Archive for ‘Rules of Hockey’

June 19, 2018

The number and positioning of match officials.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES. .

On 19th June 2018 on the fieldhockey.com website the following article was published.- see link:

http://fieldhockey.com/index.php/comments/40373-a-new-game-plan-for-umpires

I have a very different solution to suggest as I don’t feel that anything new or very useful is presented in the above article and we would still have large areas of the field, particularly those on the side of the pitch opposite the umpires, ‘controlled’ from distances of 50m or more. I don’t in any case believe that positioning an umpire close to the right-hand goal-post when play is in his or her circle to be an effective disposition, especially in matches where there are video umpire facilities.That the FIH are trying to remedy the current deficiencies in umpire positioning and the mistakes that arise because of them is however, welcome.

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.

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This is not ‘cast in iron’ other suggestions are welcome.

Suggestion.

11.1. An umpire and four flag-officials control a match and ensure that it is played fairly and 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.

The Tournament Regulations for video referral also require a radical overhaul.

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There is also I think need for the introduction of a second whistle to restart the game after it has been stopped to award penalty. I re-present below an article with videos that I wrote some time ago on that idea

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey

The current Rule 1.4.d

use all the available tools for control

Action. Amendment. Addition The introduction of a second whistle to restart play when play has been stopped to award penalty.

Reason. Clarification. Improvement of control.

Suggestion.

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 or other penalty is awarded, play will recommence with a second whistle signal, the first whistle signal having been made to interrupt play and signal penalty. 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 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 (not previously attempted) 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.

This video, below, is an 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.).

Example. of the ball not being stopped at all when a free-ball (at 15m) was awarded for an infringement within the circle.

In the following incident there was no attempt to make the ball stationary before the self-pass was taken and a team-mate of the taker was not 5m from the ball (a requirement in the 23m area) – defenders were given no opportunity to get 5m from the ball.

The umpire fails to enforce compliance to the Free Hit Rules, in effect manufacturing the conditions for the penalty corner he then awarded.

The player taking the awarded free below does not allow the defender to retreat from the ball – immediately charging directly into him and then deliberately playing the ball into his feet. (at the time there was some very strange ‘interpretation’ about direction of retreat being applied and such forcing of contact was an offence)

Play at frantic speed, with neither side attempting to comply to 5m requirements – which caused a break-down in play much longer than a properly taken free ball would have done.

Not retreating the full 5m can be employed as a means to delay play and pack the defence when a free ball is awarded – perhaps an objection to the introduction of a second whistle – but the use of a second whistle ensures opponents are 5m away and the umpire has clear indication when compliance is not taking place and may, where appropriate, upgrade the penalty or award a personal penalty.

 

In the above and many more similar incidents, some of which would have required telepathy for the players to immediately know in which direction they should be moving, a second whistle would do much to ensure fair play. There is some appalling unpenalised play in the following video. Play that demonstrates the ineffectiveness of remote umpires and poor control of the taking of penalties.

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June 10, 2018

Hockey skills

FIELD HOCKEY SKILLS


Shorter version.

It is possibly reasonable to consider that any use of the stick and ball together will lead to the development of ‘touch’, the control of the ball with the stick, and any ball control, no matter how developed, will be of use to a player in a hockey match. But it is for the purposes of controlling a ball in various ways during a hockey match that ‘stick-work’ or ball skills are developed. Aside from entertainment and whatever self satisfaction may be gained there is no use or need during a hockey match for someone who can in practice juggle a hockey ball in the air with the rounded side of a hockey stick. It therefore seems right to assume that coaches should ask their charges to following training routines that will develop relevant, i.e. useful skills and persuade them not to waste time (that could be better spent) doing exercises that have no relevance to the game or are contrary to the Rules of Hockey (for example, from the longer video, dribbling a ball in a pond of water, irrelevant or kicking the ball up onto the stick with a foot, illegal).

It gives me a wrench to see the joy with which small children in the above video are carrying out utterly useless activities while under the impression they are training to play hockey. I feel the same sorrow for those who spend countless hours honing stick-work (and become excellent in these skills) but completely neglect, the more difficult to master, spatial and running skills that make up the team-support tasks of the players not in possession of the ball at any given moment in a hockey match – these players despite or even because of their stick skills, will not reach the highest levels of the game. Hockey is a team game, based first and foremost on running and passing skills – the first component for a pass is an available receiver, the second a player in possession of the ball who knows how and when to pass it to a receiver.

The requirement for playing attributes at the higher levels (in no particular order) are:-

Game intelligence. Knowing where to be and when to be there and then what to do next when things go as expected – as rehearsed in training -(which isn’t usually very often because opponents upset plans). It is astonishing how little time some teams spend working on this aspect of play, a laissez-faire attitude is not at all unusual. Such teams will occasionally, fortuitously, put together a four-player move that results in an easy scoring chance and a goal, but they will then be unable to even try to repeat the move (or impossibly a mirror image of it) because they don’t know how they did it (who moved where, when and why).

Passing skills. Delivering the ball at the appropriate time at the correct pace and to the right place, that is in a way that enables a receiver to collect it as he wishes to and when and where he wishes to do so.

Receiving skills. Lead runs, support runs. The ability to receive the ball and continue play without pause.

Stick-work. A hockey player must be able to play by stick-ball touch and peripheral vision. It should be no more necessary for a skillful player to look directly at the ball when in possession of it than it is for a rugby player or an American footballer to do so when they are carrying the ball in the hands. The purpose of stick-work is to be able to take opportunities to pass the ball to a better positioned team-mate. A secondary purpose is to have the ability to hold the ball and elude opponents when there are no useful passing channels immediately available (which should not be often). To put the stick-work of an individual player ahead of team-work and passing and to try to win matches by this means alone is dangerous, in different ways, to both the team and to that player.

Know the Rules of the game – really know them: buy or download a current rule-book and learn what is written in it. Get into it, take up umpiring.

Physical Fitness. Speed, quickness, agility, flexibility, strength, stamina, are requirements, they are not optional.

Mental fitness. Good anticipation (game reading), determination, enjoyment.

Defending – probably the most difficult skill of all, is a combination of the other skills with the exception of passing skills (but like passing it is generally carried out by coordinated player movement). Defending requires that opposition passes are anticipated (or even provoked) so that interceptions can occur. Tackling requires exceptional timing to avoid fouling the player tackled and to also avoid injury.

 

Training Cones.

I was fortunate with training cones, they had not been invented when I started playing hockey and my initial stick-ball training consisted mainly of running as fast as I could between (what are now the 23m lines) and the half-way line with the ball in contact with the stick, which was a bit tricky on a grass pitch cut for soccer. My teacher at school, whom I never saw with a hockey stick in his hand, had us look to where we were heading and not directly at the ball and initially that was good enough to allow me to play in the school team – I could avoid running into opponents by going wide of them and I was fast enough to run away from them if they let me get wide of them. I had only one dodge, a sharp sidestep to my right, but it worked tolerably well.

In my final year at school I joined Blackheath HC and it quickly became apparent that if I was to progress to the higher X1’s I would need more than just one dodge and good running speed. Fortunately there was a large back-garden at my home and as long as I cut the grass and rolled it my father was happy for me to use the lawn for dribbling practice. I started with a dozen house bricks spaced the length of my foot apart (about 10″) and began to walk the ball between them. I quickly realized that the rather haphazard grip I used on the stick was not precise enough and that I was no longer looking up as I moved the ball, so I devised the method of ascertaining correct grip and ball position that I have described in this video and article.

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/holding-a-hockey-stick/

With a few weeks of daily practice I had increased the number of bricks in my wall to fifty and I was able to sprint the length of them with the ball in close control. I varied it by ‘snaking’ the bricks and putting in some fencing slats at intervals (6′ to both sides) and I would transverse these by either turning my hips to follow the ball or by taking shunt and hitch side-steps. The following season I was in the club 2nd X1 and (keeping up my practice) in the year following that in the First X1.

There was no team coach at the club and no mid-week practice. Hockey was played at the weekend – we played in a match (on a superb grass pitch) and that was it. I felt a lot of frustration at this because I knew that even just talking about what we were trying to do would be helpful, but that was the way things were and there was nothing to be done about it except to read any hockey coaching books I could get my hands on. I read The Theory and Practice of Hockey by the New Zealander Cyril Walters, cover to cover more than a dozen times. His passion for the game leapt from the pages. Soccer Coaching the modern way by Eric Batty was a gem of a discovery, which is still worth reading (soccer tactics in the 1960’s were ‘light years’ ahead of what could be seen on a hockey pitch). I found the later The Science of Hockey and The Advanced Science of Hockey by Horst Wein tougher (more technical) reads but well worth the effort.

I dislike cones because they are too forgiving (a house brick is only 4″ wide and more the size of a foot) but also because, for some reason which I cannot pretend to understand, players do a drill run around the cones with the feet as well as avoiding them with the ball (I never while I was playing ever intentionally played the ball into an opponents feet). Stride length and frequency then mimics the rapid short movements of the stick and ball when there is no reason at all why they should do so. Players must be able to stride long and freely even when moving the the ball from side to side with short rapid movements. From this point of view free running over 23m at top speed (especially on a bumpy surface) is far superior for skill development to ‘tip-toeing’ around cones – which also leads to posture and vision problems. These problems can be seen in the shorter video above in the part showing youngsters pushing and pulling balls around cones on a very poor grass surface – this sort of practice drill, with poor posture and ball position, is not only a waste of time it is counterproductive, it is actually detrimental to the development of the necessary skills – as is spinning round and round with the eyes down.

The other problem with cones or any other type of object, is that a mindless response, the same alternately each time, is trained into a player moving with the ball. This is good in one way, ball handling becomes automatic (and by touch rather than sight) and the mind is free to focus on other things, like the positions of team-mates. But it has its downside, it does not prepare a player for anything different. No cone ever retreats in front of the player in possession of the ball or makes a feint or a jab tackle. There has to come a time when the cone is replaced by a ‘tame’ opposing player and eventually by one who is trying very hard to win the ball. It is during such tough one-on-ones, in width limited lanes, (when the Obstruction Rule should be very strictly enforced by the trainer – no ball shielding permitted) that players learn the value of a passing opportunity – which they don’t have.

I owe the circumstances of my hockey playing education to an African dictator. The insane and brutal  Ide Amin caused Indian Africans to flee from Ugandan and some of the surrounding countries and many of them came to the UK. Some of them, who were international level hockey players, ended up at Blackheath HC and the late Albert DeSousa formed the Lusitanians HC with these and Goan players as a core.

The ‘Lusies’ played ‘at home’ on the Redgra pitch at the UK National Recreation Centre at Crystal Palace in South London and I immediately joined them to take part in hockey the standard of which I had not even seen before. Happy days (even if hockey was often played in a cloud of red dust and the pitch was cruel to anyone who fell on it)

The highlight for me was in 1972 when the ‘Lusies’ were due to play a training game against the Great Britain team three weeks prior the Olympic Games. For some reason (a car break-down I believe) the GB team were a player short and during the knock-up before the match the GB manager approached and asked me, as he put it “as the only non Asian” in the Lusitanian team, if I would like to fill in for the missing GB player. I doubt I would have played at all as the ‘Lusies’ had a large squad out and of course everybody wanted to play against the GB team. (This was in the days before rolling substitutions, substitution was done in the manner it now is in soccer, from just two reserves) so I was delighted to accept his (very temporary) offer of a GB team place. The GB team was drawn almost exclusively from the then recently formed (1969) London League, so I knew all the players via club hockey, but it was still a great and novel experience to put on a GB shirt and line up with them, even if it was only to play against my own club. One of the Lusitanians, Rui Saldana, was in the GB Squad but played for the ‘Lusies’ that day, so there was a balance in the numbers swapped between the teams, if not in the talent. Rui was at that time the most composed player on the ball that I had ever seen; I still had my ‘L’ plates on display.

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May 18, 2018

Contradiction

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

My interpretation of the action and of the application of the Obstruction Rule, is very different from that of the coach commentator, who clearly saw both obstruction and impeding by the ENG player, but did not consider either to be an obstruction offence.

Had the USA player pushed the ball between the legs of the ENG player and then run into her that could have to be construed as an attempt to ‘manufacture’ an obstruction offence (A Forcing offence now dealt with under the Rules relating to physical contact). But that is not what happened.

After the ball had been pushed between her feet. the ENG player, instead of pivoting clockwise off her left foot so that she could chase after the ball without impeding the USA player deliberately turned (moved) the opposite way to impose her body between the USA player and the ball and block her, when but for that action the USA player could have followed and played at the ball and would probably have regained possession of it. That was an obstruction offence by the ENG player.

When an opponent pushes the ball through the legs of a player with the intention of running past them and collecting it on the far side there is no obligation for the defending player to move out of the path of the attacker if the attacker attempts to run ‘through’ them. But deliberately blocking an attacker by moving into the attacker’s path to the ball is obstruction. (Blocking off an opponent who has attempted to push the ball past a defender and chase after it, is the simplest and earliest mentioned obstruction offence in the Rules of Hockey).

The ENG player then becomes stationary in possession of the ball before moving backwards to make contact with the USA player (a common tactic to locate the exact position of an opponent, often seen in shootouts with a goalkeeper). That was both an obstruction offence and a physical contact offence. The ENG player then shields the ball from the USA player as she moves sideways with it – more obstruction.

The ENG player then demonstrated that she possessed both the stick-work and footwork to have avoided committing the obstruction offences, as she eluded the final tackle attempt by the USA player and ran away with the ball.

May 8, 2018

Insanity

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

Reducing cognitive dissidence; wilful blindness and confirmation bias.

Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other; it will unriddle many riddles; it will make clear and simple many things which are involved in haunting and harassing difficulties and obscurities now.” Mark Twain.

I have been driven mad trying to make sense of the the Rules of Hockey, when compared with the current (sic) application of them, particularly the Rules concerning a dangerously played ball, ball body contact and obstruction. I have no difficulty at all in accepting that those who wrote these Rules are not quite sane and that I should feel sorry for them, as well as joining them.

This article is an attempt to unravel the history of the Obstruction Rule and explain how it came to be written as it now is. I will not attempt to explain why it is applied as it currently is, because it is impossible to explain the contradiction of literal word meanings or to reasonably explain irrationality or willful blindness (other than in the legal sense of the term), but examples of current practice will be shown in video and comment about current practice will be included.

The 1986 Rules of Hockey provided the following Rule and Guidance about obstruction. At the time there was nothing on the subject given in Advice to Umpires (a separate section at the back of the rule-book). I am not certain in which year the following Guidance for Players and Umpires was first written but it was the same in 1958 (a year for which I have a copy of the Rules) and probably for a considerable number of years before that. I chose 1986 as a start point because in 1987 Advice to Umpires included in the rule-book for the first time advice on the application of the Obstruction Rule.

1986 Rule Proper
12.1. A player shall not:-
(k) obstruct by running between an opponent and the ball nor interpose himself or his stick as an obstruction.

Obstruction was at this time regarded by the FIH HRB as an offence that a tackler, rather than a player in possession of the ball, was the more likely to commit, but that was a ‘traditional ‘ view which did not fit with fact. Then as now the majority of obstructive offences were ball shielding (to prevent an opponent playing directly at the ball) by a player in possession of the ball.


In recent years obstruction by tackling players, usually referred to as ‘breakdown tackles’ and generally committed together with a physical contact offence have become more common. In the Umpire Briefing video produced for the 2016 Rio Olympics concern was expressed about this kind of obstructive contact and umpires were instructed to watch for and to penalise it. There are some startling examples of umpires doing the opposite, even penalising the player in possession or about to get possession of the ball after he or she had been obstructed and physically impeded.

Examples of Obstructive tackling. 1) Penalty against the wrong team and personal penalty against the wrong player 2) No penalty, despite video referral (When a penalty stroke ought to have been awarded).

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1986 Guidance for players and for umpires.
(prior to 1995/6 set out in the rule-book as far as possible on the page opposite the page on which the Rule Proper was printed).

L2.1 (j) (k) Body Interference and Obstruction.

Subject to the “advantage rule” umpires should be particularly strict on obstruction and other forms of interference dealt with in this Rule. It should be noted that obstruction does not necessarily depend on the distance from the ball of the players concerned.
That last sentence of the above clause is badly misplaced, because for an obstruction (ball shielding) offence to occur, a tackler had, in practice, to be within playing distance of the ball, although the Rule and Rule Guidance makes no mention of this requirement – a curious oversight which caused a deal of confusion and conflict. That sentence should have been placed in the clause relating to ‘third-party’ obstruction and made clearer about the possibility of an offence occurring because the player obstructed by a third party was thereby prevented from reaching the ball when he or she could otherwise have done so

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 obstruction. 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.

The above clause could usefully be included in the current Rule.

Obstruction occurs at hit-ins and should be watched for carefully.
(the ‘tram-line’ which ran parallel to the sidelines at a distance of 7 yards – all players had to be outside of it when a hit-in from a side-line took place – was done away with long before 1986, but the associated Guidance remained in the rule-book. It is possible that it was left in place to save on reprinting costs and umpires were told during verbal briefings to put a line through it (something they are now used to doing with other Rule clauses – even if only in their heads).

A player must not interpose any part of his body or his stick as an obstruction between his opponent and the ball.

Watch too for third party interference i.e. a player interposing himself between his opponent and the ball so that a fellow player has an opportunity to clear or play the ball.

1987

The same Rule and Guidance as previously (see above), but the following was new in Advice to Umpires (which was set out in the back of rule-books):-

BODY OBSTRUCTION AND INTERFERENCE
(Rule 12)

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.
(a sentence, particularly the second part of it, that could usefully be included in current Rule ).

Obstruction may result from the actions of a player from the same team who does not have possession of the ball preventing an opponent from playing the ball. This is known as third party obstruction.

Not every situation, when a player finds himself between an opponent and the ball is obstruction. To obstruct, a player must be active. He will have to move to place himself between his opponent and the ball. If the aforementioned conditions are not met, there can be no grounds for penalising a player for
obstruction.
The above clause was the introduction of the idea (it was not Rule but advice given to umpires) that to obstruct the obstructing player must first have moved into a position that obstructed an opponent (rather than a player intent on tackling for the ball moving towards an opponent in possession of the ball). It later found expression in the meme “A stationary player cannot obstruct” and proved to be a stumbling block to the writing of a rational Rule. The idea was later defended by some who declared that a stationary ball holder wasn’t doing anything – shielding the ball while remaining stationary wasn’t considered by these people to be an ‘active’ obstruction – i.e. an action. However being hit with a hockey ball isn’t usually the result of an action taken by the player hit but penalty generally follows (even when it shouldn’t), so was the demand for ‘activity’ reasonable when a tacker was clearly prevented from playing at the ball only because it was deliberately shielded from him or her? I think not.

Obs 130

This clearly obstructive play, with both stick and body, was not recognized as an obstruction offence because there was no attempt to make a tackle – but neither, because of the ball shielding, was there any possibility of the opposing player playing directly at the ball, even though within playing distance of it.

Players who run into the back of an opponent or by any other means try to create the impression that they are being obstructed can be penalised under Rule 12.1(1) (The ‘manufacturing’ offence which preceded the offence of Forcing).

The above “or by any other means try to create the impression that they are being obstructed” was also irrational, because a tackler was (is) obliged to demonstrate they were (are) trying to play at the ball in order to be awarded a penalty against an obstructing player, i.e an obstruction offence has to be forced by means of a legitimate tackle attempt: obstruction cannot otherwise occur – a conundrum is created by the above clause.

This example, below, from a match played in the past few weeks, demonstrates the weakness of ‘active or movement’ arguments. The defender in this case should have been penalised with a penalty corner, there is nothing accidental about his obstruction of the opposing forward. The umpire was oblivious to the offence – trained blindness.

1993

Rule and Guidance was as previously given above.

This was the year of the introduction of a so called “new interpretation” of the Obstruction Rule, which was not a new interpretation of obstruction at all but an exemption or exception to the Rule granted only to a player who was in the act of receiving and controlling the ball.

What constituted obstruction did not change in 1993 in any way except as it applied to a player receiving the ball. The current Rule (2018) still states that a receiving player may be facing in any direction, it does not state that a player in possession of the ball (so not, or no longer, a player receiving the ball) may face in any direction irrespective of the positioning of opponents who are attempting to play at the ball (a clearly written Rule would have ‘spelt’ that difference – the exception – out, instead of relying on deduction and common sense – that  is generally poor deduction and a lack of common sense). See:

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation/

The current clause is read and interpreted and acted upon as if the word “receiving” is not contained within it: that is players in possession of the ball are permitted to face and move in any direction irrespective of the presence and positioning of opposing players who are trying to play at the ball from within playing distance of it.

