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.

 

2 Comments to “Falling ball Rules should be amended.”

  1. Recommend adding: if it is not clear which player will arrive first then the player of the team which played the ball must defer to the opposing player.

    (I think it would be safer if the receiver must be able to reach the position at least 5 metres clear of any other player. Otherwise the lofted pass can be used to create a no-tackle-zone for a running winger when they would be otherwise forced to receive the ball under heavy contest)

    • I think both points are covered. There is suggested a requirement to retreat if not clearly the receiving player and an obligation on a passer not to pass to a team-mate who is within 5m of an opponent at he time the ball is raised. Isn’t that the same as requiring a receiver to get 5m from an opponent? Thanks for your comments.

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