is not per se (by or of itself) an offence by the player hit with the ball. It is possible to state with certitude that an intentionally forced ball-body contact is never an offence by the player hit with the ball no matter what the outcome in terms of advantage. Even unavoidable ball-body contact is usually due to reckless or dangerous play by opponents.

An advantage is not always gained by a player when hit with the ball – if advantage always resulted there would be no need for the Rule Explanation to state The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage.. 

Apart from the two exceptions mentioned in the re-write suggestion, players should just get on with the game following any unintended ball-body contact and umpires should encourage play to continue uninterrupted by unnecessary (and thus clearly unfair) penalty.

Obstruction on the other hand…..

 

 

October 30, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.8 Dangerously Played Ball

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey.

Edited 18th February 2017

The current Rule 9.8.

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

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

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

 

Action: Amendment.

Reason. There is only a partial Rule here because there are no criterion for either of the two offences mentioned when the endangered player is more than 5m from the player who propels it, that there is a breach of the Rule in these circumstances is entirely the personal opinion of an individual umpire. In addition to that the Explanation of application given in Rule 9.9. is generally ignored if the ball is raised at or into an opponent at below knee height (despite the ‘backhand’ declaration in the UMB – which also conflicts with what is given with Rule 9.9 – that a ball raised into a player at below half-shinpad height is not dangerous). This situation gives players inadequate guidance about what is or will be considered to be a dangerously played ball or play leading to dangerous play. It is vital that players should know these things.

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

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

From Rule 9.9.

It is not an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field unless it is dangerous. If the ball is raised over an opponent’s stick or body on the ground, even within the circle, it is permitted unless judged to be dangerous.

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

It should be noted that the last Rule clause above does not require legitimate evasive action, so such evasive action is not a requirement for a breach of Rule 9.8. just something that must be taken into consideration if it occurs; neither is there any mention of a height limit.

From Rule 13.3.k.

if the first shot at goal is a hit (as opposed to a push, flick or scoop), the ball must cross the goal-line, or 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.

From Rule 13.3.l

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

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

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

Again there is mention, in the above Rule clause, of the possibility of a dangerously played ball without the requirement that there be legitimate evasive action taken; there are in fact objective criterion for a dangerously played ball a) at or above knee height and b) into a player who is within 5m of the first shot.

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

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

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

 

The suggestion.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A velocity that could cause injury is not an entirely a subjective judgement because ball velocity will be comparable with the ball velocity of a powerfully made hit or drag-flick at the high end or, at the low end, a lob or a short flick (a flick that would not carry in the air beyond 5m) and so be largely an objective judgement, but there is a substantial element of subjective judgement involved. 
Below are two, all too rarely seem, examples of an umpire, the New Zealander Kelly Hudson, correctly penalising a dangerously raised ball.
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But even while discussing the injury to the player hit on the head the television commentators could not stop themselves saying “The attacker was entitled to take the shot” and “She (the defender) did stop a shot at the goal“. Both were fixated on the possibility that the defender had committed an offence. We need to be clear about ‘entitlements’ and what is and is not an offence. Yes, the attacker was entitled i.e. not prohibited, from taking a raised hit shot at the goal provided the shot made did not endanger another player, so in this case the attacker committed a dangerous play offence because what she did is prohibited.

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

For offence there are three conditions and acceptance of risk is not one of them. First, the ball must not be played at the defender in a dangerous way (if the ball has been played dangerously at a defender, for example raised from within 5m, we need go no further, a free ball must be awarded to the defending team). Defenders do not have to accept that opponents may breach any Rule with impunity just because they are shooting at the goal – that is not an accepted risk. Then (if the shot is not considered to be dangerous play) we have either intentional use of the body to stop, deflect or propel the ball and/or an advantage gained by the team of the player hit following ball-body contact. When there is neither intent nor an advantage gained there is no offence and in most situations (i.e. where there is no injury) play should continue without any intervention from the umpire.

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

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

   

 

 

 

March 13, 2017

Field Hockey Rules. Obstruction, a repair to the wording of the Explanation

Rules of Hockey: Obstruction – the wording.

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

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

Players obstruct if they-

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

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

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

This is clearer:-

Players obstruct if they:-

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

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

Thus: – Players obstruct if they:-  shield the ball with the stick or any part of the body to prevent or delay an opponent from playing at the ball. but its inclusion adds nothing to the meaning of the sentence.

 

 

 

March 4, 2017

The best umpire in the world.

Christian Blasch has recently been voted best umpire of 2016.

Edited 17th March 2017.   Outcome of video referral requested by Simon Orchard.

A look at some of his umpiring prior to 2016 from among my collection of video clips.

Dangerous shot at the goal. 2011. EHL Final

Starting with a topic that is a contentious old favourite. A shot raised at head height at goal which is also at a player positioned on the goal-line. This shot although a drag-flick and not a hit – and therefore legally raised to any height unless dangerous – was similar to the miss-hit shot that hit Stephen Blocher on the head during the Olympic Semi-Final in 1988, in that the player was sight-blocked by his own goal-keeper and saw the ball too late to avoid being hit (or didn’t track it at all). Causing legitimate evasion (to avoid injury) is the (inadequate) definition of a dangerously played ball.

There was no ‘gains benefit’ clause to Rule 9.11 in 2011 (it was deleted post 2006 and did not appear in the rule-books issued for 2007-9, 2009-11, 2011-13 and also 2013-15 – I separate them for emphasis) – so what was the offence by the defender? He certainly did not intend to be hit on the head – and how anyway would it be ascertained that he intentionally or voluntarily allowed himself to be hit? The fact that he was hit with the ball was not sufficient grounds for any penalty under the Rule extent at the time, but the shooter could reasonably have been penalised for a dangerously played ball.

This was an extension of the “foot in circle = penalty corner” ‘philosophy’ i.e. any last field-player hit in front of the goal = penalty stroke: don’t bother about a reason for the penalty. This example is quite mild compared with decisions by other umpires e.g high raised shots at opponents from within 5m, which are definitely dangerous play due to the objective criteria “raised and within 5m”.

The following clip shows one of the most absurd awards of a penalty stroke I have seen on video.

I can only suppose that the umpire had been instructed that a shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play.

Back to the EHL Final – Blasch ignored the attempts of the players to play the falling ball which had deflected upwards off the defender’s head, particularly the attacker who jumped up to make a double handed over-head ‘smash’ at it, at a time when any playing of the ball above shoulder height by an attacking player was illegal. Not technically an offence because the ball was ‘dead’, the whistle having been blown, but reckless and dangerous actions, with an opponent down injured, which should have received a rebuke. The decision made is a matter of opinion (but it should not be, ‘dangerously raised’ can easily be determined by simple object criteria – height and velocity and at a player. It is negligent of the FIH not to impose such criteria within the Rules – and leave ‘dangerous’ an entirely subjective decision). In my opinion the shot was dangerous and the decision set a bad example. The simplistic ‘solution’ – “penalise the defender” (because high shots are spectacular and are to be encouraged to make the game more ‘attractive’) is not acceptable.

 

Raised shot at the goal

This shot, below, (match 2014) was judged to be dangerous based on criteria that Blasch himself invented on the spot.

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This following is from the same match but not in the circle controlled by Blasch.

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This shot is certainly dangerous because it causes a defender within 5m of the striker to take evasive action to avoid being hit. The fact that the shot was also off target is irrelevant. No penalty was awarded against the striker, a 15m ball was awarded simply because the ball had been hit out of play over the base-line by an attacker.

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Obstruction.

Although there can be no doubt that the ESP player positions his body between the ENG player and the ball, when the ENG player was within playing distance of it and demonstrating an intent to play at it – playing at the ball thus being prevented because of the positioning of the ESP player, which is a good working definition of obstruction by positioning or shielding – except that in this instance the ENG player was behind the ball and his opponent i.e not goal-side of either while making his initial tackle attempts, and when the whistle was blown. This was a position from where he could not be obstructed by the body of his opponent. The physical contact by the ENG player as he attempted to tackle for the bal (Rule 9.13) was also either ignored or not seen. This was an unusual decision, more often than not a defender who attempts to tackle when the ball is shielded from him or her will be penalised even when there is no body contact at all.

There were several other examples of ball shielding in this match which were not penalised as they should have been. This one was penalised before it actually occurred There is little doubt that the ESP would have obstructed by shielding the ball illegally but he didn’t actually do so before the whistle was blown. Blasch seems to be indicating to the bemused ESP player that he used his stick or positioned the ball in an illegal way.

 

Obstruction

2015 EHL Semi-Final. A different approach.

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First of the men’s matches on the clip below; Blasch allows the Australian player to use his body to turn to position to shield the ball and back-in to ‘bulldoze’ his opponent out of his way.

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More of the same. this sort of thing is usually combined with physical contact after drawing the tackler into close proximity and backing into and ‘rolling off’ him – it’s a tactic used in soccer to elude a close marker while in possession of the ball but illegal in field-hockey.

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Advantage – physical contact, barging

2015 EHL Semi-Final

A deliberate barge to knock an opponent off the ball which should have been penalised with a penalty-stroke and a yellow card – Blasch waves play on – citing advantage.

 

Forcing in breach of conditions given within Rule 9.9.

The first two incidents were in the circle under control of Blasch. The second incident might be described as opportunistic rather than a deliberate foul by the attacking player who did not have the ball under control. All resulted in the award of a penalty corner. The first and the third should have resulted in a free for the defending team and the second to a call of “play on – no offence”. We are now at the stage where it might also require the issue of a card to deter players from the practice of deliberately lifting the ball into the legs of opponents to ‘win’ a penalty, rather than playing hockey.

 

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Forcing, barging.

Raising the ball into the legs of an opponent and then charging into him as he tries to stop/control the ball. As the near-line umpire and closest to these actions, Blasch should have put a stop to this tactic which is in contravention of at least three Rules.

