July 12, 2018

Interpretation

RULES OF HOCKEY

Edited and video added 16th July 2018

2017 FIH announces restructuring of Committees and Panels to support the Hockey Revolution. More about this report later. First, a look at the role of the Hockey Rules Board in the issuing of Rules and Interpretations as presented in this 2002 FIH report, which is linked to the 2017 restructuring because it continues unchanged. (The HRB was renamed the FIH Rules Committee after 2011, the 2013 Rules of Hockey were issued, by the same Committee personnel, under the new name)

FIH HIGHLIGHTS 2001-2

Report of the Hockey Rules Board.

HRB Authority of 2001-2

The text of the report with added comment.

Introduction

In line with our overall aims, the last two years have, on the one hand, been a period of transition for the Hockey Rules Board (HRB) — while on the other it has been a period of relative consolidation. The transition has focused on incorporation of research and development of the rules within the active remit of the HRB rather than in a separate but linked Rules Advisory Panel, which has now been disbanded. At the same time, the rules themselves have been through a period of consolidation rather than significant change. But this does not mean that the HRB has not been active, as the following report will testify.

 

Rules Changes

One change, which has been significant, at least as measured by the range of views about it, is allowing the edge of the stick to be used to play the ball. This change was introduced as a mandatory experiment in 1999 and was continuously reviewed. Views about it ranged from a welcome for an action which gave players more options and which in particular could be used for exciting shots at goal, to concern that it might lead to danger or could damage sticks. Making a. decision involved a delicate and careful balance of these issues, with the HRB deciding that the experiment should run for a third year but that, with effect from 2002, the change would be incorporated as a formal rule.

Comment. If the aim was to increase options and dangerous play was a concern it is very strange that a deletion of the ‘backsticks’ Rule was not considered – or if considered, ruled out. That would be a welcome simplification especially for novice players and would be no more dangerous, in fact probably less so, than the permitted playing of the ball with a stick edge.

Another change, which deserves comment, was the introduction in 2001 of a rule, which explicitly makes manufacturing a foul an offence. This reflects an ongoing concern by the HRB to protect skill and encourage attractive hockey by reducing negative and destructive actions.

Comment. This rule was eventually deleted because umpires refused to penalise forced contacts, preferring instead to penalise, for ball body contact, the player a ball had been forced into,  (right or wrong they preferred a simple objective criteria for determining offence). The subjective judgement ‘gains benefit’ or ‘gains an advantage’ has always suffered in application because some umpires have insisted on and persisted in treating all ball-body contact as a offence: turning the criteria into an objective one “Was there ball body contact?” and inverting the way in which Rule 9.11 is supposed to be applied. Forcing ball-foot or ball-leg contact is no longer seen as a negative or destructive action (which it is) but as a skill and a legitimate means of ‘winning’ a penalty against opponents.

Rules Interpretations

The HRB recognises that hockey is a complex game and that, despite good intentions and continuous review, its rules sometimes require interpretation. There has been a tendency in the past for some interpretations to emerge from individuals and bodies other than the HRB. However, it is now agreed that the sole source of such information should be the HRB. (my bold).

Comment. This announcement was probably made necessary by the activities of the Rules Advisory Panel and a so called ‘mafia’ of top level umpires, who are mentioned in the video below (how the four of them with three languages between them – English, Dutch and Afrikaans – dealt with ‘interpretation’ worldwide, when in their opinion the FIH  could not /cannot, is not revealed). That Hadfield was asked to sort out a dispute over a Rule meaning because of the placement of a comma, as she claims she was, is absurd. It is unlikely that any of the four ‘mafioso’ is an expert in either syntax or semantics. It is also strange that someone who declares the wording of the Rules to be inconsequential would accept the task of adjudicating a Rule for meaning based on punctuation (an ego trip?). The obvious person to approach about the meaning and purpose of a Rule is the person who drafted it, and at the time that person would have been the late George Croft the Hon. Sec. of the HRB. The thing could have been resolved easily and cheaply by fax message even in the era before email became widespread – what is written into the rule-book does matter (how can it not matter?) – interpretation (by anyone) does not change what is written in the rule book. Interpretation, on the other hand, can change from one individual to another and from one game to another.

Despite the Hockey Rules Board producing Rules for the approval of the FIH Executive, in liaison with the FIH Umpires Committee it is no surprise to discover that Graham Nash – who was Chair of the Umpiring Committee in the 1990’s – advised umpires to throw their rule-books away (and replaced the content of them with what?). In the circumstances I wonder how sincere his liaison with the HRB was.

I have no hesitation being confrontational and even aggressive about this sort of pernicious nonsense being presented as umpire coaching. Listening to Jan Hadfield’s entire presentation I detected some of the rubbish I have seen Keely Dunn produce on various internet hockey forums, so I suspect that Jan Hadfield was the mentor Dunn used to run back to in the early forum days, to confirm an opinion she had given on the forum, in other words Dunn is probably one of Hadfield’s victims. Another would be the Russian umpire Elena Eskina who during the 2010 Women’s World Cup – Hadfield was the Umpire Manager – insisted, would not budge from the view, that an on target shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play (when it certainly was). One of Hatfield’s oft repeated approving remarks is “Taking the whistle out of the game.” (said in regard to obstruction and also to the raised hit, in other parts of the presentation -second and fourth videos below) an appropriate translation/interpretation of this remark would be “We are ignoring these offences” or “We are ignoring major parts of both of these Rules”. But why? Why?

 

Because of inserts sound on the videos is a second or two out of sync with motion.

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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.

Endangering another player by raising the ball towards that player (with any stroke) is an additional and separate offence:- see Rule 9.8. “Taking the whistle out of the game” by penalising an illegal intentionally raised hit only when it is also dangerous play is the deliberate ignoring of a clear Rule by means of what is called ‘interpretation’ – but which is in no sense interpretation. The goal given in the above video clip should not have been awarded because the intentionally raised hit pass was a foul. The UMB advice  forget lifted -think danger is a contradiction of Rule.9.9. and as such is unacceptable.

 


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Comment The  very low key Rules Interpretations announcement (above the videos), attempted (obviously without any success at all) to change the practice of senior umpires working to their own personal interpretations of the meaning of the wording of the Rules and Interpretations provided in the rule-book. Working with and on the HRB/FIH RC must have been and be, one of the most frustrating tasks in hockey – every senior umpire, even when they differ from each other, believes he or she ‘knows better’ than the FIH Committee that drafts the Rules and the FIH Executive who approve them. Maybe they do, but in that case they should be a lobby for Rule change, not a conduit for subversion.

Umpire interpretation must be restricted to the interpretation of the actions taken by players in relation to written instruction received via the FIH Rules Committee in the Rules of Hockey. A problem that gets in the way of this approach is the (unnecessary) interpretation of the word interpretation. When umpires find themselves with various ‘interpretations’ of what is given in the rule-book as Interpretation or Explanation of Rule Application something is seriously amiss. Such instructions should be clear enough not to require additional interpretation. That they are not is clearly a matter that the FIH Rules Committee (when necessary, for translation purposes, in consultation with National Associations) needs to address.

An FIH Executive Circular sent to all National Associations in mid 2002 (which I have been unable to find a copy of, but I have read previously) used much more forceful language concerning the sole authority of the HRB, but the content of that Circular was quickly forgotten. This information needed to be printed in all subsequent rule-books, not just issued in a one-off Circular which would not be widely read – and might even be deliberately withheld from most participants. Hadfield does not mention it, she may even be unaware of it or, more likely, dismissed it as interference.

I am intrigued by her assertion that both the FIH Rules Committee and the Umpiring Committee contain ‘political’ appointees who have no umpiring experience whatsoever, as the assertion is untrue – and it is certainly not the reason (or even a reason) for confusion about the application of Rules over the past few years. People in glass houses should not throw stones – it is without doubt the culture of ‘interpretation’ spread by Umpire Managers and other senior umpires (and sadly by the FIH Umpiring Committee) that is the cause of confusion. I wonder what the people who attended that seminar thought about it when they had time to reflect on the content of it – what did they learn from it that would be of use to them as umpires when they had thrown their rule-books away?

In parallel with this agreement, the interpretations in the rules book were revised for the 2002 publication. Among other things, they incorporate material, which had formerly been published in FIH umpires briefing papers. More generally, the interpretations were rationalised and simplified. It is hoped that, together with other measures reported elsewhere, this will contribute to a more accurate and consistent interpretation and application of the rules.

Comment. So a separately published UMB should have become unnecessary (is unnecessary). Simplification of the Rules meant, for the most part, deletion and there was precious little clarification (more would probably have increased the number of words used to explain the purposes of Rules – but so what?). The Rules and Interpretations were not rationalised – they still contain irrational statements, misplaced Rule clauses and also contradictions. The FIH Rules Committee are working under difficult circumstances (they have no enforcement ‘teeth’) and are obviously not appreciated, but that is not an excuse for not doing a much better job of clear communication.

Review of the Presentation and Style of the Rules

A desire to achieve a clearer understanding of the rules by all involved in the game has led to a project to review the presentation and layout of the rules book. Among other things, it is intended that the rules will be more closely linked to interpretations and that interpretations will be further simplified. Other changes will include a section bringing together material of particular interest to umpires. Work on this review is a very labour intensive activity but is well underway. An advanced draft will be considered by the HRB in November 2002, with the new layout and content incorporated in the 2003 publication.

It is worth noting that both the rules and an informal guide to the rules are included on the FIH web site.

Rules Development and Trials Discussions

in the HRB include a wide range of options for development of the rules but it is wise to carry forward only a small number at any one time. Over the last two years the focus has therefore been on a trial, which requires three players always to be outside their defending 23 metres area. This is therefore a way of limiting the number of defenders allowed in the 23 metres area.

Although feedback has been varied and refers to a range of factors, the positive indications are that as a consequence the 23 metres and circle areas are less crowded and more attacking opportunities occur.There are also other beneficial effects such as a reduction in the frequency of hard hits into the circle. The trial is therefore continuing and includes plans to use it in a small number of appropriate international tournaments.

Comment. This idea (a sort of inverted off-side) seems to have ‘sunk without trace’, which is not a surprise, as it must have been difficult to enforce without additional officials to observe play for compliance.

Why it was though hard hits into the circle would be reduced by this measure is a mystery to me. Why a committee that was concerned about hard hits into the opponent’s circle in 2002 should (in 2012) introduce the, short lived, Own Goal is another mystery. The problem with giving a reason for doing or not doing something is that it is necessary to remember when and why the reason was given and in which direction previous change was made, the FIH have not been good at that, flips between one extreme and another have been commonplace since the early 1990’s – an archive of previous rule books might have been of help to them.

Consultation and Commitment

Associated with its more explicit responsibility for rules development, the HRB is keen to hear the views of the hockey community. It is therefore responding positively to a concern that the rules are sometimes not applied uniformly and appropriately especially in major tournaments. A circular was sent to all national associations and continental federations in the middle of 2002 seeking their views on this matter and also on wider ideas for rules development. These views will be the focus of a workshop involving representatives of NAs and CFs to be held alongside the 2002 Congress.

This reflects the HRB’s commitment to being open to ideas and to taking steps to support the development of the game while preserving its attractive and distinguishing features.

The HRB’s Ongoing Role This report has concentrated on the major focuses of HRB activity over the last two years but must also acknowledge the considerable amount of more detailed work undertaken by it members and officers. But there is still more to be done in the context of the overall aims of the HRB.

Manzoor Atif Chairman, Hockey Rules Board

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2017.   FIH announces restructuring of Committees and Panels to support the Hockey Revolution

 

Restructuring of FIH Committees 2017

Comment. Whether or not the restructuring of various FIH Committees and the creation of new ones will have any effect at all on the authority invested in the FIH Rules Committee by the FIH Executive is unclear, but there seems to be no reason to suppose that there is any change. Umpire Managers can of course be expected, in the absence of any action to prevent them doing so, to continue to ignore the authority of the FIH Rules Committee and favour of their own opinions (interpretations).

 

∙ New Panels and Committees announced to progress the FIH strategy
∙ Gender equality integral to new nomination process
∙ New membership to be approved by Board in June 2017

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced changes to its Committee and Panel structures that oversee the management and development of the sport to align with the Hockey Revolution strategy.

All Committee and Panel membership has been disbanded, with the exception of the Athletes’ Committee, Judicial Commission and Disciplinary Commissioner. New Panels and Committees have been introduced, some have been refined and others have been completely removed from the new structure.

As a result FIH will be calling on nominations for all Committees. This year however there will be an extra emphasis on gender equality as Hockey’s 10-year Hockey Revolution strategy further integrates recommendations outlined by the International Olympic Committee and in Olympic Agenda 2020.

A prerequisite of each Committee is that each continent has representation and the Continental Federations will be asked to nominate one male and one female candidate from their region for consideration.

Whilst Committees will require continental nominations, Panels will be appointed directly by FIH, with all membership to be approved at the next FIH Executive Board meeting in June 2017.

Several new Panels have been created as part of the new structure and are designed to modernise and enhance the competency of hockey’s governing body. These include: International Relations & Olympic Solidarity Panel; Event Portfolio Implementation Panel: Home & Away League Management Panel and Commercial and Broadcast Panel.

A newly established Officials Committee has also been created. This Committee combines the Appointments Committee, Technical Officials development and appointments (formerly part of the Competitions Committee) and Umpiring Committee.

The HR & Governance Panel has been separated, with a new HR & Remuneration Panel created and a stand-alone Governance Panel established.

A significant development has been to widen the remit of the Medical Panel to a new Health & Safety Panel. It will look at not only medical matters for athletes but athlete health, safety and welfare both on and off the pitch.

The Competitions Committee will develop and implement the new regulations required to support the new Event Portfolio announced under the Hockey Revolution strategy.

Several other Panels have been abolished, with many of the responsibilities now being undertaken in-house. These include the Masters Panel as well as the High Performance & Coaching Panel, an area that the FIH Hockey Academy is currently managing.

With a new President. Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, elected in November 2016 followed by the appointment of a new CEO. Jason Mccracken. three months later. hockey’s new leadership team took the opportunity to review and restructure the governance structure to support the FIH’s strategy.

Speaking about this. FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra said: “We are grateful to all of those who have given up their time to support our sport through Panels and Committees over the past years. Their contributions have helped the sport reach great heights. However. with the new event portfolio now in implementation mode we took the decision to refresh this structure at what is a crucial time for our sport. I am confident that these changes will help our sport continue to grow over the coming years. We look forward to receiving nominations over the coming months and announcing the new Committee and Panel membership after the June
Executive Board meeting.”

FIH CEO Jason McCracken added: “It was critical that the FIH aligned our Committee and Panel structure to support the Hockey Revolution. With this new structure in place we are moving quickly to implement the new Event Portfolio, build our commercial and broadcast proposition while focusing on athlete and officials’ welfare. We are excited about the new structure and now the hard work begins to find the very best people, who share our vision. to join the new Committee and Panels as we move to the implementation phase of the new Event Portfolio.”                 (More information about the make up of Committees is available on the FIH website)

Jason McCracken resigned as CEO the following December.

There is no mention in the above document of the FIH Rules Committee but it still exists and in the absence of information to the contrary,  it’s remit and authority are unchanged. i.e they remain as announced in 2002. Only the FIH Rules Committee can make or amend Rule and/or Interpretation for publication after approval of it by the FIH Executive – no one else.

The FIH Competitions Committee are responsible for issuing Tournament Regulations (not the Rules of Hockey). Apart from the length of suspension given with personal penalty cards, these Regulations have no bearing on umpiring or the Conduct of Play during a hockey match.

July 8, 2018

Preventing a tackle. Ball shielding

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

 

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The Umpire Manager’s Briefing for umpires at FIH Tournaments. 2017.

 


The Rule.

 

The UMB and the Rule appear to agree that ball shielding to prevent a tackle attempt by an opponent is obstruction but, oddly, the Rule does not use the words ‘to prevent’ but the vague ‘from’. We moreover often hear umpires declaring that a player was not obstructed because he or she was not in a position to play the ball and therefore there could be no legitimate tackle made – even though, as in the videos above and below, that player is at the time within playing reach of the ball, in a balanced position, demonstrating an intent to play at the ball and is only prevented from playing at the ball because it is (deliberately) blocked from him by the stick or body of the player in possession of it.

As a result players in possession of the ball have become skillful at obstructing opponents who are trying to tackle for the ball and nobody expects them to be penalised for it, not even the tackler.

The defender in his turn will shield the ball along the base-line or hold it shielded in a corner with no expectation that these obstructive actions will be penalised – the obstruction shown below was not penalised. This has been going on for a very long time. Everyone knows this situation is a nonsense but nothing is being done to resolve the contradictions. Instead, if anything, excuse is being found not to penalise what is obviously obstruction.