 

RULES TECHNICAL INTERPRETATIONS.

1993 BODY OBSTRUCTION AND INTERFERENCE
(Rule 12)

Interpretation of obstruction in hockey has changed significantly over the last few years. The main reasons for this are the increased use of artificial pitches on which the ball and player can change direction quickly, a desire to let the game flow and a wish to develop and protect skills on the ball.

The reasons given in the above clause for change to interpretation were untrue and silly, interpretation of obstruction changed because it had been declared in 1987 that a obstructing player had to move to position between an opponent and the ball in order to obstruct; that was interpreted to mean that players who were in possession of the ball, but stationary, could not obstruct. This was a dramatically different approach from what had gone before, but there was no acknowledgement of this fact other than to, wrongly, declare that there was a new (very poorly explained) interpretation.

There followed some ‘woolly’ statements that demonstrated that the writer knew little about playing hockey (particularly as a defender). There was also the presentation of one way of looking at obstruction (without considering any others). Why ‘The Stationary Player’ and ‘The Moving Player’ were chosen as divisions for Rule Interpretation, is a mystery to me. ‘A Receiving Player’ (the subject of the exception) and ‘A Player in Possession of the Ball’, are I think much more appropriate divisions of circumstances in what was to be a new approach to Obstruction (the introduction of a single exception to the usual application of the Rule).

This note gives guidance on the resulting current interpretation of obstruction. In doing so, it suggests principles which can be applied; it does not aim to be a detailed treatise describing every potential obstruction situation. Indeed, it concentrates on two primary playing circumstances. (flimflam, an Obstruction Rule must be applicable to every potentially obstructive situation and should be fully explained)

The Stationary Player
In the past, only the direction the receiving player was facing was considered rather than what the receiver and tackler were trying to do. (meaningless pap)

Now the principles are:

The receiving stationary player may be facing in any direction.

The onus is on the tackler to move into position, i.e. usually to move round the receiver, to attempt a legitimate tackle. The only time an opponent can reasonably move round a player receiving the ball is when the ball is still a considerable distance from the intended receiver and there is a strong possibility of making an interception before the ball reaches him.

Thus the tackler must not crash into a receiver and thereby try to.claim obstruction, any such action should be firmly penalised.

Having collected the ball, the receiver must move away in any direction (except, of course, bodily into the tackler) (my bold)

The last above clause conflicts with the previous Rule Interpretation statement that a stationary player cannot obstruct. It is also very vague. What does “away” mean? (Away from a opponent intent on making a tackle for the ball?) When? How far away? At what speed? For what purpose?

Accordingly, the receiver is being allowed to collect the ball and proceed with play – with the onus on the tackler to move into position where an attempt can be made to play the ball without contact with the receiver.

The Moving Player
The variations in this instance are vast – so a few principles for making the necessary judgement are suggested.

From here on the advice about application of the Obstruction Rule is not about obstruction but about what a tackler must do to avoid a physical contact offence.

One way of summarising these principles is to consider the position, intent and timing of the tackler.

 

Just as with the stationary receiver, the onus is on the tackler to be in, and if necessary move to, a position from which a legitimate tackle can be made. Even once in the correct position, the following conditions must also be satisfied before obstruction occurs.

There must be an intention to make a tackle. In essence, the tackler must be attempting to move his stick towards the ball.

The timing of this movement of stick towards ball must be precise – because until the moment the tackler is in a tackling position and intent on making the ‘tackle, the player with the ball can move off with the ball in any direction.

This demand for precise movement of the stick towards the ball at the right time and from the right position destroyed the Obstruction Rule. There was nothing to prevent a player in possession of the ball at any moment moving the ball to maintain body shielding of it or at any moment, from moving (turning)  so that the tackler who was about to achieve a position from which a tackle could be made, was no longer able to achieve such position. The tackler who was trying to position to make an attempt to play directly at the ball (“usually to go around the player in possession”) could be made to be like ‘a dog chasing his own tail’ without the ball holder having any fear of penalty for obstruction.

An attempt by a tackler to go around a ball holder to position to make a tackle, simply offered opportunity to the ball holder to turn away with the ball to the opposite side, easily preventing any tackle attempt and simultaneously ‘beating’ the defender while maintaining ball shielding. Defenders then had no option but to stand-off a receiver of the ball who remained stationary or a ball holder who had turned to shield the ball from them but did not then move away. To attempt a tackle was to invite penalty for physical contact (the ball-holder could easily make sure of that) or just as easily turn into the space vacated by the tackler.

This is the essence of the current interpretation of obstruction: allowing a player to receive a ball, play or pass it in any direction, and only penalising him if obstruction takes place at the time a properly-placed tackler is intent on making the tackle.

It is clear from the above clause that ‘a receiving player’ was, until the ball was in control (a very short period in top level hockey), exempt from what would usually be regarded as an obstruction offence, but that obstruction by a player in possession was then a possibility. It is the illegal (because of ball shielding) prevention of a legitimate (non-contact) tackle attempt, when but for the ball shielding, an opponent who is demonstrating an intention to play at the ball, would be able to play directly at it, that is the ‘essence’ (the critical criterion) for an obstruction offence. That was true in 1993 and it is true now. The 1993 ‘new interpretation’ of obstruction did not specifically mention a player in possession of the ball illegally preventing an opponent from playing directly at the ball – it concentrated on tacklers and mentioned obstruction in passing, without explaining what obstruction is. It was in other words, nonsense.

What constituted obstruction by a player in possession of the ball did not change at all in 1993 (or later). But a major difficulty for umpires was judging the moment a receiving player became a player in controlled possession of the ball (and therefore subject to the Obstruction Rule). They ‘solved’ this difficulty by ignoring it, players who were obviously no longer in the act of receiving and controlling the ball but had it in close control (were moving it from side to side with the stick), were permitted to continue to shield the ball without moving away (or even attempting to move away) from an opponent who was intent on making a tackle for the ball – today we have umpire coaches instructing that a player in possession of the ball can legally back into opponents (back into their playing reach) as long as they do not back into physical contact and this opinion is based on nothing more than a quirk of language, the analogy – that a car that backs into another car makes contact with that car (how daft this is as a basis for interpretation can easily be illustrated by extending the same analogy, the driver of a car who backs his car into a parking bay or a home garage does not normally keep going until he hits something) .

That is, the player with the ball can play hockey and is penalised only if Obstruction is actual rather than implied.
(I have no idea what the above sentence is meant to convey to a reader, it’s just more flimflam)

1995

The Obstruction Rule was rewritten

13.1 .4 Obstruction. Players shall not:-

a. obstruct an opponent from attempting to play the ball by:

∙ moving or interposing themselves or their sticks

∙ shield the ball with their sticks or any part of their bodies

∙ physically interfering with the sticks or bodies of opponents.

OBSTRUCTION AND INTERFERENCE (Rule 13.1.4)

There was a reformatting of the Rule and Rule Guidance after 1995. The Guidance to each Rule, previously given on the facing page, was not changed at this time but hereafter presented beneath the relevant Rule in italics.

There were two changes to Appendix B Rules Interpretations pertaining to obstruction.

Having collected the ball the receiver may move away in any direction (except, of course, bodily into the tackler).

Here the word “must” was replaced with “may”. This was a huge change although it might, being a change of only one word, appear to be insignificant, but a prohibition (against remaining stationary) and a directive (to move away), were deleted and replaced with a choice. A receiving player having received the ball could now remain stationary if they so wished. This change also removed the conflict introduced in 1993 (the contradiction of the 1987 stationary player meme) but it would have been much better if the 1987 statement which effectively declared that a stationary player could not obstruct had been removed instead of the ‘fudge’ in the above clause being introduced.

At the time it was made the change of word from “must” to “may” was incomprehensible to me and I wrote to the Hon. Sec. of the  FIH HRB about it – without reply. In hindsight, a distance of many years, I can see that it was made to address the 1993 contradiction of the 1987 statement and maintain that statement, a double error that effectively ‘gutted’ the obstruction Rule.

This was added at the end of the 1995 Interpretation of the Obstruction Rule.

Preventing a legitimate tackle by intentionally and continuously 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 actively to shield or protect the ball from a legitimate tackle.

The inclusion of the words “continuously” and “use the stick actively” was worrying but no explanation of either phrase was offered. I believe it was from ‘use the stick actively’ that the odd idea that stick obstruction could not occur if a player had his or her stick-head in contact with the ball, first arose. Umpires have proved capable of ignoring entire paragraphs in a Rule but, then extrapolating an ambiguous phrase from Interpretation into a new (and unofficial) Rule or Rule Interpretation.

By 2002 the officiating of the Obstruction Rule had become such a shambles, that what was by then called Appendix B Rules Interpretations, was revised to include some objective criteria to judge if an obstruction offence was taking place. The Rule wording and the structure of the Guidance and Rules Interpretations remained the same.

2002

APPENDIX B RULES INTERPRETATIONS

Rule 13.1.4 Obstruction

The interpretations of obstruction below allow players to receive a ball, play or pass it in any direction, and only to be penalised if obstruction takes place at the time a properly placed tackler tries to make the tackle.

(No mention there of the exception of the Rule in the case of a receiving player, all playing of the ball and attempting to tackle is rolled into one general – and meaningless – statement: obstruction is not defined)


In a Rule about Obstruction the Rule Interpretation below still says more about a player attempting to tackle than about a player who is or might be obstructing

It is important for umpires to be vigilant in observing the obstructions referred to in the following paragraphs. Players gain unfair benefit and opponents can become frustrated if the obstructions described are not penalised. (this is advice for umpires. ‘padding’ in a Rule Interpretation)

The Stationary Player

The same as previously – post 1993

Then for the first time a description of some of the actions that might objectively be considered to be obstructive actions (actions that had by that time become commonplace) was included in Rules Interpretations. There were of course those with their own agendas who declared on Internet hockey forums that “be aware” did not mean “penalise” (they themselves were not penalising any of the listed contraventions) even though some of the “be aware of” actions that were listed in this Rule Interpretation were mentioned in Guidance as offences.

Umpires should be aware of players who are in possession of the ball who:

∙ back into an opponent;

The meaning of “back into” has lately (2017) become the subject of a bizarre interpretation (again see https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation/ )

∙ turn and try to push past an opponent;

⋅ shield the ball with body, leg or stick and stand still when under pressure;

(which rebutted previous Advice to Umpires “To obstruct, a player must be active. He will have to move to place himself between his opponent and the ball. If the aforementioned conditions are not met, there can be no grounds for penalising a player for obstruction” and also rebutted the 1995 change from “must” to “may” – because if a played is not permitted to stand still and shield the ball when under pressure, then he or she must either move away or not shield the ball if stationary, as a tackle attempt is being made

Perversely, the above clause, instead of deterring stationary shielding, which remained unpenalised, led to the idea that a player who was moving with the ball (or even just moving the ball) could not obstruct, so we had umpires, sincerely believing (because that was what they were coached) that a stationary player in possession of the ball could not obstruct and nor could a player who was moving the ball or moving with the ball. These umpires apparently did not suffer from cognitive dissidence (an uncomfortable feeling that their belief was being contradicted by fact – what was written in the rule-book) and they saw no reason to do anything to reduce dissidence. Their common sense apparently did not tell them that if all the above statements were true then there was in effect no Obstruction Rule because obstruction (except maybe third party) was not a possibility in any circumstances.

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.

.

Third party or shadow obstruction

Players who run in front of or block opponents to deny them the legitimate and feasible opportunity to play the ball are obstructing. This can happen, for example, at penalty corners when attackers run across or block defenders including the goalkeeper.

Rule 13.1.5 Manufactured offence

Players must not be allowed to disadvantage opponents by forcing them to offend unintentionally. Examples of manufactured offences include:

forcing an opponent into obstructing, often emphasised by running into an opponent or by waving the stick over an opponent’s head. This action should be penalised.

2004

In 2004 there was a reformatting of the rule-book (a new book size) and a major rewrite, which was described as a simplification and clarification, but consisted largely of deleting previous Rule clauses and all previous Rule interpretation. The additional criteria added in 2002 were not, as had been expected they would be, included in “Players obstruct if they:-” they were simply deleted. The Rules Interpretations previously given in the back of the rule-book before 2004 just disappeared. The Obstruction Rule and provided Rule Interpretation was then comparatively sparse.

9.10 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. (my bold italic)

The original “must” now became “is permitted to”, following the change to “may” in 1995. I have no idea why “is permitted to” replaced “may”, it seems an unnecessary change as both have exactly the same meaning, but the FIH HRB could then declare that an amendment had been made to the Obstruction Rule and put a line next to it in the text of the rule-book, even though they provided no reason for the change and the change had no significance. The word “away” was also replaced, with “off” (which does not mean away); this was a fudge which has been interpreted to mean that a player in possession of the ball is allowed to move towards (even into the playing reach of an opponent trying to make a tackle attempt) while shielding the ball, despite that being a contradiction of one of the criteria (back into) for an obstruction offence.

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) when a penalty corner is being taken.

2009

There was one amendment made to the Rule Explanation in 2009. Nothing else in the Obstruction Rule was changed.

This clause:- A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent.

Was expanded, to read:-

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.

Few umpires appear to be aware of this last amendment to the explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule; in fact it added nothing that was not already in place and was generally ignored. Perhaps the FIH HRB wanted to be seen to be doing something, anything no matter how futile, about the way the Rule was (not) being applied. There are still some very peculiar opinions about what is and is not obstruction being coached to umpires, prospective umpires and to players. Commentary to the video below is absurd.

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/05/18/contradiction/

As was written in the Rule Interpretation in 1993 “……One way of summarising these principles is to consider the position, intent and timing of the tackler.

Another way would have been to consider the positioning and other actions (including stationary ball shielding) by player in possession of the ball and also of a player in the act of receiving the ball. To have done so would have made more sense as we already have separate Rules which prohibit any form of physical contact – and it is not possible to rule about the position a tackler needs to adopt to make a tackle attempt (e.g advising or insisting that a tackler should “go around” is inappropriate).

The existing Rules, which forbid all physical contact, are sufficient to deal with any physical contact. Once physical contact is taken out of consideration under another Rule (e.g. 9.3 or 9.13). The Obstruction Rule can and should be about preventing obstruction; that is what a player must do or not do to avoid obstructing an opponent: which is preventing an opponent playing directly at the ball when he or she is within playing distance of the ball and would otherwise have been able to play at it.

It was an error (to put it mildly) to introduce in 1987 the idea that could be interpreted to mean that a stationary ball holder could not obstruct an opponent. The error was compounded by swinging back and forth, next, in 1993, demanding movement away by a ball holder who had received and controlled the ball, removing that demand in 1995 (may move away), then reimposing it (watch for stationary ball shielding when under pressure) in 2002, and then (perhaps?) removing it again (is permitted to move off) 2004. This sequence gives a sense of disagreement and discord within the FIH HRB, which there can be no doubt existed (still exists?) and was surpassed in absurdity only by the ‘gains benefit’ fiasco of January and February 2007. 

The original (1987) clause, which appeared to sanction stationary ball shielding (even if the ball was being moved), has not appeared in a Rule or Rule Interpretation since 1992, but it is still regularly trotted out as if current interpretation or even part of the Obstruction Rule. Many umpires will not penalise a player who is shielding the ball to prevent an opponent making a legitimate tackle attempt if that player is stationary and/or is moving the ball. There is now no clear justification for this approach to the offence but, years of “simplification and clarification” have left us with a vague and ambiguous wording of the Explanation of Application for which many interpretations are offered and ‘in practice’ obstruction offences are virtually ignored.

Only the last two incidents shown in the video below were penalised (and then one of them with a penalty corner when a penalty stroke should have been awarded) I can find no rational reason why obstruction, even when combined with a physical contact offence, is so frequently ignored. I have a few, but very few, videos showing an umpire penalising an obstruction offence, so there is some ground for supposing that umpires are (or should be) aware of the existence of the Obstruction Rule, but no rational explanation of their general refusal to apply it – other than that they find it difficult to do so (because it is not what their peers are doing) – it is easier just to ignore offences, in spite of the frustration this causes to players who are obstructed and the incidents of physical contact that result from this frustration. One of the reasons for the difficulty umpires encounter is the absence of a clear definition of obstruction within the Obstruction Rule and the absence of criteria – similar to those introduced in 2002 – to use as a guide to correct application.

There have been no amendments made to the Obstruction Rule since 2009 but ‘interpretation’ is ‘a runaway train’.

The Obstruction Rule needs to be rewritten without the previously embedded and hidden conflicts and with clear definition and criteria, here is an attempt to do that.

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

April 21, 2018

Trial of 9 v 9 in four quarters of ten minutes each.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

2018 National Hockey League ‘product test’ – ACTAS v NSWIS


https://youtu.be/klvCC5oy4sU


This is video of three 40 minute 9 v 9 matches carried out as a trial (a “product test” – in marketing-speak) in Australia. I failed the challenge to watch it in one sitting, it took five well spaced sessions, and I also failed to endure the commentary, only turning it back on occasionally after the first painful ten minutes – and then quickly turning it off again. Far too much talk from the commentators about the score and the effects of a double score period and in which quarter a ‘power play’ (double score) was best conducted.

That terminology was irritating. Why call a period of the game, where any score counts double, a power play? A power play is a situation set up in play where one side has a numerical superiority – and to add to the confusion, we have already seen such power plays replacing penalty corners, in the Lanco 9’s, also in Australia. What’s wrong with calling a period of the match in which scores count double a ‘double score period’? That said why introduce double scoring at all when so much else is changed. It’s an unnecessary distraction from taking note of the way the game is being played because of the reduced numbers and a zone restriction.

I do not like the concept of doubling scores in a chosen quarter of a match (with each side choosing a different quarter). I don’t much like the idea of one point for a penalty corner goal and two for an open play goal (there are other ways to prevent the ‘manufacture’ of penalty corners). Nor do I like a one on one with the goalkeeper after scoring a goal, which if converted, would give a total of six points in a double play period (the initial field goal 4 plus the conversion 2) , that  left me cold. Too much like kicking someone when they are down (which used to be considered ‘beyond the pale’ but is now regarded as sensible behaviour).

And of course obstruction offences were completely ignored by the umpires throughout the match, we have come to expect that, but why (and how can anyone) introduce new game formats while ignoring existing Rules of Conduct of Play?

 

It was a requirement that each side kept two players at all times in the opposing half of the pitch and, a sensible idea, there was an additional  official to watch that the teams complied with this requirement. I have no idea what the penalty might be for a breach of this zone requirement, as there was no breach and the commentators, when explaining the Rules, didn’t say what he penalty was.

I think there are better zone restriction alternatives because one thing that was clear from the play was that the circles got very crowded – it was after all possible, even if very unlikely, for fifteen players to be in either circle at any one time, but twelve at a time was not uncommon. .

There was an FIH Mandatory Experiment back in 2004 (in the eleven-a-side game) in which teams were required to keep three players out of their own 23m area at all times. That got ‘watered down’ in the following year to that requirement being applied only during opposition free balls in the 23m area and corners (the old long corner) and was then discontinued, without there being any adoption of any zone requirement into Full Rule. There were no extra officials appointed to watch for compliance and the initial zone restriction must have been near impossible for a single umpire to properly oversee in his or her own part of the field. Having a zone restriction only during corners or when there was a free awarded within the 23m area was fussy and almost pointless, so discontinuation was no surprise.  

I nonetheless believe that zone restrictions are best applied to defenders rather than to attackers, if the idea is to open the game up and create more scoring opportunities. Provided there are flag officials to watch for compliance, it might be a better option to limit the number of defenders in the circle at any one time to three field-players and a goalkeeper. There could also be the introduction of a small goal-zone (marked out in the same way as the shooting circle but with a radius of 2m from each goal-post) which could be occupied only by a goalkeeper (and into which no attacker without the ball – or before the ball – could venture).

