Archive for August, 2018

August 26, 2018

Free ball PLEASE


Can we have our Free-ball back?

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

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

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

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

August 24, 2018

Circular reasoning


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

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

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

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

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

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


August 23, 2018

An apparently well umpired hockey match


It is amazes me what is now seen as acceptable, even good, umpiring following the ‘interpretation slide’ that occurred after the introduction of the receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule (1993) and the deletion of the Forcing Rule (2011). Umpiring practice has led to hardly any penalising of obstruction (and some incorrect penalising for it when it does not occur) and also, in the other direction, the penalising of nearly all ball-body contact, instead of there being hardly any interruption due to ball-body contact.  It is strange that ‘interpretation’ has almost inverted the proper application of both of these Rules.



The hitting of the ball at maximum power into the feet or legs of a close and/or closing opponent has never been adequately dealt with. The general attitude to this action seems to be that it is the defender’s (tackler’s) fault for getting in the way – and getting hit in such circumstances is an acceptable and accepted risk – tough players just rub the pain away and get on with the game (but a young novice who is subjected to this sort of treatment might well give up on hockey and instead play, the less painful and more reasonable, soccer – soccer is a contact sport but a player is not allowed to prevent a tackle by giving an opponent a kick in the shin, an action which would be about as painful as being hit with a hockey ball above the shin-pad or on an ankle).

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

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

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

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


My apologies for the up and down quality of the voice commentary on the videos.…red-hockey-match/




August 14, 2018

A second whistle


A suggested amendment to a Rule of Hockey

The current Rule 1.4.d

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

Reason. Clarification. Improvement of control.


Useful comment and suggestions are welcome.

The headings below could be greatly expanded for umpire coaching purposes but the primary purpose here is to propose the introduction of a ‘second whistle’ so I will focus on that proposal and the reasons for it.

Rule 1.4.d. Know how to use all the available control techniques (tools).

Positioning, Presence, Body Language, Timing, Whistle, Signals, Voice, Cards.

Second whistle.

When a free-ball is awarded or a restart is to be taken, play will recommence with a second whistle signal, the first whistle signal having been made to interrupt play and signal penalty. The second whistle signal will be given immediately the umpire is satisfied that the ball is stationary and in the correct position.

The giving of the second whistle signal will not be delayed because players of the team the free is awarded against have not retreated or are not retreating to attempt to get 5m from the ball. If there is such failure to comply with the Rule requirements from the team the free has been awarded against, further umpire intervention and more severe penalty may be required.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The player taking the awarded free does not allow the defender to retreat from the ball – immediately charging directly into him and then deliberately playing the ball into his feet. (at the time there was some very strange ‘interpretation’ about direction of retreat being applied)

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

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

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

In the above and many more similar incidents, some of which would have required telepathy for the players to immediately know in which direction they should be moving, a second whistle would have done much to ensure fair play.

August 11, 2018

Lizzie Watkins. Regrets are not enough

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

Answer, absolutely nothing. On the contrary, players are now permitted to play the ball and even take shots at the goal on the volley when the ball is above shoulder height – which they were not permitted to do nine years ago. We still have participants who believe that an ‘on target ‘ shot at the goal cannot be considered to be dangerous play and that in such circumstances legitimate evasive action (bizarrely the definition of a dangerously played ball) does not apply.

Nothing has been done to limit the way in which a ball may be propelled towards another player from beyond 5m and even the existing restriction on raising the ball towards an opponent within 5m (given in the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9) is widely ignored. The video below shows an incident during the 2018 WWC in which an attacker raised the ball towards a defender positioned within 5m of the attacker, causing her injury, and the umpire awarded a penalty stroke. I have no idea why the Japanese defender was penalised at all. As far as I can tell from the video the ball was traveling across the face of the goal and was not even going towards the goal when it struck the defender (that should not of course be relevant when the ball is raised at another player from close range but regrettably it is still considered to be so)


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


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

Reports on the death of Lizzie Watkins in a field hockey incident by the FIH and various media outlets.



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


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

From the Belfast Telegraph.

Geofrey Irwin

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

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

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

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

The game resumed with a penalty-stroke against Cookstown – for the ‘offence’ Irwin committed  –   being hit with a dangerously propelled ball. His attempt to evade the ball was not seen as legitimate – which was of course absurd even if the umpire did not realize the extent of his injuries.

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

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


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

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

The death of Lizzy Watkins caused some activity aimed at mitigating player injury from ball impact and a spate of newspaper reports and comment on the Internet. One of which was that the poster was disgusted I was using this incident to progress my own agenda (there are some nasty stupid people around).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press article and comments from Perth Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 7, 2018

Advantage and Ball Body Contact



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example:-

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

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

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