July 30, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Obstruction, but what kind of.

Rules of Hockey: Obstruction – the wording.

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

The problems begin immediately, in the first clause.

Players obstruct if they-

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

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

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

This is clearer:-

Players obstruct if they:-

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

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

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

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

At present the final clause reads:-

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

This could usefully be rewritten:-

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

       https://youtu.be/MnPwIy6VBB4 .com

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

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

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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  13th July, 2017. Definition of ‘Shot at goal’ from Terminology added.

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: This is application of basic logical reasoning).   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 : following the instruction forget lifted -think danger given to those who have no idea what ‘danger’ means.

*[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 absence of instruction to be interpreted if the ball is raised as a shot at the goal into a close opponent with a hit ?  Make a guess.

Did you guess that the defender would be penalised?

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?”and also “What can be done about such willful blindness?” which is a form of bias.

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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 is something that 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 in what should be a fairly conservative environment – the Rules of a game.

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 (see definition of ‘Shot at goal’, below) – 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, which is bizarre). 

In these two diverse ‘Alice in Wonderland’ ‘on target’ ‘off target’ 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.

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, which he clearly was, didn’t occur to them.

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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.

It is legal play – unless dangerous to another player – to raise the ball with a hit, intentionally or otherwise, when taking a shot at the goal.

Missing the goal with a raised hit shot is not of itself a reason to penalise a shooter for dangerous play.

The answer to the question put in the original post is “Yes, there are different interpretations”. “Why is that?” is another question.  But how – about three yards away from the defender and with the ball propelled at chest height – can be ‘interpreted’ to be beyond 5m and less than knee height by more than 60% of the poll respondents is a mystery, unless the wording of the Rule (and the question asked in the poll) are incomprehensible to them.

Ignorance and stupidity.

August 13, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Vast Majority Consensus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Reply

ZigZagHockey 3 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

Reply
Michal Margolien 3 weeks ago

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

Reply

ZigZagHockey 3 weeks ago

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

Reply

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

Reply

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

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

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

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

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

Reply

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

Reply

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

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

Reply

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

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

Reply

ZigZagHockey 2 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now that you have been primed to take care you should have little problem arriving at the correct answer. (allow yourself three minutes, System 2, even if your initial answer occurred to you in less than three seconds, System 1 – and you believe it to be correct). You can if you wish post your answer as a comment. I will provide the correct answer next week.

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

The second video:-

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

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

August 7, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Pictures and words

Edited 11th August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The present Obstruction Rule

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The fact that a player in possession of the ball cannot shield it with stick or body to obstruct an opponent, means that a receiver, having controlled the ball, should still move away at once to take the ball beyond the playing reach of any competing opponent.  But the current  ”is permitted to move off” does not convey anything of the sort (the ‘clarification’, in a two step process, going via may move away ‘muddied’ what had originally been a clear instruction must move away. Compare “is permitted to move off” with “must move away” Is the first (the current Explanation) a simplification and clarification of the second (the original Guidance) ? Do they mean the same thing?).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a very simple Rule – so simple that it is difficult to avoid repetition when explaining it being carried out by a player who is in possession of the ball.  If a player is compelled to ‘go around’ (or try to go around) an opponent in possession of the ball, or an otherwise path blocking opponent (third party), in order to attempt to play at the ball, that player is obstructed – if, but for the blocking/shielding action, he or she would have been able to play at the ball.

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

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

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

 

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August 2, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: The Good Old Days 4

Rules of Hockey 1959-60 

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

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

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

10. GENERAL DETAILS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GENERAL DETAILS. NOTES ON THE RULES—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(iii) making no eflort to avoid being hit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(f) No interference with sticks is permitted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

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

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

Here is a paragraph from it.  (my bold)

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

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

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

 


August 2, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: The Good Old Days 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 2, 2017

Field hockey Rules: The Good Old Days 2

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

The First step to the Advantage Rule.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To continue….

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

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

Left handed play

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

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

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

Introduction of the Penalty Corner 1908.

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

August 1, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: The Good Old Days 1

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

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

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

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

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

August 1, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: The invisible gorilla

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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July 27, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Intersubjectivity

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

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

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

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

There are many historical examples of individual objectors to widespread intersubjectivity being punished for dissent, even executed for it, so the imposition of consensus, which should be a contradiction in terms and an impossibility, is very much a reality. Noam Chomsky has much to say about it as far ‘the media’ and big multi-national corporations are concerned.

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

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

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

 

Michal Margolien

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

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

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

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

·

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

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

 

ZigZag Hockey.

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

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

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

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

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

 

July 21, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Dangerously played ball change of definition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mounting another hobby-horse

 

The change to the definition of a dangerously played ball.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1) The ball is propelled towards an opponent,

and

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

and/or

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

and/or

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

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

 

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

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

July 15, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Misapplication.

Edit. 20th July 2017 more video added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

Rule 9.9. Explanation of application. Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

July 9, 2017

Sardar Singh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 7, 2017

Missing the ‘bleeding obvious’

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Players obstruct if they :

back into an opponent


– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent.


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


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


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

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

An example from the 2014 World Cup Final

 

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July 2, 2017

Field Hockey Rules. Deflected Falling Ball (again)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interpretation: –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

but it would be preferable to use both phrases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This article should be read in conjunction with

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

 

June 26, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Diligent’s tar baby

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

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

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

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

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

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

(No one can be said to accept a risk of dangerous play – the risk of the ball being recklessly or deliberately propelled at them in a way that could cause injury – when such dangerous play is contrary to the Rules of the game. It is not possible to impose or suppose the acceptance of such risk because of legitimate positioning on the field of play. Nor is it possible to impose or suppose acceptance of a risk that results from a reckless or deliberate breach of a Rule. The only risks that can be said to be accepted are the risks associated with unintended or accidental actions).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A daft assumption. Whether or not a ball is dangerously played – puts an opponent at risk of injury – has nothing whatsoever to do with the skill-level of the defender/s. A player who is forced to self defence from a ball raised to, say, head height- be it by attempting to evade the ball or attempting to play at it with the stick, is endangered in the same way and to the same degree no matter what her or his level of skill may be. Humans are physiologically the same no matter what skills they may possess; bones fracture or break, flesh bruises or cuts or is abraded, in the same way and for the same reasons, no matter what the level of play may be. 

Playing the ball at an opponent in a way that may injure that opponent if self-defence is not successful is dangerous play, but it is also dangerous play even if the self-defence is successful (A dangerously played ball is defined as one that causes legitimate evasive action – which leaves out half of the possible action that could be taken in self-defence – but does not depend on the attempted evasion being successful – or should not do so). It needs pointing out that an attempt to play at the ball is forced on a defender when it is known that an umpire will not respond to legitimate evasive action by a defending player to avoid a high shot, by penalising the shooter, but will award a goal – which is common practice. In such circumstances umpires are largely responsible for the risk that has to be taken, because  they compel an attempt to play the ball; they are therefore also responsible for any resulting injury.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary:-

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

Expansion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

June 18, 2017

Hockey Pro League

Pro League hits world hockey like a tsunami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About European leagues

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

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

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

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

Mumbai Mirror.

Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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June 6, 2017

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

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

Rules of Hockey.

The ‘diminished’ Obstruction Rule. Shielding the ball. Hiding or ‘protecting’ the ball.    Lack of movement skills and footwork and stick-ball skills.

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

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

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

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

That statement came as a shock I didn’t realise just how far apart we were on the meaning of the wording and the correct application of this Rule. With views like that held by those responsible for umpire coaching, it can be no surprise those two umpires had no understanding of the Obstruction Rule. That no one else admits how or explains why they are openly ignoring the very specific instructions given with the Explanation of Application of the Obstruction Rule is not a surprise.

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

Players obstruct if they :

– back into an opponent

– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent

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

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

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

Physical contact is included in the criterion for offence, it is specified in the previous clause, physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent but it is not the only criteria nor one that is essential for there to be an offence.

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

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

This latter interpretation is supported (word for word) by the second prohibition in the clause below. It is the part underlined, which was added to the Explanation of Application in 2009 as a clarification – that backing into is not the only ball shielding action that is prohibited, any such positioning movement is prohibited if it results in the ball being shielded from an opponent – it was the last amendment made to the Obstruction Rule:-

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

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

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

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

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

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

or even more clearly:-

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

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

But there does not have to be physical contact for an obstruction offence to occur. I cannot subscribe to the declaration that for an obstruction offence to occur there must be physical contact because it is plainly false. I agree with the second of the three statements Cris Maloney made in his reply to me: I vigorously oppose, as I must if I observe the Rule, the first and third of them. All his statements are justified by him as what top umpires are seen to be doing.

Watching the Rio Olympics it was clear that some umpires did penalise obstruction only when there was physical contact which was initiated by a player in possession who was shielding the ball while moving bodily into an opponent (would they admit to that when they don’t admit to misapplying Rule 9.8, Rule 9.9 and Rule 9.11 – especially where they overlap i.e. when the ball is lifted into an opponent ?). But it was also clear that other umpires did not penalise obstruction even when there was physical contact caused by a ball shielding player who was in possession of the ball,

 

despite there being not only an Obstruction Rule (as given in part above – the ‘third-party’ clauses have not been included here) but a separate Rule (9.3) which prohibit any physical contact (stick or body) and also another Rule (9.4) which prohibits impeding, (which however need not involve physical contact but may do so).

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

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

Ironically, now that obstruction (ball shielding) is generally being ignored as an offence, there is a great deal more physical contact than there was when the Rule was reasonably enforced, that is when attention was paid to the wording of the Rule Proper and the Explanation of Application given with it.

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

Not penalising obstruction does not significantly reduce stoppages, because tacklers must try to play the ball and are penalised for the slightest contact infringement. A second purpose of the Obstruction Rule is to reduce incidents of physical contact in contests for the ball by removing a cause of it – the frustration of a tackle attempt by ball shielding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 28, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: “It is generally accepted…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

.

May 23, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Pernicious umpire training or coaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 19, 2017

Field hockey Rules: Spin turn

Found on the Field Hockey Forum website.

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

Criteria for offence

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

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

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

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

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

Riley Fulmer #23 baseline fun.

A post shared by Tim Fulmer (@tremluf) on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The tackle attempt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another way of putting the same question is:-

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

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

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

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

Ann Goalie writes: –

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

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

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

13.3.k The ball may be higher than 460 mm during its
flight before it crosses the goal-line provided there
is no danger and provided it would drop of its own
accord below 460 mm before crossing the line.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rule explanation Gingerbread refers to reads:

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

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

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

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

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

April 16, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Advantage allowed v Advantage gained

Edited 26 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Umpires

1.4 Umpires must :

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

Applying the Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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April 12, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Dangerous play and the falling ball

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

Edited 16th April 2017.

The following five FIH Statements/Rules (all contained in the current rule-book) have led to disagreements in two threads on the fieldhockeyforum website in the past week which has resulted in both of the threads being locked by a forum moderator who does not believe in allowing disagreements to reach resolution. The subjects of the argument are firstly, “who is responsible for causing dangerous play when a ball is lofted to fall onto the position of opposing players who might contest for it?” and secondly, following from that, where should penalty be awarded?

This topic has been argued over at least ten times in the past five years but there is no sign of resolution – or even of suggestions to resolve the conflict – both ‘sides’ are as polarized as ever. There are two reasons that this impasse has come about – a poorly written Rule and stupidity – but they distil down to one reason – stupidity: there is no good reason why any Rule should be so poorly written that a polarization of opinion is caused and certainly none for the FIH RC doing nothing about that.

One reason that the Rule is now badly written is historical i.e. Guidance for players and umpires and also Rules Interpretations (the latter previously i.e. prior to 2004. in the back of rule-books) has been deleted and not replaced with adequate (or any) Explanation of Rule application: this process was called simplification and clarification. The vacuum has been filled with ‘umpiring practice’ – some of it from the Umpire Manager’s Briefing for Umpires at FIH Tournaments (the UMB – a document produced by the FIH Umpiring Committee), some of it from various personal opinion.

 

Preface 

Responsibility and Liability


Participants in hockey must be aware of the Rules of Hockey and of other information in this publication.
They are expected to perform according to the Rules.


Emphasis is placed on safety. Everyone involved in the game must act with consideration for the safety of others.

 

9.Preamble

Conduct of play : players
Players are expected to act responsibly at all times.

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

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

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

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

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

(This bizarre forum discussion gives an idea of the diverse views http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/is-a-high-save-receiving-an-aerial.42626/  This is a quote from the thread which displays the type of rational or logic employed in argument  “(Raised) shots at goal are not aerials, they’re not ‘falling raised balls’, even if they do happen to be falling by the time they reach the keeper.”  The word aerial does not appear in the Rules of Hockey but any ball raised off the ground in any way can be considered to be an aerial ball (the literal meaning is “in the air”, as opposed to being ‘on or along the ground’).

The raised shot at the goal is subject to Rule 9.9 when raised towards an opponent within 5m and the first hit shot during a penalty corner is height limited with there being a requirement that second or subsequent shots, however made, be not dangerous; so the idea that “Aerial Rules do not apply to shots at the goal is incorrect, as is the notion that a falling ball that is a shot at the goal (a lob for example) is not a falling ball and is not subject to Rule 9.10. ALL falling balls, no matter how raised, are subject to Rule 9.10. (but the FIH RC could usefully put forward some guidance about ball height)

The two camps base their arguments on one of two approaches to what is written in the Rules. One side claims that the Rules ought to be read as written and interpreted literally, that is according to the literal meaning of the words used. The other side claims a common sense or common practice approach (called interpretation) and use phrases like ‘the spirit of the Rule’. These two approaches should not be in conflict, but they are because there is a lack of common sense.

