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 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/

September 22, 2019

Obstruction Basics 3 The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Rules of Hockey.

Obstruction.

Twists and turns good spin turning. Spatial awareness, timing, early wide movement away from opponents.
Turning into, shunting across, blocking.
Physical contact.
Boring, near static play.

September 19, 2019

Obstruction Basics Part Two

Rules of Hockey.

Responsibility and Liability. Turning into physical contact. Turning to shield and then shunt (crab). Running past the ball to shield it. Blocking off by stepping over the ball and turning.

September 18, 2019

Did you get that.

Rules of Hockey.

Attackers Free Hit in the 23m area.

Not one of my videos. This well presented coaching is an indication of the state of the game when no though is given to the consequences of Rule changes.

https://youtu.be/nm08bW8XkR0

There is no Rule requirement that when a free ball is taken just outside the hash circle all defenders must move clear of the direct run path to the circle of a player taking a self-pass. This appears to have been an ‘interpretation’ of influencing invented by umpires (probably originating from an umpire manager) so it had no authority whatsoever. I use the past tense because this ‘interpretation’ has not been applied as far as I can tell for at least two years, having been allowed to fade away into the mist from which it came.

The prohibition on playing the ball directly into the opponent’s circle from a free ball awarded in the opponent’s 23m area is one of the worst impositions by the FIH Rules Committee in many years (exceeded in ‘daft’ only by the contradictory, and now withdrawn, ‘own goal’ Rule, which encouraged attackers to blast the ball as hard as they could into the circles in open play – How’s that for consistency of approach to potentially dangerous play, especially when coupled with “forget lifted” in regard to the raised hit?).

The silly ‘spin offs’ from the misnamed Free Hit Rule, a number of different 5m restrictions imposed on attackers and defenders, are clogging and slowing the game in critical areas of the pitch – and making umpiring more difficult.

An early taken self-pass, that is one taken before defenders, who ARE retreating, have been given opportunity to get 5m from the ball, should be treated as a advantage played (in any area of the pitch)and normal play should resume as soon a the ball has been moved by the taker. An early taken self-pass is reasonably viewed as an advantaged played, why else would a taker, given the choice, take a self pass early (taken when opponents have not fully complied with Rule) but to gain an advantage by doing so?

I would also like to see a second whistle sound used (the first to stop play and indicate penalty) the second whistle to be sounded the moment the ball is stationary and the umpire is satisfied with the positioning of it, to restart. (That should encourage the side awarded a free ball to comply as rapidly as possible with both of these free ball requirements – which they frequently don’t do at all.)

(Note Free Ball not Free Hit – because “a free hit can be raised with any stroke except a hit” is an obvious nonsense – somewhat similar to calling a 23m restart a long corner.)

There are a great many people who say that they are fed up with Rule changes and want no more, they now want a Rule change moratorium. I say “Sure let’s have that, just as soon as the mess of the game that has been made because of Rule changes going back to 1995 has been put right.” In other words “Up yours.”

Tags:
September 18, 2019

Obstruction Basics Part One

Rules of Hockey.
Obstruction.
Positioning between; backing in; moving bodily into; third party; behind the play – not onside of ball.

My apologies for the ‘blurred’ sound. I need a better microphone and also to eliminate background hum from my computer.

There were very few videos about obstruction presented by the FIH Umpiring Committe as umpire coaching via the Dartfish sports website. I present three of them here, and having seen them viewers will understand why the entire umpire video coaching production (which is littered with blunders) has now been taken down.

I start off the video with an example of umpire coaching about obstruction by a prominent umpire coach in the USA. I have asked him to replace it with correct coaching (but he will not because he says he is showing what FIH umpires are doing – cart before the horse – presenting what FIH Umpires are doing is, unfortunately, often to perpetuate error). The commentary and conclusions should have been the opposite to those presented in description of the action.

The action shown from the NZ v SA match was not presented in connection with obstruction, but with tackles and allowing advantage, that however was also inaccurately done.

September 16, 2019

Behind the play – not on-side of opponent

Rules of Hockey

Description of circumstances in which an opponent is not his or her own goal side of the ball or the player in possession of the ball and is trying to tackle. Such a tackler cannot be obstructed by the body of the player in possession of the ball (stick obstruction and fending off the opponent’s stick with a leg or arm/hand remain a possibility)

 

September 14, 2019

Not an offence – by who

Rules of Hockey

A look at related Rule and the forcing of ball contact in the last ten years or so. About thirty random examples from hundreds I have on video.
Watch the skill with which top players deliberately break the Rules and the aplomb with which top umpires allow them to do so.

September 13, 2019

Video referrals One.

Rules of Hockey

Ball body contact and encroaching mistakes.

Some very strange ‘interpretation’ of the ball body contact Rule , advantage and the Advantage Rule.

September 10, 2019

Learning from Mistakes.

Rules of Hockey.

After several years of producing incident clips from hockey matches I have seen the same umpires makes the same mistakes repeatedly. There is no evidence they know they are making mistakes, no acknowledgement of them, and certainly no learning so as not to repeat them time and time again.

I blame the FIH Rules Committee for inadequate Rules and the FIH Umpiring Committee for poor umpire coaching.

September 6, 2019

Guide Tape Dangerously Played Ball

Rules of Hockey.

Prior to 2004, the year when the stand alone Rule prohibiting the raising of a ball at another player was deleted (it was transferred to Rule 9.9. as Explanation and a 5m limit added to it – opening the way for the uncontrolled drag-flick shot, generally made as a first shot during a penalty corner). I used to write frequently to hockey forums to point out that the drag-flick shots then made, especially when made high towards opponents, were illegal.

I used to point to the absurdity of a severely height restricted first hit shot during a penalty corner and the lack of any height control at all over a drag flick, which could be made at the same or a greater velocity, than an undercut or edge hit, when any raising of the ball towards an opponent was prohibited. The Rule was simply ignored. The deletion of the Rule may well have been made in response to my pointing out it was not being enforced and that there did not exist any emphasis on player safety.

Now (and for at least the last ten years) I have suggested a height limit approach to both the raised hit made outside the opponent’s circle (even into open space – shoulder height) and a ball raised at an opponent (with any stroke or deflection – sternum height) from beyond 5m, even as a shot at the goal, as an additional means of applying both Rule 9.8.(dangerously played ball) and 9.9 (the intentionally raised hit). I have also suggested the restoration of the prohibition on raising the ball into the opponent’s circle with any hit, but all these suggestions are ignored.

There continues to be no evidence of concern for player safety, in fact quite the opposite, attempt has been made to remove legitimate evasive action as a reason to penalise for dangerous play. This is seen as progressive rather than stupid.

August 22, 2019

Dangerously played ball.

Rules of Hockey.

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

A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by opponents.
The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.

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.

The above paragraph is about raised hits, the following one is about flicks and scoops (which are by definition raised)

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous. If an opponent is clearly running into the shot or into the attacker without attempting to play the ball with their stick, they should be penalised for dangerous play.

I assume, following the advice of the UMB, applying common sense to the application of the Rules, the combination of the above two clauses, that a hit that is raised towards an opponent within 5m must also be considered to be dangerous play. Why would this not be the case when raised hits generally exceed the velocity of flicks and scoops? The paragraph does state that a raised hit may be considered dangerous.

The mention of a shot in the above clause is strange as in general play a ball could be raised at an opponent from anywhere on a pitch, it looks as if that phrasing was just ‘copy- pasted’ directly from the Penalty Corner Rule, which is careless drafting.

Most of the remaining Rules about a ball that has been dangerously raised with a hit or flick are contained in the Penalty Corner Rules. What is missing is the playing of the ball in a way, usually a scoop, that will result in a falling ball, a circumstance that may lead to dangerous play or be in itself dangerous if a scoop is made at an opponent. I am not going to comment further on a scoop or aerial pass in this article because I want to focus on an anomaly in the Rules concerning flicks and hits towards opponents.

Penalty Corner

3.3 l if the first shot at goal is a hit (as opposed to a push,flick or scoop), the ball must cross the goal-line, or be on a path which would have resulted in it crossing the goal-line, at a height of not more than 460 mm (the height of the backboard) before any deflection, for a goal to be scored.

The requirements of this Rule apply even if the ball touches the stick or body of a defender before the first shot at goal.

If the first shot at goal is a hit and the ball is, or will be, too high crossing the goal-line it must be penalised even if the ball is subsequently deflected off the stick or body of another player.

The ball may be higher than 460 mm during its flight before it crosses the goal-line provided there is no danger and provided it would drop of its own accord below 460 mm before crossing the line.

m for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous.

A defender who is clearly running into the shot or into the taker without attempting to play the ball with their stick must be penalised for dangerous play.

I have head match commentators and others state that it is a dangerous play offence for a defender to close on a striker during a penalty corner especially if the defender runs from within the goal. That is utter nonsense. Any defender who intentionally runs into the ball or the body of an opponent commits an offence, but a defender who closes on an opponent with the intention of playing at the ball with his stick is not committing an offence. If an outrunning and closing defender is hit with the ball that is a separate matter and then the Rule as published must be applied. It is wrong to conflate outrunning with getting hit with the ball. When a defender is hit with the ball that is frequently the fault of the player who propelled the ball.

Otherwise, if a defender is within five metres of the first shot at goal during the taking of a penalty corner and is struck by the ball below the knee, another penalty corner must be awarded or is struck on or above the knee in a normal stance,the shot is judged to be dangerous and a free hit must be awarded to the defending team

Readers may have noticed some anomalies in and between the above Rules.
1) The Rule governing the first hit shot at goal during a penalty corner is far more severe than the Rule governing any other shot taken at any time during a match. There is a height limit of 460mm which applies whether or not another player is actually endangered with the ball. A ball raised above 460mm will be penalised – for what penalised is not made clear, it seems to be just for failure to comply with the Rule.

2) On the other hand a hit shot which is raised below 460mm into an outrunning defender during a penalty corner, even if that runner is within 5m, will result in the award of another penalty corner. This directly conflicts with the Explanation of rule Application given in Rule 9.9 concerning the raising of the ball towards another player. The Penalty Corner Rule it seems overrules the open play Rule. However:-

3) Although there is no mention of knee height in the general open play Rules it has become common practice to regard any ball raised towards an opponent in open play as not dangerous if it is not raised to knee height or above. So Penalty Corner Rule is being applied outside of the penalty corner and is again considered the superior Rule – that has to be wrong. We have added to this the advice to umpires in the UMB which states that a ball raised into an opponent at below half shin-pad height is not dangerous – also a contradiction of Rule 9.9. Which, because it take no account at all of the circumstances in which such a ball might be played, is a dangerous nonsense.