This is not a call for Rule change, even if the minor clarification suggested above would be helpful, but a call to apply the Rule “As is”.

Is there any argument about the illegality of ball shielding to prevent a legitimate tackle attempt? Any doubt about what the Rule or the purpose of it is? Is anyone suggesting that moving to shield the ball from an opponent is legitimate play? I don’t think so. So what is the problem?

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July 5, 2018

We don’t want any change

Edited 11th July 2018

I was prompted to write this article in response to this posting by Ernst Baart

https://be-hockey.com/will-hockey5s-grow-hockey-why/

Ernst writes “First off… I love our game as is! I think any future changes should be minimal. Especially changes affecting the core of our sport. Hockey is great the way it is. We should not change it. If people don’t get it, that’s their loss… Instead of changing the way we are, we should focus on teaching the sports fans about our game to help them understand and love the game as is.”

Okay, no argument with his passion, but how is (what as, why is) ‘our’ game, ‘seen’ in any one particular way? Is it? No, absolutely not. The view of it, and how it should be played and the Rules of it interpreted and applied, is far from an homogeneous one. In fact that is a huge understatement, this area is a battleground and the above declaration of “as is” is meaningless unless “as is’ refers only to the perception Ernst, as an individual, has of it.

I want to see enormous changes, some of of them rolling back present practice, which I see as mistaken (I do not want to see current practice ‘consolidated’ – the ‘in’ term for refusal to see error in application – I want to see it dismantled) and other changes, new ideas, which I believe would be significant improvements. Ernst dismisses my suggestions as ‘square wheels’ and has no time to respond in detail (indeed respond at all) to any of them.

I listen to (read) the “no change” proponents and note that in the majority of cases the first thing they do is propose the changes they want made. Inside every conservative, rebel or revolutionary there is a potential dictator. For example. If people don’t get it, that’s their loss… Instead of changing the way we are, we should focus on teaching the sports fans about our game to help them understand and love the game as is.” Dictatorship is in human nature (survival of the fittest). But who is “We”, perhaps I should use ‘us’ and ‘we’ to express my own opinions where that might appear more powerful.

Howls of anguish at changes made and calls for no more change are not a new phenomena, but let us suppose that instead of launching a number of trials and Mandatory Experiments, which led to Rule changes in the period 1990 -1999 (the rule-book was rewritten and reformatted in 1995/6) the FIH HRB took notice of the “No changes ” mob and to date did nothing. Suppose that instead of major changes – like the introduction of the receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule (in 1993) and the abolition of Off-side, (completed by 1997) which were far from popular reforms at the time, but (or because) they made a huge difference to the way in which the game was played, the FIH Executive went ahead and adopted them into Full Rule – the FIH HRB to date recommended no changes from the Rules and Guidance to players and umpires as they were in 1991. What would hockey be like? What, that we now generally applaud as good hockey, would be entirely missing from the game?

I chose 1991 as a time to go back to because I have the 1991 rule-book and because it is a date before nearly all the current top level players began playing hockey but most of them had been born by then, and also because by 1992 the all composite hockey stick had been accepted, a ‘landmark’ change but ironically is now one that is almost unnoticed “we have had composite sticks since the beginning of time” is a young and misinformed view and this change is rarely recalled in Rule change lists.

In 1985 I had to make a virtue out of a near necessity when designing a wooden stick with a set back head (the set-back was the aim of the design, the heel bend of the stick-head having been made as tight as it could get, could not be improved upon), the kink in the shaft, a by-product of bending laminated timber into the shape of a set-back stick head with an up-turned toe, had to be made a significant advantage, (a problem not appreciated in the early thinking about a set-back head). As it happened it did turn out to be of real advantage, after a great deal of tweaking of shape (a tapered thickness) for balance, in the stopping of the ball (and in scanning the field and balance).

If you are not sure what the advantage is of not having to put the left hand to ground when holding the stick with it, try this:- Put the left hand in contact with the  ground with the handle/shaft of the stick horizontal and on or nearly in contact with the ground and across the front of your feet as if presenting a stick block to the ball. Now try to lift your left foot off the ground. Put the stick to ground in the same way but to your right hand side- now try to lift your right foot off the ground. You may have discovered that putting your hand to ground while holding a stick not only puts your head at the knee level of opponents – and a knee to the head hurts – it will pin one or the other, and sometimes both, of your feet, especially if you have not much bent your knees. In addition to that your scan vision will be non-existent or very limited.

The set-back head  produced later by Talon as a composite stick (called a recurve), did not have a kinked shaft because that stick, being a molded product, could be manufactured without one (and anyway I held a patent on the kink feature which Talon were decent enough, unlike others, not to breach). The introduction of the composite stick was not an easy process, TK struggled mightily to get it accepted (the same vested interests who fought against the introduction of my design, also fought hard against the introduction of the composite stick) and, even when eventually approved for general use, composite sticks were initially not permitted to be used in international level matches. In making that announcement in his home country (in 1990), the Chairman of the FIH Equipment Committee, the late Frank Zind, also declared that ZigZag sticks could not be used in international matches or on artificial surfaces (in Australia) even though these sticks had been in use without any such restriction for five years at the time. Thus began my long love affair with FIH bureaucracy and the investigation into who could and could not make the Rules to which the game is played (Not, as it turned out, Frank Zind, his ZigZag bans were just a personal invention ‘hung’ on his Chairmanship of the FIH Equipment Committee – a body that cannot dictate the Rules of Hockey).

So we start and are stuck with (after that long introduction), the mainly glass and carbon-fibre reinforced, wooden stick – maximum weight 28oz (now 26oz). I’ll make observations and suggestions about other Rules issues as I present them.

Off-side changed a lot during my playing ‘career’. When I started there had to be three defenders goal-side of an attacker for that attacker to be on-side at any time his side was in possession of the ball. The number was reduced to two around 1967 and the Rule made similar to the way it now is in soccer – two defenders goal-side at the time a pass was made. Then in the mid-1990’s the off-side line was moved from the half-way line to the 25 yard (23m) line. Off-side was abolished in 1997 (with promise of the introduction of Rules to constrain the actions of attackers close to the goal – which never materialized – no compensation for this tactical loss to defences was ever enacted ) I would now like to see the introduction of a small goal zone  as well as a rewrite of part of the Rule concerning the playing of the ball at above shoulder height – as the least the FIH RC should offer for the loss of the Off-side Rule.

  https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/suggested-introd…ewrite-rule-9-14/

 

Recounting the number of changes made to the Penalty Corner Rule would require a separate article. I would like to see it replaced with a time limited Power Play conducted within a defended 23m area. There has been talk of doing this for more than thirty years but no widespread trial or Mandatory Experiment has been conducted. The nearest to an official trial was carried out in the Australian Lanco 9’s but the fact that it was 9-a-side and the goal were made 1m wider for this tournament, made making any comparison of scoring stats worthless and the trial close to a waste of time. The only other suggested replacement, a 14m penalty hit, was trialed in South Africa and had to be abandoned because scoring rates got close to 100%.

Edge hitting was considered ‘back-sticks’ (not face-side) and not permitted. The forehand edge hit has more recently been banned after having initially being permitted but umpires almost routinely ignore the offence of forehand edge-hitting even when it is used to raise the ball when not shooting at the goal (the prohibition by the way specifically includes forehand edge hits made as shots at the goal). My view on edge hitting is that it should be permitted to either side of the body but height limited to no more than waist height or 1m. There is supposed to be an issue concerning control of only the forehand edge hit, but I once umpired a match between an England U16 team and senior county players, at Bisham Abbey, in which several attempts to shoot at the goal from a left inner position with a reverse edge hit by an U16 England player, went out of play high in air over the right side-line. This level of control of the reverse edge hit was not uncommon among young players when the stroke was first introduced – but for some reason the FIH insisted on persevering with it – the ‘trial’ went on for three years and edge hitting was then accepted into Full Rule in spite of still vigorous opposition to it on ground of danger. I have no doubt that with sufficient practice the forehand edge hit could be properly controlled. Look at reverse edge hitting now; look at those long head sticks from the turn of the 20th century, how did anyone play hockey with them? But they did – just not, because of changes (nothing fast and ‘brilliant’ but a gradual evolution), hockey as it came to be when I started playing in the mid 1950’s.

Playing or playing at the ball when it was above shoulder height was prohibited. I liked the later amendment which allowed a defender to try to save a high shot at the goal with the stick, but not the penalty imposed (mandatory penalty corner) if the shot happened to be off-target. I don’t like the (near opposite extreme) free for all we now have, it’s dangerous. I believe it should still be prohibited for a player to play or attempt to play at the ball at above shoulder height when that player is in the opponent’s circle. I am also convinced, because there have been fatalities as well as a large number of serious injuries caused by sticks, that players should be prohibited from raising the stick-head to above shoulder height when they are attempting to play at the ball or have played at the ball with a high follow-through and there is in either case an opponent present within playing distance of the ball. The Rule as it was initially framed prohibited any raising of any part of the stick above the shoulder in any circumstances, even the taking of a Free Hit – it was far too severe – but to delete it entirely instead of suitably amending it was a mistake (and a case of the usual extremes).

Aerial pass. In 1991 attention was paid to the relative positions of players (in the area it was perceived the ball would fall) at the time the ball was raised. if opposing players in the fall area were too close to each other for safety, the player who raised the ball could be penalised for play likely to lead to dangerous play. This was advice given to umpires which was never made Rule, but it should have been and still can be, with the proviso that if the same team player retreats from the landing area (3m?) before the ball arrives, to allow the receiver to accept the ball, there is no need to penalise the offence. Deflections could be treated in much the same way except that there would be no intentional play likely to lead to dangerous play and failure to retreat would properly be penalised at the landing point. Accidental deflections by defenders into their own circle would probably be more fairly dealt with by a free ball from the place of the deflection or a free ball to the attacking team centrally on the 23m line.

In 1991 when the ball accidentally lodged in the equipment of a goalkeeper or the clothing of a player a bully restart was ordered to be taken at the place the incident occurred, unless that was in a circle, in which case the bully was taken in line with the incident and 5m from the circle. There was nothing wrong with that Rule. The award of a penalty corner for such an incident involving a defender in the circle is in my view unnecessarily harsh. Similarly the award of a penalty corner for accidental deflection which sent the ball directly up high into the air was fairly dealt with by a bully restart (and now both need nothing more severe than a restart for the attack on the 23m line). The same is true of a ball intentionally played over the base-line by a defender – a restart for the attack on the 23m line is fair for something that is not even an offence.

The self-pass did not exist. I suggested this idea in 2001. It was introduced in the EHL in 2007 and into Full FIH Rule in 2009. It has never been applied as I envisioned it would be, being almost destroyed as an effective tactic within the opposing 23m area by a number of 5m requirements and restrictions which effect both the taker and opponents.

I proposed the Direct Lift at the same time as the Self Pass, but it was introduced a couple of years after the Self Pass was established. It’s a Rule that is very difficult to make a mess of applying – it is at the receiving end where the Rule application has unraveled See aerial Pass above.

The other Rules associated with what is misnamed the Free Hit have become a complicated mess when the free is awarded in the opponent’s 23m area, especially when it is taken as a self pass. The prohibition on playing the ball directly into the circle is inane. What is needed is a prohibition on raising the ball into the opponent’s circle (in any phase of play) with a hit that propels the ball out of the direct possession of the hitter. In 1991 with very limited exception (over an opponent’s stick on the ground or over an opponent on the ground), any raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with any stroke was prohibited – raising the ball into the circle over an opponent’s stick placed flat on the ground was also often penalised, umpires not allowing permitted exceptions. Exceptions to Rules generally have a very poor history of observance in Rule application. An exception to a Rule is often either completely ignored (Rule 9.11 – not an offence unless) or becomes the Rule (Rule 9.12 – may be facing in any direction)

In 1991 we had Long Corners. Now because of the mess made of the Fee Hit Rule we have instead a restart for the attack on the 23m line, fortuitously, this is an improvement.

There are probably some Rules which were extant or not in 1991 or after, but are not now extant, that I have not remembered (the Own Goal came and went and we had the ‘gains benefit’ debacle post 2006), but as what there is under the heading of changes is substantial and this article is already longer than I had intended (when aren’t they) I will close the list. There is no reason to go beyond briefly pointing out that many of the changes made since 1991 have had consequences far beyond what was intended at the time they were made.

(Who, for example, would have imagined in 1993 that allowing a receiver to receive the ball while close ‘marked’ by an opponent, without immediately being penalised for obstruction, would rapidly lead (within five years) to the Obstruction Rule not being applied at all?. There is even an umpire coach in the USA who is currently promoting the idea that moving backwards towards and into the playing reach of an opponent, while shielding the ball from that opponent, cannot be obstruction unless the ball holder by doing this causes physical contact. But in these circumstances it will, of course, usually (always) be the defender who will be penalised for any such contact.

Reminder list.   Wooden sticks.  Off-side.  Severe Obstruction Rule application. No edge hitting. No raising of the stick above the shoulder when playing or attempting to play the ball. No playing at the ball above shoulder height. Aerials could be considered likely to lead to dangerous play. Lodged ball = bully. High deflection = bully.  Raising the ball into the opponents circle prohibited.  Long Corners. No self-pass. No Direct lift from free ball. No zone restriction on the taking of a Free ball.

Are we happier now than we would be if no changes had been made post 1991? We don’t  know the answer to that question, at least not completely. If participants were not made aware of the possibility of a legal edge hit or Self-Pass how could they miss either not being introduced?

On the other hand, the frustration of having what seem to many people to be reasonable and important suggestions for change ignored or turned down can make them very unhappy, as can the useless and irritating chant “No change”.

The other side of the coin is the making of useless and irritating Rule changes, often it seems, without applying foresight or common sense or apparently just for the sake of change (A needless change the name from Long Corner to corner, followed a couple of years later by the senseless retaining of the name corner for a 23m restart for the attacking team, is one such self inflicted wound) The Own Goal and the (dramatically opposite) ban on playing a ball from a free ball, awarded in the opponents 23m area, directly into their circle (and the necessarily attached 5m requirements and restrictions), are also examples of such irritations.

The cry of “No change” has, unfortunately, some foundation in reason, but not enough to erect a monumental shrine on it. We need changes, I am convinced the survival of the game depends on radical changes being made to it. Many participants (including me) who were playing in 1990, cringe when watching the present ‘product’, are appalled by some aspects of it, and are also dismayed that it is now coldly referred to by administrators as a product and that umpires now ‘sell’ decisions, instead of simply ensuring that they make decisions that are both correct and fair.

The FIH Rules Committee continue to ask for suggestions for the improvement of the game from all participants. Undoing much of the damage done to the Rules and interpretation since 1994 (or even 2004, the last major rewrite) could be a vast improvement.

 

See comments below:-

 

July 1, 2018

Headless chicken.

The Hockey Revolution or running around in circles like a ….

The announcement of the appointment by the FIH Executive of the latest CEO was made in March 2018 as follows:-

The tone of the announcement of the departure of Mr.Weil from FIFA was quite different:

Projected revenues of $5.65 billion over a four year cycle, which is an average of $1.4125 billion per year. Let’s put that in perspective. This is the income and expenses page from the audited accounts of the FIH in 2016. The figures below are in Swiss francs which at present are about on a par with the US dollar. 1SF = $1.01

 

The full accounts can be seen here:- http://www.fih.ch/media/12500647/auditors-report-2015-2016.pdf

 

I need now to turn to the advertisement by the FIH of the post that Mr.Weil applied for. Please search carefully for any mention of how hockey is to be played.

(I originally posted a picture of the ad but it was deleted – which is possibly an FIH reaction to this article (but I don’t know that). The ad did have a FIH logo on it so the pretense for the deletion (which would have required communication between the FIH and WordPress) may be a copyright issue. I have been unable to post the picture a second time, so I present instead the text of the ad – don’t think the deletion unbelievably petty, it’s standard behaviour, even not contacting me to let me know what they were doing is normal FIH communication. The FIH desperately need – or needed – a Communications Director, maybe they still do).

Marketing 8: Cornmunicatilons Director — FIH 8 May

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is seeking to appoint a Marketing and Communications Director who is ready to enter the fast-
paced world of hockey and demonstrate the FIH core values of being: inclusive, optimistic, progressive and dynamic-

With 137 member Nationa| Associations and millions of fans around the world, hockey enjoys a strong global profile and following. You will become part of a talented team aiming to build upon this exposure with a mission to grow the game globally through targeted development work as part of F|H’s dynamic 10-year ‘Hockey Revolution’ strategy.

With further game-changing developments in the pipeline. including the introduction of a new portfolio of events in 2019, it is certainly an exciting time to be joining the FIH.