The double touch on the taking of the self-pass and the subsequent award of a penalty corner were farcical, but that incorrect award was ultimately the fault of the video umpire.

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Accidental ball-body contact – no advantage, no intent – no offence. Play should have been allowed to continue, the contact disadvantaged rather than advantaged the defending team.

 

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The Raised Hit.

Illegal reverse edge hit Bel v Aus WL Final 2013

This raised edge hit was not dangerous, but deliberate and it disadvantaged the AUS team, so an offence – which should have been penalised with a penalty corner as it occurred in the 23m area. The Umpiring Committee have no authority to subvert this Rule with the contradiction forget lifted-think danger in the Umpire Managers Briefing for Umpires at FIH Tournaments (UMB) – a subversion which has been cascaded to all levels and has resulted in the ball being frequently intentionally raised into the opponent’s goalmouth from the flanks (which is usually dangerous or leads to dangerous play) without penalty against the attacking side.

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Misquoting Rule. 2013

Blasch correctly penalised this raised hit because it was actually or potentially dangerous. I include this clip because of the sing-song misquoting of Rule with which this commentator frequently misguides viewers. His ‘Rule quote’ during the 2008 Olympic Games, about an on-target shot at the goal (repeated in 2010 at the Women’s World Cup) is a blunder typical of him. The problem is that he is believed (over the rule-book) by viewers, including players and umpires, and somebody must be briefing him, but not correcting him.

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Falling Ball 2012

It is possible that Blasch was sucked into the nonsense that Rule 9.10, about the falling ball and encroachment, does not apply to deflections, (or that top level players have the skill or good sense to avoid endangerment in these situations), but he should have known better.

A goal was initially awarded and then overturned on video referral because the ENG player hit the ball while it was above shoulder height (???). The prior encroachment, on a clear initial ENG receiver, and the attempt to play at the ball at well above shoulder height by the PAK player was overlooked.

Blasch should have awarded a penalty stroke against the PAK player (two deliberate dangerous play offences in the circle) before the ball fell to the level it was contested for. It was inevitable it would be contested for in this situation and that this was likely to be dangerous to one or both players. The average lowly club umpire would have made a more sensible decision for this incident than either Blasch or the video umpire did.

A properly famed Rule concerning the raising of the ball into the circle would have fairly and safely resolved this incident with the immediate award of a free to the attacking team from where the ball was raised.

(The blog article referred to in the video has been deleted, as I do a clear out of posts about every two years and begin again to keep the blog up to date and with a manageable number of articles )

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A mix in one match of intentionally raising the ball into opponents, obstruction offences and a physical contact offence. 2012. The umpiring is at below acceptable Level One standard.

 

2012. The,very skilled, NED player ‘manufactures’ a potentially obstructive situation, but then makes no attempt to play at the ball – he instead charges into the BEL player and hits him on the head with his stick held high and horizontal. Blasch awarded the NED team a free ball for obstruction by the BEL player, instead of giving the NED player a red card for this deliberate dangerous assault.

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Ball intentionally raised with a hit, into the circle, to the disadvantage of opponents – an offence not penalised. An accidental ball-foot contact then penalised with a penalty corner at a time when there was no ‘gains benefit’ clause to Rule 9.11. The Rules being applied in a way the opposite to the way in which they were written.

 

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Preventing a tackle attempt. 2012. The clip opens with at least two obstruction offences before the attacking run was made into the NED circle. Blasch did not recognise any of the blocking and ball shielding as obstructive play.

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2016

I downloaded the matches played in Rio at the 2016 Olymnpic Games, but got so disheartened at the Rule application I saw as I went through them that I made video clips of incidents from less than half of them and I have not downloaded or reviewed any hockey matches since then.

I notice that four of the pool matches the Spanish team played were allocated to Blasch. Was a message being sent to the Spanish following their dissent at a bizarre dangerous play decision he made in a match in 2014 and also previously, in a match during the 2012 Olympics, in which he shoved away of an ESP player who was demanding a video referral that could not be given?

But better results from the Spanish, who seemed to have run out of ideas in the two previous World Level Tournaments, they even surprised the Australians, who might have viewed the match as ‘points in the bag’ prior to the encounter, by beating them by the only goal of the game. Spain lost a pool match only to Belgium and then a Quarter Final to Argentina, the two finalists, and finished in a credible fifth place.

GB v ESP. Obstruction and then forcing, contrary to the required application of Rule 9.9.

Ball shielding 2. The following nine incidents, all from this one match, are similar to this second one. Shielding or ‘protecting’ the ball has now become automatic even when it is a foul, un-penalised physical contact by a ball shielding player (turning or backing into opponents) is common.

Ball shielding 3

Ball shielding 4

Ball shielding 5

Ball shielding 6

Ball shielding 7

Ball shielding 8

Ball shielding 9

Ball shielding 10 and barging. Time running with less than a minute of the match remaining.

BEL v ESP Shield and shunt. The player in possession of the ball moves with it in such a way that his ball-shielding position between his opponent and the ball is maintained – a clear breach of the Obstruction Rule – but not penalised .

AUS v NED

Ball shielding. Correct application of the Obstruction Rule would prevent this illegal, and unattractive style of play.

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Barged obstructed 2. The NED player at the top of the circle receives the ball and then turns over it to barge the contesting AUS player out of his way. Blasch didn’t see any offence.

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Barged obstructed. The NED defender deliberately contests for the ball in a way that was certain to make physical contact with the AUS attacker (Simon Orchard). Blasch saw nothing wrong with this and Orchard was obliged to use a video referral. I do not recall what the result of the referral was, but the obstructive physical contact was deliberate and should have resulted in the award of a penalty-stroke. Having looked at the incident again I now know that the referral ( a request for a penalty corner) was turned down and play restarted with a 15m. This incident alone justifies Orchard’s declared antipathy towards top level umpires he has encountered. The foul by the NED player was a ‘cast-iron’ instance of a foul that matched the criteria for the award of a penalty stroke.

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So is Christian Blasch one of the best umpires in the world and the best of 2016?. Yes, despite his inconsistent and even bizarre umpiring (decision making and behaviour), it is likely that he is, because Simon Orchard is right about the standard of top level umpiring and that these umpires do not understand the game or the meaning and purpose of the Rules to which it is supposed to be played (any more than a ‘bookie’ understands how to ride a horse in a race but can be an expert judge of ‘form’ and horse racing). Those who copy the top umpires are also ‘lost’.

What I find most worrying is that Blasch is a member of the FIH Rules Committee and that he may carry his demonstrated attitudes to the Rules and to dissent into that Committee. We don’t need another autocratic bully who will dominate the Rules Committee in the way that his mentor and umpiring predecessor did – to the detriment of the game.

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March 1, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Refusal to refer.

Rules of Hockey.

Tournament Regulations
Team video referral
4.1 a
team referrals will be restricted to decisions within the 23 metre areas relating to the
award (or non-award) of goals, penalty strokes and penalty corners and, during a shoot-out competition, whether a shoot-out should be re-taken. The award of personal penalty cards may not be the subject of a team referral;

A great deal of fuss and unpleasantness – as well as delay to the game – would have been avoided if the players and the involved umpire knew that a corner award could not be the subject of a video referral.

But why is (now the award of a free ball on the 23m line) excluded from the available referral process – even if what leads to it occurs in the circle? Is it not an incident within the 23m area which is easily got wrong ?

The Spanish team were bewildered when they got no answer to the question “Why can’t we have a video referral?”  The umpire pretended it was because the request was out of time – did he know no better?

The same as occurred in this incident, two years later, which also caused some unpleasantness, but no shoving of a player by Blasch this time. :-

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In the incident in the game against Belgium the decision by Blasch was wrong –

Terminology. Shot at goal
The action of an attacker attempting to score by playing the ball towards the goal from within the circle.
The ball may miss the goal but the action is still a “ shot at goal ” if the player’s intention is to score with a shot directed towards the goal.

and I don’t believe either that it took more than twenty seconds for the Spanish team to realise a goal had not been awarded and ask for referral – the reason given for refusal to refer. The correct ‘T’ signal was not used but only an unreasonable pedant would insist upon that in the circumstances. Blasch himself should have referred his own decision.

The Spanish team must have had a feeling of déjà vu or “Here we go again”. 

The other people who demonstrated that they are without Rule knowledge were the commentators, so in that respect they were like most television soccer ‘pundits’.

 

 

February 26, 2017

Field Hockey Rules. Protest

It has been an interesting week with Simon Orchard, a current Australian international player, being critical of the ignorance of umpires about the game – and of course the knee-jerk response, from many umpires, that Orchard is ignorant of the demands of umpiring was made repeatedly. I made comment in the Hockey Paper and also in reply to a WordPress article by an Australian umpire and I was not complimentary to Orchard in either.

On reflection I think I was too harsh towards him. His action was brave considering he is still an international player – it might even be considered foolhardy as it will not have pleased his National Hockey Association or probably any umpire he encounters in future matches. Possibly he is approaching voluntary retirement from international level play and felt the need to speak out while he still had the platform to do so. My main criticism of his article was the lack of presented evidence, but that lack is understandable because it would have meant the criticism of identified umpires (not a wise action for an international player) and it also takes a considerable time and effort to gather such evidence. Presenting a general statement about the state of umpiring based on one incident is just laughingly dismissed as a ‘one off’ mistake – and “umpires are human” is an oft used meaningless excuse. But making a statement based on long experience is also challenged if detailed facts are absent.