4) The height restriction on a first hit shot during a penalty corner extends to and beyond the goal-line. The height restriction on a flick (drag-flick) extends to 5m; beyond that distance a flick shot can be judged dangerous only if it causes legitimate evasive action. But many umpires are of the opinion that evasive action taken by a player who is more than 5m from the ball cannot be legitimate because such players should easily be able to evade the ball (evading a ball that is travelling in excess of 100kmh is not at all easy). Legitimate evasive action is evading the ball to avoid being hit with it (and defines a dangerously played ball) so suggesting easy evasion as a reason for not penalising the raising of the ball at a player does not make sense especially when legitimate evasive action is not distance limited. The problem is of course that “legitimate” is not defined and is therefore a subjective judgement.

5) There is no mention of ball velocity in the Rules and no other objective criteria beyond knee height and 5m. There should be. It should be considered dangerous play to propel the ball at high velocity at another player at sternum height or above, from any distance. High velocity could be considered as a velocity that could cause injury to a player if hit with the ball at the height it was raised. The umpire can ask himself “If that hit me at that height would it injure me?”

6) The Penalty Corner Rule states:- for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous. That of course means that no flick or scoop shot should be made at the goal in a way that endangers another player. Hits are only separated into second and subsequent because the first hit shot is dealt with separately in the preceding Rule clause. Do we ever see drag-flick shots endanger or injure defenders? Hell yes, and the umpire then, contrary to Rule, penalise the defender.

7) The tactic of hitting or pushing the ball along the ground towards the goal during a penalty corner, an action which is indistinguishable from a shot, and then deflecting that ‘shot’ in a planned way, high into the goal from close range is another circumvention (the first being the drag flick) of the intent of the restrictions on the first shot at goal made during a penalty corner. I have seen defenders who have been hit with such a close range deflection penalised with a penalty stroke even though they had no chance at all of avoiding being hit with the ball deflected high into their body. A way need to be found of curtailing this development which is often far more dangerous to defenders than raising the ball to above knee height at an out-running defender who is within 5m.

The following video shows an example of what I consider to be a dangerously played ball. I have received comment via YouTube that the award of the penalty corner was correct because a defender can be seen to place his hand on the attacker. That is true, but that action, although an offence did not disadvantage the attacker in any way, and should have been ignored following Rule 12.1.  I hope my critic, who thinks I have a very awkward view of the Rules, is not an umpire but I suspect he is.

I have a collection of video clips, there are dozens of them, where an attacker has made what I believe to be a dangerous hit or flick into or towards a defender and a goal or a penalty has been awarded against the defender. I have only one example in which an umpire penalised a dangerous shot which hit a defender. The bias against defending is very pronounced.

August 19, 2019

Spin turn coaching and Rule

Rules of Hockey

The meaning and order of words.

The above video which contains two examples of online coaching of the spin turn to elude an opponent, one by a brilliant international player and the other by two youngsters. They are the same, and wrong in two vital aspects. Firstly no account is taken of a realistic tackle for the ball and secondly, the Obstruction Rule, which should determine how a spin turn is coached once the basic footwork is established, is completely ignored. In other words there is no advanced coaching, it does not go beyond the inactive dummy stage – so that is what is seen in hockey matches.

The Rule is not well written. I will here explain why I make that statement.

Firstly,clauses are incompletely or poorly worded.

Players obstruct if they back into an opponent.

Does that mean back towards an opponent (into the playing reach of an opponent) without making contact) or backing into physical contact? The following clause gives a clue.

Players obstruct if they physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent.

Backing into physical contact is physically interfering with the body of an opponent and there seems no reason to repeat the prohibition, ergo the first clause is not about making physical contact. But it could be claimed (and is) that this is a subjective interpretation of the wording and the matter is still not clear. So backing with the ball, taking the ball into the playing reach of an opponent could be legitimate except it is difficult to see how that could be done without shielding the ball from the opponent to prevent a tackle attempt, which is illegal. That brings me to the next problem clause.

Players obstruct if they shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

Under the heading Obstruction in the UMB umpires are advised to ask themselves the question “Is there movement to prevent a tackle attempt?” and then obviously to take action according to the answer to that question The shielding clause given with the Rule Explanation is not clearly about the prevention of a tackle attempt, when it should be. I think it needs to be reworded to replace “from” with “to prevent”:-

Players obstruct if they shield the ball to prevent a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

I believe that follows the intent of the FIH RC when they drafted this ball shielding clause.

The 2004 and 2009 amendments, (the first a rewrite of the Rule and the deletion of all the previous Rule Interpretation previously contained in an Interpretations section in the back of the rule-book), were not properly integrated with previous clauses, so we are taken back to the subject of moving bodily into and/or moving to position between an opponent and the ball when that opponent is attempting to play at the ball.

This is the result of the 2009 amendment (the part from the word ‘or’ onward was added). The first part reinforces that any moving bodily into an opponent – physical contact – is not permitted. ‘Backing into’ can therefore reasonably be seen as a different action i.e. moving into an opponent’s playing reach without making physical contact. The contact Rule clause is otherwise unnecessarily repeated three times in this Rule alone.

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 at first sight looks reasonably clear but there is an ambiguity that those who think the Obstruction Rule should be deleted (and such people certainly exist) take advantage of to misapply the Rule or not apply it at all. I highlight the problem below:-

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.

Put like that the clause is not clear, it can be interpreted in several ways because there is no emphasis on “except” when there should be.

The 2009 amendment was simply an extension of the adjoining clause using the word “or”. It is possible to add ‘alternatively’ to get “or alternatively” but the meaning and clarity is not much changed. It is also possible to use “or differently” “or similarly” Which is best? Would a separate clause be the best option to avoid the ambiguous “or”? I believe so. Therefore I suggest, using the negative form previously employed in the Rules as well as change to the wording which does not alter the meaning or intent of the Rule:-

A player with the ball is not permitted to move with it in any way, that will cause physical contact with an opponent.

A player with the ball is not permitted to move into a position which places any part of his body between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it.

Are clear Rule clauses too blunt for liberal tastes?

The remaining Rule clause is about an opponent running to position between a player and the ball and about the blocking off of that player from the ball. This is incorrectly described as ‘third party obstruction’. The description is incorrect because such obstructive actions can be the simple obstruction of one player by another, who has moved to position between the ball and an opposing player who would otherwise have been able to play at the ball, but it may instead be third party obstruction, where the obstructed player need not be within playing distance of the ball at the time of the blocking in order to be obstructed. These quite distinct actions require separate clauses and ‘third party obstruction’ needs an adequate description.

In the above incident the GER No.10 is clearly preventing an ARG player approaching a GER team-mate in order to challenge her for the ball. Obviously a third party obstruction. But not according to the coaching provided by the FIH Umpiring Committee who provide a quite difference interpretation to this incident in a coaching video presented via Dartfish.com.

I suspect the interpretation, given within the video (pause the video to read it) was devised to follow the decision made by the match umpire (unfortunately a common occurrence within these productions), which was to allow play to continue, instead of awarding the appropriate penalty corner and personal penalty.

August 18, 2019

Spin turn coaching

Rules of Hockey

This coaching video is on the right track, moving to position between an opponent and the ball is an obstruction offence. But I take issue with the action given as correct. The player with the ball turns to position between her opponent and the ball after she has moved to within the defender’s playing reach – this too is obstruction – the positioning of the leg of the ball holder prevents the defender from attempting a legal tackle when she would otherwise have been able to do so and obstruction can be made with any part of the body, it need not be a full body block.

The turning movement needs to be started before coming within the playing reach of a player intent on tackling, unless the tackler can be eliminated by his or her own angle of approach and momentum. This is rarely possible when the tackler has adopted a defensive stance and is watching the ball closely.

The turn should be used to achieve a more lateral movement, rather than a predominantly forward movement into the reach of the defender, so that the ball is put and then kept beyond the playing reach of the opponent who is being eluded.

The example given as correct play is not obstruction only because the ‘tackler’ in this case is just acting as a dummy and is not actually attempting to play at the ball. There can be no obstruction offence unless it is forced by a tackle attempt. (forced not ‘manufactured’). In a competitive match the two players would probably have collided in some way and that should be seen as the fault of the spinning player unless the tackler just uses a barge rather than trying to play at the ball with the stick.

August 17, 2019

Unqualified umpire.

Rules of Hockey

It’s unusual to see an unqualified umpire officiate a top level domestic league match (some readers might disagree with that statement) but this one really is a stand out ignoramus.

He ignored obstructions that breached every described obstructive action in the Explanation given with the Obstruction Rule, including backing into physical contact.
Then he ignored the deliberate raising of the ball into a close opponent and rounded of this charade by immediately awarding a penalty corner against the team of the player hit with the ball, despite the ball having rebounded off the defender and back into the possession of the attacker (so the defender could not possibly have gained an advantage from the forced contact). As the contact was clearly not intended by the defender (he tried to avoid being hit) and the attacker was not disadvantaged there was no offence by the defender to penalise, and even if there had been an offence by the defender (intent to use his leg to stop the ball for example), there would have been no reason, following Rule 12.1. Advantage, to penalise.

The march was played in 2018. I have no idea who the “umpire” is or which clubs the competing teams were playing for. But it is obviously past time the FIH produced some accurate Rules coaching videos for umpires and players – that is videos very different from the deeply flawed initial efforts which for some years were published via Dartfish.com by individuals appointed by the FIH Umpiring Committee.

August 14, 2019

“This is Obstruction” Coaching video 2004

Rules of Hockey

At end of the 2003 season Hockey Australia produced an umpire coaching video on obstruction which I have incorporated into the above video. There can be no doubt that the second incident shown included both obstruction and physical contact offences by the player in possession of the ball, but the first incident, featuring an ARG player in possession showed play that has never been considered obstructive.

It is true that umpires have generally been more inclined to ‘see’ obstruction when the ball is carried to the left of the body, but regardless of which side of the body the ball is carried, if it is kept to the front of the feet it is highly unlikely there can be an obstruction offence.

Moreover, body obstruction of an opponent who is behind the play (i.e. is not her own goal-side of the ball and the player in possession of the ball), is an impossibility, no matter how close to the ball that player may be.

It is still possible in such circumstances for a ball holder to be guilty of obstruction if an attempt by a tackler to play at the ball with her stick is fended off by the stick of the ball holder or by her leg or hand/arm to prevent contact with the ball which would otherwise have occurred, but a ball holder having her body positioned between an opponent, who has been by-passed, and the ball cannot be guilty, only because of that positioning, of an obstruction offence. Clearly the coach did not understand the Obstruction Rule. I wonder what he would have made of this current approach to blocking and ball shielding to prevent a tackle by an opponent? Bewilderment? Probably.

Going back to the first video above, had the player in possession been running towards her own goal she would have been obliged to keep the ball beyond the playing reach of any closing tackler, but she was moving towards her opponent’s goal and even if she did pull the ball back (which she did not) that action would not have been an obstruction.