The successful applicant will lead the FIH Marketing and Communication steams. reporting directly to the FlH CEO-Marketing 8‘ Communications is responsible for all marketing campaigns, communications activities, digital and social

Job Description

Marketing 8: Communications Director— FIH (International Hockey
Federation)

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is seeking to appoint a

Marketing & Communications Director who is ready to enter the fast-
paced world of hockey and demonstrate the FIH core values of being
inclusive, optimistic, progressive and dynamic-

With “137 member National Associations and millions of fans around the

world. hockey enjoys a strong global profile and following. You will become part of a talented team aiming to build upon this exposure with media activities, international relations, event on—site media operations, image and branding

Overall responsibility:

Responsible for planning, development and implementation of all the FlH’s marketing strategies, marketing communications and public relations activities both external and internal.

Directs the efforts of the marketing and -communications staff and -coordinates at the strategic and tactical levels with the rest of the Leadership Team.

Key Responsibilities, Tasks and Activities:

– Responsible for creating, implementing and monitoring the FIH marketing and communications strategy to raise the profile, engage and grow the sport.

– Responsible for widening the FlH’s international influence through high quality stakeholder engagement. PR and international relations activities

– Responsible for ensuring that. hockey is a leading sport that meets ambitious targets in terms of online presence, fan experience and digital communities

– Drive strategy behind website, social media and new technology platforms to ensure that we remain number one choice for hockey content

– Implement. highly recognizable brands that deliver a compelling glo-bal image and signifi cantly in-crease market share

– Direct campaigns for FIH event.s and activities through FIH owned channels and partner channels

– Develop ongoing consumer insights programme to inform decision making and measure progress

– Broaden relationships with media and other key internal and external stakeholders to ensure seamless and positive communication between the FIH and these groups

– Responsible for the achievement of Marketing and Communications -goals objectives, within budget

– Work with the leadership team to develop and maintain strategic perspective (based on marketplace needs and satisfaction) in organizational direction a.nd decision–making

– Ensure effective management within the marketing, communications and digital function

– Lead and manage agencies and freelance resources

Requirements, Education and Experience:

– Demonstrated experience, skills and knowledge of marketing, communications and digital at a strategic level.
– Comprehensive understanding of power of -content (video, data, etc)

– Strong: track record of establishing: an-d managing brands

– Proven experience of risk and reputation communication management and working with international media. both re–
actively and proactively

– Experience developing and managing budgets

– Experience overseeing the design and production of print materials, digital materials and publications

– Commitment t.o working with shared leadership and in cross-functional teams

– Strong: oral and written communications skills

– Ability to manage multiple projects at a time

– Travel is required

Skills and Knowledge:

– Leadership qualities, with character and a sense of humour and well presented

– Capable of setting high standards of professionalism;

– Strategic thinker, capable of -contributing to- the big: picture

– Highly creative

– High level of honesty and integrity, discrete and ethical

– Strong negotiation, -conflict management and problem solving skills

– Positive, flexible and optimistic approach, able to quickly adapt to the changing: nature of work
– Well-organized, strong time management skills

– Provide managerial and administrative leadership, capable of building a high performing team

The FIH is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates. We thank all applicants, but only those considered for the position will be contacted-

FIH ad

After that lengthy introduction I now turn to the release, on the 29th June 2018, of interview notes, from the FIH Press office, which prompted me to write this article. I don’t have much to say following this.

Reflecting on his first three months in charge, new International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Thierry Weil gives his first interview in which he reflects on his move from the world’s largest international sports federation, FIFA, to head of a sport that has been working hard to innovate and grow in recent years.

One of his first observations has been the passion that people within the FIH have for their sport. This, he considers, is both a blessing and challenge. He explains:“From the President to the Executive Board to the office staff, there is a passion for the sport that comes from lifelong involvement. For some people, they have been in hockey their entire lives and their parents were involved in the sport before them.”

For Weil, this is somewhat at odds with the concept of a ‘Hockey Revolution’. ‘The term ‘revolution’ means dramatic change, so for me, as an outsider, a revolution within the sport is an exciting prospect but it’s not easy to implement because the passion for the sport makes it difficult to introduce too much radical change.‘

‘The Hockey Revolution is an ambitious mission but it opens a lot of possibilities in view of new initiatives and different approaches.‘

But being an outsider and a newcomer to the sport has its advantages. ‘I can ask stupid questions or have crazy ideas that would actually fit in with the idea of a Hockey Revolution. They are the questions that those within the sport would never dream of asking. It means I can have conversations that at least will open people’s minds to new ideas.‘

For Weil, the three words that drew him to the role of CEO were ‘FIH Pro League‘, and his views on this are outlined in the second part of this interview to be published shortly. However, not surprisingly for someone brought up in the world of football, while the FIH Pro League is a thrilling initiative, it is the World Cup that remains the number one event.

‘I see the World Cup as the pinnacle. It is the biggest event. The Olympics is also big but the World Cup is an FIH event and so must be the top. And it has so much commercial value —two World Cup events in a year is great commercially as well as for the sport’s profile.‘

Reflecting on the Hockey Revolution, how dramatic will it be under its new leader?

‘The Hockey Revolution is an ambitious mission but it opens a lot of possibilities in view of new initiatives and different approaches,‘ says Weil. “I think that the way to increase the popularity of the game is to make it simple to play
and easy to understand.‘

Weil cites two areas, aside from the FIH Pro League and the Hockey Series, in which the game can grow commercially: the development and spread of the short-form version of the game, and the introduction of exhibition matches in
cities, so that people can just turn up and watch the sport as they are walking around town.

These initiatives will help increase the fan base and participation rates, which in turn will have a positive knock-on effect on FlH’s ability to find commercial partners. To back up these ambitions, in 2018 and 2019 FIH will invest more than ever in its dynamic broadcast and content strategy, with the aim of raising the quality of coverage. This will include features that will help spectators understand the game better.

Three months in and Weil is a huge fan of the sport. He says hockey has great potential to grow, develop and lead the way in innovation. At its heart is the fact that it is both a team sport and a sport that is enjoyed and played equally by men and women, of all ages and ability.

“Hockey has already taken a big step forwards over the past few years,‘ says Weil, and, while it might not be a revolution in the strictest sense of the word, he is excited to be leading hockey into the brave new world of commercial sport.

The FIH obviously hired Mr.Thierry Wield to obtain money, particularly Tournament sponsorship money, for the FIH (that is very clear from the job description). With a total operating income of around $11,000,000 the FIH Executive would  ‘prostrate themselves on the ground’ before a man they thought might be able to perhaps double that amount, and he is a man who is used to securing large sum long term sponsorships. But it bears repeating that FIFA had a $500,000,000 sponsorship shortfall in the last four year cycle and an operating loss of $122,000,000 in 2015. We are not told in the articles what the total sponsorship revenue of FIFA was in that or any other, year.

What Thierry Wield is not, and this is also very clear, is somebody who knows anything at all about field hockey. His remarks about the passion participants have for the game and the fact that it is played over a great age range by both genders, are the level of research that could be done in a day on Google or Wikipedia by an elementary school pupil writing a project essay. It is likely that prior to his application to be CEO of the FIH he had never seen a hockey match played. Yet he appears to want to be involved in making hockey simple to play (even though that is not part of his job description) obviously other people must undertake this task if it is considered necessary – but who?. Is it necessary or desirable to make hockey easier to play? I don’t think this is a priority, like tennis, hockey requires a basic level of competence which players must work hard to achieve if they are to enjoy playing the game. The development of a high level of skill is an ideal that is aspired to by younger players (there are ‘stars’ to emulate), not an impediment that stops them taking up the game. Players who do develop the necessary skills are proud of their achievements and want constantly to improve upon them.

Thierry Wield has picked up the ‘Hockey Revolution’ jargon but has no more idea what it means than any of the rest of us who have been subjected to the term have. I have absolutely no idea what it means, other than going around in circles.  I must profess to ignorance but other than ‘Back to hockey’, the development of ‘Walking hockey’ and ‘One Thousand Hockey Legs’ (both initiatives by individuals), I can’t point to a new example of the ‘Hockey Revolution’ in action that the FIH could be proud of or one that is creating revenue. The Pro Hockey League is floundering and Hockey 5’s is not yet established (will Hockey 5’s really be the face that hockey presents to the world at future Olympic Games? I believe that any suggestion that soccer be presented as a five-a-side game at future Olympics would ‘take off’ like a lead balloon and hockey should reject it for the same reasons soccer would). Five-a-side is a useful tool for introducing the game at school level (it’s economical because it uses small pitches and the wide-scale introduction of hockey into schools. particularly State schools, is something that desperately needs to be done) but I would not like to see 5-a-side replacing the full pitch game.

How do we make the game easier to understand? Simple: ensure that it is played to the Rules of Hockey published by the FIH Rules Committee, while also ensuring that those Rules are consistent and sensible – but that is were I came in about twenty-five years ago. Describing the task is easy, achieving it is proving very difficult.

June 24, 2018

An unwanted Rule and authority

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

One of the simplest and clearest Rules in the rule-book is Rule 9.9. which concerns a ball raised with a hit.

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.

There are however two difficulties within the Rule requirements that need to be properly addressed if it is to be applied as written. The first of these arises because application depends on two subjective judgements and two objective judgements required of an umpire when the ball is raised with a hit – and then secondly, there are the exceptions to consider.

Objective decisions. 1) Was the ball hit? Yes/No  2) Was the ball raised? Yes/No  Then Subjective decisions 1) Was the ball raised intentionally Yes/No  2) Was a player endangered by the raised hit? Yes/No and Finally do any of the exceptions apply – a ball raised  in a controlled way (at low level i.e. safely) over the stick of an opponent or an opponent lying on the ground? Yes/No.

The only one of these decisions that can possibly cause any pause for further consideration is intention to raise the ball, but in the majority of cases it is perfectly clear when there is intention by the hitter to do so – not least because the ball is raised towards an opponent who would have no difficulty at all in intercepting it if it was hit along the ground. Another indicator is the use of an edge hit in circumstances where an edge hit is not a necessary or even the best option available to propel/pass the ball, so it is obviously the raising of the ball that is aimed for by the hitter.

A third, and overwhelming, difficulty is vague contradiction to the Rule that umpires receive as advice in the published FIH Umpire Briefing (for umpires officiating at FIH Tournaments) as part (there is also a verbal element) of their induction at each Tournament See below:-

Why should the UMB be considered advice and not Rule? It’s a matter of common sense. An umpire cannot be obliged by Rule to have and use common sense and the inclusion of “Use common sense and show understanding of the play” in the UMB must therefore make it advice and not Rule. Moreover advice is not ‘lumped’ together with Rule as if they were both the same thing – and the UMB has a lot of similar advice – it even advises umpires to enjoy themselves, something that is clearly not subject to Rule.

The UMB is therefore not Rule and should not be regarded or used as if Rule – but unfortunately, parts of it are. Why is this unfortunate? Because much of the UMB is contrary to common sense as it actually conflicts in places with what is given in the FIH published Rules of Hockey – as the above “blow only in dangerous situations everywhere on the pitch – forget lifted, think danger” does. Why do umpires follow the UMB in preference to the Rule? Because the individual who gives an umpire additional verbal briefing, based on the published UMB (or not), about expected performance at the start of a tournament is going to write a report on their performance and that report will have a bearing on further appointments and the chance of promotion within the ranks of umpires – so the reason is self interest.

That the UMB is used in place of the Rules of Hockey is all the more bizarre because the FIH Execuitve have made it perfectly clear that no body – no other person, no other official, no other group or committee, other than the FIH Rules Committee, make Rule, amendment Rule or provide Rule Interpretation. The FIH Rules Committee cannot be overruled in matters of Rule and Rule Interpretation. The only way forward is to persuade the FIH Rules Committee to amend the Rules where this is considered appropriate. In the meantime however umpires go their own way and do their ‘own thing’. 

The words “forget lifted, think danger’ in the first clause of the UMB page above are a case in point when discussing conflict. The Rule is absolutely clear about judging a ball raised with hit as an offence based explicitly on an intent to raise the ball , not on whether or not endangerment (a separate offence) is caused because the ball has been raised with a hit. It is absolutely wrong to permit a player to intentionally raise the ball with a hit, to the disadvantage of opponents, to do so without penalty. That opponents are endangered by an illegally raised ball is a second related but separate issue.  An umpire cannot properly apply the Rule and at the same time ‘forget’ lifted (a very vague bit of advice because the essential element, intent, is not mentioned at all.)

It is clear from the wording of the Explanation of the Rule that accidental raising of the ball with a hit is not an offence unless endangerment is caused. The UMB therefore effectively advises umpires to regard all raised hits as accidental – and to look only for dangerous play when a ball is raised with a hit; an obvious nonsense given the wording of the Rule and a very unfair one.

The umpire in the following incident made a horrible blunder in not penalising the clearly intentional raising of the ball with a hit past the two IND defenders (to their disadvantage) and allowing the AUS team to score a goal as a result. Comment elsewhere has pointed to the possible disappointment of the spectators if such a spectacular ‘goal’ had been disallowed. I think more about the certain dismay of the Indian players that it was awarded (and it was the only goal of the match).

In the following video only a match commentator (and not an FIH Umpire as in the video above) is wrong in considering foul play to be “superb” or “magnificent”. Yes the pass from near the half-way line seen in the video below was made with excellent weight and direction but it was made in an illegal way and to the disadvantage of opponents, it should have been penalised under current Rule (and the same pass could in any case have been made in a legal way with a scoop stroke).

The intentionally raised edge hit into the circle in the following video is similar to the play seen in the first one above, the only real difference is the distance involved. This too resulted in the award of a goal when it should not have done. The umpires caught themselves in a consistency trap by the failure to penalise the first raised edge hit, which a defender used to clear the ball over a side-line. That clearance (which also looks to me to have been dangerous play) should have resulted in the award of a penalty corner.

Do we want or need intentionally raised hits that are not shots at the goal to be penalised? No obviously not, not unless they are also dangerous play, but that is not how the Rule is presented in the UMB or how it is applied. It’s a rotten Rule which was put in place in the late 1980’s to prevent hits that at the time had become popular, because of the introduction of the ultra stiff carbon-fibre reinforced stick, which facilitated, in expert hands, a clip or chip hit from one end of the pitch to the other.

In not so expert hands attempts to emulate the high and long chip hits of the experts (including the taking of shots at the goal) became extremely dangerous and the chip/clip hit had to be banned before someone was killed – but a better way to achieve such a ban could have been employed, for example an absolute height limit on any raised hit which was not a shot at the goal (it’s apparently still okay to put at risk of death players who are defending a goal, but that’s another story)- and the extant prohibition on raising the ball into the circle, irrespective of intent to do so, should have remained in place. It was instead ‘lost’ to deletion because it was not considered necessary. When there was a ban on intentional raising of the ball with a hit, the ball could not be raised with a hit into the circle, could it?- How wrong that supposition turned out to be. Will restoring the ban on any raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit lead to fairer umpiring? It should do. it should at least lead to more consistent umpiring, few umpires confuse raised with not raised.

But this is by no means certain, I recall a Commonwealth Final some years ago between the Australian and Indian women’s teams which Australia won ‘at the death’ after the ball had been raised with a hit into the Indian circle – an illegal action at the time – (the raised hit was also dangerous, causing evasive action by an Indian defender) the ball was then put into the goal by a Australian attacker who dived to connect her stick with it as it bounced up off the ground and it was deflected high into the Indian net. The goal was so spectacular that everybody, including the umpire, just forgot the Rules.

The other part of the Explanation of Rule 9.9 does not explain anything that is actually written in the Rule (which is about an intentionally raised hit). This is the instruction concerning the raising of a ball towards another player within 5m with a flick or a scoop.

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.

That inserted statement is properly part of the Rule concerning a dangerously played ball, Rule 9.8. The clause concerning the raising of the ball towards a close opponent is however generally ignored (danger caused by lifting being ignored – that is contrary to the UMB as well as the Rules), with the result that Rule 9.11 – ball body contact – is very badly applied. Players are ‘winning’ penalty corners instead of being penalised for contravention of the Explanation of application given in Rule 9.9: the ‘Rule clause’ under which the forcing of an unintentional contact from an opponent by raising the ball into that opponent should be penalised.

The following part appears to be random repetition of a clause from the Rules of the Penalty Corner. I cannot explain the reference to a shot or why this clause is repeated in the Explanation to Rule 9.9 at all. It almost goes without saying that it is poorly applied, the words  “without attempting to play the ball with their stick” being generally ignored.

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.

It does not matter at all what the Rules are if umpires (or their coaches) decide not to apply them – which they do even though they have no authority whatsoever to pick and choose which Rules to apply as given and which to subvert. Rule 9.9 is clearly a mess which needs sorting out with a rewrite by the FIH Rules Committee, but then Rules 9.8  9.10. 9.11 and 9.12 are also urgently in need of rewrites not least, but not entirely, because of the mess umpires have made of the ‘accepted’ application of them.