Several umpires made comment about his lack of umpiring experience (without knowing whether that was true or not) and his understanding of umpiring (leaving aside their mentioning hard work and commitment and the huge amount of time spent on training courses – which international level players would know nothing about), but this is a one-way street and a lost argument; Orchard could easily become (or already is) an umpire capable of officiating a National League match well in a month – no umpire currently umpiring at NL level or above is capable of becoming a senior international level player ever. Only a tiny number are capable of playing at National League level or even training to do so. There is nothing stopping Orchard going on to become an international umpire.

Another notable figure in the news is the FIH Umpire Christian Blasch, who this week received the award of Umpire of the Year for 2016. If there is an umpire who could be described as ‘bulletproof’ it must be Blasch, who is regarded almost as a deity by the umpiring fraternity. He is now 42 years old – and as umpires may continue to be appointed to international matches until 31st December following their 47th birthday he may still be active for about another five years – possibly for longer than Orchard will be playing at international level.

I have 480 video clips which I have assembled over the past seven years, mainly for the purpose of illustrating the articles I write in this blog. I have not previously taken much notice of which umpires were officiating the matches from which I took incidents to write about, but I started yesterday to go through them to see how many I could find in which Blasch was an umpire, particularly the umpire engaged with the incident I was reviewing. He features in quite a few as tournament matches tend to be more widely televised in the latter stages and he is given charge of an above average number of FIH Tournament Semi-Finals and Finals. I will come back to this when I have finished my researches, but I can say that from what I have found so far that Orchard is not wrong in his assertions if the example of one of the acknowledged best is the benchmark. Terms like erratic and inconsistent are appropriate and both the ignoring of Rule and the invention of ‘Rule’ are repeatedly in evidence, even from this ‘infallible’.

I leave that matter to one side for now and take a look at an incident I came across that led to a video referral. It is relevant to an article on Advantage I recently edited. Co-incidentally the video umpire for that incident, in a match between Malaysia and Spain was also Deon.  

(Blasch was the disengaged umpire during this incident, below, which took place in his colleague’s circle)

Decision contrary to Rule 2014 WC ESP v BEL

Readers will no doubt immediately spot the mistake (invention?) by the video umpire. The ball glanced off the toe of a defender in the circle and was collected by an attacking player, it was then contested for by another defender.

Deon was right that there was no advantage – there was no advantage to the defending team – but he inverted the Rule, because there was also clearly no intent by the hit defender to use the body to stop or deflect the ball, so there was no offence but he assumed an offence and wrongly employed the Advantage Rule 12.1.

He also ‘reinvented’ a Rule criterion because ‘advantage’ was not one of the criteria for a ball-body contact offence in 2014, having, as ‘gains benefit’, been deleted on issue of the 2007 Rules of Hockey. ‘Gains an advantage’ was restored to Rule 9.11, following an FIH Circular, in May 2015 and then reappeared in the rule-book which was effective from January 2016. That umpires openly persisted in applying ‘gained benefit’ or ‘gained an advantage’ despite it not being part of Rule 9.11. for more than eight years prior to May 2015 is a fair indication of the notice they took and still take of the FIH Rules Committee and how what the FIH RC produce, the Rules of Hockey, is subverted.

I can’t detect much difference between “voluntarily” and “positioning with intention to use the body in this way” and, as far as I am aware no FIH official has made any attempt at an explanation of a difference, so intent of one sort or another was really the only criterion for a ball-body contact offence in 2014.

That there was no advantage to the attacking team following the defender’s foot contact was not (and is not at present) a reason to penalise a ball-body contact – and that there was no advantage to the attacking side in this incident was not true anyway – which is why there was no advantage gained by the defending side, it is not possible that both teams could simultaneously gain an advantage over the other because of a single contact incident – logically, one or other did or neither did. The ball was deflected directly to another attacker and play continued with the attacker who received the deflection then making a mess of the shooting opportunity he managed to create.

Should a second defender stand back in such circumstances and allow a clear shot at the goal so that an attacking team have advantage and a penalty corner cannot therefore be awarded following an accidental ball-body/foot contact? That would be plain daft and not at all what the Rule demands now – never mind in 2014 when there was no ‘gains advantage’ to consider. No, there being no offence, play should just have continued to take its course – advantage was irrelevant.

Whether or not gains benefit should have been deleted, rather than amended by the FIH RC, is another matter entirely, but the deletion was caused by umpires assuming as a matter of course – for consistency – that all ball-body contact gained an advantage, which made nonsense of the Explanation provided with the Rule – something had to give.

The obvious conflict between umpiring practice and the Rule wording in a series of rule-book issues between 2007 and 2015 was however an embarrassment – and gains benefit should not have been deleted entirely anyway, so it obviously had to come back – it is a pity it was returned just as it was in 2003 and the opportunity was not taken to make necessary amendments to it.

The video referral “for a foot contact” should have been rejected (The question put should not even have been accepted in that form – and referrals of that sort should not be accepted now – ball-body contact is not automatically an offence, intent or advantage gained are required).

The problem with these kinds of decisions at this level is that they are taken to be correct – “It MUST be the right decision, he’s an FIH Umpire” is a common uncritical attitude. Sadly that is not true; FIH Umpires are human and as prone to error as the rest of us – and they seem to be even more prone to inventing ‘Rules’ (or receiving contrary instruction) than the average club umpire – who will be in error because he or she copies what is seen and heard, on television or video, being done by high level umpires, rather than following what is given in the rule-book.

Yes the content of the rule-book is inadequate, but it IS as it IS. The responses of individual umpires to match incidents may vary this way and that, without prior communication, from place to place and from time to time for no apparent reason – despite (or even because of) the UMB. The rule-book can be amended and it will stay as amended until it is amended again a year or many years later. Get the rule-book to the standard of an acceptable working document and work to it and disagreement and discontent will subside and eventually disappear as consistent interpretation is agreed and written into it (easier now as the Rules of Hockey may be amended by the FIH as and when required, not only every two years as previously). 

Both former Great Britain Captains, Middleton and Fox have recently criticised the continuance of the present penalty corner format (because it is too dangerous) and I hope that others will join them and Orchard in protest at what is presently accepted in that and other areas of Rule and the application of Rule, and that what is now a whisper will become a roar.

The Rules of Hockey are not the preserve of umpires, they are for the use and advice of all participants. Participating umpires are as obliged to abide by them as players are.

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October 18, 2016

Indoor and Outdoor Rules of Hockey 2017.

 

Field Hockey Rules 2017.

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

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

But they have not included some important “adjustments”.

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

1) A restoration of the Forcing Rule 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Indoor Rules 2017.

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

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

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

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

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How emphasise? How limit?  On what grounds intervene?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

indoor-rules-2017-cover

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October 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Obstructive tackling

Rules of Hockey. Spin tackle.

What I have termed a spin tackle may have been happening for some time, but I have not noticed it. I can’t recall seeing it during the 2012 London Olympics or the 2014 World Cup. Now however it ‘jumps out at me’ because of the frequency of occurrence – and because it seems to be seldom penalised. 
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The first GB player impedes the stick of the USA player and that obstructs her – that should have been penalised with a penalty corner (or possibly a penalty stroke). The umpire either missed that offence or allowed (a dubious) advantage because the USA player did not immediately lose possession of the ball.

The USA player does then lose close control of the ball and the second GB player gets her stick to it and ineffectually jabs at it – but the USA player, who is still in contention for it, immediately spins into a position between the ball and the GB player, barging/backing into her opponent and knocking her stick away while doing so, regains control of the ball and then moves away to give herself room to take a reverse edge shot.

(I don’t know why umpires position close to the base-line and the goal-post, at tournaments where there are video referral facilities, when from that position the umpire could not have seen much of what the USA player did to regain control of the ball.)

So we have a combination breach of Rule 9.12 Obstruction and of Rule 9.13 Tackling with body contact, concurrently by a single individual. These are fouls which usually occur between competing players, a player in possession of the ball who obstructs and an opponent who makes body contact while trying to overcome the obstruction and make a tackle but, as they say, the game is developing, it’s getting more like soccer every day.

The following incident is a straightforward movement to position between an opponent and the ball to dispossess the opponent. This too is soccer-like. There is no possibility of ‘tackling’ on the forehand a player in possession of the ball from the left side in this way without body contact and also obstruction resulting -even a reverse stick tackle is not easy without making contact from this side, although a great deal easier than it was when the Rule was first framed, a time that stick-heads were long and reverse play difficult in any circumstances. The wrong player was penalised (with both team and personal penalty) in the incident below.

If the ball is beyond the stick reach of chasing players there is a different situation, competing for the ball becomes a foot-race, that was not the case here, the USA player was in possession of the ball.

Instead of attempting to play at the ball with a reverse stick, which would be more usual when attempting a tackle from the left of an opponent the NED defender goes for a forehand challenge and in doing so inserts himself between the AUS attacker and the ball and then pivots about the ball to ‘lever’ and barge the AUS player off it. A deliberate contact offence contrary to Rule 9.3 and also to Rules 9.12 and 9.13.

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October 5, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Obsessed

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 27th February 2017.

I was recently ( October 2016) asked why I have “this obsession” with the Obstruction Rule, a question which struck me as odd because I recall having an opposite attitude to ‘umpiring practice’ in regard to obstruction when I first started to write about this Rule around 1998.

In a previous article, now deleted, I described going, in 1968, to a Hockey Festival in Germany and coming across the most extreme interpretation of the Rule and what was called ‘turning’ that I had ever encountered. In a game I was watching, a ball was played from deep on the left flank for the left-winger to chase. This was in the days when there was an off-side Rule and the through-pass put the chasing left-winger well clear of opponents and on his way to the goal. The pitch was of shale and a bit uneven and the ball popped up causing the winger who was then close to it to over-run it. He turned to collect the ball and the umpire immediately penalised him for ‘turning’ and awarded a free to the opposing team. There was not another player within 15m of him. I was astonished, but the winger, (and everybody else on the pitch) accepted the decision as if it was normal, they were used to this interpretation and behaved as if it were correct.  (This sort of thing explains in part why many players never bother to learn the FIH published Rules – they are an irrelevance in such circumstances and knowing what they are just causes annoyance with the umpiring that is encountered).