The idea that umpires can make up Rule or Interpretation if they cannot remember the Rule is more absurd than the statement that a falling ball is not a falling ball, as per Rule 9.10, if a shot at the goal. This kind of invention is also contrary to explicit instruction from the FIH Executive that nobody, no individual and no body, other than the FIH Rules Committee can amend Rule or the Interpretation of Rule. Rule becomes Rule after the FIH Executive approves a recommendation for amendment from the FIH Rules Committee – and not in any other circumstances – even the FIH Executive themselves cannot unilaterally propose and then enact Rule change concerning the playing of the game.

.

The particulars of the danger from a scoop pass argument are:-

danger is caused by the player who lofted the ball to fall onto a position occupied by opposing players who might contest for it.

This is the more difficult option to umpire because it is necessary for the umpires to take account of where players were positioned at the time the ball was raised (it is about as difficult to judge as off-side used to be)

versus

danger is caused by a player of the same team as the player who lofted the ball being close to an opponent in the area where the ball will fall and not moving 5m away from that opponent before the ball is within playing distance.

This is relatively easy to umpire; a decision about where the free ball should be taken from does not need to be made afresh in each case: it is always from the place the ball was landing. The player who raised the ball is ‘forgotten’ if the ball is raised safely and is safe in flight (does not cause legitimate evasive action)

The fly in the ointment or the need for an exception.

In some situations, a high deflection off a defender into his or her own circle for example, it would be grossly unfair to require a same team player to retreat to give opponents 5m of space to control the ball on the ground before approach can be made. Consideration may need to be given, for safety reasons, to prohibiting any raising of the ball (above a given height) into the circles and/or to prohibiting players from any playing of or playing at a ball at above shoulder height when in the opposing circle.

Particulars:– Rule 9.10  Players must not approach within 5 metres of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball is written as if a ball will never be lofted onto the position of two or more players who are closer then 5m apart and contesting players are always positioned at least 5m apart at the time the ball is raised (this is because at one time it was clearly stated in the Rule that it was illegal to raise the ball so that it would fall onto the position of players who were close to each other at the time the ball was raised).

There is no requirement in the Rule for a same team player within 5m of an opponent who is an initial receiver, to retreat 5m or any other distance. Neither “allow” or “not approach” mean “move further away” or “retreat”. This is a point there seems to be some difficulty some participants ‘absorbing’ or understanding but it is difficult to find a way of putting “not asked for”, ”not required” or “not demanded” more simply.

When it is considered how close a tackler may be to an opponent in possession of the ball and not be considered to be attempting to play at the ball for the purposes of the Obstruction Rule, surely an opponent can be permitted to receive and play the ball to ground without interference by a close opponent i.e. receiving can reasonably be ‘allowed’ by an opponent who remains only 2m away (that is beyond playing distance without an unbalancing lunge or a dive for the ball). But is it reasonable to allow a player some distance away to loft the ball to fall between players who are at the time only 2m apart? I will leave other particulars to someone with the tag nerd-is-the-word, a contributor to FHF.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/the-other-locked-aerials-thread.42592/

nerd-is -the-word

I have read this argument a few times when it comes to overheads and i just feel the need to point out how ridiculous this argument is, for a whole multitude of reasons:

A) why would defenders bother throwing an overhead rather than just smashing the ball to the other end if all they want to do i realease pressure.

B) what kind of defender finds enough space to throw an overhead (5m+) and picks a crowded area to throw into rather than the space around that crowd.

C) even if a defender chooses to throw an overhead in a random direction, that happens to be into a crowd of two people, why do people talk about the danger being the defenders fault rather than his teammate who had ample time to step away?

D) if teams a throwing their release overheads only 40m ( any more and they very little chance of throwing into a crowd) and then immediately turning over the ball via a fh, then their oposition would take that any day of the week.

E) im going to state this again, what defender chooses to throw the ball into a crowd to release pressure? Not ones that have any clue what they are doing. If danger occurs from these long range flicks then it is ALWAYS because of the players in the landing zone.

It will be no surprise that ‘nerd’ also believes (as evidenced by previous posts to FHF) that defenders in front of the goal cause danger when a shot is raised at their position on the goal-line. I can’t believe, from my previous experiences with this individual’s ‘reading’ and comprehension, that he has read and understood the opening post of the topic thread never mind the whole thread.

The tactic of lofting the ball to fall from great height directly onto the position of an opponent is a well tested one and works tolerably well when the receiving player knows that there are chasing same team players who will pounce on any deflection and ‘leave him for dead’. I last saw it employed a long time ago, to great effect, by Calston Fischer, who ‘showered’ high scoops onto a relatively inexperienced Martyn Grimley during a very rainy European Championship match between Germany and England. The tactic suited the weather perfectly, stopping a skipping ball near ground level was hard enough in the conditions and Grimley was left flat-footed behind the play on several occasions.

‘Nerd’ misses the point of S.Pettit’s remark, which is that there is nothing to deter a player repeatedly lofting the ball into contested positions if penalty for causing danger can never be from the place the ball was raised but always at the point of landing. Besides that, it is a principle of the Rules that a player who commits an offence should never be permitted to benefit from that offence, but (assuming that it is granted that an offence is committed) a gain of ground of 40m+ on every occasion is such a benefit. 

Lofting the ball to fall where it maybe contested for while it is still in the air is anyway a matter of behaving responsibly and also of acting with consideration for the safety of others, as well as a possible breach of the second clause of Rule 9.8. creating (causing) a potentially dangerous situation.

It’s time the FIH Rules Committee had a rethink about Rule 9.8 and Rule 9.10.

 

Addition

The conclusion of yet another thread around the same subject. http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/is-a-high-save-receiving-an-aerial.42626/


But if somebody suggests that the free to the defending side should be taken from where the ball was raised, that is “against whoever put it there” as Kresby states, rather than a 15m being awarded, Diligent is likely to lock this thread as quickly and for the same reason, as he locked the other two related threads.

I am not happy with the notion that only a falling raised ball can lead to a dangerous aerial contest for the ball because it is not true and so does not make much sense. The statement in Rule 9.10. that a raised ball must not be dangerous in flight seems in any case to contradict that suggestion. It is common practice at a penalty corner for attackers to follow-in on a high drag-flick shot looking for a rebound if there is an initial save (see opening post of thread) – the potential for dangerous play in this situation is obvious and that, by Rule, second or subsequent shots must not be made in a dangerous way does not make this attacking practice any safer for defenders.