It is only the FIH Rules Committee that can introduce new Rule or amend existing Rule or Interpretation. The FIH Executive issued a Circular to National Associations in 2001 that made that perfectly clear. In that Circular it was stated that no other person or official or body (committee) has authority to amend the Rules or the Interpretation of the Rules. The opinion of umpires seems to be the other way about. As part of an exchange of views on Facebook following comment about umpire briefings (the UMB) posted with the first video shown above, I received this in reply.

 

Michael Margolien                      Briefing obviously overrides rules.

Think of it as an executive decision overriding a law (a rule) which is a more complicated and longer process (the rule change is). Hockey develops in a certain way (and international especially) and this is the way it is umpired.

It only takes a few minutes considering the consequences of the above oddly composed statement to work out that it is a path to chaos – and it is anarchy.  Umpire Briefings do not override the Rules of Hockey, that is an impossibility. Umpire Managers and Umpire Coaches cannot make short term or immediate changes to Rules or Interpretations according to the way the game is being played (has developed) and then expect or demand that the FIH Rules Committee ‘catch up’ with Rule at a later date. That is ‘cart before the horse’ as well as acting without authority. It is in fact allowing hockey coaches to determine the Rules of Hockey – each nation trying to do so to their own advantage

(I am reminded that edge hitting was ‘legal’ in Argentina for several years before it became so in the rest of the world and that the focus on speed and fitness in Australian hockey led to the Australian HA pressing hard for the introduction of squads of sixteen and rolling substitutions (this has lately been extended by breaking matches into four period of 15 minutes rather than two of 35 minutes). These might now be considered to be good things, although I am not happy to see shorter more ‘frantic’ matches and I feel that playing time should have been increased to 80 mins (4 x 20) to reflect the influence and advantage of three breaks in play, rolling substitutions and larger squad sizes, the changes are not balanced, they are all in one direction. Hockey is being ‘packaged’ like confectionery. Year on year the portion given is reduced and the price increased. The current ignoring of the Obstruction Rule and the increase of physical contact in play and several other aspects of ‘modern’ hockey may not be regarded as improvements in the longer term and I certainly do not want to see the FIH RC changing these Rules  to reflect how International Level umpire are currently interpreting them – which would mean, except in the case of contact tackling, deleting them).

Umpire briefings must follow the extant Rules, not attempt to lead them. The ultimate authority, Congress, who appoint the FIH Executive, decides how the game will be played and the FIH Executive in turn appoints a Rule Committee which is given sole authority to issue Rules and the Interpretations of those Rules – which the Executive then approve – so that the game is played in the way desired by Congress. Umpires have no direct part in making Rules or Interpretations of (the wording of) Rules while umpiring. Their task while umpiring is to apply the Rules as instructed by the FIH Rules Committee. (so with the assistance of the FIH Umpiring Committee – who liaise with the FIH Rules Committee – they interpret player actions during a match for compliance with the wording of published Rules and Interpretations). If umpires don’t understand how a Rule should be Interpreted then they need to ask the FIH Rules Committee to issue clarification – these days that can be done fairly quickly. Rule clarification from authority cannot be only the personal opinion of a TD or UM, issued on an ad hoc basis just prior to or during a Tournament, when that opinion conflicts with FIH RC instruction – they don’t have this authority.

 

 

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

 

JUNE 18, 2018, 10:21 A.M. (ET)
By Steve Horgan, USA Field Hockey’s Director of Umpiring

In our fast-paced world of instant communication, social media, internet speeds and cell phone video, the game of field hockey is also moving at warp speed. The game has become so fast with skills from the players never imagined before.That the umpiring mechanics on positioning must change just to keep up with it. With the addition of video review at the top FIH Levels and now domestically at the NCAA level, umpires will need to learn different angles and sight lines in order to have the best chance of getting the calls correct. Thus, eliminating the frequency of reviews or questioning by players in crucial situations mainly inside the circle.

The teachings from years ago had umpires taking a path of running down the “alley” and curving into the circle just ahead of the play as it comes toward them. The first change is that there is no more “alley” as the rules have basically eliminated that aspect of the game. The second change is the need for umpires to take a more direct path toward the circle as the play enters the 25-yard area. The past teaching also instructed umpires to “anticipate” the play, but did not actually give the guidance on how to do this. The new thinking on anticipation is based not only on the actions of the players, but also angles and sight lines to be created by umpires. After analysis of the video review process at the top level, it was determined that the number of video reviews and umpire misjudgments was directly due to umpires moving into a “hot spot,” or place to make a decision instead of being there comfortably to make that crucial decision. Even though this analysis was done with video review, it was determined that the same mistakes or misjudgments are made during games with no video review. When the video review or camera shows a decision, especially inside the circle, there have been way too many times that the umpire is not in the picture. Therefore, more than likely, they are not close enough or not at the right angle to make a clear judgement of the situation.

To make this new concept on umpire positioning work, there will be a number of “old school” ways of thinking that will need to change. First, the distance between umpires will increase as both will look more to protect their circle versus an over concentration on the midfield. The midfield cannot be lost in this concept. Umpires will be required to make some decisions from a little more distance than they are used to in the center of the field.

Second, with the speed of the game and the constant turnaround of play, umpires will need to stay in their circle longer before traveling up field behind the play. Instead of immediately heading out of the circle on an arc toward the sideline and up, a more direct straight path up field should be used, provided the space is open. If this space is occupied, then there is more of a chance of the ball returning inside the 25-yard area, which would mean more importance to stay closer to the circle than before. Going wide actually creates more distance from the play for umpires. So, a more direct path will actually keep the umpire closer to the play.

Third, as the play comes out from the opposite 25-yard area, umpires are being instructed to be about one-quarter of the field ahead. Thus, at or across the midfield line as the ball crosses the opposite 25-yard line and across the attacking 25-yard line as the ball crosses the midfield line. At USA Field Hockey, we have been teaching to stay ahead of the play as it comes toward you, knowing this may not always be possible. With this new concept there will be more consistency in being ahead and in the right position to make the crucial circle decisions.

Finally, the idea that the trail umpire “must” be down to the opposite 25-yard line area to “help” their partner is not going to fit this model. The trail umpire is primarily responsible for watching off the ball and can do so quite affectively from a little farther away, while protecting the coverage of their half of the field. No umpire is super human or fit enough to keep up with the ball or the way today’s players transition from defense to attack. Therefore, umpires will need a bigger headstart than ever before to be in their circle for the crucial decisions sooner.

With this innovative concept to umpiring, it will take some time for players, coaches and especially umpires to get used to.

Umpires will be looking to create new sight lines from more inside the field than normal and will have to be fitter and more aware of the player’s intentions to keep up with the speed of the game. This is not a concept of less movement or less need to be fit. Actually, if the umpire is in sync with the game and adhering to these concepts, it will create more movement, but less strenuous movement to achieve the goal of being in the right place, at the right time with less stress to make the correct decision.

 

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; much of it reminds me of the situation when off-side could occur only from the (sic) 23m line and that finished in 1997. I think the idea is full of ‘holes’, even contradictions, and we would still have large areas of the field, particularly those on the side of the pitch opposite the umpires and in mid-field, ‘controlled’ from distances of 50m or more (and never less than 30m when the ball is near the left sideline or the half-way line) – making the judgement of obstruction and of contact offences in these areas extremely difficult because of the need to judge the possibility of offence from viewpoints where the foreshortening of distances between players and between a player and the ball (causing opposite problems) is inevitable: these offences are already, in general, very poorly judged. The incident in the video below takes place on the umpire’s side of the pitch and within the 23m area, but even so, largely because of his positioning, he gets the decision completely wrong – possibly a case of umpiring by sound rather than by sight (although he may just have been unaware of the Obstruction Rule – that would not be unusual).

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 efficient, 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. The video below shows examples of some of the problems which occur even when umpires are in the currently recommended positions well ahead of the play.

It is noteworthy that the disengaged umpire, positioned near the half-way line in the above video, made no signal in any of the incidents, when “too high – dangerous” signals would have been of assistance to the engaged umpire.

Current Rule

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.

This suggestion is not feasible for application in the majority of club hockey matches simply because there are already insufficient ‘bodies’ available for more than two officials. But at the higher levels, where there exists competition for appointment, it is feasible. The position of flag official could be a useful introduction to high level umpiring or a position an umpire coach mentoring other match officials could occupy. There is however a possible alternative, the introduction of a third umpire running the area between the circles; with two umpires, the central umpire and one other, always confirming for each other the award of a goal or a penalty corner; this could also be an interim step in the introduction of five pitch officials. Too many? Have you counted the number of officials around the court in a top level tennis match – each with far less difficult tasks?

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The Tournament Regulations for video referral also require a radical overhaul – see comment with video.

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There is too, I believe, 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 with that suggestion.

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 (as at present) be required to start with the ball in the correct (an acceptable) position and to make the ball stationary. Players sometimes try to gain an unfair advantage by not complying with one or other or neither of these requirements (see videos below). It is far easier and quicker to ensure compliance before such contravention occurs than to stop play and to reset or reverse a 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.

The utterly absurd allowing of raising the ball by the ESP player into a BEL opponent and then charging into that opponent as he tried to play the ball (two offences) was obviously not properly seen by either umpire (positioning point above) The ridiculous decision by the video umpire (the commentators got it right in a shorter time), supports the introduction of a second whistle as the decision probably hinged on when (following what action) the self-pass was deemed to have been taken.

At present the umpire blows the whistle to signal intervention to award penalty and gives an hand-arm signal to indicate in which direction 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 need to take 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 could 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 the 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 below fails to enforce compliance to the Free Hit Rules, in effect manufacturing the conditions for the penalty corner he then awarded.

Below. 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)

Below. 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.

Below. 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 distant umpires and poor control of the taking of penalties.

Tags:
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 videos (especially the longer one) 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, group 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 the lawn my father was happy for me to use it 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 the article linked to below the video (which was produced fairly recently – the fat old man is no longer a skinny kid).

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 – I never while I was playing ever intentionally played the ball into an opponents feet), 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  Stride length and stride 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 around with the eyes down.

The other problem with cones or any other type of small 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.There is in general too much cone training (an activity a player can do in isolation) and too little realistically contested ball-move training.

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.

Tags:
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 12, 2018

More insanity

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Reducing cognitive dissidence; wilful blindness and confirmation bias.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/stroke-or-fhd.45374/

Ford lambert Hi guys, just want some opinions on wether I made the right call or not, so I will explain this as thoroughly as I can

Attacking team has a pc, they drag the ball out to the top and do a low drag flick to the right hand post. Keeper goes down, Defending teams postman goes to trap the ball, but lifts it into his own body on the line. I was thinking stroke, but the ball landed back to an attacking team player right in front of the goal, so I let play go on. The attacking player goes to lift the ball over the keeper who’s still on the ground, and ends up lifting the ball into the same defending teams postman face. The ball wasn’t lifted that hard, and the postman made no attempt to move or play the ball, so I called a stroke because he’s put himself in that position. He proceeded to complain that the attacking player intentionally lifted it into him,

Thoughts?

First thoughts.

This umpire has insufficient knowledge of the Rules of Hockey to be entrusted with the umpiring of a hockey match. He was responsible for applying the Rules concerning a dangerously played ball, but it is obvious from his post that he does not either know or understand them.

“Deliberately” defending the goal is not an offence. Positioning between an attacker in possession of the ball and the goal is not per se an indication of intention to use the body to stop or deflect the ball, (and acceptance of risk, another ‘justification’ often trotted out for penalising a player hit with the ball, can be applied only to legal actions or accidents, not to actions, by the player propelling the ball, that are contrary to Rule (offences). There is incidentally nothing in the Rules to suggest that endangering an opponent accidentally should not or cannot be treated as an offence). Raising the ball towards another player who is within 5m , is irrespective of intention, a dangerous play offence  – at all levels of play. (At the higher levels players should have the skill necessary to avoid propelling a raised ball towards an opponent. I throw that thought in because it is often claimed that at the higher levels a player ought to have the skill to stop the ball or avoid being hit with it, when it is propelled at him – much more difficult tasks and an unreasonable assertion).

Isfreaks is right to declare that a free ball should have been awarded to the defending team. The South African Hockey Association do not have the authority to amend Rule, they only have discretion, like all other National Associations, about the date of implementation at national level of any amendments made by the FIH RC in any particular year.

“All” means all, it does not mean some or all except high level players and officials.

Much of the comment in reply to the opening post focused on the umpire’s ‘failure’ to award a penalty stroke in accordance with the meme (not Rule) that a penalty stroke should always be awarded where that is appropriate rather than allowing advantage to the team offended against. What the Advantage Rule says (or used to say) is that advantage should be allowed if that is the more severe penalty – in other words whether or not to allow advantage or award penalty is a subjective judgement made by an umpire.

  I cannot judge this matter any better than any other respondent because I did not see the incident (and I certainly cannot state as fact in any circumstances, even if I witness an incident, that allowing advantage in this or that particular case was either right or wrong: I am not the umpire involved), but it seems to me that with the goalkeeper prone on the ground and the attacker in possession of the ball and (presumably from what is written) well within 5m of the goal-line, the judgement made in this instance, to allow play to continue, cannot be described as either incorrect or, in any sense, wrong.

What was wrong, very wrong, was the award of a penalty stroke following the dangerously played ball by the attacker. It is difficult to see how an umpire could not understand this:-

It should be noted that there is no requirement for evasive action included in the above clause and no mention of a minimum velocity. Neither is there, declarations by the South African HA and an Australian television sports commentator notwithstanding, any mention of advantage gained or of a shot at the goal.

When there is dangerous play by a player i.e raising the ball at an opponent, both advantaged gained or the fact that the dangerously raised ball was a shot at goal are irrelevant, the dangerous play must be penalised especially  if that opposing player is hit with the ball (not unless the opposing player is hit with the ball or the ball is going wide of the goal) that is, or should be, simple common sense. Why would any umpire penalise a player who has had the ball raised at them in a way that is clearly dangerous play? It makes no sense at all to do so.



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The remarks made by the commentator in the above video contradict the Rules of Hockey, they are insane. This insanity has been spread far and wide by those who not only should know better, they do know better – so why have they done it, why are they doing it ?

There is a need for objective criteria to describe a dangerously played ball propelled towards an opponent from beyond 5m – up to 15m would be useful – e,g. above sternum height at a velocity that could injure a player hit with it – but that seems a long way off at the moment, because umpires are not yet consistently applying the criteria for a dangerously played ball that have been in place for more than thirty years. In fact many of them are following the nonsense ‘quoted’ by the commentator in the above video.

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).

.

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 the 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 only when 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 facts 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 that 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 particular interpretation.

The CHN player requested video referral concerning the award of the penalty corner but 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 correct 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 played 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.

 

 

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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.

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 in these circumstances 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. The introduction of a second whistle to restart play would be an aid to fair play).

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 14, 2018

Deflections and the falling ball

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

The Rule referred to by Simon Mason in commentary is Rule 9.10.

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.

He correctly states that ‘the 5m Rule’ is the only consideration (to determine the legitimacy of the goal). The umpire refers to the video umpire but his only question is “Was the ball played by the stick of the attacker”.

Does the Explanation of Rule application change anything in this scenario? i.e. was there a clear initial receiver and if so, who was it?

Clearly the goalkeeper is the initial receiver, at the time the ball was deflected upwards off the defending CAN player, the ENG player was considerably more than 5m from the place the ball fell and the goalkeeper was within 1m of it. Therefore there was an encroaching offence by the ENG player.

Why was the Rule ignored and a goal awarded? 

There has been mention elsewhere of the guidance from the FIH Umpiring Committee given via an Interpretation of a video presented on the Dartfish website.

http://www.dartfish.tv/Player.aspx?CR=p38316c12660m183532&CL=1

Interpretation:-

The GER player passes the ball up the pitch. In trying to intercept the pass the ENG player deflects the ball high into his own 23 metre area. The ball is going to land between an ENG defender and a GER forward, potentially leading to dangerous play. A free hit is awarded to GER where the danger was created since the ENG defender did not give the GER forward the opportunity to receive the ball.

But this interpretation is not relevant to the CAN v ENG incident because in the GER v ENG match shown on Dartfish the ball falls between two opposing players who were already within 5m of each other when the ball was deflected upwards.

This encroaching offence below from AUS v BEL is more like the incident in the CAN v ENG match.

I suggest that because of the swing at the ball by the AUS player in the above video, besides there being an encroaching offence there was also other dangerous play. So two deliberate offences – and a yellow card should have been given. The ENG player in the CAN v ENG match does not play at the ball in a way that could have endangered the goalkeeper – but that, because of the prior encroaching offence, is irrelevant.

