January 28, 2019

Anticipating play

I have posed some questions about the situation in the picture below supposing the person replying to be the match umpire, but there is no need to be a full time umpire to give an answer, all participants in hockey matches are obliged to be aware of the Rules and perform according to them – so every participant should be capable of forming an opinion and most people who can read and write English should be capable of expressing that opinion.

What has been the response so far? There hasn’t been any, no one has ventured an opinion and I wonder why. Is it fear of ridicule, of being thought wrong by me or someone else? That seems unlikely because people have been only too willing in the past to tell me I am wrong when I have expressed opinion about the Rules of Hockey (and I have to admit I am not perfect, I have on occasion been wrong). Is it ignorance? Are there people playing hockey who actually do not know the Rules of the game? I have come across questions in hockey forums where the questioner could have found the answer within a minute or so of looking through a rule-book. Is that just attention seeking (socializing) or is it laziness? Is it disdain, an unwillingness to bother to engage in debate or offer any sort of opinion; disinterest in and boredom with this kind of inquiry, arrogance of a sort? That said I cannot pretend to be surprised at the lack of response. On the typical Internet Hockey Forum a few people make hundreds or even many thousands of contributions but a great many  forum members post one or two or even none at all and they generally do not bother to read topic threads from beginning to end, they just skim through the last post made or only look at the last post a certain favoured individual wrote, because they know that the views of that individual will very seldom clash with their own and thinking or a change of opinon will not be required. The general attitude to the Rules of Hockey among many participants is one of thoughtlessness and apathy, this is often covered by the cry “We  don’t want any more change”

There is something very wrong in the playing situation shown in the picture below because if the Rules of Hockey were being applied properly it shows positioning that would NEVER occur in any match played by competent players who were conscious of observing the Rules or of keeping the risk of being penalised for an offence to a minimum – and at international level one must assume players are more than just competent, but such positioning frequently occurs and it is done deliberately.

 

Field Hockey Rules.

Suppose yourself to be the umpire appointed to officiate. The player in possession of the ball is a defender. What do you anticipate might happen next? (Consider both a breach of Rule by a tackler and a breach of Rule by the defender in possession of the ball)


If what you anticipate may happen does happen, a) describe it and b) state how you would respond to it (how penalise it) in both cases.

Think about how you would consider the intentions of the players.

Two of the most relevant Rules in the above situation – the fairly clear and very strictly applied Rule 9.13, which is supposed to be a balance for the very poorly written Rule 9.12, which is hardly applied at all, are presented below.

(For reasons for failure to apply the Rules see other articles on the Obstruction Rule such as :- https://martinzigzag.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation/ )

9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact.
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.

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) when a penalty corner is being taken.

November 29, 2018

Authority and unwanted Rules

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.
(a misuse of the word “explicitly”, I think what was meant was “exclusively”)

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 the Explanation of application 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 and low velocity 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 the intention to raise the ball, but in the majority of cases it is perfectly clear when there is intention by the hitter – 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:-

 The UMB contradicts the Rule instruction to consider intent and tells an umpire to consider only danger caused if the ball is raised with a hit.

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 Umpire Manager 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 the umpire’s performance and that report will have a bearing on his or her future appointments and the chance of promotion within the ranks of umpires – so the reason is self interest.

By-the-by in 1998 It was announced in the Preface of the Rules of Hockey that the (sic) new format of the rule-book included all the material which had previously been contained in umpire briefings – and so in future separate briefing papers would no longer be required. The fight continues, about a year ago I was informed by an FIH official who was replying to me (an official who is no longer with the FIH) that I was in a minority of one in wanting the separately published UMB discontinued – so in other words something that had Executive approval was not long afterwards completely disavowed by administrators despite never have been formally revoked by the FIH.

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, can amend Rule or provide Rule Interpretation. The FIH Rules Committee cannot be overruled in matters of Rule and Rule Interpretation – not even by the FIH Umpiring Committee. The only way forward when change is required 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 (exclusively) 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 and 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 (it’s 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 application 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,  ignoring any intent to raise the ball; an obvious nonsense given the wording of the Rule – and a very unfair one. The exception to the Rule, accidentally raising the ball with a hit not being an offence, has replaced the Rule and intention is simply disregarded.

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 of this planned tactic. Comment elsewhere has pointed to the possible disappointment of the spectators if such a spectacular ‘goal’ had been disallowed. I think more about the deliberate cheating and the certain dismay of the Indian players that it was awarded (and it was the only goal of the match).

In the above video not only the match commentator (but a former FIH Umpire, Keely Dunn – who posted and commentated on the above video) are wrong in considering this foul play to be “superb” or “magnificent”, an intentional and planned contravention of Rule, which this action obviously was, should never be so described. A deliberate offence is cheating and foul play no matter how well executed.

In the video below the pass from near the half-way line was wrongly praised as “great skill” by the match commentator. Yes, it was made with excellent weight and direction and caused no danger, but it was made in an illegal way and to the disadvantage of opponents, it should have been penalised under current Rule (the same pass could in any case have been made in a legal way with a scoop stroke) There is no point in having Rules to control specific actions if these Rules are ignored.

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, because of the evasive action taken, 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 or how it should be 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 from one end of the pitch to the other. The reason given at the time for banning such hitting was because it led to boring play rather than the real (possibly seen as ‘wimpy’) reason, which was that it was dangerous or potentially dangerous play.

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 long and high 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 then extant prohibition on raising the ball into the circle (with any stroke), 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 unless taking a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle, the ball could not be raised with a hit into the circle, could it?- How wrong that supposition turned out to be.

Would restoring the ban on any raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit (and perhaps a height limit on other strokes and deflections) lead to fairer umpiring? It should do. It should at least lead to more consistent umpiring. Few umpires confuse raised with not raised, but most are apparently (and unsurprisingly, given they are effectively told to ignore it) very poor at determining intent.

I recall a Commonwealth Final some years ago, again 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, forcing 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 inside the Indian circle and it was deflected high into the Indian net. The deflected shot was so spectacular that everybody, including the umpire, just forgot the Rules and a goal was awarded. As in the first video above the Indian team did not deserve to win that match but neither did they deserve to lose it like that.

Dangerous play.

The other part of the Explanation of Rule 9.9 does not explain anything that is actually written in the Rule Proper (which is only 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.(my upper case bold)

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 (ignoring danger caused by raising the ball into an opponent- is contrary to the advice given in the UMB as well as in 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 dealt with.

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 often do even though they have no authority whatsoever to pick and choose which Rules or bits of Rules, to apply as given in the rule-book 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 their ‘accepted’ application of them.

Authority

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. The wording of that Executive Circular could usefully have been added to the preamble in the Preface of the Rules of Hockey under the title Authority, just as the emphasis on safety (ha ha) is included each year under Responsibility and Liability. 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 entirely 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.

He could not be more wrong, umpires and even umpire managers are not the FIH Executive (and even the FIH Executive cannot unilaterally introduce or amend a Rule – it approves such changes made by the FIH Rule Committee – who are also unable to unilaterally impose new Rule).

It only takes a few minutes considering the consequences of the above statement by Michael Margolien  to realize that it is a path to chaos – and it is anarchy. (Changes to ‘umpiring practice’ in regard to Rule application, made via umpire briefings, are in large part responsible for confusion about the Rules and the perception, which is inaccurate, that “The FIH are always (unnecessarily) changing the Rules“).

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 ‘their 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). Edge hitting and a game of four quarters 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 (our annoyance at changes) 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 umpires (especially in Europe, Australia and the Americas) are currently interpreting them (with the Asian teams being dragged reluctantly along the same path)

The Royal Dutch Hockey Board are as I write, instructing umpires that legitimate evasive action does not apply to a defender defending the goal while positioned on the goal-line during a penalty corner. That instruction has been brought to the attention of the FIH Rules Committee. I am interested to see how they are going to react to this invention by the KNHB.

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. The FIH Executive in turn appoints a Rules Committee which is given sole authority to issue Rules and the Interpretations of those Rules – which the Executive must then approve before they become official – so that the game is played in the way desired by Congress. What is not clear is exactly how much influence Congress actually exert in the drafting of new Rule or how they do so. A Congressional Inquiry into the Rules of Hockey might provide a way forward.

Umpires (unless they lobby the FIH RC as individuals or via their National Associations) have no direct part in making Rules or Interpretations of (the wording of) Rules while umpiring (despite what the Australian Umpire Coach Jan Hadfield might think). Their task while umpiring is to apply the Rules as instructed by the FIH Rules Committee. (so with the assistance of the FIH Umpiring Committeewho are said to 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 (probably via their National Association) 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, especially when that opinion conflicts with FIH RC instruction (For example the bizarre invention, which appeared during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, that an ‘on target’ shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play)  Nor can it be instruction issued solely by any National Umpiring Association, none of these individuals or bodies have this authority.

We sometimes hear of the FIH fining or threatening to fine a National Hockey Association if they fail to turn up to participate in an FIH Tournament – and the fines are heavy. It would I think be a good idea if the FIH similarly fined National Associations who invent amendments to the Rules of Hockey and allow them to be applied without first seeking and obtaining the approval of the FIH Executive via the FIH Rules Committee.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/06/24/an-unwanted-rule/

June 20, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part one (10)

Rules of Hockey

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.

I think this Rule ties with the Obstruction Rule as the most badly applied Rule in the rule-book but the Ball-body contact Rule is more miss-applied (applied when it should not be) and the Obstruction Rule the least applied when it should be applied. In third place I would put the Rules concerning a dangerously played ball – again not applied when it should be.

It might be thought that a rewording of the Rule might improve the matter*, for example restoring the word “intentionally” to the Rule Proper rather than referring to intent only in the Explanation of Rule Application (the part in italics).
*The matter is an apparent belief that any and all ball foot contact in particular, but any and all ball body contact by a player, is an offence that should be penalised unless there is a very substantial advantage to be gained by the opposing team by not penalising. There is large body of support for this utterly wrong interpretation of the wording.

Video examples in this article on the same subject :-

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/29/if-only-only-if/

but my researches have led me to the conclusion that a change to either the wording of the Rule Proper or the wording of the Explanation is not the answer. Here is a Rule instruction that was contained in rule-books prior to 1998.

Players should not be penalised when the ball is played at them from a short distance.

It was completely ignored by umpires and the FIH dealt with that by removing the instruction.

The Rule proper was briefly amended to say that for a ball-body contact to be an offence the contact had to be deliberately made and (not or) gain an advantage for the team of the player who used his body to stop or deflect the ball. Umpires ignored that too, they just carried on penalising ball-body contact as they habitually had previously. That change was quickly withdrawn.

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.

.

.


Players who have been active participants for about fifteen years will remember (before and after) the replacement of “intentionally” with the word “voluntarily” and the attempt by the FIH Rules Committee, post 2006, to remove “gains benefit” from the criteria for this offence.

This resulted in a small group of officials within the FIH Umpiring Committee ‘overruling’ the FIH Rules Committee (an impossibility) and insisting that “gains benefit” be continue to be applied as it was in 2006, even though it no longer appeared in the Rule in the published rule-book.

(“Gains an advantage”, a much older wording, then replaced “Gains benefit” in the rule-book, but not before 2016, a gap of eight years). This saga gives a good idea of the stranglehold the FIH Umpiring Committee, who do not have the authority to make or amend Rule or the Interpretation of Rule, have on umpiring practice – which many if not most umpires follow as if it is (has to be) correct Rule and correct Interpretation.

“Gains benefit” was a blanket ‘catch-all’ with many umpires following the idea that any ball body contact would always gain an advantage for the team of the player who made the contact – even if the contact was forced – which is why the FIH Rules Committee wanted to remove it. But removing it completely was a mistake, it simply needed amendment in the hope of achieving a more realistic application. There are occasions when unfair benefit is gained by a ball-body contact.

The Rule needs a different approach. I have written a suggested replacement which I hope will provide that different approach. The emphasis, contained in an exception, is on ball body contact by a player who is in possession of the ball, rather than on a defender who is trying to tackle for or to intercept the ball.

9.11 Field players must not intentionally stop, deflect, 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. The penalty is awarded on the basis of an undue and unfair gain of benefit from the contact.

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. ‘Losing control of the ball’ so that it runs into the feet of an opponent is not a skill and nor is passing the ball into the feet of an opponent, that is a miss-pass.

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 (for a breach of the conditions of Rule 9.9).  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 and presenting the stick (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 clearly 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.

 

 

 

 

 

June 19, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part one (9)

Rules of Hockey

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.

The above Rule statement makes an assumption that the following earlier version does not make.

A player receiving a raised ball must be given the opportunity to
play it safely. If the receiving player is clear of other players at the
time the ball is raised, no players of the opposing team should
approach within 5 metres until the ball has been received,
controlled and is on the ground. Any [opposing] player doing so should be
penalised.

If the receiving player is clear of other players at the time the ball is raised The current Rule appears to assume that no defending player is within 5m of the intended receiver at the time the ball is received and makes little provision for dealing with situations where a defending player is close to – marking – the intended receiver at the time the ball is raised (a circumstance that means that the intended receiver cannot be the initial receiver). What action does “allow to receive” direct an opponent to take? None at all.

I played in Germany a number of hockey festivals in my younger days and recall vividly the difficulty the British players had in dealing with the interpretation of “If the receiving player is clear of other players at the time the ball is raised” that seemed to apply there. It seemed to work on the basis that a receiver should be in so much space at the time the ball was raised that no opponent could get to within five yards him (even if they tried to do so) before he received the ball – in these circumstances there were few direct passes but many passes into space beyond the receiver for him to run onto (this was easier at the time because there was still an off-side Rule and a high scoop pass could sometimes ‘spring’ an attempted off-side trap). The idea of passing with a high scoop pass directly to a team-mate who was level with an opponent and only six or seven yards away from him, shocked the German players and their umpires would not allow it (we were advised not to try to make direct passes). Any player who made what was seen as a dangerous scoop pass (because of the proximity of opponents to the intended receiver) was penalised at the place from which he raised the ball.

Back in the UK in the 1970s as a center-half I could, in contrast, accept a centre re-start pass-back and launch a high aerial to fall into the opponent’s circle between the penalty spot and the goal while the attackers in my team charged in to punish any defender (often only the goalkeeper) who failed to control or direct the ball away with the first touch .  On the following occasion the right-winger tended to be available and expecting a similar pass. That practice was ‘hit on the head’ with the reintroduction of the Rule to forbid raising the ball into the circle (which had been extant in my school days) – so the flanks got more service- that Rule has now been deleted, yet again, following the introduction of the Rule forbidding (but not really – “forget lifted”) an intentionally raised hit.

Anyway offside was abolished but the Rule the parameters concerning receiving an aerial ball were not amended in any way. These days penalty in nearly all circumstances is awarded at the place a high raised pass is landing – the exception is endangerment of an opponent as the ball is raised (but that is not penalised nearly enough)

Nowadays players seem to be allowed to play an aerial pass to a teammate who is perhaps no more than three meters from his nearest opponent and opponents charge right in as the receiver tries to play at the ball – long before it is in control on the ground – usually without penalty.

In this situation there has recently been Rule change to permit the playing of the ball at any reachable distance above shoulder height. At a time when more aerial passes are played than at any time in the past and the results are potentially more dangerous, the Rule is ‘fuzzy’ and what there is of it is poorly applied. I took full advantage of being able to drop aerial passes like mortar-bombs on hapless defenders who were offered no protection by umpires from the actions of in-running attackers. I expect current players to do the same kind of thing when given the opportunity. But this kind of dangerous play (going from poacher to gamekeeper) can be prevented with clear and enforced Rule. The start point has got to be the conditions under which a direct aerial pass with a scoop or flick will be permitted, but there are a number of common and complicated scenarios that need to be ruled for.

An aerial pass is made with a flick or scoop stroke or an intentional deflection. An aerial pass (‘aerial’ will be used to denote the ball being raised at the apex of its flight to a height beyond the reach of the sticks of players) may not be made by a player directly to a member of the same team (the intended receiver) if the intended receiver is not at least five meters from the nearest player of the opposing team at the time the ball was raised. Penalty a free ball or penalty corner if the passer is within his own 23m area, against the team of the player who made the aerial pass.

When a legitimate direct aerial pass is made, opposing team players may not close to be within three meters of the receiver until the ball has been played twice with the stick of the receiver or has been played away by the receiver beyond the receiver’s immediate playing reach (or two meters). Penalty for non-compliance, a free ball to the team of the receiver at the place the ball fell, with a yellow card if the ball is contested for while it is still in the air.

Where an indirect aerial pass is made (so that the ball will fall to ground a minimum of five meters from the position the intended receiver was in at the time the ball was raised) and the intended receiver will be the first player to reach the position in which the ball will fall, opposing players, even if they were previously contesting to reach that position first, must immediately and quickly withdraw to be at least three meters from the receiver until the receiver has played the ball twice with the stick or has played the ball away beyond his immediate playing reach. Penalty for non-compliance, a free ball to the team of the receiver at the place the ball fell, with a yellow card if the ball is contested for while it is still in the air.

Where an indirect aerial pass is made and an opposing team player will be (is) the first to reach the position in which the ball will fall, then the intended receiver (the same team as the passer) must be the one to withdraw. Penalty for non-compliance, a free ball to the defending team at the place the ball fell, with a yellow card if the ball is contested for while it is still in the air.

An aerial ball may not be played directly into the circle so that it is still above elbow height as it crosses the circle line.

For the purpose of this Rule an aerial pass that hits ground and bounces high into the circle must be treated as if it had been played directly into the circle. 

Where the ball is lofted accidentally and will fall into the circle, having crossed the circle line at above elbow height,  from a deflection for example, a free ball will be awarded against the team of the player who deflected the ball at the place of the deflection.

I probably have not addressed all of the many possible variations and may need to revise the above suggestion at a later date.

 

June 18, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part one (8)

Rules of Hockey

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.

This Rule was preceded by two others.

First a long established Rule.
A player shall not deliberately raise the ball so that it will fall into the circle

Followed by:-

A player shall not deliberately raise the ball from a HIT, except for a shot at goal.

Which was introduce at a time when raising the ball safely with a hit was perfectly legal, but because (sic) the new ultra stiff carbon fibre reinforced sticks introduced in the early 1980s, facilitate the making of very high pitch length clip or chip hits (from one circle to the other) this quickly led to some very unsafe hitting of lofted balls as well as some ball exchanges that looked more like base-line tennis than hockey. There were also of course an increase in the numbers of instances where there were issues about the receiving of what is now referred to as an aerial ball (a term that has never appeared in any rule-book). It was not necessary to prohibit the raising of the ball with a hit, an absolute height limit of shoulder height would have served the purpose.

We then lost the prohibition on raising the ball into the circle (with a hit) (This was previously a Rule which had forbidden the raising of the ball into the circle with any stroke) because the prohibition was seen as unnecessary if the ball could only be raised with a hit when taking a legitimate shot at the goal.

We then had this written into the UMB.
Blow only in dangerous situations everywhere on the pitch -forget lifted, think danger., which contrasts sharply with:-

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

‘Forgetting’ that the ball that the ball has been illegally raised unless it is also raised dangerously overlooks that an illegally raised ball may have disadvantaged opponents even if it did not endanger any of them – and that is of course unfair.

In any case the UMB should not contradict the Explanation of Application provided with the Rule.  A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.

(I believe whoever drafted that explanation meant to  write “specifically” rather than “explicitly”, because “explicitly” does not make sense in this context).

Umpires generally avoid applying Rule 9.9 anyway (except when the raised ball has very obviously endangered an opponent i.e.  injury is caused) by declaring that they cannot be certain of an intention to raise the ball (just as they declared they could not be certain of an intention to force a ball-body contact onto an opponent when the forcing Rule was extant). The result is that it is now not at all unusual to see players using edge hits and forehand chips and undercut hits into an opposing team’s circle without penalty.

The problems with this Rule can be solved by going back to the original intent – preventing the raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle – but with several differences.

1) Introduce an absolute height limit on any ball raised with a hit in the area outside the opponent’s circle (this could be shoulder height)

2) All raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit is prohibited in all phases of play irrespective of danger or intention. Intention to raise the ball into the opponent’s circle is irrelevant, it is an offence even when there is no intent i.e. it is accidental, the result of a miss-hit or a deflection.

3) Raising the ball into the opponent’s circle with a flick or scoop to be height limited (sternum or elbow height)

4) All raising of the ball in the areas outside the opponent’s circle to follow the criteria for Dangerous Play laid out in Rule 9.8.

5) All shots at the goal to follow the criteria for Dangerous Play laid out in Rule 9.8.

6) A shot at the goal that is not also made directly at an opponent is not height limited.

The above provides a framework for the legitimate and illegitimate raising of the ball with a hit or flick or scoop.

 

 

June 17, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part one (7a)

Rules of Hockey.

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

Use of stick. It is not possible to get perfect fit with current Rule numbering and past Rule numbering because not only did the numbers change the Rule topics were arranged in different groupimgs, so there is now a need for a bit of back and forth. The current Rules separate stick use and a dangerously played ball into two Rules. I am trying to deal with all dangerous play under one Rule.

9.2 Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a
dangerous way.
Players must not lift their stick over the heads of other players.

Previous Rule said more about what dangerous use of the stick was considered to be. There was also a separate Rule which forbade using the stick to trip a player.

Rules of Hockey

A player shall not raise any part of his stick above his shoulder,
either at the beginning or at the end of a stroke, when approaching, attempting to play, playing the ball, or stopping the ball.

That was later amended and expanded.

A player shall not lift the stick over the head of or raise his stick in a
manner that is dangerous, intimidating or hampering to another player when approaching, attempting to play, playing or stopping the ball. A ball above the height of a player’s shoulder shall not be played or played at by any
part of the stick. (For goalkeepers see Rule 12.11(c).)

A player shall not play the ball wildly, or play or kick the ball in such a
way as to be dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play, nor play the ball intentionally into any part of an opponent’s body, including the feet and legs.

The last clause in 2004 became a separate Forcing Rule which for some unexplained reason was deleted in 2011.

 

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As an aside, It was several times in the early part of my playing days permissible to use the hand to catch the ball (the facility was introduced and withdrawn and then reintroduced repeatedly- so there was obviously some ambivalence about allowing it ) as long as neither the hand or arm was moved after the ball was caught and it was then released immediately so that it fell perpendicularly to ground. (just as it was permitted at one time to trap the ball with the instep of the foot or to trap it under the sole. Again the ball had to be released immediately without imparting movement to it and then next played with the stick).
f) A player shall not stop the ball with his hand or catch it.(For goalkeepers see Rule 12.11(c).)

The fact that the FIH HRB are ‘shouting’ the following instruction is an indication that not all umpires were allowing self defence with the hand.

(THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS RULE WHICH PREVENTS A PLAYER USING HIS HAND TO PROTECT HIMSELF FROM A DANGEROUSLY RAISED BALL.)

Use of the hand was last allowed in the stopping of the ball on the ground after insert during a penalty corner. It was discontinued when it was no longer a requirement that the ball be stopped during a penalty corner before a shot was attempted.

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I think this from the earlier Rule to be a more satisfactory wording.

A player shall not lift the stick over the head of or raise his stick in a
manner that is dangerous, intimidating or hampering to another player when approaching, attempting to play, playing or stopping the ball. Nor shall a player A player, play the ball wildly, or play or kick the ball in such a
way as to be dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play, nor play the ball intentionally into any part of an opponent’s body, including the feet and legs.

A small adjustment is needed – A player shall not lift the stick over and across the head of .…… the blanket ban on any raising of the stick above shoulder height can then be amended to prohibit raising the head of the stick above shoulder height when an opponent is (at the start of the stroke) or will be (at the end of the stroke) within playing distance of the ball and is attempting to position to tackle for the ball. At present tacklers get almost no protection at all. The current approach seems to be “It’s their own fault.”

This is an example of the Rules going from one extreme to another. In previous times I saw umpires who were daft enough to penalise a player taking a free ball for ‘sticks’ when no opponent could be within five yards of the taker.
Readers may remember the nasty cut an Argentinian defender received to her face during the London Olympic Final when she was obstructed and tried to reach around the obstructing Dutch player to play at the ball – and got a stick-head into her cheekbone as the result of a high follow through when the ball was hit. Incredibly the restart after that incident was from a side-line ball to the Netherlands team. (It is incidents like that that fuel my strong aversion to ball shielding tactics).

The only times players are now penalised for dangerous stick swings is when they make an ‘air-shot’ when within the playing reach of an opponent. Missing the ball is not an offence, so that does not make a lot of sense, especially when tackling players often have to evade a stick swing when the ball is struck with a hit. This is a example of play where legitimate evasive action does have a place.

Dangerous physical contact.

Rule 9.3. indicates that all physical is prohibited, end of.

Where physical contact also endangers an opponent, the umpire should be awarding at least a yellow card and also a penalty corner where that is permissible. Deliberate contact offences with high risk of injury to an opponent are Red card offences.

June 16, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part one (6)

Rules of Hockey.

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

While playing or attempting to play at the ball a player will possibly  endanger another player as a result of :- 1) the way in which the ball is propelled 2) the way in which the stick is used 3) bodily contact.

I am not in favour of the recent change that confines endangerment to opposing players, on the basis that a player who endangers a team-mate has not disadvantaged opponents, that does not fit with an emphasis on safety. Staff in hospital emergency treatment rooms are not concerned about who was responsible for an injury during a game, only that there is an injury that needs treatment – that is the attitude umpires need to adopt in order to try to prevent injuries occurring.

A player may even recklessly endanger him or her self by, for example, attempting a tackle with a headfirst dive directly into the feet of an opponent. This sort of recklessness must be discouraged with penalty because it is irresponsible.

(Many years ago I issued a yellow card to a player who was hit on the head with an opponent’s stick while attempting a tackle in this way as the opponent was in the act of hitting at the ball. He needed to go off anyway to have his injury treated but the “Don’t do that” message needed to be sent).

Dangerously propelled ball.

A ball has been dangerously propelled when it puts another player at risk of injury, that is obvious, but the Rules as presently written do not require injury or even the potential for injury for there to be dangerous play. We have this from the Explanation of Application of 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.

There is nothing in that Explanation about height or velocity so it is far too severe to be applied literally in every instance and this instruction is thus widely ignored by umpires, the problem with that is that even when flicks and scoops are made at high level and at high velocity towards other players umpires tend to continue ignore this type of endangerment. A second issue with this Explanation is that there appears to be no constraint on any raising of the ball towards another player from beyond 5m. One has only to look at the way in which drag-flicks are propelled during a penalty corner to see how ridiculous this is.

It also needs to be pointed out that a dangerously played ball is defined in Rule 9.8. as a ball propelled in such a way as to cause an opponent to take legitimate evasive action: there is no distance limit given for legitimate evasive action, ergo evasive action is legitimate in any circumstance where a player is obliged to evade the ball to in order to avoid injury, irrespective of the distance of that player from the ball at the time it was propelled. Obviously over distances in excess of twenty or thirty metes a ball will lose velocity and opponents will have ample time to play at it with the stick. But to apply the same criteria to a ball that has been propelled at another player at high velocity, from say six meters, is absurd when the ball may be traveling at a velocity in excess of 120 kph. Umpires are advised several times in the UMB to apply common sense. This is an area where common sense is absent and a Rule change is required.

Ignoring the Rules written by the FIH Rules Committee is connived at by the FIH Umpiring Committee in these two statements in the UMB under the heading Ball off the ground.

Blow only in dangerous situations everywhere on the pitch –
forget lifted, think danger
Low balls over defenders sticks in a controlled manner that hit
half shin pad are not dangerous

These statements directly contradict both Rule 9,9 and the Explanation of what constitutes dangerous play given in the Explanation of Rule 9.9. This is direct contradiction in what is the most important aspect of an umpire’s role – fair play coupled with player safety. There is actually more about dangerous play written in Rule 9.9, which is about an intentionally raised hit, than there is in Rule 9.8. But I will get to Rule 9.9. next.

What needs to be done to rectify the first part of the present Rule 9.8. is obvious, but putting the obvious into clear instructions and then into a Rule is not so easy.

It is also obvious that umpires who apply the ‘standard’ at an opponent within 5m and at knee height or above are not applying the provided Rule about a dangerously raised ball, but adding to it the part of the Penalty Corner Rule which is relates to a first hit shot made during a penalty corner (probably because there is no other objective criterion offered anywhere in the Rules – shoulder height is mentioned in the rule-book, but that height is obviously inappropriate).

They are not going to stop doing that, the habit is too ingrained, so the Rule needs to be reformulated using additional distances, both less than and greater than five meters, and additional heights, both less than and greater than knee height. Ball velocity also needs to be used as a criteria.

We can start at what is supposed to be the current position – any ball raised towards an opponent within 5m is a dangerous play offence (note intent to raise the ball into an opponent is not a consideration for offence if the action occurs).

That is silly, because there is no mention of height or velocity, and it is easy to see why the FIH Umpiring Committee have contradicted it – even though they have no authority whatsoever to do so and should instead have liaised with the FIH Rules Committee to obtain an amendment.

