July 30, 2020

The strange world of the dangerously played ball.

Rules of Hockey
Raising the ball towards an opponent.

A dangerously played ball call is more likely to be made against a defender than against an attacker.

I had previously though that the last mention from an umpire of the nonsense about a shot at goal being impossible to consider dangerous play was uttered during the China v Spain match in the Women’s 2010 World Cup. But here we are in the Semi-Final of the Men’s World Cup England v Netherlands in 2014 – and it is trotted out again. Was it one of the commentators who declared it was a shot at goal so could not be dangerous? The video umpire appears to go along with that view

The commentators also get wrong the matter of knee height and dangerous play (which applies only to a ball raised at an out-running defender during a penalty corner). The height restriction on a first hit shot during a penalty corner is about compliance with the limit for a goal to be scored, not about dangerous play.

If that edge hit was not intended as a shot at the goal, it should have been penalised as an intentionally raised hit, but the intent of the shooter would have required mind reading – what looks to me to be a miss-hit was assumed to be a shot at the goal because it was clearly not a pass across the face of goal (which could not have been legally raised with a hit stroke) .

This incident here was anyway clearly a ball raised into an opponent within 5m and therefore dangerous play, by the attacker – not a complicated concept – but one which is obviously not understood by officials at FIH level. Words apparently have a different meaning at that level.

I had to laugh when I heard the commentators talking of the history of the game. Some knowledge of Rule history might given them an understanding of the state of the current Rules and how bizarre the application of the Rules has become in some important areas.

Thank goodness that anything that happened eight years ago, and was invented twelve years ago in an umpire briefing, is now considered pre-history and can (as it should) be discarded. Easy to do, it has never been mentioned in any official document as a Rule – because it isn’t

The notion that a ball raised towards an opponent within 5m (who is not an out-runner at a penalty corner) has to be at knee high or above to be considered dangerous play is erroneous.

The applicable clauses for open play are contained in the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9. It’s not entirely clear but I don’t think knee height applies to any propelling of the ball towards an opponent after the initial shot has been taken during a penalty corner.

There is no reference to height in the Explanation to Rule 9.9., any raising of the ball towards an opponent within 5m may therefore be considered to be a dangerous play offence.

The UMB contradicts the Rule in this regard (using half-shin pad height) so the advice in the UMB – which is not Rule – should be disregarded.

Again, the mistaken idea that a ball raised towards an opponent within 5m has to be above knee height to be dangerous play. Nothing else explains the difference in the decisions made in these two incidents.

The video referral for the first incident was for a dangerous shot on goal, which I hope those who believe there is no such thing will take note of.

The second incident raised an interesting question. What does an umpire do if both teams simultaneously request video referral citing different offences? I suppose, following Tournament Regulations, if the requests are made in the correct way and within 20 seconds of the incident which is being referred, the umpire must advance both questions to the video umpire. Players possibly believe that such simultaneous requests are not allowed, but it is only a video referral about a decision from a prior video referral that is not permitted. I see no reason that both sides should not ask for referral for different offences at the same time, even if they are committed within the scope of a single action. In this case two very different questions, 1)Was the ball raised into the defender dangerous play?  2) Did the defender commit a ball-body contact offence ?

You don’t ask, you don’t get.
Maybe the Dutch players know the Rules better than the English players do. But again A dangerously played ball call is more likely to be made against a defender than against an attacker and the injustices that goalkeepers have to put up with in this regard haven’t been touched upon in the above selection of incidents from International level matches in important tournaments (World Cup and Olympic Games).

June 3, 2020

Pass or shot?

The Rules of Hockey.

A tactic to circumvent safety Rules that creates a ‘murky Rule area’ if the pass to the attacking in-runner is also towards the goal.

This requires that an amendment be made to the Rules so that a first hit, push or flick towards the goal during a penalty corner, which is intercepted/deflected by another attacker, is always regarded as a pass and not as a shot at the goal – and therefore a shot at goal made after such interception is always limited in height in the same way as a first hit shot would be, no matter how it is subsequently propelled towards the goal.

Its not unusual to see head high deflections made from within 5m of the goal-line and this should not be considered safe practice – simply because it is not.

There are two Rule contraventions by the attacking side in this video. What are they?

First, the attacking in-runner breaks into the circle before the ball is ‘inserted’; That should have caused the umpire to stop play immediately and reset the corner (punishments for defenders who break early are more severe – a player gets sent beyond the half-line and the corner is reset without him)

Secondly, the ball is deflected up into a defender’s groin from close range (within 2m) injuring him. That is a dangerous play offence. The ball may not be raised at an opponent at all from within 5m. (Too big a distance, but that is what is given in the Rule – intentional deflections are not mentioned in the Rule but common sense dictates they be included as a means of propelling the ball towards an opponent in a dangerous way)

I think it reasonably follows that if a shot at the goal is raised with a hit in open play and is then intercepted or deflected by a second attacker and propelled towards the goal, the initial action must be regarded as a pass and therefore an illegally raised hit.

This would fit with the promise made by the HRB back in 1997 when the Off-side Rule was deleted, that for the safety of players, constraints would be placed on the actions of attackers when close to the goal – a promise that has been forgotten for a long time.

 

 

 

May 22, 2020

The invisible offence.

Does the attacker commit an offence before he shoots?

The wording of 9.12 Rule Proper,  and a restructuring of the Explanation, to present it as a prohibition rather than as an exception to what is permitted (the current format which may be confusing), may help you to decide

The statement in the UMB is rather odd. I have never seen a movement that was not active i.e. an action, but the meaning is clear if it is understood that it is the prevention of playing the ball by an opposing tackler that is meant by “movement to prevent the playing of the ball” These people are not good with syntax. A fatal flaw when explaining Rules.

I think that Few will even bother to look at the above video even though it runs for only 64 seconds, because it is obvious what the subject matter is,

Obstruction? “Boring”, “Not interested” , “Not that again”

Together with the dangerously played ball (same reactions), dangerous use of the stick and physical contact, the Obstruction Rule is among the most important of the Rules that have been enacted.

It is as fundamental to the way in which hockey should be played as the Rules concerning physical contact are. Yet there is even less interest in getting it understood and applied correctly than there is in instituting sane control of a ball raised high at another player (which appears to be near zero). There is outright refusal in some quarters to discuss either action, obstruction or a dangerously played ball. One has only to watch a hockey match for a few minutes to see the consequences of that.

But.
“When you make people believe they are thinking they will love you, when you actually make them think they will hate you”. Don Marquis

That is generally true.

May 13, 2020

The invention of ‘Rules’

Here are two more examples of ‘interpretation’ contradicting Rule or the provided Explanation of application:-


March 24, 2020

Contrast in application following Rule change

Rules of Hockey.

The permit to play the ball at above shoulder height opened a flood-gate of other Rule abuse because the only restriction was (is)  that players should not play or play at the ball in a dangerous way – and a dangerous way is left to the judgement of umpires, who have already been advised to “forget lifted” when the ball is raised with a hit. That they are also told to “think danger” (what’s danger?) (but not advised to consider disadvantage to opponents following an illegal action) is something of a joke.

The hit raised into the circle by the BEL attacker was a foul (it was clearly intentionally raised), as was the contest for the falling ball by the second BEL player who was not in a position to be the initial receiver at the time the ball was raised (the goalkeeper was).

In the next incident shown in the clip the attacker passes and raises the ball across the face of the goal with a reverse edge hit – that is not a shot at the goal – so an illegal hit.

The promise made by the Hockey Rules Board in 1997, when the Offside Rule was finally deleted, that measures would be put in place to restrain the actions of attackers when close to the goal was completely forgotten – in fact reversed.

I have five suggestions for Rule change to reduce incidents of a dangerously played ball.

The interception of a shot at goal by a player of the shooter’s team will convert what was a shot into a pass – and if raised too high with a hit (during a penalty corner) an illegally raised hit. This also means that if the intercepting player shoots at the goal, the first hit restriction applies (and deflections in such circumstances must be treated as hits). The hard low hit or push at goal during a penalty corner which is deflected by a second attacker high into the goal, usually from within 5m is a circumvention of dangerous play Rules and is clearly too dangerous to defenders to be allowed to continue without control.

2) Playing at the ball at above shoulder height when in the opponent’s circle to be prohibited.

3) A height limit (120cms / 4′ / sternum height) on any ball propelled towards an opposing player from beyond 5m (especially in a competitive situation) at high velocity (a velocity that could injury a player hit).

4) The absurdity of contesting for a falling ball being considered dangerous play when contesting for a rising ball (played at in the same way and at the same height) is seldom considered dangerous play (or even play leading to dangerous play) to be changed.

5) Raising the ball into the circle with a hit prohibited except in the case of a dink hit by a dribbler evading an opponent when the dribbler retains immediate possession of the ball.

Then we continue to allow players to play at the ball at above shoulder height (outside the opponent’s circle) because appropriate restrains are in place.

The above list may not be complete, it may be necessary to curtail flicks and scoops being raised high into the opposing circle, but that possibility needs further thought – maybe a height limit?

Edit. The list above is not complete I overlooked my suggested replacement for the Rule prohibiting an intentionally raised hit, that is not a shot at the goal taken from within the opponents circle:-

6) In addition to the height limit on a ball raised towards an opposing player, an absolute height limit (of shoulder height) on any ball raise with a hit – even into clear space. This is not tied to the concept of a dangerously played ball, it’s simply a height limit to prevent the long chip or clip hits, common in the 1980’s that the prohibition on the intentionally raised hit was supposed to eliminate. Those clip and chip hits have now been replaced with reverse edge hits used to ‘clear’ the ball over the heads of opponents. On occasion, as we have seen recently with the broken jaw of a Malaysian International player, a miss-hit ‘clearance’ can result in serious injury.

I have not planned the writing of this article very well because I find I need to add a seventh suggestion, again one I have made many times before:-


7) When a Self-pass is taken quickly – that is before opponents have been given sufficient opportunity to retreat to get to be 5m from the ball, and they are trying to so retreat – normal play will resume as soon as the taker moves the ball from its stationary position (see article on Second Whistle to ensure a stationary ball) This does away with a raft of 5m restrictions and exceptions. It also renders unnecessary the prohibition on playing a free ball, awarded in the opponent’s 23m, being played directly into the opponent’s circle.  The only two 5m requirements necessary are 1) that opponents get to be 5m from the place a free ball is awarded as rapidly as is reasonably possible and 2) the placement for a free ball, when a defender’s offence occurs between the shooting circle and the hash circle, will be just outside the hash circle opposite to where the offence occurred. (This is the only 5m requirement put in place since 2009 that the FIH Rules Committee have – for an unknown reason – deleted, but it was the only one enacted in 2009 that made good sense).

The taking of a Self-Pass before opponents have been given opportunity to comply with the 5m distancing requirement will be seen as the playing of advantage (Why else but to gain advantage would a player taking a free ball take it before opponents had complied with Rule requirements?) Defenders who do not attempt to retreat and who then interfere with the play of the taker should be carded (I would like to see restored as a taker’s option the Upto10 in these circumstances, but as an Upto25 with no restriction on the direction of the Upto25m as this would render obsolete the idea of a ‘safe’ place to deliberately give away a free ball.) The free could be taken anywhere within 25m of the place of the offence.

March 5, 2020

Limiting drag flicks

Drag flicks. From an article on Field Hockey.com
“Guise-Brown has been training his PC skills since he was a young boy growing up on the grounds of the school where his father taught in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, with the hockey pitch as his back garden. As a teenager and at university he used to flick for an hour a day most days.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the South African international is not in favour of suggestions by our readers that the height of drag flicks should be limited in line with regulations on hits at penalty corners. “I’d be a little bit upset if they did away with it,” said Guise-Brown. “I mean it is quite dangerous the whole nature of it but there’s lots of precautions that are taken.” “
.
,
I would be very surprised if an expert drag-flicker, who had devoted much of his training to perfecting this shot was in favour of the FIH doing away with it – but there has been no suggestion of them doing so, even if this expert is prepared to admit that “the nature of it is quite dangerous” (a fine bit of understatement) But then he went on to say that there are lots of precautions that are taken.
Are there? I can’t think of a single one other than not raising the ball at or above knee height into an out-running opponent within 5m, which is a watered down version (a contradiction) of what is contained in Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9. which does not have a minimum height limit for a raised flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5m.
There has not been, as far as I am aware, any call made from any National Association to limit the height of the drag flick to the same height as the first hit shot during a penalty corner – 460mm.  On the contrary the Royal Dutch Hockey Board have declared that legitimate evasive action does not apply to defenders on the goal-line during a penalty corner. An illegal declaration and instruction to umpires, that I am still waiting to see the FIH demand they withdraw
My suggestion (which I have been hammering on about for at least ten years) is a “dangerous” height of above 120cms, that is 1200mm or 4′ (for senior men), a height well above what a ‘logging’ keeper can cover and still a difficult height for a defender to stop the ball. I don’t want a similar height limit as is imposed on the first hit shot because I do not want to see a return of the ‘logging’ goalkeeper and the ‘packing’ of the goal-line behind the goalkeeper.
My suggestion is not an easy option for defenders and it does not prevent dangerous deflections (no height limit will), but it does afford the defender opportunity to evade a direct shot at his position, made at above sternum height without being penalised with a goal for doing so, and gives attackers (and umpires) a clear upper limit for “dangerous” for any ball propelled at high velocity at an opponent from any distance beyond 5m.
My suggestions do not stop there. I want a ban on all raising of the ball with a hit to above shoulder height, to replace the (supposed) ban on the intentionally raised hit *(excepting a shot on goal from within the opponents circle). And a ban on the raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit (excepting a dribbling player who makes a dink hit into the circle while evading opponents and while so doing retains possession of the ball). And (belt and braces) a ban on any playing at or of the ball at above shoulder height in the opponent’s circle.
I think there could be general support for these measures (how can we find out if the proposals are not put up for the consideration of National Associations by the FIH)
I am not impressed that a news article has been written airing the views of a leading exponent of the drag-flick as if he could possibly have been in favour of limiting the stroke in some way – of course he isn’t.
Should face-masks be obligatory during a penalty corner?
I think not, why not full helmets and throat protectors? Because aside from the always unpredictable deflection (a reason for optional facemasks) there is no good reason shots should be permitted to be made towards defenders at head or throat height. Shots not made at defenders do not need to be height limited – above or wide of is fine – those made at defenders must be height limited.
Contrary to popular belief among attacking players, it is not an offence for a defender to position between a shooter and the goal to defend the goal. Where else could a defender position to defend the goal?

