Archive for March, 2020

March 24, 2020

Contrast in application following Rule change

Rules of Hockey.

The permit to play the ball at above shoulder height opened a flood-gate of other Rule abuse because the only restriction was (is)  that players should not play or play at the ball in a dangerous way – and a dangerous way is left to the judgement of umpires, who have already been advised to “forget lifted” when the ball is raised with a hit. That they are also told to “think danger” (what’s danger?) (but not advised to consider disadvantage to opponents following an illegal action) is something of a joke.

The hit raised into the circle by the BEL attacker was a foul (it was clearly intentionally raised), as was the contest for the falling ball by the second BEL player who was not in a position to be the initial receiver at the time the ball was raised (the goalkeeper was).

In the next incident shown in the clip the attacker passes and raises the ball across the face of the goal with a reverse edge hit – that is not a shot at the goal – so an illegal hit.

The promise made by the Hockey Rules Board in 1997, when the Offside Rule was finally deleted, that measures would be put in place to restrain the actions of attackers when close to the goal was completely forgotten – in fact reversed.

I have five suggestions for Rule change to reduce incidents of a dangerously played ball.

The interception of a shot at goal by a player of the shooter’s team will convert what was a shot into a pass – and if raised too high with a hit (during a penalty corner) an illegally raised hit. This also means that if the intercepting player shoots at the goal, the first hit restriction applies (and deflections in such circumstances must be treated as hits). The hard low hit or push at goal during a penalty corner which is deflected by a second attacker high into the goal, usually from within 5m is a circumvention of dangerous play Rules and is clearly too dangerous to defenders to be allowed to continue without control.

2) Playing at the ball at above shoulder height when in the opponent’s circle to be prohibited.

3) A height limit (120cms / 4′ / sternum height) on any ball propelled towards an opposing player from beyond 5m (especially in a competitive situation) at high velocity (a velocity that could injury a player hit).

4) The absurdity of contesting for a falling ball being considered dangerous play when contesting for a rising ball (played at in the same way and at the same height) is seldom considered dangerous play (or even play leading to dangerous play) to be changed.

5) Raising the ball into the circle with a hit prohibited except in the case of a dink hit by a dribbler evading an opponent when the dribbler retains immediate possession of the ball.

Then we continue to allow players to play at the ball at above shoulder height (outside the opponent’s circle) because appropriate restrains are in place.

The above list may not be complete, it may be necessary to curtail flicks and scoops being raised high into the opposing circle, but that possibility needs further thought – maybe a height limit?

Edit. The list above is not complete I overlooked my suggested replacement for the Rule prohibiting an intentionally raised hit, that is not a shot at the goal taken from within the opponents circle:-

6) In addition to the height limit on a ball raised towards an opposing player, an absolute height limit (of shoulder height) on any ball raise with a hit – even into clear space. This is not tied to the concept of a dangerously played ball, it’s simply a height limit to prevent the long chip or clip hits, common in the 1980’s that the prohibition on the intentionally raised hit was supposed to eliminate. Those clip and chip hits have now been replaced with reverse edge hits used to ‘clear’ the ball over the heads of opponents. On occasion, as we have seen recently with the broken jaw of a Malaysian International player, a miss-hit ‘clearance’ can result in serious injury.

I have not planned the writing of this article very well because I find I need to add a seventh suggestion, again one I have made many times before:-

7) When a Self-pass is taken quickly – that is before opponents have been given sufficient opportunity to retreat to get to be 5m from the ball, and they are trying to so retreat – normal play will resume as soon as the taker moves the ball from its stationary position (see article on Second Whistle to ensure a stationary ball) This does away with a raft of 5m restrictions and exceptions. It also renders unnecessary the prohibition on playing a free ball, awarded in the opponent’s 23m, being played directly into the opponent’s circle.  The only two 5m requirements necessary are 1) that opponents get to be 5m from the place a free ball is awarded as rapidly as is reasonably possible and 2) the placement for a free ball, when a defender’s offence occurs between the shooting circle and the hash circle, will be just outside the hash circle opposite to where the offence occurred. (This is the only 5m requirement put in place since 2009 that the FIH Rules Committee have – for an unknown reason – deleted, but it was the only one enacted in 2009 that made good sense).

The taking of a Self-Pass before opponents have been given opportunity to comply with the 5m distancing requirement will be seen as the playing of advantage (Why else but to gain advantage would a player taking a free ball take it before opponents had complied with Rule requirements?) Defenders who do not attempt to retreat and who then interfere with the play of the taker should be carded (I would like to see restored as a taker’s option the Upto10 in these circumstances, but as an Upto25 with no restriction on the direction of the Upto25m as this would render obsolete the idea of a ‘safe’ place to deliberately give away a free ball.) The free could be taken anywhere within 25m of the place of the offence.