I like the idea of nine-a-side game, I think Horst Wein was right about the advantages of it, but it needs to be played in a different way than was generally displayed in this ‘product test’. Back passes should not be static plays but create the opportunity for forward runs from deep positions to receive a subsequent forward pass,  (there may have to be a short interim pass or double to and from a third player to allow time for the runner from a deep position to achieve an advanced position). There also needed to be a lot more ‘give and go’ and ‘wall-passing’ in the central channels and supporting runs for and with (alongside of) the player in possession of the ball.  There were players patiently makes passes from one side of the pitch to the other while gaps as wide as ‘barn doors’ opened up but remained unexploited in front of them. “Create a gap, put a body into it, give that body the ball”, works as well in midfield or even better, than it does in the opponents 23m area, there is generally more space and less cover. It is a good way to create the opportunity to outnumber defenders in their own circle while in possession of the ball. But it doesn’t just happen (at least not often) even if some players can do it intuitively (have appropriate game intelligence), it needs to be planned and practiced until all players involved in the various movements deployed, develop good game intelligence. A planned move involving four players needs all four players to be able to execute the move smoothly no matter what their starting position is in relation to the other three players.

The technical bits and pieces were disappointing. The camera positions, number of cameras and hockey experience of the camera-operators were below par. The two teams played in kit that was at times difficult to distinguish, and with numbers that even the commentators could not easily see. This made the viewing experience a tough one, especially over more than two hours of play – which was too much for screen viewing. The hockey played was frankly, not that interesting.

April 20, 2018

Why facts don’t change what we think and believe.

Confirmation bias and perseverance of opinion despite conflicting facts.

Changing opinion and practice an ineffective approach

I liked to believe that I was communicating with hockey participants when I wrote blog articles in which I explained how application of the Rules of Hockey was different from what was given in the FIH published Rules, and I also believed that by communicating this fact, change to much of what is now common practice could be brought about.

I was communicating, but not in a way that would put into effect the changes, I was able to demonstrate with facts, needed to be made to align the practice with the Rules.

In fact pretty much the opposite has happened. Those who held views I demonstrated, by reference to the Rules (facts) and video (showing umpires doing the opposite) to be in error, became even more entrenched in their views and in their turn they attacked me, via social media, as an isolate with either outmoded or bizarrely advanced ideas (suggested rewrites) about the Rules to which the game should be played .

The effect of this was to isolate me, I was (am) called confrontational, argumentative, unyielding etc.etc. and I came to believe I am when writing, although, in real life, I am an easy going and sociable person. This attacking naturally caused me to become confrontational and argumentative in my writing (or more so) and thus, not a poor communicator (my messages are clear enough), but an ineffective one.

The reaction to anything I have written in the last few years has been, by enlarge, (I have a few supporters) to disregard it simply because I and not somebody else wrote it* – very few are taking any notice of the changes suggested, certainly not sufficient numbers to put them into effect.

* I vividly recall that Ric Charlesworth wrote an article, prior to the Athens Olympics (where he was coach to the Australian women’s team), on the raised flick shot at the goal, in which he asked for clarity from the FIH about dangerous play. It was widely acclaimed to be the writing of a brilliant innovative thinker and he got widespread support, there was even a Rule change, which lasted for a couple of years before fading away under ‘interpretation’. What he wrote was almost word for word what I had been writing on the same subject for several years before that; all I got for my efforts was abuse.

Those who skim what I have written (they admit they do not properly read anything I write), disagree with it pretty much as a reflex or even in advance of skimming, without explanation (without offering any tangible reason for their disagreement) and without offering any argument against my proposals or in support of an alternative change. They have no ideas of their own to offer (even when they accept that some change is necessary): that is very frustrating.

The following article has given me an insight into what I have been doing wrong, but not what in practical terms to do about it

An article by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999. She won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for the Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.

http://cl1ck.me/Zp6X9x

So now what do I do? Give up? That’s not my style but nor is brown-nosing. There cannot be however much advance towards change without net-working of some sort. But how? One problem is that I do not know of one other person who has suggested Rule changes to the main areas of Rule, Conduct of Play and Penalties, someone I could join with, someone who is unhappy with the way hockey is being officiated, who has said that and will continue to say that. This apparent contentment with the absurd is astonishing to me, that however seems to be the situation. But is it?

April 16, 2018

The setting up of a conflict in Rule

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

The first incident shown in the video clip is from a match played in the 2010 World Cup, so not long after the self-pass had been introduced into mainstream hockey. The incident begins badly, with an absence of common sense and correct Rule application, and then gets worse.
.

.
The incident begins with an attempted aerial pass by an ARG player. The ball gets to a good height but falls far short of its intended target. It falls directly onto the position of the CHN #5  in free space, there isn’t an ARG player within 10m of her. She opts to control the ball as it nears the ground instead of taking it with a horizontally presented stick and makes a mess of doing that , so that she has to move her feet and turn her body as the ball bounces on the pitch and it then runs away from her as she plays it with her stick. An approaching ARG player (who could not have seen any ball-body contact from her direction of approach) puts her hand up in appeal and the umpire penalises the CHN player – presumably because she though there was a ball-body contact (she too could not have seen any such contact because the body of the CHN player was between her and the ball).

The view from the camera angle shows that there was in fact no ball-body contact by the CHN player. But even if there had been, in these circumstances there can be no justification whatsoever for penalty. There was obviously no intent to use the body to control the ball and no opponent could legally have approached to within 5m of the CHN player until she had the ball in control on the ground – so clearly there could be no disadvantage to opponents if the ball had glanced off her body on the way down to ground. Even if she had intentionally trapped the ball with her foot there would have been no reason to penalise that action, even though that would have been an offence.

Rule 12.1. is perfectly clear about this:

12 Penalties

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

(If only umpires took note of that Rule when there are inconsequential touches of ball to foot by a defender in his or her own circle).

And the subsequent events are possibly worse because there is a lack of clarity, specifically a lack of necessary instruction in Rule 13.2, which needed the application of commonsense to resolve fairly – but that necessary commonsense was absent. This is not the entire Rule but all the relevant clauses are presented. Can you spot the missing, and necessary, instruction or permission?

 

13.2 Free Hit

Procedures for taking a free hit, centre pass and putting the
ball back into play after it has been outside the field:

a the ball must be stationary

b opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball

If an opponent is within 5 metres of the ball, they
must not interfere with the taking of the free hit or
must not play or attempt to play the ball. If this player
is not playing the ball, attempting to play the ball or
influencing play, the free hit need not be delayed.

c when a free hit is awarded to the attack within the
23 metres area, all players other than the player taking
the free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball

h from a free hit awarded to the attack within the
23 metres area, the ball must not be played into the
circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres or has been
touched by a player of either team other than the player
taking the free hit.

.
What is missing is instruction to the defender caught within 5m of a quickly taken self pass, on permitted subsequent actions. The FIH HRB just presented above text to umpires and left it to them to sort out what a defender could or should do in these circumstances. This despite the self-pass having been used in the EHL in the previous two years. They must have been aware of the problems, Internet hockey forums were inundated with questions about 1) whether or not the defender had to get 5m from the ball before being allowed to play at it  2) the direction in which a defender could or should retreat 3) What constituted influencing. The answers (opinions without Rule backing) offered, conflicted and were therefore, overall of no help at all.

The lettering of the clauses of the current Rule 13 is different, but despite some very significant changes in umpiring interpretation of the taking of a self-pass since 2009 there is no change to the above Rule wording. Only when the newly introduced (enacted from May 2015) shadowing from within the circle is described is there any indication that a defender may engage and make a tackle once the ball has been moved 5m by a self passer. 

At an attacking free hit awarded within 5 metres
of the circle, the ball cannot be played into the
circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres or it
has been touched by a defending player. On this
basis, defenders who are inside the circle within 5
metres of the free hit are therefore not interfering
with play and may also shadow around the inside
of the circle a player who takes a self-pass,
provided that they do not play or attempt to play the
ball or influence play until it has either travelled at
least 5 metres or alternatively been touched by a
defending player who can legitimately play the ball.

The early interpretation devised ‘on the hoof’ by umpires, was that a defender could not retreat in the direction the attacker wanted to go (which led to attackers taking a self-pass charging directly at the nearest defender ‘winning’ a series of free balls and eventually a penalty corner) and that a defender caught within 5m of the ball by a quickly taken self-pass had to get 5m from the ball before being allowed to contest for it (which also led to attackers running at defenders, who were forbidden to engage them) The direction of retreat ‘interpretation’ was changed (forgotten) within a year, but obliging defenders to get 5m from the ball before engagement was permitted lasted substantially longer than that in some locations before gradually fading away.

The CHN player in the above video was penalised with the award of a penalty corner to ARG because she did not at any time get 5m from the ball. The fact that the first attempt by the CHN player to tackle was made after she had retreated in front of the advancing ARG player at least 7 metres and the ARG player had moved the ball about 10 metres when the CHN player made her successful tackle made no difference at all in this interpretation.

The CHN player was still upset about being penalised for a foot contact she (rightly) insisted did not occur, but the umpire informed her that there was nothing she could do about that because it was the other umpire’s decision (This was untrue, there was no reason the umpires could not have conferred to get things right and order a restart with a bully – Block must have known her colleague’s decision made no sense at all and was unfair. She could even, for the sake of fairness, have been pedantic about the taking of the self-pass by the ARG player: the ball was not made stationary before the self-pass was taken and it was not taken from within playing distance of the alleged offence – which gave the ARG player an unfair advantage – the CHN was denied the opportunity to move 5m from the ball before the self-pass was taken).

Unfortunately, I have lost the soundtrack to the video, but the umpire then ‘fed’ to the CHN player (who did not understand English very well) the question she should put to the video umpire, which was – “Was the CHN player (at any time) 5m from the ball?” The video umpire of course rejected the referral based on that question (as the umpire must have known she would) and confirmed the penalty corner.

The second incident in the above video clip shows an ESP player obstructing a NZ player (which was ignored) and the NZ player being penalised, presumably for making contact with his stick while trying to tackle. The ESP self-passer then charged the NZ player with the ball and deliberately players it into his feet (a Forcing offence at the time) The NZ player was penalised again, maybe because of his direction of retreat, maybe because he did not get 5m from the ball, maybe for the ball-foot contact. He didn’t know which or understand what was going on. Who could? He should not have been penalised at all.

 

 

.

The video clip above shows a self-pass incident in which the defender was penalised for “not 5m” but I think that under current interpretation the umpire would have seen no offence. The defender shadowed the self-passer for the last meter or so, but did not make any attempt to play at the ball until it had been moved 5m (was in the circle).  So everything is okay now. Right?  No, far from it. The Rule wording about what a defender caught within 5m of the ball when a self pass is taken, must or should do, has not changed since 2009 (i.e.there isn’t any) only the interpretation has (where have we seen that phrasing before? In the Obstruction Rule which has been interpreted out of existence.) there is still no clear written direction for the defending player to follow, unless shadowing from within the circle.

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation/

If the FIH Umpiring Committee and the FIH Rules Committee liaise and agree on the interpretations of the Rules, as they both declare they do, why do the Rules of Hockey not reflect the results of this liaison? Rule 13.2. was substantially amended in mid 2015 but none of the current interpretation of the permitted actions of a defender caught within 5m of the ball during a self-pass is included in that amendment. It is just ‘known’ to umpires.

I would like to see an early taken self-pass (a self pass taken before retreating defenders have been given any opportunity to retreat – never mind get 5m from the ball) treated as an advantage played (because that is what it is – there is no other reason to take a self-pass early but to gain an advantage from doing so) and for defenders to be permitted to engage the self-passer as soon as the ball is moved (the umpire need only ensure that defenders genuinely quickly retreat as soon as they are aware their team has been penalised, by penalising players who make no attempt to move away from the ball and/or the place of the offence when a free is awarded against them. This would be easier than judging whether or not various 5m restrictions had been observed by players from both teams).

From time to time we have been told via the Internet forums that “every umpire in the world” or “all FIH Umpires” are applying certain ‘interpretations’. Among them:-

A player positioned on the goal-line causes danger.

An ‘on target’ shot at the goal cannot be considered to be dangerous play.*

Defenders accept the risk they will be hit with the ball if they position between the goal and a shooting attacker.*

Aerial Rules do not apply to deflections.

Aerial Rules do not apply to shots at the goal.

Two* of those statements are partially true, but they are true only if the ball is not propelled towards a defender in a dangerous way: the others are false. All of them have been applied by umpires as if they are written into the Rules of Hockey, without any such thing ever having been written in the Rules. But how can we tell what the FIH Rules Committee and the FIH Umpiring Committee have agreed about concerning the interpretation of the Rules when they don’t tell us in writing in the rule-book? Are we to somehow absorb and know ‘interpretation’ by seeing ‘practice’? Cart before the horse. It is not sufficient that umpires know the Rules, it is a Rule that all participants are aware of and abide by the Rules. The FIH need to facilitate the required awareness.

April 9, 2018

Rewrite of the Free Hit Rules

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

The article is set out in four parts. 1.The Current Rule. 2. Highlighting of areas slated for revision or deletion 3. A suggested change to the Free Hit Rule. 4. Additional comment. Parts 1 and 2 can be skipped by those familiar with the Rule to speed reading.

1.The current Rules 13.1 and 13.2

13.   Procedures for taking penalties

13.1.  Location of a free hit:
a a free hit is taken close to where the offence occurred

‘Close to’ means within playing distance of where
the offence occurred and with no significant
advantage gained.

The location from which a free hit is taken must be
more precise inside the 23 metres area.

b a free hit awarded to the defence within 15 metres of
the back-line is taken up to 15 metres from the back-
line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to
the side-line

13.2.   Procedures for taking a free hit, centre pass and putting the
ball back into play after it has been outside the field:

All parts of this Rule apply as appropriate to a free
hit, centre pass and putting the ball back into play
after it has been outside the field.

a the ball must be stationary
b opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball

If an opponent is within 5 metres of the ball, they
must not interfere with the taking of the free hit or
must not play or attempt to play the ball. If this player
is not playing the ball, attempting to play the ball or
influencing play, the free hit need not be delayed.

when a free hit is awarded to the attack within the 23
metres area, all players other than the player taking the
free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball, except
as specifically indicated below for attacking free hits
awarded within 5 metres of the circle

the ball is moved using a hit, push, flick or scoop

the ball may be raised immediately using a push, flick or
scoop but must not be raised intentionally using a hit

from a free hit awarded to the attack within the 23
metres area, the ball must not be played into the circle
until it has travelled at least 5 metres, not necessarily in
a single direction, or has been touched by a player of
the defending team

If the player taking the free hit continues to play the
ball (ie no defending player has yet touched it) :

– that player may play the ball any number of
times, but

– the ball must travel at least 5 metres, before

– that player plays the ball into the circle by
hitting or pushing the ball again.

Alternatively:

– after a defending player has touched the ball, it
can be played into the circle by any other player
including the player who took the free hit.

At an attacking free hit awarded within 5 metres
of the circle, the ball cannot be played into the
circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres or it
has been touched by a defending player. On this
basis, defenders who are inside the circle within 5
metres of the free hit are therefore not interfering

with play and may also shadow around the inside
of the circle a player who takes a self-pass,
provided that they do not play or attempt to play the
ball or influence play until it has either travelled at
least 5 metres or alternatively been touched by a
defending player who can legitimately play the ball.

Players inside or outside the circle who were
5 metres or more from the point of the free hit
at its award are not allowed to move to and
then remain in a stationary position within
5 metres of the ball as the free hit is taken.

Other than as indicated above, any playing of the
ball, attempting to play the ball or interference by
a defender or an attacker who was not 5 metres
from the ball, should be penalised accordingly.

Following a time stoppage after the award of an
attacking free hit inside the 23 metres area, upon
the re-start all players other than the player taking
the free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball.

It is permitted to play the ball high above the
attacking circle so that it lands outside the circle
subject to Rules related to dangerous play and
that the ball is not legitimately playable inside or
above the circle by another player during its flight.

 

2.The parts of the Rule slated for deletion or amendment (clarification) are highlighted in red.

Because of these clauses:-

the ball is moved using a hit, push, flick or scoop

the ball may be raised immediately using a push, flick  or scoop but must not be raised intentionally using a hit.

….where, for obvious reason (and only in these particular clauses), “the ball” is used in place of “the Free Hit”; where the term “Free Hit” is used in the Rule it will be replaced with “Free Ball”.

13.1. Location of a free hit:
a a free hit is taken close to where the offence occurred

‘Close to’ means within playing distance of where
the offence occurred and with no significant
advantage gained.

The location from which a free hit is taken must be
more precise inside the 23 metres area.

b a free hit awarded to the defence within 15 metres of
the back-line is taken up to 15 metres from the back-
line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to
the side-line

13.2. Procedures for taking a free hit, centre pass and putting the
ball back into play after it has been outside the field:

All parts of this Rule apply as appropriate to a free
hit, centre pass and putting the ball back into play
after it has been outside the field.

a the ball must be stationary
b opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball

If an opponent is within 5 metres of the ball, they
must not interfere with the taking of the free hit or
must not play or attempt to play the ball. If this player
is not playing the ball, attempting to play the ball or
influencing play, the free hit need not be delayed.

when a free hit is awarded to the attack within the 23
metres area, all players other than the player taking the
free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball, except
as specifically indicated below for attacking free hits
awarded within 5 metres of the circle

the ball is moved using a hit, push, flick or scoop

the ball may be raised immediately using a push, flick or
scoop but must not be raised intentionally using a hit

from a free hit awarded to the attack within the 23
metres area, the ball must not be played into the circle
until it has travelled at least 5 metres, not necessarily in
a single direction, or has been touched by a player of
the defending team

If the player taking the free hit continues to play the
ball (ie no defending player has yet touched it) :

– that player may play the ball any number of
times, but

– the ball must travel at least 5 metres, before

– that player plays the ball into the circle by
hitting or pushing the ball again.

Alternatively:

– after a defending player has touched the ball, it
can be played into the circle by any other player
including the player who took the free hit.

At an attacking free hit awarded within 5 metres
of the circle, the ball cannot be played into the
circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres or it
has been touched by a defending player. On this
basis, defenders who are inside the circle within 5
metres of the free hit are therefore not interfering

with play and may also shadow around the inside
of the circle a player who takes a self-pass,
provided that they do not play or attempt to play the
ball or influence play until it has either travelled at
least 5 metres or alternatively been touched by a
defending player who can legitimately play the ball.

Players inside or outside the circle who were
5 metres or more from the point of the free hit
at its award are not allowed to move to and
then remain in a stationary position within
5 metres of the ball as the free hit is taken.

Other than as indicated above, any playing of the
ball, attempting to play the ball or interference by
a defender or an attacker who was not 5 metres
from the ball, should be penalised accordingly.

Following a time stoppage after the award of an
attacking free hit inside the 23 metres area, upon
the re-start all players other than the player taking
the free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball.

It is permitted to play the ball high above the
attacking circle so that it lands outside the circle
subject to Rules related to dangerous play and
that the ball is not legitimately playable inside or
above the circle by another player during its flight.

 

3. Suggestion for amendment of Rule 13.1 and 13.2.

 

13.1. Location of a free ball:
a a free ball is taken close to where the offence occurred

‘Close to’ means within two metres of where
the offence occurred and with no significant
advantage gained.

The location from which a free ball is taken must be
more precise (within half a metre of the offence) inside the 23 metres area.

b a free ball awarded to the defence within 15 metres of
the back-line is taken up to 15 metres from the back-
line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to
the side-line

13.2. Procedures for taking a free ball, centre pass and putting the
ball back into play after it has been outside the field:

All parts of this Rule apply as appropriate to a free
ball, centre pass and putting the ball back into play
after it has been outside the field.

a the ball must be stationary
b opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball or attempting
to get to be 5m from the ball

If an opponent is within 5 metres of the ball, they
must not interfere with the taking of the free ball or
must not play or attempt to play the ball. If this player
is not playing the ball, attempting to play the ball or
influencing play, the free ball need not be delayed.

a free ball may be moved using a hit, push, flick or scoop

a free ball may be raised immediately using a push, flick or
scoop but must not be raised intentionally using a hit

If the player taking the free ball continues to play the
ball (ie no defending player has yet touched it) :
– that player may play the ball any number of
times and move with the ball without limited on distance or direction, as in normal open play:
this playing action from a free ball is called a self-pass.

If a player takes a self-pass  (moves the ball from its stationary position) before opponents have been given the opportunity to retreat the required 5m (and opponents are at the time attempting to so retreat) that
must be regarded as an advantage played and opponents may cease retreating and immediately
attempt to tackle for the ball.

