Posts tagged ‘self-pass’

October 31, 2015

Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rule 13.2. Procedure for the taking of a free hit. Self-pass

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Free Ball     self-pass      second whistle     flick or scoop  into circle


Current clause 13.2.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.

Action. Amendment, removing same team player 5m requirement.

Reason. Requiring all players to be 5m from a free ball disadvantages the team awarded the penalty. That was proven in 1997 when a similar provision was applied to a free ball taken anywhere on the pitch. The change did not last into 1998 before being abandoned. There is no reason to suppose the results will be any different this time around – the Rule was being ‘adjusted’ and ‘bent’ (ignored) within two weeks of being imposed.

(The only good thing to come out of the 1997 Rule requirement that all players be 5m from the ball at a free ball was that it got me thinking about the difficulties of the isolated taker of a free ball and I thought of a self-pass. By the year 2000 I had mulled over the pros and cons of the idea sufficiently to begin advocating, on George Brink’s hockey forum, the adoption of the self pass as a means of taking a free ball or re-start, even though by that time the 5m restriction on same team players had been long withdrawn – this restriction was not reintroduced until the mess it created when first introduced had been forgotten).

It is necessary only for opponents to be or to immediately retreat to attempt to be, 5m from the ball when a free-ball is awarded. Requiring same team players to be 5m from the ball often nullifies any advantage that the award of a free-ball might have given or may compel the use of a self-pass in unfavourable circumstances (as it usually did when a corner was awarded before the introduction of the 23m restart).


Current clause 13.2.f.

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.

If the player taking the free hit continues to play the ball (ie no other player has yet played 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 :

– another player of either team who can legitimately play the ball must deflect, hit or push the ball before it enters the circle, or

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


The following Rule clause was added via an FIH Circular issued on 23rd. May 2015.

A player within 5 metres of the ball at the taking of the free hit is not allowed to engage with play prior to the ball having travelled at least 5 metres.

This is an example of the Rule following the text of the interpretation of the Rule given in the UMB. The expressions “cart before the horse” or “tail wagging the dog” don’t fully capture the absurdity of that.            

The same circular also adds clauses about defenders moving and positioning within the circle and describes in which cases they can defend to the edge of the circle and shadow attackers and in which cases cannot do so. I don’t fully understand the need for these requirements and nor, I believe do many other people. 

(I don’t like them because I don’t understand why they have been introduced, but more so because they are clearly tied to, an extension of, the weird 5m restrictions which have dogged the free ball, particular when taken as a self-pass, since 2009).

I have posted a link to the document and leave it to the reader to work out the purpose and application of the new clauses. Good luck.


Action Deletion.


The 5m restrictions and requirements for ball travel complicate the game and unnecessarily slow it down in a critical area of the field.

Exception. That a free ball awarded for an offence by a defender between the shooting circle and the hash circle should be taken from outside the hash-circle, is a measure that the FIH Rules Committee have recently deleted. It is the only one of the crop of 5m restrictions introduced in 2009 that made good sense. I propose it be restored because, if it is once again permitted to play a free-ball awarded within the opponent’s 23m area directly into the circle (which I here propose) and same team players are not required to be 5m from the ball (two big ‘ifs’ at the moment, but two reversions that would much improve the game), a free awarded close to the circle line could be of greater advantage than the award of a penalty corner. 


The final clause of 13.2.f is an oddity. I can’t see why it was placed in this Rule nor understand the reason for the Rule that is given. It is not illegal to raise the ball to fall into the circle with a scoop not even from a free-ball, (it would be a good idea if it was made illegal) but this rule is written as if it is an automatic dangerous play offence – and also an offence to raise a scoop pass from a free ball in a way that will allow it to be intercepted by players inside the circle – very strange.    

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.


I have suggested several Rule amendments and the introduction of new Rules concerning various aspects of raising the ball and the playing of the ball above shoulder height in this later article 

The term ‘Free Hit’ has been replaced with ‘Free-ball’.



Useful comment and suggestion welcome.


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.   the ball must be placed where (within playing distance of – 2m) the offence for which it was awarded occurred (unless an offence occurs within a shooting circle).

c.  When the offence for which a free-ball is awarded occurs between the hash circle and the shooting circle the ball must be taken back out side the hash-circle and placed opposite to where the incident occurred.  

d.   when a free-ball is awarded all players of the opposing team who are not 5m from the ball must move without delay to attempt to get to 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-ball nor can they play or attempt to play the ball. If an opposing player is within 5 metres of the ball but is not playing the ball, attempting to play the ball or influencing play, the taking of free-ball need not be delayed.

The free-ball need not be delayed even if an opponent is attempting to play at the ball or to influence play. Play can continue if the side taking the free are not disadvantaged or have an advantage from the taken free,  but in such cases the umpire should award a personal penalty to the offender at the first opportunity presented. 


e   the ball may be moved with any legal stroke.

f   the ball may be raised immediately using a flick or scoop stroke, but it must not be raised using a hit (a reason not to call a free-ball a free-hit – avoiding “a free hit can be raised with any stroke except a hit”).

g    If the player taking the free-ball, having made the ball stationary, then makes a ‘pass’ to himself or herself – an action known as a self-pass – normal play resumes immediately, just as it would, now that the 1m requirement has been deleted, immediately the ball was moved,  if that player had made a pass towards a team mate with a push or hit or flick or scoop (or propelled the ball away in any direction),

h.   in the event of a self-pass, a properly retreating opponent who is ‘caught’ within 5m of the ball by the speed at which the self-pass is taken, is not obliged to continue to retreat to be 5m from the place the self-pass was taken, but can immediately seek to engage the pass taker (self-passer) and challenge for the ball.

The reason for this is that the decision to take the self-pass before properly retreating opponents have been given the opportunity to get to be 5m from the ball is the choice of the taker and is treated as an advantage played – the self-passer taking advantage of the opportunity to make the self-pass as quickly as possible and begin to dribble with the ball.

Whether or not it is wise, a tactically sound decision, to take a self-pass as rapidly as possible after the umpire has blown the second whistle* ( see ) or instead to wait for a second as he or she would probably do if making a pass to a team-mate, is a decision for the taker of the free-ball to make and it has no bearing whatsoever on the legality of the subsequent actions of opponents.

However, if an opponent is within 5m of the ball when a self-pass is made and this is because that opponent has made no or insufficient effort to get to be 5m from the ball, despite having had opportunity to do so – and that player then engages with a self-passer when the self-pass is made, the umpire should penalise that player, either immediately or if that would disadvantage the side awarded the free-ball, at the first opportunity presented. 

Committing an offence that effects the taking of a penalty awarded against the same team for a previous offence will usually warrant the award of a personal penalty and, if the incident occurs within the 23m area, a penalty corner as well. 


 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.

There is reason to limit the raising of the ball into the circle with a flick or a scoop, particularly from a free ball, perhaps with a height limit, but it is not current Rule, see for further suggestions on limiting the raising of the ball.


*Second Whistle see.