The tightening up of the Obstruction Rule with the addition of “(sic) A player shall not move…. into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.” which occurred in 2009, was a “too little too late” attempt by the FIH Rules Committee to prevent the type of play, common by then, seen by the BEL player in the final action of the first video above. As can be seen in the video this addition, which reinforced what was already in the Rule, was completely ignored by umpires. In fact in these circumstances umpire are far more likely to penalise the tackler for attempting a tackle from a position where it it is not possible to play at the ball without making physical contact – a position which the ball holder has deliberately ‘engineered’ with just such an outcome in mind.

Amazingly defenders will sometimes hold the ball against their own base-line in the circle and then attempt to shunt sideways along the line and out of the circle while shielding the ball from opponents with stick, leg and body to prevent a legitimate tackle, without being penalised with a penalty stroke, which would be the correct decision in such circumstances, there being nothing accidental about such actions.

obs 9a

Here is some interesting coaching from 2014. The coach is instructing player to place the ball behind their left shoulder when carrying the ball to their left hand side in order to use the body to protect the ball. He is in other words coaching them to breach the Obstruction Rule.

August 10, 2019

Use of Stick Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey

Players shall not:
13.1.1 Use of stick and playing equipment
a. play the ball intentionally with the back of the stick
b. take part in or interfere with the game unless they have their stick in their hand
c. play the ball above shoulder height with any part of the stick
d. lift their sticks over the heads of players
e. raise their sticks in a manner that is dangerous, intimidating or hampering to other players when approaching, attempting to play or playing the ball
f. play the ball dangerously or in such a way as to be likely to lead to dangerous play
A ball is dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.
g. hit, hook, charge, kick, shove, trip, strike at or personally handle other players or their sticks or clothing
h. throw any object or piece of playing equipment on to the field, at the ball, at another player, or at an umpire.
13.1.2 Use of body, hands, feet by players other than goal- keepers
a. stop or catch the ball with the hand
There is nothing to prevent players using their hands to protect themselves from dangerously raised balls.
b. intentionally stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their bodies

It is not automatically an offence if the ball hits the foot or body of a player. Players should not be penalised when the ball is played into them. It is only an offence if the ball hits the foot or body of a player and that player:
• moved intentionally into the path of the ball, or
• made no effort to avoid being hit, or
• was positioned with the clear intention to stop the ball with the foot or body or
• gains benefit.
c. use the foot or leg to support the stick in a tackle.
d. intentionally enter their opponents’ goal or stand on their opponents’ goal-line
e. intentionally run behind either goal

13.1.3 Raised ball
a. intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal
b. intentionally raise the ball so that it lands directly in the circle
Not every ball entering the circle off the ground is forbidden.
A ball which bounces into or lands in the circle after a short distance must be judged solely on the intent or danger.
A ball raised over a player’s stick or body when on the ground, even in the circle, must be judged solely on danger.

c. approach within 5 metres of a player receiving a falling raised ball until it has been played and is on the ground.

d. raise the ball at another player.

The above were the Rules concerning stick use and certain other potentially dangerous actions until 2004. There was an emphasis on player safety within them. That emphasis is now almost entirely missing. Note how many of the above Rules have been deleted or amended in a way that weakened them.

I would like to see a prohibition on the raising any part of the stick above shoulder height by a player in possession of the when an opposing player is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it and a similar prohibition when two or more players are competing for a loose ball.

The Rules concerning the playing, particularly the raising, of the ball towards another player should be restored (the Explanation given with Rule 9.9. already prohibits this action but it is apparently (but not really) contained within a 5m limit, and this clause is anyway widely ignored.)

Raising the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit, irrespective of intention, should be a prohibited action and raising the ball into the opponent’s circle with any other stroke should be height limited (elbow height ??)

July 16, 2019

Dangerously confused

Rules of Hockey.

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.

That would be better put Players must not lift any part of their stick across the heads of other players (or even better over and across the heads of other players), because the published clause does not mean that a player may not raise any part of the stick above the height of the head of an opponent – which is what the previous shoulder height limit meant. What is written is not precisely what is meant (or not the way the Rule is commonly applied), which is potentially confusing.

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

A ball is also considered dangerous when it  causes legitimate evasive action by opponents. The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.

Umpires almost always order the awarded free ball following dangerous play to be taken from the place where danger occurred – that is not what is written in the Rule Explanation. This has relevance to the penalizing of incidents following, in particular, a scoop pass (or a high deflection) and a falling ball. Sometimes danger occurs where its primary cause happened, sometimes it does not and the placement of the free ball should reflect that difference. 

The video contains a number of different kinds of ‘dangerous ball’ incidents. Some are confusing in (sic)their own right, others cause confusion when compared to similar types of incidents that lead to different (penalty?) outcomes or no penalty at all.

The first incident occurs so quickly that I use only slow-mo of the action and a still. A player in possession of the ball raises the ball at an opponent within 5m and forces him to self defence, Height is not a consideration in these circumstances (raised and within 5m is the Rule criteria) but for completeness, I mention that the ball was raised to above knee height (there is a possibility that there are some participants that believe the ball must be raised to knee height or above for there to be a dangerous play offence – even though this has never been the case, it is a meme)

The ball rebounded a considerable distance from the stick of the defending BEL player and he had to sprint to catch it before it went out of play or was collected by a NED player.

The umpire did not intervene, there was no penalty awarded for this foul, which was the result of deliberately raising the ball with a powerful flick that directed the ball straight at an opponent (the intention of the player who propelled the ball was unknowable – what he did, the action he took, was clear.) The fact that an opponent successfully defends a dangerously played  ball (as defined in the Explanation of Rule 9.9) does not make that raised ball a safe one, there has still been an offence.

The second incident shown is of an obviously accidental deflection off the stick of a defender who was trying to intercept/stop the ball. The ball loops gently into the thigh of a NED player (but again, despite what Charlesworth, said in commentary, height was irrelevant) who I think could have avoided it easily if he had wanted to. A penalty corner was recommended following video referral by the NED team. There was clearly no intent by the defender to raise the ball at the NED player and it is difficult to see how the NED player was disadvantaged by this unintentional breach of the  Explanation given with 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.

Note a flick or a scoop is an intentional stroke used to raise the ball and an accidental deflection may not have been intended to be included as a criterion for offence. But again, a hit stroke is not mentioned – even though Rule 9.9. is about intentionally raised hits – and a raised hit is likely to be at least as dangerous to others as a flick or scoop may be. So we have a dilemma –  between intent of action and type of stroke – why were flicks and scoops mentioned in the Explanation but hits and intentional deflections omitted? The original Rule, by not mentioning a stroke at all, included all means of intentionally raising the ball towards an opponent. But then the original Rule did not include a distance limit either – it was a safer Rule – a ball could be considered to have endangered an opponent from any distance where there was legitimate evasive action. The original Rule with the addition of distance specific height limits would be a much better current Rule.

There is a huge difference between the outcome of this incident (the accidental deflection) and the outcome of the previous incident (deliberately raising the ball towards an opponent with a powerful flick) but I am not suggesting either decision was wrong – just incomprehensible, if actual endangerment and fairness are criteria for the award of a penalty for dangerous play.

The third incident is a high velocity raised edge hit into the circle. I have no doubt at all that this hit was raised intentionally. The BEL player attempting to tackle made a show of avoiding being hit, but I don’t think there a was any possibility of that happening. Nonetheless the raised hit was a foul which disadvantaged the BEL team.

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.       

Although the previous incident was an accidental deflection rather than a miss-hit I think the following has relevance.:-

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.

We can go around in circles on this. Was the softly deflected ball in the previous incident likely to cause any hurt or injury to the NED player ? If not, then any evasive action should not be described as legitimate. ButA ball is dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action”. What does “causes” mean? What does legitimate mean? (Genuine? Legal? Necessary?) What if evasive action is not taken when the player towards whom the ball is travelling is 1) aware of its path and 2) the ball is not moving fast enough to cause hurt or injury and 3) evasive action could very easily have been taken? Does that not fit with an intention to use the body to stop the ball?

The raised edge hit, judged explicitly on the intent to raise it, was obviously an offence and should have been penalised. It was far more dangerous than the gentle accidental deflection for which a penalty corner was awarded. But umpires have lots of problems with intention because it does not have physical form and it cannot be measured i.e. it is not an objective criterion.

I have problems with edge-hitting; this (picture) is apparently a legitimate edge-hit:-

That looks like back-sticks to me and I think that if edge-hitting is to be permitted – and it obviously is – then the back-sticks Rule ought to be abolished. Then players could hit the ball ‘back-hand’ with a more upright stance and there would be less likelihood of the ball being raised accidentally or raised more than is intended.

The next incident the raise looping deflection into the circle looks, at live speed, to be a ball squeezed up between two sticks coming together on either side of it i.e. a no fault or at least, a no determinable fault, incident. I do not believe that at live speed anyone could have seen exactly what happened. I cannot understand the umpire (who possibly did not see the contact at all) immediately awarding a penalty corner.

Of course the BEL team disputed the award, but the video umpire had no chance of sorting out who was responsible and had no choice but to say “I see no reason to change your decision” If the umpire had initially ordered a free to BEL and the NED team had referred, he would have had to have said the same thing.

In saner times, such deflections resulted in the award of a bully five yards from the circle. Even high deflections up off the protective equipment of a goalkeeper resulted in the award of a bully. For fairness as well as safety these sorts of incidents still should result in the award of a bully restart on the hash circle.

The most dangerous aspect of this incident was ignored. That was the actions of the two players who rushed in to get beneath the falling ball and compete for it by taking a swing at it. The NED player ‘won’ that contest but thankfully he shot wide of the goal (thankfully because a penalty corner had already been awarded) Both players could reasonably have been awarded a yellow card, not least because they continued playing after the whistle had been blown, but also for dangerous play.

The final incident is an ‘air shot’ and I am really confused about it, not least because of this incident:-

Olympic Final Rossario. At the time it happened I was critical that the obstruction was not penalised, but there was also, obviously, dangerous use of the stick by the player in possession of the ball – that too was ignored. The match was restarted with a side-line ball to the NED team???. The injured ARG player had to retire for treatment and took no further part in the match.

Apparently it is not dangerous play to hit a player in the face with a high follow through after hitting the ball (the defender shouldn’t get in the way ???), but it is dangerous play to miss the ball when attempting to hit it, even when no one is endangered by the stick swing. Oh players ducked, but they were not at risk of being hit with the stick on that swing path: the evasion was not legitimate. The striker had firm control of the stick-swing path, it was his timing that was off.

The Rules about a dangerously played ball ought to be among the clearest and fairest in the rule-book, in line with the supposed emphasis on safety. In fact they are a confusing mess, heavily reliant on ‘legitimate evasive action’ which has no clear meaning, and missing objective criteria on height limits and ball velocity.