Going ‘inactive’
that is standing still with the stick raised when a quickly taken self-pass
is employed, is not retreating or attempting to retreat and should be discouraged by the umpire
(a reset of the free ball and a verbal warning in the first instance). A defender close t o the bal l who makes no attempt to retreat when a free ball is awarded but instead interferes with play (attempts to play at the ball) should be further penalised with a personal penalty and, if within his or her own 23m area
a penalty corner

Other than as indicated above, any playing of the ball, attempting to play the ball or interference by
a defender who was not 5 metres from the ball or attempting to get 5 metres from the ball before a
free ball is taken, should be penalised accordingly.

A Free Ball awarded for an offence committed between the hash circle and the shooting circle
must be taken from a position close to but outside the hash circle line and opposite to where the
offence was committed.

It is permitted to play the ball high with a flick or a scoop or a lob, above the attacking circle so that it lands outside the circle, subject to Rules related to dangerous play and that the ball is not legitimately playable inside or above the circle by another player during its flight

4. Additional comment.

The clauses concerning the direct playing of the ball into the circle have been deleted because they were introduced as a safety measure but oddly, without a counter-part in open play. It was suggested at the time the amendment was made that a free ball could be played from a (sic) free ball in a planned way into the circle with the intention of setting up a deflection towards the goal and that this practice was potentially dangerous.

That does not make much sense because it is perfectly possible to plan to play (hit) the ball into the circle from predetermined positions in open play and to set up deflected shots at the goal by this means –  and this possibility has not been considered to be potentially dangerous to opponents – it is allowed.  In fact if a free ball is passed to another close same team player within the 23m area (which is easy) there is nothing to prevent that player immediately hitting the ball hard directly into the circle to enable such a deflection and this also can be done in a planned way.

The prohibiting of playing a free ball from within the opponent’s 23m area directly into their circle impedes the flow of the game and significantly reduces the advantage of being awarded a free ball in this area. And it has given rise to some very complicated 5m restrictions, especially around the taking and defending of a self-pass close to the opponent’s circle. The prohibition also made the corner unworkable – of no or little benefit to the side awarded it – and led to many attempts to ‘manufacture’ offences – self-passers from a corner charging into defenders with the aim of ‘winning’ a penalty corner. The corner had eventually to be replaced with a restart for the attackers on the 23m line (the restart on the 23m line is a big improvement on the original corner but we got this improvement via a curious route).

What makes far more sense than the existing restriction is to prohibit the raising of the ball with a hit into the opponent’s circle in any phase of play – irrespective of intention to raise the ball. 

Rule 9.9. should prohibit the intentional raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle already, but does not because umpires have been instructed to ‘forget’ that the ball has been raised (despite intentionally raising of the ball with a hit being an offence and there being the possibly of disadvantage to opponents) and consider only if a raised ball is actually dangerous to opponents. The determination of “dangerous” depends on the causing of legitimate evasive action from an opponent (a subjective judgement), but such evasive action is presently being ignored if the ball is propelled from beyond 5m of the evading player, even though ‘legitimate evasive action’ is not distance limited. (There therefore needs to be amendment to Rule 9.8. to provide objective criteria for a dangerously played ball when the ball is propelled towards an opponent from more than 5m – say up to 15m from an opponent: this is long overdue). These amendments to Rule 9.9 and 9.8 have already been suggested in other articles.

The reintroduction of moving the ball to outside the hash-line when a free ball is awarded for an offence committed between the shooting circle and the hash circle, is necessary because the removal of the requirement that same team players be five metres from a free ball when it is taken, would mean that a free ball awarded close to the shooting circle would be a greater advantage than the award of a penalty corner.

The last clause of the current Rule gives ‘a nod’ towards the idea of prohibiting the intentional raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle but it applies only during the taking of a free ball and does not in fact cover the raising of the ball into the circle, but over it, and so it is insufficient and a rather an odd addition to the Rule.

Tags:
April 6, 2018

Stick and Stick Diagram

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Profile of ZigZag Ambi shown positioned over suggested stick diagram.


ambi-over-suggested-diagram

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey

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 in 2004, when all technical specifications concerning equipment were removed from the Rules of Hockey and published in a separate booklet. 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. My repeated writing to the FIH HRB to have this corrected have got nowhere.

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. The bends shown on the diagram on the left below go in the opposite direction to the way the bends on my design go because the FIH did not want to be seen to be endorsing any particular brand while illustrating the scope of the permitted bends. The diagram on the right is taken from one I submitted to the FIH HRB but dotted lines, which I included to show the overlap of the two heads illustrated (a sample maximum possible set-back head and a conventional hook) were not included, so the difference between the conventional and the extreme permitted is not as clear as it could be. (The ZigZag Ambi, at about half the measurement that is permitted, is not close to the possible extreme configuration – see diagrams above and below).

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. This diagram has been in the possession of the FIH HRB/ Rules Committee for more than ten years.

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 pitch-side, 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, foreseeing the possibility of what came to be known as the ‘low bow’ and the safety issue with accidentally raised hits, 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 (and was heavily promoted as a drag-flick stick). 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 stick-head, 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, but there is at least some regulation.

I later suggested that as the modern composite stick does not have a splice joining handle to head and even in wooden sticks this is an economic measure rather than a necessity, that the distinction between head and handle should be on a line level with the maximum permitted upturn to the toe of the head, 100mm from the ground or the base of the head of the stick. That suggestion was accepted.

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, it is now too late, manufactures would need to be given several years notice of a more severe restriction.

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 (it being considered unacceptable to outlaw sticks which had been on the market for some years at the time).

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 set-back of the Ambi is determined by the degree of set-back possible before adjustment needs to made for it by a player when a push stroke is played. An extreme set-back (maximum permitted) tends to snag on the ground during a push stroke and must be adjusted for.

The slightly set back head achieved a better head shape for ball control than the previous ultra tight heel bend and also, with the use of lamination and the incorporation of a kink to the shaft above the toe upturn, overcame the problems of bending wood – which, when the stick was designed, 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, but not marketed) had a more extended toe (90mm). The goalkeeper sticks (Save and Reach, first produced in 1990 and 1992 respectively) always had a toe up-turned to the 100mm maximum permitted.

I have recently made other modification to the top of the handle, which I have not published. I very much doubt that this handle modification will be marketed but still I enjoy designing things and trying to improve the using of what we have.

 

Below an earlier, simpler version, of a suggested stick diagram.

April 5, 2018

Suggested rewrite of Rule 9.7 above shoulder playing of the ball

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey


The current Rule 9.7

Players may stop, receive and deflect or play the ball in a controlled manner in any part of the field when the ball is at any height including above the shoulder unless this is dangerous or leads to danger.

Action. Rewrite.

Reason. The Rule tries to be both directive (but weakly so)Players may“, and prohibitive,unless this is dangerous or leads to danger”, which is expressed as an exception, but without specifying what the dangers may be or suggesting how they may be avoided (rather than penalised after the event).

The previous Rule prohibited any playing of the ball at above shoulder height and the only exception, defending an on target shot at the goal, was extremely limited and hedged with penalty. For example, if a defender even attempted to play at an above shoulder height shot that was going wide of the goal the award of a penalty corner was mandatory (that was accepted because it punished defending – defending prevents the scoring of goals and therefore spoils the game and is considered offensive – fairness had nothing to do with it !!??).

Okay playing the ball at above shoulder height is now permitted, the focus of the Rule should now be on what is still not permitted and/or what will be considered to be dangerous play. The above Rule is far too loose, there is no defined or definable restriction at all. (Dangerous is not definable because legitimate evasive action, the main criterion, is not defined)

Problems.

or play the ballis far too wide and unrestricted a term and asking for play with the stick in control or with a controlled stroke at the ball does not improve it (the result could still be a ball propelled in a way that endangers another player). What I think should be done is to determine what the intercepting or receiving player should be trying to do and what he or she should be prohibited from doing. A start can be made by asking “Why was the Rule changed?” Once that is established, it is possible to provide limits to prevent players going way beyond what was intended to be facilitated. I can insert videos here to show exactly why the change was needed.

 

The German player seen in the video brought a ball, that had bounced up high off the ground following an aerial pass, quickly and safely directly to ground and into his own control. There was no possibility of his endangering anyone by these actions. Technically the umpire was correct there was a breach of Rule and had play been allowed to continue the Australian team would most certainly have been disadvantaged – very possibly by the scoring of a goal, but the annoyance of the attacker is understandable.

And there we have it – safely directly to ground and into his (or her) own control, without endangering anyone.

Now a Rule needs to be framed around those concepts. It can be seen at once that there is no need at all for facility for the receiving player to hit or deflect the ball away from his or her own control (actions that the term ‘play’ includes) and that those actions can be excluded by prohibition or by limiting them to the taking of the ball into the control or run path of the receiving player. Players were not asking for anything more than that.

 

The suggested Rule wording

A player who is receiving a falling ball and who plays the ball when it is above shoulder height, must bring the ball down to ground and/or into his or her own control, safely.

A ball that is above shoulder height must not be hit, hit at or deflected away from the receiver beyond what is necessary to put it into his or her own run-path – that is to where it may be chased and collected immediately and cannot endanger or be directly contested for by opponents before it is rolling along the ground.

The making of passes to other players by hitting or deflecting away a ball when it is still above shoulder height is prohibited.

Intentional raising of the ball with a hit is separately prohibited by Rule 9.9.and this Rule applies even when the ball is already in the air.

Any playing of a ball that is above shoulder height is prohibited to a player who is in the opponent’s circle – as a result the taking of an above shoulder shot at the goal is also prohibited.

 

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. It is amazing that the umpire did not notice attempts by more than one GB player to hit the ball when it was above shoulder height and also missed dangerous use of the stick which forced opponents to take evasive action to avoid being hit in the face with a stick.

.

.

A properly framed Rule would recommend the award of a free to the attack on the 23m line when there was such a deflection up off the goalkeeper’s protective equipment or another defender’s stick. Before the era of awarding a penalty corner for any accidental incident involving defenders – such as the accidental trapping of the ball in a goalkeeper’s equipment – this kind of incident was dealt with in a much fairer way, the award of a bully 5yds from the circle edge, but this was presumably not considered to be exciting or spectacular enough for modern tastes: fairness rather than severe penalty has long been forgotten. The GB team were awarded a goal instead of being penalised for the several incidents of dangerous play they were guilty of.

The oft made assertion, that high level players have the skill and level-headedness not to behave in a dangerous way when under a falling ball that could be contested for, is an obvious nonsense. There is no shortage of video clips showing examples of dangerous contesting for a falling ball by players in international level matches – or of umpires failing to take appropriate action to deter or prevent such play.

The action in the video from a match played at a time when above shoulder playing of the ball was prohibited (unless defending an on target shot at the goal). The ball was deflected high into the PAK circle off the stick of a PAK defender and was falling to an ENG player in space, when a PAK player closed on the ENG player from beyond 5m of his position and attempted to play at the ball with his stick above his head. The ENG player put under this pressure was obliged to play at the ball (shoot at the goal) immediately. Initially a goal was awarded but the PAK team asked for video referral citing above shoulder playing of the ball by the ENG player. The match umpire’s recommendation was to cancel the goal award.

If the ENG player did hit the ball at above shoulder height a goal could not have been awarded, but what was the correct and fair decision? Certainly not a 15m to the PAK team; there were two offences by a PAK player prior to the taking of the shot by the ENG player. A penalty stroke and a yellow card for the PAK defender could have been recommended but earlier intervention by the match umpire would have prevented the dangerous play (What would be fair and correct, a free ball from where the deflection occurred or a penalty corner for play leading to a potentially dangerous situation? The Rule is unclear about penalty and needs revision).

Allowing the playing of the ball at above shoulder height has not improved this sort of situation, under current Rule there would still be a deflection leading to a potentially dangerous situation and an encroaching offence by the PAK defender.

March 30, 2018

Suggested introduction of a goal-zone Rewrite Rule 9.14.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey.

The current Rule 9.14.

Players must not intentionally enter the goal their opponents are defending or run behind either goal.

Action. Amendment and Expansion, the introduction of a Goal Zone

Reason. A promise made in 1997, when Off-side was initially abolished:-

The (Hockey Rules) 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. (my bold)

has not been honoured; there has been no Rule introduced to curb potential close in dangerous play by opponents, now free to position anywhere up to (and beyond) the baseline irrespective of the positioning of defenders (a huge additional advantage –  It is expected that the balance of influence will swing from defenders to attackers – which does fundamentally change the pattern of play from what it was previously ). The recent introduction of above shoulder playing of the ball and the development of edge-hitting as well as what is termed 3D hockey has also made defending the goal more difficult and dangerous than at any previous time.

Suggestion.

This is new so untried and any suggestion to improve it is welcome. Obviously the first step is a trial.

A Goal Zone or Goalkeeper’s Zone marked out in a similar way to the marking out of the shooting circle, but with the measurement, from the inner edge of the face of the goalposts to the outer edge of the Zone line, to be a radius of 2m.

The Goal Zone would serve as a miniature off-side area, no attacking player being permitted to enter it before the ball had done so and obliged to vacate it immediately the ball travels out of the Zone. Dribbling with the ball directly into the Zone would of course be permitted.

The Zone would prevent most of the physical blocking and crowding of the goalkeeper that now occurs frequently and also prevent opponent’s ‘goal-hanging’ prior to the ball being raised with a hit or flicked across the face of the goal by an attacker from a position on the base-line. Point-blank deflections into the goal, from attackers positioned on or very close to the goal-line before the ball was passed, would be eliminated.

At 2m radius the Goal Zone is small – the goal-line is almost within playing reach from outside the zone – and the zone could possibly be extended by a further 50cms, but I don’t think it should be made any larger than that.

The suggested wording:-

Rule 9.14 Players may not enter the goal zone of the goal their opponents are defending until the ball is in the zone.

Players must vacate the goal zone their opponents are defending immediately the ball is played out, or otherwise travels out of the goal zone. (For example, because (a) the ball rebounds from a goal-post, or (b) the ball is propelled into the zone, directly across and out again.

Players may not at any time enter the goal their opponents are defending.

No player may run off the pitch behind either their own goal or the goal their opponents are defending, and back onto the pitch on the other side of that goal.

(I don’t know why the Hockey Rules Board considered moving around the back of the opposing team’s goal an unfair action by an attacker but I have left this prohibition as presently given)

.

I have no doubt that what has been suggested above does not cover a multitude of reasonable “What ifs” you are invited to point them out and made further suggestions for Rule wording. 

 

Tags:
March 28, 2018

Introducing a power play to replace the penalty corner

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Preliminary suggestions for the procedure for the taking of a power play, which it is proposed will replace the present penalty corner.

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 publicizing of the game, the playing tactics of it and even the development of the hockey stick (for the drag-flick). Video of match ‘highlights’ often contains little more than a showing of the taking of penalty corners – not even showing what led to the award of these corners.

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 within 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 (over much protest at its introduction). There is always the excuse that next year (or this year) is a World Cup (or an Olympic) year and the qualifying tournaments (which must, to be seen as fair, be always in the same format for all teams), and 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 the 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 during a power play.

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. A power-play even begins in a familiar way, with the ball being inserted from a position on the base-line 10m from either of the goal-posts and the attacking side must then devise a way of making a scoring shot. The significant difference is that the ball is played to a position outside the 23m line rather than the line of the shooting circle. The expectation is that the inability of the attackers to set up an immediate shot at the goal will significantly reduce danger to players.

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 has never been acceptably 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 be (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.

We have an absurd situation, where even if not hit towards an opposing player, a first hit shot during a penalty corner will be immediately penalised if raised above 460mm, but a ball flicked (at around 100mph by experts) at an opponent, that hits that opponent on the head, usually results in penalty against that defending opponent because of an advantage gained for the defending team (the prevention of a goal), instead of penalty against the attacker for dangerous play. That isn’t even rational – never mind reasonable – and the absurdity of it is obvious when it is realized that attackers using drag-flicks often deliberately target defenders on the goal-line with head high shots (usually by firing over-high (above 460mm) flicks ‘through’ out-running defenders) – they are actually coached to do so.

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 (introduce shooting height limits when the ball is propelled towards an opponent) – 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, there is refusal to discuss.

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, 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 and hopefully by a number of different individuals to overcome ‘blind-spots’.

There is also the introduction of a goal-zone – employed in a different way to the way it is suggested it be used in open play – 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 these 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 (from the penalty corner)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, so 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 (mainly because any addition or subtraction of clauses throws the numbering out of kilter).

The proposal can be enacted without using a 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 separate suggestion for a 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).

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.

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’ and I doubt that I have covered everything that needs regulation, but a start needs to be made somewhere if any desirable change is to be achieved . I also referred above to a second whistle and a goal-zone, both of which I had previously presented articles about when I first wrote this article. Those articles have now been taken down but can be replaced.

It is also necessary to consider replacing the award of a penalty corner with a less severe alternative penalty for several accidental occurrences and actions that are not offences (e.g. ball trapped in equipment, or ball deflected up off a goalkeeper or another defender’s stick in the circle). Most of these were previously dealt with by the award of a bully and could now be more fairly result in the award of a free ball to opponents on the 23m line.

Other bits.

The deletion of the prohibition on playing a free into the circle when it is awarded to be taken within the 23m area, is essential to free the game up and improve flow (it is a silly restriction because it has no counterpart in open play): as is the deletion of the raft of 5m restrictions surrounding the free ball, especially when it is taken as a self-pass. Only the repositioning of the ball outside the hash circle when an offence is penalised between the hash circle and the shooting circle need be retained (restored), because the advantage of a free close to the line of the shooting circle, without 5m limits, would otherwise be greater than the award of the present penalty corner.

March 28, 2018

Irresponsible umpiring

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

I received a strange ‘friend’ request on Facebook on Tuesday (28th March). The individual concerned just wanted to be able to send me a message and a video which demonstrated again that I was wrong. What I was wrong about he did not say but as the video and his message were about a player shooting as he put it:-

“This is what you said last time about aiming and dangerous shots!! Another example that you were wrong because this is what happend in the hoofdklasse last weekend!! Amazing Goal while the girl sits on the ground the other girls smacks the ball in the cage! No time to look up and see if someone is there!”

In other words he said that the shooter in the video he sent to me, shot ‘blindly’ towards where she ‘knew’ the goal to be and she could not have taken account of the position of a defender because she had no time to do so or was blocked (he claims both in separate messages) and the umpire still awarded a goal. Ergo my view of reckless play is wrong.

Naturally he has put what I wrote ‘back to front’. in article about the video below (see link) I declare the action of the striker to be reckless precisely because he could see both the goal and the defender and had ample opportunity to make an alternative shot or even to pass the ball to a team-mate for an easy tap-in, but chose instead to raise the ball directly at the defender (who was within 5m of him) with a hit which was raised to above knee height – or rather not to care that that is what he did (or know that it was dangerous play by all the FIH published criteria). Ironically the shooter immediately, before the penalty stoke signal was given, asked for a video referral – a request he withdrew. 

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/reckless-endangerment/

The other incident we ‘discussed’ (I was abused for my opinion of) was the second one in the following clip. An incident from the Rio Olympics, where an attacker unnecessarily hit the ball hard and high across and past the head of a defender from less than one meter. I had and have no issue with the velocity of the shot but I have with the raising of it, the ball could have been driven low into the backboards, there was nothing the defender could have done to stop it.

(I have frequently wished that the commentator of the first part of the video below made some attempt to learn the Rules of the game: he is a menace. His social chit-chat and irrelevant background knowledge 100%, his Rule and game knowledge zero)

I was initially quite confused by the video that my new ‘friend’ (who now I notice has no friends listed) sent, because he informed me that the shot he was describing occurred near the end of, it and there were a number of incidents in the video, which was more than 18 mins long and contained highlights from several matches, where attackers shot towards the goal when there was a defender in a low (crouched) position in front of it. I eventually realized that he must be referring to an incident that occurred during the first penalty corner awarded in the first minute of the video. The beginning of a video is at one end of it, so this simple example serves to illustrate one of the difficulties of communication – understanding common terms: like “end” or “reckless” or “dangerous” (even if the latter has both subjective and objective criteria provided within the Rules of Hockey to define it. The “within 5m” part actually proves at times to be a hindrance to correct interpretation; there is often an illogical assumption made that a ball propelled from beyond 5m of a player cannot have been dangerously played at that player)

As it happens the incident he described as correct umpiring (and demonstrating my error) contains one of the worse examples of irresponsible umpiring I have seen, and the attacker, far from shooting ‘blindly’ obviously uses a mental image ‘snapshot’ to define her target, because she clearly looks up as she approaches the ball, she does have the time and space to do so, and executes a perfect hit which is exactly on that target – the gap between the defender and the post. The problem is that the umpire should have stopped play before the shot was taken. I present video before I write any more.

