Posts tagged ‘Advantage’

April 9, 2015

Field Hockey Rules: No advantage gained

Rules of Hockey.     Change of criteria for ball-body contact offence.  Obstruction.    Rule revision.

Another video clip added  19th April 2015.

There is not always an offence when there is a ball-foot or ball-leg contact (in fact there very seldom is) often the contact does not gain an advantage for the team of the player hit with the ball – as often as not ball-body contact disadvantages the team of the player hit with the ball.

The video is from a match during the 2014 World Cup, when the criteria for offence was voluntarily made contact or positioning with the intention of using the foot hand or body to stop or deflect the ball, but the ‘new’ criteria (resurrected old criteria circa pre- 1992) of gaining an advantage (replacing voluntarily made contact), clearly was not met by either of the ball-foot contact incidents.

The match umpire and video umpire concerned did not even bother to mention voluntarily made or intention, there was an assumption made that any ball-body contact by a defender in the circle would be an offence and result in the award of a penalty corner, unless an advantage (usually a clear shot at the goal) was obtained by the attacking side.

(Here again there is a muddling of the Advantage Rule and disadvantaging opponents, because that Rule (12.1) cannot be applied unless there has been a breach of the Rules for which a penalty may be awarded i.e. an offence).

The attacker in the second incident seen in the video, having received and controlled the ball, deliberately positions his body between the defender and the ball to shield the ball past the defender and illegally prevents a tackle attempt being made by an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it. Ironically, because the defender was obliged to attempt to play at the ball through the legs of the attacker, he was seen to have impeded the attacker with his stick and thereby nullified the ‘advantage’ the match umpire stated he allowed following the other defender’s ball-foot contact.

We can continue to expect this sort of decision making, the criterion for offence in Rule 9.11. mean nothing.(are undefinable)  and Rule 9.12. Obstruction, specifically ball shielding which illegally prevents a tackle attempt, has, as I once saw it put, with a pretence of authority,   “.…been deconstructed some years ago and is no longer applied ” : odd that it is still in the rule-book.

If only we could have the approach to and application of these two Rules exchanged with each other (the disappearance of “find a foot” and ”crabbing’ into opponents while shielding the ball), what an improvement that would make to the way players play the game. The FIH Rules Committee are not it seems adverse to resurrecting ‘long dead’ versions of some of the Rules but how are they to be persuaded to restore , or restore with modification, the right ones in the right way? These from 1993 are examples of previous good (or better than current) Rule wording (my underlining) :-

12.1. A player shall not:

(e)    play the ball wildly, or play or kick the ball in such a way as to be dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play, nor play the ball intentionally into any part of an opponent’s body, including the feet and legs. 

(f)  deliberately stop, propel or deflect the ball on the ground or in the air with any part of the body TO HIS
OR HIS TEAM’S ADVANTAGE (save as provided for goalkeepers in Rule 12.11(c)).

They went back one year too far for the last one.

Not all of the 1993 and 2001 PIT Interpretation, to be found in the back of the rule-book until 2004, when the rule-book was reformatted and rewritten, was bad. This part of it, from the 2003 rule-book, could usefully be restored to the current Rules with very little addition or modification.. 

Umpires should be aware of players who are in possession of the ball who:
– back into an opponent;
– turn and try to push past an opponent;
– shield the ball with body, leg or stick and stand still when under pressure;
– 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.

One of the problems with the current Rules of Hockey is that they are out of date, they don’t deal adequately with current issues. ‘Out of date’ does not refer to a time but to an attitude; many Rules were better written ten or twenty or thirty years ago and some which have now completely disappeared should not have done so. e.g. the ban on raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle (which could be reintroduced but confined to hits and free-ball situations and perhaps with a height limit on other strokes). Others should not have been introduced e.g. the ban on the intentionally raised hit; the ban on playing a free awarded in the opponent’s 23m area directly into the circle. Yet others are long overdue deletion e,g. ‘back-sticks’.