There isn’t a Rule about dangerous use of the stick which goes much beyond “Don’t use the stick in a dangerous way.” What does that mean? Here is an old video clip of an example of play which I see as obstruction and dangerous use of the stick (a view I have been roundly ridiculed for)

A tackler approaches from front left of the player in possession of the ball (PIP). The PIP turns about the ball to shield it from the approaching tackler, when the tackler is within playing reach of the ball, and then hits at the ball. The stick back-swing of the PIP catches the defender on the head as he attempts to adjust position to play at the ball. The tackler could not reasonably have attempted to go around the other side of the PIP (and into the follow through of the stick after the ball was struck).

The umpire penalised the tackler.

The PIP was obviously aware of the approaching defender and that he was very close when he turned to shield the ball from him (that’s obstruction).

I see the PIP’s use of the stick in the circumstances as dangerous play and I believe we need a Rule which prohibits the raising of any part of the stick to above shoulder height when there is an opponent within playing reach of the ball or within the range of the potential stick-swing of a PIP who is hitting at the ball.

The alternative in these circumstances i.e. when a PIP turns to shield the ball from an approaching opponent, is to say that the opponent may not attempt to play at the ball when it is shielded from him because he is not in a position to play at it. (Under current Rule if no attempt is made to play at the ball there can be no obstruction. An obstruction offence must be forced by means of a tackle attempt). We then arrive at a situation where a ball shielding player cannot be guilty of an obstruction offence because he cannot be tackled – because he is shielding the ball from (obstructing) the player intent on tackling – which is pretty much, looking at current ‘practice’, where we already are.

The combination of ball shielding (obstruction) and reverse edge hitting are a frequent cause of dangerous play and of injury.

July 11, 2019

Forced onto

Rules of Hockey

The deconstruction of the Ball-Body Contact Rule and the Forcing Rule.

Players shall not hit 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 or play the ball intentionally into an opponent’s foot, leg or body.

A player shall not stop or deflect the ball on the ground or in the air with
any part of the body TO HIS OR HIS TEAM’S ADVANTAGE.

There is no suggestion in the above Rules (which were in place for decades prior to 1995) that a player who has had the ball intentionally played into their foot, leg or body has committed an offence – on the contrary, an offence was declared to be committed by the player who intentionally played the ball into an opponent.

After 1995 there was some ambivalence about whether or not a player hit with the ball on the foot (so not with a raised ball) had committed an offence, it seems to be suggested (without explanation) that there is an offence but that offence should not be penalised

Post 1995.
Players shall not raise the ball intentionally at another player.

(A Rule that was ignored for years after the introduction of the drag-flick as a first shot during a penalty corner. It was deleted as a Rule in 2004 – in line with the emphasis on safety??? – and with the addition of a 5m limit, illogically became part of the Explanation of Rule 9.9, which concerns the intentionally raised hit, when the ball is raised with a flick or scoop)

Umpires should be clear in their minds about the ball hitting the
foot, which may not be an offence, and the foot kicking the ball,
which may be an offence.
It is not intended that undue benefit be gained from such contact.

The previous SHOUTING (use of upper case) that (unintentional) ball body contact should not be penalised unless an advantage was gained by the team of the player hit (as is common now, umpires often penalised contact when there was no reason to do so) softened considerably to “It is not intended that undue benefit be gained from such contact”

Ball body contact.

Players shall not intentionally stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their bodies.

It is not an offence if the ball hits the foot or body of a player unless that player:
• has moved into the path of the ball,
(intentionally and without an attempt to use the stick to play the ball ?) or
• made no effort to avoid being hit,

(having clear intention of being hit?)  or
• was positioned with the clear intention of stopping the ball.
(presumably with the body. How positioning with intention to stop the ball with the body could be determined is a mystery.)

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

The comments required in parentheses give an indication of how poorly written these clauses were.

After 2004 the word “intentionally” disappeared from the Ball Body Contact Rule Proper (Rule 9.11) and ‘benefit’ becomes prominent in the Explanation clause. The only other clause in the Rule is a clarification on the ball hitting the hand holding the stick.

Post 2004

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

It is 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.

No offence is committed if the ball hits the hand holding the stick but would otherwise have hit the stick.

After 2004 there is a clear change of attitude – and a contradiction. A player hit with the ball because of forcing has now offended, all-be-it unintentionally. Unintentional ball-body contact is now also an offence, a forcing offence merely takes precedence over the contact offence – but the forcing must be clear and intentional – i.e. clearly intentional – a burden umpires proved unable to bear, rarely if ever seeing intent to force contact. This “difficulty” was a reason given for eventually deleting the offence of Forcing. The following Rule was deleted in 2011. The way was then open for players to ‘win’ a penalty with an action that was previously an offence even though the announcement of the deletion stated that any forcing action could be penalised under other Rules. (So why the deletion?)

9.13 Players must not force an opponent into offending unintentionally.

Playing the ball clearly and intentionally into any part of an opponent’s body may be penalised as an attempt to manufacture an offence. Forcing an opponent to obstruct (often emphasised by running into an opponent or by waving the stick) must also be penalised.

The debacle that followed the deletion of ‘Gains Benefit’ and the introduction of ‘Voluntarily’ in place of ‘Intentionally’ in 2007 is the subject of another fun article. Gains an advantage was restored to the rule-book in 2016 (effective by order of the FIH Executive May 2015)

Preface of Rules of Hockey 2011

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.

It is difficult to see how a player the ball has been forced into can be said to have offended at all. A forced contact cannot be a voluntary or intentional contact and any advantage gained by the team of the player hit is a result of the player who propelled the ball disadvantaging him or her self. It cannot in these circumstances be fair or proper ever to penalise the player hit with the ball.

The statement that forcing actions can be dealt with under other Rules has not (as it should have) appeared in any rule-book published after the 2011-13 version, so many umpires are now unaware that the forcing ball-body contact ever was an offence (and any such forcing action still is an offence). The “other Rules” under which any forcing action may be penalised have never been specified (but Rule 9.8 and Rule 9.9 are obvious candidates).

None of the many changes (big and small and to and fro) made to the Ball-Body Contact Rule in the past thirty years have made the slightest difference to the way in which umpires have reacted when there has been a ball body contact in contested play. Penalising the player hit with the ball has become ‘automatic’ i.e. done without any consideration of the criteria for offence.

An example of forcing

The NED attacker clearly plays the ball with considerable velocity towards the left foot of the AUS defender in front of him, the AUS defender is backed up by two other AUS defenders so the NED attacker is clearly not attempting a pass with any expectation that the ball will reach another NED player. Such expectation would be unreasonable.

The AUS player defends his foot with his stick but the frame rate of YouTube videos is such that it is impossible to determine if he succeeded or if there was a ball foot contact. If there was contact it was obviously unintentional and gained no advantage for the AUS team. The ball deflects from the first AUS contact and rises into a second AUS defender, again it is not possible to ascertain from frame by frame examination of the video if there was any ball body contact. If there was it was unintentional and did not gain advantage for the AUS team – the ball runs free to the top of the circle and could have been collected by a NED player positioned there.

The possibility of dangerous play – raising the ball towards another player – by the first AUS defender can be discounted, as a recent change to the dangerously played ball Rule makes clear that a player endangering one of his own team in this way should not be penalised as an offence, because that action does not disadvantage opponents (I don’t think the change to be a wise one because attackers often endanger their own team-mates with wild shots at the goal and a injury is an injury no matter who causes it. An emphasis on safety dictates player safety first).

There was no reason for the umpire to award a penalty corner and good reason for him to penalise the NED player for playing the ball at an opponent from close range.
I cannot remember the last time I saw a player penalised for a forcing offence, this offence was not being penalised even long before it was deleted as a separate stand alone offence.

Forcing which is also clearly a breach of part of the Explanation of Rule 9.9 – raising the ball into an opponent within 5m.The ARG player could have played on with advantage but made no attempt at all to do so.

 

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July 9, 2019

The destruction of the Obstruction Rule.

Rules of Hockey.

The explanation of application of the current Obstruction Rule states:-

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

I’ll change the order in which the three clauses are presented, this is the third in the rule-book:-

2) 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).

The part in parenthesis should (in my opinion) read  this may also be third party or shadow obstruction because such actions may also be ball shielding by a player in possession of the ball (blocking) or carried out as an obstructive tackle coming from behind the tackled player and imposing the body between that player and the ball.

The clause below was the last amended.

3) 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 with the ball here is assumed to refer not to a player who is in the act of receiving the ball, but to one who has received the ball and has it under control.

When the exception to the Obstruction Rule, which permitted a closely marked player to receive the ball without immediately being in breach of the Obstruction Rule (that is without having first to create space to receive the ball without obstructing an opponent – usually by means of a lead run), was first introduced, instruction was given about what the receiving player had to do once the ball was in control, given that in these circumstances the receiving player, then in controlled possession of the ball, had an opponent positioned directly or almost directly behind (sic) them, i.e. within playing reach of the ball in what would previously have been considered an obstructed position.

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

That instruction was fairly loose because it gave no indication of the distance the ball holder (having received the ball) must move away or the speed of such movement. But common practice at the time was that the ball needed to be moved immediately and rapidly beyond the playing reach of any marking defender or the ball had to be immediately passed away beyond playing reach. Critical was “must move away” the ball holder having received the ball was not allowed to dwell on it in a stationary position or indeed to dribble it away at, for example, walking speed – because that would not reasonably be considered to take the ball beyond the reach of any opponent intent on making a tackle for the ball.

The above fairly sensible instruction given in the Rules Interpretations did not last long. Two years later we were presented, without explanation for the change, with:-

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

That is neither a directive or a prohibitive statement, it gives no instruction about moving the ball away or moving away with the ball, except not to move bodily into a tackler. It does not oblige the ball holder to move at all. From this moment on the Obstruction Rule began to fall apart as multiple personal ‘interpretations’ of the meaning of the above clause were applied. It is from this body of ‘interpretation’ that the idea that a stationary player could not obstruct arose – and persisted – despite later instruction to umpires to watch for players who “stand still and shield the ball when under pressure

Then we had A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent in the Rule Explanation – is permitted to move means exactly the same as may move (but “off” does not mean exactly the same as “away” – it is, if anything weaker) why the change to the wording was made is unclear, again no explanation was offered.

But, finally, in 2009, we had the addition of an extension to that clause:-

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. Which is a current Rule Explanation of Application clause.

That means that a player who has received and controlled the ball may not then move into a position between an opponent and the ball, that is with the ball within the playing reach of an opponent who is attempting to play at it (such moving would naturally include backing towards and moving the ball into the playing reach of an opponent while shielding it, because such moving is not excluded)- and of course a ball holder may not remain stationary in a blocking position with the ball within the playing reach of an opponent who is attempting to play at it – see the clause numbered 2) above. The 2009 amendment seems however to have come too late, by the time it was enacted umpires had become accustomed to allowing receiving players to do as they liked once the ball was in control – and they continued doing what had become an easy habit – all the ‘onus’ (to get unobstructed) had long been transferred to the tackling player, the 2009 amendment was largely ignored and remains so.

But nonetheless the Rule as written means that static blocking or a very small movement to shield the ball from an opponent can be an obstructive offence.