Old Rule is in someways better:-

A player shall not hit [the ball] wildly into an opponent or play or kick the ball in such a way as to be dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play.

How often we see a wild strike at the ball that propels the ball ‘through’ an opponent ‘justified’ as a shot at the goal.

So to start,

Any ball raised towards an opponent from within two meters, at above shoe height and at any velocity, will be considered an offence if it hits the opponent – provided of course that the opponent does not clearly intentionally stop the ball with his or her body when the ball would otherwise not have hit it.

In effect the offence of Forcing is restored but not exactly as it was – height is mentioned, intent is not.

Any ball raised towards an opponent from within five meters, at knee height or above and at a velocity that could cause pain or injury to that opponent will be considered a dangerous play offence. This includes shots made at the goal.

Any ball raised towards an opponent from within twenty meters, at sternum height or above and at a velocity that could cause pain or injury to that opponent will be considered a dangerous play offence. This includes shots made at the goal.

I have abandoned legitimate evasive action as a criterion. It is a subjective judgement which is used to define another subjective judgement (dangerous) and as such is inadequate and totally inappropriate. The only person who can really know if evasive action is legitimate, when the ball is propelled directly at him or her, is the player the ball is propelled at. Evasive action is only obviously not legitimate when the ball would not have hit the ‘evading’ player anyway.

Now to consider “or leads to dangerous play”. The current Rule is the result of a change to wording, that used to read (as above) “or likely to lead to dangerous play” which I think was better because it allowed an umpire to judge for potentially dangerous situations and intervene before there was any actual danger – which if done properly is obviously fairer and safer. Now it seems an umpire has to wait until there is dangerous play following an action that leads to it – which does not fit with an emphasis on safety. I see no reason why these clauses cannot be joined, so we get ” leads or is likely to lead to dangerous play” umpires can then determine their own margins of risk of danger actually occurring.

What are the potentially dangerous actions we are considering? The three most common are probably lofting the ball with a scoop or flick stroke so that it falls into an area where it will be immediately contested for by opponents who are already occupying that area – the subject matter of Rule 9.10, which I will get to in a following post. The second, which is seldom penalised,  is ‘blasting’ the ball directly towards an opponent from close range. This does not really need further comment – it’s clear reckless play, done without any consideration for the safety of another player. The third is bouncing the ball on the stick while ‘taking on’ and trying to ‘beat’ one or more opponents – which I will address here.

There is previous Advice to Umpires on this subject, at one time in the back of rule-books, which might now be considered ancient, but which could (with modification) usefully be resurrected.

The practice of carrying or bouncing the ball on the stick is
disapproved, because it becomes dangerous play when
the player concerned is tackled by an opponent, who is then
forced to play the ball in the air. Whenever it is continued to
this point it should be penalised.

Contesting for the ball in the air is discouraged in other Rule and it makes sense to uniformly discourage it. All that needs to be added to the above text is a height to which the ball may be raised and bounced without attracting penalty for actual or potentially dangerous play. Knee height seems to me to be an appropriate height; much above that and an opponent’s swing at the ball is likely to cause a stick inflicted injury as well as likely to cause the ball to go high. High ball bouncing – say at about elbow height – may look spectacular, but it is no more skillful than beating an opponent along the ground and besides it is a hurling skill not a hockey skill and while I am not opposed to importing team formations and tactics from a game like association football, I am opposed to adopting some of the playing techniques of that game, such as physical contact and ball shielding and I don’t want to see inappropriate practice imported from other games.

Different Rules make for different games and a hockey ball is too hard and heavy (compared to a hurling sliota) to have it much in the air in contested situations. Besides, having taken part in hurling matches (where the sliota is in the air for at least 30% of the time), I can tell you that one of the attractions of the sport for most of the participants is knocking ‘seven bells’ out of opponents with the hurl while pretending to be trying to obtain the sliotar, the game is like a mix of hockey and rugby with no discernible limitations on physical abuse as long as, ostensibly, the sliotar is being contested for. Off the ball fighting, enjoyable as that may be, is not allowed, but of course it frequently occurs in that sort of environment – just as it does in ice-hockey, where it is also part of the spectacle hugely anticipated by fans. Both of these sports have ‘best fights’ videos online.

I have seen it asserted that in ball bouncing circumstances in hockey matches (to return to near civilization) that it is a tackling defender who causes danger; that’s partially true, but it misses two points. Firstly, if a defender is not permitted to tackle an opponent who is bouncing the ball because that will be dangerous, that puts the defender unfairly at a disadvantage because of action taken by an opponent – that’s unfair – and no Rule should be inherently unfair. Secondly, the player bouncing the ball will likely breach the second part of Rule 9.8. “or play leading to dangerous play.” The dangerous play led to can be by the player who created the initial potentially dangerous situation or an opposing player.

As this post is now lengthy I will consider dangerous use of the stick and dangerous use of the body in subsequent posts.

June 16, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part one (5)

Rules of Hockey.

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.

In the year before the above Rule was introduced it was mandatory to award a penalty corner against a defender who attempted to play at an above shoulder height ball that was going wide of the goal. The FIH Rules Committee then leapt to the opposite extreme and now pretty much allow a free-for-all when a ball is falling into the area close to and directly in front of the opponents goal, because high shots at the goal are very rarely penalised and most attackers, given the opportunity and especially in congested situations, will take a volley shot at the goal rather than play the ball to ground and then take a shot.

The above Rule unnecessarily introduced several dangers which had not previously been present .
All that was required was an amendment which would allow a receiving player in free space to receive a ball while it was still above shoulder height and play it in control to ground.  There was no need for a facility to allow a free receiver to play (a very wide term) the ball away (perhaps as as a hit  pass or shot at goal) or to deflect the ball away (as a pass or shot at goal) while it was still above shoulder height.

This Rule also ran contrary to an undertaking made by the FIH Hockey Rules Board at the time off-side was deleted from the Rules (1997), to introduce measures to constrain the actions of attackers close to the goal. The above Rule does the opposite. I have written an article suggesting a goal zone which would provide a small measure of protection to defenders,particularly to goalkeepers who are often unfairly crowded by opponents in the goalmouth.

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

I wrote that article as a suggestion for a replacement to Rule 9.14, so there is no need for me to address that Rule again in this series of posts.

So rewriting Rule 9.7 I suggest:-

9.7 Players may intercept and play a ball in the air directly and safely to ground and into their own control and, where that ball is above shoulder height, safely onto a path where they alone will be able to chase and collect it. A ball may be intercepted at any height the player can reach with the stick in the air (it will be acceptable to jump to reach the ball with the stick).

A player may not hit or deflect the ball away beyond his or her playing reach while it is still above shoulder height, for example, as a pass or a shot or beyond where it can be reached and controlled before any opponent has opportunity to contest for it – so a player may control such a ball only into free space and where it is easily reachable by that same player.

A ball in the air that is below shoulder height when received may be played or played away in any manner that does not endanger another player.

A player may not under any circumstances play or play at a ball that is above shoulder height when he or she is in the opponent’s circle.

 

June 16, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part One (4)

Rules of Hockey

9.4 Players must not intimidate or impede another player.

The above Rule is a mix of disparate statements which seem to have little to link them and it is hard to see why they were cobbled together in one Rule with no Explanation at all.

Intimidation seems to have more to do with endangerment or potential endangerment, and impeding more to do with third-party obstruction and perhaps with physical contact.

The only thing they certainly have in common is that they are very rarely penalised under this Rule. Only once in my time as an umpire did I penalise a player for intimidation. They can both be transferred to more appropriate Rules and this Rule deleted.

9.5 Players must not play the ball with the back of the stick.

I have been advocating the abolition of the offence of ‘back-sticks’ for more than thirty years, from even before edge hitting was introduced. Now that we have edge hitting retaining a back-sticks Rule makes no sense at all.  Abolishing this Rule will allow the development of a much wider range of stick-work skills and will also enable the 10% of the population who happen to be left-handed to easily play with the right hand at the top of the stick and hit on their forehand off their right foot rather than their left.

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

This is a silly Rule because it hangs off the subjective judgement of the meaning of ‘hard’ rather than objectively looking at what the effect of the hit is on the ball- the result of the hit.

I think that edge hitting should be permitted from both sides of the stick and of the body, but that any ball propelled in this way should be height limited, even when making a shot on goal. I suggest sternum height as a limit which is approximately elbow height or 120cms on a male senior. This height is easily marked on a goal with an elasticated tape running across each goal-post from the back of the post and then around the back of the net. Female players and juniors could use lesser heights (perhaps 110cms and 100cms respectively).

These height limits and goal marking will fit in with suggestions related to a dangerously played ball which I will come to in Rule 9.8.

June 15, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part One (3)

Rules of Hockey.

9.3 Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other
players or their sticks or clothing.

There are a number of Rules within Conduct of play that prohibit the making of physical contact. The Explanation of Application of the Obstruction Rule, for example, prohibits moving bodily into an opponent and Rule 9.13 below:-

9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball
without body contact.

is entirely unnecessary given Rule 9.3. but it is odd in another way too, it forbids a tackle attempt unless the tackler in a position to play the ball without body contact, when advice to umpires given in the UMB the Umpire Manager’s Briefing for Umpires at FIH Tournaments, to give this document its full title, suggests that umpires should not follow this Rule:-

Do not penalise if the tackler initially appears to be in an
impossible position from which to make a legal tackle.

So the umpire must await contact, which is also contrary to Rule 9.3. The UMB should never contradict Rule and where this does happen the FIH Rules Committee and the FIH Umpiring Committee should liaise and delete one or the other instruction. As the Rule have Executive approval and the UNB does not, it should normally be the conflicting UMB Advice that should disappear, but in this case I suggest the deletion of both Rule 9.13 and the Advice in the UMB.

Rule 9.3 should specify physical or contact interference, rather than just interference and then we are done describing the prohibition of physical contact in hockey.

June 15, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part One (2)

Rules of Hockey

9.1 A match is played between two teams with not more than
eleven players of each team on the field at the same time.

That used to stipulate that one of the players on each team had to be a fully equipped goalkeeper wearing at least a helmet, leg-guards and kickers. These days “fully equipped” would reasonably include groin protection, gloves or hand protectors and a chest protector. It would not be unreasonable to require a throat protector and elbow protectors.

The requirement that there be a fully equipped goalkeeper was deleted because it was said that in some countries individuals or clubs could not afford to buy this equipment. That puts the emphasis on cost rather than on player safety and that should be unacceptable.

At present we have a number of complicated substitution Rules which allow a player with (limited) goalkeeping privileges, a (PWGP) sometimes known as a kicking-back, additionally protected only with a helmet, to guard the goal, while at the same time being an additional field player. This is not good enough, when opposing attackers feel free to propel the ball at a PWGP as if he or she were fully protected and umpires allow them to do so.

I suggest the substitution of a PWGP for a fully equipped goal-keeper be abolished as unsafe.

There is a need to research a cheaper way to produce HD foam or to make cheaper goalkeeping equipment in the cane and leather style but using lighter and stronger materials.

9.2 Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a
dangerous way.

That means that a player cannot continue to take part in a hockey match if he or she has dropped their stick, they cannot interfere with the play of opponents in any way – which is fair enough.

But the second part “and not use it in a dangerous way” is appallingly vague and the provided ‘Explanation’ that a player must not lift the stick over the head of an opponent is ambiguous and insufficient. What constitutes dangerous use of the stick should be set out clearly in a section of Rule 8 Dangerous play and not just ‘thrown away’ as if an afterthought. So possession of a stick needs expanding and the second part needs to be transferred and incorporated within Rule 9.8.

There have been more than sufficient serious injuries caused by high stick. swings to give serious consideration to limiting the height to which the head of a stick may be raised when there is or will be an opponent within the swing arc of the stick before or after a ball is played. At the moment players shaping up to strike at a ball are often getting away with deliberate intimidation or are playing without any regard for the safety of opponents, this needs to be addressed.

 

 

June 15, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Part One (1).

Rules of Hockey.

“If they are not broken why fix them?” Is a criticism I have often had leveled at my suggestions for Rule changes. I have two replies. “I think they are broken” (then hopefully the suggested change will demonstrate in what ways the Rule in question is inadequate) or “Do you wait until a car has to be abandoned by the side of a road before you think of doing maintenance to it?” When a warning light comes on (when there is indication of a fault) that is the time to take action.

The Rules of the game will never be perfect but there is need to adjust them so that they are fair and the practiced application of them does not unnecessarily endanger participants.

To begin.

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

The responsibility statement above has been re-positioned and reworded. Both these actions have weakened it so that it hardly registers with readers of Rule 9 Conduct of Play.  If we go to the first page of the rule-book we find the following important declaration. 

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.

Participants are gives four Rules in that declaration but most of them are unaware of that, which is ironic. They used to be given six. The two altered/missing ones could be written. Players must perform in accordance with the Rules. Players must act responsibly at all times.

I believe there is a good case for restoring the two Rules to the statement about Responsibility and Liability and for repeating (and expanding), in numbered clause form, all of the above Rules within Rule 9.8, which should be about dangerous play in general and not just about a dangerously played ball. I would remove the ‘invisible’ expectation now at the head of Rule 9.,  so I start with a deletion.

Rule 9.8. Dangerous play requires a great deal of expansion, even if that means repeating instructions about danger attached to other Rules. This fits with the supposed emphasis on safety – which presently does not exist.

June 15, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Prelim.

Rules of Hockey.

I am going to confine this article to Rules 9, 10 and 11 Conduct of Play and Rule 12 Penalties. In other words to the Rules all participants should know if they are to take part in the game with comprehension of what they and others are doing.

Initially I will ignore the provided Explanation of Rule application but later (in Part One) make full suggestion for these Explanations (Instructions). I would also like to see changes to match duration and to the Rules of substitution but will deal with those in another article. The Rules of Conduct of penalties will also be dealt with in another article.

I highlight in red the Rules which I feel need either amendment or expansion or replacement or deletion. I will make no further comment about those that are not highlighted

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

9.1 A match is played between two teams with not more than
eleven players of each team on the field at the same time.

9.2 Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a
dangerous way.

9.3 Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other
players or their sticks or clothing.

9.4 Players must not intimidate or impede another player.

9.5 Players must not play the ball with the back of the stick.

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

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.

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

9.9 Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except
for a shot at goal

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.

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

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

9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball
without body contact.

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

9.15 Players must not change their stick between the award and
completion of a penalty corner or penalty stroke unless it no
longer meets the stick specification.

9.16 Players must not throw any object or piece of equipment onto
the field, at the ball, or at another player, umpire or person.

9.17 Players must not delay play to gain benefit by time-wasting.

10 Conduct of Play, Goalkeepers.

10.1 A goalkeeper must not take part in the match outside the 23
metres area they are defending, except when taking a penalty stroke.
Protective headgear must be worn by a goalkeeper
at all times, except when taking a penalty stroke.

10.2 When the ball is inside the circle they are defending and
they have their stick in their hand:

10a Goalkeepers are permitted to use their stick, feet,
kickers, legs or leg guards or any other part of their
body to deflect the ball over the back-line or to play
the ball in any other direction.

10.3 Goalkeepers must not lie on the ball.

10.4 When the ball is outside the circle they are defending,
goalkeepers are only permitted to play the ball with their
stick.

11 Conduct of Play. Umpires

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.

11.4 Umpires are responsible for keeping a written record of
goals scored and of warning or suspension cards used.

11.5 Umpires are responsible for ensuring that the full time is
played and for indicating the end of time for each quarter
and for the completion of a penalty corner if a quarter is
prolonged.

11.6 Umpires blow the whistle to:

11.7 Umpires must not coach during a match.

11.8 If the ball strikes an umpire, unauthorised person or any
loose object on the field, play continues (except as
specified in the guidance to Rule 9.16).

12 Penalties.

12.1 Advantage : a penalty is awarded only when a player or
team has been disadvantaged by an opponent breaking the
Rules.
12.2 A free hit is awarded to the opposing team:
a for an offence by any player between the 23 metres
areas
b for an offence by an attacker within the 23 metres area
their opponents are defending

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

12.3 A penalty corner is awarded:
a for an offence by a defender in the circle which does
not prevent the probable scoring of a goal.

b for an intentional offence in the circle by a defender
against an opponent who does not have possession of
the ball or an opportunity to play the ball.

c for an intentional offence by a defender outside the circle
but within the 23 metres area they are defending.

d for intentionally playing the ball over the back-line by a
defender

Goalkeepers are permitted to deflect the ball with
their stick, protective equipment or any part of
their body in any direction including over the back-line.
(This clause can be amalgamated within Rule 10)

e when the ball becomes lodged in a player’s clothing or
equipment while in the circle they are defending.

12.5 If there is another offence or misconduct before the
awarded penalty has been taken:
a a more severe penalty may be awarded
b a personal penalty may be awarded
c the penalty may be reversed if the subsequent offence
was committed by the team first awarded the penalty.

So I am thinking of suggesting changes to only twenty-four Rules in this article – which is basically a rewrite of the Rules of Conduct of Play, a modest target (there will be some amalgamation and some replacement) as there is nothing I haven’t suggested many times before. I will begin these suggestions in Part One following the preliminary setting out above.

June 4, 2019

Change

An article from the Hindustan Times published in the fieldhockey.com website on 4th June 2019.

‘Focus on limiting changes to hockey,’ says FIH’s CEO Thierry Weil

Change is the only constant in international hockey, a sport that sees such frequent tinkering in its rules and tournament formats that even its ardent fans find it hard to keep up.

B Shrikant

 

Change is the only constant in international hockey, a sport that sees such frequent tinkering in its rules and tournament formats that even its ardent fans find it hard to keep up.

For example, the qualifying programme for the Olympic Games has been changed four times in the last three decades.

In the Olympics, the host country, five continental champions and six qualifiers make the 12-team field, and though the continental championships remain intact, the qualifying event has been changed regularly—a single tournament gave way to three events of eight teams each (till 2012), which was replaced by the Hockey World League, which in turn gave way to the Pro League and FIH (international hockey federation) Series (Open and Finals).

The Pro League currently involves eight top teams playing each other on home and away basis while the other competition involves a series of FIH Series Open events followed by three 8-team Finals.

However, even as eight teams—India, Japan, South Africa, Poland, Russia, Uzbekistan, USA and Mexico—get ready for the second event in the FIH Series Finals in Bhubaneswar, which will be held from June 6-15, comes the news that the event will be discontinued from next year.

Similarly, the FIH has dumped the Champions Trophy, and reworked rules nearly every year as the game has metamorphosed from a match of two halves to one involving four quarters of 15 minutes each.

So, why does the FIH introduce so many changes, unlike sports like football and tennis, whose basic structure has remained the same?

Hindustan Times put this question to Thierry Weil, FIH’s chief executive officer and he agreed that there have been too many changes.

As far as the FIH Series is concerned, Weil blamed financial burdens for scrapping the tournament.

“The FIH Series involves teams that are not in the Pro League, provide them a chance to qualify for the Olympics,” he said. But participating in these events is a big financial burden on these teams. Also, we found out that there was a conflict with the activities of the continental federations which were also conducting similar tournaments. I agree that changes have come too frequently but many of them were necessary, like ‘no offside’ because it was not conducive to the fast-pace of hockey. When I took over as CEO (in April 2018), I have asked them to limit these changes. My focus has been on standardising the calendar and evolving the Pro League,” Weil said.

Meanwhile, the game will continue to see some big changes in the next few years.

Pro League 2 in the offing

The FIH is planning to launch a second division of Pro League, tentatively named Pro League 2, which will involve teams ranked between 9 to 20 and introduce promotions and relegations.

“It’s one of the ideas we are working on,” Weil said. “Recently, we have introduced a two-year home and away system which will reduce by half the travel in the current format.”

The FIH is likely to roll out the second division from next year.

Big investments

Weil said the FIH has made significant investments in introducing a new ranking system from January 2020, and a new synthetic turf which reduces dependence on water. The roll out of a new match-based ranking system will also promote bilateral series involving top teams.

“Each match will become important as it will involve some points. All matches recognised by FIH will contribute towards the ranking of the team,” he said.

Introduction of a new turf before 2024 is the most ambitious project that FIH has taken up, as water scarcity is a growing reality that impedes the widespread adoption of the current astroturf, especially in countries like India.

“Currently we are in investment mode and have made big investments in the rankings system, new turf and promotion of Pro League,” Weil said.

The title of this newspaper article is misleading; the “Rules” written about are not the Rules of Hockey or FIH Tournament Regulations,  (the latter concern  the way in which players may compete in matches in a FIH Tournament.). Whether or nor a match is played in two halfs or four quarters does not effect the way in which players play – but may make the game more high paced or ‘frantic’. Whatever the current perception, the FIH Executive does not approve several changes to the Rules every year – they are very conservative – too conservative for me.

In the first of these areas, the Rules of Hockey, huge change is need to rectify the mistakes made in the past twenty or so years and to improve the way in which the game is played and officiated.

What is likely to happen is that the “no change” mantra, which is advocated above, will conflate changes to the way teams qualify for the Olympic Games and World Cups, with change to the Rules of Hockey (what is drafted by the Rules Committee and published as the Rules of Hockey by the FIH). As usual the FIH are not communicating clearly and neither is the newspaper reporter.

Thierry Weil was not talking primarily about the Rules of Hockey but about the Regulations concerning League and Tournament formats and the  means of qualification to World Level events, as well as about economics and water shortage concerns and standards for pitch surfaces, Technical Specifications such as these are not at all the same thing as “the Rules”.

If there is concern about the frequency of past changes to the Rules of Hockey this can be addressed by discarding from ‘practice’ those changes which the FIH Rules Committee have not actually made and dissuading umpires (and Umpire Managers) from imposing their own personal interpretations as if Rules.

The invention that an on target shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play, springs to mind. A stationary player cannot obstruct, is another. A third:- Aerial Rules (whatever they might be) do not apply to either shots at the goal or to deflections. The list of what will not be found in any rule-book but is applied as if it can be, goes on and on and the FIH Executive just look the other way even though they must know they have NOT approved these ‘Rules’. See

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/09/21/unauthorized-rul…-the-netherlands/

April 27, 2019

What next, transition.

Is the player in the picture below receiving a pass or was he already in possession of the ball and then moved ahead of the it, to place himself between the defender and the ball? There is a huge difference. The second described action, which appears, from the positioning of the defender, to be what is happening, is a foul. The player with the ball might also be committing a physical contact offence.

Way back at the dawn of time (well actually in 1992) I sat a few seats away from the late George Croft, at the time Hon, Secretary of the FIH Hockey Rules Board, at a table during the AGM of Surbiton Hockey Club, of which we were both members, and listened to him expound to the assembled members on the introduction of an upcoming new interpretation of the Obstruction Rule.

I was troubled by what George Croft said because it was clear to me that what was being introduced was not a new interpretation of obstruction at all (what constituted obstruction was not being changed in any way) but an exception to the Obstruction Rule, a circumstance in which the Obstruction Rule did not immediately apply, followed by an explanation of how play was then to transition back to the usual application of the Rule.

But I sat there listened to what was said and to my subsequent regret did not voice by reservations about these proposals.

An odd thing about the “new interpretation” was that wording of the Rule Proper did not change at all. It remained:-

12.1 (m) A player shall not obstruct by running between an opponent and the ball nor interpose himself or his stick as an obstruction.

So what Rule wording the ‘new interpretation’ was interpreting was a mystery. The Obstruction Rule very quickly became what individual umpires said it was, based on very fuzzy criteria, and ‘interpretation’ became a ‘runaway train’

(In 2001 the FIH HRB asked the FIH Executive to issue a Circular pointing out to National Associations that nobody, no individual and no other committee but the FIH HRB, had the authority to change or issue a Rule or an interpretation of a Rule . The FIH Executive issued that Circular.

Some unfortunate later developments, such as the idea that a shot at the goal could not be considered dangerous play – a dangerous nonsense – and the ridiculous ‘2007 ‘gains benefit’ saga,  would probably have been avoided if the text of that Circular had been included in subsequent rule-books, but it was a Circular issued once and then rather quickly ‘forgotten’, especially by umpire coaches)

This new interpretation of the Obstruction Rule was set out over a page and a half of the Technical Interpretations section at the back of the rule-book and contained a number of ‘principles’. I will focus here on the only one that survives (sort of) in the current Obstruction Rule.

1993.

Now the principles are:

The receiving stationary player may be facing in any direction.(the only part that survives in the current Rule Explanation)
• The onus is on the tackler to move into position, i.e. usually
to move round the receiver, to attempt a legitimate tackle.
• 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).
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.

This new interpretation completely reversed the existing practice and also contained an obvious contradiction that no-one seemed to notice at the time (Maybe wilful blindness, but in those days no-one even considered challenging the Rule pronouncements of the FIH HRB). It should have been obvious to all that if a tackler has to move around a player who is shielding the ball from him, to reach the ball with his stick, then his direct path to the ball is being obstructed. No path other than a direct path to the ball was previously considered or is (sic) now suggested.

Stopping tacklers crashing into the back of receiving players while claiming to be obstructed was a welcome change and the safety aspect of this change was pushed hard, to the extent that the inconsistency mentioned above was ignored. It was declared that the new interpretation improved the game (ignoring that crashing into the back of an opponent was dangerous play and a physical contact offence anyway and should not previously have been rewarded ).

It certainly did, there was a vast tactical improvement as back-passing, always an option but hardly explored at all before this point (a notable exception was the German national team under Paul Lissek), became part of the usual tactics of high level teams. It took several years before back-passing became common in club hockey especially below First-Team level (but by then the Obstruction Rule, as was, had all but disappeared). But this ‘interpretation’ also created a muddle out of what was once a clear Rule.

Now we come to the text below the third bullet point. The transition :-

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

Umpires found this difficult to apply and inconsistencies in application appeared. Some umpires penalised if the receiver dwelt on the ball in control longer than was considered necessary to “immediately” pass it away or move away with the ball and others didn’t (how the player was to move away and the umpire transition to the ‘non-receiving’ application of the Obstruction Rule became contentious). The result was that in 1995 a further change was considered necessary to the new interpretation – a change of one word was made – it was a change that destroyed the Obstruction Rule.

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

The change from “must” to “may” replaced a clear instruction to take a particular action – move away – with a choice; this vital aspect of the Rule was no longer directive or prohibitive, (the receiver could choose not to move away. and there then developed a ‘school of thought’ that a stationary ball holder wasn’t doing anything and therefore could not be obstructing) in other words there was no application of the Obstruction Rule in these circumstances and very quickly in any other as players already in controlled possession of the ball were treated as if they were receivers and they turned on and with the ball at will in contested situations (Many spectators of ‘the modern game’ – including match commentators – have no idea these actions are fouls because they have never seen such play penalised as it should be).

By 1998 George Croft found it necessary to point out to participants in the Preface of the Rules of Hockey that “despite what some people think, there is still an Obstruction Rule”

In 2004 the rule-book was reformatted and largely rewritten. The entire section called by that time Rules Interpretations was simply deleted. Yet umpires who had been trained when it was extant still continued to apply the Obstruction Rule as if this deleted interpretation was still in force. Many umpire coaches also continued to coach new umpires as if this deleted interpretation was extant – and still do. Only last week someone (an umpire) referred, in a comment to me, to the onus on a tackler to move around an opponent who is shielding the ball. I am not surprised this easy way of avoiding applying the Obstruction Rule is still ‘wheeled out’, because it is easy, but it hasn’t been in a rule-book for fifteen years

(the requirement to “go around” was always ridiculous and unfair as there was nothing done to prevent the ball holder from moving his body or the ball or both, to maintain a shielding position – and in any case moving to one side of a ball holder presented him with the opportunity to spin away from the tackle attempt in the opposite direction and leave the tackler behind – so it was a very foolish action for a defender to take unless the ball could be intercepted before it reached an intended receiver.

The result was (and still is) that when a ball holder received the ball and stood still or tuned over the ball to shield it, defenders tended to step back and stand off, often out of playing reach of the ball so that they would not be ‘caught out’ by a sudden turn and acceleration – and we got static and congested situations developing. It also very quickly led to the ugly tactic of holding a ball in the corner of the pitch or against a sideline, generally to run time or wait for support or opportunity to ‘win’ a side-line ball or a free ball by forcing a foot contact !!!).

The current ‘instruction’ to a receiver of the ball has been further weakened by (in 2004) replacing the word “away” (which was at one time taken to mean away from and beyond the playing reach of the player intending to tackle) with the word “off” (which does not mean “away”) and later replaced “may” (I believe in 2006) with a term that means exactly the same thing, “is permitted to” (this gives the impression that being permitted to move off (or away) was something new that was not previously encouraged rather than something that had previously been demanded).

  The receiving action and the transition to normal Rule application were then also split into separate paragraphs or Rule clauses.

