Application of the Dangerously Played Ball Rules.

From an article in the Hockey Paper

https://www.thehockeypaper.co.uk/…/club-hockey-player…

The writer, Rod Gilmour, mentions the award of a penalty stroke after a defender on the goal line was hit in the mouth with the ball following a drag-flick shot (made by a former international level player) during a penalty corner, as if this was a normal reasonable decision for the umpire to make in these circumstances. It isn’t.

For how long more are hockey players going to be told they have to accept this? That they have to defend against such shots because they are legal and “part of the game”.

High shots made directly at defenders should not be legal. By ‘high’ I mean any shot made directly at a defender at above sternum (or elbow) height. I also mean at high velocity, at a velocity a ball hitting a player would be likely to cause pain, hurt and injury. This is somewhat, but not entirely, a subjective matter; objective also in that a drag flick made with maximum force is comparable to a powerfully made hit.

High flick shots are not made accidentally and so, when made towards another player, do not comply with the FIH instruction printed on the first page of the rule-book, that players MUST play with consideration for the safety of other players. The word ‘must’ makes this instruction a Rule, not a choice. A Rule which is currently utterly ignored: hence the award of a penalty stroke in this case and not a 15m for the defending team, which is what should have been awarded.

When attackers see no reason at all not to make high shots at opponents – are not deterred with possible penalty – they will make them.

I know some participants are going to point out that this defender was not wearing a face-mask and the injury was therefore his own fault – but not so, the injury was caused by the player who propelled the ball and who knew in advance where the defender was positioned. The defender could not know with certainty the exact direction or the height at which the ball would be propelled. His reason for not wearing a mask, a mask restricts his vision, seems reasonable. The other attempted ‘get out’ and one the injured player himself appears to subscribe to, is ‘acceptance of risk’. Acceptance of risk however is contingent on compliance with Rule in a sport or with regulation or Law in other settings (such as industrial accidents).

Where a Rule of a sport is being breached and as a result of that injury is caused, the player injured cannot be said to have accepted the risk that that would happen. All participants in a sport expect that others will comply with the Rules of the sport and that the Rules will be enforced. It is a Rule of Hockey that no shot be made at the goal in a non compliant or dangerous way during a penalty corner – Rules 13.3.l and 13.3.m – where opposing players do not comply with Rule there can be no acceptance of risk of injury caused or contributed to, by the non-compliance.

The risk that opponents will be allowed to play in breach of Rule without penalty is not in any sense acceptable. If a player making a drag-flick shot expected to be penalised for targeting a defender with a high shot such high shots would not be made. This follows what is seen resulting from the prohibition on raising a first hit shot at goal during a penalty corner to above 480mm (backboard or knee height – a very loose match). Such shots are not now made intentionally by any shooter who is attempting to score a goal.

On that subject, the making of second or subsequent hits shots also needs tightening up, it is not sufficient that the Rules state such shots must not be made in a dangerous way. “A dangerous way” is far too vague and subjective a description for such a prohibition, whereas a height limit is a simple objective test of Rule compliance.

Here is an example of a second hit shot being made during a penalty corner:- https://youtu.be/LLV2SWkKQWo Head height from about 10m – evasive action taken – goal awarded.

Where a ball is intentionally propelled at a player in a dangerous way any penalty applied must be applied against the player responsible for propelling the ball. It matters not where a defender positions, if the ball is not propelled high at him or her there is no dangerous play – and if it is – then there is dangerous play.

Dangerous play must be penalised and deterred. Penalising a player who has been injured because of the dangerous play of an opponent is outrageous – and very stupid.

2 Comments to “Application of the Dangerously Played Ball Rules.”

  1. Another discussion about safety that fails to acknowledge the significance of equipment material. If the ball was not innately dangerous, we could throw out 90% of the rules, and 100% of the problematic ones. We should aim for the stick to be the only dangerous piece of equipment left in the game.

    • A hockey ball is relatively small hard and heavy compared to a soccer ball or a basket ball but that does not make it innately dangerous. Danger is created by the way in which such a ball is propelled at another player. It is the behaviour, not the material, that is the cause of the problem. Besides, unless you can suggest an alternative material which would not affect the size of the ball and its playing characteristics, there is no way forward along that route:- have you a suggestion?

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