March 31, 2017

Field Hockey Rules: Explaining

Here is a nice bit of ambiguity highlighted in a ‘discussion’ between the owners of the tags redumpre, Umpirehockey.com and Cardhappy, it’s about the umpire’s signal for a bully.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/fih-rules-of-hockey-app.42487/

What is the ambiguity? Whether the hands are together moved upwards and then downwards alternately (with perhaps a touch at the top?) or one hand is moved up while the other is being moved down each hand being alternately moved up and then down- one hand being up when the other is down – but no contact. –

What does ‘alternately’ mean in the description given in the rule-book?

(I guess we can no longer accurately say “rule-book” now that we have a replacement apt – a development which makes me uneasy considering the way Rules have previously disappeared or been invented, with either the exact form of previous existence or the fact of invention being later denied. It’s more difficult to deny a printed document than an internet web page, a copy of which has not been printed out. I have always been uneasy about the fact that previous rule-books are not archived and readily accessible for comparison, we have only an incomplete ‘potted history’ of the Rules)

I have always used the latter method, but Cris Maloney (umpire hockey.com) is right, that signal is not similar to the required bully action that is being signalled – it’s nothing like it – but this signal method is the traditional practice and it is understood – hence the ‘blindness’ and the sarky criticism. I am ashamed to say that is why I used it, ashamed because I have been very critical of others for applying Rules in a particular way just because their peers do so – same as them, I just didn’t give it any thought.

Explaining things is not always easy – although not difficult in this case – but redumpire (David Elcock) seems to believe that by repeating the word ‘alternately’ and using bold text when doing so, he explains it and its use (the Englishman abroad speaking to a resident native, slowly and loudly in English) – common words and simple constructions of them have to be used i.e. language that is completely and identically understood by both parties.

This quote is attributed to Albert Einstein.

If you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough. although of course he did not say that, it has been ‘edited’ to make a more ‘catchy’ statement from what he did say. The original statement is likely to have been as from this report of a conversation with another scientist, recalled after Einstein’s death.

“All physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart, ought to lend themselves to so simple a description that even a child could understand them” Not nearly as ‘snappy’ (or simple) a statement.

This is also attributed to Einstein and I think is more likely to be accurately reported even if it isn’t grammatically correct  – it’s truncated (by someone who’s mother language was not English) perhaps to avoid repetition of the word  “possible”( although “necessary” would have been a better word choice) .

Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler (than is necessary to enable complete understanding).

Richard Feynman came closer to the popular ‘quote’,  but he was probably paraphrasing Einstein. Feynman was asked by the Dean of Cornell University (where Feynman was a physics professor) to explain to the faculty why spin half-particles obey Femi-Dirac statistics (I don’t even understand the terms of the question although I have a vague idea what statistics are and have read a biography of Dirac). Feynman, no doubt correctly, thought that the explanation to the faculty would have to be pitched at undergraduate (or freshman) level and went off to prepare his lecture. A couple of days later he contacted the Dean and reportedly (recalled after his death) said ” I couldn’t reduce the subject to freshman level. That means we don’t really understand it.”

Einstein by “a child” possibly meant a very smart twelve year old, rather than the six year old mentioned in related quotes from others. Six year old children are unlikely to have the vocabulary necessary to follow even fairly simple explanations of complex situations and – if the theories of the educational psychiatrist Piaget are accepted – are not sufficiently mentally developed to form the necessary abstract concepts from all that is said to them: concepts that even a quite dull adult (a barmaid or a grandmother are the usual adults picked on in other quotes) would probably be able to construct from simple language. The average eight year old would, quite rightly, take great exception at this, but the definition of a moron is a adult person (over twenty-one) with the mental capacity of a child aged between eight and twelve. (It is a very old and probably very inaccurate, definition).

Where am I going with this? I have been reflecting on what was said to me by a hockey coach as we stood watching the game between Surbiton HC and Wimbledon HC last Sunday – and thinking about explanation and understanding. I repeatedly asked him why certain incidents played out in front of us were not penalised as obstruction. His ‘explanation’ was that this was the way the Rule is interpreted. When I asked him to explain the interpretation, he could not. He admitted that it was contrary to what was given in the Rule and not how the Rule used to be applied – although he agreed that there is no reasonable explanation for any change to the interpretation of obstruction in the last twenty-five years – “but that (what we were seeing) is just how it is.

(in fact the ‘new interpretation’ of the Obstruction Rule written into the back of the rule-book under Rule Interpretations, post 1992 was almost entirely deleted in 2004. All that remains of it in the current Explanation of Rule 9.12 is the incomplete stand alone statement that a stationary receiver of the ball may be facing in any direction (why not?). Everything else in the interpretation was already in the Rule (or other Rules) prior to 1992 or could be deduced or inferred from them – there was no change to the Obstruction Rule beyond the very specific leeway given to a receiver of the ball while receiving and controlling it (in other words the “new interpretation” introduced in 1992, was an exception to the Rule, not a change to the interpretation of what was (and is) obstructive play by, for example, a player in possession of the ball – that did not change in 1992 (was not changed at that time by the FIH Hockey Rules Board) and has not been changed since, either by the Rules Board or by the (renamed) FIH Rules Committee. We seem now however to be floundering along on what officials can remember of the deleted interpretation, because they will not let go of it, despite the fact that it is deleted and was anyway very poorly written by someone who obviously did not understand the game. This deleted interpretation, having demanded conditions for a tackle attempt that were impossible to comply with, then concluded in contradiction :- ” However, umpires should note certain forms of obstruction which are often incorrectly overlooked. In particular, preventing a legitimate tackle (my bold) by intentionally (introducing for the first time intention to obstruct, which is not in the Rule) shielding the ball with the body or leg is obstruction.
Stick obstruction and interference is prohibited; no player may strike at or interfere with an opponent’s stick. The player with the ball may not use the stick to shield or protect the ball from a legitimate tackle.

preventing a legitimate tackle  by shielding the ball with the stick, body or leg is obstruction.

In view of that, a child seeing current hockey as it is played and officiated, would ask “Why is thathow it is“?” and expect that those officiating, coaching or playing the game to be able to explain (and properly justify) what is now going on – but they cannot or will not do so – we get a stonewalling “That is the interpretation.”.

I was not asking for an explanation of the behaviour of protons or electrons, for which the scientific ‘explanation’ seems to be “that is just how it is” (that is physical behaviour associated with particle theory combined with conflicting behaviour associated with wave theory, which seems to be illogical, and is thus far unexplained), but I was asking for a justification for players using obstructive tactics (attempting to shield the ball past opponents) and umpires  responding to these obstruction offences in a way that is directly opposite to the way a reasonable reading of the wording of the Rule , using common understanding of the simple language used in the Rule, would lead any rational person to expect the game to be played and the Obstruction Rule applied.