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 stationary player is mentioned in the Rule Explanation because prior to September 1993 it would have been necessary for a closely marked receiver to make a lead run to get to a position beyond the playing reach of an opponent to receive the ball, thus avoiding the possibility of immediately being penalised for obstruction if he remained stationary (this is now long forgotten). Receiving the ball was a skill that prior to 1993 demanded far more of a receiver than just the ability to take controlled possession of the ball, he also needed to move to create the space to receive.  Skilled receiving players could however easily make a charging marker/tackler look foolish and take advantage of the space he had just vacated.

The reading (and understanding) of the second part of what is permitted usually stops just before the word “except”. “A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction…..” I have lost count of the number of time I have been informed in comment that a player with the ball can move in any direction and does not have to move at all but can stand still shielding the ball to prevent a tackle attempt – and if moving the ball cannot obstruct – which is nonsense. The words “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.” are vital to correct application of the Rule (I would prefer “demonstrating an intention to play at the ball”).  The wording after “except bodily into an opponent” (in blue bold above) was added in 2009 and was the last amendment made by the FIH RC to this Rule. It was an attempt to correct much of the previous damage done, but it is widely ignored.

Now a couple of visual examples. It is assumed that the near player in each of the pictures below is receiving the ball, The question between 1993 and 1995 would have been (if there had been any way of widely asking such a question at that time) “At what point should the umpire be considering an Obstruction Offence?” The answer would have been “As soon as the receiver has controlled the ball and has had opportunity to pass it away or move away with it, but does not do so” That is still the case but it is not unusual to see captions on photographs stating ball shielding to prevent a tackle attempt, as if that is a legitimate action or to hear match commentators on video praising ball-shielding as a great skill – it isn’t, it’s a dumbing down of the skill required to play hockey and it is not Rule compliant.

 

Now in 2019 an umpire might consider penalising the player in possession if he moves backwards into physical contact with a defender, but if that did happen an umpire would be just as likely to penalise the defender for the contact.

What should be happening when a player in possession backs while shielding the ball towards a defender who is in a balanced position and intent on making a tackle for the ball, is that the ball-holder should be penalised for Obstruction (illegally preventing a tackle attempt by imposing his body) as soon as he moves the ball, while shielding it, to within the direct playing reach (an objective distance generally about 1.5m) of that defender.

Would such application lead to an increase in Obstruction offences and whistle blowing? Yes of course, until players once again learned how to play field-hockey instead of a strange version of hurling or soccer that did not require much stick-work ability. That might take a couple of weeks. Prior to 1993 (when players did not have the advantage of the protection of a Rule exception when receiving the ball and frequently needed to make lead runs to create space) most players managed to play hockey without often getting themselves penalised for obstruction. I managed to play entire seasons without once being penalised for this offence. It was no more difficult for a fit and alert player to avoid offending via obstruction than it was avoiding being in an off-side position – yes we had that too in the ‘good old days’.

 

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

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2019/04/27/what-next-transition/

April 21, 2019

Left behind and forgotten

The original Obstruction Rule was no more than a sentence which set out a prohibition on a tackler running between a player in possession of the ball and the ball (generally while attempting to tackle), but this idea was also combined with what was later called third party obstruction. There was no distinction made between these two forms of obstruction. No mention at all was made of a player in possession of the ball obstructing a tackler.

This is taken from the Rules of Hockey for 1976 but there had been no change for at least the previous twenty-five years:-

12.1 (j) A player shall not obstruct by running between an opponent and the ball or interpose himself or his stick as an obstruction.

This wording with only slight modification has been the Rule or has been tacked onto the end of the extant version of the Rule ever since. Below is the current version of that now final Rule clause:-

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.

It should be apparent that the current version also conflates all obstructions; there is no clear distinction made between third party obstruction and any other sort of obstruction. This could very easily be addressed by moving the existing word “also” and adding the words “may … be’ to either side of it in a new position and by adding the word “also” to the last sentence. This could be done in much the same way that the word “also” was in 2019 added to Rule 9.8. It would then read:-

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 may also be third-party obstruction).

This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper) when a penalty corner is being taken.

The current version of the Obstruction Rule does acknowledge the existence of obstruction by a player in possession of the ball even if the modern umpire very seldom does. In the picture below the PIP who is facing the left side-line, is sidestepping towards his own goal while shielding the ball to block off the defender and prevent a tackle attempt, this is contrary to Rule.

A player who blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing.

in other words the prevention of a tackle attempt by blocking off an opponent from the ball, is an illegal action. Play here continued without penalty. Even the defending players don’t seem to be aware that an obstructive offence has been committed by the ball holder. Would the PIP do this if he knew it was an offence that would be penalised? Strange isn’t it? Player are obliged to know and abide by the Rules: all participants are, that includes umpires. What is preventing participants knowing the Rules and more importantly, abiding by them? It seems to be the FIH Umpiring Committee via their coaching staff, even if the UMB which is issued by the FIH UC mentions tackle prevention in this badly worded (active movement ?) (professional ?) advice:-

• Is there active movement to prevent the playing of the ball?
• Be aware of professional use of the body to illegally block opponents from the ball

All games are defined by the Rules they are played to. The players in the picture below might be playing a game called stick-ball, or something similar to hurling but with a hockey stick and ball (so not hurling). They are not playing field-hockey even if most of the skills employed in the play are similar to those of field-hockey, because a fundamental Rule of field-hockey is being ignored by all – officials as well as players.

Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

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

January 19, 2019

Alignment

Rules of Hockey

Bizarrely written and largely unnecessary additions to the Rules of the indoor game. No alignment.

9.13 Umpires should place particular emphasis on limiting time spent in situations where the ball becomes trapped in the corners of the pitch or close to the side-boards (especially towards the end of matches) when the player in possession effectively shields the ball such that an opponent is prevented from being able to play it. Early interventions by the Umpires will make teams aware that this type of play or tactic is of no benefit to them.

I will start by explaining what I mean by bizarrely written using  the first part of the first sentence of the above Rule Explanation (which has not been added to the outdoor version of the Obstruction Rule, even though holding the ball in a corner of the pitch while shielding it to prevent a tackle, is common in the outdoor game) as an example.

Umpires should place particular emphasis on limiting time spent in situations where the ball becomes trapped in the corners of the pitch or close to the side-boards (especially towards the end of matches) when the player in possession effectively shields the ball such that an opponent is prevented from being able to play it.

When a player in possession of the ball shields the ball in a way that effectively prevents an opponent playing at it that is immediately an obstruction offence, so why is the above explanation focused on limiting the time spent obstructing opponents and then only in corners and close to sideboards and especially towards the end of matches. This is saying in effect that obstructive actions should only be penalised when they are not brief (brief obstruction offences are therefore acceptable ???) So I suppose not carried out with the intention of ‘running-time’ to the advantage of the team of the player committing the offence. What is the time limit for this foul which, I repeat, should be penalised immediately it occurs if it disadvantages an opponent? I have no idea, that is presumably an umpire judgement.

The second sentence then presents an obstruction offence as a type of play or a tactic rather than as a foul.

I now come to Rule 9.19 which had been drafted especially for the indoor game. This Rule has two diametrically opposing parts

Part one

9.19 Players must not trap or hold the ball against the side-boards.

That is a simple and very clear prohibition. However it should but doesn’t only prohibit this action if it prevents an opponent playing at the ball. That is obvious to those who are familiar with the game, but not stipulating exactly what is meant is laziness.

Part two

A player in possession of the ball may not be ‘trapped’ either in the corner of the pitch or against the side-boards by opponents with their sticks flat on the floor. Opponents must leave an outlet of reasonable size through which the ball may be played.

That clause, besides giving the umpire a difficult judgement task, is ambiguous because it does not state that the player in possession of the ball must have the ball in an open position i.e a position in which an opponent could make a legal tackle attempt. So, following on from what is given in Rule 9.13 above, the player in possession could (briefly?) shield the ball anytime a tackle attempt was made and would, following Rule 9.19, quite quickly be awarded a free ball because opponents had him trapped against the side-boards or in a corner. This Rule appears to be written in opposition to the Obstruction Rule and to the advantage of a player who is in possession of the ball even if he or she is shielding the ball to prevent a tackle attempt.

Examples of obstructive play close to the sideboards. The second one is from the cover of the Indoor Rules rule-book.

It is not necessary to make any comment about the following add-on clauses but the second of them is an attempt to tidy a ‘loose end’ in a previous clause, that exists as a result of poor initial drafting.

Umpires should recognise and interrupt play, with a bully re-start, when the ball is either trapped between players’ sticks or becomes unintentionally trapped against the side-boards.


Repeated instances of players trapping or holding the ball against the side-boards should be viewed as an intentional offence and penalised accordingly.


Similarly, players who deliberately aim to trap the ball between their and an opponent’s stick should be penalised and not rewarded with a bully.

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January 5, 2019

WT…FIH

Rules of Hockey

Replacing an error and ambiguity with a fudge.

I must confess to having looked at Terminology many times in the past years and missing that the description of a Push contained within it did not correctly describe a Push. What was wrong?

Terminology 2017

Push
Moving the ball along the ground using a pushing movement
of the stick after the stick has been placed close to the ball.
When a push is made, both the ball and the head of the
stick are in contact with the ground.

That is an easy question with an obvious answer when the fact that there is an error is pointed out. A push is not made by placing the stick-head close to the ball and then sweeping it through the ball, that is a hit.

The wording ‘close to’ is ambiguous and that is a problem. Is ‘close to’ 5mm or 30cms or more. Other use of “close to” in the Rules is described as being “within playing distance”. The problem is even more obvious when the description of a flick is considered. 

Flick
Pushing the ball so that it is raised off the ground.

I will not know how long the error has been there until I do some research but it may have been many years. I do know that there has been error in the description of the ‘permitted deviation’ to the edges of hockey a stick since 2004. I know that because a former Hon. Sec. of the HRB the late George Croft, asked me to write the original specification, because he was unable to do so and, of course, I noticed that it changed after 2003. I have asked the FIH why it was changed several times and have yet to receive an answer to that question. It is likely that no one has a reasonable answer to it.

P.S.  It seems that a Definitions or Terminology page was first added to the rule-book in 1987 – effective Sept 1986 – and the “close to” wording has been used since then, but the reference to a moving ball it originally contained was dropped by 1990.

I suppose an ‘eagle eye’ somewhere pointed out that there was a problem with the use of “close to”, so a conservative within the FIH addressed the matter, but did not really understand the issue. The result is the fudge below.

Terminology 2019

Push
Moving the ball along the ground using a pushing movement of the stick after the stick has been placed in contact or close to the ball. When a push is made, both the ball and the head of the stick are in contact with the ground.

Both the ball and the head of the stick may be in contact with the ground when either a slap-hit or an edge-hit are made, but this is not a defining feature of a push.The head of the stick being in contact with ball before the stroke is executed (and during the first part of the stroke) is defining. As it happens this error is not too critical, an incorrect definition may have existed in the rule-books for some years without the sky falling down, but the ‘solution’ now offered is symptomatic of a general malaise in the accuracy of the wording of Rules and the Explanations that go with them.

“Slap” hitting the ball, which involves a long pushing or sweeping movement with the stick before making contact with the ball, is regarded as a hit.

That does not help much.The word “long” is as vague as “close” is (although the context helps) and any sweeping motion (or punt motion) of the stick-head towards the ball before contact is made with the ball must, I think, be regarded as a hit.

I note in passing that the FIH RC continue to ignore the existence of the drag-flick. It is not listed in Terminology (it gets one mention in the Rules of Hockey:- a penalty stroke cannot be taken using a drag-flick) Nor, I suggest, can a penalty stroke be taken by placing the head of the stick on the ground close to the ball and then sweeping it through the ball. The ‘close to’ wording needs to be deleted to provide correct terminology, a simple task (that will not be carried out).

 

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December 30, 2018

The prevention of a tackle attempt and Rule wording

We move into 2019 with the FIH Rules Committee once again having failed to grasp the opportunity to put right some major flaws in the Rules of Hockey. Here I take another detailed look at the wording of the present advice and  Obstruction Rule as set out in the UMB and the Rules of Hockey, and point out some simple but, I think, desirable, amendments to clarify them without significantly changing the Rule. All suggestion, even if it might look new and completely alien, is taken from principles which were previously set out in the Obstruction Rule or given as advice to umpires post 1993.

The Umpire Manager’s Briefing for FIH Umpires at FIH Tournaments

Obstruction

∙ Are the players trying to play the ball?
∙ Is there a possibility to play the ball?
Is there active movement to prevent the playing of the ball? (my bold)

Be aware of professional use of the body to illegally block opponents from the ball, as well as players trying to demonstrate obstructions by lifting their sticks dangerously over opponents’ heads

∙ Stick obstruction is a ‘hot issue’ for players. Judge it fairly and correctly and blow only if you are 100% sure

Rules of Hockey 2019 –

Obstruction.

9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.  (my bold)

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) when a penalty corner is being taken.

There are problems of both syntax and semantics in the writing pertaining to the Obstruction Rule in both the advice given in UMB and the instruction given in the rule-book (the distinction between advice and instruction is an important one) and I need to start comment on them by addressing these issues. One issue is ambiguity, the UMB and the Rule Explanation both try to cover obstructive tackling, obstruction by a player in possession of the ball (the most common obstruction offence) and third-party obstruction, without making sufficient distinction between them. The UMB for example, begins:- 

Are the players trying to play the ball?

That cannot reasonably refer to a situation where an obstructing player is in controlled possession of the ball. This is a trivial point and does not make a significant difference to the possible understandings of the question put, if common sense is used, but not all of the ambiguities are trivial.

Is there a possibility to play the ball?

Presumably, the writer means:-  Is a player who might claim (or is claiming) to be obstructed in a position from which he could play at the ball? The UMB, in the advice on tackling, warns umpires against pre-judging where a legal tackle could possibly be made from, so it is acknowledged that this is not always an easy decision to make and a tackler can often attempt to play at the ball from what looks to an umpire to be an impossible position. This seems to me to be a way of denying that an obstructed player is obstructed because he or she might actually somehow be able to play at the ball, even if it looks unlikely that that is the case. It gives a ball shielding player great scope in positioning between an opponent and the ball, I think too much scope in most instances.

Is there active movement to prevent the playing of the ball?

There is a syntax error there, it is not possible to make an inactive movement, movement is an activity. The word “active” is redundant. This minor error is a pity because it spoils the flow of one of the most important pieces of advice in the UMB. An umpire might pause to consider what an active movement is. Is it a movement that is relevant rather than irrelevant?  This sentence is, however, problematical in another way, it gives the impression that the illegal prevention of a tackle attempt, i.e. obstruction, depends entirely on there being a movement to obstruct by the obstructing player, a point I will come back to.

Be aware of professional use of the body to illegally block opponents from the ball,…

That is better in one way (there is no suggestion that movement is necessary for there to be an obstruction offence). But what does “Be aware” mean (penalise?) and why is the word “professional” inserted in the statement? That is an insult to professional players.

The advice given about the penalising of stick obstruction is also unnecessary, an umpire should not penalise for any offence unless he or she is certain that it has occurred, but should not fail to penalise when a team is disadvantaged by the illegal action of an opposing team player.

The Rule Proper. 

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

We are then presented with Explanations of Application of the Rule, set out in several clauses most of which are definitions of obstruction. We are also provided with an Exception to the Rule. Unfortunately, many of these clauses are badly constructed or incomplete or both.

Explanation of Rule Application

Players obstruct if they:
– back into an opponent

This apparently uncontentious instruction has proved to be extremely contentious because of the way it has been interpreted, something that would not have been an issue, if it had been properly written and explained, has turned the application of the Obstruction Rule ‘on its head’. I have written more than one article on this matter. Here is one, reading it and looking at the videos within it will be helpful.

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

I will place links to other articles about the Obstruction Rule at the foot of this article.

Put briefly, this clause does not say or mean back into contact with an opponent and I have put the case for interpreting it to mean ‘back into the playing reach of an opponent, while shielding the ball from that opponent, to prevent a legal tackle attempt being made’ longer but unambiguous and accurate.

– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent.

The Rules about physical contact are duplicated and  ‘pop-up’ all over the place in the Rules of Hockey and this is but one example of this repetition, but it is true that these actions may also constitute an Obstruction offence. When combined with “back into an opponent” we have both two obstruction offences and possibly two different physical contact or interference offences, to body and to stick. To see them all together (unpenalised) watch a shootout in almost any senior match decided in this way. The video below is of a high school championship and demonstrates  the complete unawareness of the Obstruction Rule that is now typical in hockey, world wide. This may be directly attributed to the poor standard of umpire coaching disseminated by FIH Umpire Coaches in this area of Rule.

– shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body. (my bold)

Here is another vitally important clause spoiled by a poor word choice. The word “from” is just ‘skimmed’ and accepted as is for no better reason than the fact that it is contained in a long-standing phraseology. But its use makes no sense at all, in fact takes the sense away from the ‘sentence’ because it is generally the case that no tackle can be attempted, never mind a legitimate (legal) one, when the ball is shielded (to prevent a legitimate tackle) by a player in possession of it. It would make good sense if the clause was written ‘Players obstruct if they shield the ball to prevent a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body. This is one of the very few examples of better word use in the UMB than is given in the Explanations of Application of the Rules. It should be noted (going back to my point about the absence of need for a movement to obstruct an opponent) that there is no mention of any movement by the obstructing player in this clause. Shielding the ball to prevent or delay an opponent attempting a legal tackle – because a tackle is made impossible, due to the ball shielding, for the intending tackler to immediately make a tackle for the ball, is an Obstruction offence. Advice used to be given in the rule-book to umpires that an obstruction occurred when a tackler who would otherwise have been able to play at the ball could not do so because it was shielded by the body or stick of an opponent. That sensible advice mysteriously (that is without any reason being offered for its deletion) disappeared.

  In compliance with existing Rule, defenders who attempt to run-down time by holding the ball in a corner in their own half, should be penalised with a penalty corner (and a yellow card) and those who ‘crab’ the ball along their own base-line to ‘protect’ it from opponents while taking it out of the circle, with a penalty-stroke. Intentional offences should be penalised more severely.

A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction.

This Rule Exception is what is left of what in 1993 was mistakenly called the ‘New Interpretation’ of the Obstruction Rule, which at the time, was set out over two pages in the Rule Interpretations section in the back of the rule-book.

The divisions into The Stationary Player and The Moving PLayer contained in that Interpretation were ridiculous (and the above clause is silly for that reason – a receiver who is moving can also be facing in any direction as the ball is received). What the writer (who I believe was the late John Gawley) was trying to say was that a stationary receiver could remain stationary to receive the ball, even if closely marked, without penalty for obstruction. Up until the date of this change a receiver needed to make a lead run to get space, away from the playing reach of a close marking opponent, in which to receive the ball and to avoid being immediately penalised for obstruction as the ball was received within the marker’s playing reach.  That previous interpretation made hockey very difficult for a novice player to play as receiving the ball when marked required considerable skill (and made the more confined indoor hockey very difficult even for experienced players)

Also ridiculous was the “onus” on a tackler to position where a tackle could be attempted and then to make a precise play at the ball with the stick (often an impossibility because there was nothing to prevent the ball holder moving to maintain a ball shielding position. The blatant obstruction of the goalkeeper which usually occurs during shootouts is condoned by suggesting that the GK made no attempt to play at the ball, even when to legally do so was an impossibility).  But there was no mention of any onus on a ball-holder not to obstruct an opponent who was within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intent to make a tackle. All this heavily slanted ‘new interpretation’ (which was the extreme opposite of previous practice and not just a reasonable modification) was struck out of the rule-book in 2004, but there are still today umpire coaches, who were probably active umpires in 1993 and after, who continue to coach to new umpires the ‘interpretation’ extant at that time – which was basically, if a tackler could not play directly at the ball he or she could not be obstructed. The flaw in that approach should be obvious to all, the illegal prevention of a tackle attempt was not considered at all in a Rule which should have been about exactly that.

To be clear, I think the introduction of protection for a ball receiving player was an excellent idea because it opened up tactical opportunities, which had existed before (as the German teams under Paul Lisseck had demonstrated) but which were very rarely used. I do not want to go back to a situation where all a marker had to do to win a free ball was clatter into the back of an opponent who was receiving the ball while pretending to be attempting a tackle. That said the protection given to a receiving player, a temporary exemption from the Obstruction Rule, must not be extended into the play after the ball has been received and controlled. I am then in favour of the original “must move away” rather than the present “is permitted to move off” which is neither directive nor prohibitive, so a choice between opposites and not a Rule instruction at all.

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.

That is probably the most badly constructed clause in the rule-book. It starts by making a Rule statement that, as mentioned above, is neither directive or prohibitive and which it is therefore unnecessary to make (and which could, in fact, have been omitted entirely) and then gives two exceptions to that statement which both prohibit described actions. Setting out the proscribed actions alone would have been simpler and clearer and would probably have led to better Rule application. I think this, below, would be much better even if somewhat longer, because it is directive and, I think, unambiguous even if perhaps unduly recursive in construction:-

A unambiguous version

A player with the ball is not permitted to move bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent, who is within playing distance of the ball,  in a position of balance to make a tackle, i.e. not facing or reaching in the wrong direction, and is demonstrating an intent to play at the ball.

Having received the ball a receiver must then, without delay, either play the ball away or immediately move with the ball away from opponents, to put and keep it beyond the playing reach of any opponent. Keeping the ball beyond the playing reach of an opponent may include eluding a tackle attempt by an in-range opponent as long as the ball is constantly kept open to that opponent and not shielded in any way, with body or stick, that prevents a legitimate tackler attempt.

And finally we have the afterthought, which was at one time, all that there was of the Obstruction Rule.

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.

That clause is and always has been a muddle of two very different kinds of obstruction. The word “also” is also in the wrong place. But importantly it does state that a player who blocks an opponent to prevent that opponent attempting to play at the ball is obstructing.

An expanded suggested alternative which includes some long ago deleted but still relevant previous guidance for players and umpires:-

A player who runs in front of or blocks off an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this may also be third party obstruction). Third party obstruction may occur if an attacker runs across or blocks off out-running defenders (including a goalkeeper) when a penalty corner is being taken.

It is not necessary for the obstructed player to be within playing distance of the ball at the time a third-party obstruction occurs, all that is required for offence is the prevention of opportunity to intercept the ball or challenge an opposing player for the ball, when but for the obstruction the obstructed player would have been able to achieve one or other of these objectives. 

The Rule on ball-body contact – 9.11 – could also be reconstituted and greatly improved with  a combination of current and previous wording, but it really needs a new approach. That basically is a focus on ball-body contact by a player in possession of the ball rather than by a tackler or defender hit with the ball.

https://wordpress.com/post/martinzigzag.com/11605

The Rules on dangerous play (there are several scatted throughout the Rules text) need a rethink, particularly the Rules concerning the dangerously played ball. 9.8, 9.9, 9.10 and those contained in the Rules of the penalty corner. I have written articles with suggestions for all of these Rules. The dangerously played ball needs to be judged far more objectively, for example, more height limits introduced. Legitimate evasive action has long been ignored as a criterion largely because it is both difficult to determine and is inadequate. A player hit with the ball has anyway often no opportunity to try to get out of the way of it. As John Gawley wrote in another umpire coaching document back in 2001. “No player should ever be forced to self-defence”

Elephants in the Room

Elephants in the Room. We have recent Rule changes, like the facility to play at the ball above shoulder height, which ought to be far more restrictive than they are and some ancient Rules (written back in 1908) which are no longer fit for purpose.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/12/30/the-prevention-of-a-tackle-attempt/

Links to some other Obstruction Rule articles.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/05/08/the-obstruction-see-saw/

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/08/preventing-a-tackle-ball-shielding/

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/08/why-did-this-happen/

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

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

There are also many articles about other Rules in which I make reference to the Obstruction Rule or post videos of examples of breach of it, but attempting to read through the above list should be enough to make you as crazy as I am. 

 

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

December 28, 2018

Cheating

Edited pm 28th December 2018

Back in 2006 when I was a regular contributor to fieldhockeyforum.com a ‘newbie’ named Keely Dunn joined and posted about a defender positioned in front of the goal during a penalty corner and asserted in that post that such a defended caused danger and should be penalised if hit with an attacker’s shot at the goal. I posted a reply to that assertion in which I stated that the opposite was true – that a ball raised towards another player that endangered that other player was always, provided there was no intentional use of the body by the defender to stop or deflect the ball, the fault and responsibility of the player who raised the ball. Keely Dunn’s response was a tirade of more than a thousand words in which she declared that the fact that a defender positioned between a shooter and the goal demonstrated an intention to use the body to stop the ball and she then went on to describe her dedication to umpiring, her ambition (at the time to be an Olympic Umpire) and her hard work to that end. She finished her response by scolding me for “calling her out” and stated that if I ever did so again she would not respond – so this time I am perfectly safe from rebuke despite the fact that I am again going to disagree with her (declare that she is wrong)  in the same way and for the same reasons. I will not accept that a defender is not allowed to defend the goal or to be in any position they need to be to do so.

Below, in coloured text, is part of her analysis of the changes to the Rules of Hockey for 2019, in which she makes a similar claim to the one she made in 2006, concerning the protection offered under the Rules to a defender in front of the goal when a shot is made at the goal. That this is presented as a matter of safety is bizarre as there would seldom be any danger in such circumstances if the ball was not raised by a shooter directly towards a defender (a deflections towards a defender is rarely the result of raising the ball directly at that defender).

In her defence I must point out that she has reversed the long-standing meme that an outrunning defender at a penalty corner who is attempting to tackle for the ball with his stick is committing an offence.  (She does not now refer to such out-runners as ‘suicide runners‘, even though the UMB, scandalously, does).

The reason for taking away a non-kitted player who can use their body inside the circle to play the ball is primarily safety. Watching a player without any real protective equipment throw themselves in front of a ball for club or country has become a Hunger Games-esque spectacle (for example, from the men’s World Cup, see the Blacksticks’ Bennett running down a Peillat drag flick, or England’s Gleghorne all but decapitating |Ireland’s O’Donoghue on the line at the end of their crossover match).

The two clips below contain the incidents referred to in the above paragraph.

I would not describe the PWGKP in the Ireland goal as a someone who had thrown himself into the path of a shot at the goal while aping the actions of a fully kitted goalkeeper, but rather as someone desperately trying to get out of the way of the ball because he believed he would be badly injured if hit with it.

It is part of the training of goalkeepers to persuade them that a hit with the ball to the head when they are wearing a helmet is not life threatening (although there have been some nasty injuries caused to goalkeepers by the failure of a sub-standard helmet or a previously weakened eye-grill) and get them to use the helmet to deflect the ball. This training is not easy as it is counter-intuitive to most people, and it can be no surprise that a field-player who has not been properly trained as a goalkeeper should react as if his head was not protected with a helmet. (Injuries to the side of the head, including fractures of the skull, are not uncommon in defenders wearing face masks, who turn their face away from an incoming ball; overcoming the instinct to avert the face is not an easy task – the injury to Godfrey Irwin in the EHL comes to mind).

.

The Rule which penalises the raising of the ball into an outrunning defender during a penalty corner is a near copy of the part of the Explanation of application of Rule 9.9. concerning the raising of a ball towards an opponent – but there are critical differences.

The Penalty corner Rule contains reference to a height limit (knee height), Rule 9.9. does not, Rule 9.9 refers to the strokes used to propel the ball, while Rule 13.3.l does not. (but I believe it sensible to consider a ball that has been raised with a hit into a close opponent in open play to be dangerous play, even if done unintentionally and while the players are outside the opponent’s shooting circle). Do you see how unnecessarily diverse and complicated the Rules are even in simple matters such as raising the ball towards a close opponent? More about that following the last video below

At lower levels, the benefit to pulling the goalkeeper is still too often an exercise in futility where a hapless defender stands on the penalty spot wearing a different—coloured shirt, terrified to leave and create the numerical advantage that is the sole benefit of the exercise.

Teams are now constrained to using only all field players to create the numerical advantage (or continue playing a match where a fully—kitted goalkeeper is unavailable). It doesn’t change the fact that we have unprotected players running around in the circle, but hopefully, there will be less incentive for anyone brave soul to sacrifice their limbs for goal-saving glory. I nominate this the rule Most Likely To Be Forgotten It Was Ever Different When The Next Rule Book Comes Out.

Way less to remember. There are no fewer than 24 instances (yes, I counted them because I’m a giver that way) in the rule book where a PWGKP was specified in addition to the goalkeeper and those are now all gone. No more arguing about putting on helmets, whether they can wear the goalkeeper’s blockers on penalty corners, or reminding attackers that YES THEY CAN USE THEIR FEET, PLEASE JUST PLAY ON NOW CHEERS.

