Archive for March 5th, 2020

March 5, 2020

Limiting drag flicks

Drag flicks. From an article on Field Hockey.com
“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.” “
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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 (a contradiction) of what is contained in Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9. which does not have a minimum height limit for a raised 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 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 to see the FIH demand they withdraw
My suggestion (which I have been hammering on about for at least ten 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 a return of the ‘logging’ goalkeeper and the ‘packing’ of the goal-line behind the goalkeeper.
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 at his position, made at above sternum height 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.
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.
I think there could be general support for these measures (how can we find out if 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 facemasks) 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.
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?

The mess that has been made of the receiving of an aerial ball and encroachment offences is another area of concern, but I leave that to one side for now.

* 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?