Maybe the language isn’t as simple as it needs to be, or more words are needed: after all “alternatively” isn’t a complex concept, but clearly additional words (about the hands) would give clarity to the over-simplified instructions concerning the bully signal – I don’t think that ‘obstruction’ or ‘prevention’ are any more complicated as concepts than ‘alternately’. That said simplification is not an easy undertaking – it is surprising how much is assumed to be well known by the person an action is being explained to.

Redumpire and Cardhappy could (and should) have recognised that without there being  indication of how the hands were being referred to, there is  ambiguity in the use of the word “alternately”, but that would have deprived them of the opportunity of a ‘put down’.  The subject isn’t important enough to justify the unthinking, unreasonable and rude responses and the bad feeling generated by them. The question from Cris Maloney might be considered trivial but it was not unreasonable to ask it and also to expect a polite and considered reply. According to the novelist and satirist Swift, the inhabitants of Lilliput and Blefuscu went to war over the importance of which end of a boiled egg to open – the responses given are as inexplicable. The same kind of responses are made (or refused) to questions about the dangerous shot at the goal, the penalising of ball-body contact, and the interpretation of “attempting”.

All Fools Day was the following day but they got an early start.

I like Cris Maloney’s response, a few days later, which mentions the ‘broken windmill’ signal now given to indicate a 23m free ball to the attacking team when the ball goes out of play over the base-line off a defender’s stick. Why can’t the powers that be get it into their heads that they themselves have deleted what used to be called a long corner and more recently (a massively important change when it was made !!?? ) a corner, and replaced it with a restart on the 23m line. There is no good reason why the signal should not be the umpire’s right hand pointed with extended arm directly towards/over the base-line (some umpires are already using this signal) There is no need to point to the corner of the pitch, in fact to do so is ridiculous – to be required to do so, absurd.

There is now no such thing as a ‘corner’, but, going back to the match I was watching, ball shielding, with stick or body, to delay or prevent an opponent, who is intent on playing at the ball, directly doing so, when they would otherwise be immediately able to do so, is (still) usually an offence called obstruction – in only two situations should an exception to this Rule be made.

Ask any umpire what these two situations are  – and he or she is likely to be dumbfounded by the question, but they still won’t penalise what is obstruction when they see it. Many of them are unable to recognise obstructive situations – having been told and having accepted that they do not exist or, as one FHF moderator would have it,  “It (obstruction) occurs once, if at all, in about three hundred matches“. I’d say that those figures would be about right if the topic was intentional use of the body to stop or deflect the ball.

 

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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Vague?  Yes. How emphasise? How limit?  On what grounds intervene – perhaps by applying the Obstruction Rule?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

indoor-rules-2017-cover

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Neither of the players with the ball can be described as being in the act of receiving the ball – so the Obstruction Rule applies to both  and both have positioned themselves between an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intent to play at it (although there may be some argument about the intentions of the blocked off player shown on the cover of the Indoor rule-book, there can be no argument about the intention of the player in possession of the ball). Maybe it is the intention of the Rules Committee  to illustrate, as a guide to umpires, a breach of this Rule on the covers of both the Indoor and Outdoor rule-books ?

There are recent videos of hockey matches containing several hundred examples of unpenalised obstructive play; a neglected resource the FIH Umpiring Committee could make good use of. The majority of the very few video clips on the subject, published as umpire coaching, notably via Dartfish.com, have so far concentrated on play which is (erroneously) said to be not obstructive, here is an example (in which I have embedded comment), The ‘Interpretation’ provided with the video is given below:-

Interpretation: –

The GER team try and pass the ball out of defence. The GER
player receives the ball and initially moves it out of the playing
distance of the ARG player. When the GER player turns with the
ball, the ARG player is not actively trying to tackle or play the
ball, so there is no obstruction. [….] When the GER player plays the
ball over the stick of the ARG player, it runs out of her playing
distance for an ARG side-line ball. The contact between the two
players’ sticks is accidental and does not affect play.

 

I think it both amazing and absurd that anyone could declare that the ARG player was not trying to play at the ball, when she was clearly prevented, by the GER player, from reaching the ball by obstructive actions, (1) the GER player turning to position between the ARG player and the ball, followed by 2) stepping over the ARG player’s stick and further blocking her path to the ball, and then 3) side-stepping ‘through’ the ARG player’s stick (blocking it) as the ARG player tried to go around her while reaching for the ball. The initial turn is not seen as quickly leading to an obstruction offence as the ARG player closed on the ball, which was not kept beyond her playing reach and neither are the actions 2 and 3 mentioned in the provided ‘interpretation’. This is willful blindness – seeing only what supports a previously decided agenda and omitting relevant information. I have inserted a marker in the Interpretation [….] where the missing actions should have been described. There can be no doubt that but for the illegal (obstructive) actions of the GER player the ARG player would have been able to play at the ball. It is true that the action by the GER player was quick and accurate – skillfully executed – until she managed to tangle her own stick with the stick of the ARG player (not mentioned), but skillfully executed fouls are still offences and must be treated as such. Carrying out offences efficiently does not turn them into legitimate actions.

October 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Obstructive tackling

Rules of Hockey. Spin tackle.

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

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

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

So we have a combination breach of Rule 9.12 Obstruction and of Rule 9.13 Tackling with body contact, concurrently by a single individual. These are fouls which usually occur between competing players, a player in possession of the ball who obstructs and an opponent who makes body contact while trying to overcome the obstruction and make a tackle 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.

During the incident shown in the video below, instead of attempting to play at the ball with a reverse stick, which would be more usual when attempting a tackle from the left of an opponent the NED defender goes for a forehand challenge and in doing so inserts himself between the AUS attacker and the ball and then pivots about the ball to ‘lever’ and barge the AUS player off it. A deliberate contact offence contrary to Rule 9.3 and also to Rules 9.12 and 9.13. The award of a penalty stroke would have been an appropriate penalty, together with a yellow card – instead the video referral by the AUS team, who asked for a penalty corner, was rejected and a free ball was awarded to the NED team. The above two decisions were astonishing considering the emphasis placed on penalising break-down tackling in the umpire coaching video which was issued prior to the Rio Olympics by the Tournament Umpire Managers.

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October 5, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Obsessed

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 27th February 2017.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      

September 26, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Raising the ball into the circle.

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

Edited 25, March 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following four suggested amendments would need to be enacted together.

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

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

Now we have a ‘clean slate’.  

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

September 22, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Combination fouls, Rule interpretation

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

Edited 30th September 2016. Videos with comment added.

In a recent article

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

Resolving the issues. 

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

The tackling player must be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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A different view.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Field Hockey Rules: Deflections and the falling ball.