I am surprised that anyone could have doubted that a player in the position that used to be referred to as ‘kicking back’ could use their feet, but I suppose it is possible since PWGKP was introduced into terminology some years ago. But this mess is not going to be forgotten. It was wise of the FIH HRB to insist on a fully equipped goalkeeper when they did and a mistake to withdraw that requirement – despite the difficulties with the expense of kit in some regions. The eroding attitude to the safety of defenders positioned in front of the goal does not inspire confidence in the wisdom of the FIH RC in making the change made for 2019-. I believe the only reasonable course is to go back to the fully equipped goalkeeper being a compulsory element of a team, in the same way that helmets became compulsory for goalkeepers.  (It’s daft to compel a goalkeeper to wear a helmet but not compel a team to have a goalkeeper, and also to have the option to replace a fully kitted goalkeeper with a field player – who will be shot at as if he or she were a fully equipped goalkeeper. Where is the emphasis on safety?)

However, you’re likely going to have more situations where you have difficult decisions to make regarding dangerous play, i.e. when attackers shoot at goal with field players in the way. You’ll need to continue to keep in mind the idea that defenders who are standing in front of the goal doing their best Maddie Hinch are choosing to put themselves in danger (and really need to stop that, m’kay?).

No not m’kay or okay, what criteria are going to be used? An attacker who chooses to raise the ball at an opponent in a way that endangers that opponent (forces self-defence for example), chooses to commit a foul and should be penalised. A player who carelessly or recklessly raises the ball towards another player (I believe the change to “opponent” to be a mistake – the emphasis should be on the safety of all players – hospital emergency rooms will not made a distinction between injured same team or opposing team players) commits an offence and should be penalised.

Defenders who are marking, intercepting, closing down the ball or otherwise making an attempt to tackle are NOT putting themselves in danger and need to be protected.

Of course they are putting themselves in danger, given the present penalty-corner set up they have no choice but to do so. Anything which facilitates the near immediate making of a shot at the goal will be stupidly dangerous to defenders trying to prevent that shot and having to run 13m or 14m towards opponents to do so, especially with the present attitude towards a ball raised towards a defender – even if it is only allowed below knee height when the opponent is within 5m. The penalty-corner needs to be replaced with a power-play conducted in the opponent’s 23m area and the necessary ‘charge’ eliminated.

I don’t hate this change. Simple is usually better, and safety (when real and not imagined) is no one’s enemy. it’ll also make teams more cautious when pulling their goalkeeper. But when they do, they’ll go for goal with more rigour, making for more exciting, attacking hockey at the right moments.

I very much doubt what is written in the last sentence. Attackers will still back into opponents, spin and ‘look for a foot’, at present they are given, because of ‘umpiring practice’, no reason not to.

The above clip is an excellent example of the degrading of Rule to the point where it is applied in the opposite way to that which it was obviously intended it be applied. Any forcing action is still supposed to be dealt with (penalised) under “other Rules”. What other Rules if the ball is not raised? Your guess would be welcome.

The ARG player who makes a tackle and gets possession of the ball has several options immediately available to him but realizes what the team needs most is time to position to take advantage of their possession of the ball – they are grouped and still recovering from the chase-back to retrieve the ball from their opponents and are not ideally placed to exploit possession. So what does he do? He decides to ‘win’ a free ball.  He has no hesitation in raising the ball and aiming it into the legs of the NZ player (contrary to what is given with Rule 9.9), who is attempting to position to tackle him because he fully expects the umpires to ignore this foul and to penalise the player hit with the ball. As it happened the NZ player intercepted the ball with his stick, but the ARG player appealed for a contact offence anyway, possibly hoping that the umpire was too far away to be certain of what actually happened (the umpire was still recovering from his move to the baseline in anticipation of an NZ attack, but must have seen that the ball was raised from close range into the NZ player? No?) The umpire followed expectation following the claimed contact and the ARG player got away with this blatant cheating.

This raises the matter of the positioning of umpires and the number of officials on the pitch. I think, at this level, there should be five officials. Four flag officials running the arcs between the half-line and the goal-posts, each responsible for one side of a single half of the pitch, with some overlap around the half-way line, and an umpire in the center between the circles running the diagonals between the widths of the circles. In that way almost all incidents on the pitch should be supervised by at least two close officials and often by three. Should anyone think this number excessive they should consider that a top level tennis match is supervised by twelve officials and the playing area is a fraction of that used to play a hockey match.

I view the shot at the head of the IRE PWGKP when there was nobody guarding the left post and therefore much of the left side of the goal, as cheating i.e. as deliberate dangerous play. In my view the (highly skilled) shooter deliberately targeted the defender knowing the defender would not be able to adequately defend himself. A risible comment? If you like, but despite my Irish blood there are no ‘sour grapes’, a 3-2 loss is as much a loss as a 4-2 loss. There can be no doubt (the opinion of Keely Dunn aside) that the shot was dangerous play by the shooter and it was played where it was played deliberately. A small risk as ENG were winning anyway, but maybe he thought a shot wide of the defender would be more easily saved. There was nobody doing “a Maddie Hitch impression”, there was desperate evasive action, which in the circumstances was, I believe, legitimate. That shot would have been saved easily by a competent goalkeeper but a PWGKP, wearing only a helmet for additional protection, stood very little chance of stopping it.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/12/28/cheating/

December 19, 2018

Rule Changes for 2019

The FIH bring a band-aid to a train crash.

The following is from the FIH website (My comment in italics, but I don’t know why I am still bothering to make comment).

Lausanne, Switzerland: Every second year, the Rules Committee of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) may make proposals to amend the rules of hockey. In 2018, the following proposals have been made by the Committee and approved by the Executive Board:

(This is not a complete list of all the changes made; to find those you will need to look at the new version of the rule-book via the FIH web-site)

 

Introduction of the match format of four quarters as standard

In international matches, teams have been playing four quarters for some years and it is felt that uniformity in match formats can be achieved when all match formats are based on a four-quarter principle. Like in international matches, time is stopped between the awarding of a penalty corner and the taking of that penalty corner. Other than in international matches, where this is covered by FIH Tournament Regulations, time is not stopped to celebrate goals as this was introduced primarily for television coverage. The four quarters has additional advantages at junior levels of the sport in which coaches often umpire youth school matches and the additional breaks provide for coaching opportunities.

(It is not stated above if playing time will be reduced from 70mins to 60mins as in current International matches. I don’t believe a reduction of time played will be popular. We could and I think should, have four quarters of 20mins in all hockey i.e. an addition to playing time to bring hockey more into line with other outdoor team sports).   P.S. Playing time has been reduced to 60mins.

Removal of Goalkeeping privileges for substitute field player

A mandatory experiment, with effect from 1 January 2019, taking out the option for teams to play with a field player with goalkeeping privileges. Teams have now two options: they either play with a goalkeeper who wears full protective equipment comprising at least headgear, leg guards and kickers and who is also permitted to wear goalkeeping hand protectors and other protective equipment, or they play with only field players. Any change between these options should be treated as a substitution. It is hoped that this experimental rule will enhance safety as field players will no longer have goalkeeping privileges so will not be entitled to use their body to stop shots at goal and it also enhances the promotion of the sport by eliminating the issue of outfield players wearing other shirts to indicate goalkeeping privileges.

(What the FIH cannot bring themselves to say is that attackers will not be entitled to raise the ball at a field-player in the goal with impunity as they would at a goalkeeper in the goal – but fault and offence will apparently, and bizarrely, remain with defenders when an attacker raises the ball towards a defender in line with current umpiring practice but not with current Rule. The blurb above, especially that about the enhancement of safety and the promotion of the sport is only that – unsupportable blurb)

∙ Defending free hits within 5 meters of the circle

The explanation for how to treat free hits for the attacker close to the circle has been changed in Rules 13.2.f. It has now been made clear that players other than the attacker taking the free hit must be at least five meters away, including when they are in their circle. if the attacker, however, chooses to take the free hit immediately, then defenders who are inside the circle and within five meters from the ball may shadow around the inside of the circle as per the explanation of the rule before 2019. This has the advantage of not preventing the quickly taken free hit which has been widely welcomed by coaches and players, whilst maintaining the 5m rule used everywhere else on the pitch to provide space for the free hit taker.

(This is useless, there is in effect no change at all. What is needed is a restoration of taking the ball outside the hash circle when a free ball is awarded for an offence committed by a defender between the hash circle and the shooting circle. The present prohibition on playing the ball directly into the circle from a free inside the 23m line needs to be deleted and the Rules concerning the self-pass adjusted accordingly. Prohibiting the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit, in any phase of play, could sensibly replace both the present circumvented or ignored Rule concerning an intentionally raised hit and the direct playing of the ball into the opponent’s circle from a free awarded in the opponent’s 23m area. The long, high intentionally raised hit, which is very seldom penalised as it should be, could be dealt with with the imposition of an absolute height limit on any raised hit which is not a shot at the goal from within the opponent’s circle – but shots at goal that are made towards and ‘through’ defenders from beyond 5m must also be height limited, sternum height is suggested. The current adoption from the penalty corner Rules “above knee height and within 5m” being considered dangerous play, although not strictly Rule compliant in open play – where there is no minimum height mentioned – See Rule 9.9 is better than the lack of control we have from beyond 5m.)

∙ Free hits awarded inside the defensive circle
As in Indoor Hockey, a defender may now take a free hit awarded in the circle anywhere inside the circle or up to 15 meters from the back-line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to the side-line.

(Back to where we were, this should not have been changed the last time it was)

∙ Completion of a penalty corner
Rule 13.6 that described the completion of a penalty corner for substitution purposes and for a penalty corner at the end of a period, has been deleted. The option that a penalty corner is completed when the ball travels outside the circle for the second time no longer exists.

(A change that seems designed to further disadvantage the defending team. I can’t see the need for it or anything wrong with the present reasons to terminate a penalty corner)

 

(Other areas where change and reinforcement are desperately required have – as usual – been ignored )

I notice elsewhere that a goalkeeper is now allowed to propel the ball over long distances with any part of his or her equipment, a welcome change and one I have been advocating for years. We can now expect to see goalkeepers launching counter-attacks using a hand protector as well as a kicker.

These amendments will come into force on 1 January.

These detailed revisions to the Rules of hockey will be available from Friday 21st December on the FIH Rules app.

Why do I compare the Rule change actions of the FIH RC in 2019 to the application of a Band-Aid following a train crash? Because it is obvious to me that some ‘heavy lifting’ needs doing to move things out of the way that are impeding the playing of the game to a consistency applied set of Rules. I think not only should that be obvious to everyone, it IS obvious to all that some Rules are not applied at all. In this category I will put the Obstruction Rule (where the prevention of a tackle attempt and not the making of a tackle attempt should be emphasized, but most umpires seem instead to be oblivious to the existence of the Rule) and the dangerously played ball when it is a shot at the goal (excepting a first hit shot during a penalty corner). Some Rules are routinely misapplied, here, for example, we have the ball-body contact Rule and the Advantage Rule. Some Rules are unnecessary or unfair, here there is Rule concerning the taking of a free ball in the opponents 23m area: a defender intentionally playing the ball over the base-line; and the Rule/s surrounding the aerial or falling ball, just to mention the more obvious ones. The FIH RC has yet again done nothing at all to address flaws in the game arising from these Rules, some of these flaws have been with us for thirty years or more (and are therefore ‘well established’ or ‘traditional’ elements which are preserved for only that reason.

Why do the FIH RC have a ‘back-sticks’ Rule, but permit edge-hitting? The ‘back-sticks’ Rule could reasonably be deleted, that would not be more dangerous than allowing edge-hitting and would not fundamentally change the way in which the game is played – rolling the stick-head over the front of the ball would remain the most efficient way of moving the ball left to right during stick-work. I mention only that one suggestion for change (which I accept might be too far ‘outside the box’ for some) for to list all of them would take several pages.

A related article:- https://martinzigzag.com/2018/12/30/the-prevention-o…and-rule-wording/

 

December 14, 2018

A rant about historical callousness.

I came across the article below, which was initially published in the Indian newspaper Firstpost, on the fieldhockey.com website on the 14th December 2008. It is a rant, and as such, it is repetitive and overlong – and it therefore reminds me of some of my own writing about the Rules of Hockey. Certainly, some of the phrases used struck a chord, those contained in the first and last sentences for example. I think there is overuse of the words ‘callous’ and ‘callousness’, other words could have been used more effectively on occasion, and the message is clear before the writer has written half of what he did, but there is no doubt about the indignation and passion felt.

I can at least break up some of my own ramblings with pictures and video examples to illustrate the points being made; even if very few readers interrupt their reading of an article to view a video (and very few people who browse YouTube videos link to articles when videos are produced just to illustrate them, which is often the case).

So here we go:-

When, just when, will the International Hockey Federation (FIH) stop peddling false information to the world at large!

The official tournament programme of the ongoing men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar is an illustration of the callous and distasteful level of indifference toward the game’s history.

India’s wins against Germany in the previous editions are not reflected in statistics published by in the programme for 2018 World Cup.

India’s wins against Germany in the previous editions are not reflected in statistics published in the official programme of the 2018 World Cup. (I assume that repettition is deliberate)

For a moment, forget what the FIH and its affiliated national associations across the world have done over the years in trashing the game’s history, the World Cup would still seem to be an elite event whose records remain sacrosanct.

Err sorry, think again.

And, please think yet again if you consider the FIH and its affiliated units as custodians of hockey’s legacy. (Perhaps a reference to the Hockey Museam?)

Even in disseminating the records of the elite World Cup tournament of the past—just 13 tournaments since the inaugural edition in 1971 —they seem to prefer fiction to fact.

“Don’t tell me they want to pass them off as official records, these guys should be fiction writers,” screamed a former Indian player who had featured in four early World Cups and even won a gold medal in 1975.

Drawing the attention of The Hockey Insider to the disinformation being passed around with FIH “Stats” as the label, the ex-Indian striker was aghast after a simple glance at India’s head-to-head World Cup records.

‘They’ve simply scratched out the victories we carved out,” said the former Indian striker who noticed something amiss when two games where he had played a role in the Indian victories over Germany did not figure in the FIH statistics published by the Official Programme of the 2018 World Cup titled “Stars Become Legends” and carrying images of lndian players Manpreet Singh and PR Sreejesh on the cover.

The startling missing facts that prompted the ex-Indian World Cup player to call Firstpost would stare any Indian hockey follower in the face. India had an unbeaten record against Germany, who played as West Germany until the 1990 edition, in the initial three World Cups: two victories and a draw.

India won 1-0 in Barcelona in 1971; drew 0-0 against the then Olympic champions at Amsterdam in 1973 and outplayed them 3-1 in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur. The India-Germany encounters at Kuala Lumpur were the stuff that lingers on in the memory of sports fans. India were leading 1-0 in their preliminary group encounter when rain disrupted the match.

Given the practice in the rain-affected 1975 World Cup —where a match was even shifted to another ground at half-time —this game was supposed to resume from that stage. But the FIH decided to replay the encounter afresh, brushing aside India’s protests. In the replayed match, which India needed to win to advance to the semi-finals, the Ajitpal Singh-led Indian team turned the form book upside down yet again to defeat the Olympic champions 3-1.

The 1978 edition in Buenos Aires saw the Germans hammer India 7-0 with the two nations playing out a 2-2 draw in London 1986.

Imagine, these matches are not part of the statistics that show just three India-Germany matches with all three confirmed as German victories. History is often misinterpreted by people wanting to twist it to their liking, but here is a case of sheer callousness.

It is not as if the FIH is an organisation incapable of actually dishing out the correct information. But, it seems, callousness about the game’s history has assumed such drastic dimensions in the FIH that they do not care about momentous events even the other day.

Thousands of matches are missing from the FIH data, simply because it seems the federation could not be bothered to look up the records or conduct research. The FIH wants the hockey fraternity to forget memorable matches and just have a tunnel vision that looks just at the elite events.

Those propounding great theories about legacy may one day find time between their coffee breaks to look up the game’s history. History, most often, is not confined to elite events. But then, the World Cup is one of hockey’s few elite competitions and here too a star player of yesteryears had to scream to draw attention to the callous mistakes.

Just scratch your memories for international matches you have seen or read about. The chances are they will not be there in the FlH’s “glorious” collection of records. Over the past two years, it has been highlighted by the hockey fraternity of South Asia that a majority of encounters that are part of the game’s epic rivalry between India and Pakistan are missing from the FIH records.

The FIH, however, does not seem to have the time and inclination to even look into the mess it has created by recognising some matches and de-recognising the others.

A few years ago, the FIH actually tried to give some semblance of sanity to the historical data that they circulate to the world.

Since then, the media and the FIH television partners are fed historical data that, politely said, is a joke. And this data is being circulated along with the television pictures.

It seems the hockey mandarins are very busy trying to sell misinformation.

Firstpost.

My own rants include articles about the statement by the Hockey Rules Board, in the Preface to the 1997 Rules, under Rule Changes, that following the deletion of the off-side Rule, “measures would be put in place to constrain potentially dangerous actions by attacking forwards close to the goal“. These ‘measures’ did not materialise in 1998 (Why not?) and were never again referred to (Why not?). In fact the opposite has happened attackers are allowed to hit a ball from any height, including from above head height, up into the goal from any distance within the circle and any evasive action taken by defenders, far from being a signal for penalty for dangerous play by an attacker, is just ignored.

What did appear in the 1998 Rules Preface was a statement that all existing Interpretations had been incorporated into the (sic) current rule-book, including those which up until that point had been produced exclusively for FIH Umpire briefings at FIH Tournaments, and that therefore no further such documents were necessary (so presumably the publication of such documents would cease?). The current reality is that the content of the still published UMB is now regarded as superior to what is given as Rule and Interpretation (Explanation of Application) in the rule-book and there is much unnecessary contradiction between the two, which creates ambiguities; it seems the hockey mandarins are very busy trying to ‘sell’ misinformation.

In 2001, at the behest of the HRB, the FIH Executive sent a Circular to all National Hockey Associations, which declared and instructed that no person and nobody, other than the HRB could compose or amend a Rule or an Interpretation. That didn’t stop the flow of unofficial ‘interpretation’, it increased dramatically after 2004, and in 2007 that instruction was sunk without trace when the HRB deleted ‘gains benefit’ from the ball body contact Rule. A Senior Umpire Manager had a chat with a few of his friends and ‘over-ruled’ the HRB on that deletion: so “gains benefit” was applied for the following eight-year period when it was not contained in the wording of the Rule Proper or in what was called the Explanations (of Application) after 2004 – so it was not Rule. “Or gains an advantage” (a pre “benefit” wording) was restored to the rule-book in 2016, but activated in May 2015 via an Executive Circular (an amendment which the UM’s did not disregard but which umpires now seldom apply correctly, often not even considering it at all before penalising a ball-body contact – I have written that a few hundred times in the past twenty years – umpires refused to let go of “gains benefit” but at the same time did not apply it appropriately or even in some cases, at all – especially when there wasn’t any benifit gained – and that is still the case).

During this same period, very sensible advice to umpires, which was introduced in 2002 and concerned what to watch for when applying the Obstruction Rule, for example:- “standing still and shielding the ball when under pressure” and advice about a player who was dragging the ball along a line while shielding it behind his legs and feet, among others, just disappeared during the ‘wholesale vandalism’ of the rule-book in 2004, which was presented as “simplification and clarification”.The above list is by no means a comprehensive one but the FIH present a picture of highly competent and consistent umpiring that they are very happy with and which all players respect.
The outrage of the Indian Team at the umpiring of an incident in the quarter-final match of the 2018 World Cup between the Netherlands and India which resulted in a ten-minute suspension for an Indian player at a critical time of a match, which India lost 1-0, is based on an incident which does not exist. The problem with ‘Records’ is that a 7-0 drubbing is recorded in exactly the same way as a 2-1 loss, which the losing side ascribe to poor umpiring. The FIH produced video highlights of the match do not show any such incident. I have no opinion concerning it as I have not seen it. When just when, will the International Hockey Federation (FIH) stop peddling false information to the world at large!

What is amazing to me is that players rise above the incompetence of Rule makers, the indifference to the Rules of the game and the poor display of Rule application by officials, which is the result of the FIH’s casual approach to Rule writing and to conflicted umpire coaching: some of the hockey played during the 2018 World Cup was incredibly good. 

November 27, 2018

The Einstellung Effect

The Einstellung Effect (pronounced Eye-stellung)

Einstelling is a German word which the author of A Mind for Numbers  Dr. Barbara Oakley, states means to put or erect a barrier or block a way, (that is not the translation I get on German language translation websites, but I will go with it because it is the inadvertent blocking of the mind by using a particular focus, as explained in her book that, I want to examine)

The Einstellung Effect is a tendency to continue to think in a way that is being used (on a present problem) or has previously been used in making judgements and decisions, which can lead to blocking of relevant though and therefore to less-than-optimal decisions or judgments. That is answers or decisions that are incomplete or incorrect.

The effect can be the culprit in failure to find optimal and/or simpler solutions to new problems when we see features of a problem that reminds us of similar problems we’ve solved in the past, (or seen others solve in a particular way). The first solutions that come to mind  tend to follow similar lines to those past solutions/decisions (to put it mildly). Those first ideas often get in the way of (block) the finding of better solutions or the making of correct decisions because they prime us to think in a certain way.

Cognitive traps like this may be the result of our natural desire to simplify the way we process information since simplification saves mental energy. Our minds are cognitive misers, using shortcuts to save cognitive power whenever the opportunity arises (we are naturally lazy or ‘economical’ with effort).

An example from the 2018 World Cup.

 

 

We can fall prey to the Einstellung Effect whether we’re novices or masters in any problem-solving arena (but you have been warned so may not immediately do so here).

Here are two examples of problems where difficulty with the Eintellung Effect is possible. The first has often been solved by young children in less than 20 seconds but has still completely baffled their teachers. Be warned there is some misdirection in the following puzzle.

 

1)

Car park puzzel

Solution

 

2) Read the following sentence and identify how many errors it contains

Thiss sentence contains threee errors

The solution is contained in this pdf along with the remainder of this article:-  Thiss sentence

Video examples

The following clip labours the text of the Rule and suggests improvements to it. I am not convinced that the umpire was even watching, and saw this incident, as he struggled to get back into a position in the circle. His failure to penalise for obstruction and physical contact (backing in and barging) is otherwise inexplicable (a goal was awarded).

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/11/27/the-einstellung-effect/

November 14, 2018

An example of Classical Conditioning

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Classical conditioning, the ‘Pavolivian response’ in which two events – here player action and umpire reaction – are not associated with the expected stimulus, The Rules of Hockey.

Just as Ivan Pavlov was able, in experimental conditions, to cause dogs to salivate in response to the sound of a bell or buzzer, rather than as is normal to the sight or smell of food, umpires respond to conditioning (coaching, peer group pressure, expectation) rather than, as they are expected to, applying the FIH Rules of Hockey as they are written.

(Not a strong analogy because a bell is ‘food neutral’ whereas umpire coaching that contradicts the Rules of Hockey is not neutral. But the training method is similar and something that should not be expected to cause the associated behavior, does so)

I received the following incoherent comment when I posted the above video on YouTube.

I’m afraid this is a consistent theme across all borders. A goal bound shot is just that irrespective of whether it might be dangerous. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy: it’s dangerous play at penalty corners so we put on protective gear (much like you would for ice-hockey) ……so it’s no longer dangerous! I stood on the line for many years and suffered from deliberate deflections that hit me in the face….guess what the result was.

My immediate thought was “Brain damage” but, I guess the result was that he was conditioned to believe, by the umpire’s responses to his being hit on the head with the ball, that it is an offence to be hit with the ball, but not an offence for an attacker (especially one taking a shot at the goal) to propel the ball in a way that will result in it hitting the head of an opponent if the defending opponent does not manage to get out of the way of the shot (and if he does get out of the way – takes legitimate evasive action to avoid injury – an on-goal shot will result in the award of a goal). And also the team of a player hit with the ball, who stops the ball, will in theses circumstances always be penalised with the award of a penalty stroke. That is, Rule 9.8 re: legitimate evasive action (and often what is given in Explanation with Rule 9.9 – i.e. raised towards, within 5m) will be ignored. The Rule itself ignores most situations where the defending player has no opportunity to take evasive action and is hit with the ball. i.e. there is no objective criterion for a dangerously played ball propelled from beyond 5m of the player hit (legitimate evasive action is a subjective judgement).

There are a number of fallacies and contradictions contained in the received comment but there is no cognitive dissidence caused to the player who made it because there is a trained disassociation between what is described as a dangerously played ball in the Rules of Hockey and the usual response, to what is in fact a dangerously played ball, from the authority figure of an umpire (apparently all or most umpires).

To summarize the received comment.

Umpires are right because they are qualified (and experienced) umpires, therefore a ball raised at my head at high velocity by an opponent *(when taking a shot at the goal) cannot be considered to be dangerous play because an umpire does not penalise that action as dangerous play.

  • There is an opposite attitude taken to the raising of the ball at an opponent when outside of the circles or a ball raised by defenders propelling the ball from within their circle. The logic of this apparently does not interfere with the ‘logic’ of not penalising any raised goal-bound shot, despite the fact that the Rules of Hockey make no distinction between these actions wherever a player is endangered with a raised ball.

Umpires are conditioned in the same way, by observing what other umpires are doing and following their practice, because that is a) What they are coached to do, because it is b) consistent c) easy (no need to judge if evasive action is legitimate) d) expected by players (who have been trained by previous umpiring decisions).

The Rules of Hockey are commonly regarded as subservient to (and alterable by) coaching from Umpire Managers and Tournament Directors, received during Tournament Briefings and match debriefings, despite that fact that the FIH Executive have previously instructed that this cannot and must not be the case, because these officials do not have the authority to make or amend a Rule or Interpretation (the Explanation of application provide with the Rule).

October 31, 2018

Running down the barrel

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

An absence of cognitive dissidence.

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a belief of a person clashes with ‘new’ evidence perceived by or presented to that person. (The evidence from the Rules of Hockey is not new but it has been blanked out by following what others are doing – following selected parts or peer gossip and invention – rather than by fully reading and understanding what is given in the rule-book)

When confronted with facts that contradict personal beliefs, ideals, and values, people will find a way to resolve the contradiction in order to reduce their discomfort. Often the way found is to dispute the validity or authority of the evidence (I am frequently asked at what level I umpire or umpired, as if that could change what is given in the Rules of Hockey, which I frequently quote)  or to point to practice by others that confirms the held belief or simply – and most commonly – to ignore it, shut it out, pretend it isn’t there.

A commonly held belief, that is wrong, is that umpires are responsible for interpreting the Rules of Hockey. In fact they are responsible for applying interpretations (meanings and purpose) of Rules provided by the FIH Rules Committee to the actions of players during a hockey match – that is interpreting the actions of players vis-a-vis the Rules of Hockey and the Explanations of Application provided with them. This has nothing to do with the interpretation (meaning, use) of the wording of Rules and Explanations, which is determined long before an umpire sets foot on a hockey pitch to apply it. The distinction is lost on many players and umpires, but only the FIH RC can provide Rule Interpretation, and umpires as well as players are obliged to follow what is provided in the rule-book by way of Rule Interpretation in all matches played under the auspices of the FIH. The above references to interpretation do not include changes to interpretation inadvertently made to Rules during translation from English to another language. It is common practice to disdain the ‘black and white’ of the rule-book as inadequate, based on ignorance of umpiring by rule-makers, umpires have even previously been told by senior umpire coaches that they should throw their rule-books away, because the Members of the FIH RC have no umpiring experience (which is untrue). It is worth enduring the following video (a little over five and a half minutes long) to get a picture of the process of the undermining of the authority of the FIH Rules Committee by those who should be supporting it and the mistaken notion umpire coaches have that it is part of their job to determine interpretation – rather than to pass on the provided interpretation. Umpire coaches should be seeking clarification from the FIH RC when this is necessary, not providing interpretation to the FIH RC for the Rules the FIH RC have written.

 

 

The video above is an extended version of a clip I first posted to You Tube in mid-March 2018, upon learning via a video Rule Briefing from the American Hockey Association that the positioning of an umpire close to the base-line and close to the left-side goalpost is, according to statistical evidence, the best place for an umpire to position to see offences committed in the circle. I always found this position very uncomfortable (and cannot believe in the reliability of such ‘stats’ – I would like to know what they were based on – i.e. what was being seen and what missed) because I felt this positioning cut me off from the play I wanted to see, and I avoided taking it up except when supervising the taking of the now defunct long corner on my ‘own’ side of the goal – and even then I disliked it.

I posted the above video (I have others showing similar ‘blindside’ decisions) because the incidents in it clearly demonstrate the weaknesses of the baseline/goalpost position during the taking of a penalty corner. Three times in this match a shot was made at chest height or above at an out-running defender during a penalty corner, the ball hit the defender on each occasion and then deflected into the goal. Each time the umpire missed that the shot was high and had hit a defender and awarded a goal. Each time the award was overturned on video appeal. Why the umpire positioned near the half-way line did not signal for dangerous play following any of these incidents I do not know, but she didn’t.