Neither of the two incidents referred to above in support of the Rule occur in the circle – and it has to be conceded that a ball that is falling into the goalmouth after a deflection off a defender creates problems that a ball falling considerably more than 5m from the goal-line (outside a circle) is unlikely to cause.

No goalkeeper or any other defender can be reasonably expected to allow an attacker receiving the ball off a defensive deflection falling within 5m of the goal-line to receive and control the ball to ground without contest: it might be considered unreasonable to demand such compliance if the ball is falling anywhere within the circle. An attacker within 5m of the goal-line and under a falling ball is moreover extremely unlikely to attempt to control the ball to ground – a volley shot of some description is far more likely. For a Rule to demand that a defender allow 5m of space is unreasonable (perhaps even impossible) and grossly unfair in these circumstances and no Rule should be either unreasonable or unfair.

These situations could be resolved by penalizing a deflection that gives rise to a potentially dangerous situation rather than allowing a subsequent dangerous action to occur. There is support for this approach in the Interpretation given in the Dartfish video above and also in the current UMB, both of which use the phrase “potentially dangerous”. All that is needed is to change the wording of Rule 9.8. back from what it is now

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.
The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.

to what it was previously:- 9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which is likely to lead to dangerous play.

but it would be preferable to use both phrases

9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way that leads to or is likely to lead to dangerous play.

A deflection leading or likely to lead to dangerous play is then an offence and a free ball (or a penalty corner for a deflection within the circle – although a restart on the 23m line would be fairer) may be awarded.

The umpiring in the opening video is more erosion and an absence of common sense.  The umpire may not have been aware of the attacker’s position when the ball was raised if he was following the play directly in front of him. This is the first thing the video umpire should have looked at and it should have been the umpire’s first question. It was after all the first thing that occurred to the commentators and something both umpires needed to be certain about to make a sensible recommendation and decision. Where there is no video available, the trailing umpire, being in these situations in a position to see both the deflector and the attackers at the same time, should be consulted.

Stills from the video show that the ENG player was at least 10m from the goal at the time of the deflection and that he could not have been unaware that he would commit an encroaching offence.

The action sequence at the tail end of the video indicates that the umpire should have been more aware of the ENG player’s position. The ball was put up in front of the umpire’s position and slightly to his right, the same direction as the approaching attacker, but watching for two things (at different levels) at the same time when both are moving is never easy.

An example of umpire ‘brain fade’ he allowed the encroaching offence, which he must have seen, to fade from consciousness because he focused instead on whether or not the ball had touched the stick of the attacker – which in the circumstances was irrelevant – that the ball was contested for at all was an offence, in fact it was an offence for the attacker to have moved to be within 5m of the goalkeeper.

I am again reminded that when the Offside Rule was finally deleted in 1997 the then Hockey Rules Board undertook to put in place measures to constrain the behaviour of attackers in front of the goal. Neither the HRB or the renamed FIH Rules Committee have done anything of the sort. Clarity about dealing with a deflection falling into the goalmouth would be one step in the right direction. The nonsence (which appears to have been ‘born’ on an Internet hockey forum, due to the persistence of one individual) that a deflection should not be treated as a falling ball under the terms of Rule 9.10 needs ‘kicking into touch’ once and for all.

 

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 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 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 ball 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.

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 specifically mentioned as 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.

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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

Raising the ball into the circle.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Raising the ball into the circle.

The potential for danger of the ball raised into the circle has long been recognised, probably for almost as long as hockey has been played in the modern era. Prior to the introduction of the ban on the intentionally raised hit in the late 1980’s (except when taking a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle), it had been for many years illegal to raise the ball into the opponent’s circle. There were over time several variations of this Rule and it also went through the extremes, but it was never prior to the current version an offence only if done intentionally or only if danger actually occurred – the long established prohibition of raising the ball directly into the circle with a hit was a simple Rule that was easy for players to understand and observe and for umpires to apply, but for some unknown reason (it reduced spectacular play or ‘excitement’ ? ) it could not be left alone :-

1) There was a long-standing prohibition on raising the ball into the circle with a hit.

2) then (usually for single year each time) a free-for-all on deletion of that Rule (or another).

3) then a very hedged reintroduction of prohibition of any raising of the ball into the circle, which was complicated (there were exceptions) and therefore the Rule was very badly applied – usually too strictly (it was not as daft or made as complicated as the present ban on playing a ball directly into the opponent’s circle from a free awarded in their 23m area, but the exceptions were often ignored and the same absurdity was present)

4) finally (I have reduced the number of steps because some changes were just a recycle or a ‘see-saw’ of a previous version) the present situation where the ball should not be intentionally raised into the circle with a hit (because all intentionally raised hits outside the opposing circle are prohibited, but there is nothing at all said in the Rules of Hockey about flicks and scoops into the opposing circle nor about raised deflections – although there is a mess of Rule about the receiving/contesting for a ball put up in the air by any of these means).

The problem with the present Rule is wilful blindness to intention within ‘umpire practice’, ‘enshrined’ in the UMB with the phrase “forget lifted – think danger“, which also ‘forgets’ that opponents in the circle may be disadvantaged by an illegally raised hit from outside the circle, even when they are not endangered by it – and that is precisely why attacking players raise the ball into the circle and why it should be penalised.

(generally the ball is raised with a slap hit, although edge hits – both (an illegal ‘hard’) fore and reverse edge hits are employed – as well the full power forehand top-spin ‘banana’ hits which were once popular with penalty corner strikers. We (umpires) now have only “forget lifted” to remember – to also “think danger” would be to be able to keep in mind two possibly conflicting thoughts and still be able to behave rationally).

The video clip below is of a hit being made into the circle and what resulted from it. This incident demonstrates that it does not matter what the Rules are if they are not applied. Have a look at the video and see if you agree with the final outcome, which was the recommendation of the award of a penalty corner, after a video referral by the defending side, questioning the initial penalty corner award, was rejected. I have no idea what the question put to the video umpire was, but there are several grounds upon which a properly framed referral should have been upheld.

One. The ball was raised intentionally with a hit in the area outside the opponent’s circle. Rule 9.9. prohibits this action.

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 also an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field if it is raised in a dangerous way. Technically the ball was not raised dangerously by the attacker – there was no opponent within 5m and evasive action was not necessary and was not attempted by the first defender. But clearly self-defence from a raised ball, that could have injured him, was forced on the third defender (after a deflection from a second defender, who was clearly disadvantaged by the illegally raised ball) and it would be reasonable to consider such raising of the ball as play (by the striker) resulting in (leading to) dangerous play.

Let us suppose the umpire though the ball may have been raised accidentally.

Two. The ball was hit hard with the fore-hand edge of the stick, a prohibited action.

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

Let us suppose the umpires did not see the edge hit and thought a slap-hit with the face of the stick had been used.

Three. A free ball had been awarded and taken with a self -pass from just outside the 23m line. The ball was not moved 5m before it was played into the circle (a silly Rule, which I would like to see deleted, but still a Rule.)

.

Four. Being hit with the ball is not necessarily an offence by the player hit (which is ‘dealt with’ by the following Rule and the (now conflicting) Explanation of application)

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

The player (who stops or deflects the ball with the body) only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

Clearly the player who was hit with the ball did not position with the intention of using his body to stop the deflected ball. But was there an advantage gained because the ball was stopped by the body of this defender? To decide that it is necessary to determine where the ball would most likely have gone if it had not hit the third defender.

What seems probable from the video evidence is that it would have deflected into the possession of a fourth defender.

The less likely alternatives are that it would have run loose and have been contested for by players from both teams or that (unlikely) it would have gone off the pitch over the base-line for a 23m ball to the attackers, before any player could take possession of it.

My conclusion is that two umpires (match umpire and video umpire), appointed to this tournament, being among the best available in the world, would not miss a ball not moved 5m or either an intentionally raised hit of this sort or the illegal use of a forehand edge-hit, but they might have overlooked the first and ignored the latter two criteria and instead have focused on dangerous raising of the ball, following forget lifted – think danger. But in ‘forgetting’ lifted they also (in this instance) overlooked that opponents had been unfairly disadvantaged by three concurrent deliberate offences

The two criteria for a ball-body contact offence are routinely ignored, so it is not necessary to offer an explanation for that happening in this particular instance. But there is no reason (other than penalising the prior illegal raising of the ball or the failure to move it 5m before it was played into the circle) why either umpire – but especially the video umpire – should not have considered where the ball would have gone if it had not hit a defender – and then decided that there was no advantage gained by the defending team.

In this incident three deliberate offences by the striker of the ball, two of which could be said to have disadvantaged the defending team, were ignored and an accidental ball-body contact, incidental to the raised ball, which was not an offence, was penalised with a penalty corner.

Suggestions.

The solution to the initial problem, the ball raised (deliberately or otherwise) into the circle is not very difficult to work out, but of course any replacement Rule must be properly observed.

The following four suggested amendments would need to be enacted together.

The first step is to remove the prohibition of the lifted hit in the area outside the opponent’s circle (Delete the present Rule 9.9 and suitably amend Rule 9.8).

The second, to institute an absolute height limit (of shoulder height ?) on any hit ball in the area outside the opponent’s circle (not dangerous play related, dangerous play being a separate issue with other ball height limits imposed. That ‘deals’ with the long high clip or chip hit (similar to the modern long scoop) the initial ban on the intentionally raised hit was supposed to deal with; it also deals with the extraordinary number of times there is an ‘accidental’ raising of the ball, to considerable height, with an edge-hit made in the area outside the opponent’s circle.

Now we have a ‘clean slate’.

The third, prohibit any raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit. (this means a hit away from the control of the hitter and excludes low ‘dink’ hits made by a player dribbling with the ball who retains possession of the ball)

The fourth, a height limit (of knee height or elbow height ?) on any ball raised directly into the opponent’s circle with a flick, scoop or deflection.

And finally, a (belt and braces) prohibition on playing or playing at the ball when it is above shoulder height within the opponent’s circle, already covered in the suggested rewrite of the Rule concerning the playing of the ball at above shoulder height Rule 9.7).

So what happens when the ball is deflected and raised above the limit height into the opponent’s circle – accidentally or otherwise? A free-ball, to be taken from the point the ball was raised, should be awarded.

It’s perfectly possible to instead prohibit scoops or high deflections into the area inside the hash circle, if that would be considered to lead to safer and/or fairer outcomes – if the ball lands and then rebounds high off the pitch for example. It would also be providential as it would give the hash circle a function.

The restoration of prohibition of the raising the ball (especially high) into the circle and a prohibition on playing at the ball when it is above shoulder height inside the opponent’s circle, is the very least that should be offered by way of ‘compensation’ and safeguarding (the promised but forgotten Rule to constrain the actions of attackers) following the deletion of off-side in 1997.

The above video is of an example of play which is more akin to hurling than it is to hockey; there are at least three breaches of the Rules of Hockey by the attacking side. But this was a spectacular goal and so of course it was awarded. Umpires appear to believe they have a duty to ensure spectators are entertained even at the cost of fair play, observance of the Rules of the game and the consideration of player safety.

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.

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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)

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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. 

 

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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 19, 2018

Holding a hockey stick.

and positioning the ball in relation to the feet.

Left hand.

A player stands with the feet pointing forward and approximately 150mm apart. The stick is held in the left hand and positioned with a straight arm so that the head rests on the ground in front of and between the feet. The stick-head is inclined to the left so that the face is angled at about 45° to the ground.
In this position the left thumb will be pointing down the back side of the stick.

Right hand.

Maintaining the left hand grip, the player squats as shown in the picture, so that the thighs are parallel to the ground and the buttocks are over the heels. The player should be comfortably balanced on the balls of the feet with the heels well off the ground. The left arm should now be bent and relaxed but free of the leg not resting on it, the forearm aligned with the handle.

Bring the face of the stick to the vertical by rotating the left arm and place a ball against it.’

With the right arm almost touching the right thigh place the right forefinger down the back of the stick, the thumb on top and the remaining three fingers curled around the handle at what feels to be a comfortable distance from the stick-head.

In this position rotate the stick-head over the ball and back again repeatedly without moving the ball. If this feels comfortable okay, if not adjust the position of the right hand, slightly up or down the stick, until the stick-head turning action is comfortable.

Now start to move the ball from side to side as the stick-head is rotated over the ball. A movement of between 150mm and 200mm should be found to be at the limit of comfort especially as the speed at which the ball is moved is increased.

There may be a tendency for the ball drift out of control towards the feet. If this happens the elbows will move out to cope with the shorter distance to the ball and stick-head and the player will tend to lose balance backwards. This can happen in a surprisingly short distance because both the feet and the arms are virtually pinned. The feet and legs firmly by the ground and the squat position, the arms loosely by the grip on the stick and the distance at which the stick-head can be kept in comfortable contact with the ball. If the ball is moved towards the feet, even a little, the position becomes uncomfortable and uncontrollable because the grip position does not change and neither does the length of the stick.

Moving the ball a short distance further away from the feet and trying to maintain the  same grip position while rotating the stick-head over the ball has a similar but opposite effect. Again balance is lost or almost lost but this time it is lost forward and there will be an uncomfortable feeling of over reaching or even toppling.

Going back to rotating the stick-head over and back the ball. Stop and leave the ball where it is and move the right hand down the stick so that it is closer to the ball, 100mm will be sufficient. There will immediately be the same lost of balance and feeling of overreaching that was experienced when the ball was moved a similar distance away from the feet.

Leaving the ball in position and moving the hands up the stick pushes both elbows out and the back arches as the player attempt to maintain balance.

In both changed right hand positions, further down the stick and closer to the left hand, rotation of the stick-head over and back the ball is significantly altered. The right hand further away position may lead to lost of ability to rotate the stick at speed, movement become uncoordinated, while the right hand closer grip quickly becomes tiring to the hand and the sense of toppling or actually toppling is difficult to overcome

What all this means is that the distance of the ball from the feet is critical and the place at which the right hand grips the stick is also critical.

The position of the third finger of the right hand when the right hand position on the stick handle is optimal should be noted and marked with tape. This position has been found by reducing the number of distance variables or reducing the influence of them. The legs were taken out of consideration and the influence on distance adjustment of the arms and changes to the length of the stick caused by changes of angle much reduced. Some of these influences can be huge (legs, arms) others marginal (stick angle, bend to body), all are significant especially distance of the ball from the feet, even if any change made is quite small.

Having established a right hand grip position the legs can be released, the player should move up into a dribbling crouch.

Moving more upright will elevate the stick and reduce horizontal reach and this has to  be compensated for. (It should be noted that the angle of the stick is nowhere near perpendicular to the ground when in a dribbling crouch, it is closer to the angle it was in while squatting). One foot, it does not matter which, can be advanced about half its own length (but no more than that, less if a ball playing position that feels comfortable can be maintained). It is important that the maximum distance possible, while still maintaining close control, is kept between the feet and the ball. The distance may seen unusual especially if the player has previously played with a straight leg stance and with the ball close to the feet but it is worth persevering with, even it does at first feel odd.

Now the player can look up and beyond the ball and see the ball only in peripheral vision while moving with it and rotating the stick-head over and back the top of it.  Practice, practice, practice around objects large and small – look to the next object not at the ball. Keep refreshing the hand positioning by squatting, at first every minute or so, until holding a stick in this position is ‘grooved in’ and become habit. A tape ridge on the handle is a good ‘reminder’ for the right hand.

The next stage is pulling the ball back and taking the stick-head around the back of it, then moving forward in a different direction.

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March 19, 2018

Suggested rewrite of Rule 9.10. Falling ball.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey

The current Rule 9.10. Falling ball.

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.

(a player in the landing spot prior to any opponent or in that position as the ball is raised is called the initial receiver)

Action. Amend the Rule and write the other half of it, the making of an aerial pass.

Reasons. The Rule has not been amended since the time the most common reason a ball would be falling from above head height onto the positions of closely grouped opposing players was an accidental deflection off a player’s stick or foot or off a goalkeeper’s protective equipment (still a common occurrence).

Now the more usual reason a ball may be falling from considerable height is because a scoop pass, commonly known as an aerial pass, has been made. Aerial passes made over 60m are now made frequently in the men’s game and aerial passes in excess of 40m are common in the women’s game. But the control of the scoop or aerial pass is weaker now, when the aerial pass is much stronger and much more frequently used, than it has been at any time in the last thirty years.

It is assumed in Rule guidance that the maker of an aerial pass will make a pass to a player of his or her own team who is in clear space (is by definition an initial receiver) or make a pass into clear space for a team-mate to chase. (Previous guidance that a scoop pass should not be made to a team-mate at a time when there was an opponent already within 5m (yards) of his or her position, which deterred the making of scoop passes to fall onto a contested position, because they would be immediately penalised as dangerous play, has long since disappeared).