There is a considerable way to go before we have a game with properly structured Rules.



This example of penalty for ball-body contact indicates that there has been no change to the unofficial “any ball-body contact is an offence” ‘philosophy’.



Aside from the Rules and umpiring considerations there is the attitude of the attacker. There seems to be no pride taken in beating/eluding an opponent using speed and stick-work and no shame felt in resorting to what I see as a lack of sportsmanship. This sort of ploy is not a skill to be admired, it’s too easy and it’s as close to cheating as can be got without actually breaking a Rule. This situation exists because the FIH Rules Committee were daft enough to delete (ineffectually transfer to other Rules) the offence of forcing in 2011 and because umpires have not responded correctly to the new criteria for the offence. What advantage did the defender gain when the attacker deliberately played the ball into his feet and then (in expectation of the penalty he had ‘won’) lost interest in where the ball went? This is going to change only when umpires, as they should, call “Play on” following such incidents.

March 29, 2014

Field Hockey Rules: Encroaching. Rule 9.10.

Rules of Hockey. Falling ball. Encroaching.

Edit video link repaired 31.3.14

9.10 Players must not approach within 5 metres of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball until it has been received, controlled and is on the ground.

The initial receiver has a right to the ball.

If it is not clear which player is the initial receiver, the player of the team which raised the ball must allow the opponent to receive it.

An example of a possible muddling of Rules between competition formats. Both the GER attacker and the umpire were involved in the European Hockey League, where the playing of the ball at above shoulder height was permitted at the time of the 2012 Olympic Games, but there had been no change made to the full Rules of Hockey or to Tournament Regulations in this regard, so above shoulder play was not permitted in this match. There is possibly other muddle too. Did the umpire allow ‘advantage’ following the initial encroaching offence and did any advantage materialise?


Clearly a goal could not have been awarded following illegal playing of the ball by the GER attacker, but was a free ball to the AUS team (the result of video referral by the AUS team) the correct decision?

Encroachment Combination 1          Link to image PDF.

Encroachment Combination 1

Encroachment Combination 2         Link to images PDF

Encroachment Combination 2



In my opinion no player should be permitted to play at the ball at above shoulder height in the opponent’s circle (but that is now permitted – August 2013) however, I believe that in the incident above there were certainly grounds for the award of a penalty corner and a yellow card and possibly grounds for the award of a penalty stroke against the AUS players – even if the umpire did initially attempt to allow an advantage. There was no clear advantage for the GER player, but there was continual and increased infringement of the encroaching Rule by the AUS team.

There needs to be revision of the falling ball Rule. 5m is too great a distance and in control and on the ground before an opponent can approach to with 5m of the receiver, is an unnecessarily severe safety constraint (which is seldom enforced) – especially when a receiver may not necessarily make an immediate attempt to control the ball to ground. I have made suggestions for an alternative Rule previously in another article.


I also believe that there is a good reason for arranging that the match umpires review video replays personally. A video umpire cannot know, unless informed, that an advantage was allowed by the match umpire and should not be asked to assess if there was in fact an advantage, following an offence, to the team offended against. 

March 13, 2014

Field Hockey Rules: ‘Flogging a dead horse’.

Rules of Hockey. Breach of Rule. Offence. Advantage. Disadvantaged opponents. Gained benefit.

‘Mules’, ‘donkeys’ and ‘dead horses’

The Rule

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

The explanation of the intent of the Rule and how to apply it . This is instruction provided together with the Rule, by the FIH Rules Committee. It is not merely optional advice or notes or encouragement, such as may be found in the Umpire Managers Briefing for FIH Umpires.

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 voluntarily use their hand, foot or body to play the ball 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.


Breaking Rule 9.11. (ball-body contact) is not necessarily an Offence.

For a breach of Rule 9.11. to be an Offence there must be an intent on the part of the player making ball-body contact to play the ball with the body..