At the end of October 2018 I received comment on the video (which began “What are you on about“, and went on to state that I was “absolutely incorrect” to assert that any of the shots made were dangerous play by the shooter (a follow-up message conceded that, on review, the first shot was dangerous, but only because it was going wide of the goal – which gave me a good idea of the Rule knowledge of my critic). My critic did not seem to realize that the shots had been declared dangerous on the recommendation of the video umpire and that the opinion that the shots were dangerous play were not mine, I just agreed with those decisions. He then went onto say that shots two and three were dangerous play by the out-runner who was “running down the barrel” and thus caused the danger. When I disagreed and pointed out that there was no barrel and that a shot at goal with a drag flick was not in any way like a ball shot from a gun in a fixed position with a predetermined ball trajectory, he replied with a selected part of the Explanation of Rule 13.3.l – leaving out the critical “without attempting to play the ball with their stick” (see the video). According to his interpretation any out-runner at a penalty corner who closed on an attacker in the act of shooting was committing a dangerous play offence – the Rule statement to the contrary, (sic) “a shot made at a defender within 5m and at knee height or above must be penalised as dangerous” was simply ignored – avoiding cognitive dissidence.

A little history is helpful here. Prior to 2004 the relevant Rule, which related to all raising of the ball towards another player, not just to the first shot at goal during a penalty corner was this:-

By 2004 I had been pointing out on various Internet hockey forums for some years that many of the drag-flick shots (which were routinely made high until Ric Charlesworth changed this approach) were illegal, simply because they were raised at opponents, and this circumvention of the height limit on the first hit shot by means of a drag-flick should have a separate height limit imposed to a) make it legal and b) so that a dangerously raised flick – one that was made too high and at a player- could be identified and penalised as dangerous play. I still hold this view and suggest the sternum height of a standing player as a height limit (120cms which can be shown on a goal with a elasticated tape post to post around the back of the goal. This height avoids the problem of the ‘logging’ keeper but keeps the legal ball shot below most areas to which an injury could be life threatening). Shots not directed at a player would not be subject to a height restriction – so high shots wide of or above players would be legitimate.

Unfortunately, in a Pre-Olympic tournament in 2004 the coach of the S.Korean team, playing against Pakistan, devised a stupid way of defending against the drag-flicks of Sohail Abbas. These flicks, once made, were unstoppable by any player except a goalkeeper because above shoulder playing of the ball was not permitted to field players. The Koreans out-running players were coached to charge down the shots in groups of three, using their bodies to stop the ball. Their coach ‘reasoned’ that as raising the ball into the body of an opponent was an offence, an offence which would be committed just prior to the deliberate ball-body contact, this tactic would prevent Abbas from scoring. I don’t know why the match umpire didn’t use common sense and card the offending out-runners on the first occasion this happened, but he didn’t and the tactic was repeated.

As a result of these incidents in a single match an emergency change to the Rules (for the Athens Olympics) was made by the FIH RC, this was confirmed during a complete (and unrelated) rewrite of the rule-book, which changed the Penalty Corner Rule and introduced a mandatory penalty corner when an out-runner was hit with the ball below knee height. Rule 13.1.3.d. (above) was deleted as a stand alone offence and became, with the addition of a 5m limit, part of the Explanation of Application of the new Rule 9.9. – a Rule about the intentional raising of the ball with a hit when not taking a shot at the goal (so completely unrelated to high drag-flicks during a penalty corner). Part of the new penalty corner Rule 13.3.k. then conflicted with (contradicted) part of the Explanation of the new Rule 9.9, but never mind, umpires would use common sense – wouldn’t they?

We still don’t have a height limit on a ball raised at an opponent (with any stroke); from beyond 5m. Dangerous play from beyond 5m is left to the opinion of umpires, and based on a subjective view of the legitimacy of any action taken by a defender to avoid being hit with a raised ball – bizarrely raising the ball towards an opponent high and with high velocity from beyond 5m is not prohibited by Rule even if it is done intentionally.

This ‘cock-up’ has similarities with the later (2011) deleting of the Forcing Rule with the announcement made in the rule-book at the time that “any forcing action of this sort can be dealt with (penalised) under other Rules”a statement which has long been forgotten because it was not included in any rule-book after 2011 – Why not?. Could it be that the FIH were later made to realize that there were no other Rules which were applicable if the ball was not raised so the “any action of this sort” clause was a misstatement?

In 2008 at the Beijing Olympics a match commentator broadcast the view that an on target shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play, and during the incident being commentated about that was the line the match umpire took. The commentator seemed to be quoting from briefing he had received. The Tournament Director at Beijing was the Dutchman Peter von Reth (the same guy who in 2007 attempted to overrule the FIH RC concerning the deletion of “benefit gained” and who ‘contained’ a change in umpiring practice even though the FIH RC did delete the ‘gains benefit clause – and it was not restored to the Rule until May 2015 as ‘gains an advantage’ – so umpiring practice should have changed after Jan 2007, but didn’t).

The Dutch are at it again; in 2018-19 the KNHB have instructed umpires that legitimate evasive action does not apply to a defender defending on the goal-line during a penalty corner. A notion that is as inventive and wrong as the 2008 on-target shot nonsense was and is. and the notion of a defender “running down the barrel” is (this is, in fact, an alternative version of the “on target” invention).

Why isn’t there cognitive dissidence re: “running down the barrel” when a defender who has closed to within 5m of the shooter and is then hit by a ball raised towards him at knee height or above by the shooter, should according to Rule be awarded a free ball for dangerous play by the shooter? The contradiction between the assertions made about “running down the barrel” and this Rule could not be more obvious and it is not a complicated concept. An out-running defender closing on the player intending to shoot during the taking of a penalty corner, with the intention of preventing a shot or making a tackle for the ball with the stick, is not committing an offence: although I have heard more than one television commentator assert that this closing down action is of itself an offence, especially if done from within the goal (this added detail seems to lend credibility to this nonsense). The replacement of the penalty corner with a power-play in the 23m area is long overdue: it was overdue in the 1980’s when Fischer and Boverlander were making their fearsome ‘banana hits’.

Even now we have umpires who insist that an on-target shot at the goal cannot be dangerous play, that out-runners are the sole cause any danger to themselves even if a shot is raised high and directly at them and that defenders on the goal-line will not be afforded the limited protection from a dangerously played shot that is given by legitimate evasive action (the sole definition of a dangerously played ball from beyond 5m, even though it shouldn’t be the sole criterion). Prior to this time umpires used “positioning with intent” and “acceptance of risk” (risk from illegal actions cannot be accepted) to try to justify their unfair penalising of defenders. Some even declared – demonstrating their poor knowledge of playing hockey – that when a player was positioned behind his or her stick when attempting to stop the ball that was an intention to use the body if the ball was missed with the stick. (Have they not seen a defender trying to defend his feet to prevent a ball contact being forced by an opponent? Where are his feet positioned? Behind his stick of course).

 

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/10/31/running-down-the-barrel/

 

 

 

September 21, 2018

Unauthorized Rule exception in the Netherlands.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Dangerously played ball

While commentating on a video I recently posted to YouTube I was critical of a television sports commentator speaking within it who declared that a defender hit with the ball while on the goal-line defending the goal would (always) be penalised with a penalty stroke. The ball had in this particular incident been deflected up into the chest of the defender from very close range off his own goalkeeper – and yes, in such circumstances the award of a penalty stroke is correct, but the statement made is not (this commentator also said several times during the match that any ball-body contact would (should) result in penalty against the player who was hit with the ball – which is also incorrect  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”.).

I pointed out that if the defender had been hit like that by a ball propelled from close range by an attacker a free ball should (must) be awarded to the defending team. (In the same match the NZ team tried to score a goal during a penalty corner  using a pass followed by a high deflection of the ball at the goal from less than one meter (the ball hit a post and then the goal cross-bar and bounced back into play). That defection shot narrowly missed the head of a defender after hitting the goal-post. Had the ball been played directly at that defender he would have had no chance to evade it. Evasion in such circumstances has to be considered legitimate and therefore an indication of dangerous play by opponents. This is true even if the evasion attempt is not successful and the player is hit with the ball). These assertions have to be correct because otherwise Rules 9.8 (dangerously played ball) and the Explanation with Rule 9.9 (ball raised towards an opponent within 5m) would be ignored. Comment was made about what I had said during that video by an umpire from the Netherlands, who subsequently gave me a link to a special letter to umpires from the KNHB. The relevant part is set out below.

 

The Netherlands Hockey Federation

Koninklijke Nederlandse Hockey Bond

https://www.knhb.nl/

AGREEMENTS CLUB SAFETY ARRANGEMENTS (FIELD) SEASON 2018 - 2019 

AFSPRAKEN CLUBSCHEIDSRECHTERS (VELD) SEIZOEN 2018 – 2019

Wees Alert!

– Ook een schot op doel kan gevaarlijk zijn. Het schot op doel is gevaarlijk wanneer
spelers een terecht ontwijkende beweging maken (dit geldt niet voor de lijnstopper bij een strafcorner-situatie);

Obviously inaccurately translated by Google Translate below, but the message is clear enough for comprehension.

— A shot on target can also be dangerous-

The shot on target is dangerous when players make a rightly evasive move
(this does not apply to the line stopper in a penalty corner situation).

The invented clause, given in parenthesis, will always conflict with the second statement and is likely to align with the first statement, so I find the ‘club safety’ title ironic with this clause included.


I also got another translation which makes even less sense.

— A shot on target can also be dangerous-

The shot on target is dangerous when players make a rightly evasive move
(this does not apply to the line stopper at a criminal responsibility situation).

I does not matter which translation I write about but I’ll take the first one because I have been told by the Dutch Umpire that this is how umpires are instructed and anyway, to refer to criminality (by a defender) seems beyond bizarre. (There could well be a case made for criminality by the player who propelled the ball, but the deliberateness of a severe action (for example propelling the ball at the head of a defending opponent with the intention of inflicting injury) would be difficult to prove without several instances of it occurring. There might be need to be able to demonstrate that the player had been warned or penalised for doing it on a previous occasion – possibly even in the same match before criminality could be asserted. This difficulty has always stood in the way of penalising a deliberately dangerously played ball).

The first difficulty about applying this (this does not apply to the line stopper in a penalty corner situation) exception to legitimate evasive action, is that it is not a legitimate i.e. legal, Rule clause (which ‘kills’ it stone dead); it is an invention by the KNHB who do not have the authority to invent or impose such exceptions to the FIH Rules of Hockey (nobody other than the FIH Rules Committee has this power). It was not drafted by the FIH Rules Committee and submitted to the FIH Executive for approval and then approved by the Executive, which is the only legitimate procedure for making or amending Rule, (that is why it is not in the FIH published Rules of Hockey) so it is not and cannot be considered to be FIH authorized and should not be applied by any umpire anywhere in the world as if it is authorized by the FIH. I am not referring here to a correct interpretation of a valid Rule statement using different wording with the same meaning, which would be acceptable, but to contradiction. This exception does not even appear in the Dutch language edition of the Rules of Hockey produced by the KNHB themselves.

Even if this exception was valid (if it had been introduced by the FIH RC) there would be difficulties with the interpretation and application of it. For example, would this exception overrule not only what is given about evasive action in Rule 9.8 but also what is described as dangerous play in Rule 9.9. (that is raising the ball towards another player from within 5m)? If Rule 9.9 still applied (as it should) the exception would not be complete, there would be an exception to it, which would further complicate umpiring. If Rule 9.8 still applied there would be a contradiction created. Then, when is a defender considered to be a line-defender? When he or she is positioned on the line or a little in front of it? How far off the line must a defender be to be not considered a line defender or is that irrelevant, with “gained an advantage” overruling dangerously played? (Which should not happen because if the ball is dangerously played by a shooter before any advantage from stopping a dangerously raised ball with the body is gained, the first offence must be penalised first)

If Rules 9.8 and 9.9. would not apply because of this exception then there would be no emphasis on the safety of players or an enforceable demand for the consideration of the safety of other players or an enforceable demand that players behave responsibly – and the FIH Rules Committee might just as well be disbanded and cease its function. Then all National Associations could compose their own Rules, as the KNHB have done here and we could wave goodbye to participation in the Olympic Games (because of the IOC demand that there be a sole world Rule authority for any sport included in the Games): this means that the FIH are obliged to prevent National Associations or any other body or group from imposing their own “Rules” or altering FIH Rules.

There is also the problem of the Common Law legality of the exception. In Civil Law, accusation of the tort of negligence is often defended by pointing out that the plaintiff knew the risks and knowing of them willingly accepted them and in such circumstances there is at least contributory negligence by the plaintiff. Sport is an area where it may be claimed that participation alone carries a certain risk and that the risk must be assumed to be accepted by willing participants.

But that legal defence cannot be used if the defendant (the player who propelled the ball) has caused injury to the plaintiff due to a breach (especially a deliberate breach) of a Rule of the game being played. In hockey it is declared in Rule that to raise the ball (with no minimum height or intention mentioned) towards an opponent within 5m IS dangerous play, i.e. doing so is prohibited. There is no Rule forbidding a defender from positioning on the goal-line (if there were an umpire would be obliged to clear the goal-line of field-players before the commencement of a penalty corner).

It is also the case that causing legitimate evasive action (forcing evasion to avoid the probability of injury) defines a dangerously played ball (with no height or distance criteria for legitimate evasive action mentioned in the Rule, so no such limits can be assumed). Therefore any ball propelled towards an opponent, from any distance, where there is potential that a player may be injured if hit with it, can be a cause of (force) legitimate evasive action and can (must) be considered dangerous. Is that extreme and unreasonable? No, not when the ball can be propelled at a player at velocities in excess of 150 kmh and often is. Stripping out legitimate evasive action as a definition of dangerous play removes the possibility of dangerous play and that runs contrary to the FIH declared Rule emphasis on player safety, so doing that cannot be correct or acceptable.

Demonstrating knowledge by a defending player that the ball might be propelled at the position of that defender is an insufficient justification for penalising a defender hit with the ball (or awarding a goal if evasive action is successfully taken) because it is also true that the ball might be propelled elsewhere rather than at the defender forced to evasion – the defenders cannot know with certainty where the ball will be propelled – and attackers often engage in deception to cause uncertainty about the timing and positioning of the shot.

Moreover, when there is a defender positioned on the goal-line the player propelling the ball knows where that defender is positioned both before the ball is propelled and while it is being propelled and chooses anyway to propel the ball in the direction it is propelled while having that knowledge – and also with knowledge of the existence of a duty of care towards the defending players. The admonishment (i.e. Rule – “players must”) which demands play with consideration for the safety of others is set out in the rule-book on the very first page. Players are also instructed that they are expected to play responsibly (play with care and take responsibility for their own actions) at the commencement of Rule 9 Conduct of Play.

The fact that the existence of a dangerously played ball is based on evasive action means it must be acceptable in Rule for a defender to be in a position where evasive action may become necessary, it is therefore illogical to declare that a defender should not or cannot legitimately position on the goal-line to defend the goal during a penalty corner or may be penalised simply for being so positioned or for having accepted risk. Defending the goal is not in itself irresponsible behavior and attempting to defend a goal with the hockey stick can never (unless there is backsticks) be considered to be an illegal action (intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball is an entirely different matter – but the umpire needs to be certain of such intent before it may be penalised, a failure to stop the ball with the stick when an attempt is made to do so, cannot be assumed to be intent to use the body to stop the ball if it is missed with the stick even if the body is positioned behind the stick, players frequently position their bodies behind their stick especially when defending their feet and legs from ‘attack’).

When a ball is raised at another player and obliges that player to take evasive action to avoid injury (the opposite of intent to use the body to stop the ball) it is always the fault and the responsibility of the player who chooses to raise the ball in this way, not the fault of the player towards whom the ball was raised. If any penalty is to be applied in these circumstances it should always penalise the player who raised the ball – not a difficult concept and one that is fair and completely Rule compliant.

“But that will make it more difficult to score goals” That’s true, but so what? It is right and proper that it should require considerable skill to score a goal. The emphasis of the Rules is supposed to be on player safety, not on unfairly disadvantaging defenders or making easy the scoring of goals.

I wrote to the FIH about this matter last year shortly after posting this article and received a reply in November from Jon Wyatt, the FIH Development Officer. He assured me in that reply that neither the FIH Rules Committee nor the FIH Executive have given approval to a change to the Rules of Hockey along the lines of the instructions issued to umpires from the KNHB concerning legitimate evasive action, but I do not know if the FIH have contacted the KNHB about this problem.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/09/21/unauthorized-rul…-the-netherlands/

September 13, 2018

Moving with the ball

COACHING NOVICES

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

Before moving the ball with the stick it is necessary to learn how to hold a hockey stick correctly See above link for separate article.

A learner driver backing a car out of a garage for the first time is probably unnerved by the starting of the engine when turning the key, and in a car with a gear-stick has to look through or under the steering wheel to locate the clutch pedal, puts the car in reverse gear using both hands, and then struggles to coordinate engaging the gear, steering and looking where he is going. A year later he is doing these things easily without a though about how he is doing them. How? Long practice develops muscle memory and confidence.

The motor tasks a novice hockey player has to learn to usefully be able to take part in a match are no less daunting than those a learner driver in a car has to master and bad habits can be learned in the early stages of developing muscle memories which are later difficult to correct – so it is best to avoid learning and repeating poor technique.

Moving with the ball in close control is fundamental to the playing of hockey but by itself is near useless, the player also has to have reason for moving in a particular direction and be able to see where he is going and what needs to be avoided if he is to make progress with the ball to a passing or shooting position, and then be able to pass or shoot – evading a tackling opponent is akin to driving in fast heavy traffic – not for the complete novice.

Before or during the process of learning how to hold a hockey stick and move a ball in control with it, it is necessary to learn how to look and how to move the feet to maintain a balanced position. I’ll start with looking. This can be done before introducing a walkabout session in which players simply try to avoid colliding with each other in a confined area or after the difficulties have been discovered by the players taking part in a walkabout.

Peripheral vision.
It is not strictly necessary to look at the ball at all while dribbling with it because it is possible to feel the ball in contact with the stick and well practiced players can move the ball about using just feel, but even skillful players will take an occasional glace at the ball while at that time keeping their surroundings in peripheral vision and will usually employ peripheral vision to keep track of the ball rather than looking directly at it or at the other extreme,  using just feel. Players who look directly at the ball the whole time (which novices may do to the exclusion of all other available vision) can’t direct their moving with the ball because they cannot see where they are going or plan to go anywhere in response to any stimuli – they are reversing a car while looking at what they are doing with their hands and the steering wheel.

To demonstrate peripheral vision, ask the players to spread out along a 23m line and the look at the cross-bar of the goal at the further end of the pitch. Now get them to put both arms straight up in the air above their heads and bend their hands forward 90º at the wrist so that they are pointing towards the goal. Then while wiggling the fingers and keeping the crossbar in focus slowly lower the arms forward until the fingers come just into the edge of vision – they can be seen moving. Now, keeping the cross-bar firmly in sight move the arms further and further apart until the moving fingers disappear from view on both sides at the same time. Move the arms the other way until the fingers come back into the edge of vision.


Second phase.
With the arms down by the sides palms facing front and again while looking at the cross-bar bend the arm at the elbow while wiggling the fingers, until the fingers rise into view. Again from here move the arms far apart until the fingers disappear from view and then move them back into the edge of vision. The periphery of peripheral vision has now been explored. It should be discovered that because of binocular vision (two eyes side by side) it is in the shape of an oval which is wider side to side than it is top to bottom. The range of peripheral vision can be increased by doing this sort of exercise and others that can be discovered on the Internet – and it is very useful to increase it as much as possible, it should be a regular practice.

Now with stick and ball.
Stand upright with a ball positioned in front of the feet and touching them. Obviously no forward movement is possible without hitting the ball with a foot which is not good. Move the ball away about the length of a shoe and it is now possible to move the feet without hitting the ball. But, with the ball in this position it is not possible to see very far beyond the ball with peripheral vision, perhaps enough to see people in time not to bump into them when there might otherwise be a collision and loss of control of the ball, but nothing more than that. Unfortunately, many players while moving with the ball don’t move it any further away from their feet than this (about 30cms maximum) and therefore not only restrict their forward vision but also therefore the speed at which they can safely (without collision) move with the ball.

Now let’s see how far away from the feet the ball could reasonably be moved. With stick and ball look at the further goal cross bar from a 23m line and with the stick move the ball out from the feet until it can be seen at the edge of vision. It will probably be found that this distance is 60cms -70cms from the feet (depending on player height) and that to keep the stick in contact with the ball it is necessary to bend the knees (something not done at all or not done deeply enough when the ball is close to the feet). It should also be found that to remain comfortable in this position it will be necessary to move one foot in advance of the other. The position can be modified slightly by, bringing the ball back, perhaps 10cms. because it is not likely that a player will often be looking up at a cross-bar seven feet off the ground and almost 70m away. The ideal distance of the ball from the feet can be fine-tuned by looking at players (or other objects such as flag posts) positioned at various distances and finding the best distance to place the ball so that it can be seen in peripheral vision (or the player or object can be seen in peripheral vision while looking at the ball). This should rarely be less than 50cms and more usually about 60cms. Then start to practice moving with the ball at the established distance from the feet.

If the player is used to an almost upright position with the ball held close to the feet, the new position will seem odd and maybe even uncomfortable at first, but it is worth persevering with it until the new practice overrides the previously learned habit. The coaches can empty their water pistols at players who allow the ball to drift back closer than 45cms from their feet. This is of course for use in what is termed the Indian style of dribbling. The former English style involved overtaking the ball from the left when moving it to the right and also a more upright stance when doing so. Moving between these styles (which are modified as a result) is an essential skill as both styles are necessarily incorporated into one style called stick-work – but that development can wait for the moment.

The eyes move and the head moves on the neck, which makes looking to other objects and the ball much easier but may also cause the player to carry the ball too close to the feet. The habit of keeping the head up as much as possible when in possession of the ball needs to be developed. It could help to think of breathing out through the nostrils towards the ground, rather than towards the chest or keeping the base of the nose parallel to the ground. After a while it is no longer necessary to do this sort of thing consciously, it becomes part of the muscle memory of the neck when a player is in possession of the ball.

Consciously thinking about what a particular part of the body should be doing – what position it should be in to carry out a particular task – is a fairly standard way of developing desired habits. Focusing on the use of the little finger of the left hand, followed by the positioning of the left elbow, when capturing the ball to the left prior to moving it to the right, is but one of many such combinations. Each part is developed separately and they are then strung together, in the same way that changing gear in a car is learned.

It is probably a good idea to get players familiar with moving the ball from side to side across the feet, so that they know about reversing the stick-head to play the ball, before having them try walking about with stick and ball in a small area avoiding bumping into each other. This is because it is quite difficult to move to the right unless the reverse stick is used, which can, without use of the reverse stick, result in the whole group moving anti-clockwise and always avoiding collisions or changing course by moving to their left (repeating triangular paths) with the ball on the forehand face. Being able to sidestep in either direction with the ball in control is a desirable skill when avoiding collision (or a tackle) and the next step after being able to walk forward with the ball in control.

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

Moving with the ball.

The typical foot-step when in possession of the ball might reasonably be called a kind of shuffle. It is certainly not similar to a typical long walking stride where the usual mode is to plant the heel with the foot pointing up at somewhere between 35º – 45º and then rock or power forward onto the ball of the foot.

The step might be explained to the novice as follows. Stand upright feet together and then take a side-step, keeping the foot pointing forward, to just outside shoulder width, to the right. Note how the foot is used, which part touches the ground first and how the foot is inclined to the ground. It will probably be outside ball of foot to ground first with the foot held almost parallel to the ground but with the toe end inclined slightly downwards. That is the sort of step that needs to be made, but forwards when dribbling forward. It is, incidentally, quite difficult to make a heel first stride when the knees are bent, so if there is a heel strike (which is caused by a leg movement made from the hip with the knee almost locked) it is more than probable that the player will not have his knees properly bent.

Stride speed increases dramatically as the player increases running speed but, stride length remains relatively short. A longer stride length and a heel high style of running (on the balls of the feet) with a high knee lift, does not generally appear until the player is sprinting free and has simply pushed the ball ahead and is chasing it, rather than trying to maneuver around opponents with it in close control.

So use the water pistols when players place a heel on the ground and have the foot pointing sharply upwards.


https://martinzigzag.com/2018/09/13/moving-with-the-ball/

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

 

September 8, 2018

Now after 25 years.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

In agreement with the point made in this article:-

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/25/opinion/sunday/college-professors-experts-advice.html

I have over the years come to the conclusion that those who umpire, especially those who are considered to umpire well, cannot explain to anyone else what the Rules of Hockey are and haven’t the slightest idea about improving them, either by re-writing them in simple English or by removing contradictions within them or by suggesting new ideas, new Rules or new ways of applying existing Rules. In general they tend to have learned the Rules of Hockey by ‘boning up’ on them just prior to a test taken many years ago and continue to apply those Rules as they were, come what may, until they are no longer offered appointments. At which point, or perhaps earlier, they become umpire coaches and perpetuate these same ‘own’ views. Many umpires were probably coached by such people. Here is a high level umpire coach, coaching on the Obstruction Rule (from the FIH Umpiring Committee’s published Umpire Managers’ Briefing – not from the Rules of Hockey)

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The coach, Jan Hadfield (above), speaks as if attempting to ‘manufacture’ an obstruction offence is a common occurrence, when it isn’t now (but it was up until the 1970’s), it now seldom happens (it is generally a waste of effort anyway because obstruction is so seldom penalised). The most common obstruction by far is by a ball holder who illegally shields the ball from an opponent to prevent a tackle attempt, but she does not mention this type of obstruction at all. It is ignored, perhaps in order to “take the whistle out of the game”. Examples of this kind of ‘application’ are seen in the videos below. Umpires should not of course interrupt the game with the whistle to award penalty more than is necessary, but they also should not fail to award penalty when it is necessary (required by Rule) that they do so.

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Bizarre

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What I have written in the opening paragraph may seem to be a bit harsh, but aside from the evidence of practice seen in the videos, which is not at all unusual, there is the writing of the Rules as published (that is piecemeal – bits being added or deleted over the course of years without any editing or incorporation or consolidation of the existing text) which results in conflicts and contradictions and absurd assertions, which I have only touched upon in the two videos above, to support that view. The Obstruction Rule is a case in point.

As I demonstrated in the first video. The major rewrite of 2004 left us with three bullets points under the heading ‘Players obstruct if they’; to those there can be added another four points, two from what is written (badly) about third party obstruction and two from the paragraph which was extended by amendment in 2009 (to prohibit a player moving to position between an opponent and the ball) ; this ‘tightening up’ which prevented players who were “moving away in any direction” shunting sideways with the ball to maintain a ball shielding position, was the last amendment made to the Obstruction Rule.

But then in 2002 Advice to Umpires in the rule-book (which was also presented in the 2002 Umpire Managers Briefing), contained three sensible additional points (or sub-points) that simply disappeared in the 2004 rewrite without ever making it into acceptance in what is termed Full Rule. Part of what was deleted in 2004 (from the 2002 advice) was restored in 2009 but the language used is (it’s still there) not as specific i.e. it is vague. There are a total of ten possible “Players obstruct if” bullet points (with some overlap and repetition) – and these do not specifically cover the two circumstances (aside from ‘manufacture’) in which an obstruction offence is an impossibility, one of which (on-side of the ball and the player) I try to explain in the second video above (the other being when an opponent is receiving the ball – because receivers, moving or stationary, are permitted to be facing in any direction).

There is, as further example of potential confusion, the assertion made in the Rules Interpretations up until 2003, that there is an onus on a tackler to position to make a tackle, which, it was written within Interpretation, usually meant that a tackler should move around the player in possession of the ball. (This entire interpretation was taken out of the rule-book in 2004 (deleted) but is still being applied by many umpires as if extant – the coaching video below ARG v GER is an example of this ‘interpretation’)

In the days when a receiving player could be guilty of an obstruction offence (pre -1993) the best time to attempt a tackle, other than an interception before the ball reached the intended receiver (which is still the most advantageous way to gain possession), was as the ball was being received. In those circumstances obstruction was always seen as occurring before the tackle attempt and the obstructing player penalised if the tackler was or came to be within within playing reach of the ball before the ball was played away or the receiving player moved away to keep it beyond the playing reach of opponents (so considerable skill, besides collecting the ball, was required of a player receiving the ball – which is no longer the case).

The ‘new interpretation’ (in fact an exception to the Obstruction Rule) reversed this situation. A receiver no longer needed to make a lead run to create time and space to receive the ball and among the worse times to attempt a tackle was (and is) as the ball was being received (these days such a tackle attempt is likely to be regarded as a contact offence even when there is no contact made). A player already in controlled possession of the ball, but shielding it, is in an even stronger position if the umpire sees no genuine and legal attempt to play at the ball by a tackler  – and what constitutes an attempt to play at the ball might actually be an impossibility when the ball is shielded to prevent such a thing happening – this is a circular situation, but one that is usually interpreted to the ball-holders advantage (which is hardly fair).