I also had experience of an extreme interpretation of shielding in one of my own games. I was running in possession of the ball towards an opponent and as he made a long forward step in an attempt to tackle me I side-stepped to my right and took the ball past him. We passed each other closely but without touching, his lunge forward caused him to be off-balance, with no chance of contact with the ball or of recovery of position. I was penalised for running between my opponent and the ball – apparently I should have passed by him beyond his theoretical playing reach, rather than his actual playing reach from his off-balance position. 

The Obstruction Rule up until the early 1990’s was strictly enforced, by some over- strictly, but it was generally not that daft. It did not almost prevent the playing of the game. I later learned that these interpretations were peculiar to an individual who had control of umpire selection in that area of Germany and it was ‘local’.

The video clip below, which was produced in 2003, was probably the work of someone used to the pre-1992 application of the Obstruction Rule, but even by the understanding and common application (‘practice’) of the Rule in 1992 it is completely wrong. There is no obstruction shown in this part of the video clip. It has always been impossible to obstruct with the body a player who is not own goal-side of the ball and who is behind the play i.e. behind both the ball and the player in possession of the ball, as the player in red in the video is positioned. (and at no point does the blue player pull the ball back, as the commentator/coach declares she does, nor does she illegally shield it from her opponent with her body, it is always in front of her feet as she moves towards the opponent’s base-line).


I don’t know what players and umpires made of this video when it was first produced. Those who saw it probably just ignored it because by 2004 the Obstruction Rule was for all intents and purposes ‘dead’.  I then found myself on the ‘other side of the fence’, going from having attacked the absurdity of turning or shielding when there was no-one turned on or the ball shielded from, to having to attack the equal absurdity of these fouls, often combined with physical contact, not being penalised at all, in fact the obstructed player often being penalised for a ‘phantom’ tackle.

Compare the above ‘obstruction’ with the below 2016 penalising of a tackle attempt, bearing in mind that there has been no change to the Rule except a tightening up and clarification concerning positioning between an opponent and the ball by a player in possession of the ball, added in 2009  – and there has been no announcement of any change of interpretation at all made by the FIH and no change made to the wording of the interpretation of the Rule since 2001 (and that was ‘housekeeping’ which did not in any way alter the existing interpretation, so there has been no change of any significance since 1994).

My persistence in pointing out the 2009 amendment to the Explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule, on the websites talkinghockey.com and fieldhockeyforum.com was rewarded with bans from both. George Brinks told me the Obstruction Rule was ‘dead’ and my insisting on writing about it was driving people away from his forum. Here, below, is my notification of my permanent exclusion from fieldhockeyforum.com – a typical umpire ‘interpretation’ by Magpie (a previous moderator), a convenient invention without any justification whatsoever.

ban3_zpsfb960238
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Neither of these people were interested in what I was actually advocating, they incorrectly assumed I wanted a return to the pre-1993 era. The following clips indicate what I consider to be both legal and attractive hockey – I am not at all opposed to turning on or with the ball as long as it is not obstructive play.

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The art of evasion with the ball by turning is about timing, spatial awareness, footwork, ball-control (stickwork) and, to a lesser extent, speed – and when properly done, which is a difficult combination of skills, it makes for attractive hockey. Not at all what we are generally getting at present.

Because of the 2009 amendment to the wording of the Explanation of application, the present (2017) Obstruction Rule is actually more proscriptive of obstructive action by a player in possession of the ball than the Rule was in 2004 – but ‘practice’ is very different.

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This swing from one far extreme to another has also occurred in other Rule areas (I have also been accused at various times of being ‘obsessed’ with – fieldhockeyforum have also effectively banned any discussion of the shot at goal as a dangerously raised ball – the ‘final word’, a weak and inaccurate article by Diligent (Chris Horton), one of the forum moderators, having been pinned to the top of the Umpiring Section. 

The control of dangerous play had gone from the prohibition of any raising of the ball towards another player, a (poorly enforced) Rule extant in 2003, to the deletion of the Forcing Rule (2011) and collected along the way (2008) the invention that an on target shot at the goal could not be considered dangerous (which although dangerously absurd is ‘practice’, and so far more powerful than any Rule published by the FIH.RC could ever be). The following video is an example where this “cannot be dangerous” invention seems to be the only possible explanation why the umpire did not penalise the shooter but awarded a penalty corner against the defender who was hit with the ball.

 

The ball-body contact Rule has been plagued with alternate reintroductions and deletions of ‘gained advantage’ and ‘intentionally’ (often in other forms such as, ‘gains benefit’ and ‘voluntarily’ or ‘deliberately‘). Sometimes these changes have been made to the Rule Proper and sometimes to the Explanation (of application). Sometimes both terms have been used, at other times neither. At present the Rule Proper appears to conflict with the Explanation, so those who regard the Explanation as ‘notes’ and not as direction, apply the Rule in an entirely different way to those who read and apply the Rule using all the provided instruction (which is obviously what is intended by the FIH RC when giving such instruction). Yet others ‘cherry-pick’ the Explanation, so the ball-body contact Rule is now applied as severely, and as illogically, as I saw the Obstruction Rule (according to local ‘practice’) being applied in 1968 – to the point of ruining the game.

Here is a sample of umpire coaching (also by Chris Horton) published in a County Hockey Umpiring Association Handbook in 2009, a time when ‘gains benefit’ was not in the Rule Explanation. The criteria for offence were a voluntarily made contact or positioning with intent to use the body to stop the ball.

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

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

  So “in practice”, according to the above opinion (and employing “alters the balance of play” in place of ‘gains benefit’), the Rule can be applied in a way that is the opposite of what a reading of the Rules of Hockey would lead any reasonable person to expect. Isn’t that wonderful? If the above advice to new umpires strikes you as perverse you would be astonished by an account of how ‘gains benefit’ came to be continued to be applied after 2006 despite the fact that the FIH Rules Committee had deleted it on issue of the 2007-9 Rules of Hockey. ‘Gains advantage’, the replacement of ‘gains benefit’, did not appear in the Rules of Hockey until 2016  (effective from May 2015 by order via a FIH Circular) but, ‘practice’ was always ‘the Rule’, not what was printed in the rule-book .

Then we have the Rule on the raised hit, which started out as a prohibition on the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit. That prohibition after many see-saw changes, was extended to all raising of the ball into the circle and then deleted (the usual extremes, all or nothing). The present Rule on the intentionally raised hit (which should not have been introduced in such an extreme form, all that was needed was a height limit to prevent the long high chip hit) has been undermined to the extent that it is virtually ignored because of the forget lifted-think danger mantra which has become ‘practice’.

The Rule on the falling ball has been messed up by firstly, change to the wording of and then ignoring, the second clause of the Dangerous Play Rule  …or leading to dangerous play. and secondly, by poor wording of Rule 9.10. (for example, the deletion of “at the time the ball was raised” from the Guidance) The results are different views on the placement of the free ball awarded for danger and other contravention following a scoop pass (an aerial) and an attempt to make a ‘one size fits all’ type of decision about that placement for at least three very different scenarios – which is absurd – but ‘practice’. 

And it goes on. I have sufficient ‘Rule obsessions’ to obsess about a different one every day of the week. All a complete waste of time of course, but that is what games are for, to occupy our time and to prevent us using our intelligence on more important matters.  

                      

September 26, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Raising the ball into the circle.

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

Edited 20th February, 2017.

The potential for danger of the ball raised into the circle has long been recognised, probably for almost as long as hockey has been played in the modern era. Prior to the introduction of the ban on the raised hit in the late 1980’s (except when taking a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle), it had been for many years illegal to raise the ball into the circle. There were over time several variations of this Rule and it also went through the extremes, but it was never prior to the current version an offence only if done intentionally or only if danger actually occurred – the long established prohibition of raising the ball directly into the circle with a hit was a simple Rule that was easy for players to understand and observe and for umpires to apply, but for some unknown reason it could not be left alone :-

1) There was a long-standing prohibition on raising the ball into the circle with a hit.

2) then (usually for single year each time) a free-for-all on deletion of that Rule (or another). 

3) then a very hedged reintroduction of prohibition of any raising of the ball into the circle, which was complicated (there were exceptions) and therefore very badly applied – usually too strictly (it was not as daft or as complicated as the present ban on playing a ball directly into the opponent’s circle from a free awarded in their 23m area, but the same absurdity was present

4) finally (I have reduced the number of steps because some changes were just a recycle or a ‘see-saw’ of a previous version) the present situation where the ball should not be intentionally raised into the circle with a hit (because all intentionally raised hits outside the opposing circle are prohibited), but there is nothing at all said in the Rules of Hockey about flicks and scoops into the opposing circle nor about raised deflections. 

The problem with the present Rule is wilful blindness to intention within ‘umpire practice’, ‘enshrined’ in the UMB with the phrase “forget lifted – think danger“,  which also ‘forgets’ that opponents in the circle may be disadvantaged by an illegally raised hit from outside the circle, even when they are not endangered by it – and that is precisely why attacking players raise the ball into the circle.

(generally the ball is raised with a slap hit, although edge hits – both (an illegal ‘hard’) fore and reverse edge hits are employed – as well the full power forehand top-spin ‘banana’ hits which were once popular with penalty corner strikers. We now have only “forget lifted”. To remember “think danger” would be to be able to keep in mind two possibly conflicting thoughts and still be able to behave rationally).

The video clip below is of a hit being made into the circle and what resulted from it. This incident demonstrates that it does not matter what the Rules are if they are not applied. Have a look at the video and see if you agree with the final outcome, which was the recommendation of the award of a penalty corner, after a video referral by the defending side, questioning the initial penalty corner award, was rejected. I have no idea what the question put to the video umpire was, but there are several grounds upon which a properly framed referral should have been upheld.

