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

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

The current Rule 9.9.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

a) from a free ball or any re-start

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

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

d) in a way that will contravene Rule 9.8. The dangerously played ball. (see


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

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

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

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

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

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







10 Comments to “Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 9.9. Intentionally Raised Hit.”

  1. The first line and third line of your suggestion seem to contradict each other.
    1st one states it IS an offence (above SH)
    3rd one states it is not an offence: except. (no mention of SH, and is not directly referring to height)

    The 3rd statement (it is not an offense) would be better moved to the end, a 2) placed beside it (and a 1) placed beside SH) and a slight difference in wording

    “It is ONLY an offence to raise the ball from a hit below SH in any one or multiple these occasions: A, B, C”

    -Takes out any misunderstanding and separates the act of the play verses ruling of height.

    • I believe you have not taken the listed exceptions into consideration – which include all that I have written concerning the dangerously played ball in Rule 9.8. – perhaps I should have repeated the relevant passages from 9.8 instead of providing a link.

      • The rules always work better when the follow on. (The 2011-2013 changes was bad in my opinion for failure to do this. – throwing a rule change/new rule in the wrong area was my main gripe)

        The ruling that is getting me in this case is specifically wording between the two (though I know and understand exactly what you’re getting at)

        ‘Players must not, except for a shot at the goal from within the opponent’s circle, raise the ball to above shoulder height with a hit.’ followed by the qualifier ‘It is not an offence to raise the ball with hit except ‘.

        Somehow getting these two sentences merged would be better in my opinion.

      • The problem with merging two or more Rule statements in a single sentence is that the resulting sentence is then very often not read completely and only the first phrase or clause is remembered.

        Rule 9.8. is a simple example Players must not play the ball in a way that is dangerous or leads to dangerous play. How many participants notice “…or leads to dangerous play…”? Hardly any. One result is that a ball lofted to fall onto the position of players who may contest for it, now (incorrectly in my opinion) is always penalised at the place the ball falls if danger results. In such situations there are often two offences, the first by the player who lofted the ball (play leading to dangerous play) and the second by a team-mate who then illegally contests for a ball where an opponent is the initial receiver. Why should the second offence and not the first be the one that is penalised – gaining for the offending side the distance the ball was scooped and providing no deterent whatsoever for repeats of such actions ?

        The Rules concering dangerous play are scattered in a seemingly random way thoughtout the rulebook and a dangerously played ball is much more than one “that causes legitimate evasive action”.

        The Obstruction Rule, on the other hand, is a (now much reduced) clump which is not read at all and (because of simplification and clarification since 2003) has several clauses that make now make no sense. The exception (introduced as a new interpretation in 1992) concerning a player receiving the ball and nature of the subsequent play (now missing from guidance) is now a disconnected statement that has no meaning but is ‘interpreted’ to allow the abandonment of the Obstruction Rule – which is now almost complete – while other clearer statements, for example the prohibition on a player in posession of the ball moving to position between an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at the ball (which could be better put), are not only ignored but inverted. We are informed by various individuals that a player with the ball may position between an opponent and the ball as long as he or she keeps moving. How’s that for an interpretation of the aforegoing (generally unread) clause?

  2. Obstruction: Actually that WAS the interpretation given to the state qual-ed umpires back home for that clause (so long as you don’t physically move into the tackler), so don’t be so surprised. It’s a shit interpretation, but one hard to escape.

    I pull up lofted balls before they become dangerous wherever possible (aka while it’s still in the air) but the feedback in the different divisions is amazing “But it wasn’t dangerous” “The player trapped it, didn’t evade” (player didn’t have a choice – hit the her or the opposition’s body or trap it) or the best “but the rules state to play the ball where danger occurred”

    I’ve also found each time a new rule or update on a previous rule comes out, there is a period of about 3-5 months where no one knows the exact interpretation of the rules, up until 2-3 int. tournaments have happened and it’s set in stone.
    The self-pass rule was one. When it first came out, there was a debate on whether you had to ‘pass it to yourself, in a clean deliberate movement, different to that of a dribbling maneuver’ or you were allowed to dribble straight away (which everyone tried, and do do). Also up there was where you went to take a free hit, try to hit it, stuff up and it moves less than a meter, can you class that as a self pass and go after it.

    I have seen umpiring technique meetings become a mess when one person states “but the rule in XX.12 states bla, not that” and you realize there’s a contradicting statement left over latter on in the book.

    • My impression of the introduction of the self-pass after the initial ‘trial’ in the European Hockey League is that there were (and possibly still are) a number of officials who were implacably oppossed to its introduction and sought to make it ridiculous in practice. Adoption of the second whistle proposal made at the same time as the initail suggestion, would have done much to prevent the self-pass being used as a means to ‘manufacture’ a series of ‘offences’ culmination in the aware of a penalty corner.

      It was always my intention that the self-pass would be regarded as an advantage played if it was taken before opponents had succeded in retreating the full 5m and that normal play should resume the moment the ball was moved (the free taken) by the taker – no different than a free taken as a pass to another attacker.

    • “but the rules state to play the ball where danger occurred”

      I’m amazed how many inexperienced umpires think that this is the rule. The most common situation at less senior levels is when a carelessly smacked ball causes danger to a player some 10 or more metres away (e.g. flying at his shoulder or head) and the free hit is taken from the location of the endangered player, not the hitter.

      My irritation is not so much the incorrect call but the insistence that this is in fact what the rules say, when taking a moment to actually read what is written (not what the umpire thinks is written) shows otherwise.

      • Not the only misreading of the Rules; it’s astonishing how many umpires think/believe that any ball-body contact gains an advantage for the team of the player hit and is therefore an offence – it’s highly likely that that is what they are told to do – so much for subjective judgement!!. “Gains benefit” was deleted after 2006 and not restored to the Rules until mid-2015, but it was still applied because the Chairman of the Umpiring Committee (in 2007) said it should be. Deleting “gains benefit” was a bad mistake (as bad as the present deletion of a separate forcing Rule), it should instead have been amended. Now we have it officially back again just as it was prior to 2004, as flawed as ever.

        The Obstruction Rule: The conditions for obstruction have not changed at all in more than fifty years except (since 1992/3) to allow the ball to be received while the receiver is in a ball-shielding position (thus doing away with the need to make a lead run to ‘lose’ a close marker before receiving). The Rule was clarified in 2009, specifically to prohibit a player in possession of the ball from moving into a position between an opposing tackler and the ball (thereby preventing a tackle attempt which could otherwise have been made immediately and directly at the ball). There is no evidence that umpires (and others like match commentators) are even aware of this aspect of the Rule – some even believe that ball-shielding is now permitted. Players in possession of the ball now go way beyond what is supposed to be allowed only to a player in the act of receiving and controlling the ball.

        Hockey is no longer being played to the Rules of Hockey.

  3. Well that explains some of the decisions I’ve seen come out of Europe.

    I think it’s one of the few ideas that they got right. It’s sped up the game and given a true advantage to an attacker after a defensive foul.

    Though from my own perspective, I like the 2nd whistle idea as it gives the defenders a small window to get ready (not much), the ump time to give a card if required (or remember the number for later) and will stop foul starts – ball rolling, high hits due to too quick positioning (lower levels normally only seen in) and the manufactured foul of Att running directly into retreating defenders (as long as they were attempting to retreat, they can attack without penalty)

  4. I don’t think the self-pass has yet been ‘got right’. It has always since its introduction been hemmed around with various 5m restrictions and an early taken self-pass has never been seen and treated as an advantage played.

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