An Offence is a Breach of Rule (a breaking of a Rule) which may be penalised by an umpire.

An Offence that disadvantages opponents should be penalised by an umpire                                                                             (this is NOT the Advantage Rule.)

Disadvantaging opponents is not of itself an offence and nor of itself does it make any unintended ball-body contact action an offence. An accidental ball-body contact remains an unintentional contact it DOES NOT become an Offence just because opponents are disadvantaged by it.

There is no ‘gained benefit’ exception – when there is a ball-body contact (a breach of Rule) but no Offence i.e. no intent to make ball-body contact, there is no reason (other than injury) to stop play and there is no reason to penalise the player who made contact (was hit) with the ball. 

When an Offence (a breaking of the Rules which may be penalised by an umpire) by a player DOES NOT disadvantage opponents – i.e. opponents are able to play on with advantage – then an umpire must not penalise the Offence (with a team penalty) but must allow play to continue: this is the (presently poorly written) Advantage Rule. 12.1.


Having been a reader and contributor to Internet Hockey Forums for more than fifteen years I am no longer surprised at the questions asked by players and sometimes even umpires, that could be ‘answered’ by a few minutes reading of the rule book. I doubt I shall ever cease to be astonished by the replies provided by those who are supposed to be knowledgeable or even expert on the ‘interpretation’ and application of the Rules of Hockey. In fact the opinions of these ‘experts’ are often a reason other participants are confused or bewildered, the other is poor writing (usually rewriting) of the Rules – a terrific combination: vague Rule terminology and guessing or invention.

The question.

Olir So let’s say a player gets hit on the foot whilst controlling the ball with no one around them to take the ball off them.

The rules say, I seem to remember, that it’s not necessarily a foul if the ball hits a foot.
So my question to you is – is it a foul if it hits a players foot and they don’t gain much of an advantage from it, or “no one is around”.

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

The Chief. The way I think of it is this. Firstly, did they control the ball with their foot, or did it just touch their foot? If they controlled the ball with their foot, then I’d say that the opposition were disadvantaged.
Secondly, if the ball just happened to touch their foot, but this happened with an opponent close by, then I’d also say that the opposition were disadvantaged.
I’ll sit and watch dozens of differing opinions being expressed now, but that to me is how I make my decision on the pitch, and unless somebody tells me a better way, that’s how I’ll continue. Be consistent throughout the game and you won’t get too many complaints.

Warky I think The Chief has mostly said it all.

In an attempt to expand a little on it: For me, if the person receiving the ball gets the stick on the ball and takes most of the pace out, before the ball rolls on the the foot (in space), then play on. If the foot is the part taking most of the pace out, then free hit against.

The obvious problem that the rule is subjective. What I consider to have disadvantaged the defence, might not necessarily be what you consider to be a disadvantage.


Warky said: 

The obvious problem that the rule is subjective. What I consider to have disadvantaged the defence, might not necessarily be what you consider to be a disadvantage.

Which is why, if questioned, you say ‘I don’t believe the defence were disadvantaged by that foot contact’

johnreiss let me try to answe this question with a couple of examples. The receiver is in space with noone nea rhim. He stops the ball with his stick but after that it touches his foot. IMHO there’s no offence here because the non-fouling team have not been disadvantaged.

If the ball would, for example, gone out of play but the foot pevented it, the non-fouling team has been disadvantaged so blow it.

as has been said, it’s a question was the non-fouling side been disadvanatged by the foot. If yes, blow it. If no play on.

a slightly more difficult one would be suppose a defender lifts the ball and it is landing in space with no one near the receiver and his lack of skill means he stops the ball with his body would you blow the lift as dangrous? answer = no. Has the nonfouling side been disadvantaged by the other side’s lack of skill . Probably so blow it. 

I cannot see how the ist part of my post can be of any consquence so play on. The last part of my post is a bit more contentious. Should the lack of skill be penalised?