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Whether or not the penalty corner was correct is debatable. Had I been umpiring I would not have awarded it but allowed play to continue (there was more likely to have been some danger from swinging sticks than from the low velocity of the ball). In my view the attacker who closes on the raised ball as it is falling, is at least as responsible for the ball hitting her as the defender, who was trying to play it to ground and who had not initially raised the ball towards the attacker (and the attacker may be considered have been guilty of an encroaching offence). It is perhaps odd to view the player who raised the ball as an initial receiver, but the ball was never beyond her playing reach and the attacker was about 5m away from her when the ball was raised.

The drag-flick shot towards the defender on the goal-line was dangerous play Others may want to debate or even deny that assertion until ‘the moon turns blue’ but the actions taken by the players are a prima facie example of dangerous play – the ball was propelled directly, at high velocity, at the head of an opponent, who took legitimate evasive action but was nonetheless hit on the head with the ball.

It is what followed that hit to the head of the defender that I find astounding (I am no longer even mildly surprised at what is considered “Not a dangerously played ball”).  The umpire seeing that the ball had hit the defender on the head and that she had crumpled to ground and was obviously injured, also saw that the ball was rebounding to an approaching attacker and gave a ‘play on – advantage’ signal – putting the fallen defender in harms way.

That was dangerously irresponsible, I have never before seen any umpire do that. He had no way of knowing that the approaching attacker would hit the ball along the ground, she could have been as reckless as the shooting player in the first or second videos above. Had a second shot been raised into the defender while she was defenseless on the ground and injured her further, she would have had excellent grounds to take legal action against that umpire for damages for negligence. Geoff Erwin of Cookstown who was hit on the head with a similar drag-flick in an EHL match, suffered a fractured skull and a perforated eardrum from that single hit and was off work for a year, damages in cases where an initial injury is compounded by negligence (in addition to the negligence of not penalising the initial shot – which gives encouragement to attackers to make such shots) could be very substantial.

The umpire of the incident shown in the last video, after awarding a goal, didn’t even check to see if the defender was cut or concussed and there is no evidence he allowed medical aid staff onto the pitch to examine her or that he asked her to step off for a substitute until others considered she was fit to resume play. What was he thinking? Probably nothing at all.

As team coach at a tournament I would voice the strongest possible objection to that umpire officiating in any match my team were due to play.

There are those who consider this from page 1 of the Rules of Hockey to be a joke:

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.

my ex ‘friend’ is one of them.

The words participants and everyone both include umpires.

The umpire at the other end not long afterwards awarded a penalty stroke when a forward fell in the circle. I have looked at that incident several times and can see no justification at all for a penalty stroke. Maybe, and it is a very weak maybe, a penalty corner could be argued for.

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So, at that point, 1-1  the umpires.

March 12, 2018

A suggested rewrite of Rule 9.11

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey

Rule 9.11.

The current Rule

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, it appears to be in conflict with the Rule.

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

The following two clips show even clearer examples of no intent, no advantage gained. In the first clip the first and second penalty corners resulted in a shot that hit the outside of the defender’s foot, which was positioned outside the goal-post, before going out of play over the base-line. The second clip requires no further comment.



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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.

I have avoided or removed mention of intention when making suggestion for the rewriting of other Rules because such intention is often difficult or impossible to discern (the main reason umpires used to avoid penalising the offence of forcing when it was extant, and still use to avoid penalising a lifted hit which is not a shot at the goal, is that they can’t see intent. In even the most blatant of incidents of undercutting or edge hitting used to raise the ball past a blocking opponent, intent to raise the ball escapes them or they “forget lifted” as instructed in the UMB.

Why the UMB gives us “forget lifted” when the first line of the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9. is

A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.

is beyond my comprehension).

 

But in the case of a ball hitting an opponent, it has been hit at or raised into, an entirely different approach is used. Umpires declare that a player who has the ball played into his or her legs or feet has an obligation, a responsibility, to defend him or her self, and failure to do so is a lack of skill for which the player hit should be penalised. This bias against a player hit with the ball is pronounced and has no Rule support at all – au contraire- but intent is simply assumed from a failure to avoid. It is moreover usually assumed that a player who has been hit with the ball has gained an advantage for their team, even in circumstances where it should be obvious that the team of the player hit has been disadvantaged by the contact.

Intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball must, if penalty is to be applied, be as clear as was demanded of the the intent to force contact when the forcing Rule was extant. Umpires should be looking for foot or body to ball rather than ball to body or foot. Advantage gained should be clear and substantial, that is undue and unfair (terms previously used in Rule guidance on the subject), not dubious or even intangible.

The Ball body contact Rule is deliberately written with a slant towards not penalising ball-body contact, that is towards not interrupting the game with penalty unless it is unfair not to do so, but it is currently being applied in the opposite way. The word ‘intentionally’ is for the above reasons necessary in Rule 9.11. It moreover makes no sense to remove the word ‘intentionally’ from the Rule when ‘intention’ is used in the Explanation of Application of it and ‘intention’ cannot be removed from the Explanation (or indeed the Rule) without fundamentally changing the way in which the FIH RC intended the game should be played

(The word ‘intentionally was removed from the ball-body contact Rule, but not the Explanation, when the Rules were rewritten and renumbered in 2004, which set up a conflict between the Rule Proper and the provided Explanation of Rule Application. This conflict, instead of being later corrected, was used by some to declare, on Internet hockey forums, the Explanation to be ‘notes’ or ‘advice’ and not the Rule; an absurd about face when compared with the way Explanation is used in other Rules.).

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 intended to use the body to stop or deflect the ball or is injured. Where there is injury caused by a ball contact and there is no intent to use the body by the player hit (or intent is not discernible) 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, 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 the umpire has no reason to intervene. 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. If a player intentionally raises 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. If a ball played along the ground is intentionally forced into the feet of a defender play should continue unless the defender is injured.

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 generally 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 after it has been propelled, 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. That there was an intent to use the body must be clear and certain before a player hit with the ball may be penalised for use of body.

Exception 2. Should player in possession of the ball 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 the team 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. The emphasis is moved from requiring a defender who is ‘attacked’ with the ball to have the skill to defend his or her feet (often an impossibility if the defender is at the time attempting a tackle for the ball), to requiring a player in possession of the ball to have the skill to not lose control of it with the stick and make contact with it with part of their body; that is seen as a fairer requirement.

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 by defenders 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 skillful way. The offence of forcing should not of course have been ‘deleted’ in its entirety (breaches supposedly to be “dealt with” under other Rules) in 2011. The statement that forcing would be “dealt with under other Rules” was one that was quickly forgotten or only ever a pretense. The note that was put in the Preface of the Rules of Hockey in 2011 regarding what was to follow from the deletion of forcing should still be part of Advice to Umpires in current editions of the rule-book and should not have been discontinued, as it was in 2013. It is still extant because the reason Forcing was deleted as a separate offence is still extant. The disappearance of the following (unfortunately constructed) advice meant (because the Forcing Rule was no longer in the rule-book) that no forced ball-body contact, no matter how caused, would be penalised, but that was clearly not the original intention.

“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”.

Why umpires often ignore the below instruction concerning dangerous play, which is given in the Explanation of Rule 9.9. is a mystery – but they do.

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.

Someone once told me in a comment to my web- blog that the above instruction applied only to scoops and flicks that raised the ball towards an opponent at head height, but I can find nothing in the Rules of Hockey to support that assertion.

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 listened to older members of Blackheath Hockey Club (my first club) when I was a youngster, recounting 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. (The subject came up when stopping the ball with the hand was introduced). 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 or pushing it with the boot. 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 (in the same way as facilitating the receiving of the ball without the receiver giving obstruction has).

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 – it was possibly the seed of the stupid idea that an on target shot at the goal could not be dangerous).

Accidental and especially forced ball-body (foot) contact is not per se an offence by the player hit with the ball. It is possible to state with certitude that for fairness an intentionally forced ball-body contact should never be considered an offence by the player hit with the ball, no matter what the outcome in terms of advantage. An unavoidable ball-body contact is usually due to forcing or reckless or dangerous play by opponents or a combination of these.

An advantage, as can be seen in the video clips above, is not always gained by a player when hit with the ball – if an 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 clearly unfair) penalty.

March 12, 2018

A suggested rewrite of Rule 9.9.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey

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” or meme 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.

 

Neither of the intentionally raised reverse edge hits shown in the following video clip, which were made within 30secs of each other, were penalised. (The ball was raised with similar strokes, when the first one was not penalised how could the second one be if the umpiring was to be consistent?). After consulting with her colleague the umpire at the defending end incorrectly awarded a goal to SA.

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Suggestion.

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 https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/a-suggested-rewrite-rule-9-8/)

 

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 than an accidental mishit.

Exception. A player who is in controlled possession of the ball, both before and after hitting it, e.g. 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 no circumstances may the ball be raised to above elbow height with such a volley or half-volley 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 (such passing is legal with a scoop or lob and therefore not necessary with a hit stroke).

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 not be raised if there are defending players other than a fully protected goalkeeper between the striker and the goal on the flight path of the ball. This falls within the already demanded 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. A hit shot raised to knee height or above and towards an opponent who is positioned with 5m of the striker must be penalised as dangerous play even if it is a shot on goal.

March 3, 2018

Ball raised towards an opponent.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

Accidents.

Other than requiring that players play with consideration for the safety of others, that is responsibly and not wildly or recklessly, there is little else that can be done to prevent accidental injury caused by the ball. But playing responsibly is not a little, it is a lot and requires skill (stick and ball control) and self-control.

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It always causes outrage when it is suggested that a spectacular goal should have been disallowed. But this shot (below) caused legitimate evasive action by two defenders on its flight path – either of them could have been badly injured by it,  (the player closer to the goal could have been killed) and it should have been penalised as dangerous play. The attacker who was obviously careless of who was in front of him and with the circle crowded with players, (deliberately) raised the ball high towards the goal with the hardest edge-hit he could make.

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Below, another reckless shot. The attacker had time and space to make an alternative shot and even to pass the ball to a team-make near the right-hand goal-post, but choose instead to raise the ball with an edge-hit towards the goal and ‘through’ a defender directly in front of his position.
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Here below the shooter ‘targets’ the head of the post defender. Don’t believe it? You ought to, it’s a coached tactic. It’s not a coincidence that it happens so often. Legitimate evasive action taken and ignored, goal awarded – ‘accepted’ umpiring.

There is no good reason why a drag-flick shot made towards a defending opponent should not be height limited. A suitable height may be sternum height, which is about 120cms on a standing male senior (that is about head height when this player is in a dribbling crouch). This height could easily and cheaply be marked on a goal with an elasticated tape which would be readily adjusted to 110cms for women and 100cms for juniors. There is no need to limit the height of any flick shot that is not made towards an opponent. i.e. a shot that cannot cause legitimate evasive action.

Goal with adjustable height limit tape.

 


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.The intention of the attacker in the incident below was I think to propel the ball towards the forward close to the goal, for a hit or deflection into the goal. The defender seeing that possibility moved out to mark the attacker and had no chance to avoid being hit with the ball, which came at him on a high path he did not expect. I don’t know how the match was restarted, but a bully seems appropriate, neither player committed an offence.

 

This incident below shows a similar tactic but performed in a different (and illegal) way. The IND shooter uses a hard forehand edge hit (an action which is specifically prohibited) to raise the ball towards his team-mate . The second IND player then deflects the ball up into the body of the CAN defender – which was a dangerous play offence. The umpire awarded a penalty corner – of course, the ball hit a defender in the body.

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I have dozens of video clips which show a player raising the ball towards an opponent, often intentionally sometimes not. I chose the one below because the stroke used to propel the ball is not clear (the frame rate of the original video did not catch much of the movement of the stick). Why chose a clip where the stroke used is not clear? Because it does not much matter what stroke is used if the ball is raised and other criteria are also breached (and intention will also be irrelevant if the player hit is within 5m).


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The other criteria are not too demanding; if the opponent is within 5m, a flick or scoop made towards that opponent is dangerous play (not can be, may be, might be but, is dangerous play)

If the ball is intentionally raised with a hit towards an opponent that is an offence without the need for other criteraia, there is no distance advice associated with the prohibition on the intentionally raised hit. Then there is the Rule (participants must) about playing with consideration for the safety of other players, and the admonishment heading Rule 9 Conduct of Play, that players are expected to act responsibly. Raising the ball towards another player cannot be considered responsible play when that action is an offence (forcing ball-body contact onto an opponent is still an offence if other Rule is breached. Other Rule is generally what is given with Rule 9.9.

Raising the ball towards another player, with any stroke, intentionally or not, is an offence if doing so causes that player to take legitimate evasive action (action to try to avoid being hit with the ball). There is no distance advice given with legitimate evasive action so such evasion is valid (legitimate) at any distance where the evading player has reason to fear that he or she will be hurt if hit with the ball; a typical situation would be a ball raised towards a goal when defenders are positioned between the goal and the player propelling the ball – a drag-flick during a penalty corner for example.

The commonly held view that defenders who are positioned between a shooter and the goal are “Asking for it” and should not be there, is no more than an erroneous view held by those who are ignorant of the Rules of the game (the oft quoted “Acceptance of Risk” does not (cannot) apply where the actions of an opponent endanger a player and are not Rule compliant. All players are entitled to expect the protection from endangerment provided by the correct application and proper observance of the Rules).

The defending ARG player in the video takes evasive action but is still hit with the raised ball (which appears to have been raised intentionally to try to get the ball past the defender), that was not an offence by the ARG player but by the CAN player. (the ARG player was penalised)

Try to avoid doing what you see FIH Umpires doing in these situations, they are following briefings, not the Rules of Hockey. They follow briefings, which are intended to ensure that all umpires are making the same decisions consistently – (therefore ignoring the relevant subjective criteria in each incident). They have, by previous similar decisions, trained players to expect them to keep umpiring in the same way and then, using circular reasoning, use this ‘player expectation’ as a justification for the decisions they make.

Being consistently incorrect is not seen as a fault but as the acceptable cost of consistency – it is easier and expected that an umpire penalise a player who has been hit with the ball. The fact that is may also be absurdly unfair is irrelevant. “That’s the way it is interpreted” is a ‘stone wall’ of indifference to fair play. It is ironic that a match umpire is the sole judge of fair play.

I have to ask ‘the interpretation’ of what? What wording is being interpreted in a way that is the opposite of a common sense literal interpretation of the words used in the Rules of Hockey? There isn’t any other wording. If it’s not interpretation of actions based on the wording of the relevant Rules or a reasonable interpretation of the words used in the Rules, and it isn’t, it cannot be, then how did this interpretation (invention) arise?

Listen to the commentator in the following video explaining an ‘interpretation’ – which I hope is now ‘dead’ but was the prevailing one for some time after this initial incident in which it was applied, during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (I have no idea where the commentator got the ‘interpretation’ he was ‘quoting’ (???) but it fits with bizarre commentary on other matches which he has irresponsibly broadcast). Did the commentator invent it or was he given instruction (a Rule briefing) by an FIH official (an Umpire Manager or Tournament Director)?

Maybe, like many umpires, he followed the briefing he was given without knowing or considering (caring) whether or not it was Rule compliant, the main thing with umpires (and commentators) is to be ‘in the group’, ‘ to go with the flow’, not ‘to rock the boat’ to ensure that he him/her-self is ‘accepted’ and asked to umpire (commentate) at a high level event again.

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This award of a penalty stroke seems to follow the above “Cannot be dangerous” ‘interpretation’, but the shot clearly endangers two players.

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Other examples:-

The next two clips show examples of a player in possession of the ball raising it into a close opponent – in the first with a flick, an action which is specified in the Explanation to Rule 9.9 as dangerous play. In the second with an intentionally raised hit – directly contrary to Rule 9.9. In both incidents the player hit with the ball was penalised.

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The two incidents below show a similar action at different levels of play – a drag-flick raised high into an out-runner during a penalty corner. The AUS international player was hit on the upper arm just below his shoulder. Had he been hit below the knee, as a Dutch attacker claimed he was, another penalty corner would by Rule have been mandatory – an absurd contradiction of dangerous play as described in the Explanation given with Rule 9.9.

I am not claiming the current Rules are perfect – very far from it. I want to change them all – a hit that is raised into an opponent within 5m should also be declared in Rule to be dangerous play. At the moment penalising that action depends on the judgement of intent (of the shooter) and of legitimate evasive action – both subjective judgements.

I have no idea what the offence, which was penalised with a penalty corner, the veteran out-runner in the second incident was supposed to have committed. The offence by the shooter is clear.
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March 2, 2018

Hitting the ball illegally

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

There are two types of illegal hit according to the Rules of Hockey.
1) A hard forehand edge hit.
2) The intentional raising of the ball with any type of hit stroke unless shooting at the opponents’ goal from within their circle.

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.

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.

Both of the above Rules require an umpire to make a subjective judgement. Rule 9.6. requires the judgement  of ‘hard’ and Rule 9.9. of ‘intentional’ and therefore despite some very clear objective criteria, much as the Obstruction Rule and the ball body contact/dangerous play Rules, 9.6 and 9.9 are seldom applied as they should be, if at all.

The subjective criteria in both of these Rules could and I think should, be replaced with a more appropriate objective criterion to improve application. I see no good reason that all intentional raising of the ball with a hit stroke should be prohibited unless making a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle – in fact that seems back-to-front to me. I do see reason to prohibit raising the ball at high velocity towards another player who is within 20m of the player hitting (or drag-flicking) the ball and that prohibition could reasonably depend on a height criterion – elbow or sternum height. I believe that in the area outside the circle an absolute limit could be placed on the height to which a ball could legally be raised with a hit if not propelled towards an opponent – this would prevent the making of the pitch length hits which were popular in the mid 1980’s (and which led to the imposition of the present prohibition on an intentionally raised hit) and the dangers which accompanied the making of those hits by players without the necessary skill would be avoided. I think shoulder height would be a suitable absolute limit. So in the circle a hit shot (or drag flick) at the goal would not be height limited unless the ball was propelled towards another player – in which case it would be limited to sternum height. The word intentionally could be struck out of the Rule.

Two other amendments are necessary. Raising the ball with a hit away from the hitter’s control and into the opponent’s circle to be prohibited (together with abolishing the present restriction on playing the ball into the opponent’s circle from a free ball awarded in their 23m area) . Edge hits fore and reverse to be height limited – to knee height – the word ‘hard’ could then be struck out. I would go further and abolish the offence of back-sticks, but that may be too much of a change for some to swallow.

In the following video there are nine examples of an illegal hit stroke incident shown, only the eighth incident (which comprised of three concurrent offences, a forehand edge hit, intentional raising of the ball with a hit and dangerous play – raising the ball towards an opponent who was within 5m, and injuring him) was penalised. I have written brief description of the action in each incident and a comment for each below.

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1) From a 23m restart following the ball going out of play over the base-line, the first ARG player passes the ball backwards to a team-mate who uses a forehand edge-hit in an attempt to raise the ball into the circle. The raised ball is accidentally deflected up and out of play over the base-line by a defender. The umpire having not noticed the illegal action of the ARG hitter (or having ignored it) awards another 23m restart for the attackers.

2) This incident occurred during a shootout, with both umpires positioned close to the play, presumably to ensure Rule compliance and fair play. The illegal hard forehand edge-hit was ignored and a goal awarded.

3) A free ball awarded to the ARG team about 1m outside the 23m line was hit hard and raised with forehand edge-hit. The ball struck a defending ESP player positioned just outside the circle, on the leg. The umpires, not noticing or ignoring these two offences (I cannot suggest that FIH Umpires are unaware of these Rules) award a free ball to ARG for the ball-leg contact. It is difficult to see what advantage, if any, the ESP team gained from the accidental ball-leg contact.

4) I am not sure if this hit was from a free ball taken inside the hash line, but if it was the ball should not have been played directly into the circle at all. The BEL attacker uses a hard forehand edge hit to raise the ball into the circle, clearly to the disadvantage of the NZ team because a NZ player deflects the raised ball into the body of a team-mate. There is no evidence of any advantage gained by the NZ team because of the  ball-body contact  had the contact not occurred it seems probable that the ball would have gone into the possession of the NZ team . The offences of the player making the illegal hit were ignored and a penalty corner was awarded.

5) EHL match. The right flank (light blue) player uses a hard forehand edge hit to raise the ball into the circle – which was to the disadvantage of the defending team. These two offences were not penalised.

