Rewrite of the Free Hit Rules

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

The article is set out in four parts. 1.The Current Rule. 2. Highlighting of areas slated for revision or deletion 3. A suggested change to the Free Hit Rule. 4. Additional comment. Parts 1 and 2 can be skipped by those familiar with the Rule to speed reading.

1.The current Rules 13.1 and 13.2

13.   Procedures for taking penalties

13.1.  Location of a free hit:
a a free hit is taken close to where the offence occurred

‘Close to’ means within playing distance of where
the offence occurred and with no significant
advantage gained.

The location from which a free hit is taken must be
more precise inside the 23 metres area.

b a free hit awarded to the defence within 15 metres of
the back-line is taken up to 15 metres from the back-
line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to
the side-line

13.2.   Procedures for taking a free hit, centre pass and putting the
ball back into play after it has been outside the field:

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

a the ball must be stationary
b opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball

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

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

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

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

from a free hit awarded to the attack within the 23 metres area, the ball must not be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres, not necessarily in a single direction, or has been touched by a player of the defending team

If the player taking the free hit continues to play the ball (ie no defending player has yet touched it) :

– that player may play the ball any number of times, but the ball must travel at least 5 metres, before that player plays the ball into the circle by hitting or pushing the ball again.

Alternatively:

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

At an attacking free hit awarded within 5 metres of the circle, the ball cannot be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres or it has been touched by a defending player. On this basis, defenders who are inside the circle within 5 metres of the free hit are therefore not interfering

with play and may also shadow around the inside of the circle a player who takes a self-pass, provided that they do not play or attempt to play the ball or influence play until it has either travelled at least 5 metres or alternatively been touched by a defending player who can legitimately play the ball.

Players inside or outside the circle who were 5 metres or more from the point of the free hit at its award are not allowed to move to and then remain in a stationary position within 5 metres of the ball as the free hit is taken.

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

Following a time stoppage after the award of an attacking free hit inside the 23 metres area, upon the re-start all players other than the player taking the free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball.

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

2.The parts of the Rule slated for deletion or amendment (clarification) are highlighted in red.

Because of these clauses:-

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

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

….where, for obvious reason (and only in these particular clauses), “the ball” is used in place of “the Free Hit”; where the term “Free Hit” is used in the Rule it will be replaced with “Free Ball”.

13.1. Location of a free hit:
a a free hit is taken close to where the offence occurred

‘Close to’ means within playing distance of where the offence occurred and with no significant advantage gained.

The location from which a free hit is taken must be more precise inside the 23 metres area.

b a free hit awarded to the defence within 15 metres of the back-line is taken up to 15 metres from the back-line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to the side-line

13.2. Procedures for taking a free hit, centre pass and putting the
ball back into play after it has been outside the field:

All parts of this Rule apply as appropriate to a centre pass and putting the ball back into play after it has been outside the field.

a the ball must be stationary
b opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball

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

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

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

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

from a free hit awarded to the attack within the 23 metres area, the ball must not be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres, not necessarily in a single direction, or has been touched by a player of
the defending team

If the player taking the free hit continues to play the ball (ie no defending player has yet touched it) :

– that player may play the ball any number of times, but the ball must travel at least 5 metres, before that player plays the ball into the circle by hitting or pushing the ball again.

Alternatively:

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

At an attacking free hit awarded within 5 metres of the circle, the ball cannot be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres or it has been touched by a defending player. On this basis, defenders who are inside the circle within 5 metres of the free hit are therefore not interfering

with play and may also shadow around the inside of the circle a player who takes a self-pass,provided that they do not play or attempt to play the
ball or influence play until it has either travelled at least 5 metres or alternatively been touched by a defending player who can legitimately play the ball.

Players inside or outside the circle who were 5 metres or more from the point of the free hit< at its award are not allowed to move to and then remain in a stationary position within 5 metres of the ball as the free hit is taken.

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

Following a time stoppage after the award of an attacking free hit inside the 23 metres area, upon the re-start all players other than the player taking the free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball.

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

3. Suggestion for amendment of Rule 13.1 and 13.2.

13.1. Location of a free ball:
a a free ball is taken close to where the offence occurred

‘Close to’ means within two metres of where the offence occurred and with no significant advantage gained.