Ravennghorde You are not penalising a lack of skill, you are penalising an offence which disadvantages the other team.

When I first viewed this topic thread two other posts were included. I don’t know if there was a response to the last post by NITW but the next time I looked at the thread I found this message:-

Diligent delete and lock

and the following posts had been deleted.

Spetitt. But there is no offence to consider if the player did not voluntarily allow it to hit him/her, nor (voluntarily) place him/herself in such a way that contact was inevitable 
The anomaly of this wording, already discussed ad nauseum, occurs when the ball accidentally hits a foot and thereby prevents a goal’s being scored.
I think it makes a case for a limited return of the … gone but apparently not forgotten … ‘gains benefit’ condition, maybe with the qualification of “gains unfair benefit”, but just to cover such obvious and gross unfairness as the accidental prevention of a goal.
At the moment most umpires’ “current practice” of dealing with defence feet in the circle unfortunately bears very little resemblance to the way that the official rule book is worded.

 nerd_is_the_word Gees that sounds like something I have heard before ad nauseam.

give up, you are in the ridiculously small minority, if you keep trying to tell us that it needs to be changed you are just flogging a dead horse.

It is now ridiculous to suggest that this website conducts a hockey forum i.e. a place of discussion. What is as bad as the censorship of opinion that differs from that of this ‘moderator’, is that his view is contrary to the FIH published Rules of Hockey – i.e. Diligent is wrong and is helping to promote a pernicious ‘interpretation’ of Rule 9.11. and a distortion of the Advantage Rule. The simple answer to the question Olir asked is “No” – but he obviously requires the reasons why, the justification and authority for the answer provided.


In the face of the sort of resistance to fact shown in the majority of the ‘answers’ and even deliberate disinformation given in the ‘forum’, it has become very difficult to pry rumour based habits out of ‘interpretation’ and ‘application’ (practice) and to ‘hammer in’ what is actually written in the Rules of Hockey.


So I’ll keep hammering away, in the manner of a television ‘infomercial’, saying the same thing in as many different ways as I can, in the hope that repetition will bring awareness – and that umpires will do the opposite to what they are frequently advised to do (which is to umpire as they see others umpiring and not to try to make their own sense of the Rules) and that they will read the Rules of Hockey and apply their common sense to what they read. There are no words in the English language that take on an uncommon or very specific (i.e.different) meaning when used in the Rules of Hockey, even if there are some odd terms such as ‘penalty corner'; ‘third party'; bully; edge-hit and self-pass, which do need explaining to someone not familiar with the game.
Applying Penalty.

It is very easy to get this incorrect by applying criterion ‘back to front’  E.g....there’s no offence here because the non-fouling team have not been disadvantaged.” :that is completely wrong, disadvantage because of an action by an opponent has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not there has been an offence and an offence does not necessarily disadvantage opponents (the latter fact being why there is an Advantage Rule). The correct procedure is first to consider whether or not there has been an offence and if the answer to that question is “Yes”, then – and only then – to consider if opponents have been disadvantaged by the offence before considering penalty. That and the following needs to be learned:-

An offence is a breach of Rule that may be penalised by an umpire.

An OFFENCE that disadvantages opponents should be penalised (this is NOT the Advantage Rule.)

Disadvantaging opponents is not of itself an offence and nor of itself does it make any action an offence.

An accidental ball-body contact remains an unintentional contact it DOES NOT, even though a breach of Rule 9.11, become an offence (and treated as if made intentionally) just because opponents are disadvantaged by it.  

For a breach of Rule 9.11. to be an offence there must have been intent to breach the Rule. i.e. ball-body contact must have been made voluntarily – from choice. 

There is no ‘gained benefit’ exception – when there is a breach of Rule but no offence. i.e. when a ball-body contact is unintentional, there is no reason (other than injury) to stop play or to penalise the player who has been hit with the ball.