The mess that has been made of the receiving of an aerial ball and encroachment offences is another area of concern, but I leave that to one side for now.

* As they say “the goal is there to be shot at and is seven feet high” – (so that players are not endangered by the possibility of hitting their heads on it). It is interesting to note that in the far more robustly physical sport of ice-hockey the cross bar (which is heavily padded, as are the players) is about 4′ off the ice. Ice hockey players are sensible enough not to want slap hits being made (at 100mph+) at/past the heads of defenders – field hockey players apparently accept the risk of serious and long term injury for the sake of spectacular and exciting matches – or are those risks imposed on them?

February 27, 2020

World Hockey misses the point.

Apparently common sense has to be the result of professionally collected data about injuries and comment about potential danger has to be from “credible” sources (see article) to be accepted.

I have been suggesting for years a height limit on any ball propelled towards another player from beyond 5m, (there being Rule in place to cover the ball raised towards an opponent within 5m – even if that is poorly applied at present) as a means of determining that a ball is dangerously played.

Incidents of dangerous play cannot be determined simply by counting the number of injuries that result, because legitimate evasive action is already supposed to define a dangerously played ball (but in practice doesn’t).

What actually happens is quite different If an ‘on target’ high (above 120cm) shot at the goal is successfully evaded a goal award is the usual outcome. If a player attempting to evade such a ball is hit with it then a penalty stroke award is considered normal. In other words attackers are not penalised for playing the ball in a dangerous way at an opponent but rewarded for doing so and therefore encouraged to do so.

There is no deterrent whatsoever against raising the ball at throat or head height towards a defender when shooting at the goal. It does not matter which stroke is used, be it a drag-flick or an edge-hit.

It follows that defenders are being forced to defend against shots in competitive matches that they would always evade in practice situations (because of the high risk of injury). The choice, if it can be called that, is to risk injury by attempting to stop a high ball propelled at the throat or head or to ‘give away’ a goal. Players (short shortsightedly) often ‘sacrifice’ themselves for the team, and the team (and the club) are then without their services while they recover from injury (often for many weeks).

A sternum level high limit (120cms or 4′) would allow defenders to evade the very dangerously played high ball without giving away a goal and would also greatly reduce the risk of severe (life threatening) injury which is the potential result of permitting above sternum height shots to be made towards opposing defenders. Crucially attackers would then stop making such shots, just as they stopped ‘roofing’ the first hit shot made during a penalty corner after the introduction of the backboard height limit.

There is no need to height limit any shot that is not made towards (at) another player, so shots made at above head height or wide of opponents, at what would otherwise be considered a dangerous height, would not be effected by the proposed height limit, just as balls raised above knee height with a flick within 5m of outrunning opponents during a penalty corner are not considered dangerously played if they are not directed towards an outrunning opponent.

Such a height limit is easy and cheap to mark on a goal by stretching an elasticated tape from one post to another around the back of the goal. This is also easy to adjust for women’s hockey or for juniors where lower heights (110cms and 100cms respectifly) may be considered more suitable.

http://fieldhockey.com/index.php/comments/50068-world-hockey-aim-to-tackle-reverse-hit-dangers

England Hockey also misses the point.

http://fieldhockey.com/index.php/comments/50139-hockey-clubs-need-to-report-all-injuries-and-concussion
http://fieldhockey.com/index.php/comments/50138-leading-hockey-coach-backs-reverse-stick-debate-at-junior-level

It is of course necessary to track injuries and record how they are caused, but injuries are only a very small part of the complete “dangerously played ball” scenario.

Injuries arise because the dangerously played ball is not well Ruled for and the Rules we have are not well applied. I have video clips of players, while trying to stop the ball with their sticks, being hit on the collar bone with drag-flick shots being penalised with a penalty stroke and another of a shot, taken from within 5m, deflecting into the goal off a defenders collar bone into the goal, while he was trying to evade the ball, and a goal being awarded – this should not be happening.

The so called ‘gladiator effect’ is not more likely to encourage defenders in competitive matches to try stop the ball with the stick rather than duck, they are already doing that. It is in my view more likely to encourage attackers to believe that they need not concern themselves with injury to ‘protected’ opponents, and worse, for umpires to accept that view.

We already have attackers shooting at the goal when there are defenders positioned between them and the goal as if defenders so positioned in John Gawley’s words (2001 Umpire Coaching document entitled The Lifted Ball) aggregated to themselves to position of goalkeeper without the privileges (legal use of body) afforded to goalkeepers. He suggested that such defenders could be shot at as if they were fully protected goalkeepers (an aberration in an otherwise fairly sensible set of recommendations concerning the lifted ball). That attitude can never be accepted – not if incidents of injury are a concern and we seek to reduce or even eliminate them.

February 23, 2020

Silly Rule and confusing yellow card.

Correction edit added

The draconian enforcement of one of the silliest conventions in the Rule book. Excellent play by the defender penalised as if a crime. Fortunately it occurred in a match in which the Netherlands team were missing on most cylinders when in front of the goal, and they missed yet again from the penalty corner.- a good save by the ARG keeper.

I have noticed that of late umpires have been more inclined to award a penalty corner following a tackle from which a defender sends the ball – often apparently inadvertently – out of play over the base-line. In this same match this umpire’s colleague awarded a penalty corner following such a tackle. His characterization, to the player involved, of the tackle stroke used, as a long sweep at the ball, was wildly inaccurate. I wonder have Umpire Managers told umpires to be more strict about applying this very silly and unnecessary Rule.

Making defending as difficult as possible is becoming ridiculous. Defenders near their base-lines already have to contend with players shunting into them while shielding the ball and opponents trying to play the ball into their feet. They are likely when shunted into, to be penalised for a contact tackle and when the ball is forced into their feet, in both instances with a penalty corner.

The defender is more and more restricted while attackers seems to have no restrictions at all imposed. Even raising the ball into a defender is viewed as the defender’s fault – he shouldn’t be there. The most difficult and necessary part of the game is being made near impossible, that is not going to improve the skill levels of attackers or make the game more interesting for spectators.

CORRECTION

I got this completely wrong, the card was not for the knock off the base-line but it would seem (I am not certain) for a much earlier contact tackle attempt near the half-way line by the ARG No.5. But there was no advantage signal given and the umpire did not communicate clearly why he had stopped the game or quickly explain why he had issued the card. Things were done out of proper sequence and communication was poor.

My comment concerning the unjustness of a penalty corner award for a defender (intentionally ?? ) playing the ball off the pitch during a tackle are unaltered.

February 5, 2020

A silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Explanation of Application Rule 9.12. Players obstruct if they back into opponents.

It is necessary when trying to communicate the meaning of statements made in Rules clauses or Explanation clauses not to assume any prior knowledge of the game by the intended listener/reader and an absence of deductive reasoning in these people. No conditions or circumstances not specifically mentioned in any statement can to be assumed. Everything the Rule maker needs the participants to know to comply with a Rule must be fully explained.

When the Obstruction Rule is read together with the provided Explanation of Application of Rule it quickly becomes apparent that the above principle is not adhered to. Much is left unexplained and much is assumed to be common knowledge. The current Rules and Explanations are a sow’s ear with nearly everyone of them being ‘interpreted’ into a multitude of personal ‘silk purses’, of value only to their inventors.

It is possibly acceptable for a Rule to be unclear when considered in isolation, the terms used may not have been previously explained, but the Rule should become very clear when the Explanation of Application clauses are read because all such clauses should be written in an unambiguous way. For example, the word ‘obstruct’ in the Obstruction Rule proper is undefined, but a reading of the Explanation clauses should make it very clear what the actions ‘to obstruct’ includes.

Unfortunately the phrase “attempting to play the ball” contained in the Rule, is nowhere explained in the Explanation clause and it is necessary to construct circumstances in which a tackle attempt can be made,  and also where one cannot be made and to know the reasons why in each case.

The word legitimate has several meanings and is used in a different ways in different Rules E.g. ‘legitimate evasive action’ and ‘legitimate tackle’ do not use the word ‘legitimate’ in the same way. A legitimate tackle is a tackle made in a legal way i.e without a foul (usually avoiding making physical contact with stick or body); legitimate evasive action is evasion that is necessary to avoid injury and is genuine for that reason. Evasive action cannot reasonably be considered to be illegal even when it is unnecessary.

Let’s start with what may seem to be the reasonably clear Explanation clause above: Players obstruct if they back into opponents. which is in fact unclear and applied in a wide variety of ways or not applied at all. Is the opponent assumed to be in possession of the ball at the time and shielding it from an opponent while backing into that opponent? Reasonable assumptions perhaps, but possession of the ball is only an assumption, it is not specified in the clause. The clause could refer to off the ball play such as ‘third party’ obstruction. 

And what does ‘back in’ mean? The American umpire coach Cris Maloney asserts that it means to back into physical contact with an opponent, and that ‘backing in’ (backing towards) is not an offence, no matter how close the players get, unless physical contact is made. To support this approach in points out, in analogy, that a car that backs into another car hits that car – otherwise it has not backed into that car.

I disagree with his view of backing in and take the view that a player who moves backwards taking the ball into the playing reach of an opposing player, while at the same time shielding the ball from that player (the tackler) to prevent a tackle attempt, obstructs that opponent immediately he or she brings the ball within the playing reach of the tackler. Why?  Because players may be obstructed once within playing reach of the ball when they are physically demonstrating an intention to carry out a tackle. I answer the analogy of the backing car by pointing out that a car that backs into a garage or into a parking bay is not backed up until it hits something (a back wall or a fence) and is in the garage or parking bay in the same way a backing player is within the playing reach of an opponent.

It is often possible to look at prior wording to Rule or Explanation or to amendments added to Rule or Explanations at a later date (with obstruction the amendments were made in 1993, 1995, 2001, 2004 and 2009, with 1995 and 2004 being years in which major rule-book rewrites were undertaken) to get a better sense of what the HRB /FIH RC intended. Fortunately in the case of this particular clause there is a 2009 amendment that provides clarity. I will come back to that because it also includes part of the next “a player obstructs” statement.

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

A shield and shielding is often thought of something to protect the body from another object moving towards it. An umbrella for example is generally used to shield a person from rain. The other form of shielding is the use of the body itself to protect something or some one from attack or to prevent loss of possession of the thing shielded. It is used in this latter sense in the Obstruction Rule and it is considered an illegal action if it prevents an opponent, who would otherwise be able to play directly at the ball, from doing so. In 2002 the rule-book (and the UMB) contained advice to umpires to “watch for players who stand still and shield the ball when under pressure” Again a lot of assumptions, but that advice clearly informed umpires that a stationary player who was shielding the ball to prevent a tackle attempt by an opponent, was as guilty of obstruction as one who moved to impose his or her body between an opponent and the ball.

But what is a legitimate tackle? Here legitimate appears to mean ‘legal’ or ‘Rule compliant’ i.e. not illegal. An illegal tackle, according to 9.13. is one that is made from a position where physical contact is (inevitable/unavoidable). Sliding tackles are often like this. There is of course a world of difference between a front-on or side-on sliding tackle at an open ball and a tackle attempt from the sort of positions that a ball holder puts a tackler in when moving to shield the ball from the tackler That is moving his or her body (or the ball) to maintain positions where the ball is body shielded from the player intent on tackling for it, these latter actions are obstructive and an offence.

Here is the 2009 improved version of ‘Players obstruct  if they back into opponents combined with players obstruct if they move to shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.
A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent. (contact offence).
or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it. (ball shielding).

If the part about what a player with the ball is allowed to do is omitted we get, with a slight change of syntax, a clearer picture of what is prohibited.

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 and attempting to play it.

That could be improved “A player with the ball is not permitted to move into bodily contact with an opponent…. etc”. If body to body contact is prohibited, which is the case, that should be clearly stated even if it is duplication.

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). Improved by (this may also be third party or shadow obstruction)

When the wording of Rules gives an umpires ‘ sow’s ear’s to work with no amount of ‘interpretation’ improves matters, personal ‘interpretations’ generally make things far worse (because they vary between umpires) and they are not permitted anyway. The proper course of action is to lobby the FIH RC for amendment to the wording. An effective lobby group has to be in agreement about what changes it wants of course, and there’s the rub. 