 

 

One.  The ball was raised intentionally with a hit in the area outside the opponent’s circle. Rule 9.9. prohibits this action.

Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal.
A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.

It is also an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field if it is raised in a dangerous way. Technically the ball was not raised dangerously by the attacker – there was no opponent within 5m and evasive action was not necessary and was not attempted by the first defender – but clearly self-defence from a raised ball that could have injured him was forced on the defender and it would be reasonable to consider such raising of the ball as dangerous play.

Let us suppose the umpire though the ball may have been raised accidentally.

 

Two.   The ball was hit hard with the fore-hand edge of the stick, a prohibited action.

9.6 Players must not hit the ball hard on the forehand with the edge of the stick.

Let us suppose the umpires did not see the edge hit and thought a slap-hit with the face of the stick had been used.

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The ball was deflected off the stick of one defender and hit a second defender on the body.

Three.  Being hit with the ball is not necessarily an offence by the player hit (which is ‘dealt with’ by the following Rule and the (now conflicting) Explanation of application)

9.11 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.
The player (who stops or deflects the ball with the body) only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

Clearly the player who was hit with the ball did not position with the intention of using his body to stop the deflected ball. But was there an advantage gained because the ball was stopped by the body of this defender? To decide that it is necessary to determine where the ball would most likely have gone if it had not hit the second defender.

What seems probable from the video evidence is that it would have deflected into the possession of a third defender.

The less likely alternatives are that it would have run loose and have been contested for by players from both teams or that  (unlikely) it would have gone off the pitch over the base-line for a 23m ball to the attackers, before any player could take possession of it.

My conclusion is that two umpires (match umpire and video umpire), appointed to this tournament, being among the best available in the world, would not miss either an intentionally raised hit of this sort or the illegal use of a forehand edge-hit, but they might have ignored those two criteria and instead have focused on dangerous raising of the ball, following forget lifted – think danger. But in ‘forgetting’ lifted they also (in this instance) overlooked that opponents had been unfairly disadvantaged by two concurrent deliberate offences

The two criteria for a ball-body contact offence are routinely ignored, so it is not necessary to offer an explanation for that happening in this particular instance. But there is no reason (other than penalising the prior illegal raising of the ball) why either umpire – but especially the video umpire – should not have considered where the ball would have gone if it had not hit a defender – and then decided that there was no advantage gained by the defending team.

In this incident two deliberate offences by the striker of the ball, either of which could be said to have disadvantaged the defending team, were ignored and an accidental ball-body contact, incidental to the raised ball, which was not an offence, was penalised with a penalty corner, so SNAFU (Situation Normal All F***** Up)

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The solution to the initial problem, the ball raised (deliberately or otherwise) into the circle is not very difficult to work out, but of course any replacement Rule must be properly observed.

The following four amendments would need to be enacted together.

The first step is to remove the prohibition of the lifted hit in the area outside the opponent’s circle. 

The second, to institute an absolute height limit (of shoulder height ?) on any hit ball in the area outside the opponent’s circle (not dangerous play related, dangerous play being a separate issue with other ball height limits imposed -see  http://wp.me/pKOEk-2cq) that ‘deals’ with the long high clip or chip hit (similar to the modern long scoop) the initial ban on the intentionally raised hit was supposed to deal with (it also deals with the extraordinary number of times there is an ‘accidental’ raising of the ball, to considerable height, with an edge-hit made in the area outside the opponent’s circle).

Now we have a ‘clean slate’.  

The third, prohibit any raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit. (this means a hit away from the control of the hitter and excludes low ‘dink’ hits made by a player dribbling with the ball who retains possession of the ball)  

The fourth, a height limit (of knee height ?) on any ball raised directly into the opponent’s circle with a flick, scoop or deflection.

And finally, a prohibition on playing or playing at the ball when it is above shoulder height within the opponent’s circle.

 

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

It’s perfectly possible to instead prohibit scoops or high deflections into the area inside the hash circle, if that would be considered to lead to safer and/or fairer outcomes. It would also be providential as it would give the hash circle a function again.

The restoration of prohibition of the raising the ball (especially high) into the circle and a prohibition on playing at the ball when it is above shoulder height inside the opponent’s circle, is the very least that should be offered by way of ‘compensation’ and safeguarding following the deletion of off-side in 1997. (see article A Broken Promise  http://wp.me/pKOEk-2ln)

 

The above video is of an example of play which is more akin to hurling than it is to hockey; there are at least three breaches of the Rules of Hockey by the attacking side.

I suppose in the incident below, from the 2012 Olympics (so when any attempt to play the ball at above shoulder height by any player except a defender defending the goal, was illegal), the umpire attempted to allow ‘advantage’ when the ball went up off the goalkeeper. But allowing ‘advantage’ (even when appropriate, which was not the case in this example as the potential for subsequent dangerous play was obvious) should not permit the allowed play-on to ignore other Rules. Again it does not matter what the Rules are if they are not applied or incorrectly applied.

September 22, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Combination fouls, Rule interpretation

Rules of Hockey. Combining physical contact offences with obstruction. Interpretation of obstruction.

Edited 30th September 2016. Videos with comment added.

In a recent article

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/field-hockey-rules-obstruction-and-physical-contact/ 

I responded to the assertion that the offence of obstruction requires that there be physical contact made. The assertion is not true, but I thought it would be useful to take a fresh look at the penalising of obstruction to see how umpires respond to it when it is combined with physical contact. The results of my focused search are dismaying. It seems more likely that a defender who has been backed or shunted into will be penalised for the contact or the incident will be ignored, than that the defender will be awarded a free-ball for either offence by the opponent.

The combination of obstruction and physical contact is not new, it’s as old as hockey, but there have been developments in the technique in recent years. Here (video below) is the ‘old-fashioned’, from the side and behind obstructive barge, still in active service but not now always penalised especially if the ‘tackler’ runs from behind and between the player in possession of the ball and the ball (usually from the left) with minimal contact – this is a form of the original “running between a player and the ball” mentioned in early rule-books (another being ‘third-party’, usually occurring when both players were beyond playing distance of the ball). The umpire awarded a 23m restart for the attackers from this incident (still referred to as a corner and indicated by a comic combination of signals), seeing neither the physical contact with or the obstruction of the ball holder as a foul.

 

The video below is of an incident that occurred in a World Cup match in 2010. I was shocked by it when I first saw it. Firstly, because the separate actions of the AUS player 1) going over the top of the ball and physically blocking the GER player and 2) deliberately, and powerfully, forcing the ball into the feet of another GER player (a separate offence at the time) – are shocking in themselves because of the degree of physical force used – and secondly, because neither offence was penalised: a GER player, one of the victims of these assaults, was penalised for the forced ball-foot contact.

I am no longer shocked by such actions or by such umpiring, I have become used to it because I watch quite a lot of international level hockey via video, but I am heartily sick of hockey being played and officiated in this way. Hockey should be a game of stick and ball skills without any intentional ball shielding or physical contact at all, such skills are ‘spectacular’ when well executed (if other people prefer to see players with sticks knocking ‘seven bells’ out of each other – or even want to engage in it- there is an equally fantastic game called hurling they would do well to experience).   

This particular incident was head-on and brutal; much shielding/contact play is now carried out in a more subtle way, but it still often results in a player being knocked to the ground and to injury. 

Below is a recent example of the Dutch demonstrating to the Australians how well they have learned this trick and developed it into a ‘turn-into and lever away from the side’ approach to prising the ball away from an opponent – a slight improvement on the Australian ‘into over the top of the ball’ tactic which could possibly injure both players, but still involving strong physical contact and obstruction.

Watching the video and awaiting the outcome of the video referral by the Australians, I was wondering if the video umpire would have the ‘bottle’ to recommend a penalty stroke or go with the safe and ‘acceptable’ option of a penalty corner: he did neither. Having watched the video repeatedly, I still can’t understand why he rejected the referral and a 15m was awarded to the NED team. But interpretation and opinion are strange things, which appear to have little to do with the wording of the Rules of Hockey. At the time I posted the first video above, in January 2011, I received comment to it from a couple of individuals, that in their view the GER player had committed an offence by running into the back of the AUS player when the AUS player was in possession of the ball – I assumed, and hope, they were just trying to ‘wind me up’.

Both of the above are tackling incidents (and both contravened four Rules simultaneously, Rules. 9.3, 9.8, 9.12, and 9.13  –  plus the now deleted 9.15 in the first clip  –  which is quite an achievement considering it was a member of the opposing team that was penalised in both cases).

Direct physical contact and obstruction are also used by players already in controlled possession of the ball, especially when they are trying to break past an opponent into the circle.

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The turn and back-in with physical contact is used so frequently as a means of achieving circle penetration (and has been for a long time now) that it has become almost standard: the uninformed might be forgiven for thinking it is legal. There is of course nothing at all wrong with turning on or with the ball but it requires good timing, to avoid physical contact – most players turn too late and/or not wide enough. Unlike soccer, in which receiving players facing their own goal are encouraged to make contact with and use that contact to ‘roll’ off an opponent, in hockey there has to be movement of a ball-holder away from an opponent rather than into an opponent and there needs to be sufficient early lateral movement made to avoid physical contact. The ‘trick’ by the GER players in the video above was clever and used a turn with high foot speed, but it was two fouls – physical contact and obstruction – although of course neither was penalised.