March 5, 2020

Limiting drag flicks

Drag flicks. From an article on Field
“Guise-Brown has been training his PC skills since he was a young boy growing up on the grounds of the school where his father taught in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, with the hockey pitch as his back garden. As a teenager and at university he used to flick for an hour a day most days.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the South African international is not in favour of suggestions by our readers that the height of drag flicks should be limited in line with regulations on hits at penalty corners. “I’d be a little bit upset if they did away with it,” said Guise-Brown. “I mean it is quite dangerous the whole nature of it but there’s lots of precautions that are taken.” “
I would be very surprised if an expert drag-flicker, who had devoted much of his training to perfecting this shot was in favour of the FIH doing away with it – but there has been no suggestion of them doing so, even if this expert is prepared to admit that “the nature of it is quite dangerous” (a fine bit of understatement) But then he went on to say that there are lots of precautions that are taken.
Are there? I can’t think of a single one other than not raising the ball at or above knee height into an out-running opponent within 5m, which is a watered down version (in fact a contradiction) of what is contained in Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9. which does NOT have a minimum height limit for ‘dangerous’ on a flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5m.
There has not been, as far as I am aware, any call made from any National Association to limit the height of the drag flick to the same height as the first hit shot during a penalty corner – 460mm.  On the contrary an opposite approach has been installed. The Royal Dutch Hockey Board have declared that legitimate evasive action does not apply to defenders on the goal-line during a penalty corner. An illegal declaration and instruction to umpires, that I am still waiting for the FIH to demand they withdraw
My suggestion(which I have been hammering on about for at about twenty years) is a “dangerous” height of above 120cms, that is 1200mm or 4′ (for senior men), a height well above what a ‘logging’ keeper can cover and still a difficult height for a defender to stop the ball. I don’t want a similar height limit as is imposed on the first hit shot because I do not want to see the return of the ‘logging’ goalkeeper and the ‘packing’ of the goal-line behind the goalkeeper, a sight common in the 1980’s.
My suggestion is not an easy option for defenders and it does not prevent dangerous deflections (no height limit will), but it does afford the defender opportunity to evade a direct shot, made at above sternum height at his position, without being penalised with a goal for doing so, and gives attackers (and umpires) a clear upper limit for “dangerous” for any ball propelled at high velocity at an opponent from any distance beyond 5m (which could reasonably be reduced to 2m).
My suggestions do not stop there. I want a ban on all raising of the ball with a hit to above shoulder height, to replace the (supposed) ban on the intentionally raised hit *(excepting a shot on goal from within the opponents circle). And a ban on the raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit (excepting a dribbling player who makes a dink hit into the circle while evading opponents and while so doing retains possession of the ball). And (belt and braces) a ban on any playing at or of the ball at above shoulder height in the opponent’s circle.
* (As they say “the goal is there to be shot at and is seven feet high” – (so that players are not endangered by the possibility of hitting their heads on it). It is interesting to note that in the far more robustly physical sport of ice-hockey the cross bar (which is heavily padded, as are the players) is about 4′ off the ice. Ice hockey players are sensible enough not to want slap hits being made (at 100mph+) at/past the heads of defenders – field hockey players apparently accept the risk of serious and long term injury for the sake of spectacular and exciting matches – or are those risks imposed on them?)
I think there could be general support for height limiting measures (how can we find out when the proposals are not put up for the consideration of National Associations by the FIH ?)
I am not impressed that a news article has been written airing the views of a leading exponent of the drag-flick as if he could possibly have been in favour of limiting the stroke in some way – of course he isn’t.
Should face-masks be obligatory during a penalty corner?
I think not, why not full helmets and throat protectors? Because aside from the always unpredictable deflection (a reason for optional face-masks) there is no good reason shots should be permitted to be made towards defenders at head or throat height. Shots not made at defenders do not need to be height limited – above or wide of is fine – those made at defenders must be height limited. But defenders (out-runners?) should be permitted to wear soft head protection (not just face protection) if they want to.
Contrary to popular belief among attacking players, it is not an offence for a defender to position between a shooter and the goal to defend the goal. Where else could a defender position to defend the goal?

Is it true that the main reasons that a replacement for the penalty corner still has not been devised by the powers that be, despite to my certain knowledge hockey participants having talked about doing so  for more than forty years; is that a small game replacement for the penalty corner (a power play in the 23m area) is likely to make an immediate drag-flick shot from the top of the circle impossible or redundant? We are said to be considering removing “the excitement and spectacle” (the danger) from the game. Makes one wonder how the game was played at all before the drag flick was invented in the late 1980’s early 1990’s? (when a flick shot was thought of as something that could not possibly travel with the velocity of an undercut hit). Now we know better than that but have done nothing with that information. Hockey usually flits from one extreme to another and thinks that normal. When the penalty corner was introduced all eleven defenders lined up behind the baseline and when the ball was inserted the striker was permitted to make a fly hit at it, without attempting to stop or otherwise control it, and there was no height limit at all imposed on any shot towards the goal.  We were taken from that extreme, to the ball being controlled out side the circle before it could be taken back into the circle to make a hit shot, which is strictly height limited (to 480mm – 18″).  It was inevitable that this height restriction would be circumvented, and just as inevitable that the FIH have done nothing at all (in more than thirty years) to control the degree of circumvention of a safety Rule.