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 10th April 2017   Added – a link to sample ‘discussion’ of the problem on fieldhockeyforum.com  – in a thread where posts were deleted and the topic locked by an ignorant moderator.

Falling Ball.      Aerial Passes.   Deflections.     Dangerous Play.    Penalty Positions.

This article is about the aerial pass and the falling ball in general but, wanders into several related contentious areas.

initial-setup

Diagram One. Aerial Pass from a free-ball.

The introduction of facility to raise the ball with a flick or a scoop directly from a free-ball and most other restarts (the insert of the ball during a penalty corner may not be intentionally raised) is one of the factors that has led to an increase in the use of the aerial pass. In view of this increase the Rules concerning the falling ball, which have never been entirely clear, need revision.

Diagram One illustrates an ideal and very unlikely scenario in that:-

1) During a free-ball Player A does not need be concerned about a contravention of Rule 9.9. because player C is at least 5m from the ball and A is unlikely to contravene Rule 9.8, by causing player C to take evasive action, unless the scoop is ‘fluffed’

2) Opponents D and E are a minimum of 5m from the intended receiver B before and during the making of the aerial pass 

3) D and E remain a minimum of 5m from B as an accurate pass is made. 

4) The pass is too high to be intercepted by D, therefore B is the clear initial receiver.

5) Player B is allowed to control the ball to ground before either player D or E approach to within 5m of it.

All but the first item in the above list are “and pigs will fly”. In real life as soon as it is realised that Player A intends to throw an aerial pass either D or E will move to closely mark B  and unless they are considerably more than 5m from B one or other of them will be standing next to B long before the ball has reached the apex of flight and the umpire has some idea of the target area, that is where the ball will fall. This may not be so with lob passes, which may be directed to a player less than 15m away from the passer, and the passage of play can be easily seen from a single viewpoint, but it is usually the case when aerial passes are made to players 40m – 60m or more away.

Often the best an umpire, who has been watching the making of an aerial pass, to ensure the ball is raised safely, can do, is to note the general locations of the players in the assumed landing area as the ball begins to fall from the apex of flight. It is usually the umpire towards whose end the ball is falling who makes a decision but, this umpire may not begin to observe what happens surrounding an aerial pass until the ball is actually falling (this is often too late and he or she should be more aware of the relative positions of possible contestants for the ball, because this umpire is generally not involved in the watching for safety of the raising of the ball).  It is not necessary for the umpire towards who’s end the ball is coming to watch the ball at all, he or she can get a very good idea of where it is heading, once aware a scoop has been made, by watching the reactions of the players – and that is by far the more useful thing to do.

Even comparatively simple judgements are subject to ‘brain fade’ if the umpire is ball watching particularly when the ball is on the way up.
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The quality of this video clip is not good but it can be seen (despite the camera movement blur) that the defending player was probably more than 10m from the intended receiver when the ball was raised.

Two umpires, who happen to be positioned slightly off the line of flight of the ball as an aerial pass is made are more likely together to be accurate in their assessment of player positions and whether or not there has been an encroachment offence (a breach of Rule 9.10) because it is likely that all the players involved will be in ‘frame’ for both umpires for the duration of the incident. So for accuracy of decision a lot depends on where an aerial pass is made from and in which direction it is propelled. In general aerial passes made from the left side of the pitch and near to or within the 23m area to land in or near the opposing 23m area on the right flank are likely to be easier to observe for Rule compliance then either central scoops directly down the centre of the pitch or those made from anywhere on the right side of the pitch towards the centre or left flank. The flight path of these passes cannot be anywhere near the line of sight of either umpire, but that is not to say accurate decisions about player positions are impossible, they are just more difficult.

The video shows an aerial passe made by the Belgium team in the second half of a WL match against Australia a few years back. There were some very odd decisions made in that match regarding the receiving of an aerial pass, to the extent of awarding a free ball to the wrong team, as well as a startling leniency from the umpires towards repeated contravention of Rule 9.10. (allowing an advantage to develop following an offence is not a reason not to award a card at the first opportunity to the opposing team offender where one is appropriate).

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Turning to more likely scenarios we have below, in plan view, play by player A which is in breach of Rule 9.8. – but, assuming a clear safe scoop from a free ball, not the first part of the Rule, playing the ball dangerously, but the second part  –  “or in a way that leads to dangerous play“.

(The wording used to beor in a way that is likely to lead to dangerous play“. I think both phrases ought now to be included in the Rule wording so that the second clause of the Rule reads: – or in a way that leads or is likely to lead to dangerous play because the current wording appears to oblige an umpire to wait until dangerous play has actually occurred instead of exercising his or her judgement about the potential for danger to players following certain actions and intervening just before it does occur).

double-dangerous-play

Diagram two. Double dangerous play.

 

 

The direct aerial pass  made by player A to player B, who is closely marked by player D, looks like a straightforward instance of dangerous play by player A, because it is possible, even probable, that the pass will to lead to dangerous play, that is a contest for the falling ball by both player B and player D.

If B and D do contest for the ball while it is still in the air * (that is dangerously) then, following the Explanation given with Rule 9.10 there is a second and third offence committed by player B, who is a player of the same team as the passer of the ball.

*(Umpire intervention is unnecessary if players D and B allow the ball to fall to ground before competing for it, but a wise umpire will have penalised player A  just before the ball is within playing reach of players B and D if player B has not already retreated. The umpire cannot reasonably stand by when it looks very likely that there will be dangerous play and by not intervening simply allow it to occur. This is a matter of timing; it is necessary for the umpire to allow time for the players to orientate and calculate where the ball will fall – they too cannot do that with reasonable accuracy until after it has reached the apex of flight – but not to wait, until after contest and dangerous play has occurred, to penalise ). 
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So there are then three offences, player A contravenes the second clause of Rule 9.8 and player B contravenes both what is given in the Explanation of Rule 9.10 and also the first clause of Rule 9.8, particularly if the ball is contested for when still above shoulder height, i.e. at about head level – but who caused the danger? This is an important question because it determines where, in such circumstances, the penalty (if it is a free ball) must be taken from.

Both players A and B cause danger but player A does so first and without the action taken by player A (the scoop pass into a position occupied at the time by opposing team players) player B would have been given no opportunity to cause danger, so if a free ball is awarded (rather than a penalty corner) it should be taken at the place that player A raised the ball. 

Sometimes this scenario does not lead to dangerous play, if it does or not will depend on what player B does well before the ball has fallen to within playing reach. The Explanation of the application of Rule 9.10. states that where there is no clear initial receiver “the player of the team which raised the ball must allow the opponent to receive it”  but how “allow“?

