Anticipating play

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

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

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


Field Hockey Rules.

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

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

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

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

(For reasons for failure to apply the Rules see other articles on the Obstruction Rule such as :- )

9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact.
Reckless play, such as sliding tackles and other overly physical challenges by field players, which take an opponent to ground and which have the potential to cause injury should attract appropriate match and personal penalties.

9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.
Players obstruct if they:
– back into an opponent
– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent
– shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

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

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

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

3 Comments to “Anticipating play”

  1. I’m going to hazard a guess that no one has responded because this website is so hard to read given the way it is laid out. As for your question, there;s no way it can be answered until we know what happens next. There is no foul in thepicture shown. If the player in possession brings the ball back to her left and moves off towards the keeper then that’s good play. Likewise if she scopps the ball over the attackers stick and peels off to her right running off the pitch and picking the ball up that way. If she backs into the attacker then it’s a PC against her for obstruction. If she stands still and the attacker does likewise then we wait to see whjat happens next. Good umpires don’t guess at players intended actions.

    • The hard to read comment is aimed I suppose at the multi-column archive page, which i agree is not easy to read. But each article has a hyper-link in the title of it which gives a full page view, and individual articles can be accessed via the menu on the right hand side, so it is not necessary to read much in the column format.

      We obviously do not agree on what obstruction looks like. The forward is almost within playing reach of the ball and is moving to tackle, the PIP has moved to position herself between the forward and the ball – so the picture shows a situation a fraction of a second before there will be an obstruction offence.

      If the PIP moves left towards her own goalkeeper while keeping possession of the ball she will certainly further impose her body between the ball and the tackler and is likely to illegally prevent a tackle attempt by doing this, which is obstruction.

      If the PIP releases the ball by pushing it along the line toward the corner of the pitch she may avoid an obstruction but I don’t think she has much chance of doing so if she tries to retain controlled possession of the ball, she would have to devise a way of moving across the face of the approaching tackler while keeping the ball open to her.

      Anticipating what players are likely to do is an essential umpiring skill. At least the UMB advises umpires to anticipate play, so I assume it is.

      • More observations. The ignorance and apathy towards the Rules by participants is, to me, astonishing, and I am not in the least surprised at the lack of response to my questions. Players put up with bizarre Rules (like the Free Hit Rules) and the even more bizarre ‘interpretations’ from umpires as if these things had nothing at all to do with them. They generally won’t spend even five minutes considering the purpose of a Rule or the intent of the FIH RC when framing it, and it does not occur to them to challenge anything concerning the control of a game they practice endlessly to get more proficient at.

        The FIH RC have been simplifying and clarifying the Rules for at least twenty-five years, there was a major rewrite in 1995 and another one in 2004 and they are still a mess of confusion and contradiction. I think this is because players could not care less and it suites umpires very well – they can do pretty much anything they like without challenge once they have ‘qualified’ and have a season or two experience.

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