The 2009 amendment is an improvement on what was there previously (after 2004) except that the advice on the situation of the stationary player under pressure was ‘lost’ in the 2004 rewrite and there is still no explanation of what action constitutes a tackle attempt (is it not physical demonstration by a tackler that there is intent to make a tackle?), and no mention, outside the advice in the UMB, of the illegal prevention of a tackle attempt  (which is basically what an obstruction offence by a player in possession of the ball is). So we get situations such as those in the shootout in the video below, where an attacker moves to position between a close opponent and the ball with impunity (apparently with immunity from the Obstruction Rule) preventing that player (the goalkeeper) from playing at the ball when he would otherwise have been able to do so – the ball being within his reach. The goalkeeper cannot “go around” the ball-holder (previous daft and unfair advice circa 1993) as that would just present an empty goal to a ball holder who would turn away to the other side from any attempt to go around him or her. 

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February 1, 2020

Umpire Briefing

My clip (the second one below)  is a small part of the FIH video issued in 2017 after the Rio Olympics.

I watched the FIH Umpire Briefing video, featuring the Umpire Managers, prior to the 2016 Olympics (much of which is repeated in the 2017 version)

and was not surprised that the umpiring in Rio, taken as a whole, was poorer than any I had seen in any FIH Tournament prior to that date. What is hoped for and intended does not automatically become common practice.

In this short clip (below) the men’s umpire manager Craig Gribble, begins by pointing out that a shot on goal that endangers players from both sides is dangerous play (that has now been changed, a same team player cannot now be endangered, a Rule amendment which Sam Ward might have a few words to say about) and additional video adds that a shot wide of the goal that endangers defenders is also dangerous play – so far so good.

He then goes on to say “Of course a defender choosing to stand on the line and occupying an area which is in fact properly the goalie domain could not expect the same degree of protection“” That is a nonsense which he then links with a true statement to the effect that if a defender on the line is struck with the ball (and prevents a goal) then a penalty stroke COULD be the correct decision (unfair advantage gained).

Why “Of course” No explanation is offered. Why would a defender in any position, including on the goal-line, not be as protected by Rule as any other player defending anywhere on the pitch would be? I suggest he offered no explanation because he could not do so. His statement is pure invention which unfortunately has become a meme of umpiring – I wonder how that happened?

This kind of “Of course” thinking is so ‘fuzzy’ and vague, and contrary to the supposed emphasis on player safety that is obvious that this high level umpiring official does not understand what is meant by the term “a dangerously played ball”. A dangerously played ball s not something that is created by the player endangered by it, but a dangerous action an endangered player responds to.

Yes a defender struck with the ball who prevents a goal being scored can be penalised with a penalty stroke, provided the shot is not made in a dangerous way i.e. in a way that endangers any defender or causes him or her to take or try to take, legitimate evasive action (evasion to avoid injury) – as demonstrated in the initial part of the clip.

There is no Rule declaring the goal-line to be the exclusive domain of the goalkeeper and no Rule forbidding a defender to defend the goal from a position on the goal-line. That might be the case in some circumstances if a Goal Zone was introduced, but no such thing has happened.

The principle of acceptance of risk is often trotted out at this juncture by those who advocate penalising defenders for defending, but it needs to be realized that in no sport (or any other area) does this principle apply if a Rule of the game has been breached (or a relevant Law or Regulation contravened) in the course of endangering or injuring the person who it is claimed accepted risk.

Acceptance of risk is acceptance of the risk of injury or actual injury due to an accidental action or what is termed “an Act of God”, something beyond human control. One player propelling the ball in a reckless and dangerous but intentional way towards another is not an accidental action or something beyond human control, so endangerment or injury from this kind of thing is not an acceptable risk, it’s an opposition offence, a foul.

It is of course extremely worrying that this FIH Official charged with Umpire Briefing at the highest level seems to believe that defenders have no right to defend on the goal-line and little? (but anyway an undefined) degree of protection from opponents who propel the ball at them in what would in other circumstances (for example not a shot at the goal) always be considered a dangerous way.

He comes close to saying that a shot at the goal against defenders on the goal-line cannot be considered to be dangerous play. If he believes that then he should not be assessing the performance of umpires during FIH Tournaments or be influencing their umpiring, because those views are not Rule compliant. How on earth did he get appointed to the position of Umpire Manager? Are the views of those considered for such appointments not discovered during interview? Who appointed him? Could it have been the FIH Umpiring Committee?

The Penalty Corner Rules 13.3. l and 13.3.m between them make clear that no shot at the goal should be made in a dangerous way. If a shot against penalty corner defenders (who are frequently positioned on the goal-line) could not be considered dangerous play, then there would be no need for Rule 13.3.m. it would comprise redundant and meaningless statements : perhaps it does.

There is no reason to suppose that actions that are considered dangerous propelling of the ball during a penalty corner should not also be considered dangerous in open play.

Roger Webb (formerly Secretary of the FIH Rules Committee) pointed out to me some years ago that the backboard height limit, where the ball has to cross the goal-line from a first hit shot for a goal to be scored, is part of the conditions for the scoring of a goal, it is not part of the dangerously played ball Rules (strange as that might seem because a ball hit into an out-runner, who is within 5m, at above knee height, will be considered to be dangerous play), so effectively a dangerously played ball is dangerous in much the same way during open play as it is during a penalty corner – and that is as it should be.

A dangerously played ball is however not exactly the same during a penalty corner as it is in open play due to the shenanigans of the South Korean out-runners during penalty corners in a pre-Olympic Tournament match against Pakistan in 2004. As a knee jerk reaction change to Rule the FIH RC decided that it would henceforth be mandatory that an out-runner, even within 5m, hit below the knee with a first shot would be penalised with another penalty corner. This is an aberration and a contradiction of what is considered dangerous propelling of the ball in open play – where there is no minimum height mentioned . In open play raising the ball towards an opponent with 5m is a prohibited action (although only scoops and flicks are mentioned, common sense and safety demands the inclusion of raised hits). Therefore the dangerously played ball Rule is more severe in open play than it is during a first shot at goal during a penalty corner – second and subsequent hit shots and and all shots using other strokes during a penalty corner, are (in the absence of any other instruction), subject to the same Rules that apply in open play.

The lack of height control of the drag flick compared with a first hit stroke is confusing because 13.3.m states in effect that no flick or scoop may be made in a dangerous way at any time during a penalty corner – so not even as a first shot that is raised with a flick into an opponent within 5m at below knee height ???  One for the wordsmiths to sort out.

Rule 13.3.l regulates the first hit shot. Rule 13.3.m regulates all shots made with all other strokes and also with subsequent hit shots. (any hit shot made after a first hit shot). Participants are expected to know the Rules and to play to them, but also to gloss over these strange ambiguities, ignore them and pretend that they do not exist.

 

January 28, 2020

The case of the impossible video refferral

VIDEO UMPIRE conduct and requirements are given in Appendix 17 of the FIH Tournament Regulations.

TEAM REFERRAL PROCESS

5.1  The Video Umpire calls for as many replays from any camera angle as necessary to reach a decision.

5.2  Within the shortest time frame possible, the Video Umpire provides his / her advice and recommendation:

-‘Goal’

-‘No Goal’

-‘Penalty Stroke’

-‘No Penalty Stroke’

-‘Penalty Corner’

-‘No Penalty Corner’

-‘Shoot-out to be re-taken’

-‘No shoot-out re-take’

-‘No Advice Possible’

-plus advice on any observed breach of the Rules.

5.3  If a breach of the Rules is observed and advised to the Match Umpire, it is then for the Match Umpire to take into account the breach in reaching his / her final decision.

5.4  Implications for the retention or loss of team referral rights:

a   in the event that the referral is upheld the referring team retains its right of referral;

b   in the event of ‘No Advice Possible’ (if the video footage is inconclusive, including through not having the correct replays available, the ball never being in shot in the replays, the footage being of insufficient quality to permit a decision or technical problems with the referral equipment), the referring team retains its right of referral;

c   if there is no clear reason to change the Match Umpire’s original decision, the referring team loses its right of referral.

5.5  A team referral that has been already been adjudicated upon may not be the subject of a subsequent referral by the opposing team.

FOR UMPIRE AND TEAM REFERRALS

6.1 The final decision, including any matter of interpretation, (my bold) remains with the Match Umpire and not the Video Umpire.

 Whether or not an action was carried out intentionally, and whether or not an (unfair) advantage was gained because of any referred action that occurred, are matters of interpretation i.e. are subjective judgements, therefore intention and advantaged gained are judgements beyond the remit of a video umpire.

It follows that whether or not a ball-body(foot) contact is an offence is a judgement beyond the remit of a video umpire because a ball-body(foot) contact is an offence only when made intentionally or only if advantage is gained by the team of the player who was hit with the ball (or both simultaneously).
Here the umpire only informs the video umpire that there is a claim from the BEL team of a foot contact in the circle by an AUS player, the umpire himself has not seen such a contact. The video umpire then makes a decision and tells the umpire what it is. Both of these exchanges are contrary to the regulations concerning conduct of a video referral. Given the information she was told the video umpire could only refer the umpire to the prior barge by the BEL player (an objective fact), she was not permitted to make a judgement concerning advantage gained i.e. declare whether or not there had been an offence because of the ball-leg contact because that was an interpretation. (the contact was obviously unintentional and likely caused because the AUS player was being barged into at the time he was trying to play the ball with his stick, so intent was not an issue, but the video umpire made her decision solely on the grounds that there had been a ball-leg contact by an AUS player and not on either of the criteria for offence and nor was she permitted to do so – so she could not make a rational decision and should have said no decision was possible in this regard).

For those who are at present ‘steaming out their ears’ I must point out I did not write Rule 9.11 Conduct of Play or the FIH Tournament Regulations, they are what they are. But I invite alternative interpretations of the wording given in the Rule, and/or the Tournament regulations as they apply to video referrals. I would be happy to know that this is not in fact the mess of contradiction it seems to be.
Be that as it may, there was a blunder made here, the barge by the BEL player should have been penalised and a 15m free awarded to the AUS team; instead the very important first goal of the match was conceded from the awarded penalty corner by the Australians.

6.2 All other decisions remain with the Match Umpires.

6.3 Substitutions may not take place during the stoppage of play for a video referral; substitution may take place on the resumption of play subject to the Rules of Hockey.

I belatedly add that I would like to see a system instituted where during a video referral the match umpire joined the video umpire (set up in a pitch-side trailer close by – transportable video facilities would in any case be useful) after receiving the team question, and the reserve umpire took up player supervision on pitch while the match umpire was thus engaged. The video umpire could begin locating the recorded incident while the match umpire was making his way to the trailer and then the two of them could discuss the relevant incident in private. This I feel would be a better use of the time of officials than the match umpire standing around waiting for a necessarily restricted announcement from the video umpire. It has the advantage that the match umpire has (usually) already seen the incident in real time and live scale and is then either confirming or rejecting his or her initial impressions – and there could then be no question about who is making the final decision or who has the authority to do so.

There were two other video referrals in this match and both followed a similar pattern, with the video umpire wrongly being asked to make judgements and decisions about player intentions

I have been advocating for some years that the offence of back-sticks be abolished. I also think the Belgium player did the safe thing here, another more cynical player might have jabbed the ball forward into the Australian player who had fallen to ground.

Here is another example of Rule and Regulation being ignored:-

 

 

January 17, 2020

Height limits

Head injuries from reverse edge hit ‘clearances’ should not be happening. What the articles (links below) do not state, but should have, is that intentionally raising the ball with a hit in such circumstances is a foul even if the raised ball is not dangerous to anyone. Obviously a raised hit ‘clearance’ disadvantages the opposing team and that alone is sufficient for penalty (a penalty corner if in the defended 23m area).

Defenders can of course point to the unfairness of such hits being permitted ‘through’ them at the goal, and defenders actually being penalised if their evasive action is not successful (and often penalised with a goal if it is successful). We need height limits when a ball is raised towards another player even from substantially beyond 5m.(up to 15m?) Certainly no player should be permitted to raise the ball at high velocity towards the throat or head of another player in any circumstances.

Umpires are of course ignoring the Rule and following the UMB advice (and it is only advice, not Rule) to “forget lifted – think danger” but thinking about danger after it has occurred is too late.

Players must be prevented (deterred) from indulging in reckless play and causing injury to other players. Players are already instructed to play responsibly and to play with consideration for the safety of others, but obviously many are not doing so. In such cases umpires must act responsibly and officiate with consideration for the safety of players, and they need Rules drafted to enable them to do this correctly.

http://fieldhockey.com/…/49275-kieran-govers-takes-it-to-so…

.http://fieldhockey.com/…/49274-a-knockout-blow-for-unikl-s-…

January 2, 2020

The letter of the Law.

A ball raised towards (at) an opponent within 5m is dangerous play. Why? Because a Rule Explanation clause (Rule 9.9) states that it is. No minimum height is given and no minimum velocity is given. A very severe Rule, probably far too severe but that is the Rule.

The attacker in the first incident should have been penalised for (intentionally) raising the ball into the legs of the defender (but intention is not required for there to be a dangerous play offence; it is for a forcing offence). Yes, a forcing offence.

Unfortunately, due to sloppiness from the FIH RC, their 2011 Rule Change announcement that the Forcing Rule was deleted “because any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules” (a very odd reason for deleting a Rule and regrettably not the true one, which was that umpires were simply not applying it, claiming to be unable to see intent to force and preferring to penalise the easy to see and objective, ball body contact even when it did not meet the criteria for offence) was not included in subsequent rule-books as it should have been. Most umpires are now ignorant of this condition on the deletion.