Obviously that means that player B should not interfere to prevent or inhibit player D in receiving and controlling the ball and that is clearly best done by moving away to allow space to player D to accept and control the ball. How far should player B move away? Many would say at least 5m. So why doesn’t the Rule specify that in these circumstances player B should or must move away from player D and also specify the distance?  The Rule mentions only ‘allow’ and ‘not approach’ an opposing player receiving the ball. ‘Not approach’ is obviously not a condition that can be freshly breached if the intended receiver is already closely marked at the time the pass is made. A marker is not ‘approaching’ even a moving opponent if he or she moves with the marked player and maintains the existing close distance between them. The answer to the Rule question (and a possible solution to the problem which arises) may be discovered when we come to examine deflection scenarios.

For the moment it is sufficient to say that if player B does allow player D to receive the ball without interference (preferably by moving away) then the three offences mentioned above do not occur. (If the Rule wording were to include “or likely to lead to dangerous play” there would still be an offence by player A, but as the ‘likely dangerous play’ would not materialise if player B moved away, there would be no unfair disadvantage caused to the team of player D and no need for the umpire to intervene, indeed Rule 12 Penalties Advantage would prevent an umpire from doing so 12.1 Advantage : a penalty is awarded only when a player or team has been disadvantaged by an opponent breaking the Rules.).

A player who makes aerial pass to team-mate who is in a position where the ball may be contested for in the air and it is so contested for, should be discouraged from doing so (again) with severe penalty. Umpires should not hesitate to take the ball back to point of lift to award a free-ball when a pass is lofted to fall onto a position already occupied by players who might contest for it while it is in the air and nor should they hesitate, if there is repetition, to award cards and if the offence occurs within the 23m area, a penalty corner, for such infractions. If there is to be an emphasis on safety (and there is supposed to be), umpires should penalise emphatically what clearly is, cannot be other than, deliberate dangerous play.

Umpires should award a free ball, at the place the ball falls, against the team of the player who offends by encroaching (especially when beyond 5m of an opponent receiving the ball at the time the ball was raised) and contesting for the falling ball (and award a personal penalty to the individual). There is little difference between the offences committed but a vital difference as regards the place of penalty between a player contesting for the ball when it is not clear who the initial receiver is and a player who approaches a receiving opponent from beyond playing distance of the ball to contest for the ball. In the case of encroachment from beyond 5m of the receiver the player who made the aerial pass has certainly not committed an offence (it is not an offence for a player to make a scoop pass to an opponent who is in clear space), only the encroaching player will have offended.

An aerial pass into a contested area is a pass made to a member of the opposing team and although players may have reason to make such passes – e.g. 1) gaining ground or using time 2) hoping for a stopping error from an opponent and a favourable deflection – the practice should I think be discouraged because it is potentially dangerous.

It is now necessary to go back to the difficulties umpires may have with determining if player A in the diagram above has committed an offence i.e. is guilty of play leading to dangerous play, and look at how umpires are dealing with this problem.

A review of videos of a great many international hockey matches over several years, and hundreds of Internet hockey forum posts which give opinion on the subject, reveals that the problem is dealt with in the same way as other ‘difficult’ problems: it is generally ignored – there is even a procedure given for doing so. Safe on lift, Safe in flight,

I have not seen a single instance where a contested aerial ball was penalised by awarding penalty against the player who lofted the ball to fall into, what was clearly at the time the ball was raised an, area occupied by opposing players and which remained so occupied and then the ball was contested for. I have read on an Internet hockey forum of instances  (usually a complaint from a co-umpire or a question from a player) where an umpire has in a match well below international level (correctly) penalised a player who lofted the ball into a contested area, where dangerous play followed, by awarding a free-ball at the point the ball was raised. That umpire has always been roundly ‘condemned’ (by the usual few) for not following ‘accepted practice’ (which appears to bear little relation to the Rules of Hockey in this and other areas). These ‘condemned’ umpires are never accused of not following the Rules of Hockey. 

The ‘accepted practice’ is to observe if the ball has been raised without endangering a player within 5m (and I would take issue with some of what is here seen as ‘not endangering’); to consider if the ball is safe in flight (whatever that may mean) and then to forget the contribution to the subsequent action of the player who raised the ball – which is to ignore the Rule (…or in a way that leads to dangerous play) –  and focus entirely on the actions of the player to whom the ball was intended. If that player is close marked by an opponent and without moving away from his or her marker contests for the ball as it falls, that is (correctly) seen as dangerous play, but the penalty is always awarded at the place this second offence occurred, that is at the place the ball was falling – and that is not correct. 

As a result of this incorrect ‘practice’ there is no deterrent whatsoever to the making of ‘hopeful’ and potentially dangerous aerial passes into areas crowded with players from opposing teams. The worst that can happen by way of team penalty against the offending team is a free-ball from a position probably half the length of the pitch away from where the original offence, play leading to dangerous play, occurred – hardly “within playing distance of the offence”. 

Another consequence of this ‘practice’ is that the relative positions of players at the time the ball was raised which is vitally relevant, because there may be encroaching by an opponent rather than a failure to move away by the same team player, particularly during the early flight of the ball – is also either missed or ignored simply because umpires are not now looking for these relative positions, they (the umpiring of an aerial pass is a two umpire task) are entirely focused on danger occurring only at the place the ball lands often without taking proper account of (being completely unaware of) how this danger has occurred – see the example in the first video above.   

   

The making of an aerial pass to a marked teammate.

Diagram three. Lead runs.

Diagram three. Lead runs.

 

 

A player making a long aerial pass to a team-mate can seldom be certain that the ball will land in an uncontested area, even if the ball is initially passed into what was clear space, but it is possible to ensure, that if an aerial ball is contested for, it is one or more players of the opposing team who will have offended. The tactic is much the same as it was when lead runs had to be employed (prior to 1993) to ensure there was no obstruction of an opponent when receiving a ground pass. The only differences are that an aerial pass can be played directly over a position occupied by opposing players and ground passes in such situations tended to be shorter than the average aerial pass.

The only contentious issue with lead runs is the aerial played to drop short of the position of a same team player. Umpires sometimes incorrectly penalise the same team receiver rather than (the illegally encroaching) opposing player – this usually happens because of an ‘on-line’ or foreshortened view point, with the distance between the players being misjudged. If an intended receiver makes a lead run as the ball is being raised and manages to get more than 5m from his or her marker, that marker cannot then approach within 5m of the player, who is now the initial receiver as well as the intended receiver, until the ball is in control and on the ground (which is far too severe a requirement and widely ignored, see video below – so it needs amendment. “Amended how?” is another discussion).