One reason a foul by the player raising the ball to fall into a contested area, is not often considered in the current application of the Rule is a consequence of the past assumption that passes will not be made into contested areas. The other reason is a recent transfer of obligation (by ‘interpretation’ not Rule) to the team-mate of the player making an unsafe pass – a requirement, which is not in the Rule (but can be put into it) to retreat if within 5m of an opponent who is positioned where the ball will fall as the ball is raised or is clearly the first player to arrive at the landing point and is therefore the initial receiver.

That Rule application arises via ‘practice’ and ‘interpretation’ is the main reason there is confusion around the correct application of Rule 9.10 – anybody (any umpire) it seems can produce an ‘interpretation’ and via the Internet, declare it to be the Rule. Declarations, which are unsupported by Rule, such as “Aerial Rules do not apply to a deflection” or “Aerial Rules do not apply to a shot at the goal” (both of which have been made repeatedly) are not only false they are unhelpful, ‘a spanner in the works’ for those who are trying to understand the correct application of the Rule.

The making of an unsafe aerial pass and bouncing the ball on the stick while running with it into the playing reach of an opponent, are the two major elements ofplay leading to dangerous playthe second part of the Dangerously Play Rule. The bouncing of the ball on the stick has been dealt with in the suggested rewrite of Rule 9.9.

The safety requirements of the present Rulenot approach within 5 metres…until it has been received, controlled and is on the groundare too severe. 5m is a considerable distance to give to an opponent on a hockey pitch, and so the requirements are generally ignored or ‘interpreted’ in a bizarre way. Ignoring the conditions of the Rule is of course a cause of dangerous play occurring more frequently than it should because such ignoring means there is little or no penalty imposed: no deterrent. Players used to such ‘practice’ from umpires do not expect to be penalised for an encroaching offence and even come to view closing on an opponent receiving an aerial pass as a legitimate action.


It is suggested that instead of ‘control to ground’ before an opponent can even approach to within 5m, approach to within 3m of the ball is permitted immediately the opponent has played the ball with the stick (but not before that point) and the ball may be contested for once the receiver has played it twice with the stick or has moved the ball a distance of two meters.

Suggestion.

These proposals are not ‘cast in iron’, useful comment or alternative suggestions are welcome.

The ball is generally assumed to be falling from considerably above head height although there has never been anything in the Rules to suggest or confirm that assumption (but there could be) it could however just still be falling ‘in the air’ i.e. be off the ground.

Players must not approach within 3 metres of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball until it has been played by the receiving player.

The term ‘falling ball will refer to a ball that is falling after having been raised to above head height. The ball may be raised and become a ball falling either as a result of a deliberately made pass or accidentally as the result of a deflection off the stick or body of a player. The rule as it concerns receiving and encroaching is to be applied in the same way in both situations. But, obviously, a falling ball which arises as the result of an accidental deflection cannot be penalised as the intentional making of an unsafe pass – a pass deliberately made to fall onto/into an area occupied by opposing players, which is per se a dangerous play offence – that is play leading to or likely to lead to dangerous play.

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 by retreating to be at least three meters from the receiver until he or she has played the ball. The ball may then be contested for when the receiver has played it a second time with the stick or moved the ball two meters.

If the ball is scooped or lobbed to fall onto the positions of close opposing players and the team-mate of the passer does not retreat or even contests for the falling ball, then both the passer and the contesting player will have committed an offence. The contesting team-mate an encroaching offence and dangerous play – usually dangerous use of the stick. Penalty, for play leading to (or potentially leading to) dangerous play, should be awarded against the player who raised the ball, to be taken at the place the ball was raised – and the same team player who illegally contested for the ball, should be awarded a personal penalty.

If the ball is lofted to fall onto the positions of opposing players and the team-mate of the passer does retreat as required the passer has committed an offence (play leading or likely to lead to dangerous play) but, as opponents have not been unfairly disadvantaged by it (despite the gain of ground) and can play on, there will be no reason to penalise that offence. No penalty: this is in compliance with the Advantage Rule

If the ball is lofted to fall to an opponent who is in clear space at the time the ball is raised and subsequently a player of the same team as the passer encroaches to within three meters of the receiver before the ball has been played, then only the encroaching player has committed an offence. Penalty at the place the ball was falling. Free ball against the team for the encroaching offence and a personal penalty to the encroaching player as well if the ball was also illegally contested for.

Most of he following clauses are contained in the suggested rewrite of Rule 9.9. but, in line with the FIH declared emphasis on the safety of players, are repeated for emphasis in this suggestion. To avoid any ambiguity some of the following clauses state the same prohibitions given in other clauses in a different way.

The ball may not be playerd into the opponent’s circle with a raised hit that propels the ball beyond the immediate control (playing reach) of the hitter. A raised hit is a hit ball that is not traveling along the ground.

The raising of the ball directly into the opponents circle with any sort of flick stoke will be penalised if the ball crosses the circle line at above elbow height.

No player may play or attempt to play at a ball in the opponent’s circle while it is above shoulder height.

A ball that bounces into the circle and rises to above shoulder height must be allowed to fall below shoulder height before it may be played at by an attacking player.

A player in the opponent’s circle may not in any circumstances approach to within 3m of a defender playing an above shoulder height ball until the ball has been played twice by the stick of the defender or been moved a minimum of 2 metres. For example: Following up on a high drag flick shot at a penalty corner and attempting to play at a rebound from a defender while the ball is still above shoulder height will be considered a deliberate dangerous play offence.

General

When the ball is in the air at any height, particularly in the shooting circles and when it is possible it will be contested for by opposing players, that is a potentially dangerous situation and umpires need to watch for and penalise careless or reckless play (particularly shots at the goal or high velocity clearances) that endanger another player.

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March 16, 2018

Umpire positioning

FIELD HOCKEY UMPIRING

POSITIONING

From that position the umpire could not see the shooting options available to the attacker or where the defender was hit with the ball. I am not at all convinced that that position is the best one for seeing action in the circle. I never (after attempts to do so in one match) took up that position when umpiring over a period of thirty years, it’s usually far too blocked.

Other examples:-

These two penalty corner incidents below (in the absence of assistance from the second umpire ???) had to be sorted out by video referral: both shots were disallowed. The involved match umpire could see nothing amiss from her (approved) position. Not, in either case, the ball raised dangerously high, the ball hitting a defender, the deflection of the ball.

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The umpire was here so ‘busy’ getting into the approved position that he missed what was a red card and penalty stroke offence. (What the other umpire was looking at, I do not know. Less than a minute previously he had given a verbal warning to the offending player for committing a physical contact offence – instead of issuing the yellow card it deserved – the offence was not accidental).

 

There are two offences shown in the above 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 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; there was no legitimate evasive action.

But, 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’.

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March 14, 2018

Physical contact in a non-contact game

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Andreu Enrich a Spanish International level hockey player (and also a busy hockey coach) who recently joined the Facebook FIH Hockey Rules discussion group, has written some interesting hockey articles which he has posted on the Linkedin.com website. This is one entitled ‘Ten habits of successful hockey players’.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-habits-successful-hockey-players-andreu-enrich/

lists as one of the habits:-

Aggressiveness is not negotiable: hockey is becoming -and it will become- more and more physical. That means that the physical contact will be more and more accepted and tolerated by the umpires. In hockey, goals can only be scored inside circles. That creates a “highly transcendent” field of battle for both attackers and defenders. Inside the circles, every inch and every instant has an enormous value. It’s worthy to fight hard for it. Don’t be violent, be aggressive, but remain at the margin of the concept. Don’t refuse the contact.

These parts of that statement I cannot accept and must present argument against:-

“hockey is becoming -and it will become- more and more physical. That means that the physical contact will be more and more accepted and tolerated by the umpires.”                                                             “Don’t refuse the contact”

This, below, I find ambiguous, I don’t understand what is meant.

“Don’t be violent, be aggressive, but remain at the margin of the concept.”

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There are three parts to my argument. 1) What by Rule players must not do 2) What by Rule umpires must and and must not do. 3) Why the Rules are as they are.

The relevant Rules.

All participants:
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. Relevant national legislation must be observed. Players must ensure that their equipment does not constitute a danger to themselves or to others by virtue of its quality, materials or design.

1.4 Umpires must :
a have a thorough knowledge of the Rules of Hockey but remember that the spirit of the Rule and common sense must govern interpretation
b support and encourage skilful play, deal promptly and firmly with offences and apply the appropriate penalties
c establish control and maintain it throughout the match
d use all the available tools for control
e apply the advantage Rule as much as possible to assist a flowing and open match but without losing control.                                                                          
(Some of those appear to be advice but they are all presented as Rule – but then we have some Rule, for example what is written under the heading Responsibility and Liability, presented as if it is only advice).

Umpires do not have the authority to accept or tolerate more, indeed any, (intentional) physical contact between contesting opponents during a hockey match. Umpires, like all other participants, must abide by the published Rules of Hockey. There is leeway for interpretation except where there is no ambiguity in a Rule requirement or in a matter of fact. Where an objective judgement, rather than a subjective judgement is being made, then there is no need for interpretation (of intent for example). Interpretation should in any case refer to the interpretation of actions rather than to the meaning of the words used in a Rule. Word meanings in Rules should be determined and understood before an umpire sets foot on a hockey pitch, not arrived at during the course of an incident in a match; this knowledge is part of preparation.

A look at the Rules about physical contact reveals that some, when considered along with the provided Explanations of application, are very clear, 9.3 and 9.13 for example (the absence of any Explanation with these two Rules may account for the clarity of them); others depend on the interpretation of actions such as ‘intimidate’, ‘impede’, ‘legitimate’ (‘legitimate’ here meaning ‘legal’ rather than ‘genuine’ or ‘necessary’), but a fair and workable interpretation of these actions should not beyond the common sense of a reasonable and rational person.

9.3 Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other players or their sticks or clothing.
There is no ambiguity about the meaning of this Rule – it is absolute, even touching is prohibited. I have (I hope using common sense) added ‘intentional’ to it , but even an accidental physical contact between players which disadvantages an opponent or an opposing team is an offence which should be penalised. There is no room in the construction of this rule for any other interpretation but a literal one – no contact at all – there can be no acceptance or tolerance of physical contact and if there is doubt about whether a body to body contact was intended an umpire would be correct to penalise rather than not do so. The body to body contact Rule is in other words as some umpires imagine the ball-body contact Rule to be (the ball-body contact Rule is in fact almost the opposite in its construction – not an offence unless). If the Rule approach to body to body contact is to be changed Rule 9.3 must first be changed, that cannot be done on an ad hoc basis by an umpire at any level – it cannot even be done by a Tournament Director.

I have added ‘intentional’ because the UMB gives to Tournament Umpires, under the heading FLOW, this ambiguous and vague advice…

Allow the players to contest the ball

… but I can’t see such permitted contesting including intentional physical contact. I may be wrong about that but it does not matter if I am, the UMB is not the Rules of Hockey and does not, cannot, over-rule the Rule, which forbids physical contact. Accidental bumping while two players are running ‘neck and neck’ after a loose ball may be overlooked by an umpire – as per the advice in the UMB – but any hint of intentional barging, in an attempt to gain an advantage, should (must) be penalised.


9.4 Players must not intimidate or impede another player.                          
(Physically blocking the movement of another player is prohibited. The two terms used in this Rule are very different actions and I do not understand why they have been lumped together as they have)

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 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.                                                                                  (Many physical contact offences are also obstruction offences; a book could be written about obstruction but most hockey coaches just ignore it and so do many umpires)


9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact.
(an overly severe positional requirement – how is such a position determined in advance of a tackle attempt? – but not an ambiguously worded Rule)

Reckless play, such as sliding tackles and other overly physical challenges by field players, which take an opponent to ground and which have the potential to cause injury should attract appropriate match and personal penalties.

I won’t list the physical contact offences a goalkeeper might commit by inappropriate use of his or her body protection, the pattern is the same.

Nowhere in the Rules of Hockey is there any indication that any intentional physical contact is acceptable or may or should be tolerated by an umpire. An umpire who does accept physical contact among competing players goes beyond what the Rules permit and is exceeding his or her authority. Such exceeding of authority is not interpretation (What is being interpreted?) or the application of common sense, but invention, and is certainly outside of the ‘Spirit of the Rules’ and the intent and purpose of them.

Umpires do not have the authority to invent Rules or (except when following the Advantage Rule) to disregard a particular offence. A physical contact offence which is not immediately penalised because advantage was allowed should in any case be penalised, with a personal penalty for the offender, at the first opportunity after the advantage has played out.

Players who are strong and fit, have well developed stick-skills and good timing and spatial awareness don’t need to use physical contact (brute force) to play the game well and must be penalised if they do use physical contact to gain advantage – to deter such conduct.

We have a game that can be played for a life-time, old codgers and young kids, grand-parents with their grand-children, can play on the same pitch at the same time – and Mum and Dad can join in too. It’s a social and non-contact sport; let’s keep it that way. If Dad (or Mum rather than Dad – or both) also want to enjoy something far more demanding and competitive in a club’s First Teams, that’s fine: Sport is about enjoyment. Those who enjoy physical contact sports can go and play hurling or lacrosse (which have many of the same skills as hockey).
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As a skinny youngster I enjoyed that I could compete on a level with much bigger kids of my own age (who would half kill me when playing soccer), because the Rules protected me from physically aggressive tackling and I could use my brain rather than my weight or aggression to compete. We need to retain that protection and encourage the development of thinking and stick-work and movement skills – and to encourage kids to stay with a sport when they leave school.

(Not that size determines aggression. Swann (video above) seems to get away with his continual physical aggressive foul play (there are many examples of it) because he is not a large man – he gets treated as if he is a kid who does not know what he is doing).

March 13, 2018

Legitimate evasive action

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

It has been suggested to me that the evasive action being taken by the defender shown in the photograph is not legitimate because the ball was not raised at or above his knee height. This suggestion uses ‘necessary‘ rather than ‘genuine‘ or ‘necessary as well as genuine‘ to define legitimate. The meaning ‘legal’ is obviously not appropriate, the defender does nothing illegal in trying to avoid being hit with the ball. But the fact that this needs to be pointed out highlights a problem; there is no clear meaning given to the definition of a dangerously played ball we have been provided with in Rule 9.8.

Rule 9.8. Explanation. A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.

The recently added “also” is there because there is also objective criteria provided in Rule 9.9, basically the raising of the ball towards a player who is within 5m – the “knee height or above” part comes from the Rules of the conduct of a penalty corner – so even within the objective criteria for ‘dangerous’ there is ambiguity about appropriate application.

I prefer to think of a legitimate evasive action as one that has been taken genuinely. That is a player takes evasive action because he or she believes that if they do not do so there is a high probability that the will be hit and injured with the ball. I take that view because the reverse edge hit, particularly when it is used to make a hard shot at the goal, is generally used with the intention of raising the ball. Players will often opt to use a reverse edge hit when they could just as easily, or even more easily, have used a standard upright forehand hit, because a raised ball hit towards a defender is more difficult for the defender to track and play than one that is hit towards them along the ground. If a defender within 5m of a striker believes that striker is going to raise the ball at him or her at high velocity (and is going to use a reverse edge hit to do so) it is reasonable to suppose the defender has a genuine reason to be taking evasive action even before the ball is struck (after the ball is struck will be too late).

A problem with using ‘necessary’ as a criteria for ‘legitimate’ is that evasion that was not only genuine but also necessary when it was taken can become unnecessary because of subsequent events. A ball raised towards the head of a defender on the goal-line, which is evaded by that defender as soon as he or she realizes what its path is, may be intercepted by the stick of another defender or deflected by the stick of a second attacker. The evading defender has no way of anticipating such intervention (which may make the evasion unnecessary) or of halting his or her evasion, which may have been a reflex action.

Another problem is that a defender may be taken by surprise and not realize that evasion is necessary until it is too late to evade. This can be coupled with the edge hitter not having an accurate idea of the height to which the ball will be raised. The example in the video below is of an illegal reverse hit, illegal because the ball was raised intentionally with a hit but was not a shot at the goal from within a shooting circle and also because it was raised dangerously. The striker obviously had no idea that the ball would rise as sharply as it did and the defender had no chance to evade the ball with his reflexive attempt to defend his face (the bruise on his neck, caused by the raised ball, can be seen).

It is sobering to know that had that edge hit been a shot at the goal from within the circle of the defender, many umpires would have penalised the defender and not the striker. The player shown being hit with a raised shot in the picture below (he was hit to the side of his knee despite his evasive jump) was penalised – a penalty stroke was awarded.