Here is a subtle example of obstructive play from the 2018 World Cup- Aus v Ned . There is very little movement by the ball holder but he commits three offences.

The Aus player receives the ball with his stick near horizontal to make a strong secure stop.

He then moves his left leg forward and then plants his right foot to his right making contact with and blocking off the stick of the Ned defender who is trying to tackle – this is an offence.

He moves across until he has completely blocked off the Ned defender with his body. This is moving into a position between the tackler and the ball and is his second offence (the first being stick interference). He makes no attempt at all to move off or move away from the defender with the ball once it is in his control. His obvious first legitimate direction of movement with the ball would have been to his left, as the defender was to his right rear, however he chose not to try and outrun the defender but to try immediately to make space for a shot.

The Aus player now uses a reverse stroke to feint to his right with the ball.

Then moves to his left as he leans back bodily into the tackler (an offence) and pivots off his right foot. In stepping back he traps the stick of the defender between his legs – because the defender had reached for the ball between the legs of the Aus player who was blocking his path to the ball (there is no ‘onus’ on a tackler to position to tackle or to go around a ball shielding opponent – that ‘interpretation’ was deleted post 2003) The tackler here had no opportunity anyway to move around the ball holder’s left side (and to do so would have opened the way for a free reverse edge shot) and if he had attempted to move around the ball-holders right side he would have given him a free forehand shot at the goal – he had in the circumstances to stay behind the ball holder and attempt to play at the ball from that position.

Having tangled himself with the defender’s stick the Aus player became impeded with it and made an off-target shot that went off the end of the pitch. There was therefore no need to penalise his obstructions or the physical contact as these offences did not ultimately disadvantage the Dutch team, but I doubt the umpire would have penalised the attacker anyway (if he had achieved an on-target shot). Very few umpires appear to understand the words

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.

As meaning:-  A player with the ball is not permitted to move bodily into an opponent or into a  [blocking/shielding] position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it – which the wording clearly does mean.

Once a receiving player has control of the ball he or she then becomes ‘a player with the ball’ and there is no further exception to the Obstruction Rule; any further ball shielding that prevents an opponent playing at the ball, when that opponent is demonstrating an intent (attempting) to play at the ball and would otherwise have been able to do so, is an obstruction offence.

I was surprised that the umpire did not award a penalty corner against the Dutch team for a contact tackle by the defender, even if that would have been incorrect, as Aus player’s entanglement with the defender’s stick was caused by his own turning action. Some umpires seem to regard any sort of tackle attempt as an offence. (See video below – which is another example, far more blatant, of obstruction by a player in possession of the ball, which was not penalised – but the the shadowing defender was penalised, which was absurd.)

Here we go again. Big butt skills.

June 30, 2019

Penalty Corner Rules should be amended or deleted

Rules of Hockey.

Replacing the Penalty Corner with a Power Play, This article is a near duplicate of one I wrote previously on the subject – which has now been deleted,.

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

Penalty Corner

Rule 12.3. a-e Rule 13.3. a-m Rule 13.4. Rule 13.5. a-g Rule 13.6. Rule 13.7. a-f

Action. Deletion and replacement with a Power Play

Reason. The Penalty Corner, never reasonably safe, has been allowed to become stupidly dangerous and also to have a ‘stranglehold’ on the publicizing of the game, the playing tactics of it and even the development of the hockey stick (for the drag-flick). Video of match ‘highlights’ often contains little more than a showing of the taking of penalty corners – not even showing what led to the award of these corners.

There has been talk of replacing the Penalty Corner for at least twenty years (in fact ever since the drag-flick became as powerful a shot as an undercut hit) and even some limited trials of a Power Play in 9’s Tournaments (in which a substantially wider goal was used) have taken place, but no real will to change anything is evident. Nothing mandatory or worldwide has been imposed; certainly nothing like the extraordinary long Experimental Period given to the introduction of edge-hitting (over much protest at its introduction). There is always the excuse that next year (or this year) is a World Cup (or an Olympic) year and the qualifying tournaments (which must, to be seen as fair, be always in the same format for all teams), and which appear to be near continuous, are always “in the way”. On top of that we now have professional tournaments (perhaps a way in?). The quest and demand for spectacular goals (for television), seems to be an obstacle rather than an opportunity to try something different.

The only information I have about the workability of a Power Play (one where the score ratio is not either 99% or 1% ) has been obtained from reading the Rules of the Australian Lanco 9’s and from watching YouTube videos of game highlights from a few of these tournaments. What I read and saw conflicted in several areas with my own preliminary thoughts and previous writing about a possible format. For example in the Lanco 9’s the number of defenders (three rather than four), the very limited time (30secs) and the permitting of addition attackers to make (a gut wrenching) run from the half-way line, to join in the attack (but apparently prohibiting the defenders to increase their numbers in the same way – but I may be wrong about that) is very different from what I expected or envisaged.

My preliminary ideas included four defenders (including a goalkeeper) v five attackers, ball inserted to outside the 23m line and then passed in, with play then continuing between just those nine in the 23m area, with a time limit from commencement (insert of the ball) of one minute or until a goal was scored or the ball was put out of play or out of the 23m area (with various options for continuation or restart of play after that) or one or other side committed an offence.

Normal open play Rules, no first hit-shot height limit. The use of a new Goal Zone to prevent both goal-hanging by attackers and goal blocking by defenders, no player other than the goalkeeper permitted to remain on the goal-line. This format gives scope for the development of an indoor style passing game during a power play.

All the ‘bits and pieces’, reasons to award, continuation at half and full time etc. etc. already exist for the penalty corner and much can be directly transferred. A power-play even begins in a familiar way, with the ball being inserted from a position on the base-line 10m from either of the goal-posts and the attacking side must then devise a way of making a scoring shot. The significant difference is that the ball is played to a position outside the 23m line rather than to outside the line of the shooting circle. The expectation is that the inability of the attackers to set up an immediate shot at the goal will significantly reduce the endangerment of the defending players.

So what is holding up other trials? Perhaps it is the fact that the present Penalty Corner Rule has a great many clauses and a replacement that splits the two teams into four groups and needs to be timed, requires even more clauses and nobody can be ‘bothered’.

If it isn’t broken why fix it ?” is a common attitude to any suggested Rule change, but the penalty corner is ‘broken’; it has never been acceptably safe and is now unreasonably dangerous and the way the dangerous play Rules are applied within it (some being overridden) is grossly unfair. There may also be (certainly will be) resistance to the disappearance of the drag-flick, but it is mainly (but not entirely) the development of the drag-flick and the fact that absolutely nothing has been done to constrain the use of it, that has made the introduction of an alternative to the penalty corner an urgent necessity.

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

If the drag-flick is constrained, that is objective criteria concerning the propelling of the ball at an other player in a dangerous way, are introduced (there is hope for that now that drag-flickers have discovered that a low flick is as often as successful as a high flick – or more so) it may not be necessary to do more to the penalty corner than ‘tweak’ it a bit (introduce shooting height limits when the ball is propelled towards an opponent) – but discussion of the dangerously played ball has become as heated and as irrational as the gun control debate in the USA is. There is no sign of any drag-flick safety measures being introduced, they are not even discussed, there is a refusal to discuss this issue.

The current Rules: Penalties. Penalty Corner

A reading of the current Rule can be skipped by the reader, but it is necessary to include it here for comparison purposes.

13.3 Taking a penalty corner:

a the ball is placed on the back-line inside the circle at least 10 metres from the goal-post on whichever side of the goal the attacking team prefers.

b an attacker pushes or hits the ball without intentionally raising it

c the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must have at least one foot outside the field.

d the other attackers must be on the field, outside the circle with sticks, hands and feet not touching the ground inside the circle

e no defender or attacker other than the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to be within 5 metres of the ball when the push or hit is taken

f not more than five defenders, including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges if there is one, must be positioned behind the back-line with their sticks, hands and feet not touching the ground inside the field

If the team defending a penalty corner has chosen to play only with field players, none of the defenders referred to above has goalkeeping privileges.

g the other defenders must be beyond the centre-line

h until the ball has been played, no attacker other than the one taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to enter the circle and no defender is permitted to cross the centre-line or back-line.

i after playing the ball, the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must not play the ball again or approach within playing distance of it until it has been played by another player.

j a goal cannot be scored until the ball has travelled outside the circle

k if the first shot at goal is a hit (as opposed to a push, flick or scoop), the ball must cross the goal-line, or be on a path which would have resulted in it crossing the goal-line, at a height of not more than 460 mm (the height of the backboard) before any deflection, for a goal to be scored

The requirements of this Rule apply even if the ball touches the stick or body of a defender before the first shot at goal.

If the first shot at goal is a hit and the ball is, or will be, too high crossing the goal-line it must

be penalised even if the ball is subsequently deflected off the stick or body of another player.The ball may be higher than 460 mm during its flight before it crosses the goal-line provided there

is no danger and provided it would drop of its own accord below 460 mm before crossing the line.

l for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous

A defender who is clearly running into the shot or into the taker without attempting to play the ball with their stick must be penalised for dangerous play.

Otherwise, if a defender is within five metres of the first shot at goal during the taking of a penalty corner and is struck by the ball below the knee, another penalty corner must be awarded or is struck on or above the knee in a normal stance, the shot is judged to be dangerous and a free hit must be awarded to the defending team.

m the penalty corner Rules no longer apply if the ball travels more than 5 metres from the circle.

13.4 The match is prolonged at half-time and full-time to allow completion of a penalty corner or any subsequent penalty corner or penalty stroke.

13.5 The penalty corner is completed when:

a a goal is scored

b a free hit is awarded to the defending team

c the ball travels more than 5 metres outside the circle

d the ball is played over the back-line and a penalty corner is not awarded

e a defender commits an offence which does not result in another penalty corner

f a penalty stroke is awarded

g a bully is awarded.

If play is stopped because of an injury or for any other reason during the taking of a penalty corner at the end of a prolonged first or second half and a bully would otherwise be awarded, the penalty corner must be taken again.

13.6 For substitution purposes and for completion of a penalty corner at half-time and full-time, the penalty corner is also completed when the ball travels outside the circle for the second time.

b the player taking the push or hit from the back-line feints at playing the ball, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line but is replaced by another attacker : the penalty corner is taken again.

If this feinting leads to what otherwise would be a breach of this rule by a defender, only the attacker is required to go beyond the centre-line.

c a defender, other than the goalkeeper, crosses the back-line or goal-line before permitted, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced by another defender : the penalty corner is taken again.