As always it helps when the opponent makes a charge or reaches for the ball and is committed to moving in a direction or is off-balance, so the space available for the ball holder to move into is obvious. It is very difficult at low speed or from a near stationary position to spin-turn past an opponent who is able to retreat and is alert to the possibility of a turn on the ball, but the high speed ‘spin-turn’ requires space and also considerable skill to execute successfully – i.e. lots of practice at full speed before it is used in a competitive match.
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Players in possession of the ball also commonly shield it behind the feet while moving sideways or leading the ball diagonally forward and they frequently knock opponents aside or oblige opponents to give way, to avoid making physical contact with them, while doing so (opponents retreat because any physical contact by a tackler might be construed as a breach of Rule 9.13, which forbids a tackle attempt by a player from a position in which physical contact will occur, and umpires are much stricter about contact tackling than they are about ball shielding, which in fact they generally ignore – that is why the decision in the second video above so surprised me, the first thing the defender did was to ensure he made physical contact, to block off the progress of the attacker).

In the incident shown below the German player, who was himself here guilty of prior ball shielding, became so irritated with the umpire for not awarding the GER team at least a penalty corner for the play of the IND defender, that he made comment which earned him a green card.  

I can understand his frustration; it is incredible that the umpire could stand watching that passage of play and see no offence that required his intervention and a penalty award. The game continued with a side-line ball.

 

It is now very noticeable in hockey matches that players usually stand off an opponent in possession of the ball when that opponent is in a ball shielding position – the extreme opposite to the way tacklers behaved towards a ball shielding opponent prior to 1992. I hope that some day a sensible compromise will be achieved, but that day is a long way off at the moment. 

 

   
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The comparatively trivial incident shown below was on the line of sight of the umpire who therefore had a foreshortened and blocked view of the players (the nearer player blocking view of the further) and it happened very quickly, so he missed it entirely. It looks to have been accidental, but the player in possession of the ball did run past it, even if unintentionally, so he was leading the ball, and he did then obstruct the defender – the defender seems to have had no idea he had been fouled or had got used to such fouls not being penalised, so made no protest. There is however no different in Rule between this incident and the first one shown above, both were obstruction and both were also physical contact offences. There should of course be a more severe penalty for offences which are deliberate and more so for those carried out so forcefully that they are dangerous to opponents.

 

The above incident contrasts well with the one below, which is a case of a not immoveable object meeting an irresistible force and having to give away. 


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Turning on the ball and with the ball could and should be a quick and attractive skill, but most of it is pedestrian. Some of it is static, in that it makes no progress and is not intended to do so – it is often done with the sole aim of positioning to ‘slam’ the ball into the feet of an opponent from close range, horrible – and we can also do without the play epitomised by holding the ball in a corner of the pitch for a couple of minutes, it’s ugly, boring and makes a mockery of the Rules of the game.

Resolving the issues. 

The Obstruction Rule, concerning ball shielding by a player in possession of the ball, is easy to understand using simple criteria regarding an opponent who is trying to dispossess the ball holder. 

The tackling player must be

  1. within playing reach of the ball.
  2. demonstrating an intent to play at the ball.
  3. in a position where he or she could play directly at the ball if it were not shielded by the body or stick of the player in possession of it.

It is the second part of the third criterion above that is ‘forgotten’ “if it were not shielded by the body or stick of the player in possession of it.

We have now instead only the first part of that statement applied “in a position where he or she could play directly at the ball”, which of course presents an impossibility if a ball holder moves his or her body or moves the ball, in response to any adjustments of position made by an opponent who is trying to tackle for the ball.

There is an impossibility created because the body (spin and pivot) movements of the ball holder, who is of course closer to the ball, can be completed more quickly than those of the positioning or re-positioning tackler, who has to move around the body of the ball-holder without touching the ball-holder. And ball movements with the stick, to position the ball, so that it is maintained in a position to the far side the ball-holder’s body from the tackler, will always be made much more quickly than a tackler can adjust his or her tackling position. 

I do not believe that the FIH Rules Committee, when drafting Rule 9.12. and 9.13. intended to set up a situation in which a legal tackle for the ball by a single individual would or could be made impossible – but that is the result of the ‘interpretation’ of “attempting to play it” (from Rule 9.12 below) that is currently being applied. It can take two or three tacklers some time to ‘pry’ a ball held by an opponent out of a corner of the pitch or away from a side-line and even then it is often done at the expense of a side-line or free-ball to the opposing team.

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

That can be made more concise by getting rid of the use of an exception and the unnecessary observation that a player with the ball can move off (move away from opponents) in any direction – and putting aside moving bodily into an opponent – we can also then achieve the clear prohibitive statement:

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

Rule 9.12.Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball. Forbids obstruction of a tackler. Rule 9.13. Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact. Effectively forbids a tackle for the ball when an opponent is shielding it with his or her body – because in such situations there may be body contact.

If the ball holder ensures that an opponent cannot even attempt to play at the ball without making body contact – by continually moving either his or her body or the ball – we have a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. Replacing what has been lost by ‘simplification and clarification’ “…if it were not shielded by the body or stick of the player in possession of it.” is perfectly fair and resolves the conundrum.

My search of previous rule-books  after writing the above, discovered wording in the Rules Interpretations section of the rule-books prior to the major change to the Obstruction Rule in 1992/3 (A change which allowed a receiver to accept and control the ball before moving away from opponents rather than after moving away to make space to receive the ball, without being guilty of an of an obstructive offence. This change remains the only change made to the Obstruction Rule since 1993 other than the clarification “A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.” ) The wording (below) is not identical to that of the three criteria I remembered, there are in fact four criteria, there is also a stipulation that a tackler should not interfere with the legitimate actions of the player in possession of the ball (presumably a reminder not to make any physical contact in the days before a separate Rule 9.13 existed), but the criteria are otherwise similar statements.

BODY OBSTRUCTION AND INTERFERENCE
A player may not place any part of his body or stick between an opponent and the ball. Such actions are called obstruction and may also be referred to as screening the ball or blocking.


Obstruction can only happen when:
a) an opponent is trying to play the ball
b) an opponent is in a position to play the ball without interfering with the legitimate actions of the player with the ball
c) the ball is within playing distance or could be played if no obstruction had taken place.

Again, it is the second of the last criteria listed “or could be played if no obstruction had taken place.which is now ‘forgotten’.

These interpretations were not deleted when the entire Rules Interpretations section was removed from the back of the rule-book, they were redistributed, initially as Rule Guidance prior to 2004 and then as Explanation (of application of the Rule), often with change to the wording used, but not with a change of meaning or purpose of them. But some statements or parts of them, were lost along the way because of ‘simplification and clarification’. Unfortunately some simplification did not result in clarification, quite the reverse. For example, the following very specific list of prohibited obstructive actions, from the 2002 rule-book, didn’t all get included in the ‘streamlined’ 2004 rewrite, even though the application of the Rule would be much clearer if they (particularly the third and fourth listed) had been – and hockey would have been much the better for it.

Umpires should be aware of players who are in possession of the ball who:
back into an opponent;
• turn and try to push past an opponent;
• shield the ball with body, leg or stick and stand still when under pressure;
• drag the ball near their back foot when moving down the side-line or along the back-line;
shield the ball with the stick to prevent a legitimate tackle.

Were the missing actions (regular text) left out of the 2004 rule-book and then umpires adjusted their umpiring? Not at all, it was the other way about (just as with the offence of Forcing in 2011). Umpires were ignoring these actions so, presumably because ‘umpiring practice’ was so obviously and embarrassingly at odds with the published Rules and Advice to Umpires, that what was published was ‘adjusted’ to comply with ‘practice’. (But it is not, possible to keep up with changes to ‘practice’; backing into an opponent while in possession of the ball, a criterion that was included the 2004 rewrite and still in the Rule Explanation is now seldom penalised). 


A reminder of current ‘interpretation’ (the result of an overlooked and omitted criteria) in ‘practice’ This is the kind of play and umpiring guaranteed to drive spectators and television viewers away from the game, there is nothing attractive about it. 

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http://vid381.photobucket.com/albums/oo252/Conundrum_2008/Whereinterpretationhasgotus_zps640e3d76.mp4

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A different view.

Below is an umpire coaching video which presents an interpretation of what is not obstruction that I cannot agree with (the opening sequence for example is in my opinion only “not obstruction” because no attempt is being made to make a tackle. The backing-in then demonstrated by the ball-holder is certainly a physical contact offence, but not obstruction because there is still no attempt to make a tackle. The absence of a tackle attempt changes in the set up ‘play scenarios’ and there then is obstruction taking place).

It is the view of Cris Maloney of UmpireHockey.com, who produced this video, that physical contact is required for there to be an obstruction offence. I have been unable to get him to change his mind on this point. I asked him to withdraw this video and replace it with another based on a literal interpretation of the wording given in the Rules of Hockey, but he has not done so, which is disappointing as I need his support.

He points to current top level umpiring practice in support of his position on the matter. It is what top level umpires do – their ‘interpretations’ and ‘practice’ –  rather than the wording of the Rules of Hockey that influences the coaches of both players and umpires in their preparations for competitive matches. The wrong approach to the application of the Obstruction Rule has become a ‘runaway train’.

It is not the FIH Rules Committee who decide how the Rules of Hockey, that they draft and provide, will be applied. A strange situation that the FIH Executive, who approve the Rules drafted by the FIH RC (but have no say in the ‘interpretation’ and Rule application practiced by umpires), should address.

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The video below contains action that prompted the umpire to penalise for obstruction, but the only reason I can see that he did not penalise the offender about ten second earlier is because he penalised only when the ARG player combined obstruction with physical contact, by backing into the GER player who was attempting to tackle for the ball. In other words he did not see any of the ball shielding actions prior to the physical contact as obstructive play contrary to Rule 9.12.
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The GER player was (at least three times) 1) within playing reach of the ball 2) demonstrating an intention to play at the ball, and 3) the only reason he could not play at the ball was because it was (here deliberately) shielded from him by the body of the ARG player: that’s obstruction, it is incorrect to wait for obstruction to be compounded with physical contact before penalising it. It is difficult to know what criteria umpires are using to determine obstruction. Here (video below) is the same umpire, early in the same match, apparently penalising a GER player for obstruction as soon as he moves to position between the ball and the ARG player who is closing to make a tackle attempt. 
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Penalising obstruction in this way is very unusual but it occurs occasionally, seemingly at random. Such penalty is in stark contrast to the lack of penalty, for long ball-shielding and holding ‘dribbles’, that are used to waste time in the corners of the pitch  – which should not be allowed to happen.