The striker of the shot shown in the first photograph presented at the top of this article, probably intended that the ball fly into the goal just under the cross-bar and was disappointed at the ball elevation achieved as well as the direction of the shot. The point is, if a striker cannot always be sure about what height and direction the ball will be raised with a hard edge hit, it is unreasonable to expect a defender to have any idea of the path of the ball, and when a defender sees a forward shape up to strike an edge hit towards him or her from close range it is reasonable to consider any evasive action taken as being legitimate. (It is worth noticing that even a team-mate of the shooter, well to the right of the defender, took evasive action)

And that brings us to another problem, unless he or she is a mind-reader, an umpire can have no idea if evasive action taken by a defender towards whom a ball has been raised, is genuine or not. Legitimate evasive action is an inappropriate criteria on which to base an important judgement like ‘dangerously played’. There is a subjective judgement – legitimate – being used to define a subjective judgement – dangerous and, as has been pointed out, ‘legitimate’ cannot be judged with certainty.

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 Rule 9.8.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey.

Rule 9.8 Dangerously played ball.

The current Rule 9.8.

Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play.

A ball is considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.

The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.

 

Action: Amendment.

Reason. There is only a partial Rule at present because there are no criterion for either of the two offences mentioned when the endangered player is more than 5m from the player who propels it, that there is a breach of the Rule in these circumstances depends entirely the personal opinion of an individual umpire. In addition to that the Explanation of application given in Rule 9.9. is generally ignored if the ball is raised at or into an opponent at below knee height (despite the ‘backhand’ declaration in the UMB – which also conflicts with what is given with Rule 9.9 – that a ball raised into a player at below half-shinpad height is not dangerous, which creates an ambiguity about a ball raised into an opponent from close range that is raised between above ‘ below half-shin pad’ and knee height ). This situation gives players inadequate guidance about what is or will be considered to be a dangerously played ball or play leading to dangerous play. It is vital that players should be informed about this.

It is I think proper to use as much of the existing Rule as possible. I’ll start with Players must not play the ball dangerously. That is easy to leave in place even if “dangerously” is poorly defined because that flaw can be rectified. Having spent some time pondering whether to use or in a way that leads to dangerous play , an after the fact of dangerous play decision or to use the previous wording or in a way that is likely to lead to dangerous play which allows the umpire to make a decision prior to dangerous play actually occurring, if he or she judges that dangerous play is probable, I have opted to use both. Why choose only one or the other when both are required? – so or in a way that leads to or is likely to lead to dangerous play has been drafted into the proposal.

What objective criterion are used for the determination of ‘dangerously played ball’ are adopted from other Rules, particularly those of the Penalty Corner and Rule 9.9. so I will continue by gathering together the relevant parts of those other Rules.

From Rule 9.9.

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.

It should be noted that the last Rule clause above does not require legitimate evasive action, so such evasive action is not a requirement for a breach of Rule 9.8. just something that must be taken into consideration if it occurs; neither is there any mention of a minimum height limit.

From Rule 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
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.

From Rule 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.

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.

Again there is mention, in the Rule clause immediately above, of the possibility of a dangerously played ball without the requirement that there be legitimate evasive action taken; there are in fact objective criterion for a dangerously played ball a) at or above knee height and b) into a player who is within 5m of the first shot when the ball is propelled with any stroke. It is not stated that a subsequent hit shot towards a player within 5m must not be raised to above 460mm – just that it must not be dangerous.

The first clause of Rule 13.3.l addresses any shot at the goal made with a stroke other than a hit (for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous) and second or subsequent hit strokes, the first hit stroke having been dealt with (more severely with a low maximum height for a goal to be scored) under Rule 13.3.k. but this clause does not state how a shot at the goal made during a penalty corner may be considered dangerous play, leaving only legitimate evasive action – an entirely subjective judgement by the umpire (not the player taking the evasive action !!) – when the ball is raised at or into a defender when that defender is more than 5m from the ball.

Rule 9.10 at one time treated a ball that had been lofted to fall onto the positions of opposing players within 5m of each other at the time the ball was raised as a ball that was likely to lead to dangerous play and such passes were penalised. The deletion of that clause from the Rule on the falling ball has caused a great deal of dangerous play and also much confusion about who causes danger when players contest for a falling ball – so the clause is restored in this dangerously played ball suggestion. (accidental deflections that become falling balls may be considered dangerous if contested for, but the deflection itself should not be treated in the same way as reckless or dangerous play, and illegally contesting for a falling ball following a deflection can be dealt with under Rule 9.10)

The Rules state clearly that a shot at the goal must not be made in a dangerous way i.e. must not be dangerous to other players – not cannot be dangerous i.e. it is possible for an on target shot to be dangerous.

The must not be dangerous imperative would not be included in the Rules if it was not possible for any on target shot at the goal to be dangerous. In this situation – where there is declared to be an overall emphasis on safety – only an idiot would interpret “must not be” to mean “not possible to be”, an ambiguous but possible construction of the words “cannot be”. The Rule states“must not be” rather than”cannot be” for good reason – to avoid such ambiguity. Those who have ‘interpreted’ “must not be” to mean “cannot be” don’t understand the context or structure of the language used – the syntax.

 

The suggestion.

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

It is evident, despite persistent claims to the contrary, that a shot at the goal can be considered to be dangerous play and that it would be sensible to adopt from Rule 13.3.l “but this must not be dangerous” concerning all shots at the goal in any phase of play, in the same way that “a defender (sic) is within five metres….and is struck on or above the knee in a normal stance, the shot is judged to be dangerous” is already so adopted: so I will do that.

The other necessary step is to provide an objective criterion for ‘dangerously played’ when an opponent the ball is played towards is more than 5m away from the striker at the time the ball is propelled. I believe that sternum height (which is about elbow height) is a suitable height for ‘dangerous’ (being in the area of the heart) when a ball is propelled at or into another player, if that is done with a ball velocity that could injure that player – and I suggest that most shots made at the goal from more than 5m of defender, when those defenders are positioned between the shooter and the goal, are made at a velocity that could injure: there will be exceptions, lobs for example, in which case the umpire applies common sense and subjective judgement (we have to assume that all qualified umpires have common sense and are capable of subjective judgements based on reason and that otherwise they would not have qualified as umpires).

I am not suggesting that the ball may not be propelled at the goal at above elbow height, even at very high velocity, but that it should be considered to be dangerous play if a ball is propelled at (the position of) another player at elbow height or above – and not wide of or above defending players or at below half-shin pad – provide no player has fallen to ground in the path of the ball..

I believe that the combination “knee height and 5m” is an unnecessarily severe safety measure for competent players (but not for U12 and younger or for novices) and generally ignored anyway, so I have reduced that distance to 2m. That change requires the creation of a third zone, but I can’t at the moment think of a way to avoid that.The offence of forcing is restored when the ball is raised towards an opponent.

 

Players must not play the ball in a way that endangers other players or in a way that leads or is likely to lead to dangerous play.

A ball will be considered dangerously played when it is propelled or deflected towards another player, even as a shot at the goal, when the other player is a field player or player wearing only a helmet as additional protection and is :-

a) within 2m and the ball is raised, at any velocity, into that player at knee height or above (this is a forcing offence as well as dangerous play).

b) within 5m and the ball is raised, at a velocity that could cause injury, into that player at between knee height and elbow height.

c) at any distance and the ball is raised towards that player at above elbow (sternum) height at a velocity that could cause injury,

A ball that is played at a player in any of the above ways will be considered to have endangered that player even if the player evades the ball or manages, having been forced to self-defence, to play it safely with the stick. Successful self-defence when self defence is forced does not mean there was no endangerment

In the event of evasion to avoid injury or forced self-defence caused by a dangerously played ball, the umpire should immediately penalise the player who propelled the ball, in line with the declared emphasis on safety unless:-

a) the dangerous action was entirely accidental, for example an unintended deflection AND the team of the endangered player were able to play on with advantage.

b) the endangering action was careless or reckless play, but the opposing team could play on with advantage; in these cases penalty (personal) can be delayed, but should not be forgotten.

A ball that had been lofted to fall onto the positions of opposing players within 5m of each other at the time the ball was raised (an aerial pass) and in such a way that two or more opposing players can compete for the ball as it is falling from above head height, must be treated as a ball that is dangerous or likely to lead to dangerous play and the player who raised the ball should be penalised.

A ball that is raised into a fully equipped goalkeeper can endanger him or her but, much depends on the protective equipment the goalkeeper is wearing, how the ball is propelled and from what distance. Endangerment must in this case remain an entirely subjective decision.

 

A velocity that could cause injury is not an entirely a subjective judgement because ball velocity will be comparable with the ball velocity of a powerfully made hit or drag-flick at the high end or, at the low end, a lob or a short flick (a flick that would not carry in the air beyond 5m) and so be largely an objective judgement, but there is a substantial element of subjective judgement involved.
Below are two, all too rarely seen examples of an umpire, the New Zealander Kelly Hudson, correctly penalising a dangerously raised ball.


.

.

But even while discussing the injury to the player hit on the head the television commentators could not stop themselves saying “The attacker was entitled to take the shot” and “She (the defender) did stop a shot at the goal“. Both were fixated on the possibility that the defender had committed an offence. We need to be clear about ‘entitlements’ and what is and is not an offence. Yes, the attacker was entitled i.e. not prohibited, from taking a raised hit shot at the goal provided the shot made did not endanger another player, so in this case the attacker committed a dangerous play offence because what she did is prohibited (but at present only clearly so when a shot is  taken during a penalty corner or the ball is raised into an opponent within 5m, everything else depends on umpire judgement).

The acceptance of risk is often advanced as a reason to penalise defenders who are , and let us be clear about this, entitled to take up defensive positions between a shooter and the goal (there is no other way to defend the goal). Yes, there is a risk and one that is accepted by defenders, that such positioning may result in them being hit with the ball. That does not mean that such positioning is done with the intention of being hit with the ball and nor does it mean that if the defender is hit with the ball the defender has committed an offence, on the contrary it often means the attacker has committed an offence.

For offence there are three conditions to be met and acceptance of risk is not one of them. First, the ball must not be played at the defender in a dangerous way (if the ball has been played dangerously at a defender, for example raised towards the defender from within 5m, we need go no further, a free ball must be awarded to the defending team).

Defenders do not have to accept that opponents may breach any Rule with impunity just because they are shooting at the goal – that is not an acceptable risk – a breach of Rule cannot be treated as an accepted risk.

I have no doubt that had the above incident occurred in a men’s game, especially one of such importance and when their team were losing, that the attacking team would have been demanding at least a penalty corner because the defender’s head stopped a goal-bound shot. Women have much more sense, but it is to the credit of the Dutch team that there was not a hint of appeal for penalty against the injured defender, it was fully accepted that the fault was that of the attacking striker: that of course is how it should be – and well umpired too.

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.

.

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 8, 2018

Why did this happen.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

How did this happen….

.

.

all but the last two obstructive incidents were ignored by the umpires and even then, the penultimate one was revered on video referral after the silly award of a penalty stroke and the other, the last, was only penalised after several seconds, when a second opponent was obstructed in the same way as the first one continued to be. The penalty given was a penalty corner and not the penalty stroke that should have been awarded.

…. from this?

9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball. (The Rule, aside from the clauses relating to third party and the clause ‘physically interfering with the stick or body of an opponent’ , assumes possession of 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. (my bold and upper case).

(I have not here included the clauses that describe third party obstruction)

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

Restating the last clause above in its parts and in the prohibitive format previously used.

A player in possession of the ball is not permitted to:-

move bodily into an opponent

move into a position between the ball and an opponent who is attempting to play at the ball.

The clauses ……

Players obstruct if they:-

back into an opponent (back into the playing reach of an opponent – not into contact with because that action is separately listed)

physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent. (includes interfering with a stick by a stick) 

move bodily into an opponent (physical contact)

…….do not require that an opponent (a tackler) be attempting to play at the ball at the time of the given action. This is reasonable because backing into the playing reach of an opponent (forcing retreat to avoid physical contact) or physical contact/interference by a ball holder with an opponent who is trying to position to tackle could make a tackle attempt impossible or make an attempt to tackle unfairly difficult.

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

The complete list:-

Players obstruct if they:-

move bodily into an opponent

physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent.

back into an opponent

move into a position between the ball and an opponent who is attempting to play at the ball.

(that is ball shielding to prevent a tackle attempt without there being any form of physical contact).

The unsatisfactory answers to How? and Why? are “Interpretation” and “The acceptance of this interpretation”.

But where do these interpretations come from? That appears to be anybodies guess.

I can’t see any reason that the interpretations of the actions seen in the video clips (that ‘saw’ nearly all of them as legitimate play) should be accepted by anybody, because such interpretation is clearly contrary (provided word meanings remain consistent) to what is given in Rule 9.12 Obstruction.

Are word meanings reasonably consistent? Is it likely (probable) that A player shall not move bodily into an opponent has several meanings in this time and place and one of them is that players are permitted to move bodily into an opponent – and, irrationally, that is the one used in hockey? If this is so we can despair of ever having a written Rules of Hockey that is adhered to.

It must however be acknowledged that for many years, from 1993 to 2004 for example, we had a provided interpretation in the back of the rule-book that could not be adhered to. That it was written by someone who did not understand how hockey is played is evident from the fact that he wrote it as he did. It contained the same kind of impossible conditions and contradictions that ‘The Lifted Ball’, an umpire coaching document by the same author, contained. Here is part of it:-

The Moving Player

The variations in this instance are many but the principles are:

∙ the onus is on the tackler to be in, and if necessary move to, a position from which a legitimate tackle can be made. Once in the correct position the following conditions must also be satisfied before obstruction can occur.

∙ there must be an intention to make a tackle. in essence the tackler must be attempting to move the stick towards the ball.

∙ the timing of the tackle must be precise because, until the tackler is in a tackling position and intending to make the tackle, the player with the ball may move off with the ball in any direction (except bodily into the tackler).

This interpretation of obstruction allows 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.

However, umpires should note certain forms of obstruction which are often incorrectly overlooked. In particular, preventing a legitimate tackle by intentionally 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 to shield or protect the ball from a legitimate tackle.

To be fair, the above interpretation was written about the exemption from the Obstruction Rule of a player who was in the act of receiving the ball, and it was not intended as an interpretation of obstruction at all (which remained exactly as it had before 1993. What constituted an obstructive action, the criteria for obstruction, continued to be exactly as it had been previously) but as an explanation of an exception to the Obstruction Rule, vis-a-vis tackling, when the ball was being received by a player: the dramatic change the author sat down to write about and mistakenly called a new interpretation.

This ‘new interpretation’ was very quickly being applied to a player who was already in controlled possession of the ball – not at all what was intended to be taken from what was written in the first four paragraphs above – and this mistake became universal as it was copied and ‘cascaded’.

Why there was differentiation made between a stationary receiving player and a moving receiving player, I can’t even guess. A more sensible differentiation could and should have been made between a player already  in controlled possession of the ball and a player receiving the ball – moving or stationary. The stationary/moving divide only confused participants further because there is in fact no difference in the application of the Obstruction Rule between them.

The part about a player already in controlled possession of the ball begins at paragraph five with “However, umpires should note certain forms of obstruction which are often incorrectly overlooked. In particular, preventing a legitimate tackle by intentionally shielding the ball with the body or leg is obstruction.and that paragraph is all the attention body obstruction by a player in possession of the ball (the most frequently contravention) gets in “the new interpretation” – and it is mistaken, bringing into consideration for the first time an intention to illegally shield the ball from an opponent, which has never been a consideration. Shielding the ball can be obstruction, but as an obstruction offence must be forced by an attempt by a tackler to play at the ball, intent to obstruct is irrelevant if there is obstruction.

In 2001 the words in the first paragraph “and if necessarywere deleted (I don’t know for certain why, there was no explanation offered at the time, but the cynic in me can make a guess). The 1993 ‘interpretation’ otherwise remained, as presented in part above, until the rule-book was re-formatted and rewritten in 2004 – when it was deleted. Hockey coaches and umpires in the meantime (and since, despite its deletion) have used this ‘interpretation’ to destroy the game by coaching and applying it inappropriately.

In 2009  the Explanation of Application clause to the rewritten Rule, A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent., was extended, 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.

But this damage limitation attempt, the last amendment made to the Obstruction Rule by the FIH Hockey Rules Board, was too little too late (the penalising of obstruction had practically vanished by then) and most umpires today seem to be unaware of it – never mind to be applying it. This is generally because they are still applying the interpretation of ‘attempting to play at the ball’, extent up until 2003 (which was as explained above originally intended to be applied to a player attempting to tackle an opponent who was in the act of receiving the ball  – the ‘interpretation’ came instead to be about the positioning of a tackler and not about a player committing an obstruction offence). This ‘interpretation’ (which included the pre-2004 version) was handed down by word of mouth from older umpires to those taking their places with all the personal opinion, inconsistency, variation and mistake such a method of communication enjoys.