Deflections.

deflection-off-opponent

 

 

A deflection of the ball high into the air off the stick or body of a player is not an aerial pass, but it still gives rise (sorry) to a falling ball, and Rule 9.10 is about a falling ball however it came to be raised and to be falling and not per se about passes (or about deflections for that matter). The words “a falling raised ball” may, to some, suggest that the ball has been raised intentionally from the stick of a passer, but that is reading into the word “raised” something which just isn’t there. If Rule 9.10 referred only to intentionally made aerial passes then another Rule would be required to deal with accidentally raised deflections.

There never has been a height mentioned in the Rule on the falling ball (because I suppose that there would then need to be another Rule about playing or playing at a ball in the air above or below that height), but convention has been that a ‘falling ball’ is one that, after being either intentionally lofted or accidentally deflected, is falling from considerably (several meters) above shoulder height (the previous height limit of legal playing at the ball). From sufficient height in any case that players could reasonably be required by Rule 9.10 to act and react to it before it fell to within playing reach.

A ball in the air that is not what is meant by ‘a falling ball’ i.e. a ball that is raised to about head height or lower generally gives little time for considered action and is more sensibly dealt with under the first clause of the Dangerous Play Rule.

This absence of a playing height creates a ‘grey area’ in the control of contesting for the ball that is in the air but within playing reach, particularly the ball that is between head and knee height off the ground – and not necessarily at the time a falling ball – but that is a problem for another time and another Rule.

A deflection off an opponent creates a very different situation than a direct aerial pass between two members of the same team. For a start the intent of the player who raised the ball to raise it will usually be absent, always so if the deflection is off an unintended ball-body contact, off a foot for example and the ball may deflect in an unpredictable height and direction  (stick deflections that raise the ball are, simply as a matter of control of ball height and direction, very seldom deliberate outside of the opponent’s circle).

Secondly, where the ‘initial receiver’ of the subsequent  falling ball is not clear an entirely different set of players are now the ones who “must allow an opponent to receive it“. This can cause huge problems and lead to some unfair outcomes – suppose the ball is falling into the goalmouth within two or three meters of the goal-line and the two player concerned are an opposing forward and the goalkeeper. We go back to why a player who has to allow an opponent to receive a falling ball is not specifically required to move away to be 5m from the ball or even specifically required to retreat at all, but only to ‘allow’ an opponent to receive the ball: no goalkeeper is going to retreat 5m out of the goal and no other defender could reasonably expected to do so either.

But not specifying retreat (only forbidding approach) does not solve the basic problem – a very unfair situation is created, maybe entirely accidentally, and the umpire, because defending players quite reasonably will not allow an opponent to freely receive a falling ball close to the goal may have no option but to award a penalty corner or a penalty stroke.

The answer is not (as some have) to declare that “The aerial Rule does not apply to deflections” (because it most certainly does and because not all deflections – off same team players for example – will lead to grossly unfair outcomes). There is no difference in Rule application as far as receiving the ball and allowing the ball to be received, between an intentional pass and a deflection, especially if the deflection is off the stick of a player of the same team as the one who initially hit the ball that led to the deflection. The solution is to devise a way of preventing a ball from being raised into the circle to the endangerment or unfair disadvantage of the defending side particularly when a deflection (stick or body) is off one of their own team.

As this article is overlong and has drifted into another area, raising the ball into the circle, which is not entirely to do with the falling ball, I will cut that part out and start a separate article here –   http://wp.me/pKOEk-2qd  –    on the raising of the ball into the circle.
(I am going to pass on the problem caused when a scoop or high deflection results in a ball hitting the ground and then bouncing high, possibly into the circle, as there isn’t a defined way of dealing with this issue. Are such bounces to be treated as part of the initial pass or deflection or a separate issue? I don’t know, but the issue probably  depends on how high the ball bounces and it requires further thought)

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In the above incident and the following one below, an encroaching offence wasn’t taken into consideration at all. Both went to video referral and in both the goal award was overturned (the referral upheld). In both cases a penalty stroke could have been awarded along with yellow cards for encroachment offences. It is interesting that since these games were played change to the Rules means that in similar circumstances the goals would now probably stand – both were disallowed for above shoulder playing of the ball. 

(As an aside, when a video referral is made only one team can ask a referral question and that can result, as in these cases, in an absurd outcome. Why not allow the other team to make a counter claim if they wish to? That is unlikely to take up much additional video umpire time. We could for example have one team claiming a penalty corner should be awarded for a ball-foot contact in a circle and the opposing captain pointing out that there was no intent and no advantage was gained. The present system gives referral right to the first team to ask for it and automatically denies it to their opponents – that is not entirely fair and can lead to the video umpire considering only one side of the question).
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This cannot be the last word on deflections, accidental or otherwise, or indeed on the aerial pass, but this article is already longer than I intended it to be, so although I will undoubtedly edit it later (I always edit my articles, sometimes months after they were first written and add video if I find any relevant clips) enough for now.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/danger-wheres-the-fh.42463/

This topic thread started in a different area but became about danger and the receiving of a falling ball and the obligations of a same team player. As can be seen there is a great deal of confusion – largely because of a badly worded Explanation of application of the Rule and bizarre ‘interpretation’ or ‘practice’  – and many umpires have been coached to take the wrong approach, taking no account of player positions at the time the ball was raised. S.Petitt (post in the forum thread) is misunderstood and lambasted by those who have not bothered to read exactly what he wrote, but he is correct

      

 

August 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Double offence.

Rules of Hockey.

Edited 11th August, 2016

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

Preface Rules of Hockey 2011-2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 7, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Playing ‘Advantage’

Rules of Hockey.

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

The related Rules and/or Explanation of application.

Rule 9.11. Explanation of application.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was no offence

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 Penalties

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

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

Advantage combo

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

Coaching note.

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

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July 11, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: A broken promise.

The Rules of Hockey. 

Edited 19th March 2017

Preface to the Rules of Hockey 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

And, when I began playing hockey, there needed to be three opponents their goal-side of the ball for the receiver of the ball on the attacking team to be considered on-side. A player could in fact be penalised for off-side before a pass was made if he or she was in an off-side position and considered to be influencing the play of the defending team. (application was later amended to the soccer version at the time the pass was made but I am not sure that the Rule was ever so amended). This was okay because the side in possession of the ball had such a huge advantage and even on-side tackling was difficult with the pre -1980’s long head sticks.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 13, 2016

Field Hockey Rules: Intentionally raised hit

Rules of Hockey. 

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.

Suggested rewrite of the raised hit Rule:-

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/field-hockey-rulebook-rewrite-rule-9-9-intentionally-raised-hit/

 

 

 

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:-

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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).

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(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. 

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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 is a loss of an important ‘step’ on the ‘control ladder’. That step is a warning issued to an individual player which is clearly visable to all the other players on the pitch and to other officials.

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 restoration of the ‘no suspension’ status of the green card, because there is nothing to prevent umpires going directly to a yellow card if a suspension is considered appropriate, 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