When an offence by a player DOES NOT disadvantage opponents –  so opponents are able to play on with advantage – then an umpire must not penalise the offence (with a team penalty) but must allow play to continue: this is the Advantage Rule.

(A card may be issued, if appropriate, to the offending player at the first natural break in play following an offence where advantage has been allowed by the umpire. Occasionally an umpire may attempt to allow an advantage to play out but the advantage the umpire thought would accrue does not actually materialize due to unforeseen circumstances or umpire misjudgement; in such a case the umpire may stop play and award a free at the place the offence originally occurred)

So why are we continually being taken in circles about a player gaining an advantage or disadvantaging opponents when there is an accidental ball-body contact, usually a ball-foot contact. Disadvantaging opponents by, for example, actions such as scoring a goal or tackling for the ball are not offences – they never have been and never will be, hockey is a competitive game and winning the game or even trying to do so, will, completely legitimately, disadvantage opponents.

Nor is it any longer possible to ‘create’ an offence by reason of an unintentional  breach of Rule 9.11. even if that gains a benefit or an advantage for the team of the player involved. The provided explanation of Rule application to this Rule clearly explains that such contact (even though a breach of Rule) is not an offence unless there is intent to play the ball with the body (a voluntarily made contact).

 Rule Wording

Removing the word ‘intentionally’ from the Rule proper – which necessitated the explanation below – was clearly an error by the FIH Rules Committee and this explanation of Rule application:-

 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 voluntarily use their hand, foot or body to play the ball or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way. 

is badly expressed, but the context in which the word voluntarily is used is not ambiguous (at least not if the commonly used Plain English meaning is given, as it must be, to the word ‘voluntarily’ – i.e. a choice willingly and knowingly made).


Seal is right but needs to read a little further into Rule 12. as the Rule he quotes is extremely vague. What is meant by “breaking the Rule” in the case of Rule 9.11? Rule 12.2 reads:-

12.2 A free hit is awarded to the opposing team :

a for an offence by any player between the 23 metres areas

b for an offence by an attacker within the 23 metres area their opponents are defending

c for an unintentional offence by a defender outside the circle but within the 23 metres area they are defending. (my bold)

(12.2.c obviously causes some difficulty because an unintentional ball-body contact is clearly not an offence – so this clause should not be – but generally is – applied to Rule 9.11.

The problem is really one of terminology, the Rules of Hockey uses four terms ‘Breaking the Rules’  ‘Offence’ ‘intentional offence’ and ‘unintentional offence’ – where three ‘Breach of Rule’ (not an offence) ‘Offence’ and ‘Intentional offence’ would be sufficient – and does not properly differentiate between the four. Nor do any of these four terms describe a ‘breaking of a Rule’ where there is no offence, for example in the case of an unintentional ball-body contact.)

‘Gains benefit’

The notion that disadvantaging opponents is an offence comes from casual misuse of the wording of the long deleted ‘gains benefit’ exception clause, which created an offence due to the gaining an unfair benefit (disadvantaging opponents) following an unintentional ball-body contact. Over time “disadvantaged opponents” (rather than gaining an unfair advantage) because of the ball-body contact, became the commonly used term for the offence. The ‘gains benefit’ exception is no longer part of the Rules of Hockey because the ‘gains benefit ‘ clause is no longer extant (deleted after 2006), but the illogical idea that disadvantaging opponents is an offence persists.