The video immediately below is a clip that was published by the FIH Umpiring Committee via the dartfish.com website. The ‘Interpretation of the action’ provided with it failed to describe most of the action which occurred between the time the GER player received the ball and when she had completed her turn about it, to once more face the ARG player, but concluded that the ARG player made no attempt to play at the ball and so could not have been obstructed. Such coaching can only cause great confusion, as the tackle attempts made by the ARG player are obvious, as is the deliberate blocking off of the ARG player by the GER player (it was with much relief that I discovered recently that the FIH Umpire coaching videos that were produced are no longer available on that website. It was infuriating to see such a potentially valuable coaching tool so badly produced. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, replaces them.)  I have overwritten this clip with my own comment.This is the interpretation of the action that was provided with the video by the FIH Umpiring Committee (in fact whoever they appointed to do the job).



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The only thing that was (and is as a lone player) even worse than attempting to tackle a player in the act of receiving the ball was (is) to attempt to go around a player receiving the ball to try to make a tackle. That simply provided the receiver, then in control of the ball, with opportunity to turn away to the other side and into the space just vacated by the player attempting to tackle. Whoever drafted the conditions of the ‘new interpretation’ clearly had no idea what was involved when defending or tackling during a hockey match.

There is no onus on the opponent of a receiving player to make a tackle attempt, there cannot be, and there certainly should not be direction given that a tackler must go around a ball holder to make a tackle attempt (or even the impression given that this is the case). In most circumstances sensible defenders will try to block movement by an opponent with the ball and hold their ground until they have sufficient numerical advantage to actively confront a ball holder and try to win the ball without the risks associated with loss of defensive position. This is of course not a hard and fast statement, a forward will try to tackle a full-back in possession of the ball in the full-back’s own circle whenever the opportunity arises, but in general defenders do not rush to tackle forwards outside the 23m area, when the attackers have good control of the ball and unmarked support, that is just common sense. 

 

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

 

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/09/08/now-after-25-years/

 

September 5, 2018

Mistakenly corrected

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

 

The incident in the video is about whether or not there was a ball-foot contact by the defending player but, perhaps more importantly, what the umpires should have done if they believed there had been a ball-foot contact. The fact of contact (once established) is not the end of the matter, it is not what penalty is based upon because it is not what offence is based on. if there is ball-foot contact a reasoning process must take place before a decision may be made. The Rule Explanation is absolutely clear on this point.

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.(my red bold)

So was there either intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball or an advantage gained from doing so?

I think that intent by the defender to use his body can be dismissed as he is clearly trying to play at the ball with his stick and besides that, at that range he did not have time to move into the path of the ball even if he had guessed what that path would be.

So advantaged gained? The ball clearly went out of play over the base-line before anyone else from either side could play it; but did it go out of play off the defender? If yes, then the defender disadvantaged his own team as a result of this contact because the umpire would have been obliged (following proper reasoning ) to award a restart to opponents on the 23m line (not a 15m to the defenders) – so no advantage gained therefore no offence. If not, then the correct decision is the one the umpire initially made, a 15m ball for the defending team.

Enter the support umpire. He believes he saw a ball-foot contact by the defender and indicates for a penalty corner. Why? Why he though he had a superior view of the incident compared to the view of it his colleague in the circle had from close range, is a mystery, but his reasoning should have been no different to that of the umpire in the circle – Assuming contact, was there either intent or advantage gained? – His signal if he thought he saw contact (but no deflection of the ball away from the goal, which there clearly was not) should have been for the award of a restart on the 23m line (one arm pointing in the direction of the base-line?) He had no grounds for recommending any other decision.

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“.

The Rule Explanation statement above is  something that does not appear to be generally known, or if known not understood, or if known and understood (as is claimed by all umpires), simply ignored by most umpires. Why?

 

 

 

 

 

August 26, 2018

Free ball PLEASE

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Can we have our Free-ball back?
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The above video is based on a 2009 video about the introduction of the Self-pass which even then was a revised edition. There have been many other changes to the Free Hit Rule made since the 2009 video for the Sydney area was produced. I have noted most of them within the above video. The video may need pausing from time to time to read text for which I have allowed insufficient reading time. The exceptions to that are the three frames of text I included at the end of it. I have reproduced those three frames below. My previous article https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/24/circular-reasoning/  contains the unlettered explanation text following Rule clause 13.2.f so I have not repeated that in this article. I can’t explain that text: I believe it to be inexplicable because of the logical fallacy and circular argument used within it to justify its existence: the justifications provided don’t make any sense to me.


The suggestions made above are not new (and to them can be added a restoration of an old Rule, the prohibiting of raising the ball into the circle with a hit in any phase of play – intention to do so being irrelevant) I have posted them many many times before, but I can only bear in mind, with hope, as I continue to do so, that these things take time. I was suggesting the Self-pass and Direct Lift in 2001; that is for more than six years before somebody with authority at the EHL took notice and acted. It took the FIH HRB another two years before they initialed the 2009 Experiment. The Self-pass did not become accepted as Full FIH Rule until 2011, but too much time has been allowed to pass with an unsatisfactory state of Rule.

The present complicated mess which is Rule 13.2 must be simplified, made workable, that is easy to apply and comply with, to produce hockey which is fair, sensible and attractive when a free ball is awarded.

The reasons for awarding a free ball and other penalties could do with some revision too. Have I mentioned the Rules concerning the Dangerously Played Ball, the Ball-Body Contact Rule and the Obstruction Rule?

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/26/free-ball-please/

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August 24, 2018

Circular reasoning

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

I have been trying to write an explanation of the notes that follow Rule 13.2.f (which is about the permit to remain within 5m of the ball when within the circle and shadow an opponent, in possession of the ball, who has taken a self-pass). I think what is written following 13.2. f   contains two logical fallacies which are not explained away by the words “On this basis” and “are therefore“.

I can see that “are therefore not interfering with play ….provided that they do not play or attempt to play the ball or influence play” (my bold) is true, but it is a circular argument. It uses the premises as the conclusion and would work just as well (badly) in either direction. It does not explain why 13.2. c   is being overridden when there is an offence committed between the shooting circle and the hash circle. Can anyone put the ‘explanation’ that follows Rule 13.2.f  into simple Plain English and (more importantly) provide any reasonable justification for including it in the Rules of Hockey?

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What was wrong with taking the ball outside the hash circle when a free ball was awarded between the shooting circle and the hash circle? That seemed very sensible to me (especially compared with the alternative we have been provided with). Defenders could then defend to the edge of the circle without getting within 5m of the ball and the umpire’s task was easier. 

Is the explanation given in the video below real?  “It didn’t look good on television“.  Does shadowing – but forbidding a tackle – look any better or even understandable on television? No, it looks very strange, especially when a defender is penalised for even attempting a tackle. I agree that placing the free outside the circle created a great deal of forcing of penalty corner awards but that was because it was not (still is not) possible to play the ball with a pass directly into the circle, so self-passers tried to dribble the ball over the circle line while also “trying to find a foot” or force some other kind of infraction from defenders. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the free had to be taken 5m from the circle.  The newly introduced facility to take a free ball from just outside the circle is not going to improve the previous situation. Why should it? A pass still cannot be made directly into the circle: if anything it makes the attacker’s task more difficult: there is in that situation, no or very little forward space into which to move with the ball.

Obviously the way forward is to withdraw this ban, which is irrational anyway when compared to with playing the ball into the circle in open play or the setting up of deflections during a penalty corner (it is the possibility of dangerous deflection, a potential danger, which is said to be in-back of the prohibition). It would make far more sense to ban the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit of the ball away from the continued control of the hitter, in any phase of play, that is prohibit a raised hit pass rather than 3D dribbling with the ball, including dink hits which do not propel the ball beyond the immediate control of the dribbler. Maybe that isn’t as obvious to others as it is to me. This might explain why the FIH RC persist with the present knot of interpretations; including forget lifted-think danger (which also forgets that an action which is contrary to Rule – an intentionally raised hit, not a shot at the goal – which disadvantages opponents, has unfairly disadvantaged opponents and should be penalised) It is a long standing principle of fair play that no player should gain an unfair advantage from a breach of Rule.

In soccer it takes at least two minutes to set up a free kick within 25m of the goal (with the referee having to mark the ground with a spray), that also looks terrible on television (besides treating professional players like unruly kids)- but what wonderful tension – just as with a hockey penalty corner, FIFA are not going to change this, they don’t care what it looks like on television.

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https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/24/circular-reasoning/

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August 23, 2018

An apparently well umpired hockey match

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

It is amazes me what is now seen as acceptable, even good, umpiring following the ‘interpretation slide’ that occurred after the introduction of the receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule (1993) and the deletion of the Forcing Rule (2011). Umpiring practice has led to hardly any penalising of obstruction (and some incorrect penalising for it when it does not occur) and also, in the other direction, the penalising of nearly all ball-body contact, instead of there being hardly any interruption due to ball-body contact.  It is strange that ‘interpretation’ has almost inverted the proper application of both of these Rules.
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The hitting of the ball at maximum power into the feet or legs of a close and/or closing opponent has never been adequately dealt with. The general attitude to this action seems to be that it is the defender’s (tackler’s) fault for getting in the way – and getting hit in such circumstances is an acceptable and accepted risk – tough players just rub the pain away and get on with the game (but a young novice who is subjected to this sort of treatment might well give up on hockey and instead play, the less painful and more reasonable, soccer – soccer is a contact sport but a player is not allowed to prevent a tackle by giving an opponent a kick in the shin, an action which would be about as painful as being hit with a hockey ball above the shin-pad or on an ankle).

I take the view that unnecessarily (avoidably and often intentionally) hitting the ball at high velocity into the feet/legs of an opponent who is attempting to position to make a tackle is not responsible play, even when taking a shot towards the opponents goal – it is irresponsible (because it frequently causes injury and almost always causes considerable pain to the player hit) and is therefore reckless play. I believe this action ought to be penalised as a forcing offence.

Obviously it is easier just to ‘blast’ the ball through an opponent rather than evading a tackle attempt and then resetting to strike the ball, that takes some skill, but hockey is supposed to be a game of skill.

The easy shove of the ball into an opponent’s planted foot when they reach for the ball with their stick is simply laziness and should not be rewarded with penalty. In most instances of “finding a foot” (how forgiving of what is cheating that phrase is) there is no good reason for the umpire to intervene and play should just continue.

I am not a fan of calling an out-runner at a penalty corner a suicide runner or of the mandatory award of a penalty corner if such an out-runner is hit below knee height with the ball; I think that simply encourages reckless, even dangerous, play and encourages intimidation and that Penalty Corner Rule ought to be deleted. (An out-runner who deliberately uses her body, rather than attempting to use the stick, to block the ball and prevent a shot during a penalty corner, may more rationally be penalised with a penalty stroke and a personal penalty)
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One of the five video referrals from the same match.
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My apologies for the up and down quality of the voice commentary on the videos.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/23/an-apparently-we…red-hockey-match/

 


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August 14, 2018

A second whistle

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested amendment to a Rule of Hockey

The current Rule 1.4.d

use all the available tools for control
Action. Amendment. Addition

Reason. Clarification. Improvement of control.

Suggestion.

Useful comment and suggestions are welcome.

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 is awarded or a restart is to be taken, 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 or a restart is being taken, the team about to take it will be required to start with the ball in the correct (an acceptable) position and to make the ball stationary (In the introduction to the current rule-book the FIH RC declare that umpires are not adequately requiring that the ball be stationary – even if only briefly) . Players will sometimes try to gain an unfair advantage by not complying with one or other or neither of these requirements. It is far easier and quicker to ensure compliance before such events occur than to stop play and to reset or reverse the free-ball or re-start. One way to do this is to make it impossible to continue play until there is compliance.

At present the umpire blows the whistle to signal intervention and gives an hand-arm signal to indicate in which direction a free ball has been awarded. Only if the ball is not made stationary or is not placed reasonably close to where it should have been placed when the free is taken will the umpire be required to take any further action. But sometimes necessary further action because of non-compliance is not taken, when it should be.Teams should not be permitted to disadvantage opponents unfairly by, deliberately or otherwise, not complying with rule requirements when taking a free ball.

In the video below (which is one of the large number of umpire coaching videos about the self-pass produced by the FIH and previously presented on dartfish.com) the umpire blows the whistle and signals direction but does not maintain sufficient presence to ensure that there is Rule compliance from the team awarded the free ball. (This compounded the mistake he made by incorrectly penalising the NZL player for obstruction – if that was the reason [which was stated to be the case in the provided ‘interpretation of the action given with the video] he penalised the NZL player – when the RSA player should instead have been penalised for an impeding offence).

That an umpire coach should select this play as an example of an umpire correctly applying advantage, because complying with the Rule might have disadvantaged the player taking the awarded free ball, is incredible.

That aside, the situation could not have arisen if it was standard practice for an umpire to whistle to signal intervention and the stopping of play whenever that was considered necessary and also standard practice to blow the whistle for a second time immediately the ball was satisfactorily positioned and stationary. With such standard practice the players of the team awarded a free ball would comply with the Rule requirements for the taking of a free ball as rapidly as possible and not, as at present, try to avoid compliance if they think they can rush the umpire into going along with such contravention (or they believe, often correctly, that the umpire will be either too flustered and confused or too lazy to call play back and have the free taken correctly or to reverse it).

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(The following part is taken from a previous article on the FIH umpire coaching videos about the self-pass. The comment with it is edited and shortened for this article)

Self-pass 4 FIH Umpiring Committee umpire coaching video – Analysis

 

4 Self pass Interp - incredible

 

The comment about the moving ball is very strange ‘interpretation’. It is a Rule condition of the ‘Free Hit’ that the ball be stationary when the free is taken (I don’t see a stationary ball at any point after the whistle was blown for the supposed offence). Umpires sometimes ‘bend’ this Rule if there is clearly an attempt made to make the ball stationary (something that has ‘wandered in’ from indoor hockey) but ignoring the requirement, because complying with it might disadvantage the taker, is not an option. If players get into the habit of making the ball stationary (which can be done in an instant) the problem doesn’t arise and the fact that the second whistle will not be blown until the ball is both stationary and in the correct place should encourage rapid compliance with the requirement – and very shortly improve game flow by completely removing a need for further interventions when a free ball is taken.

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This second video, below, is not one of those produced by the FIH for umpire coaching but it is a good example of a situation where obliging an umpire to ensure there was Rule compliance and then – and only then – blowing the whistle for a second time to permit play to recommence would have ensured fair play.

The positioning of the ball for what was supposed to have been a 15m ball and the number of touches made before the restart was considered taken are both matters for concern in the following incident. (The umpire then compounded this sloppiness by awarding a free ball to the Spanish side, penalising the ball-body contact of the New Zealand player, instead of, as he should have, awarding a free to the New Zealand team because of dangerous play of the Spanish player.).



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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

The player taking the awarded free 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)

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

The Ned player commits an obstruction offence followed by a forcing offence (at the time still extant) and then immediately, on realising it is not he that is being penalised, takes a self-pass, before the GER players, who are appealing for the award of a free ball against the NED player, have been given any opportunity to retreat. The penalty corner was awarded for failure to retreat 5m.

 

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 have done much to ensure fair play.

 


https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/14/a-second-whistle/

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August 11, 2018

Field Hockey: Lizzie Watkins. Regrets are not enough

I posted this article more than six years ago and took it down after about six months exposure. I re-post an edited version, with videos added,  because this needs to be asked:-           What has been done since May 2012 to make hockey a safer sport? 

Answer, absolutely nothing. On the contrary, players are now permitted to play the ball and even take shots at the goal on the volley when the ball is above shoulder height – which they were not permitted to do seven years ago. The only thing to have changed for the better is that the incredible notion that an ‘on target’ shot at goal could not be considered to be dangerous play, seems to have faded away during the last couple of years (that was an invention that should have been squashed by Circular from the FIH Executive immediately it appeared in 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, but nothing at all was done to dispel this silly meme or the stupidly devised ‘spin off’, that a raised shot that was wide of the goal was dangerous play, neither of which had any Rule support)

Nothing has been done to limit the way in which a ball may be propelled towards another player from beyond 5m and even the existing restriction on raising the ball towards an opponent within 5m (given in the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9) is widely ignored. The video below shows an incident during the 2018 WWC in which an attacker raised the ball towards a defender positioned within 5m of the attacker, causing her injury, and the umpire awarded a penalty stroke. I have no idea why the Japanese defender was penalised at all.

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The umpire saw no reason to intervene during the play shown in the above video.

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The fact that the death of Lizzie Watkins was not caused by an opponent raising the ball towards her with a hit, scoop, flick or deflection (there seems in fact to have been a deflection up off her own stick) appears to have been accepted as an indication that all is well, rather than as terrible warning that even fit high level players are at risk from ball injuries when the ball is raised by an opponent with a stroke or deflection – just as other participants are.

Reports on the death of Lizzie Watkins in a field hockey incident.

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Aside from a mention earlier in the week on the WA Website that Lizzie was “Rushing to tackle” there has been no hint from those involved that the incident occurred during a penalty corner or that a drag-flicked shot was made. Later reports state that the incident occurred during open play.

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There was also a regrettable incident, in a European Hockey League match in October 2011

From the Belfast Telegraph.

Geofrey Irwin

Godfrey Irwin might be said to be lucky. He was defending the goal during a penalty corner. The ball was propelled, with a drag-flick, high ‘through’ an out-running defender, who took evasive action.(there was a separate dangerous play offence before Irwin was hit)

Irwin, unable to track the ball from the moment it was propelled, because it was screened from him, had no chance to evade it. He knew the ball was traveling towards the goal but not the exact path of it.

He was wearing a mask but instinctively turned his head to protect his face and was hit on the back of his head just below his ear. A few centimeters higher and the strike could have been fatal to him.

He walked from the pitch unable to continue playing but unaware of the seriousness of his injury. (He had a fractured skull and a perforated ear drum and was later taken off work for a year by his doctors)

The game resumed with a penalty-stroke against Cookstown – for the ‘offence’ Irwin committed  –   being hit with a dangerously propelled ball.

I agree with Errol D’Cruz (Field Hockey.com article above) the penalty corner is now too dangerous to be continued in its present format (a statement I here base on the drag flick shot in the Irwin incident rather than the death of Lizzie Watkins, which D’Cruz mistakenly thought occurred during a penalty corner), but there is also a need for a definition of a dangerously played ball based on objective criteria, such as: 1) at a player and 2) within fifteen metres, 3) at a velocity that could cause injury, and 4) at above sternum height.

The emergence of the lifted reverse edge hit, so that it is now the preferred method of shooting at the goal in open play, makes such controls essential because the edge hit is generally not as well controlled, especially regarding height, as hit made with the flat of the face of the stick.

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Players should be given the facility to judge for themselves when they can evade the ball without ‘giving away’ a goal. At present players are being forced to self-defence when a high ball is played directly at them, because evasion of the ball is generally not seen as ‘legitimate’ by umpires unless the shooter is within five meters of the defender when the ball is propelled (and often not even then – see the first presented video above). When a ball may be propelled at 75mph / 150kph or more, five metres is a ridiculously short distance on which to base ‘dangerous’ – evasion is often not possible from more than twice that distance. To talk of skill level in determining if a ball of that velocity is (or even can be) dangerous is absurd.

Endangerment should be based on the propensity of the ball to inflict injury on any person it hits, not on the supposed ability of the person endangered to avoid being hit. The physiology of international level athletes, when it comes to the effects of ball impacts on flesh and bone, is the same as that as any other human being, and the difference in reaction times, between Olympic level athletes and the average healthy individual of the same approximate age, are statically insignificant.

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17th May 2012
I see from the news reports in Perth, Australia….

http://www.perthnow.com.au/sport/london-olympics/australias-olympic-hockey-players-shattered-by-death-of-perth-player-lizzie-watkins/story-fn9dj0r8-1226349325677

…that there is movement for the resurrection of a previous campaign to introduced protective helmets for field players.

I am sure that this would make the present situation re the dangerously played ball worse rather than better. Past experience has shown – as with the introduction of helmets and HD foam equipment for goalkeepers and the face-mask at a penalty corner for other defenders – that an increase in protective equipment results in a more cavalier attitude to endangering those wearing it.

I am also sure sports equipment manufacturers will be adding their support to the proposal, but I feel that the essential first step is to redefine the dangerously played ball so that a goal cannot be scored with a shot that has been lifted high and ‘through’ a defender. If a goal cannot be scored with a shot made ‘at’ an opponent in a dangerous way, but instead the shooter will be penalised, then attackers will stop making such shots.

This is the shot that hit Irwin on the head while he was positioned in front of the goal-line. At this point there has already been dangerous play; the ball was raised to above knee height directly at a defender who was within 5m of the shooter, compelling his evasive action.

Even if helmets are introduced that alone will not be sufficient action to reduce incidents of injury, it may indeed have the opposite effect. Changes to the Rules concerning the dangerously played ball will be needed even more if field-helmets are introduced.

Press article and comments from Perth Now

http://www.perthnow.com.au/sport/london-olympics/australias-olympic-hockey-players-shattered-by-death-of-perth-player-lizzie-watkins/story-fn9dj0r8-1226349325677

A DOCTOR is on a collision course with hockey officials over the sport’s lack of protective headgear after a young player died in Perth on Sunday.

Lizzie Watkins, 24, died after being hit in the head during a match at Curtin University when the ball deflected off her stick.

Melbourne doctor Denise Fraser said she would reactivate a campaign to make players wear protective headgear so such a tragedy would not be repeated.

“I am a hockey parent and I see a lot of kids hit with the hockey ball,” she said.

“A hockey ball … is not like a football or a soccer ball. It is more like a cricket ball, and when you are facing a cricket ball, you wear protective headgear.

“Goalkeepers wear head protection in hockey but the other players don’t. I have written to Hockey Victoria before and all they say is, ‘Thank you for the letter’. The rules don’t change.”

Hockey Australia chief Mark Anderson defended his sport’s safety record, saying the death was the first of its kind.

“We certainly believe hockey is a safe sport,” Anderson said.

 

Actual hockey player of Perth Posted at 3:14 PM May 11, 2012

This reply to the Doctor’s comment made in the above letter to the newspaper is typical of the other extreme – and based entirely on assertions that are false.

    As she said “hockey PARENT” never played the game to see wearing a helmet would get in the way more than anything and cricket players like goal keepers have the ball directly have the ball pelted at them at speed at head height. On the field the ball is meant to be kept below the knee unless flicked over head. People who don’t play the sport should keep stupid comments like that to themselves. If she’s that worried she can make her own kid wear one see how that goes for them…….. PS Wasn’t the ball that killed her was the ticking time bomb in her brain that got knocked enough to rupture. Get all facts before commenting.

Frank Watkins later e-mailed to inform me that his daughter had no skull weakness or especially vulnerable area like an embolism in her brain, she was physically a normal healthy individual.

.
My reply to the newspaper comment. Martin Conlon of United Kingdom Posted at 1:08 PM May 17, 2012

    Actual Hockey player of Perth has obviously never defended a drag-flick at a penalty corner. The Rules do need to be changed, the dangerously played ball is at present an almost entirely subjective decision by an umpire and a common approach among umpires at present (sic)  is that there is no such thing as a dangerous shot on goal. Defenders need to know when they can evade the ball because it WILL be called as dangerous (just as they can with a first hit shot during a penalty corner that is raised too high) and attackers need to know that they will not be allowed to score with a ball that is directed overheight at (‘through’) a defender. If attackers were prevented from scoring with high shots made ‘through’ defenders the problem of the dangerously played ball would rarely arise. The number of near-misses and minor head and face injuries occurring at present, particularly during the penalty corner and when other shots at the goal are made is unacceptable. I am however skeptical of the merits of protective helmets. Past experience has shown that allowing protective wear – like the face-mask at the penalty corner – simply increases the degree of danger players protected with equipment are expected to accept.

Actual hockey player of Perth  Posted at 10:21 AM May 19, 2012

   Penalty corners are another story all together I believe in the higher grades the posties should have to wear a mask and with saying that everyone that plays hockey know the risk and still choose to put themselves in the line of fire. Rules state everything goes in the D IF you are having a direct shot at goal if you choose to stand there knowing full well that’s the rule they are there at their own risk. It’s not a wimpy sport if you can’t deal with it don’t play it and stay at home and knit.

Although the above views could reasonably be described as inaccurate and extreme they are not at all uncommon. I have heard the ‘acceptance of risk’ meme even from senior umpires, when common sense should ‘tell’ everyone that no player is obliged to accept the risk of dangerous play from an opponent, because dangerous play is an illegal action. Illegal actions can never be ‘accepted’ as a legitimate risk. Everyone of course accepts that there is a risk of injury or worse from purely accidental actions – actions like the one that killed Lizze Watkins – and that it is impossible to legislate for incidents of this sort. But raising the ball at an opponent from within 5m is legislated for and such action is always to be considered dangerous play – there is no leeway for a different interpretation and no exception to this Rule (the only additional proviso is applied only during a penalty corner when the ball is raised towards an out-running defender; in those circumstances the ball is considered dangerously played when it is raised at the defender at knee height or above – I think that this exception should be struck from the Rules and the raised ball propelled at an opponent from close range should be considered dangerous play in all circumstances. The Exception given in the UMB, that a ball raised towards an opponent at below half-shin pad height is not dangerous, contradicts the Rule and should also be struck out – as should other Rule contradiction in the UMB such as “forget lifted”)

The gentleman wrote  PS Wasn’t the ball that killed her was the ticking time bomb in her brain that got knocked enough to rupture. Get all facts before commenting”. I agree that it is helpful to have all the facts concerning the fatal incident, but with nothing else that he has written. I wonder where he got his ‘facts’ about the ‘ticking time bomb’, the nature of the incident and also his opinions about the Rules of Hockey “Rules state everything goes in the D IF you are having a direct shot at goal. The Rules of course state nothing of the sort, but if theses opinions are generally held, or held even by a minority, then hockey is not a safe sport. And it is not in ‘safe hands’ if administrators and Rule makers do not accept that it is potentially a very dangerous sport.

The drag-flick came into being as a way of circumventing the height restriction on the first hit shot during a penalty corner, The FIH should address the circumvention of a Rule which was (and is) intended to curb dangerous play, not ignore it. (Aside from prohibiting the use of a drag-flick when taking a penalty stroke, the drag-flick is not mentioned in the Rules of Hockey, it is not even listed in the Terminology).

August 7, 2018

Advantage and Ball Body Contact

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

 

I have taken down my article Advantage and Misunderstanding, because I made the assertion in it that it is not possible to allow advantage to be played unless there has been an offence by an opponent (which was at one time undoubtedly true, but is probably not true now or not demonstrably so).

I can’t now argue (given the wording of Rule Proper 9.11) that advantage cannot be allowed to an opponent of a player following that player’s breach of Rule 9.11 when it is not an offence – although I would like to. What I need to argue is that there should be no distinction made between a breach of Rule and an offence – the criteria should be the same – creating a distinction between a breach and an offence merely created more confusion in two, already confused, groups of participants.

When neither of the current criteria for offence are met during a ball-body contact there should be no violation called and play should just continue (but, I would change the criteria for offence to something very different, see suggested Rule rewrite link below). I think it absurd that defenders are often more focused on avoiding being hit with the ball (because they are usually penalised for being hit) than they are on making a tackle for the ball, and attackers are often more focused on winning a penalty corner  by ‘attacking’ with the ball the legs of a defender (which should be a foul), than they are on trying to make space for a clear shot or pass. The alternative tactic to shoot towards the goal (usually at maximum power and with a raised ball irrespective of the positioning of defenders, in the expectation that if a defender ‘in the way’ is hit with the ball that defender will always be penalised), makes a nonsense of the Dangerous Play Rule and the supposed “Emphasis on safety”.

I am not happy that Rule 9.11 ball-body contact and the Explanation of Application given with it create a difference between a breach of Rule and an offence which applies in only this Rule, nor am I content with the wording of the disruptive advice in Umpiring 2.2a because it make a nonsense of the Advantage Rule.

Umpiring 2.2a   it is not necessary for every offence to be penalised when no benefit is gained by the offender; etc.

(Given:- that a ball-body contact offence requires either intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball – a very rare occurrence – or for there to be advantage gained because of ball-body contact – 2.2a however, specifically excludes advantage (benefit) gained)

It would more logically be put “ it is not necessary for every ball-body contact to be penalised…even if that duplicates what is given with Rule 9.11. and would require a separate statement for other offences. (The present wording I think illustrates the current undeclared attitude to ball-body contact, that it is either usually or almost always considered to be an offence – or, more accurately, called as an offence without any consideration of criteria or any reasoning at all)

I need to think some more about the Advantage Rule (12.1) aspect of this problem but my belief is that a return to the previous clarity of offence and no offence would aid understanding and correct application of both Rule 9.11 and Rule 12.1. This would require a realignment of the Rule Proper and Explanation of Application within Rule 9.11 ball body contact, so that they are not conflicting, but supporting statements: in fact the Rule Proper needs to contain the criteria presently given in the Explanation of Application. Both the present criteria for offence have at one time or another been written into the Rule Proper and there is no good reason why they should not now be both included at the same time.

