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

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Edited 17th February 2016.

The Current Rule 9.11.

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

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

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

Action. Amendment. 

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

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

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

Suggestion.

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

Useful comment and or suggestion is welcome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goalkeepers. 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obstruction on the other hand…..

 

 

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11 Comments to “Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite. Rule 9.11. Ball-body contact”

  1. You mislabelled this one. Should say association football rules

  2. Ok useful comment. Why do you clearly make a difference between teams in attack and in defence in this case. If a defender plays the ball with their body that is fine, so long as they don’t stop a goal, but attackers will commit an offense simply if the ball falls to the, or a teammate.

    I don’t see how that is clear, or fair, or logical. Either the ball hitting your foot and falling to your team is an offemse everywhere on the pitch, or nowhere on the pitch.

    Also you make it clear that any player who plays the ball into the legs of an opponent should be given a card (harsh) and a FH awarded against them. Does this also apply to players who attempt to play the ball through a defenders legs and miss? Or to players who are being tackled by multiple opponents and have no direction to play the ball except for near/past an opponent to a teammate.

    What about players taking shots at goal? Under that wording if a player shoots at goal they should be carded.

    • David,
      Quote”Why do you clearly make a difference between teams in attack and in defence in this case ?”
      The difference is in a player in possession of the ball in the opponent’s 23m area and one who is not in possession of the ball.
      Qoute “I don’t see how that is clear, or fair, or logical. Either the ball hitting your foot and falling to your team is an offemse everywhere on the pitch, or nowhere on the pitch.”
      Following that though would mean that an offence anywhere on the pitch should be penalised with a free ball and never with a penalty corner if it takes place in the circle. Different penalty in different field positions is established practice.
      Quote “Also you make it clear that any player who plays the ball into the legs of an opponent should be given a card”
      If that is the impression you have then I need to rephrase my suggestion – only a player who intentionally plays the ball into the body of an opponent should be penalised. The more important point as regards unintentional playing of the ball into a close opponent is that the player hit with the ball should not be penalised.
      Quote “What about players taking shots at goal? Under that wording if a player shoots at goal they should be carded”
      Dangerous or reckless play – playing the ball without consideration for the safety of other player (page one) Not playing responsibly Rule 9.8.

  3. I never said that the penalty for an offence cannot be different for different areas of the field. Obviously it would be stupid to have a side-line ball type restart when the ball goes over the backline above the goal. What I said was that something should be considered an offence everywhere on the field, or nowhere on the field. Making the distinction that teams in attack will get unfair benefit while teams in defence won’t, seems completely illogical.

    Is that last paragraph saying that a player who shoots at goal is not playing responsibly and being dangerous? Good luck having a game with a result.

    • David,

      It seems that I misquote you, even when I copy and paste what you have written, and you, as always (and I believe deliberately) misread me. I think that as on previous occasions when you have commented on my blog, we must agree to continue to disagree about everything because we are now simply repeating ourselves.

  4. My issue was slightly brought up before in an earlier comment:

    Situation: an attacker just shot the ball at goal legally, but a goalie kicks it out. The ball then ricochets accidently off an attacker’s foot and it goes to a teammate. Via your exception 2, this is a foul against the attackers, yet it is the EXACT same situation as that from the defending video.

    In a hockey game, that would be seen as bias and is in my opinion unfair.
    I love your exception 1 and the rule change, but believe E2 would be impossible.

    Christina
    GCHA player

    • Thanks for your comment.
      An attacker in the circle who has had a ball kicked by goalkeeper propelled into his feet is not an attacker in possession of the ball, which is the suggested exception, but a player who is trying to intercept or perhaps even to avoid being hit by the ball (just as defenders would be) and therefore not within the description given in the second exception.

      The aim of this second exception is to avoid unnecessary (and unfair) penalising of unintentional and often unavoidable ball/body contacts by players who are not in posession of the ball. I believe that is both fair and achievable – it’s just a strange idea at the moment because penalty following any ball/body contact has now become ‘automatic’ i.e. it’s not umpiring.

      • Yep, trust me I understand the crap given to the ref when making the call: “it was unintentional and no advantage: PLAY ON”………. can’t tell I’m a ref.

      • The same people would object to you referring to a hockey umpire as a ‘ref’ – but who should care ( a rose is still a rose etc.), as long as the official in charge is competent.

        By the way, why is an attacker’s restart on the 23m line, following the ball going out over the basline off a defender, called a long corner (a term not in official use for years) and not (for short) ‘a 23m ball’; with the signal being a raised right arm pointing directly towards the baseline ?

  5. I think Martinzigzag, it’s still called a long because people are stubborn and want to remember the old rules…. I know from umpiring club that when the rule was introduced, pointing towards the sideline (calling a long) and directing people to the 23 confuses newbies and oldsters alike…

    I’ve been playing hockey since I was three, but have been an avid football fan since longer, so all referees are interchangeable with the word umpire. Hell, even the Aust hockey fed has a bad time of keeping them straight in their quarterly mags. MY ONLY ask is for said competence.

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