It is not permitted for an umpire to ‘interpret’ what is clearly stated in Rule to be dangerous play as not dangerous simply because it does not look dangerous (especially when he should have been considering intention to take the action taken). Conversely it is not permitted for an umpire to ‘interpret’ a Rule compliant action as dangerous play. In this case a ball raised high above an opponent (when that opponent is more than 5m away) this action is not dangerous play because there is no Rule (other than raising the ball over the circle) that states it is or can be dangerous play.

Unless the penalty corner in the second incident was awarded for something not clearly seen in the video (perhaps a kick at the ball in the goalmouth) there was no reason to have awarded it.

It may seem counter intuitive to say that a ball raised about 20cms is dangerous play and one raised 2.5 meters is not, but the critical thing in an endangerment decision is whether or not the ball was raised and propelled towards or into an opposing player.

The scoop shown in the video below should have been penalised as dangerous play.

Comment received on You Tube.

Crux 11
Ehm, the rule interpretation you refer to, is for a scoop or a flick. Not for not for small lifts where the ball is below knei height. Actually, there is no height restriction for regular play of a ball to be dangerous, this is the umpires interpretation.

Crux 11
Let me state it like this. Except for the drag flick during pc there is no height restriction whatsoever. This is the umpires interpretation. However, if a ball is soft and on the shin protector, barely anyone will see that as a dangerous ball.

My reply (withdrawing nothing stated above)
I have heard that assertion before. One umpire informed me the Rule 9.9 clause applied only to flicks or scoops made towards an opponent at head height. But there is no Rule support for that assertion or for what you have called umpires’ interpretation (knee height), which contradicts what you also write “Actually, there is no height restriction for regular play of a ball to be dangerous” which is true.

Umpires are not permitted to invent interpretation from nothing, in fact they are not permitted to invent interpretations at all. The ‘knee height or above’ limit applies only during the taking of a penalty corner first hit shot and when the ball is propelled with any stroke towards an out-runner within 5m.
Here is the relevant part of the wording for open play:-.

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous.

(That could be improved by replacing “a flick or scoop” with “any stroke raised” and by adjusting the syntax accordingly)

There is no scope for ‘interpretation’ concerning ball height in the current wording, it is absolute, the ball must not be raised towards an opponent within 5m. (a prohibition which is far too severe as it mentions neither height or velocity, but that is not an excuse for umpires to ignore it – if umpires applied it as they should, it would probably be a very short time before the FIH RC amended it.)

It is worth noting here that up until 2004 any raising of the ball towards another player was prohibited. That prohibition not only made no reference to height or velocity it made no mention of distance either.
The development of the drag-flick together with umpires routinely ignoring what was Rule 13.3.1.d led to the FIH RC, contrary to their own emphasis on the safety of players, deleting this ridiculously severe Rule and transferring it to Rule 9.9. (why not Rule 9.8 ?) as Explanation, with the addition of a 5m distance limit.

Calls for the introduction of more height limits, for example sternum height, to describe a dangerously played ball from greater distances, which would have been a better course of action, have been studiously ignored by the FIH for more than thirty years.

We now have umpires who (want to) believe a ball raised at an  opponent from more than 5m cannot be considered dangerous play, even though legitimate evasive action is not distance limited, and others who (want to) believe that an on target shot at the goal cannot in any circumstances be considered to be dangerous play. They refer to these strange beliefs as interpretations – but interpretations of what?

I believe that including raised hits and intentionally raised deflections within the Explanation of Rule 9.9. to be acceptable (which is an interpretation not provided by the FIH RC, who are the only entity permitted to provide Rule Interpretation, so it could be dismissed out of hand) I give two reasons for my opinion.
1) The clause in is a Rule about intentionally raised hits.
2) It would be absurd to exclude raised hits and deflections but include flicks or scoops of similar velocity – common sense.

One might argue that penalising for a ball raised only about 20cms is not sensible, but this was in my view, an intentional forcing offence that should have been penalised under Rule 9.9 and therefore height (and velocity) were irrelevant.

 “because any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules”

One FIH Umpire argued (in an Internet hockey forum) in 2011 that “dealt with” did not mean penalise but I do not accept her argument (that no action should be taken against the forcing player in any instance of forcing), because an umpire can only legitimately deal with a breach of Rule (that is an offence) in one of three ways 1) Where possible, allow advantage to the opposing team.  2) Allow play to continue if opponents are not disadvantaged by the offence. 3) Penalise the offender. (note the order of umpire response and that allowing advantage is NOT the same thing as just allowing play to continue)

I also found her argument that the player hit with the ball should be penalised “for a lack of skill” an affront, considering the criteria for a ball body contact offence given in Rule 9.11. and the lack of skill demonstrated by players who use easy forcing tactics to ‘win’ penalty, instead of stick-work to elude and beat opponents.

https://martinzigzag.com/2020/01/02/the-letter-of-the-law/

December 15, 2019

The receiving exception restructuring

A fundamental change to the way hockey is played was initiated in 1993 with the introduction of what was termed a new interpretation of obstruction.. What was introduced was not in fact a new interpretation of the actions that constituted an obstruction offence, the existing criteria for the offence did not change in any way, but the creation of an exception to the Rule.

Thereafter a player receiving and controlling the ball from any direction,including from the direction of his own defence, could no longer be guilty of an obstruction offence, provided that player, having received and controlled the ball moved away (from opponents) with it.

Although the explanation of the ‘interpretation’ occupied a page and a half of the rule-book the nature and purpose of this moving away was left vague. Because of this vagueness from day one umpires had difficulty in applying the revised version of the Rule and a wide variety of ‘personal interpretations’ appeared in umpiring practice.

Now the lengthy explanation has been reduced to a single sentence which declares only that a stationery (???) receiver may be facing in any direction.

Moving away and the restrictions on moving into and positioning between an opponent and the ball, were revised in 2009 (the last revision made to the Rule) but the restrictions contained in that 2009 revision are all but ignored. Umpires appear to be ignorant of them.

This (below) is an article on a suggested restructuring of what is in fact a Rule exception, made in the hope that a revised layout will be read,understood and acted upon by both players and umpires.

The receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule and restructuring of the Rule.
The Current Rule.

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.

 

A RESTRUCTURING OF THE WORDING WITH ADDITIONS

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

Exception: A player is permitted to face and receive the ball from any direction without being penalised for obstruction even if, while in the process of receiving and controlling the ball, he or she is shielding the ball and preventing an opponent who is attempting to tackle from playing directly at it. The exception ceases the moment the receiver has controlled possession of the ball on the ground and is able to move off with it. (It is therefore advisable for a receiver to make a move towards the ball when receiving, to create the time and space to move off with the ball in a desired direction or pass it away, once it has been controlled) End of exception.

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 and attempting to play it. That means that player who leads the ball with the body into the playing reach of an opponent while backing towards or sidestepping towards that opponent will be obstructing that opponent.

A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (an action of this kind may also be third party obstruction).

Third party obstruction is the obstructing of an opponent by body blocking, to prevent that opponent intercepting the ball or making a challenge for the ball in the possession another member of the same team as the obstructing player, when that opponent would otherwise have intercepted the ball or would have been able to make a tackle attempt against the player in possession of the ball.

The above additional wording to explain third party and the restructuring of the wording of the Rule covers all player movement situations. It is necessary to add to it instruction concerning a stationary player in possession of the ball. This last appeared in Advice to Umpires in the rule-book in 2002 – additional explanation is given in parenthesis.
Umpires should watch for (that means discourage with penalty) a player who stands still and shields the ball (to prevent opponents’ tackle attempts) when under pressure. A receiver of the ball in a ball shielding position cannot therefore stand still and continue to shield the ball from opponents once it has been controlled)

So what should a receiver of the ball do when the ball has been received and controlled?

Prior to the changes made in September 1993 a closely marked player could not face towards his or her own base-line and receive the ball without being in an obstructive position, and if the umpire thought that the receiver was positioned in a way that blocked the path of the tackler to the ball the receiver would be penalised for obstruction, often before or just as the ball reached him. An attempt to tackle was frequently demonstrated by the tackler barging into the back of the receiving player and being rewarded for this foul because obstruction was seen as the prior offence.

So at that time we were at the opposite extreme to what we have now. This kind of flip has has happened so often that it has become almost standard practice for Rule interpretation to move from one extreme to an opposite extreme. (for example, prior to 2004 there was a Rule prohibiting a player from raising the ball towards other players – no minimum height limit, no distance limit, no mention of velocity. In effect a drag-flick shot raised high at a defender on the goal-line during a penalty corner was illegal – although never penalised as such – even though a first hit shot was always penalised if raised above 460mm. In contrast, by 2008 there were declarations being made that a raised on target shot at the goal could not be considered dangerous play, and by 2010 umpires were treating this statement as if it were a Rule. There was no common sense in any of these extreme positions)

Prior to 1993 a marked player who wanted to receive a pass from the direction of his or her own goal was obliged to make a sudden and well timed short run (perhaps only two or three steps) towards the ball as the ball was passed to create the time and space to receive the ball before a marker could close down and tackle. Skilled players could turn on the ball as it was received and evade the charging tackler, like a matador eluding a charging bull. Defenders who were alert to this tactic did not commit to a charge tackle for the ball and the skilled receiver was comfortably able to turn to be facing his opponent in control of the ball. A skilled receiver welcomed a charging defender, he or she only had to move the ball a few inches to one side or the other and the tackler was beaten by his or her own impetus.

The problem was that receiving in close marked situations was a difficult skill and a fit and determined marker could ensure that a player who was not highly skilled never got possession of the ball. That made the game very hard to learn to play (near impossible in the more crowded indoor game) and novice players often gave up and took to the easier soccer (in which ball shielding is considered a skill – we are heading that way in hockey), instead of developing the required open-ball play skills (dribbling and passing).

The exception to the Rule had two great advantages, it protected receivers from rough play and it encouraged the (essential) development of back-passing and the tactics that flowed from that.

But it also led to the static receiver. The player who just stopped the ball without having first thought about what needed to be done once the ball was in controlled possession, committing an offence. Receivers should still be moving towards a pass as or just after it is made, and know where their first touch of the ball is going to deflect the ball, so the next movement flows from that first stick/ball contact.

The initial wording of the exception was “having received the ball the receiver must move away in any direction exceptetc”, which is the opposite of what a competent receiver would do – movement comes first, not just as as a secondary and separate action after the ball is received – i.e. stopped. This is still the case. A receiver of a pass should not be stationary in close marking situations and should know in which direction his or her first touch of the ball is going move the ball. The ball is then kept moving to evade opponents. It is on that premise that I base my opinion on what the Rule should demand of a receiving player.

The initial “must move away” wording did not work because a receiving player who had stopped the ball dead needed then to work out what to do next and markers had ample time to close up behind them and make it difficult to turn with the ball. Receivers when in possession of the ball could not as easily run away from a marker from a standing start, and as they were then no longer receiving players but obstructing players, it was not difficult for tacklers to ‘run them down’ and force an obstruction from behind. Umpires didn’t know how to cope with this situation so they either penalised for obstruction as they had previously or they did not penalise at all. Not penalising at all became the standard response, even if the player in possession slowed to a walk or a jog to entice a tackle attempt on one side or the other so that he or she could easily spin away to the other side, or even if the player in possession feinted with the body and ball, moving the ball across the feet from one side to the other and back again, or even if the ball-holder slowly weaved from side to side with the ball, these tactics again used to entice the tacklers to attempt to go around the ball-holder and in effect beat themselves.

The HRB addressed this situation by making a disastrous mistake. In 1995 they changed the wording of the Interpretation to “having received the ball the receiver may move away in any direction except.etc”.

What does “may” in this context instruct a player to do or prohibit a player from doing? Answer, nothing at all. The current “is permitted to move off” does exactly the same nothing.

The situation which had developed and the response to it became entrenched ‘practice’. Why? Because it was very easy for umpires, no judgements concerning timing and distance to determine obstruction were required and a tackler could be penalised if the ball-holder was touched in any way – giving the team in possession of the ball another huge advantage.

A player who has received the ball in shielding position is not currently obliged to do anything to change that position. He or she it can be claimed is not moving to position between the ball and an opponent, they are already in such a position (even if they are shielding the ball to prevent a tackle attempt, a prohibited action “Players shall not shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body”. It will always be claimed that there was no legitimate tackle – poor wording defeating the intent of the Rule. shall not shield the ball to prevent a legitimate tackle makes more sense.

At the same time (2004) the previous instruction in Advice to Umpires to “watch for players who stand still and shield the ball when under pressure” disappeared from both the rule-book and the UMB, as all previous Rules Interpretations and Advice to Umpires in the rule-book were deleted during what was called “a rewrite for simplification and clarification”. Brilliant. In effect the Obstruction Rule has almost been unofficially deleted, it is at the very least contradictory.

The actions a marked player who has just received the ball when not facing generally towards the opponent’s base-line should not engage in are easy to list.

1) Stationary ball shielding with or without moving the ball.

2) Not moving away but feinting with the ball and or body from side to side while maintaining a shielding position.

3) Moving away with the ball only slowly at no more than walking or jogging speed.

4) Dribbling away at jog speed while weaving from side to side. (not genuinely attempting to move the ball away beyond the playing reach of a tackler but keeping the body imposed between the ball and a close opponent. – 3 & 4).

5) Shunting (continuous sidestepping in one direction or another or even alternately in two opposing directions) while ball shielding.

6) Leading the ball with a the leg, hip or shoulder into the playing reach of a tackler.

7) Backing into the playing reach of a tackler

These are all things receiving players routinely do after having gained controlled possession of the ball, usually without penalty.