6) The picture quality on this video is poor. Not a forehand edge hit but an AUS player intentionally raises the ball with a hit into the circle. The illegally raised ball travels at about chest height towards an IND defender who is about 5m away.  The  IND player parries the ball with his stick and deflects it to another AUS attacker who is positioned near to the baseline (is disadvantaged by the illegally raised hit). The second AUS attacker waits in possession of the ball until he is closed down by the same IND defender and then raises the ball into his thigh from close range (less than 2m). The umpire awarded a penalty corner, ignoring an intentionally raised hit and two instances of dangerous play by the AUS team.

7) An IND attacker used a hard forehand edge hit to raise the ball towards the goal from the top of the circle (it is not possible because of the frame rate of the original video to see if the ball was struck from inside the circle, but this is irrelevant anyway, the hit was illegal because a forehand edge hit was used to make it). If the ball was hit from outside the circle the intentional raising of the ball with a hit of any description would be illegal. The ball traveled towards a second IND attacker positioned in front of the goal who was  marked by a CAN player. The second IND attacker deflected the ball up into the arm of the CAN player (who could not avoid being hit at that range) this was clearly dangerous play by the IND player. The umpire awarded a penalty corner.

8) As mentioned previously, this illegal raising of the ball, use of a forehand edge-hit and dangerous play, were penalised by the umpire. The GER player was completely  ignorant of the Rules or despite knowing he was in breach of three Rules had the ‘brass neck’ to claim that the NZ player had committed a ball-body contact offence.

9) The AUS player intentionally raises the ball with a slap or punt hit (to the disadvantage of an ARG defender and the ARG team) across the circle towards the ARG goal. The ARG goalkeeper tries to kick the ball clear but propels it accidentally into the back of the legs of one of her own team, the ball then rolled out of play. This ball-body contact was of disadvantage to the ARG team, not the AUS team. Mysteriously the umpire, having ignored the initial raised hit offence by the AUS player, awarded a penalty conrner to the AUS team. For what?

It is not easy to understand what is going on concerning the Rules relating to illegal hitting actions, that is why they are so badly applied or ignored. The Rules are set out above, below is advice from the UMB.

Briefing Forehand edge
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Briefing Ball off ground copy

There isn’t anything to object to on page three, which is headed, Rules of Hockey 2017, but the page headed Ball off the Ground (page 11) contains a first clause that is full of contradiction with the Rules of Hockey – and the umpires are anyway in the incidents shown in the video clips above, usually ignoring dangerous play as well as ignoring the fact of offence (that the ball has been illegally raised, often to the disadvantage of opponents).

When an offence disadvantages opponents it must be penalised; it is only when an offence is of no disadvantage to opponents that it can be ignored and play allowed to continue. Not all offences are dangerous play or lead to dangerous play.

Dangerous play is by definition of disadvantage to opponents because for there to be dangerous play an opposing player must be endangered (is it necessary to say that being endangered with the ball is a disadvantage to a player? – I’v done it anyway).

To advise in a briefing document that ball raising offences be ignored (forget lifted) except when they are dangerous in themselves or lead to dangerous play (think danger) is not sound umpire management practice because this ignores any disadvantage to opponents. 

The umpires seen officiating in the above video clips (except #8) obviously do not understand the Rules. Rules 9.6 and 9.9. are applied (or not applied) in much the same way as Rule 9.12 is, and misapplied in much the same way as Rule 9.11. is misapplied. These umpires are consistently poor in the application of these Rules and there is not much common sense in evidence. There is therefore no good reason not to amend these Rules with the aim of achieving better compliance from both players and umpires.

In the first part of the video below the umpire ‘forgets’ lifted but he does not ‘think danger’ (here play leading to dangerous play). That close to the opposing goalkeeper, who was competing for the ball, the team-mate of the player who illegally raised the ball into the circle could not have been the initial receiver; the ball was potentially dangerous from the moment it was raised (I have no doubt about the flank player’s intention to raise the ball but would prefer a Rule situation where it was not necessary to determine intent – that the ball was raised into the circle should be sufficient to call an offence – as it was prior to the introduction of the Rule prohibiting the intentionally raised hit))

I am anyway firmly of the opinion that no player should be permitted to play or attempt to play at an above shoulder ball while in the opponents circle, especially if it is possible that the type of play seen in the video would not be considered by umpires to be dangerous. We have been taken in one step, by Rule amendment, from a situation where a defender who attempted to play at a shot at the goal that was going wide of the target would have to be penalised with a penalty corner (mandatory) to what looks like a free-for-all.

In the second incident the raised hit across the goal was obviously intended as a pass and not a shot at the goal and was therefore illegally raised. It is not possible (fair or safe) for the umpire to ‘forget lifted’ in such circumstances.

Back in 1997 when the Off-side Rule was finally abolished, the then FIH Hockey Rules Board promised that measures would be put in place to prevent attackers behaving in a dangerous way close to the goal (‘goal-hanging’, not previously possible, was a concern). These measures never materialised; in fact the opposite has happened, what little Rule protection there was for defending players after 1997 has been ruthlessly stripped away. Comment about this (from someone who pointed out he was a qualified umpire) is contained in my article ‘Reckless endangerment’ and illustrates a present common attitude towards players who are defending the goal when a raised shot is made.

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/reckless-endangerment/

 

Below, another example in which there of penalising a second offence rather than the first offence and awarding the free ball in the wrong place (the first offence led to the second offence and was therefore also dangerous play).


February 24, 2018

Reckless endangerment

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

I recently posted a video clip to a USA field-hockey discussion group within Facebook and netted what I though was an extinct idea, the ‘automatic’ penalty stroke if a defender within 5m of an attacker propelling a high (above knee height) raised ball, is hit with it, while in front of his or her own goal and prevents the ball going into the goal.

We had Keely Dunn (a Canadian FIH Umpire) proclaiming back in 2006 that a defender positioned on the goal-line caused danger and also that a player positioned behind their stick to stop the ball, took that position to ensure that if they missed the ball with the stick it would hit their body – and that, if it happened, was intentional use of the body to stop the ball. Dunn, a self proclaimed hockey mavern, is however better remembered for her equally bizarre inventions (dunnie fodder) about an aerial ball, which I will not repeat here.

Unbelievably inventions about a shot at goal got worse than that when the Russian FIH Umpire Elena Eskina declared during a 2010 World Cup match between Spain and China, that an ‘on-target’ shot at the goal could not be dangerous play. She kept repeating “It was a clear shot on goal” (The television commentator obviously got the same briefing. It is clearly from umpire briefings that this nonsense is being disseminated)

She made a similar decision during the London Olympics in 2012 following a reckless shot by an attacker, but had an opposite view, in the same match, when a goalkeeper raised the ball during a clearance from the goalmouth as an attacker went to her knees in front of her in an attempt to play at the ball even though the goalkeeper played the ball away from the attacker and not at or across her (and which I see as reckless play by the attacker -trying to block the ball with her body).

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That was followed in 2016 by an inane decision from Christian Blash – that a raised hit shot that was going wide of the goal (and not at any player) was dangerous play – because it was hit wide of the goal (the ball was deflected into the goal by a defender who attempted to play at it with his stick when the ball was well above head height – previously (bewilderingly) a penalty corner offence, defenders were previously only permitted to play at a above shoulder height ball if it was ‘on target’). The goal, which should have been awarded, was disallowed. That, despite the fact that this decision contradicted what is given in Terminology in the rule-book about a shot at the goal, didn’t even cause the “can’t be dangerous” crowd to blink, they are used to accommodating extreme opposites in interpretation and even contradictions of what is given in the rule-book, as long as it is FIH Umpires who are applying them.

I see the action of the striker in the above clip as being both reckless and dangerous play. Reckless because it was made without consideration for the safety of the defender and also (or because it was) unnecessarily hit in the way that it was, the attacker had a number of alternative ways of scoring; he could have hit the ball along the ground or passed it to a team-mate positioned near to the right side goal-post for an easy tap-in. Dangerous because the ball was carelessly raised into the defender, who was within 5m and trying his best to avoid being hit with it – taking legitimate evasive action – see Rule 9.8

So what do the Rules of Hockey ‘say’ about a shot at the goal. Not much, what there is is contained in the Rules of the penalty corner – and it takes a bit of sifting to find it –  they are, despite all the clarification and simplification of the Rules since 1995, a masterpiece of obscurantism – the use of common sense and rational though is necessary to extend what is written in the Penalty Corner Rules  to cover open play situations.

13.3.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.

Nothing there about dangerous play, 13.3.k is about the criteria for scoring a goal from a first hit shot. But, if the ball is raised to above 460mm the hit must be penalised – for what? Is it correct to assume it is for dangerous play? Maybe, maybe not, it could be for non-compliance with the criteria for a legal shot. The Explanation of Application to this Rule makes things clearer but not much clearer: danger is however mentioned, but not what it might be explained. There is however acknowledgement of the possibility that danger may be caused to opponents by a first hit shot made at the goal

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 (my bold) and provided it would drop of its own accord below 460 mm before crossing the line.

The Rule then moves on to deal with second and subsequent hit shots and also with flick or scoop shots.

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. (what ‘dangerous’ might be is not here revealed)

13.3.k deals with only the first hit shot, Rule 13.3.l deals with second and subsequent hit shots and any flick shot, including the first one, that is made at the goal, and it should be perfectly clear from what is written that any shot at the goal with any stroke may be considered to be dangerous play – why otherwise write “but this must not be dangerous“. If dangerous play was not a possibility there would be no need to admonish “but this must not be dangerous”  What is not clear is what constitutes a dangerous shot, but obviously (I hope it is obvious) any shot that causes legitimate evasive action must be considered to be dangerous play. What ‘legitimate’ might be is another question. ‘legitimate’ is a subjective judgement; so ‘dangerous’ a subjective judgement is based on another subjective judgement for which the FIH Rules Committee have offered no criteria.

The Explanation of Application with 13.3.l  goes on:- A defender who is clearly running into the shot or into the taker without attempting to play the ball with their stick (my bold) must be penalised for dangerous play. (the part in bold is frequently overlooked and running towards a striker from within the goal or from just outside a goal-post – closing down in order to make a tackle attempt, that is legitimate defending – incorrectly considered to be dangerous play or self endangerment)
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 (this conflicts with the Explanation of Application provided with the open play Rule 9.9 which prohibits any raising of the ball towards an opponent who is within 5m – this clause was added to the Rule as an emergency measure following the defending tactics at a penalty corner of the Korean team just prior to the 2004 Olympics – and we are now it seems stuck with it – even if it is an invitation to reckless hitting by a striker during a penalty corner as a means of intimidation) 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. (my bold) (We now have clear objective criteria for a dangerous shot at the goal, applied only to the first hit shot it is true, but something to work with)

This provides two objective criteria for a dangerously played ball (which have  been adopted by ‘umpiring practice’ into general open play) they are ‘within 5m’ and ‘above knee height’. There is no reason to suppose that what is considered a dangerous first (or subsequent) shot during a penalty corner should not be considered a dangerous shot during open play in a shooting circle – it’s not a great leap which defies logic to treat both in the same way, it is a logical step and common sense – it otherwise makes little sense to adopt ‘within 5 and above knee height‘ as a rule-of -thumb for a ball propelled in a dangerous way at a player, in general open play.

The initial response to my posting the above video clip with a comment about dangerous play, and part of the ‘discussion’ (expression of entrenched views) that followed, are set out below. My view is entrenched in the Rules of Hockey, POV, an umpire practicing in the UK, appears to be following what he sees senior umpires doing, particularly FIH Umpires, and to believe that they are not wrong about this sort of thing (because of the level they have reached and their umpiring experience) – If only that were true but it is more likely that ‘pigs will fly’.


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POV
This might open up a can of worms but from what I can see is that the shot was on target and unfortunately the defender was hit… any player who is in line with the ball and the goal mouth is always at risk of being hit and its in their best interest to the evasive action. Just like any player who stands on the goal line on penalty corners are at risk of getting hit and is their responsibility to move out of the way of the ball or risk getting hit and giving a penalty stroke away. it would have been a different call if it was going wide of the goal.

Martin Conlon
When an attacking opponent takes an illegal i.e. dangerous action – danger being defined as an action that causes legitimate evasive action – Rule 9.8 and also the responsibility of the attacker to behave in a responsible way and to consider the safety of other players (both Rules of hockey) have been breached. There is no counterpart in the Rules to suggest that a defending player is, when subjected to dangerous play by an opponent – in breach of any Rule if hit with the ball.
I should add that the defender was penalised because of an advantage gained for his team – he stopped the ball going into the goal – but that is irrelevant if there has been prior dangerous play by an opponent – which there obviously was.

POV
I’m not sure if I’m missing something here but what was the dangerous play from the attacking team??

Martin Conlon
If you don’t see dangerous play when one player blasts the ball high into another player who is within 5m AND there is legitimate evasive action from the defending player (which defines dangerous play), then you are certainly missing something – knowledge of the Rules of Hockey.
You are not alone of course FIH Umpires have been trained to wilful blindness in this area just as they have been with obstruction.

A pedant might point out that the Explanation of Application given with Rule 9.9 (which is a rule about the intentionally raised hit) prohibits raising the ball into an opponent within 5m only with flicks and scoops, common sense should allow an extension of this prohibition to include a recklessly made raised hits towards a player, especially one who is within 5m of the striker, and when the ball is raised above knee height, as it was.

POV
Are you talking about the player that got hit?? if so nothing wrong has been done by the attacking player he is well within his right to attack the goal at any high regardless of who is in front if the goal mouth. evasive action or not if it hits a defending player then unfortunately that is his bad luck that he didn’t move fast enough out of the way like I said before same rule applies when defending a penalty corner evasive action or not if it hits you anywhere on the body and you’re in the goalmouth then it’s an automatic penalty stroke. In both cases the defending player has prevented a legitimate goal from happening. (my bold here it was not in the original post)

Martin Conlon
You are wrong. I suggest you read a rule-book. On the first page you will find this unnumbered Rule:-
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. (my bold not in the original post)

Emphasis is placed on safety. Everyone involved in the game must act with consideration for the safety of others.
The Rule of Conduct of Play (Rule 9) is prefaced with this instruction:-
Players are expected to act responsibly at all times.
Then there is the prohibition I mentioned previously, contained within Rule 9.9, and the Penalty Corner Rules shed some much needed light on what should be considered to be a dangerous shot at the goal – which is missing from Rule concerning open play.

POV
Martin I have read the rules and understand them perfectly well, I’m a qualified umpire grated not international standard but very much on this occasion in respect to dangerous play… would have to agree to disagree with you. if what you are saying is correct no one and I mean no one should raise a ball at the goal if a player is within the goalmouth if less than 5m away… you’ll find that this is never the case. Both umpires in this short video you have posted are very experienced and would no doubt know the rules better than you or I… not saying that they don’t make a mistake but even the umpire assessing the referral agreed with the decision of the umpire who gave the PS in the first place.

 

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This (above) might not be reckless play, the raising of the ball in the way that it was done was accidental, the result of a miss-hit, nonetheless the striker committed a dangerous play offence, propelling the ball from close range high into the defender. The umpire made an error of judgement in penalising the defender and the video umpire repeated that error by confirming her decision. It is possible the umpire did not see where the ball hit the defender but the video umpire had no excuse for her incorrect recommendation. Yes umpires at this level do make mistakes and have their mistaken decisions approved by video umpires.

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The restrictions contained in the Penalty Corner Rules are not missing ‘in practice’ because it is common umpiring practice to apply the objective criteria “above knee height” (from the penalty corner Rule 13.3.l) together with “within 5m” which is also in the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9. (but see above example from the Rio Olympics). Rule 9.8 regarding legitimate evasive action applies to all propelling of the ball irrespective of the stroke used.

FIH Umpires have become used to devising their own ‘rules’ in practice, i.e. leading the FIH Rules Committee ‘by the nose’. This particular invention –  (application of common sense) within 5m and above knee height – is not all bad, it does at least provide objective criteria for dangerous play – which are ignored only when there is a dangerous shot at the goal (that is, illogically, in the only situation where it is legal to raise the ball with a hit ) but it also conflicts with what is provided with Rule 9.9 together with what is adopted from Rule 13.3.l because these Rules taken together prohibit any raising of the ball towards an opponent who is within 5m.  “It is legal to raise the ball with a hit when taking a shot at the goal” does not mean, applying simple logic, that such a raised shot is always safely raised; this must be so when it is never ‘safe’ to raise the ball towards an opponent who is within 5m. That action is, by Rule, always to be considered dangerous play – the Rule make no exception to “is dangerous” just because a shot at the goal is being made.

The Rules concerning the dangerously played ball are a mess,” a can of worms”, and there is obviously conflict between what is seen as dangerous play in general open play outside the circles and what is considered dangerous play (or more accurately commonly not considered so) when a raised shot is taken at the goal – there is no good reason for this conflict, it just exists (has been ‘developed’ in practice). There is no doubt at all that had a similar incident to the one seen in this video occurred in a mid-field area, that ball raising action (even if done with a flick) would (or should) be penalised and almost everyone would expect that to be the umpire’s decision.

When it is considered that any intentional raising of the ball with a hit is an offence except (bizarrely) when the ball is being propelled towards the opponent’s goal from within their circle, anyone could be forgiven for thinking – given that there is supposed to be an emphasis on player safety – that the Rules of Hockey have not been drafted by rational people (because that is exactly when a high velocity raised ball is the most likely to be dangerous to other players. The circle, when a shot at the goal is being taken is usually crowded with players) and it can be no surprise that even the sane parts of the Rule, the criteria for ‘dangerous’, are being applied irrationally or not applied at all in the shooting circles when a shot at the goal is made. These off-target shots at the goal are typical examples; the second one with obstruction thrown in for good measure.

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The part of argument POV made that I highlighted in bold  – he is well within his right to attack the goal at any high regardless of who is in front if the goal mouth. evasive action or not if it hits a defending player then unfortunately that is his bad luck that he didn’t move fast enough out of the way – is an illustration of this irrationality and of the weakness of the Rules and various other instructions and statements made in the rule-book when compared with interpretation (understanding), common practice and habit. No player has a right to endanger another player ever, but especially not when causing endangerment is easily avoided. To do it deliberately or recklessly has to be a cardable offence. That an umpire should make such a statement is almost incredible – almost.

That the statement in the previous paragraph that POV made is incorrect is obvious from a reading of the Rules and it is worrying that he is a qualified umpire and allowed to put into practice this approach to endangerment from a raised ball.

There is an analogy here with learner drivers and the driving test. Learner drivers quickly forget the Highway Code and probably could not pass on it a few months after passing their driving test, and of course their driving is not compliant with test standards for very long either. The analogy falls because drivers can be disqualified for dangerous driving, but umpires are not disqualified for being a danger to players in the matches they officiate.They do however leave themselves open to legal action when making public statements of the kind made above, if a player is injured in a match they are officiating. It could be demonstrated that an attacking player did not take the care he or she should have because they were given the impression by a particular umpire that it is perfectly okay to raise the ball at a close opponent, that if the opponent is hit with the ball and injured it is the opponent’s fault for being in the way, even when there are other easier shooting options available to the attacker. Any reasonable person would see that to be a nonsense.

The late Peter Savage, a hockey journalist and himself a former FIH Umpire, once wrote when referring to the promotion of umpires to FIH level These days they appear to give a badge to anyone who can stand up and blow a whistle without actually choking on it”  Below FIH level it seems that the shortage of umpires is so acute that the standard for qualification isn’t as high as that.

POV
I’m not sure if I’m missing something here but what was the dangerous play from the attacking team??

 

POV is not, and he says he is not, a FIH Umpire but FIH Umpires do have the same kind of blind spots or ‘brain fade’ – although because of the ‘recommended’ (coached) positioning of the umpire my criticism of this penalty corner decision is not entirely fair (but the prior offence by the attacking team should have been penalised). 

The video below is composed from one presented on dartfish.com by the FIH Umping Committee under the heading ball off the ground 3. The Interpretation provided with the video is as follows:


The IND player crosses the ball into the circle. The ball is lifted, but is not dangerous to either of the ARG defenders. The ARG goalkeeper tries to kick the ball clear, but unintentionally lifts it dangerously past his own defender towards the IND forward. A penalty corner is awarded to IND.

