What are the criteria for a dangerously played ball?

“Rule 9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play.”


A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by opponents.”

Despite the FIH Rules Committee having stated in the rule-book that the Rules of Hockey apply to all participants and officials at all levels (worldwide). The Royal Dutch Hockey Board have instructed umpires in the Netherlands that legitimate evasive action does not apply to defenders during a penalty corner, effectively meaning that any raised shot at goal from beyond 5m of a defender cannot be considered to be dangerous play, even if it is made directly at a defender who is forced to evasion.

Whether or not the KNHB would consider a player who has been hit on the head with the ball and seriously injured from such a raised shot, to have been endangered, is unknown. But no doubt if such a thing were to happen they would deny any responsibility for an injury resulting from their permitting/encouraging shooting of this sort, however they would probably need the services of immoral and capable lawyers.

The FIH RC and the FIH Executive who are well aware of the illegal instruction the KNHB have issued, and who have done nothing to ensure that it is withdrawn, would also be culpable for any injury that resulted from this negligence.

Given that the FIH are at present £500,000 ‘in the red’ it would be wise of them to take action to ensure that a legal action against them claiming damages due to injury, is a remote rather than a strong possibility due to the very large number of penalty corners that are awarded every year.

5 Comments to “What are the criteria for a dangerously played ball?”

  1. At the risk of being controversial, as a latecomer to hockey from a whole lot of other sports, it often looks to me like the ball contact rules are back-to-front and remind me of other games that are ‘over officiated’ (without naming names.)
    Would love to get your feedback on this change, which can be expressed in a nutshell… “Ball to player, offensive foul. Player to ball, defensive foul” (just throwing in some NFL terminology there, because the NFL rules are so codified they are now incredibly simple to interpret.)
    Am watching the Tokyo Olympics with an eye to how this would change the game. What I can surmise is A) less goals from penalty corners, B) less dangerous play, and by logical extension C) more open field goals/plays. I can even see PCs being overhauled from the excruciatingly boring and predictable events they are now into something closer to an NFL set play!

    • We already have “Ball to player, offensive foul” it is known as a Forcing offence but umpires are no longer applying it, and “Player to ball” is I think covered under intentional use of the body to stop or deflect the ball, although umpires seem willy nilly to penalise any ball-body contact even that which is clearly entirely accidental.

      I am leaning towards the idea of penalising ball-body(foot) contact only when it is made by a player in possession of the ball or is clearly intentional on the part of a player hit with the ball (which is about as rare as hen’s teeth).

      The present penalty corner needs to be replaced with a power play in the 23m area – and we need serious long term trials set up to work out what that will look like.

      • Hey Martin, thanks for the reply 🙂

        Yeah sure ‘ball to player’ has to be intentional, however, I reckon only in that it is not a miss-hit or deflection onto the player which could just be play-on. Yes that covers both ‘dangerous’ and ‘not dangerous’ balls, but consistency is a virtue, and I think it would lead to a lot more fluid play and much less stop-starting which really grinds my gears watching hockey (or other inflicted sports.) Also, it gives latitude to penalise the degree of ‘ball to player’ infringement – a turnover, Yellow, or Red. Yeah in some sports this has led to professional fouling, but I’d rather a player feign for an injury than actually be injured. Also, with evolving concussion and injury rules, if the player convinces the ref that they were injured badly then…

        Likewise ‘player to ball’ has to be intentional, otherwise play-on. This is definitely the greyer of the two sides of this coin, but I like that the player safety side of the coin is clear. I also don’t mind the ‘professional/technical fouling’ this aspect might lead to; I think that’s an interesting aspect of other sports, and makes for great talking points and brings personalities into the sport. And although a player could intentionally endanger themselves, but they can already do that. Only equipment changes could help there.

        Good idea about Power Plays and they work well for the NHL (both as a sport, and as a brand) although for them it evolved as as part of handling the full contact culture of their game.
        It is good that they extend past a single play, since it makes the decision to professional(?) foul someone much more tactical.
        What may not work so well in FH is the delay in waiting for the player who is literally -not- on ice skates to leave the field. But for PPs to work, there really is no alternative to a send-off.
        (And have you noticed how little fun it is to be in the pen box in Tokyo2021? Looks like there is no shade! Double jeopardy? Player wellbeing?)

        Combine the PP with the above ‘ball to player’ rule and you really do need a numerical superiority in order to make a pen into a punishment.
        Personally, I would ditch the green card. Sorry but I think it looks ludicrous, and 2 minutes, who can up with that random number? Did that used to be an important stat?
        Just go with the current Yellow and Red system, and yes, ‘player to ball’ in the D should be a red. Combining both rules like this would make players very honest, or clever, and provide a mechanism for Power Plays.

        As a dedicated sports fan, I would rather watch a fluid PP than an overly rehearsed PC any day of the week.
        Am I alone here? Most hockey highlight reels seem to be endless loops of players hitting near identical balls. Some highlights! Seen it once, seen it a million times! Terrible marketing, but hey, within the current rules, what can you do?

        On a somewhat related note, I really like some of the clear refereeing at Tokyo calling players to play on. I think its helping the players, and as a global platform I wonder if it is being used to help the audience as well?
        The video reffing is taking way too long for my millennial-esque brain (not really a millennial). Have also seen the video ref come back with an infringement that was not requested to be checked! Is that allowed? If so then why ask what the referral is for? Hockey is so fast that I understand why people want video referrals, especially in professional games, but I think you could also make a case that it is a barrier to growing a brand. Emotional attachment grow brands, not nano-metre precision video analysis.

        Yes, what I have said above often conflates sport and marketing, but that is an angle I often view things from. Ultimately they are a symbiosis, which must be good for both of them if either is to thrive.

        P.s. Sorry for writing such a long comment. I didn’t have time (and was too lazy) to write a shorter one 😉

      • The green card used to be just a warning, no suspension, and served well in that role. Then the FIH ‘improved’ things by making it a 2min suspension and said they were adding to the ‘control ladder when in fact they had taken a step off the ladder.

        In my view what they should have done was to reduce the minimum suspension for a yellow card to 2mins with the option for the umpire to indicate for five mins or ten mins as required (not difficult signals to sent to the table). I don’t believe Red cards should be handed out for anything less than dangerous and/or physical contact offences – they lead to not only a rest of match suspension but also suspension for one or more subsequent matches, so they are a big deal.

        But what are termed professional fouls and diving (trying to get opponents carded) should lead to long yellows 10m-15m. I am not a fan of ‘gamesmanship’ (winning at any cost). I put the forcing of a ball body contact in the 5min yellow category, increasing from there if the message is not clearly understood the first time and the offence repeated.

        On video referrals, the video umpire is supposed to be looking for incidents that preceded the referred incident – may even have led to it or caused it – so yes that is allowed. Too often video referral for a foot contact (of which there are far too many claimed) causes the video umpire to focus on looking for such contacts and he or she misses glaringly obvious prior incidents that should have been picked up on.

  2. I also preferred green as a “formal warning”, rather than an under-powered yellow.

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