(Amusing to see the ARG player attempt to take a quick self-pass and then change his mind and pretend he was positioning the ball – in the wrong place. A second whistle is needed to control free-ball situations.)
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September 14, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Deflections and the falling ball.

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 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.

      

 

August 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Double offence.

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 11th August, 2016

The hiding of the offence of forcing. ‘Winning’ a penalty corner. ‘Finding’ a foot.

Preface Rules of Hockey 2011-2013

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

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

In a short time however, especially with current umpiring practice with regard to ball-body contact, it has been, inevitably, forgotten that there ever was an offence called Forcing and that it is now supposed to be “dealt with” under other Rules. That can be no surprise as the offence is no longer mentioned in the Rules of Hockey and its existence (or the suggested ‘dealing with’ of forcing actions) cannot now be made known to newcomers to the game because that is not printed in the current rule-book but in one issued several years ago. The offence of Forcing has in fact been entirely deleted, it is not ‘dealt with’ at all.

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An old coaching adage, that to be considered competent, a player must be able to defend in and around his or her feet, has now been adopted, in a corrupted form, to invent an unwritten ‘rule’. The adage meant that a defenders needed to be adept at stopping an opponent ‘beating’ them by just pushing the ball past them to either side of the feet or between their feet and running away with the ball.

In speech the phrase got truncated to (the included) ‘defending the feet’. That in turn, but perversely, became an invented obligation to defend the feet and then, also to be seen as an offence if a player failed to defend his or her legs/feet; despite that fact that it was still at the time (and until 2011) clearly an offence by a player in possession of the ball to ‘attack’ a defender with it by playing the ball at or into the defender.

There is no Rule support whatsoever for the idea that there is an ‘obligation’ to defend the feet, but the Forcing Rule has been replaced by an ‘interpretation’ (of what?) that inverts what was the Rule, so that the penalty outcome from a forcing action is (quite illogically) the direct opposite to what it was previously.

There is no obligation in Rule to defend the legs/feet (or any other part of the body) from a ball intentionally played into/at a defending player and it is not automatically a foul, by the player hit, to be hit with the ball (see the Explanation of Rule application to Rule 9.11): on the contrary such action should still, where other Rules do cover the forcing action (generally dangerous play or the intentional raising of the ball with a hit), be called as a foul on the player propelling the ball. But there is still a great deal of confusion about that point and the Rule has already been forgotten by some, as can be seen from this hockey forum thread  http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/rules-regarding-self-hit-being-5-away-from-a-free-hit.40421/#post-386512  part posted on and after 10th August, 2016.

The video below is from a match in 2010, a year after the self-pass was adopted into Full Rule. That a retreating defender should get out of the way of a charging self-passer is an invention that is still lodged in the mind of some players – but hopefully not any longer in the minds of umpires (Bondy is right). It was of course the ESP player who should have been penalised, especially as the ball had travelled more than 5m before he committed his fouls and the offence of Forcing was still at the time in the rulebook.    

Unfortunately (despite the above quoted declaration to the contrary by the FIH RC – opening paragraphs) even where there is a willingness to deal with forcing actions, not all forcing can be dealt with by other Rules – but the two actions shown in the first video clip above (from a match in 2014) were so covered. Neither forcing action resulted in penalty against the player who did the forcing, despite both actions being clearly intentional and both a breach of Rule 9.9.

It is an offence to raise the ball into the body or legs of a close opponent, even if it is done unintentionally. Doing it intentionally should result in a card for the offender, not the reward of a free-ball or a penalty corner – but any umpire correctly awarding a card for this offence in the current climate of (dictated) ‘practice’ and ‘player expectation’ (created by umpiring practice) would be considered ‘very brave’, code words for ‘quite mad’. How is it that it is unusual and ‘brave’ for an umpire to apply the Rules according to the wording given in and with those Rules? I have never seen Rule 9.11. (or Rule 9.9.) consistently applied in any hockey match as they would be if the wording of the Explanation of Rule application given with the Rule Proper was followed. 

Hockey is not being played as it should be played nearly enough (see the delightful goal shown in the second part of the video clip for how hockey should be played) . The game is being dumbed down (beating or eluding an opponent is not necessary if the ball can simply be played into the feet of any challenging opponent and that is rewarded with penalty. And retaining possession requires little skill or none at all, if the ball holder can just impose his or her body between an opponent and the ball to prevent a tackle attempt). Hockey may eventually be destroyed by the failures to apply, both the Ball-body contact Rule and the Obstruction Rule as they should be applied: that is in a way that encourages the development of stickwork and passing skills.

The game has also become much more dangerous in the last ten years due to a failure to deter dangerous play and the ‘relaxation’ (or perversion) of Rules concerning play which until very recently was considered dangerous. The most obvious of these is the abandonment of any consideration of dangerous play when an on target shot is made at the goal and the permitting of above shoulder play without adequate safeguards. 

August 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Playing ‘Advantage’

Rules of Hockey.

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

The related Rules and/or Explanation of application.

Rule 9.11. Explanation of application.

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

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

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

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

(”breaking the Rules” is a neat bit of ambiguity introduced apparently with the intention of fudging the distinction – which was previously very clear – between an offence and a breach of Rule which was not an offence, because it did not meet the criteria for offence. This whole confusing mess arising from the deletion of the word ‘intentionally’ from the Rule Proper – Rule 9.11).

The MAS player hit with the ball did not commit an offence but he was in breach of the Rule – a ridiculous situation created by a long sequence of deletions and additions to both the Rule Proper and the Explanation of application (or Guidance) since the 1980’s (one of which, 1992, required in the Rule Proper, that there be a deliberate ball-body contact – and an advantaged gained by the contact. None of various versions produced by the HRB/FIH RC over the past thirty plus years have made the slightest difference to the way umpires ‘interpreted’ ball-body contact – and that continues to be the case). 

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

There was no offence

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 Penalties

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

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

Advantage combo

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

Coaching note.

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

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July 11, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: A broken promise.

The Rules of Hockey. 

Edited 19th March 2017

Preface to the Rules of Hockey 1997

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

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

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

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

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

The only constraint introduced, said to be for reasons of safety, has been the laughable prohibition on playing a free-ball, awarded in the opponent’s 23m area, directly into the opponent’s circle. Why is that laughable? Well “more flowing hockey” takes a bash, but it was a ridiculous introduction because, despite the Rules that exist (so because of the way they are interpreted), players are now ‘accidentally’ raising the ball (intent cannot here be seen ??) at above shoulder height into the circle in open play (following forget lifted – think danger) for other players to hit, often from above head height and at point blank range, at the goal (so much for constraints and for thinking about danger)

The restriction on the free-ball awarded in the 23m area is therefore a near irrelevant from a safety point of view. This restriction is now just something that occasionally clogs up a match. The only good thing to have come from it is the introduction of the 23m restart that has replaced the corner as a result of the clog the award of a corner created because of the prohibition on the direct pass. The sooner we see the back of this silly prevention of a direct pass from a free-ball into the circle (and the bag of 5m restrictions that accompany it), the better. Only the ‘Own Goal’, a dangerous innovation which for a year or so was extant at the same time as the free-ball restriction -an absurd combination – was more ridiculous. 

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

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

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

3) Prohibit raising the ball into the circle to above 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 that same player.

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

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

 

An alternative to some of the above recommendations might be the introduction of a lighter and softer ball, with possibly the option or requirement to use lacrosse style helmets and face shields, but I think that lacrosse, hurling, ice-hockey and hockey ought to remain separate and distinctive sports for the foreseeable future (some aspects of ice-hockey could possibly be adopted by indoor hockey – no baseline and no penalty corners for example ).

I believe that a proposal to significantly change the weight and hardness of the ball  would have no support at all because that would cause  a number fundamental and unwelcome changes to the playing of the game. However hockey, especially with the recent amendment to Rule 7 (permitting above shoulder play), despite its hard and heavy ball, is already becoming too similar to hurling for the reasonable safety of participants and actions need to be taken to address that issue.

“Back in the day” and “When I were a lad” hockey was played with apparent enjoyment even though it was forbidden to raise any part of the stick above shoulder height when playing, attempting to play or even when approaching the ball – and I could still hit the ball with considerable power. The Sticks Rule was perhaps too restrictive (applied even when there was no opponent within 5 yards) but in those days the statement that there was an emphasis on player safety meant that there was an emphasis on player safety written into the Rules – and applied – it was not just wishful thinking.

And, when I began playing hockey, there needed to be three opponents their goal-side of the ball for the receiver of the ball on the attacking team to be considered on-side. A player could in fact be penalised for off-side before a pass was made if he or she was in an off-side position and considered to be influencing the play of the defending team. (application was later amended to the soccer version at the time the pass was made but I am not sure that the Rule ever was so amended). This was okay because the side in possession of the ball had such a huge advantage and even on-side tackling was difficult.

The team in possession of the ball still has a huge advantage even if tackling is easier because of developments in stick design, it’s very difficult to tackle from behind the player in possession of the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 25, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Dangerously played ball, shot at goal.

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 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.
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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. 

 

 

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 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.

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 evidence 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 (shoulder height?), irrespective of danger, together with objective descriptions of a dangerously played ball would have sufficed – the latter is long overdue from a sport authority that claims to place emphasis on player safety).