Gains benefit deletion

johnreiss. “No offence because the non-fouling team have not been disadvantaged”  As neither team has offended (as SPetitt pointed out), that statement does not make much sense (it is also difficult to make sense of what he has written because of the double double negative in that statement). johnreiss has not even mentioned the sole criteria for offence when there is a breach of Rule 9.11. – intent – which may also be expressed as a voluntarily made decision to play the ball with the body (when the option not to make ball-body contact was available and could have been chosen)

To use “disadvantaged opponents” as a direct replacement for the long deleted ‘gains benefit’ exception clause that was once part of Rule 9.11. ball-body contact – which is what johnreiss and others are doing, is incorrect and subverts the intent of the Rule – which is to discourage with penalty any intentional playing of the ball with the body – it is also a subversive way of trying to retain a clause which the FIH Rules Committee have deleted (by those who do not like and/or understand the change and are comfortable penalising all instances of ball-body contact where opponents of the player making the contact cannot play on with advantage – and often when opponents could have played on with advantage – both of which go some way beyond what the defunct ‘gains benefit’ exception provided). That is a pernicious action because it completely inverts the Rule (contradicts the explanation of application) and is an attempt to undermine the authority of the FIH Rules Committee.

(See link below to article UnDeletion for the story of the resistance to deletion of the ‘gains benefit’ exception clause)

Substituting a different form of words for ‘gains benefit’ i.e. ‘disadvantages opponents’, contradicts the currently provided Rule explanation. It  is also insulting to participants – are they supposed to be silly enough not to notice the contradiction or to accept that umpires such as Diligent can just change the Rule as they wish and at any time that they want to do so? 

It is difficult however to persuade with such argument people who declare, as The Chief does, “I’ll sit and watch dozens of differing opinions being expressed now, but that to me is how I make my decision on the pitch, and unless somebody tells me a better way, that’s how I’ll continue. Be consistent throughout the game and you won’t get too many complaints”. The correct way may not, in the opinion of The Chief, be a better way, but what he doing is just being ‘consistent’ (unchanging). Being ‘comfortable with a habit’ and being right are not at all the same thing. A better course of action, rather than just continuing to act irrationally, would be to lobby the FIH Rules Committee to amend the Rule and/or the Rule explanation so that Rule application is consistent with the wording of the Rule and Rule explanation – that does not mean however that Umpire Managers should be dictating the Rules of Hockey to the FIH Rules Committee.

The opinions of the likes of nerd_is_the_word are demonstrably incorrect (just read the Rule together with the explanation of the application of it). The only ‘reasoning’ such people come up with is their supposed ‘vast majority’, he doesn’t present an argument in support of his adopted position on the matter – or even say what that position is – he just tries to make sure that no one is allowed to try to persuade him or (more importantly) anyone else of the error of the “disadvantaged opponents” approach to ball-body contact.

The ‘gains benefit’ exception clause should not of course have been deleted, it should have been amended so that it could no longer be used as a ‘catch all’ (the reason for the deletion) rather than, as intended, an exception. There is now a pressing need to restore a modified version of ‘gains unfair benefit’ to Rule 9.11. to cover some specified incidents (and to curb the present penalising of ball-body contact that need not and should not be penalised, by identifying those that – exceptionally, when there is no intent to play the ball with the body – should be penalised).

The direct prevention of a goal with an accidental ball-body contact following a (non-dangerous) shot at the goal is an obvious example where the application of penalty (a penalty stroke) is fair. There is also a case to be made for penalising  ‘unfair benefit gained’ when a player who is in controlled possession of the ball (not a player trying to stop the ball or just hit with the ball) makes, for example, an unintended but unfairly beneficial ball-foot contact.

There is no good case to be made (other than the direct prevention of a goal) for penalising ‘gained benefit’ simply because a ball has been propelled towards and hit a player, that is usually just a lack of skill by an opponent attempting a pass or a shot (or deliberate ‘looking for a foot’ because players have become accustomed to being rewarded for ‘finding a foot’). Most instances of ball-body contact should cause no interruption to play – play should continue. At the extreme a player who is hit with the ball may have been hit as a result of dangerous or reckless play by an opponent: in such cases the player who propelled the ball who should be penalised – not the player hit with it. That of course brings us to the dangerous shot at the goal – about which another myth has been created and there is another “dead horse”.


.      The silly lie that an ‘on target’ shot at goal cannot be dangerous.     UnDeletion