This ‘interpretation is not only inaccurate in its description of the action:-  the ball was raised intentionally from outside the circle into and across the circle to the disadvantage of the defenders – an offence which should have been penalised. The ball was not raised dangerously by the goalkeeper either towards his own defender or towards the IND player (evasive action was not necessary by either player – i.e. evasion was not legitimate – “when it causes legitimate evasive action” along with “raised towards a player within 5m” defines a dangerously played ball)  –  but runs contrary to the Rules of Hockey which state:

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

(not whether or not it is only raised dangerously, an illegally (intentionally) raised hit is an offence even when it is not also dangerous to opponents).

and also

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.

There is no possible excuse for these errors in an umpire coaching video.



There are two offences shown in the video both committed by IND players. The first was the intentional raising of the ball with a hit across the circle from outside the circle, an action which was illegal and disadvantaged the defending team – so an offence, which I repeat, should have been penalised (and umpire positioning does not here excuse the failure to penalise). The second was the reckless and dangerous hit into the back of a member his own team by the IND #5. The award of a penalty corner was unjustifiable the defending goalkeeper did not endanger anyone with his kick to clear the ball from the goalmouth.The recommendation from the video umpire was absurd.

From the recommended position, the umpire could have had no idea of the flight path of the ball or how close it actually was to the players in front of the goalkeeper. He had no choice but to react as he did to the false evasion. The recommended position is a ‘crock’.

February 21, 2018

What FIH Umpires are doing

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Two or three offences 1) Shielding the ball from one opponent to prevent him or her playing directly at it (a foul) and also 2) making physical contact while obstructing 3) deliberately lifting the ball into another opposing player (a cardable offence, because raising the ball into a close opponent is a foul contrary to Explanation of application of Rule 9.9 even when done unintentionally). But the obstruction offences and the dangerous play offences are both ignored and penalty here in each case awarded against the player hit with the ball (or even supposed to have been hit with the ball).

This is not good enough to earn approval for advancement from novice to Level One qualification following a watching by an umpire coach – never mind officiate at a World Level hockey event.

So what is going on and why would anyone follow such practice?

 

February 14, 2018

A silly question

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

The silly or ‘trick’ question is one that I heard in my school days. I think it was first widely spread from the book ‘Hockey Umpiring’ by the renowned Indian FIH Umpire Gian Singh, which was published in 1958.

“A shot is taken at the goal by an attacker from inside the circle. As a result the cork of the ball passes between the goal-posts, under the crossbar and over the goal-line, whereas the leather cover passes over the base-line outside the goalposts. What should the umpire award?”

There were later variations on this theme with the ball splitting into two halves along the seam (common with the Victor ‘plastic’ ball) or shattering into two or more large pieces (when poorly composed ‘PVC’ balls were used). Obviously a goal cannot be awarded when this happens because the ball has not completely crossed the goal-line. A different slant on the usual understanding of ‘completely’, which normally referred to the ball (as a unit) entirely crossing the complete width of a goal-line and not being in contact with or overhanging part of the goal-line.

A different but equally old ‘silly question’, one which has a very obviously wrong answer other than “Goal” (and not “Penalty corner”), is-

What should the decision be if the ball touches the foot of a defender when the ball is hit wide of the goal by an attacker and then continues on out of play before any intervention by any other player is possible?

In these circumstances there can be no advantage gained by the defending team because if the ball-foot contact had not occurred the ball would have gone out of play, resulting in a 15m to defending the team. And if the ball-foot contact was unintended, there is no justification at all for the award of a penalty corner. Currently of course, following the discontinuation of the corner (previously known as the long corner), in these circumstances, a free ball restart to the attacking team should be awarded on the 23m line opposite to the place the ball went out of play…..

…….unless the on-pitch official happens to be an FIH Umpire.

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The first penalty corner shown awarded in the video clip is awarded correctly, because a defender, albeit accidentally, raised the ball towards a close opponent (within 5m) and hit him with the ball – technically a dangerous play offence  (but not with current umpiring practice – see the play from another tournament – if the ball is deliberately lifted into a defender in the circle by an attacker).

There is an apparent bias against defenders who make ball-body contact in their own circle, even if the contact is illegally forced by an opponent – see video below – because it seems this leads to ‘spectacular hockey’ – i.e. penalty corners (drag-flicks) – and generally to more goals being scored.
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The second and third penalty corners in the initial video follow the scenario of the second ‘silly question’ above. The shot from the second penalty corner, improbably, hitting the foot of the defender in exactly the same way as the shot from the first penalty corner did. The umpire did not feel a need to consult again to award a third penalty corner, he made a consistent, but incorrect, decision about a ball-foot contact and penalised the defender for a second time.

There were a total of five penalty corners awarded in close sequence at this time during the match, only one of which (the first) can be said with certainty to have been awarded correctly. Three were clearly incorrectly awarded (two glanced off the foot of a defender, with the foot that was hit positioned wide of the goal and close to – almost on – the base-line and the ball continued out of play; one was awarded as the result of an intentionally forced ball-foot contact by an opponent).

This is not an unusual ratio of correct to incorrect in the awarding of penalty corners; that’s a 60% – 80% error rate. Most error arises from penalising ball-foot contact which has been deliberately forced by an opponent – instead of allowing play to continue or, if the ball was raised, instead of penalising the player who did the forcing  – or arises from penalising unintentional contact when there is no advantage gained by the team of the player hit with the ball as happened when the second and third penalty corners seen in the video were awarded.

Here is an example of a similar mistake by an umpire (and a player) made in open play during an EHL match. Umpires have trained players (by previous decision making) to expect this kind of decision and to regard it as normal practice and correct umpiring, i.e. in compliance with Rule  – when it is not.

 

The decision making methods of the top level umpires are cascaded to those at the lower levels – few appear to have read a rule-book and none are seen to regularly comply with the wording of the published Rule and its Explanation of Application. Some even argue (on an Internet hockey forum) that the explanation/instruction provided by the FIH Rules Committee in regard to the application of Rule 9.11 is not the Rule Proper but merely advice or notes and can therefore be disregarded.

I am unconvinced by such argument because the same people take an entirely different approach to the Explanation of Application provided with other Rules (and even to some long deleted Interpretation), and also because I do not accept that the FIH Rules Committee produced the Rule Explanations provided in the rule-book with the expectation or acceptance that some of them would be ignored or countermanded by Umpire Coaches or Umpire Managers or Tournament Directors – or by umpire coaching/briefing produced and published by the FIH Umpiring Committee.

The FIH Rules Committee, with the approval of the FIH Executive, is the sole Hockey Rules authority and cannot be overruled by any other individual (not even by one or more of its own Members) or by any other FIH body (committee). The FIH Executive went to the trouble of reminding all National Associations of that fact in a FIH Circular in 2001 – another reminder appears to be required.

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February 10, 2018

A peculiar interpretation

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Cris Maloney is a well known, enthusiastic, and well liked umpire coach in the USA. He has produced a number of videos and written three books on the playing and umpiring field-hockey. He has also been involved with Steven Horgan (the Pan American representative Member of the FIH Rules Committee since 2017) in the production of the USA Field Hockey Rules Briefing videos since 2012 – so he should know what he is talking about (even though there has not been a single mention of the Obstruction Rule – the subject of this article – in the USA Briefings for as far back as I have been able to track them: so no mention since at least 2012). It is therefore a something of surprise to discover that he has concocted a bizarre interpretation of part the wording of the Explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule (that turns the Obstruction Rule ‘on its head’) and which he presented in a pre-2017 season coaching session at Eastern. The video clip below is a small segment of that session.

Like the ‘curate’s egg’ what is said is not all bad, the opening statements he makes in the video, about the possibility of obstructing when moving the ball or moving with the ball, are accurate (but see video below for a different interpretation which was previously ‘fashionable’), but he very quickly departed from the rule-book and referred to an offence called ‘Misconduct’ which was deleted decades ago, and also refers to tackle prevention, which is not specifically mentioned in the Obstruction Rule – although instruction about the prevention of a tackle – “if  the opponent could otherwise have played at the ball” – was at one time included in Advice to Umpires in the back of the rule-book and should still be included in the Rule or Explanation of application, but isn’t. Strangely ball shielding when an opponent is within playing distance of the ball and clearly intent on playing at the ball – making a tackle for the ball – is no longer seen (interpreted) as the prevention of a tackle attempt. (That said “attempting to tackle” is presently very poorly defined and absurdly interpreted – see separate article

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/attempting-to-play-the-ball/).

He then, after describing backing in as a contact offence, asks a player to back into him in demonstration, and declares when she does as she is asked, that she is not backing into him (but backing up), as he retreats behind her, because she does not make contact with him. When he stops retreating and the player does back into physical contact, he then declares that she is backing in and therefore obstructing him. The flaw in this reasoning should be obvious as the player with the ball simply continued with exactly the same action – but he did not.

The question that needs to be addressed is “Does ‘back in’ mean backing into physical contact?” Without additional information it is not possible to say because the term is ambiguous. Certainly (as Cris Maloney pointed out) someone who backs into another car hits that car. But, someone who backs into a parking bay or a garage does not normally keep going until they hit something – the terms used are the same and both interpretations can be correct, meaning clearly depends on the context in which the term is used. It is therefore necessary to go to the published Rule to see if there is other wording within the Explanation of application to support the contact interpretation or to make it doubtful or to contradict it.

There are other criteria described and I will set them out without setting out the entire Explanation of application, Third Party etc. 

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

Players obstruct if they :

– back into an opponent

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 last clause needs breaking down to highlight its component parts.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent which can be accurately transcribed into the previously used prohibitive form: – A player with the ball is not permitted to move bodily into an opponent. and  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. transcribes to become 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.

Summary

A player with the ball is not permitted to:-

  • back into an opponent
  • move bodily into an opponent
  • move to position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

I believe the separate listing of ‘back into’ and ‘move bodily into’ call for different interpretations of the two terms.

Because a player may be obstructed once that player is within playing distance of the ball, ‘back into’ can reasonably be interpreted to mean ‘back into the playing reach of an opponent’ and not only or just back into contact. The separate ‘Move bodily into an opponent’, which is otherwise unnecessary, is then justified as a different action from ‘back into’.

Why then is another action described separately ‘move to position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it’. listed ? Is this not unnecessary duplication? No, one reason is because it is possible to turn (move) into a position between an approaching opponent and the ball without backing towards that opponent and a second, important one, is that if a ball holder is moving into an opponent while shielding the ball – which is likely if there is ‘backing in’ or ‘moving bodily into an opponent’ – it is not necessary for the opponent to be attempting to play at the ball at the time for there to be an obstruction offence; this requirement is omitted from the first two criteria listed. That is a reasonable interpretation because if a player is forced to back away from a moving ball holder to avoid physical contact or has been barged into by the body of the ball holder, an attempt to play at the ball may have been made unfairly difficult or impossible by either of these actions.

I assert that there are sufficient other terms and reasonable alternative interpretation to discard the idea that ‘back into an opponent‘ must mean back into physical contact with that opponent. Backing into physical contact is an offence, but so is backing into the playing reach of an opponent, while shielding the ball but without making physical contact, because this contravenes two other clauses of the Explanation of application 1) shielding the ball  2) moving to position between an opponent and the ball. (both actions separately or together preventing a tackle attempt) 

A difficulty with interpretation might disappear if the Explanation of application was clarified to read –  back into the playing reach of an opponent. but I think it better to expand the clause to include all leading of the ball into the playing reach of an opponent while shielding the ball from that opponent to prevent direct playing at the ball: this would include the common ‘crabbing’ actions – leading the ball with shoulder and/or hip and with a leg. So:- A player obstructs if leading the ball with any part of the body into the playing reach of an opponent, thus shielding the ball to prevent that opponent playing directly at it.

Cris Maloney also presented some very strange ideas in the coaching session (shown in the video below) which appear to be based on this clause from the Explanation of application:- A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction. They are strange because that clause refers only to a player who is in the act of receiving and controlling the ball. A player in possession who is not in the act of receiving and controlling the ball is subject to a player shall not shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body and must, when in possession of the ball but not in the act of receiving and controlling it, take account of the positioning of opponents to avoid an obstruction offence, i.e such a player is not always permitted to be facing in any direction. The shielding clause applies whether a player who is shielding the ball from an opponent is stationary or is moving at the time. That is something Cris Malone mentioned but did not expand upon when he referred, at the beginning of the first video clip above, to players who were moving the ball or moving with the ball.

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In fact the only times, other than when in the act of receiving and controlling the ball (receiving is not ‘in possession’) , a player in possession need not be concerned about the positioning of opponents vis a vis the possibility of obstruction is when there is no opponent within playing distance of the ball or no opponent rapidly approaching who will be within playing reach of the ball before it can be put into an open position or when the ball holder and the ball are the opponent’s goal side of any opponent, which includes any opponent who is within playing distance of the ball. An opponent who is ‘behind the play’ as described (behind – not own goal-side of – both the player in possession and the ball) cannot, no matter how close he or she may be, be bodily obstructed by a player in possession of the ball (but obstruction of a tackler’s stick, by ‘protecting’ the ball with stick or leg or hand/arm, is still a possibility).

Whether or not a player in possession of the ball is in “a legal position” or is “still in a legal position” when an opponent is attempting to make a tackle does depend on how they respond/position when a tackle attempt is made. The correct response when the group were asked “Is she still in a legal position” as a tackle attempt was demonstrated to be blocked by the body of the ball-holder was “NO”: Cris Maloney should have been explaining why it was “NO”. The “Yes” reply was an example of cognitive dissidence.

The Obstruction Rule is intended to put pressure on a player in possession of the ball to encourage movement with the ball (dribbling and stick-work) and movement of the ball (passing) – and to discourage physical contact, illegal ball shielding and static ‘play’: it by these means promotes all aspects of skillful play. ‘Diluting’ the criteria for obstruction does the opposite: it ‘dumbs down’ the game so that very little skill is needed to keep possession of the ball. The result is that many players, who are coached to shield the ball whenever possible and do so ‘automatically’ in contested situations, do not develop necessary stick-work and footwork skills or passing skills to properly (legally) play the game.

There is not much backing in taking place during the boring action shown in the video below, so what is seen complies with Cris Maloney’s view of “not obstruction”  – but not with what is written in the Rules of Hockey Rule 9.12.- besides it not being Rule compliant, could anyone want hockey to be played like this?

 

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The answer to that last question is possibly “Yes”. Now nearly everyone plays hockey like this because this, despite Rule 9.12, is the way it is umpired. Are umpires umpiring as ‘everybody’ wants them to or only as umpires want to? In the following video there are a many clips showing players shielding the ball while leading it into an opponent in a way that obliges that opponent to give way to avoid physical contact or moving into body contact (sideways or backwards) while ball shielding or going over the ball and barging into an opponent. Only the last two incidents were penalised for obstruction, the first of them the reversal, after video referral, of a silly penalty stroke decision made by a match umpire, and the second, after a long delay, when a second player was obstructed in the same way as the first one continued to be – and even then the penalty awarded was a penalty corner and not, as it should have been, a penalty stroke.


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What Cris Maloney is currently coaching is at least two steps ‘behind’ what is now permitted, contrary to the Obstruction Rule, by FIH Umpires. To rescue the game we need to go back three or four ‘development’ steps, to where ball shielding to prevent an opponent playing at the ball, when he or she would otherwise have been able to do so, was considered an obstruction offence, and opponents were eluded or ‘beaten’ by passing and stick-work skills rather than commonly by barging and body blocking.

We are no longer trying to understand the wording used in the Obstruction Rule; we are trying to understand the umpiring which is supposed to be based on the provided wording, but clearly is not. What the above umpiring is based on is a mystery.

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February 9, 2018

Two wrongs do not make a right.

RULES OF HOCKEY

This is from the Indoor World Cup in its concluding stages.

The only thing of interest in the first fifteen minutes of this match, which was otherwise about as fascinating as watching paint dry, was a blunder by an umpire who does not understand the ball body contact Rule. He immediately blew the whistle following a ball-foot contact without waiting (less than one second) to see if there was an offence, which in this instance, because the contact was obviously unintended, could be the case only if the AUS team gained an advantage from it.

The ball, following the deflection off the AUS player’s foot, went directly to a GER player who put it into the goal, but no goal could be awarded because the umpire had already intervened by blowing the whistle and incorrectly signaling for a penalty corner – incorrectly because there was no offence by an AUS player – because there was no advantage gained by the AUS team – advantage went to the GER team – so the Advantage Rule should have been applied..

How should he have restarted the game when there was no offence and it was the fault of neither team that he blundered? Should the GER team have been ‘compensated’ for his blunder by being awarded a penalty corner? No of course not, no more than the AUS team should have been penalised with a penalty corner for a ball-foot contact that was not an offence. The umpire tried to ‘make up’ for the blunder (or though he was doing the correct thing), by continuing with the penalty corner award instead of correcting it. To be correct he had no choice but to order a bully restart, no matter how embarrassed he may have been by his mistake.

Am I being too critical? No, I don’t think so: this was a tournament to determine which team was to be the champion of the world – world level Rule knowledge and self control by umpires must be expected at such events, not novice level blunders – and blowing the whistle the instant a ball-foot contact is seen is a novice level blunder.

It almost goes without saying at present that throughout the match both umpires appeared to be unaware of the existence of the Obstruction Rule.

Those who disagree with me about this incorrect award of a penalty corner in these circumstances should bear in mind that I did not write the ball body contact Rule or the Explanation of application provided with it – the FIH Rules Committee did so of course – but I have read it and I understand what I have read, these people could do the same: two wrongs do not make a right.

October 5, 2016

Obsessed

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

I was asked (in October 2016) why I have “this obsession” with the Obstruction Rule, a question which struck me as odd at the time because I recalled having an opposite attitude to ‘umpiring practice’ in regard to obstruction when I first started to write about this Rule around 1998. My ‘obsession’ is with persistent illogical and unfair Rule interpretation and application (or the absence of application) and that carries across a number of Rules.

In a previous article, now deleted, I described going, in 1968, to a Hockey Festival in Bad Homberg, Germany and coming across the most extreme interpretation of the Obstruction 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 correct, they were used to this interpretation and behaved as if it was proper.  (This sort of thing explains in part why many players now never bother to learn the FIH published Rules – they are an irrelevance in such circumstances and knowing what the Rules 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 forward lunge 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 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 ridiculously over-strictly, but it was generally not as daft as what I encountered in Bad Homberg; 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’ and applied only at club level.

The video clip below, which was produced in 2003 by the Australian HA, 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 – and so what if she did? – 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, quite quickly, 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’ contact tackle.We now have an equally extreme opposite ‘umpiring practice’ of application of the Obstruction Rule: many umpires seem unaware of the existence of it.

Compare the above ‘obstruction’ with the below 2016 penalising of a ‘tackler’, 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 to Explanation in 2009  – and there has been no announcement of any change of interpretation at all made by the FIH Rules Committee (or the FIH Hockey Rules Board) and no change made to the wording of the interpretation of the Rule since 2001 (and that was ‘housekeeping’ – removing the words “if necessary” which did not in any way alter the existing interpretation, so there has been no change of any significance since 1993, when the receiving exception was introduced).

 

 

My persistence in pointing out the 2009 amendment to the Explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule, on the Internet forums at talkinghockey.com and fieldhockeyforum.com was rewarded with bans from both. George Brinks told me by email in 2009 that the Obstruction Rule was ‘dead’ and my insisting on writing about it was driving people away from his forum and he had therefore to ban me.

Below, is my notification of my permanent exclusion from fieldhockeyforum.com – a typical umpire ‘interpretation’ by Magpie (a previous moderator), a convenient corruption of what I wrote (which was impure invention) and a ban without any justification whatsoever.

ban3_zpsfb960238
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Neither of these forum moderators were interested in (probably didn’t even read) what I was actually advocating, they just incorrectly assumed I was pushing for a return to the pre-1993 era interpretation of the Obstruction Rule. 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 with it or about it, 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 (2018) Obstruction Rule) is actually more prescriptive of an obstructive action by a player in possession of the ball than the Rule was in 2004 – but ‘practice’ is very different.

The follow clip shows an obstruction decision from a match played in 2013 that is every bit as extreme and bizarre as the ones I witnessed in 1968, but for different reasons and at the opposite extreme. There was an obstruction offence as well as two physical contact offences but all theses offences were committed by the NED defender the umpire awarded the free ball to. Neither of the ARG players committed an offence during this incident – but the NED played appealed for a decision and an obviously clueless umpire complied. The award of a penalty corner to the ARG team would have been an appropriate response from the umpire because the fouls by the NED player were intentional.