The excuses for not penalising for obstruction are generally. 1) The opponent did not make a tackle attempt or 2) The opponent was not in a position to make a tackle attempt (even when the opponent is within playing reach of the ball and in a balanced position from which a tackle attempt could have been made if the path to the ball had not been blocked by the opponent in possession).

Theses two excuses disregard that the actions of the ball-holder are almost always deliberately carried out with the intention of preventing a tackle attempt or preventing a tackler ever reaching a position from which he or she can play directly at the ball and also, importantly, in situations where, if an obstructive action had not taken place, opponents would have been able to play directly at the ball from the positions they had adopted. We get the conundrum where a player intent on tackling for the ball is considered not to be obstructed because he or she is so obstructed a legal (non-contact) tackle is made impossible.

The above list is too long and clumsy to include in a Rule (most people struggle to remember more than three items in a read list unless a determined effort is make to learn them) so phasing for a clause, either directive or prohibitive or both, has to be found that encompasses and prohibits all of these ball shielding tactics.

For example:-

A closely marked receiver of the ball who is facing in a direction other than towards the opponent’s goal-line must when receiving the ball, immediately and swiftly, play the ball away to put and keep it beyond the playing reach of any opponent, or immediately pass the ball away.

Alternatively the receiver may, in the same manner, play the ball away to create the time and space to turn over or with the ball to face opponents without at any time after the initial ball-stick contact shielding the ball with body or stick in a way that prevents an opponent from attempting to play directly at the ball.

The above actions are fairly simple to carry out if movement is made by a receiver towards the ball as he or she is receiving it. They are more difficult if the receiver remains stationary and stops the ball dead before moving off with it or passing it away. Good technique in moving and receiving will help the speed of the game and game flow. Correct application of the Obstruction Rule would (contrary to popular belief) speed up the game and enhance game flow – not least by making impossible the tactic of holding the ball in corner or against a base or side-line.

 

 

December 4, 2019

Change, intention and perceptions

There is a persistent perception among umpires that it is part of their task to interpret the wording of the Rules for meaning and intent and then apply the Rules according to their personal interpretations (or the personal interpretations of an Umpire Manager or Umpire Coach given in a tournament briefing). But this perception is contrary to what has been circulated to National Associations from the FIH Executive – so long ago now that the current Executive Members will have forgotten that they (their predecessors) ever did it, even if they were at one time aware of the relevant documents. According to this document even the publication of a written UMB should have been discontinued.

From an FIH Executive Report 2001-2002 .

FIH Highlights Hockey Rules Board

Introduction
In line with our overall aims, the last two years have,on the one hand, been a period of transition for the Hockey Rules Board (HRB) – while on the other it has been a period of relative consolidation. The transition has focused on incorporation of research and development of the rules within the active remit of the HRB rather than in a separate but linked Rules Advisory Panel, which has now been disbanded.


The Rules Advisory Panel, as might be expected, became a pressure group and advocated many changes that the HRB did not adopt, much to the chagrin of the Advisory Panel. It was not mere coincidence that the disbanding of the Rules Advisory Panel coincided with the announcement that only the FIH HRB had the authority to introduce or amend Rule or Rule interpretation.

At the same time, the rules themselves have been through a period of consolidation rather than significant change. But this does not mean that the HRB has not been active, as the following report will testify.

Rules Changes

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

I had by 2002 been advocating for some years, the abolition of the back-sticks Rule. Usually to a chorus of abuse from hockey forum contributors who made ribald comments comparing my suggestion to ice hockey and saying that stick-work would disappear. I still believe the abolition of back-sticks would have been a wiser move than the introduction of edge hitting (with a back-sticks Rule still in place).

I have posted a picture of an Internet hockey forum post below; in the same topic thread contributors write of edge hitting being snuck in via the back door – an amazing attitude considering it had a three year Mandatory Experiment. What I think they mean is that edge hitting was imposed, despite widespread protest, which was just ignored. But the upending of this 2001 change (below) in 2011, apparently had full approval despite much objection to the deletion of the stand alone Forcing Rule. I certainly objected to it because it was obvious where it would lead (which it has)

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

The forgiving phrase “finding a foot” is the term currently used for what is now, by television commentators, called a skill, rather than cheating and a foul, which it still is (another forgotten part of Rule history). Forcing is now supposed to be “dealt with under other Rules” but the FIH Rules Committee have overlooked their own announcement ever since it was made, and most umpires are completely unaware of it, which is of course no surprise. It was unreasonable to make an announcement in a 2011 rule-book and then not bother to include it in subsequent rule-books, unless of course there was another formal deletion, but that never happened. There was an initial transfer to “other Rules” in 2011, and nothing has been published by the FIH RC in a rule-book or elsewhere on the matter since then – not even note of what the “other Rules” might be.

The first forgotten Rule promise I came across when researching past Rules, related to the final deletion of Off-side in 1997 (a huge advantage gifted to attackers with no compensation at all offered to the defending team). At the time the HRB wrote that measures would be put in place to constrain the actions of attackers close to the goal (to protect defenders). They then promptly ‘forgot’ about that undertaking. In fact they have since removed the few safeguards that were in place in 1997.

Forbidding players to play or play at an above shoulder height ball when in the opponent’s circle and the introduction of a *Goal Zone could go some way towards fulfilling the now distant obligation of the Rules Committee to honour their word in this area.

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

The 2008 forum post pictured below refers to the removal of the “old system of Obstruction” which was a very strange phrasing. But then in 2009 a clause extension which considerably strengthen the existing interpretation, by prohibiting a player in possession of the ball moving to position between the ball and an opponent who was attempting to play at it, was introduced. It was the last amendment made to the Obstruction Rule, and it remains part of the current Rule. It made no difference at all to the strange idea that a previous ‘system’ had been removed when it had in fact been reinforced. Umpires behaved and still behave as if the Obstruction Rule had been -as one put it – “deconstructed years ago”.

One of the major problems of personal ‘interpretations’ is that they tend to confirm beliefs that are already held, no matter what the wording of them may be, confirmation bias just ignores the meaning of words or attempts to find a way around them. There is no recognition of cognitive dissidence.

A study of the history of the ball-body contact Rule makes that clear, even when (in 1992) the criteria for an ball body contact offence was deliberate use of the body to stop or deflect the ball AND advantage gained, umpires blithely continued to penalise just because a ball body contact was made, exactly as they usually do now even when there is neither clear intent seen (contact is obviously accidental or even deliberately (and unavoidably) forced by an opponent) or any tangible advantaged gained because of such a contact.

The ‘system’ of interpretation of the Obstruction Rule which was put in place in a time beyond living memory, was not altered by the 1993 receiving exception (the so called ‘new interpretation’, which was nothing of the sort, the criteria for obstruction outside of the receiving situation did not change at all) or changed by any of several word alterations (called ‘housekeeping’) prior to 2009 (the last prior to the 2004 Rules of Hockey rewrite, in 2001), or by the 2009 clause expansion. The criteria for obstruction remained exactly as they always were. Shielding the ball to prevent an opponent (who would otherwise have been able to do so) from attempting to play directly the ball, is now and has been for many decades an offence. But several contributors to the forum were content with the declaration that the Obstruction Rule was (in their view correctly) no longer applied – no one disagreed.

I was in 2009 banned from this forum for persistently pointing out the text of the Rules to Keely Dunn and her followers, who did not think Rule wording relevant to umpiring practice. They wrote with scorn of “the black and white of the written Rules” which they thought of as a straight-jacket and of ‘grey areas’ that require personal interpretation (ignoring that most Rule breach is perfectly clear). I agree that the writing of the Rules could be much improved, but no suggested improvement ever came from these people, just their own very varied umpiring ‘practice’, which they regarded as being as good in each case (no matter how different) as an official replacement of Rule. The notion, for example, that a high deflection which was falling onto a contested position or a lob shot at the goal, could NOT be treated as a falling a ball, (i.e. Rule 9.10 did not apply), were Dunn inventions which she insisted were correct interpretation. She used her status as an FIH Umpire and a declaration of universal support and consensus among umpires concerning her views, to bully anyone who dared to disagree with her.

There has been no improvement in application of the Obstruction Rule in the intervening ten or more years, quite the contrary. If some of the body blocking actions that are now routinely carried out by ball holders appeared in the early 1990’s the FIH might have stepped in to prevent the total collapse of the Rule and runaway ‘interpretation’ – but maybe not. The late George Croft the former Hon.Sec. of the HRB wrote, in some desperation I think, in the preface of the 1998 Rules of Hockey “Despite what some people think there still is an Obstruction Rule”. The destruction of this Rule has taken place over a long period with the destroyers getting more brazen year on year.

Here is a typical 2019 example of non-application of Rule and the type of play that it has encouraged. The attacker breaches every one of the obstructive play clauses and the defender does not even realize that the attacker has fouled him. The comments made below the video by an individual umpire give a good insight into the current attitude to Rule interpretation and application among certain umpiring groups.

November 20, 2019

The lifted ball coaching document.

Rules of Hockey.
A contentious umpire coaching document from 2001

By John Gawley. 2001 Level 3 Umpire Coach.

This document is no different than much of what is produced by Umpire Coaches these days, as anyone who gave close attention to the videos and ‘Interpretations’ produced by the FIH Umpiring Committee as umpire coaching on the Dartfish web-site, (now taken down) will be able to testify.

There are high level umpire coaches like Jan Hadfield who can still be seen on You Tube video advising umpires to throw their rule-books away, and declaring the FIH Rules Committee to be packed with political appointees who have never played hockey and know nothing about it. Gawley did not belong to that tribe he was an Establishment figure.

The document refers to the Rules, where they are included, as they were in 2001 and those familiar with the current Rules will notice that a significant number of changes have been made since. I first reviewed this document about ten years ago but little nothing has been done to improve the officiating of the dangerously played ball since then.

John Gawley died in early 2018
 Original text in blue.
ANALYSIS.

No player should ever be put into a position of self-defence against a ball put into the air at any height, be it 15 or 50 centimetres. A player having to face a ball approaching in the air should have a clear view of the full flight of that ball and also have time either to move out of its way, or to play or attempt to play it in a legitimate and safe manner.

While it is true that no player should be forced to defend himself to avoid injury due to a ball propelling action by an opponent, the above lofty opening statement about player safety is almost meaningless without reference to distance from the ball and ball velocity, while the upper limit given (50cms, frequently referred to as knee height) is mentioned in the Penalty Corner Rule as the height below which a ball propelled towards an outrunning defender will not be considered dangerous and the out-runner will be penalised (this is of course an absurd Rule, but as it contains the only height criterion related to dangerous play, knee height, this has been adopted ‘in practice’ for use in open play to determine a dangerously played ball within 5m of an opponent.) Gawley started his paper with this ambiguity concerning danger, then an invention of his own about a player having full sight of an approaching ball (usually an impossibility for an umpire to determine) and then an apparent contradiction of existing Rule and regarding evasive action

So far as Goalkeepers are concerned, they deliberately put themselves “into the firing line” but are equipped to do so. Nevertheless, even they can be forced into self-protection rather than protection of their goal by dangerously-raised balls.
A contentious statement with no explanation or justification offered. Hitting the ball into a goal-keeper who is prone on the ground has long been seen as an unacceptable practice, but a standing and fully equipped goalkeeper is supposed to be able to cope with any ball raised towards him from any distance and at any velocity. Defenders protected with only gloves, an extra box and a face-mast are another matter entirely, and obviously in open play even theses extra protections will be absent. We will come back to this matter later.
INTENTIONAL LIFT-

Lift at an Opponent If the ball is intentionally put into the air at an opponent at any height anywhere on the pitch in contravention of Rule 13.1.1 f: (“Players shall not play the ball dangerously or in such a way as to be likely to lead to dangerous play”) and Rule 13.1.3b (“Players shall not intentionally raise the ball so that it lands directly in the circle”) the player who raises the ball is in breach of the Rule. Furthermore, the shot may be dangerous or likely to lead to danger.Such a shot may legitimately be defended by the hand in accordance with Rule13.1.2 a. (“Players shall not stop or catch the ball with the hand. There is nothing to prevent players using their hands to protect themselves from dangerously-raised balls.”) That statement stands despite the fact that Rule13.1.3 a (“Players shall not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal”.) permits a shot at goal to be made at any height. A raised shot has to be made at goal, not deliberately at a defender standing either in goal or between the goal and the striker.-

Gawley there quotes a number of Rules some of which no longer exist (I have greyed all amended or deleted Rule below) and one (raising the ball into the circle) which seems to be of no direct relevance unless the ball is played in a dangerous way .

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
Players shall not:-

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.

But bewilderingly he leaves out the two most relevant Rules extant at the time.

A player shall not raise the ball at another player and the Rule regarding ball body contact. but more on that latter Rule later

I made myself unpopular on Internet hockey forums from the late 1990’s onward, as the (sic) recently introduced drag flick began to dominate the type of first shot taken during a penalty corner, by pointing out the existence of  Rule 13.1.3.d, which was obviously being ignored when a shooter raised a flick, at upwards of 100kph, towards the head of a defender on the goal-line. (Very spectacular and entertaining). The Rule was unconditional and there were no exceptions to it. After 2003 this Rule disappeared (I cynically suppose in the interests of player safety) and bizarrely resurfaced as Explanation to Rule 9.9. (the intentionally raised hit) but specifically mentioned flicks and scoops (not hits or deflections) and with a 5m limit added to it. One of the oddities of the present Rules is that raising the ball to any height towards an opponent, who is within 5m, with a flick or a scoop, is illegal, but doing so with a hit or deflection is not specifically prohibited (it is to be hoped that the common sense, so often called for in the UMB, is applied here, but the UMB also contradicts the absence of a minimum height in the Rule, giving instead – “below half-shin pad height is not considered dangerous”).