If a defender at this or any subsequently re-taken penalty corner crosses the back-line or goal-line before permitted, the offending player is also required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced

A penalty corner is considered as re-taken until any of the conditions of Rules 13.5 and 13.6 for its completion are met

A subsequently awarded penalty corner, as opposed to a re-taken penalty corner, may be defended by up to five players

If a defender crosses the centre-line before permitted, the penalty corner is taken again

d a goalkeeper, or player with goalkeeping privileges, crosses the goal-line before permitted, the defending team defends the penalty corner with one fewer player : the penalty corner is taken again

If a goalkeeper, or player with goalkeeping privileges, at this or any subsequently re-taken penalty corner crosses the goal-line before permitted, the defending team is required to nominate a further player to go beyond the centreline, and they cannot be replaced

A penalty corner is considered as re-taken until any of the conditions of Rules 13.5 and 13.6 for its completion are met

e an attacker enters the circle before permitted, the offending player is required to go beyond the centreline : the penalty corner is taken again

Attackers who are sent beyond the centre-line may not return for re-taken penalty corners, but may do so for a subsequently awarded penalty corner

f for any other offence by attackers : a free hit is awarded to the defence.

Except as specified above, a free hit, or penalty stroke is awarded as specified elsewhere in the Rules.

 

Suggestion.

There are several Rules and many clauses to each Rule, preliminary amendment always leads to expansion of the number of clauses as sorting takes place and then duplication is reduced or eliminated. This instance is no exception. Numbering, syntax, tense, plural and singular etc. etc. will take several readings to sort out and these readings will have to be done at well spaced intervals and hopefully by a number of different individuals to overcome ‘blind-spots’.

There is also the introduction of a goal-zone – employed in a different way to the way it is suggested it be used in open play – and the splitting of the attacking team, in particular, into those involved in the power play and those not. In addition the timing of a power play is a new issue and there is also an effect on match timing. Substitution during a power play is to be permitted and the conditions that have to be met need to be described. For these reasons and also because this is a preliminary proposal, there may be some duplication and while many more Rule clauses have been added, not as many (from the penalty corner) have been deleted, so the suggestion is lengthy.

Whether or not it is necessary to be concerned about defenders breaking early or attackers moving early into the 23m area is debatable. The metre or so sometimes gained by such premature breaking is unlikely to be a significant advantage or disadvantage when a shot at the goal cannot be set up for immediate execution anyway, so such ‘breaking’ is probably not critical to outcome, but I have left these prohibitions and the penalties for them in place for the moment as they make for a ‘tidy’ if pedantic procedure. Numbering of the Rules and clauses needs amending, that is a detail I have not paid much attention to at this early stage (mainly because any subsequent addition or subtraction of clauses throws the numbering out of kilter and it has to be redone).

The proposal can be enacted without using a goal-zone if some other workable way to prevent crowding of the goal-line can be suggested.

Useful comment and suggestions welcome

Power play.

13.3 Power play procedure:

a. A goal can only be scored when the ball has travelled outside the 23m area and has then been played back into the shooting circle by one of the nominated attackers.

b The ball is placed on the back-line inside the circle at least 10 metres from the goal-post on whichever side of the goal the attacking team prefers.

c An attacker pushes or hits the ball to another attacker, positioned outside the 23m line, commencing the power play (The placement of the feet of the inserting player is not prescribed)

d Three defenders will be position behind the base-line and outside the goal-zone, the goalkeeper will position behind the goal-line.

e The other defenders will be positioned on the field and behind the half-way line

f Only the goalkeeper may defend the goal from within the goal-zone during a power play, the other three defenders are not permitted to enter the goal-zone

g Four attackers will be positioned on the field and behind the 23m line, a fifth attacker will insert the ball from the baseline.

h The other attackers on the field must be outside the half-way line.

i No player other than the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to be within 5 metres of the ball when it is taken

j Until the ball has been played, no attacker other than the one taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to enter the defensive 23m area and no players beyond the half-line are permitted to cross it.

k After playing the ball, the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must not play the ball again or approach within playing distance of it until it has been played by another player.

l. Immediately the ball is played back into the 23m area by a second attacking player positioned behind the 23m line, the attackers and defenders initially positioned behind the half-way line may move up to the 23m line of the defending team, but may not cross it until the power play is completed. (this allows rapid transference to normal play if the ball is put out of play over a side-line by either team or played back over the 23m line by the defending team)

m Only an attacker in possession of the ball may enter the goal-zone during a power-play; that attacker must immediately move out of the goal-zone if possession of the ball is lost or that attacker makes a pass to another attacker.

n No shot at the goal may be made in a way that is contrary to Rule 9.8. Dangerously played ball. (see separate suggestion for a proposed Rule)

13.4

Time and timing

On award of a power play match time is stopped.

There is separate timing of the power play.

Defenders should have no need to ‘kit up’ as they do now but thirty seconds will be allowed for both teams to prepare for the penalty.

The attacking side have one minute in which to try to take advantage of their numerical superiority by scoring a goal. The timing of the minute starts as the ball is put into play by an attacker from the base-line at the commencement of the power play.

If the one minute of time permitted expires while the ball is still in play the power play is terminated, and the defending team will restart play with a free ball to be taken from a position in front of the goal on the 23m line. Match time is restarted when the 23m ball is taken (“taken”, here, below and elsewhere, means a stationary and correctly positioned ball is moved by the player taking the free ball or restart – the introduction of a second whistle would remove all doubt about when a free or restart is taken).

When a power player is considered completed in the following circumstances, time is restarted as described in each case.

a A goal is scored – time is restarted when the restart on the centre spot is taken

b A free-ball is awarded to the defending team – time is restarted when the free-ball is taken.

d The ball is played over the back-line by an attacker – 15m ball to defending team – time is restarted when ball is moved by the player taking the 15m

e The ball is played over the back-line by a defender. A 23m restart for the attacking team opposite the place the ball when out of play – time is restarted when the 23m re-start is taken (this assumes that a ball played intentionally over the back-line by a defender will no longer be considered to be any different for restart purposes than one accidentally played out)

f A penalty stroke is awarded – if a goal is scored from the penalty stroke then as (a). if a goal is not scored then as (d)

g A bully is awarded – time is restarted when the sticks of the players engaged in the bully touch.

h If the umpire orders the resetting of a power play the timing of the initial power play will cease and one minute will then be allowed for the completion of the re-set power play as it commences. Match time will remain stopped until the re-set power play (and any subsequent re-set) is either completed or terminated and an open play restart takes place.

Exception. Where goal difference between the teams is five goals or more, match time will not be stopped when a power play is awarded but the power play will be time limited.

i. If an attacking player plays the ball out of the 23m area for a second time normal play resumes immediately

j. If a defending player plays the ball over the 23m line normal play resumes immediately.

k. When the ball is put out of play over a side-line by either a defender or an attacker the power play is terminated and match timing resumes when the side-line ball is taken.

Time extensions.

l The match is prolonged at half-time and full-time to allow completion of a power play or any subsequent power play or penalty stroke.

m If play is stopped because of an injury or for any other reason during the taking of a power play at the end of a prolonged first or second half, the penalty corner must be re-set.

13.5 A power play is completed when:

a a goal is scored

b a free-ball is awarded to the defending team

c the ball is played over the 23m line for a second time

d the ball is played over the back-line.

e time to complete the power play expires

f a penalty stroke is awarded

g a bully is awarded.

h. when the ball is put out of play over a side-line.

13.6 Feinting by attackers and premature moving into the power play area by attackers or defenders.

Attackers or defenders who are sent beyond the centre-line for a breach of this Rule may not return to participate in a subsequently re-set power play, but may do so for a power play subsequently separately awarded as penalty for any offence under Rule 9 Conduct of play.

b If the player inserting the ball from the back-line feints at playing the ball, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line : the power play is re-set but will then taken with only four participating attackers

c. If during a re-set power play, re-set because of feinting by the player inserting the ball, the attacker then making the insert also feints at playing the ball a free ball opposite to the goal and on the 23m line will be awarded to the defending team.

if feinting to play the ball leads to what otherwise would be a breach of this rule by a defender, only the attacker is required to go beyond the centre-line.

d If a defender, other than the goalkeeper, crosses the back-line or goal-line before being permitted to do so, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced by another defender : the power play is re-set.

If a defender at this re-set power play or any subsequently re-set power play crosses the back-line or goal-line before being permitted to do so, this offending player (unless the goalkeeper) will also be required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced

If a defender crosses the centre-line or 23m line before being permitted to do so, the power play may be re-set if the umpire considers the action to have disadvantaged the attacking side. A warning or a caution may in any case be given to this player.

e If a goalkeeper crosses the goal-line before being permitted to do so, the defending team will be required to nominate a player to go beyond the centre-line, and that player may not be replaced for the re-set power play. The defending team will defend the re-set power play with one player fewer.

If a goalkeeper, at this re-set power play crosses the goal-line before being permitted to do so, the defending team will be required to nominate a further player to go beyond the centre-line, and that player may not be replaced for the re-set power play. The goalkeeper should be warned that subsequent contravention will result in the award of a green card.

Should any defender cross the goal line or base line before being permitted to do so during a power play previously re-set for the same kind of offence, a warning or caution should be given as well as sending the player behind the centre line or to the bench. For a third infraction a penalty stroke should be awarded.

f If an attacker who is a member of the five initially engaged in the power play enters the 23m area before being permitted to do so, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre line and may not be replaced : the power play is re-set.

g If an attacker who is a member of the five initially engaged in the power play enters the 23m area before being permitted to do so, during a power play previously re-set for a similar offence, a free-ball will be awarded to the defending team.The free ball will be taken from in front of the goal and on the 23m line.

h If an attacker who was initially positioned behind the half-way line moves into the 23m area before a power play is completed a free ball will be awarded to the defending team on the 23m line in a position opposite to the goal.

i if a defender who was initially positioned behind the half-way line moves into the 23m area before the power play is completed the power play may be re-set if the umpire considers that the action disadvantaged the attacking team. Even where the power play is not re-set the player concerned should be cautioned or warned on the first occasion.

A power play is considered as untaken or incomplete until any one of the conditions of Rules 13.5, 13.6, and 13.7 for its completion or voidance is met.

13.7 Illegal entry into the goal-zone

a If a defender enters the goal-zone during a power play and in so doing prevents a goal or denies opportunity to an attacker to score a goal a penalty stroke will be awarded.

b If a defender enters the goal-zone during a power play but this action does not disadvantage the attacking side a re-set of the power play may be ordered at the discretion of the umpire. In the event of a re-set the offender will be sent behind the half-way line and may not be replaced for the defense of the re-set power play. Even if the power play is not re-set the defending player should be cautioned or warned on the first occasion there is such a transgression.

c If an attacker makes illegal entry into the goal-zone or illegally remains in the goal-zone instead of vacating it as quickly as possible, a free ball will be awarded to the defending side, to be taken opposite the goal on the 23m line.

13.8. Substitution during a power play.

Re-set power plays must be executed and/or defended by players remaining from the initial nine participants unless injury disables one or more of them.

Substitution because of injury will be permitted for the re-setting of a power play only from the players who were on the pitch at the time the initial power play was awarded and who are still on the pitch.

