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

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)

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.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s