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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. I pointed out for a number of years prior to 2004 that raising the ball towards another player at any distance was an illegal action and also dangerous play if it caused evasive action, so at the time many of the drag flicks made should have been penalised –  fieldhockeyforum later (about 2006) effectively banned any discussion of the shot at goal as a dangerously raised ball – eventually, after many threads on the dangerously played ball, especially as a shot at the goal, had been prematurely closed or sin-binned, the ‘final word’, a ridiculous and inaccurate post by Diligent (Chris Horton), one of the forum moderators, has been pinned to the top of the Umpiring Section for years. 

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’ (I cannot yet accurately write “was 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 a 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 for some unknown reason (simply to get their own way in argument?) regard the Explanation as ‘notes’ and not as direction and 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 (largely because the offence of forcing is no longer applied, as it is supposed to be, using “other Rules”).

Here is a sample of umpire coaching (also by Chris Horton who, incredibly, is a level one umpire coach) 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. And it is still umpired in that way; 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’ following Umpire Managers’ or Tournament Directors’ instructions was always ‘the Rule’, not what was printed in the rule-book. “Don’t think, just do as you are told”.

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 its present 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 advice in the UMB (but also ignore any danger resulting from a raised hit) which has become ‘practice’. (I have more than one example on video of a player using a hard forehand edge hit to lift the ball at high velocity into the opponent’s circle – two deliberate offences – and that player’s team being awarded a penalty corner because the ball was deflected by one defender into the body of another).

The ball is not raised very high in this example but it was still raised illegally (intentionally) and with an illegal stroke, and these fouls disadvantaged the opposing team.

The Rule on the falling ball has been messed up by firstly, change to the wording of  the second clause of the Dangerous Play Rule  …or leading to dangerous play ( from ...likely to lead to dangerous play) and secondly, by ignoring this clause. Poor wording of Rule 9.10. (for example, the deletion of “at the time the ball was raised” from the Guidance) has resulted in different views on the placement of a free ball awarded for danger or 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 had 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.

I no longer enjoy watching hockey, the officiating at the Rio Olympics made me cringe as did much of the play, and I am also at the point when I consider writing abut the Rules of Hockey and the application of them to be a waste of my time. I have deleted all but a few of my other articles and probably won’t be writing many more; that will make some people happy. I may from time to time restore a deleted article for a period, but frankly the apathy and complacency so far encountered in response to what I have written previously hardly makes it worth bothering. I am dismayed that apparently intelligent umpire coaches coach according to “what FIH Umpires are doing” when much of what these umpires do, is not only not Rule compliant, it is extreme and bizarre and wouldn’t get them approval in a watching for promotion from novice to Level One qualification. I will later up-load here video of match incidents from Rio 2016 to support that contention.

Here is the first of them; I have written a separate article about these incidents:- https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/an-old-umpiring-question/:-

 

 

 

 

December 31, 2015

Forcing, deletion of Rule.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

More than seven years ago the following announcement was made in the Introduction of the 2011-13 Rules of Hockey under Rules Changes.

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 of the Rules Committee, turned out to be false.

The play by the ENG player in the video clip below did not contravene any “other Rules” because the ball was not raised, but it would (or should) have been penalised prior to the deletion of a stand alone forcing offence. The deletion caused an unintended but a fundamental change.

The award of a penalty corner by the umpire was a failure of common sense or ‘brain fade’, the defender did not commit an offence and play should have been allowed to continue. It is not the case that if forcing ball-body contact by an opponent is not an offence then the ball-body contact is an offence by the player hit with the ball. To penalise the player hit with the ball in circumstances similar to those seen in the video is to irrationally or illogically leap from one extreme to another. Only very rarely (I would like to say “never” and I think the Rule should state that) will there be any justification for penalty against a player hit with the ball when the contact has been (intentionally) forced by an opponent who was in possession of the ball – and clearly if the ball is raised when forcing such contact then penalty must always be against the player who raised the ball.

I did not mention, but I do now, that the incident in the above video did occur in a match played before the deletion of the stand alone offence called Forcing. Penalising the player hit with the ball as a result of forcing – even though such forcing was clearly an illegal action – was common ‘umpiring practice’ before the Rules of Hockey were amended. The deletion of the Forcing Rule, was a case of ‘umpiring practice’ leading the FIH Rules Committee ‘by the nose’, a not unusual occurrence, but something that should not happen.

 

Interpretation of the 2011 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 can be ‘dealt with’ in only two ways, by the award of penalty or by application of the Advantage Rule, so the above interpretation of “dealt with” can be considered to be reasonable.

*The other Rules that could be contravened by a forcing of ball-body contact are (1) Rule 9.8, the Rule concerning the dangerously played ball – legitimate evasive action, which defines a dangerously played ball, is however not limited to balls propelled at an opponent from within 5m (2)  Explanation of application given with Rule 9.9. “A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous (to which it is reasonable to add an intentionally or recklessly raised hit made towards an opponent) and (3) 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 another example of an intentional forcing action (in 2016)  – 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. Technically, because the ball was raised, this is deliberate dangerous play and (for a first offence) the award of a green card to the attacker would have been appropriate.

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 because there is no distance limit placed on legitimate evasive action) 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” andis considered dangeroushas been added and “towards has replacedat, none of these amendments significantly changes the way in which contravening play at close range should be dealt with and “is considered dangerous” (my bold) removes any uncertainty and should prevent failure to penalise because of a subjective interpretation of dangerously or the absence of evasive action.

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 – and play can just continue (the UMB does not recommend penalising a player so hit with the ball), 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.

In my view the failure to properly penalise forcing offences and properly apply the Obstruction Rule has ruined the game (not, is going to ruin the game).

Some examples.


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Above. ‘Raised above knee height’ is not the relevant criteria ‘raised towards’ is. But the umpire awarded a penalty corner over the protests of the NED players, even though the ball was raised into the NED defender at above knee height (which has become the criteria for dangerous in ‘accepted practice’) and the AUS player then charged into the NED defender to prevent him from stopping and controlling the ball.
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Above. Another ‘raise into charge and barge’ Penalty corner awarded.
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Above. An absence of Rule knowledge displayed by the match umpire, the video umpire and the expert commentators.
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Above. Another cynical deliberate raising of the ball into an opponent at above knee height, a penalty corner was awarded.
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The ‘standard’ tactic (and penalty award) when a defender attempts to reach for the ball with the stick. This has to be removed from the game; in these circumstances play should just continue.

Multiple dangerous ‘raise into charge and barge’ offences by the ESP team followed by  ridiculous video umpire advice on the taking of a self-pass (a second whistle to restart play following the award of a free ball would be helpfulon this occasion the commentators were correct, the self pass had been taken before the defender moved to within 5m of the ball – the ball had been made stationary and then moved).

Obviously, raising the ball at a player and then charging into physical contact with that player should not be allowed or accepted in hockey because it is specifically forbidden by Rule, but there is apparently no limit to what may become ‘accepted practice’. We have only to look at current umpire coaching to see that ‘accepted practice’ in the application of the Obstruction Rule, as in the application of the ball-body contact Rule, bears little relation to the wording of the Rule, indeed the ‘interpretation’ of both Rules is often the extreme opposite to what it should be. Deliberate physical contact accompanies the forcing of ball-body contact, without penalty, as frequently as intentional physical contact accompanies obstruction without penalty – that is far far too frequently – given that it should not be happening at all.

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The offence of forcing covered a great deal more than forcing ball-body contact (included the forcing of self defense from dangerous play). It also encompassed the ‘manufacturing’ of obstruction and the forcing of body physical contact.

I would have no difficulty finding dozens of video examples of a player in possession of the ball leading and shielding the ball and while so doing so, forcing physical contact with an opponent – and, as with the ball-body contact Rule examples above, penalty will often be awarded against the opposing defending player who has been barged into while trying to play at the ball.

Here are more than forty examples:-

Who is responsible for creating this mess?

The forcing of ball-body contact is often combined with barging to deny an opponent towards whom the ball has been propelled opportunity to play it. I will put a collection of such incidents together on an other video clip. Together with examples of forcing combined with dangerous play, that is the raising of the ball into a close opponent, often above the generally accept height for ‘dangerous from within 5m, that is knee height. In nearly all of these incidents the ball is raised into the opponent from within two metres and incredibly, in the overwhelming majority of cases it is the ball-body contact that is penalised – even the fairer, but still incorrect,  ‘play on’ is a rare decision

Here are some examples of forcing combined with other offences:-

And here we have examples of forcing that is not an offence by either player but always results in the player who was hit with the ball being penalised, which is contrary to what is given in Rule 9.11.


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October 31, 2015

Rewrite: Rule 9.12. Obstruction.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

 

A suggested rewrite  of the Rules of hockey.

The current 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.

Action. Amendment.

Reason. The Rule is a fundamental element of the fair conduct of a non-contact game and is at present almost totally ignored due to deviant interpretation of Rule purpose and word meaning.

Comments and suggestions are invited.

The Obstruction Rule obliges a player in possession of the ball in contested situations to move the ball beyond the reach of opponents (by dribbling or passing) and to possess the ability, the stick-work skills, to retain the ball while facing opponents who are competing for it.

Hockey is not like soccer in this respect: soccer is a game which permits physical contact in challenges for the ball and also allows a player in possession of the ball to shield it from opponents and even hold them off, to prevent them from playing at the ball – hockey Rules permit neither action, physical contact nor ball-shielding. That naturally means that hockey is more difficult to learn to play properly than soccer is, but, once in possession of the ball, playing hockey without an Obstruction Rule is akin to playing tennis without an net – it requires little skill and the side/player in possession will almost always score. Keeping possession of the ball becomes for competent players almost as easy as it is in basketball, but hockey then becomes duller than basketball because the time, shooting and zone limits imposed on basketball players, to prevent endless possession by one side, do not exist in hockey.

The suggested rewrite below is basically the Rule as it now exists, it adds only a clarification of “move into” and the concept of an ‘on-side’ tackler to the existing Rule – the latter something which has always been there but never stated – and restores the original “must move away” in place of the present “is permitted to move off”: a clear instruction replacing an empty statement, empty in that it is neither prohibitive or directive and therefore serves no purpose.

The suggestion has been made as explicit as I could make it, even at the cost of repetition. I have tried to avoid ambiguity. The suggested Rule is of about the same length as the original (1993) ‘new interpretation’, (the misnomer give to the guidance which contained the exception to the Rule allowed to a receiver of the ball – it was and is an exception to the Rule not a new interpretation of the criteria for an obstruction offence, which remains unchanged) which was previously contained in the Rule Interpretations section in the back of pre-1995 rule-books.

Suggestion.

Rule 9.12  Players must not shield the ball from an opponent with any part of the body or with the stick in a way that prevents or delays that opponent playing directly at the ball when that opponent would otherwise be immediately able to do so.

Shielding the ball to prevent an opponent playing at it is called obstruction and is an action contrary to this Rule of Hockey..

A player in possession of the ball illegally obstructs an opponent with his body or stick when:-

the opponent is level with or own goal-side of the ball (‘on-side’ of the ball)

and
the ball is within the playing reach of the opponent who intends to play it

and
the opponent is demonstrating an intent to play at the ball  

 and
the only reason the opponent cannot immediately play directly at the ball is because the direct path to it is obstructed by (any part of) the body or stick of a player in possession of the ball.

Obstructive ball shielding is therefore an offence that has to be forced by an opponent while demonstrating an intent to play at the ball or while trying to position to tackle, who in so doing shows that the direct path to the ball is obstructed; that is the opponent who is intent on playing at the ball is prevented from doing so only because the ball is shielded by the body or stick of the player in possession of it.

An obstructive offence may be forced by an opponent immediately that opponent approaches to within playing reach of the ball and demonstrates an intent to play at it.

A player in possession of the ball

who is :-

(a)   faced with an ‘on-side’ opponent who is within playing distance of the ball  and who is attempting to play at the ball, may not move (turn) with or on the ball to position the body and/or the stick between the ball and the opponent with the effect of blocking that opponent’s direct path to the ball and by this means or by moving the ball to the same effect, prevent or delay a legal attempt by an opponent to play at the ball. Moving to maintain a ball shielding position, for example ‘shunting’ sideways to continue shielding the ball from an opponent is not legitimate “moving off” or “moving away”.  

A player in possession of the ball who is:-

(b)   beyond the playing reach of a closing opponent who turns on or with the ball to position the body between that opponent and the ball or moves the ball to the same effect IS NOT allowed the time and space leeway, after the opponent has closed to within playing distance of the ball, that is exceptionally, given to a player in the act of receiving and controlling the ball. The ball must be kept beyond the playing reach of a closing opponent in such circumstances, OR before the opponent is obstructed in his or her attempt to play at the ball (has come within playing reach of the ball and tried to play it) the player in possession of the ball must again turn on or with the ball to face opponents or position the ball, so that it is no longer shielded from opponents.

A stationary or slow moving ball-holder who obliges an opponent who is intent on playing at the ball to ‘go around’ a ball-shielding position to attempt to play at the ball, when that opponent would otherwise be able to play at the ball directly, is obstructing that opponent.

Within the criteria given above, an Obstruction Offence occurs when a player in possession of the ball, whether moving or stationary, positions the body in relation to the ball or the ball in relation to the body, so that the execution of a legal attempt to play at the ball by an ‘onside’ opponent, who would otherwise be able to immediately play directly at the ball, is not possible without that opponent having to move around the body or stick of the player in possession of the ball in order to play at it.

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A player in possession of the ball :-

must not while shielding the ball with any part of the body including the legs, move into the playing reach of an opponent or move bodily into an opponent, causing contact, or by moving towards an opponent while shielding the ball i.e. by leading the ball with the body, oblige an opponent to give way to avoid body contact (Rule 9.3).

 

The Tackler.

A tackle may not be attempted from a position where physical contact will result (Rule 9.13), but obstruction may be demonstrated; it is in fact a requirement that obstruction is demonstrated for an obstruction offence to occur i.e. to demonstrate that a legal attempt to play at the ball is being prevented.

A player who is within playing distance of the ball and intends to make a tackle, but who is not in a position of balance from which a tackle attempt may be made, is for example, facing or moving or reaching in the wrong direction to play at the ball with a reasonable expectation of making contact with it with the stick, cannot be obstructed except as already noted, when evasive movement is forced to avoid physical contact being caused by an opponent in possession of the ball who is leading the ball with the leg or body and thus shielding the ball.

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The ‘Receiving’ Exception to the Rule.

Exceptionally, a player who is in the act of receiving and controlling the ball is temporally exempted from the possibility of a ball shielding offence.

A receiving player is permitted to receive the ball while facing in any direction and while either in a stationary position or while moving. Such a receiving player will not be obstructing any opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it, even if shielding the ball from that opponent while receiving it. The receiving player, however, having received the ball and controlled it, must in these circumstances then immediately either:-

a) pass the ball away or

b) move away from opponents with the ball to put and keep it beyond their playing reach and/or turn on or with the ball to face opponents, so that the ball is no longer shielded from them.

 

It will be necessary for a receiving player who elects  to turn on or over the ball, after the ball is in control or as the ball is controlled, to:-

a) make such a turn 1) before an opponent is within playing reach of the ball or 2) after having taken the ball beyond the playing reach of the opponent or

b) create space for a turn having duped the opponent into moving or reaching in the wrong direction, before there has been any obstruction.

 

Once an opponent is within playing reach of the ball the only options then available to the ball holder will be:-

a) to either turn on the ball while moving the ball away from the reach of the opponent (which may be achieved with appropriate foot-work and stick-work ) or

b) to move away with the ball to put and keep the it beyond the opponent’s reach, and then to turn on or with the ball  – and/or to pass the ball away.

 

Once the ball has been received and controlled the receiving player may not,  in a way that shields the ball from opponents who are within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intent to play it, dwell on the ball in a stationary or near stationary position or while so positioned move the ball to shield it with the stick or body and thereby prevent a legal attempt to play at it.

After having received and controlled the ball while facing towards his or her own defence, making feints over the ball while stationary or slow moving or ‘dribbling’, which comprises of ‘weaving’ from side to side without taking the ball beyond the playing reach of the opponent and while maintaining a ball shielding position (thus preventing an opponent from playing at the ball or from positioning to do so), will be considered an obstruction offence.

The receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule facilitates the receiving and controlling of the ball and continuation of play without the receiver facing towards his or her own baseline immediately committing an obstruction offence when closely marked by an opponent who is intent on playing at the ball – nothing more.

The ‘Manufactured’ Exception to the Rule.

A player in possession of the ball who plays it to the far side of an opponent (who is, for example, attempting to channel the ball holder or block the ball with the stick or execute a tackle) and then runs into that opponent claiming to be obstructed, has not been obstructed if there has been no movement with the intent to obstruct by the defending player. If there is physical contact the player who was in possession of the ball is in these circumstances the one more likely to have committed an offence. (This was a part of the previously deleted ‘Manufacturing’ Rule which should be restored).

 

Third-Party Obstruction.

A player who is not in possession of the ball who moves in front of or blocks the path of an opponent to stop that opponent legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing. This form of obstruction is known as third-party obstruction because the obstructing player often carries out this action so that a team-mate (the second party) has more time and/or space to reach and/or play the ball. It can also be regarded as an impeding offence or according to the circumstances as a physical contact offence.

It is not necessary for the obstructed player to be within playing reach of the ball at the time a third-party offence is committed, it is only necessary that but for the offence, the obstructed player would have been able to intercept the ball or would have been in a position to challenge a team-mate of the obstructing player for the ball and was denied that opportunity. This form of obstruction is often carefully planned to create passing space in mid-field and is often deliberately carried out during penalty corners to a) give the stopper and shooting player more time to set up and make a shot and b) to block line of sight to the ball to defenders. It is in the latter case often a very dangerous action. 

For there to be a third party obstruction It is generally necessary for the obstructing player to move to block the path to the ball of the obstructed player and third party obstruction cannot otherwise occur, but exceptionally, a player in possession of the ball may deliberately use a stationary team-mate as a shield by dribbling the ball very close to him or her so as to impose a compliant team-mate between the ball and an opponent who is intent on tackling for the ball – leaving the tackler, with the choice of going around or stopping or barging into the stationary third player i.e. in an obstructed position, unable to challenge the ball holder for possession of the ball.

Stick Obstruction 

The same principle applies to stick obstruction as applies to obstruction with the body. Positioning the stick between the stick of an opponent and the ball is obstruction if that action prevents the opponent playing the ball. It makes no difference if the stick of the player in possession of the ball is in contact with the ball or not. If, for example, the stick is positioned Indian dribble style with the stick-head over the top front of the ball in contact with and covering it, or the stick is used away from the ball to fend off the stick of a tackler as the tackler’s stick is moved towards the ball. Both these kinds of action are obstructive, if direct playing of the ball by an opponent, who is within playing distance of the ball and is attempting to play at it, is thereby prevented.

It might be asked “what is the point of a rewrite if this:-

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

– back into an opponent

and these two complimentary statements:-

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 pretty good encapsulation of the Obstruction Rule)are already in place?

One answer is that what is written may seen perfectly clear but it is possible, as may be seen in most hockey matches, to either ignore it or interpret it is very different ways, so emphasis on purpose and intent and clarification of wording are required. (What for example, is the difference, and they have to be different to justify the inclusion of both in separate clauses, between back into an opponent and move bodily into an opponent ?).

A second answer is that “for evil to triumph it is only necessary that good people do nothing“. Calling deviant interpretation evil may seem overly dramatic, but I don’t want to see dribbling with the ball in hockey carried out in the same style as it is in basketball – backing into opponents to achieve a scoring position or to a ‘win’ a penalty for a contact foul, but we are already well along that road and unless action is taken to remedy that, these practices will get much worse (although it is difficult to see how some of them could get any worse than they are now).  I am serious when I say that the game has been destroyed it was not intended that opponents should be eluded by shielding and backing in and that sort of play is not attractive or spectacular – i.e pleasant to watch.

The video clips below, two of hundreds of possible examples available, also illustrates why the Obstruction Rule needs to be written more explicitly than it is at present. The player in possession of the ball, who clearly obstructs his opponents several times, was not penalised for these offences in an international level match. The mistaken assumption Cris Maloney et al make (see article https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation) is to really believe or be prepared to accept, that if FIH Umpires are not penalising such obstructions then not to do so MUST be correct.

 
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The ‘poster boy’ for the latest interpretation of obstruction (where there is no such thing as obstruction even when there is physical contact caused by the attacker) is the shootout.

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