When a power play is awarded substitution is permitted by either team immediately the power play commences. No player substituted onto the field of play after a power play is awarded may participate in that power play or in any re-set of it because of breaches of Rule 13.6. but may participate in a subsequently awarded power play for any offence under Rule 9. A player substituted off the pitch at the commencement of a power play may not participate in a re-set of that power play.

That is a fair bit to ‘chew on’ and I doubt that I have covered everything that needs regulation, but a start needs to be made somewhere if any desirable change is to be achieved . I also referred above to a second whistle and a goal-zone, both of which I had previously presented articles about when I first wrote this article.

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

 

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

 

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

Other bits.

The deletion of the prohibition on playing a free into the circle when it is awarded to be taken within the 23m area, is essential to free the game up and improve flow (it is a silly restriction not least because it has no counterpart in open play): as is the deletion of the raft of 5m restrictions surrounding the free ball, especially when it is taken as a self-pass. Only the repositioning of the ball outside the hash circle when an offence is penalised between the hash circle and the shooting circle need be retained (restored), because the advantage of a free close to the line of the shooting circle, without 5m limits, would otherwise be greater than the award of the present penalty corner.

Interim  measures.

The safety of the present penalty corner could be improved if the criteria for a dangerously played ball were added to as suggested in this recent article.

https://martinzigzag.com/2019/06/16/which-rules-shou…leted-part-one-6/

June 29, 2019

Why is the Obstruction Rule Misquoted?

Rules of Hockey.

http://fieldhockeyforum.com/threads/shielding.46813/#post-443262

Why is the Obstruction Rule so ‘damaged’ that it is constantly being misquoted and assertions made about the conditions it contains that it simply does not contain and on the other hand, tackling requirements asserted that do not exist?

See the hockey forum thread via the above link which contains a number of misquotations of the Rule clauses in the first few posts.
(The thread later moves onto, in typical forum style, an ‘on the head of a pin’ type discussion about foot position relative to line and ball position as that concerns a ball to be out of play, which are irrelevant to the topic. This is not unusual when a sensible question about either obstruction or a dangerously played ball has been diverted with rubbish answers, the nonsense then continues)

One of the most common assertions is that if the direct path to the ball of a player intent on making a tackle is blocked by the player in possession of the ball there is an ‘onus’ on the tackler to position (reposition) to a place where he or she will be able to play directly at the ball (ignoring that an opponent within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intend to make a tackle attempt has already in these circumstance been illegally prevented from playing at the ball).

In effect this “go around” or “position” ‘requirement’ demands that a tackler must be obstructed twice before he or she is considered to have been obstructed at all). Here are the relevant Rule clauses (possibly) Stationary and (presumably) Moving.

Players obstruct if they shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

That should of course read:-

Players obstruct if they shield the ball to prevent a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body. (See the UMB action to prevent a tackle attempt)
(A tackle from any position is legitimate as long as the tackler does not make any physical contact with the player in possession of the ball – such physical contact would be a breach of Rule 9.13 as well as Rule 9.3).

Then we have movement of the ball holder:-

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 last clause bears repeating in another way:-

A player in possession of the ball is not permitted to position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an attempt to play at it.

Prior to the above we had:

Obstruction can 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.  (possibly the seed for the “go around” idea)
(c) the ball is within playing distance or could be played if no obstruction had taken place. 

Better there would have been (and would still be)  the ball is within playing distance and could be played if no obstruction (shielding) had taken place

The utterly ridiculous ‘onus’ mentioned above did at one time appear in Rules Interpretations – (a separate section at the back of rule-books)  but it has not done so since the reformatting of the rule-book in 2004 – that was more than fifteen years ago – ample time for umpires to notice (or be instructed) that it is no longer there.

If umpires are going to “quote”?? and apply Interpretation last seen 2003 and therefore not contained in the current Rules of Hockey, why do they not also apply this Advice to Umpires from the same year, particularly in regards to ‘crabbing’ and stationary shielding of the ball? (Both of which are said to be perfectly legal in the forum thread – even though they most certainly are not)

 Umpires should be aware of players who are in possession of the ball who:
• back into an opponent;
• turn and try to push past an opponent;
• shield the ball with body, leg or stick and stand still when under pressure;
• drag the ball near their back foot when moving down the side-line or along the back-line;
• shield the ball with the stick to prevent a legitimate tackle.

“Be aware of” it has been pointed out elsewhere, does not literally mean “regard these actions as offences” or “penalise these actions”, (even though some of them were listed in the Rule Guidance of 2003 as an offence) but why else draw the attention of umpires to them and require that they be watched for?  Common sense needs to be applied.

All the necessary wording for a sensible and fair Obstruction Rule has at one time or another been in the rule-book, but most of it has been systematically removed.

Only “backing into” and “shielding the ball” with the stick survived the 2004 “clarification” (ha ha) and now the majority of umpires, having been deprived of clear examples of what are obstructive actions, are badly coached and utterly confused about the application of the Obstruction Rule:-  see the forum thread above.

I have written an article on the interpretation of “back into”-

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

The coach seen in the videos has defended this coaching as “following what FIH umpires are doing“, rather than following what is given in the wording of the Rule – which FIH Umpires do not follow. Why not?

The answer to that question seems to be “Because nobody else is doing so.” That’s ‘a dog chasing its tail’ argument, completely circular and avoiding any responsibility for their own lack of action when obstruction occurs.

Not since the FIH Hockey Rules Board (renamed the FIH Rules Committee in 2011) deleted the ‘gains benefit’ clause’ from Rule 9.11 in January 2007 (it was restored in 2015 as gains an advantage) has there been such a blatant twisting and deforming of a Rule condoned by the FIH Umpiring Committee.  – because a deletion was not ‘accepted’ by them, but this conspiracy regarding the deconstruction of the criteria for obstruction remains unannounced, it just IS.

But then I forget the outrageous attempts to have legitimate evasive action as a criterion of a dangerously played ball removed. First, in 2008, during the Beijing Olympics where it was asserted that an on-target shot at the goal could not be considered dangerous play ??? and secondly, – and currently – the Royal Dutch Hockey Board have issued instructions to  Dutch umpires that legitimate evasive action does not apply to a defender positioned on the goal-line during a penalty corner ??? I await the rebuttal by the FIH of this illegal instruction from the KNHB. It’s not clear nowadays who has Rule authority, but it should be.

June 23, 2019

Free Hit Rules should be amended or deleted

Rules of Hockey

Much of the previous post was about penalties but I here want to explore the Conduct of Penalties. 1) The Fee Ball (presently misnamed the Free Hit). 2) The Penalty Corner (a strange name, but never mind) and 3) the Penalty Stroke.

The Shootout is not a penalty but it is a very structured procedure and I will find something to write about it.

The Free Hit back in the days when the term Free Hit (in men’s hockey) was not an obvious misnomer was a relatively short and simple Rule but in 2001 I started to push on Internet Hockey Forums for the introduction of two changes. The reintroduction of the Direct Lift (it had previously been allowed with a flick stroke in women’s hockey as long as the ball was kept below knee height) and the introduction of what I termed the Self Pass. (By that time men;s and women’s Rules had been amalgamated – The men’s Rules were kept and the women’s Rules where they differed, discarded. This was because it was felt that the men would be unable to adapt to any changes made to their Rules.).

Oddly, the easy to assimilate Direct Lift, a change which was an obvious to make safety measure, was not adopted until two years after the Self Pass was adopted. ‘The powers that be then’ proceeded to make a ‘dog’s dinner’ of the Self Pass.

The Self Pass was first introduced into the European Hockey League in 2007 and then adopted into Full FIH Rule in 2009. By which time it had been so hamstrung with addition Rules and five meter limits that it was not much like the improvement to the game I had envisaged. But as a completely new Rule suggested by an ‘outsider’ (who had been living in Cuba, Canada and the USA between 1994 and 2001 – mostly Cuba) this adoption was remarkably quick.

As comparison I can point to have spent ten years trying to get any sort of stick diagram included in the rule-book (first achieved in 2000 and it was awful – see graphic) and have since been trying, without success so far, to have a good clear stick diagram, that explains the permitted limits of dimensions, included in the rule-book: that’s twenty-nine years in total – but the sky has yet to fall.

The amendment to the Free Hit that introduced the Direct Lift is as follows:-

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

Which leads to “A Free Hit (the start used in all but one of the other Rule clauses, so the FIH RC are obviously aware of the anomaly, but choose to circumvent it rather than resolve it) may be intentionally raised immediately with any stroke except a hit.” which is an obvious nonsense, which is why I suggest the penalty in now misnamed.

(But hey ho, a restart to the attacking team on the 23m line is still called a corner and what Cris Maloney has described as the broken windmill signal is used to indicate the award of it – What’s wrong with a right arm pointing directly towards/over the base-line? That’s very unlikely to get confused with any other signal. I notice a few FIH Umpires, like Christian Blasch, already use this signal to indicate a 23m restart.)

A Rule which used to be set out in less than a page of a smaller rule-book now occupies more than two pages of the larger format. I have highlighted in red the parts I believe should be deleted.

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

a) the ball must be stationary

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

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

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

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

f) from a free hit awarded to the attack within the 23 metres area, the ball must not be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 5metres, not necessarily in a single direction, or has been touched by a player of
the defending team
– that player may play the ball any number of times, but
– the ball must travel at least 5 metres, before
– that player plays the ball into the circle by hitting or pushing the ball again.

Alternatively :

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

At an attacking free hit awarded within 5 metres of the circle, the ball cannot be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres or it has been touched by a defending player. If the free hit is taken immediately the defenders who are inside the circle within 5 metres of the free hit may shadow around the inside of the circle a player who takes a self-pass, provided that they do not play or attempt to play the ball or influence play until it has either travelled at least 5 metres or alternatively been touched by a defending player who can legitimately play the ball.If the attacker chooses not to take the free hit immediately, all other players must be at least 5 metres from the ball before the free hit is taken.

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

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

A suggested rewrite introducing “advantage played” during a self-pass and restoring the moving of the ball to outside the hash circle when a free-ball is awarded to the attacking team within 5 metres of the shooting circle.

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

a) the ball must be stationary

b) opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball
If an opponent is within 5 metres of the ball, they must not interfere with the taking of the free-ball and must not play or attempt to play the ball.

If an opponent who is within 5 metres of the ball is not playing the ball, attempting to play the ball or influencing play, the taking of the free-ball need not be delayed, but that opposing player must be attempting to get 5 metres from the ball as quickly as he is able. Standing still and demonstrating that no attempt is being made to influence play is not sufficient to comply with this Rule.

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

e) A free-ball may be raised immediately using a push, flick or scoop but must not be raised intentionally using a hit.

f) the taker of a free ball may play a pass to himself – take a self pass –  by moving the ball from its stationary position, rather than pass the ball to a team-mate, and can then immediately continue with play.

If this self pass is taken very quickly and a properly retreating defender is ‘caught’ within 5 metres of the ball that defender is no longer obliged to continue to retreat but may immediately seek to challenge the ball holder for the ball.