Tackling Lift
There is nothing in the Rules to prevent any player in possession of the ball from lifting it over the stick of an opponent to resist a tackle, be it in the outfield, in the circle, or entering the circle, provided that the condition of Rule 13.1.3 b (“Players shall not intentionally raise the ball so that it lands directly in the circle.”) is met. The last point is important: where the ball is lifted in such a manner over an opponent’s stick and enters the circle while still in the air, there is NO offence.-
The above paragraph is no longer relevant unless the ball is hit and I can’t see that it had much relevance at the time it was written. Using the words “resist a tackle” instead of ‘evade a tackle’ is to me a strange choice.
Tactical Lift
When a ball is deliberately raised in a legitimate manner anywhere on the pitch the umpire should decide upon its merits as advised in the Rules Interpretations of the Rule Book. This form of play is used for tactical purposes, often to reverse the opposing defence. In general, it is fair to say that players who raise the ball in this manner, usually by scooping, consciously try to avoid danger to anyone in the flight path of the ball. The umpire is therefore seeking reasons why such a raised ball SHOULD be penalised. A player receiving a dropping ball should be given time and space in which safely to do so without real or threatened interference from an opponent. (Rule 13.1.3 c “Players shall not approach within 5 metres of a player receiving a falling aerial ball until it has been played and is on the ground.”) Note that the ball, having been intentionally lifted in this way, may not fall into the circle.

A strange paragraph, but one reason a scoop pass could have been penalised is if it was played in a way that was likely to lead to dangerous play, for example, lofted to fall on a contested position . The “likely to lead to” wording is superior to the present “leads to” but a revised Rule could and probably should contain both descriptions i.e. “leads or is likely to lead to dangerous play”.

ACCIDENTAL LIFT

On the other hand, the ball is often raised accidentally, usually by a stick interfering with the flight of the ball, rather than by any deliberate attempt to play it. In such circumstances, the ball is likely to fly upwards in an unpredictable trajectory, thus being both dangerous in itself and likely to cause danger. A ball hit some 15 cm in the air into a crowded circle is an example. The Umpire, therefore, is likely to be seeking reasons why this raised ball should NOT be penalised but should wait to determine whether this actual danger. (typo?)

The above paragraph has some strange statements in it. An accidental deflection that causes the ball to fly up will generally result from an attempt to play at it by a player. A ball hit into a crowded circle is not generally the result of an accidental hit but it may be unintentionally raised.
The UBM now contradicts what is given in the Rules regarding an intentionally raised hit (forget lifted – think danger, wrongly ignoring any disadvantage so caused) and as it is often impossible to know if such low raised hits (or sometimes even high ones) are raised accidentally or not, it would be simpler and fairer and safer, to prohibit any raising of the ball into the circle with a hit (A Rule which I believe was last extant in the 1960’s. I have recollection of playing under such a Rule in my school days) .
Interpretation.
No matter where on the field the ball is raised, and no matter what the circumstances of the lift, the umpire must always judge whether a player has been genuinely endangered in any of the ways described. Umpires should be on their guard against players who simulate ducking out of the way of raised balls simply to try to “con” them into thinking that such a ball is dangerous. Similarly, umpires should not be misled by defenders, often in goal, who allow themselves to be hit by the ball so as to be able to claim that the shot was dangerous.The same standards of judgement must be applied wherever and whenever the ball is raised.
The above statements are a ‘can of worms’. A ball which has been raised at or above a particular height towards a player who is within a particular distance, at a velocity that could injure that player if he was hit with it, must be considered to be dangerous play. But we don’t have such criteria in place so we are left with umpires guessing about ‘ducking cons’ or defenders deliberately putting themselves bodily in the way of the ball. Gawley’s words above were a ‘green light’ for umpires to penalise any defender who was hit with a raised  ball (despite the existing Rules) and no-one could argue with the subjective opinion of an umpire no matter how crazy or contrary to Rule it might appear.

It is therefore important that umpires recognise, and agree before each game according to the level and playing conditions of that game, what is the likely distance inside which those particular players are likely to have to defend their own persons instead of playing the ball properly. Other factors need to be considered for raised shots at goal, however:-

No, umpires should not be altering Rule criteria before each game.

Here below Gawley repeats some of his earlier assertions but also contradicts himself. It is a very complicated and contentious section.

RAISED SHOTS AT GOAL IN OPEN PLAY.
The goal is there to be shot at. The goalkeeper is well-protected and has no grounds for protest about high shots at goal.

Which contradicts his earlier statement about endangering goalkeepers

So far as any other defenders are concerned, if they stand in the goal to defend high shots, they must accept the penalty if the ball hits them contrary to Rule 13.1.2 b (“Players shall not intentionally stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their bodies.”).
That appears to assert that any defender in the goal who is hit with a high ball can be considered to have used his body intentionally to stop the ball. That makes things very easy for umpires (and difficult and dangerous for defenders), umpires can ignore the Rules concerning a dangerously played ball or raised hit and there is no need for any subjective judgement about the intent of the defender, the objective “Did the ball hit the defender on the body?”  is good enough. So much for the emphasis on the safety of players and consideration for the safety of other players and playing responsibly.
They can be said, perhaps, to have arrogated to themselves the duty of goalkeeper without having goalkeeper’s privileges. High shots include hits, flicks and scoops.

The above statement gives credence to the ‘acceptance of risk’ meme and even to the “Asking for it” attitude. It’s nonsense of course. A game must be played to its Rules and the Rules enforced. No player can be obliged to accept risk of injury when opponents do not comply with the published Rules, and umpires who do not enforce the dangerous play Rules should be suspended and coached.

The fact that there are no objective criteria to describe a dangerously played ball propelled from beyond 5m of a defender is a disgrace.  Legitimate evasive action, a subjective judgement, has obviously been completely undermined. Gawley does not even mention its existence in the Rules

He then reverses himself and suggests different ‘dangerous’ distances apparently based on skill levels contradicting that FIH statement that all hockey is (must be) played to the same Rules.

Having said this, it must nevertheless be remembered that no player should ever be put to the necessity of self-defence, and that includes goalkeepers.

Does that not include evasive action?

Below he jumps from goalkeepers to defending players but it is not clear at what point he has done so.

Although properly protected, goalkeepers can still be injured by balls projected at them from so short a range and in such a manner that they are unable to adopt a naturally protective posture. In high level games, with physically fit, young, skilled players, it is possible that the minimum safe distance for a rising shot is about than 3 metres. In less skilled games, that distance will probably be not less than 9 metres and could be more. In all cases, the distances may increase dependent on other circumstances, not least whether the players defending the goal have a clear view of the whole flight of the ball from the moment that it is first propelled upwards.

Umpires cannot arbitrarily change ‘dangerous’ distances before a particular match without consulting with the Captains and Coaches of the competing teams and giving good reason for their suggestion. The clear view idea while ideal, is in practice unworkable because an umpire can have no idea in normal circumstances (deliberate sight blocking aside) what a individual player can see or not see in any particular situation.

Judgement of what is dangerous must necessarily be subjective.

That is not a true statement, there are many situations where objective criteria can easily be applied. We have had for example an objective criterion, to determine the accepted height of a first hit shot at the goal during a penalty corner, since the 1980’s. There is no good reason there cannot be an upper height limit on any ball propelled at high velocity an opponent from distances beyond 5m. I have for some years been proposing that this height could be sternum height. There was a lot of early resistance to this suggestion because the height of a shot at goal is not (and should not be it was said) limited. But these days the majority of drag flicks seem to be kept low and scoring rates have increased, not declined, so that objection should have gone away.

Perhaps the soundest advice for the umpire is to consider that any raised ball is dangerous unless proved otherwise.

Better that it is considered that any raised ball may be potentially dangerous. (requires judgement) because it is certainly not the case that all raising of the ball is dangerous play

In general, it is probably fair to say that a rising ball that would not be permitted on the grounds of safety in the outfield should not be permitted, for the same reasons, in the circle, whether for a shot at goal or, indeed, for clearing a shot at goal – a goalkeeper’s kick, for example. The exception is that the intentionally raised hit is permitted in the circle for a shot at goal; otherwise the same parameters apply.

Any raising of the ball towards other players or when contesting for the ball  with other players is potentially dangerous. A task of the umpires is not to allow potentially dangerous play become actually dangerous. This is generally managed by good whistle timing, rather than inaction and seeing how things turn out.

Note, however, that this advice is concerned mainly with high shots in OPEN PLAY. In these circumstances, there are usually few players in the circle and,as often as not, the shot is made in a one-on-one situation. During Penalty Corners, where numbers of players are required by the Rules to operate within the circle, other considerations apply, all concerned primarily with Safety.

The Offside Rule was deleted in 1997. I can see no grounds for Gawley’s assertion that the circles would be generally less congested in open play than they would be during a penalty corner after this date. It’s true that the circle is always congested during a penalty corner and when counter attacking tactics are used, there are occasions when the opposing circle will not be congested, but to apply the dangerous play Rules differently in open play and the penalty corner simply on the grounds of circle congestion is unjustified.

Summary

During open play, rising shots at goal are permitted provided the defending players have time to defend the goal rather than themselves. No player should EVER be permitted to raise the ball, anywhere on the pitch, that is dangerous to other players.

Agreed.

The following is probably the most bizarre statement I have read in a coaching document, but I have often seen it trotted by the “Asking for it” bunch, but without the final four words unless they were endangered.

If defenders other than goalkeepers dressed in protective clothing or helmeted “kicking backs” (who have goalkeepers’ privileges in the circle), elect to defend their goal, then a shot that would have been permitted against a fully-equipped goalkeeper should be permitted against them. And if they stop or play the ball with their bodies or sticks above their shoulders, they should be penalised unless they were endangered.

This problem will go away as the position of Player with Goalkeeping Privileges has now (2019) been discontinued. I am of the opinion that teams should be compelled to field a fully equipped goalkeeper – as they once were.  The problem of attackers treating any player defending the goal as if they were a fully equipped goalkeeper – and umpires allowing them do do so – persists however. Some participants seem to regard any defence of the goal as an offence rather than what it is – a necessary and difficult skill. A skill that hockey would be a lot poorer without.

RAISED SHOTS AT GOAL AT PENALTY CORNERS AND FROM CORNERS- Players in the Circle The Penalty Corner demands a maximum of 5 defenders behind their back or goal-line and places no limit on the number of attackers round the circle, though in practice the attackers usually number six or seven. There can thus be twelve or so players in the circle during the conduct of a Penalty Corner. For a Corner,and for other forms of Hit-in and Free Hit to the attackers where there has been a delay in play so as to allow players to gather in and near the circle, there is no limit to the numbers of players who may be in the circle. Eighteen players were counted on one occasion.Hits to the attack from the area of corner flags (corners, hits-in & free hits) are rightfully taken in open play, They are considered here with the Penalty Corner as likely to cause crowding within the circle.It can thus be seen that any ball raised into or within the circle in such circumstances has a great potential for danger. Such crowding underlines the need for umpires to judge whether players in the flight path of a raised ball have time properly to react to it. This is not to say that all raised balls in the circle are dangerous, nor that balls raised unintentionally into the circle are necessarily dangerous, but merely to indicate the potential for danger and hence the need for acute awareness and observation by the umpire.-

…..and also correct application of the Rules.

Penalty Corner

The defenders (including the Goalkeeper) are prohibited from deliberately raising the ball from a hit within the circle, or indeed outside it – Rule13.1.3 a applies. The attackers, however, MAY deliberately raise the ball from a hit or other type of shot in the circle, but only for a shot at goal – not for a hit across the circle, for example. The one caveat to this permission is that the FIRST hit at goal at a Penalty Corner must comply with Rule 15.2 l (“If the first shot at goal is a hit, the ball must cross the goal-line at a height of not more than 460mm (the height of the backboard) for a goal to be scored, unless it touches the stick or body of a defender.“) Generally, the ball that is raised in the circle has a possible element of danger. But remember that any player may raise the ball over the stick of an opponent to resist a tackle. Once the first hit at goal in a Penalty Corner has been made, all subsequent hits may be at any height consonant with safety, as already described.

“As already described” I missed that description because it is not in the paper.

However, still with the Penalty Corner, any other stroke to raise the ball may be made at any time, with no limit being placed on the height of the ball at any part of its flight. The only caveat on these forms of shot – usually scoops or flicks -is that of safety. And let us remember that the Penalty Corner Rule -specifically those sections applying to the first hit and the need first to stop the ball on the ground – ceases to apply if the ball goes beyond 5metres from the circle before re-entering it (Rule 15.2 (“If the ball travels more than 5metres from the circle, the penalty corner rules no longer apply”).-
The Scooped Ball

The ball that is flicked or scooped from near the inside edge of the circle so that it goes high over all heads and falls so that it will enter the goal just below the crossbar is not very likely to be dangerous when falling; the player(s) in the goal-mouth will see the ball raised, will see it during its flight, and will have time to decide how to defend the falling ball. They therefore have no excuse for playing the ball with their sticks whilst it is above their shoulders, for hitting the ball away in a dangerous manner, nor for using any part of their body to stop the ball. Only if the flick or scoop is at very short range, or if there are players in the line of sight between striker and goal, might the striker be penalised, and then usually only if the ball is still rising or if it is so low throughout its flight as to be obscured, for the receiver, by other players.