The location from which a free ball is taken must be more precise (within half a metre of the offence) inside the 23 metres area.

b a free ball awarded to the defence within 15 metres of the back-line is taken up to 15 metres from the back-line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to the side-line

13.2. Procedures for taking a free ball, centre pass and putting the
ball back into play after it has been outside the field:

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

a the ball must be stationary
b opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball or attempting to get to be 5m from the ball

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

a free ball may be moved using a hit, push, flick or scoop

a free ball may be raised immediately using a push, flick or
scoop but must not be raised intentionally using a hit

If the player taking the free ball continues to play the ball (ie no defending player has yet touched it) that player may play the ball any number of times and move with the ball without limited on distance or direction, as in normal open play: this playing action from a free ball is called a self-pass.

If a player takes a self-pass  (moves the ball from its stationary position) before opponents have been given the opportunity to retreat the required 5m (and opponents are at the time attempting to so retreat) that must be regarded as an advantage played and opponents may cease retreating and immediately
attempt to tackle for the ball.

Going ‘inactive’ that is standing still with the stick raised when a quickly taken self-pass is employed, is not retreating or attempting to retreat and should be discouraged by the umpire(a reset of the free ball and a verbal warning in the first instance). A defender close t o the ball who makes no attempt to retreat when a free ball is awarded but instead interferes with play (attempts to play at the ball) should be further penalised with a personal penalty and, if within his or her own 23m area a penalty corner

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

A Free Ball awarded for an offence committed between the hash circle and the shooting circle must be taken from a position close to but outside the hash circle line and opposite to where the offence was committed.

It is permitted to play the ball high with a flick or a scoop or a lob, above the attacking circle so that it lands outside the circle, subject to Rules related to dangerous play.

4. Additional comment.

The clauses concerning the direct playing of the ball into the circle have been deleted because they were introduced as a safety measure but oddly, without a counter-part in open play. It was suggested at the time the amendment was made that a free ball could be played from a (sic) free ball in a planned way into the circle with the intention of setting up a deflection towards the goal and that this practice was potentially dangerous.

That does not make much sense because it is perfectly possible to plan to play (hit) the ball into the circle from predetermined positions in open play and to set up deflected shots at the goal by this means –  and this possibility has not been considered to be potentially dangerous to opponents – it is allowed.  In fact if a free ball is passed to another close same team player within the 23m area (which is easy) there is nothing to prevent that player immediately hitting the ball hard directly into the circle to enable such a deflection and this also can be done in a planned way.

The prohibiting of playing a free ball from within the opponent’s 23m area directly into their circle impedes the flow of the game and significantly reduces the advantage of being awarded a free ball in this area. And it has given rise to some very complicated 5m restrictions, especially around the taking and defending of a self-pass close to the opponent’s circle. The prohibition also made the corner unworkable – of no or little benefit to the side awarded it – and led to many attempts to ‘manufacture’ offences – self-passers from a corner charging into defenders with the aim of ‘winning’ a penalty corner. The corner had eventually to be replaced with a restart for the attackers on the 23m line (the restart on the 23m line is a big improvement on the original corner but we got this improvement via a curious route).

What makes far more sense than the existing restriction is to prohibit the raising of the ball with a hit into the opponent’s circle in any phase of play – irrespective of intention to raise the ball – so we dispense with the subjective ‘intentionally’ and replace it with ‘raised into the circle’ 

Rule 9.9. should prohibit the intentional raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle already, but does not because umpires have been instructed to ‘forget’ that the ball has been raised (despite intentionally raising of the ball with a hit being specifically mentioned as an offence and there being the possibly of disadvantage to opponents) and consider only if a raised ball is actually dangerous to opponents. The determination of “dangerous” depends on the causing of legitimate evasive action from an opponent (a subjective judgement), but such evasive action is presently being ignored if the ball is propelled from beyond 5m of the evading player, even though ‘legitimate evasive action’ is not distance limited. (There therefore needs to be amendment to Rule 9.8. to provide objective criteria for a dangerously played ball when the ball is propelled towards an opponent from more than 5m – say up to 15m from an opponent: this is long overdue). These amendments to Rule 9.9 and 9.8 have already been suggested in other articles.

The reintroduction of moving the ball to outside the hash-line when a free ball is awarded for an offence committed between the shooting circle and the hash circle, is necessary because the removal of the requirement that same team players be five metres from a free ball when it is taken, would mean that a free ball awarded close to the shooting circle would probably be a greater advantage than the award of a penalty corner.

The last clause of the current Rule gives ‘a nod’ towards the idea of prohibiting the intentional raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle but it applies only during the taking of a free ball and does not in fact cover the raising of the ball into the circle, but over it, and so it is insufficient and a rather an odd addition to the Rule.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/04/09/rewrite-of-the-free-hit-rules/

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