– and the reason given for this prohibition of direct play into the circle  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 (both 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 enough 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 conscious 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 skilful 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, deletion of Rule.

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

Edited 28th May 2016

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

*(The only other Rules that could be contravened by a forcing of ball-body contact are Rule 9.8, the Rule concerning the dangerously played ball – legitimate evasive action is however 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 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- May 2015 (when advantaged gained was reintroduced into the Rule) 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 May 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 (there can be no doubt that there were at least two obstruction offences by the ARG player) and treating all ball-body contact (or even the suggestion of a contact as the commentator put it) 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.

That is a fair bit to ‘chew on’ but a start needs to be made somewhere if any desirable change is to be achieved .

 

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 gather together the necessary information and respond with diagrams and recommendations, because all our recommendations were ignored or acted upon only when ‘the horse had long bolted from the stable’.

Suggestions.

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

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

ambi-over-suggested-diagram

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

November 1, 2015

Field Hockey 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 foregoing 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 not in favour of penalising of an action that is not an offence, there is enough of that going on already.

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

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

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

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

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 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 

There has been an amendment to this Rule since I wrote the article. Basically, two yellow cards awarded to the same player for the same kind of offence will now result in the award of a technical red card.

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, gripped or held in any way, picked up or thrown.

 

 

 

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 following 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 – leaving it open to bizarre ‘interpretation’.

 

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 hindrance 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 beyond playing reach of the ball in such situations and allow the opposing player to control the ball to ground..

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 might contest for it. If the bouncing action is continued beyond this point, that is 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. (a player in the landing spot prior to any opponent or in that position as the ball is raised is called the initial receiver)

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 time 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 player’s stick or foot or off a goalkeeper’s protective equipment (still a common occurrence).

Now the more usual reason a ball may be falling from considerable height is because a scoop pass, commonly known as an aerial pass, has been made. Aerial passes made over 60m are now made frequently  in the men’s game and aerial passes in excess of 40m are 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 thirty 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 (is by definition an initial receiver) 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 already 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 past 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 as the ball is raised or is clearly the first player to arrive at the landing point.

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 penalty imposed: no deterrent. It is suggested that instead of ‘control to ground’ before an opponent can even approach to within 5m approach is permitted immediately the opponent has played the ball with the stick and the ball may be contested for once the receiver has played it twice with the stick or has moved the ball a distance of two meters.

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 it could just still be falling ‘in the air’ i.e. off the ground.

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. But, 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, which is a dangerous play offence – play leading to or likely to lead to dangerous play.

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. The ball may be contested for when the receiver has played it a second time with the stick or moved the ball two meters.

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 unfairly 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. 

 

 

October 30, 2015

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

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey


The current Rule 9.7

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

Action. Rewrite.

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

The previous Rule prohibited any playing of the ball at above shoulder height and the only exception, defending an on target shot at the goal, was extremely limited and hedged with penalty, for example, even attempting to play at an above shoulder height shot that was going wide of the goal was an offence for which the award of a penalty corner was mandatory (that was accepted because it unfairly punished defending – defending prevents the scoring of goals and therefore spoils the game and is considered offensive !!??).

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

Suggestion.

This particular situation has not arisen previously in the game of hockey, so feel free to make any useful suggestions.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intentional raising of the ball with a hit is separately prohibited by Rule 9.9.  

Any playing of a ball that is above shoulder height is prohibited to a player who is in the opponent’s circle – as a result the taking of an above shoulder shot at the goal is prohibited.
 

October 30, 2015

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

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

The current Rule 9.9.

Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal.

A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally. It is not an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field unless it is dangerous. If the ball is raised over an opponent’s stick or body on the ground, even within the circle, it is permitted unless judged to be dangerous.

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous. If an opponent is clearly running into the shot or into the attacker without attempting to play the ball with their stick, they should be penalised for dangerous play.

 

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

Reason. The Rule contradiction  forget lifted-think danger from the UMB, which is now a “convention” that over-rides the Rule.

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

Suggestion.

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

 

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

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

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

a) from a free ball or any re-start

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The practice of running with the ball while bouncing it on the stick  – up to shoulder height  – is not prohibited until and unless it is done at above elbow height within the playing reach of an opponent who may contest for the ball. If it is continued to that point it should be considered dangerous play or play likely to lead to dangerous play and penalised. Ball bouncing at knee height or below is permitted even in contested situations. It is not permitted to bounce the ball on the stick to above shoulder height in any circumstances. Bouncing the ball on the stick and then making a bounced pass raised above shoulder level to other player (or the player in possession lofting the ball ahead in this way to run onto on the far side of opponents) is a breach of the Rule.

A distinction needs to be made between dribblers carrying out what are termed 3D skills, especially as they enter the opponents circle and then take a shot while the ball is still in the air, and what might be termed a hurling style hit shot. This is a matter for common sense and subjective judgement made with an emphasis on the safety of players. If the ball is hit while it is in the air, particularly when taking a shot at the goal, it must be hit downwards if there are defending players other than a fully protected goalkeeper between the striker and the goal on the intended flight path of the ball. This falls within the already demanded (but rarely enforced) play with consideration for the safety of other players and playing responsibly: opponents should not be forced to self-defence from a raised shot.

A shot made at the goal that is not made towards the position of an opponent is not in any way restricted. A shot raised to head height that is directed within the shoulder width of an opponent is to be considered at that opponent even if it will miss that player’s head – such a shot, if evaded, will be considered legitimately evaded and deemed to be a dangerously played ball.

 

 

 

 

 

October 30, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.5. ‘Back-sticks. Rule 9.6. Forehand edge hit

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey.

Edited 10th September 2016 to include reverse edge hitting

The current Rule 9.5.

Players must not play the ball with the back of the stick.

Action. Deletion.

Reason. The establishment of edge hitting has made this rule redundant; it was anyway outmoded, as a preventative measure (dangerous play) once stick-heads were made short and even more so when the hook style head was introduced (the danger being the toe of the now vanished long-head stick hitting an opponent in the face at the beginning or end of the swing when hitting the ball). The deletion of the ‘sticks’ Rule, which forbade the raising of any part of the stick above shoulder height when playing, attempting to play or approaching the ball, is unlikely to be reintroduced, so the concern about the dangers of high stick swings appear to be disingenuous, because which side of the stick-head is used has nothing to do with how high the stick-head may be raised when playing the ball. 

The possibility of an increase in dangerous play has always been advanced as a reason for not allowing both sides of the stick-head to be use to strike the ball, but the edge hit is probably potentially more dangerous because there is a tendency to raise the ball when using it. The edge hit is also more difficult to execute than the more conventional ‘upright’ hit. A left to right strike using the right side of the stick-head to strike the ball can easily be made with the player in a more upright position, a position similar to that adopted when using the conventional forehand hit.

Other effects. An expansion of the legal stickwork skills.

An umpire no longer needs to see  ‘back-sticks’ offences, removing a difficulty.

 

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

The current Rule 9.6

Players must not hit the ball hard on the forehand with the edge of the stick.

This does not prohibit use of the edge of the stick on the forehand in a controlled action in a tackle, when raising the ball in a controlled way over an opponent’s stick or over a goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges who is lying on the ground or when using a long pushing motion along the ground.


The use of the edge of the stick on the backhand has developed as a technical skill and is permitted subject to danger.

Action. Amendment.

Reason. To remove the subjective judgement of the term ‘hard’ and improve consistency of application.

Hitting the ball hard is not of itself a dangerous action. It is when a hard hit or flick raises the ball at an opponent, particularly a close opponent, that endangerment is likely to occur, yet this Rule permits the ball to be raised with an edge stroke when the player in possession of the ball is near to opponents, as long as the ball is not hit ‘hard’. There is no mention of an acceptable height limit and a ball raised over a prone goalkeeper could be raised to any height. The prohibition of a hard forehand edge hit at the goal is mentioned in the UMB but not specifically so in the current Rule (although it should be assumed) that prohibition is specified in the following proposal.

The suggestion. 

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

Players must not raise the ball to above knee height with a hit using either edge of the stick.

Where the ball is raised with an edge hit towards or past an opponent knee height should be taken to mean the standing knee height of that opponent. When the ball is raised with an edge hit but not towards or past an opponent, then the height of a goal-backboard (460mm) will be the objective criteria.

This Rule prohibits a hit shot at the goal using an edge stroke that raises the ball to above the height of the goal backboards.

 

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

Proposals have been made for  alteration to Rule 9.9. the intentionally raised hit; the above proposal for edge hitting will not conflict with the suggestion for amendment to Rule 9.9.  Amendment to Rule 9.9. also requires amendment to Rule 9.8. the dangerously played ball, as there is some mixing of the two Rules.

 

October 29, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 7.4.c. Ball played over base-line by defender.

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey.


The current Rule 7.4.c.

7.4 When the ball is played over the back-line and no goal is scored :

c.  if played intentionally by a defender, unless deflected by a goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges, play is re-started with a penalty corner.

This is one of the simplest of the Rule amendments that will be suggested during this rewrite. A straightforward deletion.

The reason. Fairness. At one time, when most hockey was played on grass pitches laid out in large open areas hitting the ball hard off the end of the pitch could be employed as means of running or wasting time. Now that most hockey is played on synthetic pitches enclose with high fences there is no justification whatsoever for applying a severe penalty for this action, which is not an offence, and calling it, not a penalty, but a restart. A penalty is a penalty and has the effect and result of a penalty, no matter what it may be regarded as when the reason for awarding it varies. As The Bard wrote “A rose is a rose by any other name.”

The result of enactment of the suggested deletion of Rule 7.4.c would be that any ball played over the baseline by a defending player would lead to the award of a restart to the attacking team on the 23m line, opposite to the place the ball went out of play.