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


A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey.

Edited 10th September 2016 to include reverse edge hitting

The current Rule 9.5.

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

Action. Deletion.

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

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

Other effects. An expansion of the legal stickwork skills.

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



The current Rule 9.6

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

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

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

Action. Amendment.

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

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

The suggestion. 

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

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

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

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



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



7 Comments to “Rewrite: Rule 9.5. ‘Back-sticks. Rule 9.6. Forehand edge hit”

  1. I can’t honestly see why there is a difference between height limits of a forehand and a reverse-hand (A ‘tomahawk’ I believe) outside of a shot on goal. Both require close to the same skill to perform in a non-dangerous way.

    All edge HITS (not scoops) I believe should follow the same rules outside the circle as you proposed for normal hits aka Below shoulder heights.

    Inside a circle, all should be allowed, outside of dangerous play, at any height as a direct shot on goal. Any shots not at or directed to the goals should be penalized same as above.

    • You write “ Any shots not at or directed to the goals should be penalized same as above.”

      Presumably you mean any dangerously raised shot i.e a shot which endangers another player, so what does it matter if such a shot (or pass) is on target or not ?- it is still dangerous play. Introducing ‘on target’ ‘off target’ is an unnecessary difficulty and the on-target criteria ia only relevant when a non-dangerous shot has been made and a defender gains an advantage by stopping or defelecting the ball with the body.

  2. I believe a shot on goal ON-TARGET, should be allowed at any height, so long as it isn’t dangerous. If a shot is not on target, it should be treated as though it’s a field ball and subject to height and/OR danger rules.

    A HIT lifted high via the rules earlier, anyhere else on the field is penalized, whether dangerous or not, so why not in the circle.

    (I had meant to phrase it as “Edge Hit shots not at or directed to the goals that are lifted high should be penalized same as above.”)

    It’s either that or go back to treating all hit balls as the same, on target or not.

    “defender gains an advantage by stopping or deflecting the ball with the body.”
    From club level back home, this happened all the time, where a defender would run into a ball and try to claim a penalty.
    In the situation where the ball is on-target (with no height limit in this case) the penalty should be a spot penalty and a personal. If it’s off target then it’s a PC and a personal.

    • You write “If it’s off target then it’s a PC and a personal.” Even if contact could have been accidental and the ball would otherwise have gone out over the baseline for a 15m to the defending side? Where is the advantage to the defenders ?

      I have never seen a defender deliberately move into the path of a shot at the goal and use the body to stop or deflect the ball without making any attempt to play at the ball with the stick – but I suppose it does happen.

      An attempt to use the stick to play the ball in such circumstances must throw doubt onto intention to use the body and without certainty there can be no personal penalty, but if the ball was on target and would have gone into the goal but for the contact a penalty stroke will be appropriate because an unfair advantage is gained.

      A penalty corner may appropriate in such circumstances when it is not certain that the ball would have gone into the goal – if for example, there are other defenders behind the defender hit in position/s where it would have been possible for one of them to play at the ball, but I wonder “What is the advantage gained?” we cannot assume the other defenders would miss the ball and should they stop it they have possession and nothing has been proven to be gained by the ball-body contact – the ball might have been stopped anyway if it did not hit the first defender. Only where there is certainty that backing defenders would not have been able to reach the ball is penalty appropriate. i.e. never.

  3. “Even if contact could have been accidental and the ball would otherwise have gone out over the baseline for a 15m to the defending side”
    If the contact was accidental (which was not the situation I was talking about) then it is treated by the rule on accidental ball/body contact. though in this case I think it could be a bully outside the circle as either a 15mt hit or a pc is too advantageous to one team

    People moving into the ball deliberately I’ve only seen in club level, I’ve never seen it at international tournaments. These people I’ve either seen keep the stick away from the ball, or promote their body part into the way (feet, legs and arms are the main ones). Because it’s deliberate, I believe it’s a personal foul. If they looked honestly to interpose a stick, then there is no personal penalty as it is not deliberate.

    • “Even if contact could have been accidental and the ball would otherwise have gone out over the baseline for a 15m to the defending side
      If the contact was accidental (which was not the situation I was talking about) then it is treated by the rule on accidental ball/body contact. though in this case I think it could be a bully outside the circle as either a 15mt hit or a pc is too advantageous to one team”

      I need to add other observations about accidental and intentional contacts – and this might seem crazy – but even deliberate use of the foot to deflect the ball off the pitch need not (should not) be penalised if it was going to go off anyway if there wasn’t any contact.

      Rule 12. instructs umpires that penalty should not be applied to any action, even if it is an offence, if that offence does not disadvantage opponents. The fact that the ball was going off anyway precludes penalty for any ball-body contact, howsoever made – opponents are not disadvantaged and there is no advantage gained.

  4. Reading through our exchange of views again I see that I did not answer your suggestion that an ‘on-target’ shot at goal made with an edge hit should not be height limited unless dangerous play. I am trying to move common practice away from the edge hit altogether – one reason I advocate the use of the now rounded part of the stick-head to strike the ball – because unintended raising of the ball frequently occurs when an edge is used. I acknowledge that some players are very accurate with the reverse edge even in the matter of height, but such control is not common and not consistent even in the hands of the most skilful of players. The ‘hard’ forehand edge hit was banned for good reason and reverse edge hitting control is not much more developed in a great many players who attempt the stroke frequently. Penalising after danger occurs is always going to be less satisfactory than not allowing a potentially dangerous stroke in the first instance.
    Will what is now a back-sticks hit be more accurate and height controlled than reverse-edge hitting if it is introduced? Probably not for a considerable period, but it should be bourne in mind that the Experimental period for edge hitting went on for three years and over-rode a lot of protest, before it was adopted into Full Rule – a game without ‘back-sticks’ deserves a fair shout.

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