I have never seen a low flick penalised as dangerous because its path was obscured by other players. Gawley mentions sight blocking several times in this paper, but aside from third party obstruction, when such sight blocking might occur, it has never been part of the Rules of Hockey.

Umpires should remember that the same conditions for dealing with a dropping ball apply for shots at goal as elsewhere on the pitch i.e. the player receiving the ball must be given time and space (5metres) in which to receive it safely.-

Agreed.

The Rising Shot

Having accepted the caveats noted above for the Penalty Corner, let us broaden thought to embrace the crowded circle. The same considerations previously mentioned still apply, i.e. the goal is there to be shot at, and defenders who arrogate to themselves the duty of goalkeeper must accept the penalty if they prevent a goal other than legitimately with their sticks.

The above ‘arrogation’ statement, along with the assertion that defenders who are defending the goal when hit with the ball, have used their bodies to stop the ball intentionally. Have removed all rationality in many umpires who have read and accepted them.

But, given the crowding already discussed, it is even more important that players defending any raised ball, regardless of its height, should have a clear view of the ball’s trajectory and have time either to remove themselves from its path or to play or try to play the ball legitimately.

Removing themselves from the path of the ball (to avoid injury) is legitimate evasive action. Rule 13.11 f extant when the paper was written gives:-

Players shall not play the ball dangerously or in such a way as to be likely to lead to dangerous play      
(which is better than the present version)
A ball is dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.

Gawley then repeats his warning about defenders using their body to stop or deflect the ball.

If they do not have such time, the ball raised at them must be considered dangerous and penalised immediately. But umpires should be on their guard against players who deliberately allow themselves to be hit by the ball so as to be able to claim that the lift was dangerous.

Which course of action is Gawley advocating there?

It is the rising ball that is most likely to cause most danger, either because it can strike a player’s body, where its energy is likely to be absorbed, or because it can touch part of a stick and fly off unpredictably, with no loss of energy, to hit another player.
Agreed.
Summary

When the circle is crowded, such as at Penalty Corners and for hits from near the corner flag areas, there is a high potential for danger from any raised ball. Umpires must be alert to the risks involved but should not over-react merely because the ball is in the air or the body of a defender in the goal is struck by the ball. They should instead consider whether players have the necessary time and distance to avoid physical contact with the raised ball in favour of playing or attempting to play it legitimately, and not flinch from applying the appropriate penalty if avoiding action could have been taken.

Again a U-turn ignoring the possibility of legitimate evasive action.

The necessity for the first HIT at goal at a Penalty Corner not to cross the goal-line at a height greater than 460mm should also be borne in mind.

A rambling and confusing document with two Summaries. I have no idea how Gawley expected umpires to officiate after having read his advice, but the slant – because of repetition – seems to be towards penalising defenders who had been hit with a raised ball (especially when the raised ball is a shot at the goal) even when they have attempted to take evasive action.

The current coaching of umpires is no better, if anything Gawley set the current trend of ambiguity, obscurantism and outright contradiction of Rule, but I don’t think he meant to do so.

 

October 19, 2019

Extraordinary

https://martinzigzag.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/questions-from-a-new-umpire.pdf

The above link to the above extraordinary Internet hockey forum thread from 2014 appeared on my Word Press stats page on Friday 18th October 2019. It is headed with the following statement (coloured text), which appears to come from ritualhockey .com

Initial post 28th April 2014 leading to an extraordinary statement from Gingerbread on the 30th. Extraordinary because it is true — there is no generally observed Rule about a dangerously played ball.

“The problem is you can never have a ‘’catch-all’’ guide to “danger / no danger on the line” when there is nothing to support it in any written rule, interpretation or edict – you have to look at practice and advice from your peers and player expectation or your local organisation”

What is even more extraordinary is that not only is this situation accepted it appears to have been deliberately set up, despite the clearly stated rules, principles and aims published by the FIH Executive Board, with regard to the Rules of Hockey and to player safety.

The opening post on the topic thread from a contributor with the tag Pharoah was as follows:-

Higuys

I’ve decided to get my Level 1 Badge here in Qld so I can get a bit more confidence in umpiring. I have a few questions which I was hoping the more experienced umpires on this forum could answer – I have read the rules but wanted to ask anyway so please ‘be gentle’.

Questions/clarifications:

1. within the 23m line, balls cannot be hit directly into the circle unless they go Sm. However free hits outside the 23m line (ie. even just 20cm past the 23m line) can be hit directly into the circle right? (I see this happen all the time where attackers are hesitant to shoot directly into the circle from just past the 23m line)

2. You CAN raise the ball into the D, as long as its not dangerous right?

3. A shot at goal (hit) that is rising and ends up in the top right/left comer of the goal should be disallowed right? This is diff to a raised/flicked ball.

4. Hockey sometimes moves at terrific speed, esp within the D – what do you do if (heaven forbid) you are unsighted and there is a foul which stops the game?

5. An attacker has had a shot on goal and the goalie has dived on the ball to stop it…is obviously trying to get up but the ball is being pushed below him by everyone fighting for the ball — PC right? He is unintentionally obstructing the ball plus to avoid injury I think.

Thanks all – if I have any more niggling questions, I’ll post them here for advice, etc.

Two of Pharoah’s statements surprised me. The first was that he has read the Rules, because the first four of his five questions can be answered by obtaining a common sense understanding of the published FIH Rules of Hockey by reading them, and the second, that he was apparently umpiring competitive matches without having previously obtained his Level One Badge. That is a safety issue.

But before looking in more detail at Pharoah’s questions, a look at what Gingerbread wrote:-

“The problem is you can never have a ‘’catch-all’’ guide to “danger / no danger on the line” when there is nothing to support it in any written rule, interpretation or edict – you have to look at practice and advice from your peers and player expectation or your local organisation”

Is this true? “you can never have a ‘’catch-all’’ guide to “danger / no danger on the line” That is not entirely true because the Royal Dutch Hockey Federation have issued an edict via letter to umpires in the Netherlands instructing them that legitimate evasive action does not apply to defenders on the goal-line during a penalty corner.

Koninklijke Nederlandse Hockey Bond

https://www.knhb.nl/

AGREEMENTS CLUB SAFETY ARRANGEMENTS (FIELD) SEASON 2018 - 2019 

AFSPRAKEN CLUBSCHEIDSRECHTERS (VELD) SEIZOEN 2018 – 2019

Wees Alert!

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

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

— A shot on target can also be dangerous-

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

Naturally this instruction has ‘evolved’ or has been ‘developed’ and is often also applied in open play, and there is now a situation where the bizarre and utterly wrong “An on target shot at goal cannot be considered to be dangerous play” which was invented during the 2008 Beijing Olympics (but has never been an FIH approved Rule), seems to have again become the norm in Dutch hockey (and elsewhere too).
I wrote to the FIH about this edict in May 2019 and was informed that the KNHB did not have the approval of the FIH and Executive or of the FIH Hockey Rules Committee to issue it and that they, the FIH, would look into the matter. The FIH should reprimand the KNHB and instruct them to withdraw this evasive action edict, which is of course illegal, but as far as I can see from watching Dutch League Hockey, the FIH have not done so. The KNHB web-site is naturally written in Dutch, which I cannot read, so it is difficult for me to check if the edict has been withdrawn. Maybe a Dutch reader, perhaps an umpire, can help me out?

The machinations of the KNHB aside, what is the Rule situation regarding a dangerously played ball, particularly in regard to a shot at the goal?
There are in fact two Rule ‘catch-alls’ to guide ‘dangerous’ decisions. one can be found in the Explanation of Application given with Rule 9.9. the Rule concerning the intentionally raised hit.

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous.

That’s a severe Rule, it prohibits all raising of the ball towards an opponent within 5m with a flick or scoop, there is no mention of height or velocity. The Rule does not mention raised hits (and is therefore badly written) but as the clause is contained in the Explanation of Application of the Rule concerning an intentionally raised hit, it seems common sense to include in the prohibition hits and intentional deflections which raise the ball towards opponents who are within 5m. Not to do so would be absurd.

The second guide is ‘legitimate evasive action’. A ball played in a way that causes an opponent to take legitimate evasive action is dangerous. There is no distance limitation on legitimate evasive action, but it requires a subjective judgement from an umpire. Was the evasion legitimate? So it is necessary to ask “What does ‘legitimate’ mean?” Trying to avoid being hit with the ball can never be considered to be an illegal action so we can dispense with legitimate meaning legal (as it does in other Rules such as the Obstruction Rule). The next most obvious choice of meaning is ‘genuine’ i.e. not false or acted. So a genuine fear that he will be injured if hit with the ball indicates legitimate evasive action in any particular incident of a ball raised towards an player by an opponent. How does an umpire gauge the genuine fear of injury in a player when the ball is raised at that player? Well, in the absence of other objective criteria, height and ball velocity might give an umpire a clue. Do umpires make these judgements? Generally no. They usually follow quite bizarre umpiring practice and weird player expectation along the lines of “Asking for it” or “acceptance of risk” from defenders. Some see defensive positioning as evidence of an intent to use the body to stop the ball. The acceptance of risk argument has even been used by FIH Officials but is it obviously a nonsense. No player in any sport can be obliged to accept any risks created by the deliberate illegal (contrary to Rule) actions of opponents, acceptance of risk from a legal standpoint can only be applied to accidental actions. Propelling the ball with a flick at high velocity towards the head of a defender on the post during a penalty corner, especially in high level games where a high level of skill may be expected from the participants, cannot be assumed to be accidental, especially when it happens so often and so consistently.

There is, however, no guidance on height or velocity in rule 9.8 or 9.9 (???) it has however become common practice to ‘borrow’ “within 5m and at knee height or abovefrom the Rule concerning a first hit shot at the goal during a penalty corner, but this is often ignored in open play. Despite their being no distance limit on LEA the majority of umpires would not I think consider any raised ball dangerous to a player if it was raised at him from more than 5m, even if it was at his chest height or head height. Many umpires, as was demonstrated in Beijing and later, will not penalise an attacker who raises the ball high towards the goal even if it hits a defender within 5m of their position. Some won’t penalise any ball raised towards an opponent in the opponent’s circle when they would probably do so if a similar ball was raised at an opponent outside his circle. ‘Interpretation’ is random and a mess based entirely on personal opinion i.e. how the umpires feels about it at the time or alternatively (and worse) what he or she has seen other umpires doing i.e. there is no judgement of the facts at all. This is laziness.

There are clearly insufficient safeguards in place for reasonable player safety and there is an urgent need for addition guidance about a ball propelled towards a player at high velocity from significantly beyond 5m – up to 15m – arriving at the defending player above a particular height – say sternum or elbow height – in other words reasonable objective criteria.

At present defenders are being obliged to attempt to play at high shots raised directly at them because successful evasion simply leads to the award of a goal, and unsuccessful evasion, not only usually leads to injury but to the award of a penalty stroke. That is the opposite to the supposed emphasis on safety which the FIH espouses, and which all participants (including umpires) are obliged to comply with. It is also contrary to the consideration for the safety of other players which all players are required to demonstrate in appropriate circumstances (most participants consider this requirement to be something that need not be taken seriously, a joke from the FIH who are seen to be just ‘covering their backs’).

Let’s take a look at the questions Pharoah put to the forum.

1) A free ball awarded inside the opponents 23m area cannot be played directly into their circle. That is the (very silly) Rule. I would like to see it deleted along with the raft of 5m restrictions on the free ball (especially when taken as a self-pass) currently in place.

2. You CAN raise the ball into the D, as long as its not dangerous right?

No, that is incorrect. The ball may not be raised into the circle with a hit if the ball has been raised intentionally. None of those who addressed this question on the forum mentioned the appropriate Rule 9.9. An intentional ball raising hit action must be penalised if it is dangerous in itself or leads to dangerous play or if it disadvantages opponents. The advice in the UMB “forget lifted – think danger”, which is too simplistic and which contradicts the Rule, should be withdrawn.

Other than dangerous or leading to danger there is no restriction on raising the ball into the opponents circle with a flick or scoop. That needs to be revisited in view of the facility granted to players to play at the ball at above should height – which also needs reconsideration. I think that players should be prohibited from playing or playing at a ball at above shoulder height when in the opposition’s  circle.

3. A shot at goal (hit) that is rising and ends up in the top right/left comer of the goal should be disallowed right?

No, not unless it has endangered an opponent during its flight.

4. An FIH Technical Delegate and an FIH Umpire made a joke and a tongue in cheek (I hope) reply to this.
What do you do if (heaven forbid) you are unsighted and there is a foul which stops the game?

Another contributor answered correctly, that the umpires should consult, and if fault cannot be established, there must be a bully restart.

5. An attacker has had a shot on goal and the goalie has dived on the ball to stop it…is obviously trying to get up but the ball is being pushed below him by everyone fighting for the ball — PC right?

Not necessarily. If the goalkeeper has not obstructed an opponent before moving off the ball, the opponent/s trying to play it ‘through’ him while he is on the ground could be considered to be committing both a physical contact offence and an impeding offence. This was the only question of the five that received properly considered reply from any contributor to the forum.

