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.


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the worst impositions by the FIH Rules Committee in many years (exceeded in ‘daft’ only by the contradictory, and now withdrawn, ‘own goal’ Rule, which encouraged attackers to blast the ball as hard as they could into the circles in open play – How’s that for consistency of approach to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.”


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