For example:-

Field players must not intentionally or in a way that gives an unfair advantage to themselves or their team, stop, deflect, propel, kick, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.

What constitutes an (unfair) advantage gained is another murky area. The present attitude is not far away from “Any ball-body contact will gain an advantage for the team of the player hit” (I have heard umpires agree that among themselves, those in that agreement obviously did not care how the Rule was written or presented, they were simply going to penalise all ball-body contact)

I have some upsetting ideas for those simple people, in a suggested rewrite of Rule 9.11 (link below).

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/12/a-suggested-rewrite-of-rule-9-11/

July 31, 2018

Utterly wrong and absolutely right

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Edited 4st Aug 2018.

The Hockey paper have published a longer second (and I think objectionable) opinion piece on the shootout decision by Michelle Joubert, that decided the match between Belgium and Spain at the Women’s World Cup. I have added it at the foot of this article with a comment. Link immediately below.

http://fieldhockey.com/index.php/comments/41252-shoot-outs-still-excite-if-right-calls-our-made

The first article and my comment

https://www.thehockeypaper.co.uk/articles/2018/07/30/hockey-world-cup-controversy-as-belgium-denied-in-shoot-out-over-spain

By The Hockey Paper Rob Gilmour

Belgium’s Red Panthers were denied the chance of a World Cup quarter—final berth in controversial fashion as Spain advanced in a tense shoot out on Tuesday.

With the scores locked at 3—2 to Spain in sudden death, and after 12 shuttles, Louise Versavel had to score to keep Belgium in the game.

But with her back to goal in the D she was adjudged to have backed into Spanish goalkeeper Maria Ruiz by umpire Michelle Joubert and the game ended abruptly.

With no video referral forthcoming, Belgium remonstrated with Joubert leaving Spain, who achieved fourth in 2006, to celebrate wildly-

It did seem a particularly harsh decision given that the same obstruction ‘offence’ would generally be considered legal on the field during normal play.

However the FIH said in a statement to The Hockey Paper that video referral regulations do not allow the umpire to refer decisions of this nature, while “the footage shows the Belgium player backing into the Spain goalkeeper which is an obstruction-”

“Our world cup ends here, this is sport,” tweeted the Red Panthers account on social media.

The decision marred an othenwise drab play-off game after it had finished 0-0 at full-time_ Germany now play Spain in the last eight.

Comment

The umpire’s decision to penalise the BEL striker for obstruction was correct and I have to take issue with this mischievous and wildly inaccurate statement.

“It did seem a particularly harsh decision given that the same obstruction ‘offence’ would generally be considered legal on the field during normal play.”

It is never acceptable play, that is, within the Rules (legal) for a player in possession of the ball to move to impose her body between the ball and an opponent, to shield the ball with her body, and then to back into contact with that opponent. There are in fact three offences committed obstruction (Rule 9.12), physical contact (Rules 9.3) and impeding (9.4). but all of the described actions are specifically prohibited within the Explanation of Application of the Obstruction Rule. The fact that this combination of offences is frequently not penalised should be a scandal. It is ridiculous that when an umpire does penalise this combination correctly she is lambasted for it. The fault is with hockey coaches who encourage this sort of illegal play and have not instructed their teams in the Rules of the game – and of course with umpires who fail to penalise when they should do so and have created a false culture of ‘acceptance’ or even the impression that there has been a change made to the Rule or to the Interpretation of the Rule – a change that only the FIH Rules committee can make – and they have not done so..

I don’t understand why a video referral is considered not possible. “Did the attacker move to position herself between the goalkeeper and the ball?” is a question that is objective and the answer, which is observable, is a simple “Yes” or “No”. In the same way “Did the attacker back into the goalkeeper while shielding the ball from her?” and “Did the attacker make contact with the goalkeeper?” Are straightforward “Yes” or “No” questions. No subjective judgement is required to answer any of these questions: they could all be correctly answered simply by looking at video replay of the action.

The response from the FIH vis-a-vis subjectivity of decision concerning referral of the above incident is interesting with regard to questions concerning ball-body contact which the umpire has not seen – technically, if the FIH statement is true, a video umpire cannot accept such questions because a ball-body contact offence depends on two subjective criteria, intent or advantage gained. But I have never seen or heard of a ‘question’ like “They are asking for a penalty corner for a foot in the circle” rejected by a video umpire as an unsuitable or unacceptable question. Such ‘questions’ should of course be rejected.

I now have to indulge in some lambasting of this umpire myself because of an incident earlier in the match. It is the initial incident in the video clip below. The opening still picture was captured after the ball had fallen into frame, it went up about a meter higher than that.

The BEL #6 in attack deliberately lifts the ball upwards from the ground as it comes to her from the left flank, it goes up at least two meters above her head ( a height she may not have intended) and as the ball falls to within her playing reach she takes a volley hit at it, propelling the ball towards the goal, despite there being a ESP player within 5m of her (timidly in contention for the ball).

Even if the ball had been deflected off one of her own team and was falling towards her, to take a volley shot at it – instead of allowing an opposing (ESP) player to play it to ground – would have been an encroaching offence and dangerous play. To put the ball up like this herself and take a volley shot at goal as it falls in a contested situation is unheard of. I have never seen it happen before – although a very long time ago raising the ball and hitting on the volley was specifically prohibited within the Rules of Hockey.

Had that shot gone into the goal and a goal been awarded (which might have happened as the play that occurred was not penalised) then there really would have been grounds for protest and uproar. I don’t know what Joubert was thinking there. Perhaps surprise ‘threw’ her and she did not properly take in the action of the BEL attacker The whistle should have been blown to stop play (restart with a 15m) even as the ball began to fall.

I see that in the ENG v KOR cross-over match, that the ball rebounding directly up off the KOR goalkeeper’s protective equipment when she made a save on the goal-line (the ball went up less than 1m above the cross-bar), resulting in the immediate award of a penalty corner. That was a harsh decision, I believe a restart on the 23m line would be a fairer penalty for such an accidental (and potentially, but not actually, dangerous incident) even if the falling ball would probably, if the whistle had not been blown, have been volleyed into the goal by an attacker. This type of incident as well the intentional playing of the ball over the base-line by a defender, should not I think, be punished as if an intentional offence.

By The Hockey Paper Rob Gilmour
 The second article

Not surprisingly, the first shoot out of the Vitality Women’s World Cup created the tournament’s first genuine controversy. With Louise Versavel needing to score to keep Belgium alive, the enormously experienced umpire Michelle Joubert, awarded a free hit against the Belgian attackerfor obstruction on the Spanish goalkeeper. Spain are now in the semi-finals.

There has been plenty of conjecture as to whether the decision was correct. To me, there wasn’t enough for it to have crossed the ‘obstruction’ line but on the other hand, a far greater authority, the multiple Olympic and World Cup umpire Peter Wright, said on Twitterthat the decision was spot on.

But whether the decision was right or wrong doesn’t really seem to be the issue. What seems far more relevant is why Michelle Joubert chose to blow the whistle and not wait until the play ended, one way or another.

By deciding to intervene before any shot or save was made, Joubert, for all her experience, put herself into the still precarious territory of being perceived as the match decider. Had the play been allowed to continue, the onus would
have stayed on the players as well as allowing Joubert to stay true to a couple ofage-old, but still important, umpiring principles.

Obstruction or not, a shot over the backline or cleared by the goalkeeper, would have meant no decision to make. Relatively speaking we then wouldn’t have known the umpire was there. Had a goal been scored, the umpire, having
sensed a possible obstruction, could have used her referral. At least she would have ensured that she only had to blow the whistle when she had to.

As it was, the play was cut short not for an obvious foot or back of the stick but for a subjective decision with both players still in the contest for the ball. Belgium, having used their own review, were then doubly frustrated that Joubert would not review the decision herself but, in her defence, that would have raised a new set of issues.

Not only was it reasonable for Joubert to be 100% confident in her decision but umpire reviews are not intended to be prompted by aggrieved teams who have used up their own referral. Unfortunately, though, this turned an already
messy situation into a fully-blown controversy.

And it is this point that is far more important than whether Louise Varsavel was backing into the Spanish goalkeeper or not. With no extra time and double the number of knockout games, umpires need to be experts in understanding
and managing shootouts.

To that end, surely they should be allowed to use all the resources they have available to help them reach their decisions. So rather than just using referrals in shootouts as it is used in normal time, maybe it makes more sense for
the forthe Video Umpire to go and grab a cup of tea and let the umpires to use the replays in shootouts for themselves?

How much better would it have been for everyone had Joubert been able to just signal for a possible breach, and then four seconds later as the play had finished, use one of the conveniently placed big screens, as referees do in
Rugby Union, to review her decision, if it was still needed?

Referrals to the Video Umpire are great for situations where the speed or congestion ofthe play have made life difficult for the one umpire in thier circle but the simple fact is that shootouts rarely throw up those type of problems.

Not only do hockey shoot outs have one umpire perfectly positioned to watch the two competing players right in front of them but unlike in normal play, the other umpire is standing just as far away on the other side ofthe circle. Surely
those two people, with the added advantage of having been right next to the live action as it happened, are better placed to work out the right decision from exactly the same replays that the Video Umpire has access to?

Obstruction or not, the conclusion to the tournament’s first shoot out was untidy and unsatisfactory and in its current form, there’s nothing to say that the same sort of scenario won’t happen again.

Shoot outs are an exciting, competitive conclusion to matches but they will only be better than the lottery of penalty strokes if we increase the chances for the on-field umpires to make the right calls.

The Editor of the Hockey Paper does not seem to be able to accept that the right call was made. This correct decision was also made at exactly the right time, which, given that playing advantage was not an option, was immediately the offence occurred. There could have been no possible advantage to the IRE goalkeeper in allowing play to continue (the only reason to delay a decision) Advantage is not allowed to the player who is seen to commit an offence but to her opponent, if that is possible.

The other thing he has not been able to grasp, although it has been explained in the first article above (which I brought to his attention), is that obstruction was not in this case a subjective decision. When a player in possession of the ball backs into physical contact with an opponent, whether or not the opponent is at the time trying to play at the ball (the only subjective judgement that might be needed to be made during obstructive play) is irrelevant.

Obstruction is here (and usually) about the player in possession of the ball illegally preventing an opponent from attempting a legitimate tackle. Physical contact is in all cases where it occurs an additional offence that has nothing to do with whether or not an opponent is trying to play at the ball at the time of the offence. Whether or not there has been physical contact is not a subjective decision – when it occurs it is an objective fact – and it’s seen or it’s not seen by the match umpire.

Of course Peter Wright backs the decision Michelle Joubert made. We have one Olympic and World Cup level umpire backing the decision of another Olympic and World Cup Umpire (when he need not have done so) Rob Gilmour is not as far as I know a hockey umpire. 

Michelle Joubert was voted by her peers to be the best female umpire in the world in 2016. Is it the fact that the word ‘female’ is contained in that accolade that made the editor of The Hockey Paper forget that Michelle Joubert is also an Olympic and World Cup level umpire? That ought really get people annoyed. I’m not known for singing the praises of umpires (which is of course an understatement), I have even had caustic things to say about some of the decisions that Peter Wright has made, and I was critical of Michelle Joubert for a ‘brain fade’ on a high ball, in an incident during the same match, which I related in reply to the first article above, (no umpire is perfect as the late George Croft often remarked), but when an umpire is right she is right – Michelle Joubert was right to give the decision she did in the BEL v ESP shootout.

Here is an example of Peter Wright allowing a ball-holder to back into an opponent and make physical contact – without I believe noticing that it had happened. (I think that if he had seen the contact he would have penalised it, but he should have penalised for obstruction for the shown actions anyway, the ball holder certainly backs into the playing reach of the defender on at least two occasions, each time forcing the defender to give way to avoid contact. For some reason umpires are extremely strict on any contact made during a tackle attempt but very lax about penalising illegal ball shielding even when it is combined with backing in, which is obstruction – there should be balance here)

More on backing in here:- https://martinzigzag.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation/

 

I make my criticisms of umpiring ‘practice’ when that ‘practice’ does not comply with the published Rules of Hockey, Mr Gilmore appears to believe (and he is not alone) that past ‘practice’ (no matter what it may be) should (or does) over-rule Rule, which in a shootout at least, would (does) lead to a player turning her back to a goalkeeper and, with impunity, barging her aside.

My hope is that many more umpires will now (following Joubert’s good example) deal with obstructive play correctly, and coaches and players will rethink the tactic of turning to position between a goalkeeper and the ball during a shootout – and other opponents at other times – especially when they then back into the playing reach of an opponent who is intent on playing at the ball (clearly obstruction) and even go so far as to make physical contact (an additional offence). 

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

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/31/utterly-wrong-and-absolutely-right/

July 29, 2018

If only….only if.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Rule 9.11 Ball-body contact and the related advice from the 2017 Umpire Manager’s Briefing in shouting size with colour highlights.

The above Rule is very simple and the Explanation about how it is to be applied is reasonably straightforward, ‘reasonable’ depending on what is interpreted to be an advantage. So why is the application of Rule 9.11 so abysmally badly carried out in practice?

I think it indicative of the attitude taken to the Rules of Hockey by the Umpiring Committee that the text in the Rules is said, in the UMB, to reinforce the existing interpretation – instead of, as it should, declaring that the interpretation follows the text of the Rule and Explanation. Rules are not intended to reinforce interpretations that have arisen via umpire practice, umpires are supposed to be applying the Rules of Hockey, not making them, and the Explanation of application must, if there is to be consistency, be regarded as instruction, not just as advice or recommendation. But at least it is clearly stated in the UMB that the player only commits an offence if they gain advantage. Is that clear or does it in fact ‘plant’ the words “the player only commits an offence“? The above Rule Explanation, if it is read at all, appears to be ‘skimmed’ and applied as follows.

It is always an offence if the ball hits the foot of a field player. The player commits an offence if they stop the ball with their body.

The UMB leaves out the criterion of intentional ball-body contact, as well it might even if that should not have been left out, intentional ball-body (ball-foot) contact occurs about once in a thousand instances of such contact, if that. The gaining of an advantage following a ball body contact occurs in possibly 50% of instances but probably far less than that as the player is usually occupied trying to avoid being hit with the ball and if the player is hit the ball can rebound in any direction. Which team benefits is generally similar to the result of a coin toss, but it may be neither team, the ball might just run loose so that it can be evenly contested for. But a player who has been hit with the ball is penalised for ball-body contact in at least 95% of instances.

If, as seems to be the case, umpire coaches are striving to “take the whistle out of the game”, penalising ball-body contact only when it ought to be penalised would be an excellent way to achieve that aim.

Here (video below) is an example of an umpire, during the 2017 Women’s European Cup Final, BEL v NED,  accepting a video referral from the NED team claiming a ball-foot contact. I suppose that, because the match umpire obviously could not make these judgements, not having seen the incident, intent to make contact or advantage gained from doing so would have to have been left to the judgement of the video umpire, even though video umpires are not supposed to make these subjective judgements (see Tournament Regs. Appendix 15) – but only to make recommendation to the match umpire based on what is seen – which seems to me to be a contradiction which places both the match umpire and the video umpire in an impossible position: but on we go.

 

 

The BEL goalkeeper deflects the ball with her stick onto the foot of a defender positioned very close to her. This was an unintentional contact by the BEL defender, she could not avoid being hit. The ball then deflects away from the hit defender, was missed by a NED attacker – who immediately ran to the umpire to request a video referral – the ball then continues into the possession of another NED attacker without a BEL player being able to gain possession of it. The NED player then in possession passed the ball to a team-mate and an attack on the BEL  goal proceeded, but was halted by the umpire who had stopped time for the video referral. Naturally the video umpire confirmed there was a ball-foot contact and a penalty corner was ‘automatically’ awarded.

(What would have happened if the NED team had played the ball into the BEL goal before time was stopped, but while one of their number was occupying the attention of the umpire with a video referral request?)

Why didn’t the video umpire see and report that the BEL team had gained no advantage from the ball leg contact of one of its defenders. It is in any case unlikely that a team will gain an advantage following the disadvantage of having their goalkeeper play the ball into the body/legs of one of her own team. A gain of advantage became an impossibility when the ball then deflected off that defender into the possession of a member of the opposing NED team and the NED team were then able to play on and make an attack on the BEL goal. That the NED player closest to the defender failed to intercept the ball is irrelevant, the NED team gained an advantage so the BEL team could not have done so – therefore no offence occurred. I can see that from the play and I trust that anybody looking at the incident with an impartial eye would also. The answer to my question is I believe, that it is likely that this trained video umpire did not bother to look beyond the fact that ball contact with the leg of a BEL defender had occurred. Penalty just flowed, automatically and incorrectly, from the fact of ball-leg contact

What happened in this incident is pretty much the standard ignoring of the Explanation of Application given with Rule 9.11. thereby ignoring the criteria for a ball body contact offence to have occurred. The BEL team gained no advantage from the contact, on the contrary, if the ball-foot contact had not occurred the ball deflected by the goalkeeper would I believe have run to another BEL player further away from her and not into the possession of the NED player it was deflected towards off the BEL defender. That could have been ascertained in less than three seconds following the contact.

The umpire could correctly have penalised the ball shielding of the NED right flank player prior to her passing the ball into the goalmouth, a pass which led to the goalkeeper deflecting the ball away from the goal-line. But ignoring ball shielding is also pretty much standard practice – which is why ball shielding at every opportunity is standard practice for players. This is an area where the whistle really has been taken out of the game – almost completely.

Is there something beyond the reach of translation or beyond literal interpretation of word meaning in the text of Rule 9.11 and the Explanation provided with it? Are the words ‘only’ and ‘if’ being made to do too much work? Could the Rule be reworded so that it ceases to be so badly applied? How about Ball-body contact is not an offence unless the player hit with the ball…. But I think not, almost everything, including various rewording of the same criteria, has already been tried without making any difference whatsoever to ‘practice’. 

“Ball-body (foot) contact is an offence” is a meme, which umpires have been unable to get out of their heads for thirty or more years, despite the considerable efforts of the HRB and the FIH Rules Committee to get them to change that approach. It is a meme which will be heard repeated in every explanation of the Rules of Hockey offered by contributors to YouTube (including England Hockey), in many an International level player stands before the camera and informs viewers that this is a fact.  This ‘fact’ was also contained in the video made by the FIH, to give an idea of the Rules of the game to people who might be watching hockey for the first time during the WWC.

That raising the ball from close range into the legs or body of an opponent is always an offence is very rarely mentioned (perhaps because seeing an umpire penalise a player so hit, which is common, would confuse viewers?). 

I believe an entirely new approach to ball-body contact is required.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/12/a-suggested-rewrite-of-rule-9-11/

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/29/if-only-only-if/

July 27, 2018

Back-sticks Question

and a rant about obstruction.

https://www.thehockeypaper.co.uk/articles/2018/07/26/womens-hockey-world-cup-are-umpires-leaving-an-open-goal-over-own-referrals

The text below is taken from a part copy of the article by Todd Williams (link above) which was re-published on fieldhockey.com on 27th July 2018.

All four teams can still progress and three of the four (Australia, NZ and Japan) are fighting to top the pool and go straight through to the quarter-finals.

The margins are tight, every point and, in all possibility, every goal will be important in determining who progresses and who has to play in the, wait for it, pre-quarter-final cross-over elimination games, for finishing second or third.

The stakes at a World Cup are, as you would expect, as high as they get.

The preparation has been extensive and intensive but that of course doesn’t guarantee anything. Part of the appeal of sport is the fact that luck will play its part; whether that be the bounce of the ball or the shot off the post or goalkeeper that goes in or stays out.

Umpiring decisions also come into that category and there will always be, and should be, moments in sport where the interpretation of the umpire determines in what direction the play should go.

That said, the successful and effective introduction of the Video Umpire into top-level hockey has given teams at least one opportunity to question whether or not they’ve been on the wrong end of the stick from a big decision.

Seeing goal, penalty stroke and penalty corner decisions questioned and then overturned is now common place and all teams are aware of the need to use their referral, particularly early in the game, with care.

Critically, with the sheer speed of the game, as well as the congestion and intensity of the attacking circle, it makes absolute sense that on-field umpires have this extra resource to help them get as many of the big decisions correct.

That is why, sensibly, umpires also have the ability to make their own referrals when they sense that something they were initially sure about needs a second look.

With all these points in mind, doesn’t it seem a little bit crazy that the final make-up of Pool D, including which team’s tournament finishes then and there, could come down to a goal that was clearly scored off the back of the stick?

By pure coincidence, this conversation actually started on day one, with Japan’s second goal against Australia. With the umpire quite rightly allowing an excellent advantage instead of awarding a penalty stroke, Akiko Kato swept the ball on her reverse into the goal.

The only trouble was the replay showed that it almost certainly had been hit flush, not even off the edge, but with the whole back of the stick. Given that the game was into the last minute and Australia still had a referral, it seemed strange that they didn’t go the Video Umpire.

Barring the extraordinary, they had nothing to lose and, if successful, they might have just saved a goal which, as it has transpired could be worth its weight, if not in gold, in reaching the quarter-finals.

According to one of the Australian coaching staff, this was a rare self-confessed “brain fade” from the Hockeyroos wonderful goalkeeper Rachel Lynch.

The big question for all umpires out there though is what would the decision have been had the referral been upheld? Back to the penalty stroke or a free hit out?

While bettering your goal difference is one thing, gaining a point from a draw is another level altogether and that is why it would be understandable if Black Sticks coach Mark Hager had a polite word of concern to the Umpire’s Manager about Japan’s second goal in their 2-1 loss to Japan.

With NZ pressing for an equaliser, a speculative aerial was intercepted and played forward to Minami Shimazu who rounded the goalkeeper and, on her reverse, hit the ball into the open goal.
The trouble was, as players and umpires through most grades now know, when the ball had been hit by Shimazu, it had risen off the ground with the tell-tale looped trajectory that was slower than the speed of the swing and which almost always means that it’s been “topped” by the back of the stick.

Despite that, the umpire awarded the goal and although NZ scored four minutes later, Japan held on for a hard fought win.

Now, let me first of all say that none of this is Japan’s fault and nor am I questioning the ability of the umpire. It does however seem crazy and somewhat inconsistent that with the use of video at hand, we are talking about such an important goal being allowed to stand when, had NZ been able to refer it, it would almost certainly have been reversed.

I also take the argument that NZ had played their referral card and lost but back of the stick, just like the ball coming off the foot, is the equivalent of football’s hand ball and whether it’s Diego Maradona or Thierry Henry, we all know the justifiable uproar that has caused over the years.

After watching the extraordinary over-complication of VAR at FIFA’s World Cup, I couldn’t imagine for a second finding myself wondering if hockey should adopt any of their methods but maybe this shows that the VU checking the goal that has been awarded and letting the umpire know if there is a problem isn’t a bad idea.

Again, I’m happy to side with the umpire and say that the speed and angle of the play and the crowd noise has prevented her from seeing and hearing the critical clues of incorrect contact but surely we want goals scored with the correct side of the stick, no matter how close or open the goal is.

That is like reading the published views of a 16th Century Skeptic who knew he would be burned at the stake, for stating in plain language and spreading to others, what he really believed.

Does crowd noise prevent seeing?

I find it odd that Todd Williams should write an article about back-sticks and umpiring, especially in relation to Tournament positions at the pre-Quarter Final stage of a World Cup when we recently had a Commonwealth Games Final between Australia and India decided on the failure of an umpire to penalise an intentionally raised hit pass from outside the circle – which is a clear offence – a pass from which the only, and therefore the winning goal, was scored by the Australians with a volley hit from that raised pass . A Tournament Final decided on a combination of cheating and incompetence – where was the protest? Is that umpire in retraining? Are the players (especially the Indian players who should have asked for a video referral and clearly stated why they were doing so) being taught the Rules of the game? The Indian team were under pressure for much of the match and did not at any time seem likely to win, but they did not deserve to lose like that, through the carelessness of an official.

Clip of incidents in the JAP v GER match

I have studied the video highlights clip presented within the article, made a slow motion excerpt of the relevant part and also taken frame by frames stills from it. The first thing that needs to be said is that the video quality and frame rate are such that it is impossible to be certain about anything concerning the striking of the ball. The second, is that I can see no evidence at all that the Japanese player struck the ball with the back of her stick-head. The flight of the ball looks consistent with an edge-hit and perfectly normal in that context. I have no idea how Todd Williams arrived at “a goal that was clearly scored off the back of the stick.”

So what to do about the potential back-stick problems? That’s easy, delete the offence.

“Back-sticks’ is no longer sensibly an offence; and if it is possible to abolish the prohibition on above shoulder playing of the ball and, before that, Rule concerning the raising of any part of the stick above the shoulder, it is simply part of ‘progress’ and common sense, especially when edge hitting has been permitted for years, to allow the ball to be played with any part of the stick. Stick-work would not disappear, in fact it could be expanded, as ball-stick movements not legal now, could be added to the repertoire of those prepared to put in the necessary practice.

In another match, ARG v GER, I cringed as a television commentator, an expert international level player, demonstrated in commentary that she has no awareness of the Obstruction Rule, as she fulsomely praised a GER player for using her body to shield the ball from an opponent. As it happens she was wrong; the GER player collected the ball while facing towards her own goal and then immediately and quickly moved away from her ARG opponent – and the ARG player let her go – allowed her to create ample space to turn on the ball and pass it towards the goal, and from that pass a goal was scored. There was no use of the body to shield the ball in that incident.

Ball shielding is an illegal action carried out when there is an opponent within playing reach of the ball who is demonstrating intent to play at the ball, and who could play at it but for the shielding of it by the body or stick of an opponent – it is specifically prohibited within Rule 9.12.

So back to the JAP V NZ match and an incident shown at the end of the clip. A JAP player in possession of the ball turned to position her body between a close NZ defender and the ball (ball shielding) and then backed into her (a second criterion of obstruction), I am not sure from the video if she made contact but it is possible that she did (a physical contact offence). The NZ player was obliged to move away to give herself room to use her stick to either side of her opponent. The umpire positioned about 3m away saw nothing untoward in the play of the JAP player and allowed play to continue.

I find it absurd that there is ‘hand wringing’ about back-sticks but very few seem to care ‘a toss’ about obstruction. But it is certainly the most important Rule in the book after those concerning dangerous play.

Back-sticks even when there is no attempt from the player doing it to disguise the fact it has occurred, is generally difficult to see and it is frequently impossible to determine if it has taken place, even with video replay. Obstruction on the other hand is usually a full body block – players don’t even much bother with fast and subtle half-turns these days (but see clip below), they are generally blatant and brazen and even slow, when using their body to block off an opponent (also in the clip below).

The only real difficulty, is the speed of the action, the duration of the obstruction. An obstruction that disadvantages an opponent sufficiently to prevent them playing the ball when they would otherwise have been able to do so can occur in a split second – the time it takes a moving opponent who is shielding the ball to have run beyond playing reach. If an attacking player moves her opponent’s goal-side of the ball before she comes to within the playing reach of her opponent and then maintains that position as she moves across her opponent – thus shielding the ball from her as she does so (usually done with the back presented full on to the opponent) – there is no turning action at the position of the defender but there is certainly obstruction.

The video below shows two different kinds of obstruction offence. The first in the first seconds of the clip (and later in slow mo) is by a NED player who runs ahead of the ball and between the ball and an ARG defender. As the ARG defender, unable to play at the ball, accelerates to try to get ahead of her, the NED players slips the ball behind her legs to a team-mate (clever stuff and obviously a rehearsed move). The second obstruction is by an ARG player who simply runs in front of the NED ball holder – between her and the ball -and then props to physically block her off from the ball (rough stuff). I suppose that the umpire played an advantage as the ball ran on to another NED player. I would have awarded a penalty stroke to the NED team for that offence (Oh yes, definitely), if I had not already penalised the first obstruction by the NED team.

So what do we do about this sort of thing? Delete the Obstruction Rule or retrain our umpires and our players?  I can’t accept a deletion of the Obstruction Rule because that would lead to a fundamental change to the playing of the game. Retraining umpires would probably necessitate doing without the services of many of the current FIH Umpire Coaches, for who could retrain them but themselves? They show no sign of changing what they are currently coaching (which is to “take the whistle out of the game” by ignoring Rule breaches).  To apply the Obstruction Rule it is necessary to believe that there is such a thing as obstruction and that it is described in that Rule – and they obviously do not believe these things.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/27/back-sticks-question/

July 25, 2018

Misapplication

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Ball body contact. Forcing

World Cup Final 2014. A sports commentator at an outdoor match, perhaps misguided by the notion that if an FIH Umpire applies or fails to apply a Rule in a certain way (using ‘common practice’) then that way must be correct, causes confusion among viewers by lauding a foul by a NED player as if it was a proper and desirable skill, shortly after ‘drilling’ was introduced as an offence in the indoor game.