The most extraordinary statement from Gingerbread was this, his second one:- ….when there is nothing to support it in any written rule, interpretation or edict – you have to look at practice and advice from your peers and player expectation or your local organisation”

“It” appears to be an opinion or a feeling by an umpire that an an action is dangerous, so where does that feeling come from if not from information gleaned from a reading of the Rules? I find it impossible to think of a dangerously played ball situation (other than the falling ball) where the ball has not been propelled directly at or into an opposing player and those situations are covered by the two ‘catch-alls’ mentioned above, imperfectly to be sure, but sufficiently for an umpire with common sense to take personal responsibility and make a Rule based decision. What we see far too often in hockey matches is umpires who base their decisions not on an understanding of what is given in the Rules of Hockey, but on common umpiring practice and advice from peers and player expectation or local umpiring organisations. Of the three only the local Umpiring Association is worthy of further consideration because their advice should come from experienced umpires and be based solely on the Rules of Hockey.

BUT I was once told by the secretary of a local umpiring association that he did not want me to umpire according to what was given in the rule-book (I was applying the ball-body contact Rule as it was written in the rule-book at the time) but to do what other umpires were doing. He had already ‘hung himself’ with his opening sentence, so I replied to him that I would have no problem doing what other umpires were doing as long as they applied the Rules as published by the FIH. That presented him with a ‘chicken and egg situation’ which he did not appreciate. But as far as I was concerned it was the other umpires who needed to change their ways. I could not care less if applying the Rules correctly conflicted with player expectation and players sulked because of that.

Am I out of order? The game the umpire advisor was talking to me about was a club 4th team match, and one side beat the other 12 – 0, so it was unlikely that my refusal to penalise accidental foot contacts that did not disadvantage opponents, influenced the result. I applied this approach evenhandedly.


The match shown below is one played during the 2016 Rio Olympics between Belgium and New Zealand. I would not suggest to any umpire that they follow the umpiring seen in it. Sadly it is very easy to find blunders of similar magnitude relating to nearly all the Rules of Conduct of Play during the Rio Olympics (I don’t recall a player throwing an object at another player or an umpire, or a back-sticks offence that was poorly umpired, but every other Rule was undermined with invention or neglect on several occasions in the matches during the Tournament)

.

This sort of decision making is the norm in ball-body contact incidents. The Rule has become a farce designed to produced goals by increasing the number of penalty corners awarded (often without any justification at all).

Player expectation is created by their coaches and prior umpiring decisions, and umpiring decisions (umpires say) are then influenced by player expectation, eventually it is team coaches and players who will be deciding (the latter by their behaviour) which of the Rules will be observed and which not: that cannot be accepted. There is an example of this sort of thing in a previous post (in which I make suggestion for an amended Ball-body contact Rule)

https://martinzigzag.com/2019/06/20/ball-body-contac…hould-be-amended/ ‎

where someone commented that not awarding a penalty corner following a ball contact forced onto the leg of a defender in the circle would infuriate the attackers – yes it might, but that’s just too bad, it’s the only way to change the expectations of players who do not know the Rules. Changing the habits of umpires is a much more difficult problem.

I have been attacked in the comments section below by someone who believes I was wrong to apply the Rules as they were published at the time and says that I ruined the enjoyment of the game for the players.

My view is that I had no right not to apply the Rules as published, so I didn’t. I advocate a rewrite of most of the Rules and the making of amendments to others, but I have never invented Rules while umpiring or applied those that no longer existed, sadly most umpires do both of these things.

September 29, 2019

Simplification and Clarification

Rules of Hockey.

Simplification and Clarification.

Open any rule book published in the last thirty years and you are likely to find in the Introduction or Preface a statement that the FIH HRB/ Rules Committee is always seeking to simplify and clarify the Rules or an announcement that it has done so within that publication. This is announced as a if a good thing, something to be desired but the result of this work may well be the very opposite.

By 1992 we had an Obstruction Rule which had not been altered in decades

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

Technical Interpretations – a section in the back of the rule-book, gave:-
Body Obstruction and Interference (Rule 12) A player may not place any part of his body or stick between an opponent and the ball. Such actions are called obstruction and may also be referred to as screening the ball or blocking. Obstruction can only happen when: (a) an opponent is trying to play the ball (b) an opponent is in a position to play the ball without interfering with the legitimate actions of the player with the ball (c) the ball is within playing distance or could be played if no obstruction had taken place.

I would simplify that to:- An obstruction offence by a player in possession of the ball will occur when the ball is within the playing distance of a tackler who is demonstrating an intent to tackle for the ball, and the ball could be played at by the tackler, if not shielded by the body or stick of the ball holder, to prevent this action.

It is not necessary to mention physical interfere by a tackler as this breaches Rule 9.3. And an attempt to play at the ball legally may be made impossible by a moving or stationary shielding action by the ball holder. A Rule should not impose or demand an impossibility. i.e. demand that an attempt be made to play at the ball when that has been made impossible by the actions of the opponent in possession of it.

The offence is the illegal prevention of a legal tackle for the ball by an opponent and the criterion should reflect that.

In 1993 the Rule Proper was the same but there was an enormous ‘new interpretation’, occupying one and a half pages, presented in Technical Interpretations in the back of the rule-book. As I have written previously, this “new interpretation” was not in fact a new interpretation, the criterion for an obstruction offence remained exactly as they had been in the previous years. What was introduced was an Exception to the Rule; the Rule was no longer to apply during the time an opponent, (who could be facing in any direction, including towards his or her own base-line) was in the act of receiving and controlling the ball – and only during that time.

I present here only one sentence from this ‘New Interpretation’

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

In 1995 the the wording of the Rule was expanded but nothing new was added. The use of the words “to prevent an attempt”. would have been better than “from attempting” (and that is still the case)

Obstruction. Players shall not obstruct an opponent from attempting to play the ball by :
• moving or interposing themselves or their sticks
• shielding the ball with their sticks or any part of their bodies
• physically interfering with the sticks or bodies of opponents.

And there was a one word alteration to the ‘New Interpretation’.

(Having received it) the player with the ball may move off with the ball in any direction (except bodily into the tackler). (my bold)

It is impossible to describe that change as either a simplification or a clarification. It changed an instruction to take a certain action – to move away (from opponents?) (presumably with the ball) – to wording that provided no instruction or prohibition, except prohibiting moving bodily into a tackler, an action already prohibited under Rule 9.3. It was (and remains in later form) an obscurantism.

Within three years of publishing the ‘new interpretation’ the late George Croft, then Hon. Sec. of the Hockey Rules Board, felt obliged to point out to players and umpires in the Preface of the 1998 Rules of Hockey that there still was, despite what some might think, an Obstruction Rule. A similar comment would not be out of place in the current rule-book.

In 2002 the following was included as clarification in the Advice to Umpires section of the rule-book and was also presented in the first of the published Umpire Managers Briefing for Umpires at FIH Tournaments (the UMB).

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.

All of which had become standard tactics at the time. The prohibition on ball dragging (shunting, crabbing) now needs expansion and the inclusion of these actions (and others) away from the side-lines and base-lines. But instead, in 2004 following a reformatting of the rule-book, using a different page size, the entire Technical Interpretations and Advice to Umpires sections were deleted. An act of vandalism referred to as a simplification. The following then became the entire Rule and Explanation.

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.

“may move off” was replaced by the equally vacuous “is permitted to move off with it” which was only an improvement because it stipulated moving off with the ball (immediately passing the ball away had always been an alternative option)

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.

The last clause confusingly mixed a player blocking or interposing while tackling for the ball, with the entirely different offence of Third Party Obstruction.The clause is badly set out and should separate these different types of obstruction into two paragraphs.

The pages of the ‘new interpretation’ were reduced to a single short sentence, the bizarre:- A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction. (instructions to a moving player were abandoned for obvious reason i.e. in practice they were exactly the same as the instructions to stationary players and should never have been presented as if there was a difference between them. It’s bizarre because no explanation for it is offered, and it led very quickly to the idea that a stationary player in possession of the ball could not obstruct an opponent – hence the development of the practice of ‘holding’ the ball in a corner of the pitch or up against a side-line or even a base-line – which in saner times would have been penalised with a penalty stroke if done by a defender in his or her own circle).

In 2009 The clause which begins “A player with the ball is permitted…” was extended to include moving to position between an opponent who was trying to play at the ball and the ball (this addition to the Rule Explanation is largely ignored in current umpiring practice). My previous comment about preventing an opponent playing at the ball also applies to this extension

2009
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. (my bold)

A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this is third party or shadow obstruction). This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges) when a penalty corner is being taken.

The above Rule, which is current, is one of the reasons I do not want to see a Rule change moratorium. It needs restoration. Useful clauses that have been removed, what they are they should be obvious, need to be returned and further clarified.

Similar work needs to be done on the Ball Body Contact Rule (including the Forcing Rule), the Dangerously Played Ball Rule, the Raised Hit Rule, the Ball in the Air Rule (including the playing of the ball at above shoulder height and Use of Stick Rule), the Free Hit Rule, the Umpiring Rules and the replacement of the Penalty Corner, among others.

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.

or


Turning into, shunting across, blocking.
Physical contact.
Boring, near static play. Which do you prefer?

 

Proper application of the Rule makes the difference.

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, one 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 “No way, not a chance.”

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 (or penalty stroke) 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

The original video link does not work (I have no idea why) so I have substituted another, later,           example of wilful blindness from a match official. This one at international level.

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. I wonder did he know that?

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 ball 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 the current Rule 9.9. already prohibits this action but it is apparently (but not really there being no limit put on legitimate evasive action) 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 or even an accidental deflection 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.

Post 1998 

Players shall not raise the ball 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 Forcing Rule. 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. Despite these clear reasons not to penalise the player hit with the ball the umpire did so, awarding a penalty corner.

 

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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

Misquoting the Obstruction Rule

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 tackling requirements 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 in an Internet forum when a sensible question about either obstruction or a dangerously played ball has been (deliberately) 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 (there is an obstruction) 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 i.e. obstructed).

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 Is there any action to prevent a tackle attempt)
(A tackle from any position is legitimate as long as the tackler does not make 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.


The above clause is currently applied as if it reads only:- A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction.

Prior to 2004 we had:

Obstruction can happen when 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 at if no obstruction (ball shielding) had taken place

The utterly ridiculous ‘onus’ on the tackler, mentioned above (I understand it was a Gawley invention), 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, even those who don’t read rule-books, to become aware (or be instructed) that it is no longer there.

If umpires are going to “quote”?? and apply Interpretation last seen in a rule-book in 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 above 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 on Internet hockey forums, 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 the vague “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 actions are obstructive, are badly coached and utterly confused about the application of the Obstruction Rule:-  see the forum thread above.

I have written a separate 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 (as it should) following what is given in the wording of the Rule – which FIH Umpires clearly do not follow. Why not?

The answer to that question seems to be “Because nobody else is doing so.” (the peer group) 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 by those without the authority to undertake this action. 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 by letter 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, even though it should be very clear following a 2001 FIH Executive Circular, that it is only the FIH Rules Committee who may draft or amend Rule or Rule Interpretation for Executive approval. Umpire Managers and Umpire Coaches and even National Associations may not do so.

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 thirty 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.

Tags:
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

Suggestion. 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 by 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 was 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 by the player hit, 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 in possession of the ball plays it 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 opponent’s deliberate dangerous play, 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 or otherwise unfairly disadvantaged, in either case a free ball will be awarded to the player hit.

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, rather than laterally into the flight path of it after it has been propelled, and who is presenting the stick to try to intercept the ball (an out-runner during a penalty corner for example), 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, after it has been propelled, 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. Intent should not be assumed simply because a player hit with the ball was in a position where he or she could be hit.

Exception 2. Should a 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 same 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. It is not necessary, however, in line with the Advantage Rule, to penalise such contact if the opposing team has not been unfairly or unduly disadvantaged by it.

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.

Goalkeepers.

Goalkeepers are not permitted to throw the ball. 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. These latter ball-body contact actions will be considered obstructive play and penalised as such.

The current Rule

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

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

It is not an offence if the ball hits the hand holding the stick but would otherwise have hit the stick.

 

 

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 they 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 current wording. The truth is that the majority of ball-body contacts are inconsequential and play should just be allowed to continue without interruption. That is the intent behind 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. But current practice is to see all ball-body contact as a gain of advantage and all defensive positioning (on the goal-line for example) as positioning with an intent to use the body to stop the ball if it is missed with the stick. Both of these views have been strongly advocated on Internet hockey forums by senior umpires.

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 it was 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 the Chairman of 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 an unfair advantage is gained by a ball-body contact, but this is very rarely the case when the contact has been intentionally forced by an opponent and such forcing is anyway an offence, despite the deletion of the stand alone Forcing Rule. Forcing offences are supposed to be dealt with under other Rules.

 

 

 

 

 

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 no 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? Answer. 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 (which would still correct practice in 2019-20).

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 tactic 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 specific Rule (prohibiting any raising of the ball into the opposing circle) has been deleted, yet again, following the introduction of the Rule forbidding (but not really – see the UMB “forget lifted”) an intentionally raised hit. But it is now illegal to intentionally raise the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit,  you would  not learn that however by watching any match in which it happened  (forget lifted – think danger). The UMB ‘helpfully’ contradicting a clear and simple Rule instruction, one of several such contradictions that have arisen because of “simplification and clarification”. (It is presently legal to raise the ball into the opposing circle with a scoop or flick but not with a hit – which was the Rule back in the 1960’s).

Anyway offside was abolished but the Rule parameters concerning receiving an aerial ball were not amended in any way. However these days penalty in nearly all circumstances is awarded at the place a high raised pass that causes danger, 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 because of the facility to play at a high ball with the stick, the Rule is ‘fuzzy’ and what there is of it is poorly applied.

In the 1970’s 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.