The only mention, following the 2004 deletion and rewrite, the revolutionary exception of 1993 gets in the 2009 (and the current) Obstruction Rule, is a statement that a stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to be facing in any direction. How’s that for clarification? The current, mistaken, view, ‘interpretation’ coming from that statement, is that a player in possession of the ball may at any time be standing facing in any direction regardless of the positioning of opponents and the position of the ball; not at all what the Rule now stipulates and not what was intended in 1993.

The story of the ‘development’ of the interpretation of the Obstruction Rule is one of a losing battle, beginning I think with the idea that a stationary player in possession of the ball could not obstruct, even if facing his or her own goal and within the playing reach of opponents who were intent on playing at the ball which came from this:-

OBSTRUCTION AND INTERFERENCE (Rue 13.1.4)

This note describes two primary playing circumstances: the stationary player and the moving player.

The principles are :

The Stationary Player
∙ the receiving, stationary, player may be facing in any direction
∙ the onus is on the tackler to move into position, for example usually to move round the receiver to attempt a legitimate tackle

No tackler with any common sense is going to try to tackle by moving around a stationary opponent in possession of the ball – the ball holder will of course just turn away in the opposite direction and into the space just vacated by his or her opponent. This interpretation just set up a situation where a single tackler could not tackle a competent player who had possession of the ball and who was prepared to shield it and wait for a tackle attempt or for team support (it slowed the game and ‘holding’ the ball in the corner of the pitch or against a base-line or side-line became a common tactic). The above Interpretation was deleted in 2004. Only this fragment of it remains in current Rule.

a stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to be facing in any direction    (this does not state that a player in possession of the ball is permitted to be facing in any direction when an opponent is attempting to play at the ball)

Cris Maloney an American umpire coach is currently coaching what he says FIH Umpires are doing, that is going beyond the above ‘stationary player’ statement to include a player in possession of the ball and also allowing a ball holder to move backwards towards an opponent while shielding the ball from that opponent – as long as the ball holder does not make physical contact with the opponent – which is his own interpretation.

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

But it is clear from the video posted at the head of this article that that ‘interpretation’ is ‘old hat’. FIH Umpires have for many years been allowing full-on contact by a player who is receiving the ball or who is in controlled  possession of the ball – it’s only an opponent who positions to block the ball or who attempts to tackle such a player, who risks being penalised – for impeding or physical contact. The application of the Rules – some Rules more than others – is in a state of anarchy. The back-into interpretation presently being promoted by Cris Maloney et al was but a step along the way.

Hockey has generally become ugly and less, not more skillful, as it should have done, over the last twenty-five years. Oh, we see videos of people with amazing juggling skills practicing in uncontested situations, moves that are not legal in a hockey match, but the free-flowing passing and dribbling game, the ‘new interpretation’ was supposed to herald an expansion of, has all but vanished. The fact that defenders can shield the ball and move with it while shielding it without any fear of penalty, equates with the unwelcome turning, shielding and barging tactics of attackers trying to penetrate the shooting circle in possession of the ball and turns hockey into a farce, a game without properly applied Rules.

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 3, 2018

Where the offence occurred

FIELD HOCKEY RULES
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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.

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.

The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.

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.

 When any play is dangerous play in midfield a similar play when a shot at the goal is taken  has also to be considered dangerous play – the same play must be treated in the same way in both circumstances.

The legality of a lifted hit is an entirely different matter from dangerous play – although a raised hit may be directly dangerous to another player or lead to dangerous play, it may not always do so. I have yet to see a raised hit-shot at a goal that was hit above the standing head height of a defender or a drag-flick that was going over or, not close to but past the head of a ducking defender on the goal-line, penalised as dangerous play – and it is unlikely I ever will, because evasive action is not necessary in such circumstances and therefore cannot be legitimate (necessary, genuine, rather than legal, evasive action is always legal).

The word ‘also’, recently added to the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.8. A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players. although useful in other circumstances ‘muddies the water’ a bit in the scenario shown in the video, but there should be no confusion if common sense is applied. (An impossibility I know)

The correct location of a free ball (or penalising the right team for the wrong offence) may seem trivial matters, but if umpiring is seen by players to become this sloppy or mistaken  they quickly lose confidence in the judgement of umpires and this can have an effect when the umpires are making more important – game result changing – decisions.

The free ball should have been awarded for the intentional raising of the ball with a hit, not for dangerous play – as it happened the danger (if there was any danger) was not caused at the place it occurred – a distinction lost on those who do not understand that there is a difference between the meanings of ’caused’ and ‘occurred’ –

It is interesting that the umpire who did not penalise the hitter (or was it the other way about?) did not intervene when his colleague ordered a free ball taken, for an offence that did not occur, about 20m from where it should have been taken for the offence that did occur. A double ‘brain fade’ or umpires so intent on supporting each other that one would not correct the other even when the mistake made was obvious? There is an element of this apparent in some video referrals: it should not happen, the umpires should work together to achieve the correct decision – not just to spare each others blushes.

Even if there was endangerment of the NED midfielder the free ball should have been awarded for the intentionally raised hit – it would have been the first offence and much the nearer to the BEL goal – so a penalty awarded where the offence occurred and the more advantageous positioning for the team offended against.

Here is another similar type of odd decision about the placement of a free ball following an intentionally raised hit. The first offence was the illegal hit not the illegal contesting for the aerial ball at the place it was landing. The free ball was placed some 40m behind where it should have been.

 

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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 can 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 (not seen?) 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 (so the IND team are 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, thus 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 across the circle towards the ARG goal.(to the disadvantage of an ARG defender and the ARG team) 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’ve 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 not only ignores the wording of the Rule it 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 26, 2018

A gap

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A gap or a black hole into which all common sense disappears?

CANT.  noun

  1. 1.
    hypocritical and sanctimonious talk, typically of a moral, religious, or political nature.
  2. 2.
    language specific to a particular group or profession and regarded with disparagement.

The following statements appear to be cant – They are generally treated as such by both players and umpires.

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.

Rule 9. Conduct of play : players
Players are expected to act responsibly at all times.

Rule 9.9. 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.

Rule 9.8. A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.

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The gap I am referring to is the one between these two Rule statements, which could and should be bridged.

Rule 9.9. 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.

Rule 9.8. A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.

There is nothing at all (except in the penalty Corner Rules) stated about a hit that is raised towards another player who is within 5m (even though Rule 9.9. is about the intentionally raised hit) and although common sense should bridge this gap all too often it does not. The absence of reference to a raised hit in open play – unless it is clearly intentionally raised – allows idiots (those people without any common sense) to declare that it is not illegal to raise the ball with a hit into a close opponent – and they do declare it – often.

Oddly the only time a ball may legally be raised with a hit is when a player is shooting at the opponents goal from within their circle (precisely when a raised hit is most likely to be dangerous to opponents, who will of course be trying to defend the goal). Shooting at the goal is not the same thing as shooting at or through opponents who are positioned between the shooter and the goal – such action may be illegal i.e. contrary to Rule – but that fact has yet to be accepted by many players and umpires.

Two other missing criteria are necessary to make good sense and enable consistent application of the Rules concerning the endangerment of another player when the ball has been propelled towards that player – shot at goal or not. The first is a minimum height limit.

It is common practice to adopt “knee height or above” from the criteria for a legal first hit shot at the goal made during the taking of a penalty corner even though that conflicts with Rule 9.9 (re flicks and scoops) which gives no height criteria at all – so any such raising of the ball into another player should be considered illegal. However, the Umpire Manager’s Briefing for FIH umpire at Tournaments ambiguously and in conflict states:-

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Low balls over defenders sticks in a controlled manner that hit half shin pad are not dangerous.

The UMB is produced by the FIH Umpiring Committee and I have been informed by the Secretary of the FIH Rules Committee that it is produced in liaison with the FIH RC. That seems to me to be a way of creating ‘Rule’ while circumventing the approval of the FIH Executive, which Rules must have, but I put that objection to one side for the moment.

The half-shin pad height advice has been in the UMB for a number of years. Why, if it is there with the approval of the FIH RC, has the FIH RC not incorporated it (in clear form) into the Rules of Hockey? Why do the Rules of Hockey make no reference at all to a hit raised towards another player – other than “causes legitimate evasive action” (which can be applied to a ball raised with any stroke), and also a ball raised to above 460mm from a first hit shot taken during a penalty corner ?

In what circumstances is evasive action legitimate? is another difficult question, which brings us to the second missing criteria, ball velocity (although there is a lot yet to be said about distances and height limits – 5m cannot be the only distance employed in judgement of ‘dangerous’ and nor can ‘knee height or above’ and ‘half-shin pad’ be the only height guidance provided). A height limit of sternum or elbow height for any ball propelled towards another player beyond 5m distance (a drag-flick during a penalty corner for example) is I think worth serious consideration.

Ball velocity is the only criterion for dangerous which requires an element of subjective judgement. Velocity can be determined objectively by comparing for example the ball velocity of a hit made with maximum power or the velocity a flick that will fall to ground before it has travelled 5m, but the umpire is still relying heavily on personal perception. Possibly the most useful subjective judgement umpires can make is to ask themselves “If that ball hit me would it hurt/injure/incapacitate me? If a player is obviously injured and/or incapacitated following being hit with a raised ball the question is mute. it is however an important question if the evasive action is successful – successful evasion of the ball by the player it has been raised at does not make an illegally (a dangerously) raised ball a safe one. Nor is a ball raised towards a player safe if that player is hit with it when he or she has had no opportunity to take evasive action.

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In the first and third videos below evasive action is successfully taken (in the third video by the defender nearer to the ball at the time it was hit; the second defender, who was probably sight blocked by the first defender, was hit with the ball).

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In the above incident the flicker propelled the ball high and directly at the first runner, the runner evaded the ball (there had therefore already been a dangerous play offence before the player on the goal-line was hit with the ball). Because the runner was sight-blocking the post-man had no time to find,track and play or evade the ball, he suffered a fractured skull and a perforated ear drum.(which the umpire could not immediately know, but serious injury was obvious)  A penalty stroke was awarded.

This ‘lining up’ and targeting of defending players was done deliberately, I have other videos of the same team and flicker using exactly the same tactic in other matches. Here is one with the same flicker:-

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How does it work? If the first defender stops or deflects the ball away with his body another penalty corner is awarded, otherwise the second defender is either hit with the ball and a penalty stroke awarded or he manages to evade the ball and a goal is awarded. It does not enter the heads of umpires to penalise a shooter for dangerous play.

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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 The Umpire Manager at this Tournament was Jan Hadfield)

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 (which I see as reckless self-endangerment by the attacker) even though the goalkeeper played the ball away from the attacker and not at or across her a penalty corner was awarded against the goalkeeper’s team.

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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 by a defender).

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  – an immediate or ‘knee jerk reaction’ – 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 three objective criteria for a dangerously played ball (which have  been adopted by ‘umpiring practice’ into general open play) they are ‘at a player’, ‘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 criteria 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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In answer to the point made in the last paragraph above .This (video 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, perhaps even POV, 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 by that umpire 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.

The umpire made an understandable mistake but there is no possible excuse for these errors in an umpire coaching video and there was no excuse for the video umpire confirming his decision.



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’ and there is a  need for more on pitch officials.

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

Attempting to play the ball

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Attempting to play the ball.

There are two videos about obstruction presented by the FIH Umpiring Committee via dartfish.com which refer to an attempt to play at the ball.

The Interpretation given on the Dartfish website of the above incident is as follows:-
The ARG attacker enters the 23 metres area and just before she reaches the edge of the circle plays a pass which is intended for her team mate. The GER defender tries to intercept the pass, but the ball deflects off her stick. The GER defender regains control of the ball. The second ARG attacker tries to claim that she is being obstructed. The Umpire allows play to continue, because at no point did the second ARG attacker ever legitimately attempt to play the ball.

The GER player who blocks the ARG player who is trying to move towards the ball clearly commits three offences 1) physical contact 2) Interference 3) Third-party Obstruction and whoever wrote the above interpretation, supporting the decision made by the match umpire, lacks not only Rule knowledge but common sense. There was no attempt by the ARG player to play at the ball because she was illegally prevented from getting to within playing distance of the ball when trying to do so.

The interpretation provided on the website with the next video is:-
The GER team try and pass the ball out of defence. The GER player receives the ball and initially moves it out of the playing distance of the ARG player. When the GER player turns with the ball, the ARG player is not actively trying to tackle or play the ball, so there is no obstruction. When the GER player plays the ball over the stick of the ARG player, it runs out of her playing distance for an ARG side-line ball. The contact between the two players’ sticks is accidental and does not affect play.

There is a substantial chunk of the action missing from the actions described in the provided interpretation which can be seen in the video. I have embedded comment in my remake of the video and included slow-mo of the relevant action.

Both of the above interpretations, which declare no tackle attempt was made, are absurd, taking no account of the prevention of a tackle attempt or the illegal thwarting of a tackle attempt as it was in progress (initially, in the second video, by stepping over the stick of the player attempting to tackle as she was reaching for the ball and bodily blocking her path to it). Both interpretations support the decisions made by the match umpires: what a surprise !!

My previous objections to the inclusion of these two videos (and many others) presented as umpire coaching go back to the launch date of FIH Umpire Committee sponsored coaching on the Dartfish website – a potentially great coaching tool is being mismanaged and wasted by those responsible for producing the interpretations, mainly because they ‘bend over backwards’ to support decisions made by match umpires no matter, as in the two examples above, how mistaken they were.

Cris Maloney refers in his coaching session (see link below) to “What FIH Umpires are doing” as justification for the interpretation he is coaching. Here is an example of what they are doing.

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This umpire allows the NED defender to ‘crab’ along the base-line and to move into the playing reach of the GER forward while  – deliberately – shielding the ball from her opponent and thereby preventing an attempt by that opponent to make a legitimate tackle.The GER player would immediately have been able to play directly at the ball if the NED player had not shielded it from her in the way that she did.

(moving along a line in this way was an action which umpires were advised to watch for (penalise) up until 2003, when it was deleted from Advice to Umpires without comment. This instruction needs to be restored to the Explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule – along with 2) turning into and pushing past, and 3) standing still and shielding the ball when under pressure – the latter also seen in the video – described ‘watch for’ actions which were deleted at the same time as shielding the ball while moving along a line was).

The umpire does not penalise until a second GER forward attempts to tackle for the ball and is also obstructed in the same way while the first one continues to be obstructed. The penalty awarded was a penalty corner and not as it should have been, because there was nothing accidental about this obstruction, a penalty stroke. The obstructing player obviously had no idea she was committing an offence. Why not?

Common sense should have told this umpire that a deliberate obstruction offence was occurring ‘right under her nose’ long before she did intervene.

(Incidentally the earlier breakdown tackle near the centre of the circle looks like an offence that should have been penalised with a penalty stroke)

 

This following example is worse, the umpire awards the offending NED player (who commits three offences) a free ball.

Cris Maloney (https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation/) would doubtless have seen the first action by the NED defender after he got possession of the ball as backing into, because there was physical contact, but the FIH Umpire concerned did not. Why not? Will Cris Maloney eventually follow what this umpire, and others, are doing?

On the above evidence, basing Rule application on a clear understanding of the written Rule, obtained by using literal interpretation of the wording, is more likely to produce sensible decisions than copying what other umpires are doing, no matter what level they may have reached, because it is often impossible to know why they are doing what they do – and the “Why?” or “Why not?” is important.

I doubt that the umpire who made the above decision could explain why he did not penalised the NED player for obstruction and/or physical contact, the offences could hardly have been clearer and the written descriptions of them in the Explanation of application of Rule 9.12 are clear enough to be fit for purpose if common sense is also employed.

 

I hope no other umpires will follow these examples.


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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 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. 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 a Rule of hockey. Obstruction

Corrected and amended 21 June 2018

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 keeping the ball open to 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 use the body 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 when there is no obstruction becomes for competent players almost as easy as it is in basketball, but hockey then becomes duller than basketball (which has generally unenforced physical contact Rules) 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 ‘new interpretation’, (the misnomer give to the guidance which contained the exception to the Rule allowed to a receiver of the ball which was introduced in 1993 – it was and is an exception to the Rule not a new interpretation of the criteria for an obstruction offence, which remained and  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 that 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 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.

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. (This is almost the opposite of the ‘onus’ on the tackler to position to tackle by going around a ball shielding opponent, which was contained in the original (1993) Rule Interpretation – the onus on a ball holder not to obstruct was in that interpretation ignored)

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 by ball shielding.

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. When a ball holder moves into an opponent in either of the ways described in this clause the opponent who is being moved into is no longer obliged to demonstrate that an attempt is being made to play at the ball because such moving into will generally prevent a tackler (who may be forced to retreat to avoid contact) from attempting to execute a legal tackle.

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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 during this time 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 before an opponent is within playing reach of the ball or after having first 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 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 immediately 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 who is 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?

The 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 in 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 ‘manufactured’ 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 apparently no such thing as obstruction even when there is physical contact caused by the attacker) is the shootout.

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