Below is what the FIH Rules Committee wrote under the heading ‘Rule Changes’ in 2011 in the Rules of Hockey – when ‘forcing’ was deleted as a stand alone offence.

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. (my bold italic)

(My apologies that above statements, which remain extant, are more than a year ‘old’ and were given in writing in a previous rule-book – and are therefore ‘black and white’ and ‘ancient history’ – unlike the ‘latest interpretations’, stories of unknown origin, which are passed on by word of mouth – it is difficult to think of a more inaccurate form of communication – or on the Internet, possibly the worse form of cascade because much of it is not attributable and certainly not official opinion).

If an illegal playing action results in penalty in the opposite direction to that which it did (or should have) previously, then there has been a fundamental change to the way in which the game is officiated and therefore played i.e a change in its characteristics. Forcing contact was an offence, raising the ball into a player from close range still is an offence, playing the ball along the ground (with modest force) into an opponent’s foot has never been considered any offence except a forcing offence. So what is the umpire to do? It is obvious that the statement  because any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules is untrue and a case of the Rules Committee not knowing their own Rules, so the grounds for the deletion because..etc..were a nonsense.
There is no mention at all of forcing in the current rule-book, so even the instruction, issued in 2011, that forcing should, where appropriate, be penalised using other Rules is not there to inform today’s umpires, as of course it should be.

However, the aim of simplification was achieved; it is simple to always penalise, no matter what the circumstances, a player who makes a ball-body contact: this is what is happening and it is simple-minded. It does not require though or judgement. “Did the ball hit a foot?” is an objective criterion not a subjective one and nor does it comply with the intent of the Rule, which is to ignore when irrelevant (which is usual) most ball-body contact.

In these incidents from the Rio Olympics (video below) the umpire (after consultation with his college !!!) awarded a second penalty corner (the first having been correctly awarded) because from the shot made from the first penalty corner the ball touched the foot of the goal-line defender (a foot which was sticking out wide of the post) on its way out of play. The shot from the second penalty corner made in the same way as the first also glanced off the defender’s foot in the same position and went out of play- so yet another, a third, penalty corner was awarded. So two penalty corners were awarded, here in direct conflict with instruction given in the Explanation of Rule Application. Such umpiring makes one wonder if these umpires have actually read the Explanation of Application provided with Rule 9.11. They took the time to consult with each other after the first foot contact and still got the decision wrong.

Back to Forcing.

The words “any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules” can only mean in the context, that any forcing action can and should be penalised using other Rules already in place at the time. But by 2014 ‘the interpretation’ (‘practice’) was the opposite, it was always the player forced to ball-body contact who was penalised.

In fact this was also the case prior to 2011, when the forcing (of ball-body contact in particular) was still clearly an offence, by the player doing the forcing. So, as far as umpires were concerned, there was no fundamental change in 2011, when the offence of forcing was deleted, they just kept doing what they had ‘always’ done and misapplied the ball-body contact Rule – often when the forcing action was also clearly dangerous play (a breach of the Explanation of application given with Rule 9.9 because the ball was raised).

At one time (1992) ‘what umpires had always done’ i.e ignored the written Rule or ‘interpreted’ it in a bizarre way (in a way opposite to the way it was intended to be applied) so infuriated the Rules Committee (at the time called the FIH Hockey Rules Board) that the criteria for a ball-body offence was changed to – both deliberately using the body to stop or deflect the ball and the gaining of an advantage (that change to Guidance lasted until 1998).

The 1992 change to the criteria for a ball-body contact offence made no difference whatsoever to the way umpires applied the Rule, they just continued doing exactly as they had done prior to 1992, when the two criteria were – intentional use of the body or a gain of advantage (and they umpired as if any ball body contact always gave an advantage to the player hit with the ball, which was what led to the change made in 1992. That ‘penalise all’ approach to ball-body contact is familiar to us now, in 2019, although still contrary to the Explanation of Application given with the Rule since 2004 and even to the change made in May of 2015).

(‘Gaining a benefit’ was deleted from Rule 9.11 in Jan 2007 – without making any difference at all to umpiring practice (Peter von Reth would not allow it to), and only reinstated via FIH Executive Circular, as ‘gains an advantage’, in May of 2015, so we have fairly recently completed yet another cycle of the ball-body contact ‘no change to umpiring practice’ merry-go-round.

The most recent development in the forcing and ball-body contact saga has been the introduction (2017) of a ‘drilling’ dangerous play offence in indoor hockey (dangerous forcing using high ball velocity combined with a pivot/spin with the ball from a shielding position – see first video above)- but with no counterpart in the outdoor game – despite a declaration from the FIH that the Rules for the two games will be kept ‘in sync’ as far as is possible. Why this Rule has not been incorporated into the outdoor Rules is a mystery – it’s certainly possible to do it – even desirable. .

The action of the NED player in the first video is a ‘shield, spin and drill’ and the defender had very little chance of avoiding the ball-body contact the attacker intended would result. I can’t see what advantage the defending team gained from the ball-leg contact, so I don’t know why the defender was penalised. The match commentators had no doubt that the forcing of the contact was carried out deliberately, they just had no idea that such forcing is supposed to be penalised (as any forcing may be) under “other Rules” – that is no surprise, this action has never been penalised as it should be and obstruction (illegal ball shielding) has been forgotten about.

‘Drilling’ following a spin-turn from a ball shielding position developed because ball shielding (obstruction) has not been penalised as it should be since around 1994. Here is an example. The obstructed player looks in astonishment at the umpire, as as well he might, when the following forced contact (illegal at the time the match was played in 2010) resulted in his being penalised for ball-foot contact.

The following video shows an attacker deliberately raising the ball into the legs of a defender from within 1m; the ball then deflecting off the defender to the advantage of the attacker (so the defender could not possibly have gained an advantage because the attacker did, the ball-leg contact was clearly not intended by the defender, so according to the Rules of Hockey the defender did not commit an offence). The attacker declined to play on even though he could easily have done so, the umpire (automatically) awarded a penalty corner.

Dangerous play. Forcing.

Dangerous play arising from a dangerously played ball, has not been penalised as it should be since around 2002 (following the publication of ‘The Lifted Ball’ an umpire coaching document, produced in the previous year). There followed in 2004 a number of Rule deletions and amendments which eventually led to the ‘on target shot’ nonsense which surfaced at the Beijing Olympics.

A blatant example (below) of deliberate forcing by an attacker who preferred to ‘win’ a penalty corner rather than attempt to shoot at the goal even though he was in the circle and goal-side of the defender he fouled. This was combined with what is technically dangerous play (the ball propelled at low velocity so unlikely to cause injury, but contrary to Rule 9.9 as it hit the defender, from within 5m – and also at at above knee height – but that latter point is not a criteria for the offence – the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9. mentions only the raising of the ball towards an opponent, it does not stipulate a minimum height). Penalty corner awarded.

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Here is another blatant example from the 2014 World Cup Final.


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The umpire was positioned directly behind the player who was hit with the ball and could have had no idea how high it was raised (it hit the defender on his thigh) but he waved away protest from the NED players. He should however have been aware that the AUS player charged bodily into the NED defender following raising the ball into him, to deny him opportunity to control the ball, obviously a physical contact offence. Why the NED players did not go to video referral I don’t know; bitter experience perhaps, but the goal scored against them from the corner must have been more bitter to swallow. What was laughable about this incident was the amount of trouble the umpire went to to ensure that the ball was placed on the base-line during the penalty corner  before it was inserted. Very close to the line was not good enough: an insistence on technical Rule compliance which was at odds with the seriousness of the deliberate dangerous play/forcing Conduct of Play offence he rewarded the AUS team for. The match commentators saw nothing untoward about the AUS player’s forcing action, the physical contact or the award of a penalty corner against the NED team; they expected the award of the penalty corner the AUS player went ‘looking for’ because there was a ball-body contact. Rule ignorance seems to be obligatory for television match commentators.

Rule 9.9. Explanation of application. 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.

There is a lot of confusion between the above Explanation and the Explanation of application given with Rule 13.3.l. which is about a first shot at the goal during a penalty corner:-

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.

In open play, which is subject to Rule 9.9 but not Rule 13.3.l. a ball may not be raised towards (at, into) an opponent within 5m – I repeat there is no minimum height given for that to be a dangerous play offence. The Umpire Mangers’ Briefing (which is not the Rules of Hockey) states that a ball raised into an opponent, in a controlled way, at below half shin-pad height (20cms?) is not dangerous (this statement conflicts with what is given in Rule 9.9 – such conflicts should not happen because they are, despite any liaison between FIH Committees, an unauthorized amendment to written Interpretation – this might be overcome by having FIH Executive approval the contents of the UMB – I would however prefer to see the discontinuation of a published UMB in line with the declaration made in the 2002 rule-book that documents other than the rule-book should be unnecessary for the instruction of umpires). The UMB, while stating what is not dangerous play, is careful to avoid stating what IS dangerous play.

General practice is to (sometimes) penalise for dangerous play only if the ball is raised into an opponent at or above knee height, but there is no Rule support whatsoever for this practice in open play. In the incident shown in the video below the video umpire based her recommendation for a free ball to the AUS team on the ball being played into the AUS defender at knee height. The match commentators were sure a penalty corner would be awarded – so the Rule knowledge of the video umpire was marginally better than that of the commentators, but not correct. There can be no doubt that had the ball been raised into the defender’s shin, rather than into her knee, a penalty corner would have been recommended by the video umpire.

(Futher ‘forensic’ examination of the above incident by correspondents on YouTube, months after I posted the video, revealed that the ball was played onto the defenders stick and from there deflected up into her leg – there can be little doubt that the attacker intended to play the ball into the defenders legs but she did not actually do so. That was something the match umpire had very little chance of detecting but it should have been seen by the video umpire and mentioned when her advice was given).

Change. ‘Gains benefit’.

The fundamental characteristics of hockey have been dramatically changed in the last twenty years because of changes to the application of the Rules without there being corresponding changes to the Rules. Some, but very few, of the changes that were made to the Rules have resulted in betterment of the game, however, if applied correctly, many more of them would have done (and fewer changes would have been made necessary). The self-pass is a good example of an opportunity missed, caused first by bizarre umpire ‘interpretations’ (for example,  allowed direction of retreat by opponents) and then by the introduction of unnecessary Rules in relation to it (for example, required moving of the ball 5m before playing it into the circle, which was compelled as a result of the unnecessary Rule that a free ball awarded in the opponent’s 23m area may not be played directly into the circle)

The prohibition on an intentionally raised hit is an example of an unnecessary Rule which led to a need to introduce more Rules and also to the UMB ‘interpretation’ “forget lifted” to circumvent it (why not instead clarify the dangerously played ball Rule by adding objective criteria?)

The ‘gains benefit’ saga is a prime example of an official FIH Rules Committee Rule change being prevented in a way that was without any authority whatsoever.

Due to the ‘generally accepted’ way of applying ‘gains benefit’ prior to 2007, mentioned above, the FIH Rules Committee deleted that criteria for a ball-body contact offence in the Rules of Hockey issued in January 2007 (an opposite approach to the one they took in 1992). In February 2007 Peter von Reth authored an ‘Official Interpretation’ on the FIH website in which he explained (without offering a rational explanation) that he and the Chairman of the FIH Rules Committee and a couple of unnamed others had agreed to the reinstatement of the ‘gains benefit’ clause and it would continue to be applied as it had been applied in 2006.

Here is the explanation for the reversion that was offered:-

The 2005/6 Rules indicated that it was not an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player unless that player or their team benefits from this. However, as with other rules, this continues to be an offence if benefit is gained. Rule 9.11 should therefore continue to be applied taking into account any benefit gained by the player or their team.

/http://fih.ch/news/official-fih-explanation-concerning-%C3%B4%C3%A7%C3%BFrule-911/

 That statement is irrational (and an insult to the intelligence of participants).  Because “unless that player or their team benefits from this” means exactly the same as “if benefit is gained” (the bolding of the word ‘is’ was not explained by the bolding of it), so the entire explanation offered is contained in the words “However” and “Therefore” and justified by “general discussion” and the unspecified feedback apparently received from various parties and a few unidentified National Associations – and given after the change to the Explanation of Rule 9.11. was made public, only three weeks before the above reversal was published. In other words there was (despite the title given to the announcement article) no official explanation or justification (indeed no justification of any sort). In passing it should be noted in relation to (“However, as with other rules, this continues to be an offence if benefit is gained“) that there was and is no Rule, other than ball-body contact, in which ‘benefit gained’ was/is used to determine offence and never has been.

The previous long-term disquiet about the way the Rule was being applied under the 2005/6 Rules of Hockey and those of previous years – the reason for the deletion of ‘gains benefit’ (active from January 2007) made by the FIH Rules Committee , after the usual consultations with all parties when a change is to be proposed to the FIH Executive, had taken place and Executive approval received, was just brushed aside within a month.

The ‘gains benefit’ clause was flawed because it could be used as a blanket ‘catch all’ when badly applied, but it should not have been deleted in its entirety, it should instead have been amended to make it both fair and workable. The deletion was extreme and we were then just forced back to acceptance of a previous extreme, one which had just been deleted by the HRB because ‘gains benefit was generally misapplied – all contact being seen as a gain of benefit.

This type of pendulum swing between extremes is common even in official Rule amendment, we went for example, from pitch length chip hits to a total ban on all intentionally raised hits, except hits made as a shot at the goal – this unrestricted exception being a sick joke if player safety was supposed to be the aim of the change, which banned intentional raising of the ball with a hit. A joke because intentionally raised hits were (and still are) most frequently made as a shot at the goal. The whole thing could have been dealt with by a height limit on any ball raised with a hit – and refined with another limit placed on any ball raised at an opponent with any stroke, even when taking a shot at the goal (and still can be). It is necessary I believe to retain the height limit on the first hit shot at goal made during a penalty corner. There is no reason to height limit any other shot made at the goal that is not made directly at another player, but there are very good reasons to height limit any ball raised directly at another player.

Advantage.

The Advantage Rule, which declares that there is no need to penalise an offence if no advantage is gained by the offending team (opponents are not disadvantaged by the offence) is not the same as the gains advantage statement in Rule 9.11. which in fact converts a ball body contact, that is not an offence, into an offence if benefit is gained by the team of the player hit with the ball. The difference between the Advantage Rule (12.2) and the ‘gains advantage’ clause in the explanation of Rule 9.11 is unnoticed by many umpires and thus advantage is commonly misapplied.

Interpretation

There are still a number of ‘loopy’ Rules in place (as dangerous or nonsensical as the now deleted ‘Own goal’ ) but the biggest danger to players and the future of the game is ‘interpretation’ and ‘common practice’ (umpires on their own or following instruction by their coaches, ‘overruling’ or ignoring the Rules provided by the FIH Rules Committee). It is for example forbidden to make a shot at the goal in a dangerous way (a way that endangers another player – recently and insanely changed to “an opposing player”) during a penalty corner (and by commonsense extension at any other time during a game) but one would never know that by watching the playing of any hockey match.

Other examples of ‘practice’, are seen in the above videos from some of the most senior umpires in the world – i.e. personal opinion – formed and derived from direction and coaching – that bears no resemblance to the meaning of the wording given in and with the FIH Rules of Hockey. In other words umpires are interpreting words (very badly) instead of interpreting player actions in relation to well understood instructions contained in the Rules of Hockey. Where instruction is not commonly well understood then the issues need to be addressed to the FIH Rules Committee – not subverted in personal ‘interpretations’.

Players, who are required to be aware of the Rules of Hockey and play according to them, have no chance of doing so with the ‘interpretations’ shown above (and I have not mentioned at all the edge-hit ‘clearance’ or the high ‘cross’ into the circle with either the edge-hit or an undercut forehand hit). Players who deliberately breach the Rules, are coached to flout them, get away with doing so because what they are doing has illegally or unconstitutionally become ‘accepted’ and ‘common practice’ within our umpiring culture (penalise a raised hit only if it is dangerous, but see no danger – or disadvantage to opponents – that occurs)  – is a meme of hockey.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/25/misapplication/

July 22, 2018

Playing Advantage

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A re posting.

The critical difference between “Play on (no offence)” and playing ‘Advantage’ following a ball-body contact that is an offence

The related Rules and/or Explanation of application.

Rule 9.11. Explanation of application.

It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

The above explanation is current and not as it was in 2014 when this match was played. At the time the criteria for offence were a voluntarily made contact or positioning with the intention of stopping or deflecting the ball with the hand, foot or body.

The previous ‘gains benefit’ criterion was deleted from the Rules of Hockey by the FIH Rules Committee on issue of the 2007-9 rule-book in January 2007. However, Mr. Peter von Reth contrived, in February 2007, that the FIH Rules Committee be over-ruled (an impossibility but it happened) and insisted that ‘gains benefit’ continue to be applied as it was in 2006. So although ‘gains benefit’ (as the present “gain an advantage”) was not restored to the Rules of Hockey until January 2016 (active via FIH Circular May 2015), umpires who wanted to progress did as they were told in the intervening eight years – and what the top level umpires were doing was carried by ‘cascade’ to all other levels. The incident in the video can therefore be examined as if current Rule (gain an advantage) should have been applied to it as well as the Explanation extent at the time (voluntarily made contact) because that was what was happening.

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

(”breaking the Rules” is a neat bit of ambiguity introduced apparently with the intention of fudging the distinction – which was previously very clear – between an offence and a breach of Rule which was not an offence, because it did not meet the criteria for offence. This whole confusing mess arising from the deletion of the word ‘intentionally’ from the Rule Proper – Rule 9.11).

The MAS player hit with the ball did not commit an offence but he was in breach of the Rule – a ridiculous situation created by a long sequence of deletions and additions to both the Rule Proper and the Explanation of application (previously Guidance) since the 1980’s (one of which, 1992, required in the Rule Proper, that there be a deliberate ball-body contact – AND an advantaged gained by the contact. None of various versions produced by the HRB/FIH RC over the past thirty plus years have made the slightest difference to the way umpires ‘interpreted’ ball-body contact – and that continues to be the case).

12.3 A penalty corner is awarded :
a for an offence by a defender in the circle which does not prevent the probable scoring of a goal

There was no offence

2.2 Advantage :
a it is not necessary for every offence to be penalised when no benefit is gained by the offender ; unnecessary interruptions to the flow of the match cause undue delay and irritation.

There was no offence to penalise but had the MAS player intentionally made contact with the ball in this incident (an offence) then ‘advantage’ could have been played.  It would be illogical to assert that both players/teams had gained advantage following a single ball-body contact by a single player, the MAS team were in fact disadvantaged by the foot contact made by their player as it deflected the ball towards an ESP player who would otherwise not have received it.

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I have posted the relevant part of the match video, with commentary, exactly as it was posted to YouTube within the full match video so that the comments and opinions of the umpires as well as the commentators may be known. What is obvious is that everybody accepted or believed that the ball-foot contact by the MAS player was an offence, when it clearly was not, meeting none of the criteria for an offence.

  1. The contact was not made voluntarily.
  2. The MAS team did not gain an advantage from the contact, they were in fact disadvantaged because of it, the ball being slowed and deflected so that it was easily collected by the second ESP player – who had an advantage ‘handed’ to him.
  3. The MAS player did not position with the intention of using his foot to stop or deflect the ball – he was in fact surprised by the deflection off the stick of the ESP player in front of him when the ESP player failed to control the ball and the MAS player could not avoid being hit with it.

So despite what he said he did the match umpire did not give or allow an advantage, he simply allowed play to continue because there was no reason for him to intervene. He could perhaps have usefully called out ”No offence-play on”.

Note should also be taken of this Rule provided in the section following Conduct of Play: Players, entitled Conduct of Play: Umpires.

12 Penalties

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

So even where there is a breach of Rule or an offence there is no reason to penalise if the opposing team have not been disadvantaged by it. How often that could be pointed out to the umpire who penalises ball-body contact as a reflex. In the incident under review the ESP team were certainly not disadvantaged by the ball-foot contact of the MAS player, they gained advantage because of it.

Advantage combo

The incident then took on a surreal slant as the video umpire, ignoring the ball shielding and ball-leading of the second ESP player as he moved to turn towards the goal (clearly an obstruction offence – but I will not go into the detail of that here), invented an interference with ‘the advantage’. Which advantage he was referring to is unclear but the penalty corner was apparently awarded because the ball-foot contact at the top of the circle did not lead to a clear advantage for the ESP team – which is a very strange interpretation of both Rule 9.11 and Rule 12.1.

Coaching note.

Pictures 4, 5, 6 above. The first ESP player, having seen the MAS player at the top of the circle deflect the ball and the second ESP player take control of it, should – instead of stopping and standing with his hand up in the air in appeal – have continued to play and rapidly supported the second ESP player to give him a back-pass option. A quick short back-pass would then have created an easy chance for the first ESP player to shoot at the goal from directly in front of it or to past to the third ESP player closer to the goal.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/22/playing-advantage/

July 12, 2018

Interpretation

RULES OF HOCKEY

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 (it was declared that they could not with certainty see intent to force a contact. 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 from a subjective one “Was there intent or advantage gained” 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 – which is bizarre.

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 of any given text, 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 her early hockey 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 9.9. “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 instruction 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 that disadvantaged opponents. The UMB advice  forget lifted – think danger (interpreted to mean think only of danger, ignoring disadvantage) 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 and Rule improvement, 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

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

 

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

 

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 in 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.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/12/interpretation/

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  (from -> to prevent) 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 is or what the purpose of it is? Is anyone suggesting that moving or even being positioned to shield the ball from an opponent is legitimate play? I don’t think so. So what is the problem? Why the wilful blindness?

 

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

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/08/preventing-a-tackle-ball-shielding/

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July 5, 2018

We don’t want any change

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, put in place. In my view the present application of the ball-body contact Rule, as seen in the following video, has to be changed for the good of the game:-

And the application of the Obstruction Rule needs to be changed too. Ernst dismisses my suggestions as ‘square wheels’ and has said to me that he has no time to respond in detail (indeed respond at all) to any of them. (He responds in comment (shown after the cartoons below) to say that this is a personal issue with my attitude and behaviour, he won’t engage in discussion with me because I am too confrontational in my writing style. In other words he can find no rational way to refute my arguments for change, but will not allow himself to be persuaded by them by actually properly considering 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” (who owns the game), perhaps I should use ‘us’ and ‘we’ to express my own opinions where that might appear more powerful. (“We” is apparently the large number of people Ernst has spoken to who also don’t want any change – maybe one of them could explain why not)

Howls of anguish at official changes made (many so-called changes are not official, but inventions ‘imported’ via ‘practice) and calls for no more change are not a new phenomena, there are still people complaining about the change from natural grass to synthetic surfaces for all top-level hockey (they do however offer capital expense as a reasonable argument against this change, even if that discounts the huge maintenance costs of grassed surfaces ), 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 post 1991. 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 (sic) 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 (so I can check my memory of playing to those Rules) 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 that, ironically, is now one that is almost unnoticed “we have had composite sticks since the beginning of time” (just as we have always had synthetic surfaces to play on) is a young (rich) and misinformed view and these changes are rarely recalled in Rule change lists.

In 1985 I had to make a virtue out of 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 wooden stick-head having been made as tight as it could get without timber break-out or without using in excess of twenty laminations, 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 rotational balance), in the stopping of the ball (and in scanning the field and in positional balance).

If you are not sure what the advantage is of not having to put the left hand to ground when stopping the ball while holding the top of stick with that hand, try this:- Using your normal left hand grip, 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. Not having to put the hand to ground to block the ball over a considerable length of the shaft is a very significant advantage.

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 moulded 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 very 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, Australia (in 1990), the then 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 could not and still cannot, dictate or amend the Rules of Hockey).

So we start and are stuck with (after that long introduction), the 1991 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 of the foremost player 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 (making correct umpire positioning difficult). 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 (forbidding the playing of the ball at above shoulder height when in the opponent’s circle) – as the least the FIH RC should offer for the loss to defences of the advantages of an 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 goals were made 1m wider for this tournament, made making any comparison of scoring stats worthless and that 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 so 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 such a hit 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 sternum height (120cms). There is supposed to be an issue concerning control of only the forehand edge hit, but in the mid 1990’s I 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 (ignorance of the correct technique) 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 grounds of danger. I have no doubt that with sufficient practice the forehand edge hit could be properly controlled. Look at reverse edge hitting now, good isn’t it? Consider those long head sticks from the turn of the 20th century, how did anyone play hockey with them? But they did.

 And very well too. There was however, because of changes made (nothing dramatic and ‘brilliant’ but a gradual evolution), improvements made. Hockey came to be as it was when I started playing in the mid 1950’s (By the ‘standards’ of the 1980’s the 1950’s stick-head was ridiculously long, but by the standards of the 2000’s the 1980’s stick-heads were ridiculously short). However despite (with a little practice) the much improved ball control they offered , many players refused for years to adopt the modern longer (hook and semi hook) heads which appeared post 1986. The original Hook, marketed by Grays after 1982, had a tiny initial take up – a good illustration of the ‘no change’ mentality, even when clear advantages could be demonstrated.

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 am 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 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). Most of my suggested change is modification, rather than throwing out all current practice and starting again at an opposite extreme – a pattern of Rule – or ‘interpretation’ change we should all be familiar with (see the deletion of the Forcing Rule in the video above or the current application of the, once too severely applied, Obstruction Rule).

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 (the player who raised the ball to fall in a potentially dangerous area was considered responsible for doing that – why not?). 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 then 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. At present players are forbidden to approach an initial receiver but there is nothing said about moving away to allow the ball to be received – an offen discussed oversight that could easily be rectified, but the FIH RC always forget to make this change. 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 as an Experimental FIH Rule in 2009 and confirmed into Full FIH Rule in 2011. It has never been applied as I envisioned it would be, being almost destroyed as an effective tactic within the opposing 23m area by the Rule prohibiting the playing of the ball directly into the circle from a free ball awarded in the opposing 23m area and also by a number of 5m requirements and restrictions associated with that 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 a free-ball 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 and from anywhere on the pitch) 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 the 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 (for example Rule 9.11 ball-body contact – not an offence unless) or becomes the Rule (Rule 9.12 – may be facing in any direction – which is now applied not only to a player receiving the ball, as it should be, but also, incorrectly, to a player in controlled possession of the ball, who is shielding it from opponents.

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 which lasted from 2006 until 2015: but ball-body contact is generally penalised even when there is no intent and/or no advantage gained by the player hit with the ball), 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.(His justification is that this is the way FIH Umpires are applying the Rule, which is an inverted rational and no justification at all) 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? I am pleased Ernst thinks the self-pass “a brilliant idea” but I have no way of knowing if any other suggestion I have made is good or a complete dud – it will depend on the application of it – in my view the way the self-pass is currently restricted makes that change an improvement to game flow but not as significant an improvement as it should do.

The frustration of having what seem to many people to be reasonable and important suggestions for change delayed for years or completely ignored or turned down without reason, can make them very unhappy, as can the useless and irritating chant “No change” when change is seen to be desperately needed.

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-change 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 minor 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:-

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/05/we-dont-want-any-change/

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 few hours 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. The presence of these skills is one of the main reasons people follow hockey.

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’ (the latter two 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 that makes it viable /attractive for the wide-scale introduction of hockey into schools. particularly State schools, which is something that desperately needs to be done) but I would not like to see 5-a-side replacing the present 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.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/01/headless-chicken/

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.

.

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?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

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 were 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.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/06/19/the-number-and-p…-match-officials/

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June 10, 2018

Hockey skills

FIELD HOCKEY SKILLS


Shorter version.

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

It gives me a wrench to see the joy with which small children in the above 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, but the passing skills have different aims (but like passing defending 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.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/06/10/hockey-skills/

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May 18, 2018

Contradiction

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

My interpretation of the action and of the application of the Obstruction Rule, is very different from that of the coach commentator, who clearly saw both ball shielding and impeding (with backing in) by the ENG player, but did not consider any of these actions 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.

 

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

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 (This advice is now contained the section entitled Umpiring as part of 2.2.)

  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.



.

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.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/05/12/more-insanity/

May 8, 2018

The Obstruction See-saw

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 (first a roll-in from the hand) and then 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.
(sentences, particularly the (c) part, 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 (2019) 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 out’ that difference – the exception – 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 – which is simply wrong.

 

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 moving the ball at any time 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 for obstruction 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 1987 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 believed the obstruction Rule ought to be deleted – and 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. A see-saw amendment.

Perversely, the above clause, instead of deterring stationary shielding, which generally 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 by a player in possession of the ball 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;

That seems clear enough, but it was commonly ignored quite early on and still is.

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, actually stupid).

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. The game has suffered as a spectacle, it is at times actually ugly to watch, and so has the general level of stick/ball skills because ball shielding with the body requires little stickwork skill.

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/

 


https://martinzigzag.com/2018/05/08/the-obstruction-insanity/

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.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/04/21/trial-of-9-v-9-i…ten-minutes-each/