It is assumed that a self-pass will be taken very rapidly only in order to gain an advantage in space and time for the team of the taker by his doing so. Therefore a quickly taken self-pass, taken before properly retreating opponents have been given opportunity to get five metres from the ball, will be regarded as an advantage played and normal play will resume immediately the ball is moved by the taker – just as it would if all opponents had been 5 metres from the ball at the time the self-pass was taken.

g) when a free-ball is awarded in the area between the shooting circle and the hash circle the ball will be taken back outside the hash circle to a position opposite where the offence occurred and the free-ball taken from there.

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

 

 

Tags:
June 22, 2019

Penalties Rules should be amended

Rules of Hockey

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

The above Rule statement was amended to produce the above wording in 2004. Previously it read “…. disadvantaged by an opponent committing an offence” The Explanation then goes on to list seven examples of offence – it does not say breach of Rule – for which penalty may be awarded. Plus two types of incident (which are not offences) for which penalty may also be awarded. This may at first sight seem reasonable because there are listed two possible types of incident which are not offences, but it is not certain that they are breaches of Rule either. The main effect of the amendment has been to allow umpires to penalise ball-body contact with a free ball or a penalty corner, when there has been no offence but there has been a breach of the Rule Proper as it is currently written 9.11 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body (thus ignoring the Explanation of Application which points out that ball body contact is not necessarily an offence). In other words the ‘clarification’ of the wording led to confusion and poor application.

Rule 12.1 needs to be restored to the way it was previously written, to try to prevent the penalizing of Rule breaches that are not offences, and the two non offences dealt with separately as exceptions.

Both of these non offences are presently penalised with the award of a penalty corner when neither of them, in fairness should be. 

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

The award of a penalty corner for this non-offence is unnecessarily harsh. In the days when top level hockey was played on grass, it was often the case that a defender could obtain a ‘breather’ for his team by knocking the ball a considerable distance away from the pitch and such time wasting perhaps needed to be discouraged. But with enclosed artificial surfaces this minor problem has disappeared and there is now no good reason why the team of a defender who intentionally plays the ball off the pitch over the base line should be punished with a penalty corner (in effect with a near free shot at the goal). A restart for the attacking team on the 23m line would be suitable replacement for the present award of a penalty corner i.e. the same as an unintentional deflection off the pitch over the baseline by a defender.

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

The award of a penalty corner for this generally accidental occurrence is even more unjust. At one time it was dealt with by the award of a bully, five yards from the circle, opposite to where the incident occurred, A restart for the attacking side on the 23m line would be a suitable replacement for the present penalty corner.

The same is true of accidental deflections up high off a defender’s stick in the circle or off the protective equipment of a goalkeeper, Something which may potentially lead to dangerous play. A restart for the attacking team on the 23m line is sufficient ‘punishment’ for an incident, which once again, used to be dealt with by the award of a bully five yards from the circle. It is particularly unjust to penalise a goalkeeper for what might well have been a great reaction save with a penalty corner.

June 21, 2019

Umpiring Rules should be amended

Rules of Hockey

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.

For a few years now I have been advocating that the number of officials officiating a hockey match ought to be increased to five. I give my reasons via the videos in this article. Please watch the videos, navigating back to the WordPress article is a simple matter of closing a tab or using the back button.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/06/19/the-number-and-p…-match-officials/

The second part of this same article also suggests the introduction of the use of a second whistle to restart play when an umpire has blown the whistle to award penalty or a side-line ball has to be taken.

11.6 Umpires blow the whistle to:
a start and end each quarter of the match
b start a bully
c enforce a penalty
d stop the time after the awarding of a penalty corner
e re-start the time before the taking of a penalty corner
f start and end a penalty stroke
g indicate a goal
h re-start the match after a goal has been scored
i re-start the match after a penalty stroke when a goal was not scored
j stop the match for the substitution onto or off the field of a fully equipped goalkeeper and to restart the match on completion of the substitution
k stop the match for any other reason and to re-start it
l indicate, when necessary, that the ball has passed wholly outside the field.

It amuses me to see this ‘comprehensive’ list of reasons for an umpire to blow the whistle presented, while in other areas the Rules Committee have declared such comprehensive listing to be unnecessary (too wordy) or too difficult.

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June 21, 2019

Throwing Rule should be amended

Rules of Hockey.

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.

I have several times seen a player throw his stick at a ball, sometimes when it was still in the possession of an opposing forward, inside the circle and going towards or into the goal, when the player who threw his stick was outside the circle.

In about half of the instances the ball was missed and a goal was scored, but in the other instances a goal was prevented. In these latter cases the umpire was able to issue a personal penalty (as he could also in the instances in which a goal was scored) but could not award a penalty-stroke because the action of the offence did not take place in the circle, even if the effect of that action did.

This to me seems unfair. I believe that if a defending player throws his stick at the ball from outside the circle with the intention of preventing a goal, and succeeds in that intent, a penalty stroke (as well as a personal penalty) ought to be awarded. This of course also requires an exception to the Rules regarding penalties.

 

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.

I have recently seen goalkeepers in International Level matches freely using their hand protectors to bat the ball away towards one side-line or the other and i supposed that an alteration had been made to the Rule that forbade a goalkeeper forcefully playing the ball away using a gloved hand or a hand protector. Certainly that prohibition has disappeared but this is one of those few occasions when I think the FIH Rules Committee did not go far enough.

I see no good reason why a goalkeeper should not be allowed to swing his arm to present a hand protector to the ball, in the same way he is allowed to swing his leg, to use the kicker, to impart velocity and distance to any ball he is playing away from his goal area from anywhere in the circle. This use of the arm/hand is in fact likely to be safer and more accurate than the use of the leg and leg-guard with kicker. Why shouldn’t a goalkeeper launch a counter attack with a ball propelled high and long with a hand-protector after swinging it forcefully at the ball?

 

June 20, 2019

Obstruction Rule should be amended

Rules of Hockey.

This Rule ties with the Rule on ball body contact as the the most badly applied of the Rules and it is the most badly written Rule. The rot started in 1993 when an exception to the Rule was introduced as a “new Interpretation”. The new Interpretation was set out over two pages in the back of rule-books in a Rules Interpretations section, in such a bizarre way that it made little sense when thoroughly examined. The 1993 version of the Rule Proper did not change in any way:-

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

Umpires were told that they were responsible for Rule Interpretation and the application of the Rule then ‘went to hell in a handcart'(because umpires are not responsible for Rule Interpretation, the FIH Rules Committee have that responsibility and the responsibility to communicate Interpretation to umpires . Umpires are responsible for the interpretation of the actions and intentions of players (a difficult enough task) for compliance with Rule and Explanation of Rule Application as provided by the FIH Rules Committee)

The current Obstruction Rule was last amended in 2009. That amendment was an addition which should have tightened up the application of the Rule – but didn’t.  It is shown in black in the Rule set out below.

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.

 

Note that “back into an opponent” and “move off with it [the ball] in any direction except bodily into an opponent” are listed separately listed clauses. This is because they are different kinds of obstructive action. The second involves physical contact, the first does not.

I read that to mean that back into an opponent does not mean back into bodily contact, but to back, while shielding the ball to prevent a tackle attempt, towards (into the playing reach) of an opponent. I justify this by pointing out 1) that an opponent may be obstructed when within playing reach of the ball and prevented from making a tackle attempt because the ball is shielded by the body or stick of the ball holder 2) There is otherwise unnecessary repetition within the Explanation of Application of the Rule.

I have written many blog articles about the obstruction Rule and currently have eight listed in the titles menu which can be found to the right of each article at martinzigzag.com  Many video examples can be found within them. Some articles are about current coaching practice for example https://martinzigzag.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation/ and others are a history of the development of the Rule

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

I finish this article with a suggested rewrite of the Obstruction Rule, which is as long as the 1993 ‘new interpretation’ was.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A player in possession of the ball

who is :-

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

A player in possession of the ball who is:-

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

A stationary or slow moving ball-holder who obliges an opponent who is intent on playing at the ball to ‘go around’ a ball-shielding position to attempt to play at the ball, when that opponent would otherwise be able to play at the ball directly, is obstructing that opponent. (This is almost the opposite of the ‘onus’ on the tackler to position to tackle by going around a ball shielding opponent, which was contained in the original (1993) Rule Interpretation – the onus on a ball holder not to obstruct was in that interpretation ignored)

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

.A player in possession of the ball :-

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

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 Tackler.

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

A player who is within playing distance of the ball and intends to make a tackle, but who is not in a position of balance from which a tackle attempt may be made, is for example, facing or moving or reaching in the wrong direction to play at the ball with a reasonable expectation of making contact with it with the stick, cannot be obstructed except as already noted, when evasive movement is forced to avoid physical contact being caused by an opponent in possession of the ball who is leading the ball with the leg or body and thus shielding the ball. When a ball holder moves into an opponent in either of the ways described in this clause the opponent who is being moved into is no longer obliged to demonstrate that an attempt is being made to play at the ball because such moving into will generally prevent a tackler (who may be forced to retreat to avoid contact) from attempting to execute a legal tackle.

.The ‘Receiving’ Exception to the Rule.

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

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

a) pass the ball away or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ‘Manufactured’ Exception to the Rule.

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

 

Third-Party Obstruction.

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

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

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

Stick Obstruction 

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

 

June 20, 2019

Ball body contact Rule should be amended.

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. The truth is that the majority of ball-body contacts are inconsequential and play should just be allowed to continue without interruption.

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,probably because the difference between what was given in the Rule and umpiring practice was so obvious and therefore embarrassing.

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 the term 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

Falling ball Rules should be amended.

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

Raised Hit Rules should be amended or deleted.

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

Dangerous Play Rules should be amended.

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

Dangerously Played Ball Rules should be amended.

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

Above Shoulder Ball Rules should be amended.

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

Intimidation and Impeding Rules should be amended.

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

Physical Contact Rules should be amended.

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

Teams Rules should be amended.

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

Liability Rules should be amended.

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 an 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” as commonly understood.

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 missed 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. Umpires were also at one time (around 2002) advised (in the rule-book and the UMB) to “watch for players who stand still and shield the ball when under pressure” Standing still is clearly not an active movement so the FIH RC and the UMB have been very inconsistent with their advice about obstruction since 1993.

  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 immediate 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 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 makes 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 primarily 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 (*footnote).

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

* It actually took sixteen posts to list the suggestions with reasons and even then some appropriate changes were not included, because I referenced only the Rules concerning the Conduct of Play and two Penalties, the Free Ball and the Penalty Corner – see my recent posts Which Rules should be Amended or Deleted?  I haven’t made a count but I have probably suggested in excess of fifty changes – none frivolously.

So in 2020 we might see the FIH Rules Committee change an umpiring signal (because umpires are now not always using the advised signal) Tail wagging the dog.

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/