Archive for ‘Rules of Hockey’

September 29, 2019

Simplification and Clarification

Rules of Hockey.

Simplification and Clarification.

Open any rule book published in the last thirty years and you are likely to find in the Introduction or Preface a statement that the FIH HRB/ Rules Committee is always seeking to simplify and clarify the Rules or an announcement that it has done so within that publication. This is announced as a if a good thing, something to be desired but the result of this work may well be the very opposite.

By 1992 we had an Obstruction Rule which had not been altered in decades

A player shall not obstruct by running between an opponent and the ball nor interpose himself or his stick as an obstruction.

Technical Interpretations – a section in the back of the rule-book, gave:-
Body Obstruction and Interference (Rule 12) A player may not place any part of his body or stick between an opponent and the ball. Such actions are called obstruction and may also be referred to as screening the ball or blocking. Obstruction can only happen when: (a) an opponent is trying to play the ball (b) an opponent is in a position to play the ball without interfering with the legitimate actions of the player with the ball (c) the ball is within playing distance or could be played if no obstruction had taken place.

I would simplify that to:- An obstruction offence by a player in possession of the ball will occur when the ball is within the playing distance of a tackler who is demonstrating an intent to tackle for the ball, and the ball could be played at by the tackler, if not shielded by the body or stick of the ball holder, to prevent this action.

It is not necessary to mention physical interfere by a tackler as this breaches Rule 9.3. And an attempt to play at the ball legally may be made impossible by a moving or stationary shielding action by the ball holder. A Rule should not impose or demand an impossibility. i.e. demand that an attempt be made to play at the ball when that has been made impossible by the actions of the opponent in possession of it.

The offence is the illegal prevention of a legal tackle for the ball by an opponent and the criterion should reflect that.

In 1993 the Rule Proper was the same but there was an enormous ‘new interpretation’, occupying one and a half pages, presented in Technical Interpretations in the back of the rule-book. As I have written previously, this “new interpretation” was not in fact a new interpretation, the criterion for an obstruction offence remained exactly as they had been in the previous years. What was introduced was an Exception to the Rule; the Rule was no longer to apply during the time an opponent, (who could be facing in any direction, including towards his or her own base-line) was in the act of receiving and controlling the ball – and only during that time.

I present here only one sentence from this ‘New Interpretation’

Having collected the ball, the receiver must move away in any direction (except, of course, bodily into the tackler) (my bold)

In 1995 the the wording of the Rule was expanded but nothing new was added. The use of the words “to prevent an attempt”. would have been better than “from attempting” (and that is still the case)

Obstruction. Players shall not obstruct an opponent from attempting to play the ball by :
• moving or interposing themselves or their sticks
• shielding the ball with their sticks or any part of their bodies
• physically interfering with the sticks or bodies of opponents.

And there was a one word alteration to the ‘New Interpretation’.

(Having received it) the player with the ball may move off with the ball in any direction (except bodily into the tackler). (my bold)

It is impossible to describe that change as either a simplification or a clarification. It changed an instruction to take a certain action – to move away (from opponents?) (presumably with the ball) – to wording that provided no instruction or prohibition, except prohibiting moving bodily into a tackler, an action already prohibited under Rule 9.3. It was (and remains in later form) an obscurantism.

Within three years of publishing the ‘new interpretation’ the late George Croft, then Hon. Sec. of the Hockey Rules Board, felt obliged to point out to players and umpires in the Preface of the 1998 Rules of Hockey that there still was, despite what some might think, an Obstruction Rule. A similar comment would not be out of place in the current rule-book.

In 2002 the following was included as clarification in the Advice to Umpires section of the rule-book and was also presented in the first of the published Umpire Managers Briefing for Umpires at FIH Tournaments (the UMB).

Umpires should be aware of players who are in possession of the ball who:
• back into an opponent;
• turn and try to push past an opponent;
• shield the ball with body, leg or stick and stand still when under pressure;
• drag the ball near their back foot when moving down the side-line or along the back-line;
• shield the ball with the stick to prevent a legitimate tackle.

All of which had become standard tactics at the time. The prohibition on ball dragging (shunting, crabbing) now needs expansion and the inclusion of these actions (and others) away from the side-lines and base-lines. But instead, in 2004 following a reformatting of the rule-book, using a different page size, the entire Technical Interpretations and Advice to Umpires sections were deleted. An act of vandalism referred to as a simplification. The following then became the entire Rule and Explanation.

Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.
Players obstruct if they:
– back into an opponent
– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent
– shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent.

“may move off” was replaced by the equally vacuous “is permitted to move off with it” which was only an improvement because it stipulated moving off with the ball (immediately passing the ball away had always been an alternative option)

A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this is third party or shadow obstruction). This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper) when a penalty corner is being taken.

The last clause confusingly mixed a player blocking or interposing while tackling for the ball, with the entirely different offence of Third Party Obstruction.The clause is badly set out and should separate these different types of obstruction into two paragraphs.

The pages of the ‘new interpretation’ were reduced to a single short sentence, the bizarre:- A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction. (instructions to a moving player were abandoned for obvious reason i.e. in practice they were exactly the same as the instructions to stationary players and should never have been presented as if there was a difference between them. It’s bizarre because no explanation for it is offered, and it led very quickly to the idea that a stationary player in possession of the ball could not obstruct an opponent – hence the development of the practice of ‘holding’ the ball in a corner of the pitch or up against a side-line or even a base-line – which in saner times would have been penalised with a penalty stroke if done by a defender in his or her own circle).

In 2009 The clause which begins “A player with the ball is permitted…” was extended to include moving to position between an opponent who was trying to play at the ball and the ball (this addition to the Rule Explanation is largely ignored in current umpiring practice). My previous comment about preventing an opponent playing at the ball also applies to this extension

2009
9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.

Players obstruct if they :
– back into an opponent
– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent
– shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it. (my bold)

A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this is third party or shadow obstruction). This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges) when a penalty corner is being taken.

The above Rule, which is current, is one of the reasons I do not want to see a Rule change moratorium. It needs restoration. Useful clauses that have been removed, what they are they should be obvious, need to be returned and further clarified.

Similar work needs to be done on the Ball Body Contact Rule (including the Forcing Rule), the Dangerously Played Ball Rule, the Raised Hit Rule, the Ball in the Air Rule (including the playing of the ball at above shoulder height and Use of Stick Rule), the Free Hit Rule, the Umpiring Rules and the replacement of the Penalty Corner, among others.

September 22, 2019

Obstruction Basics 3 The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Rules of Hockey.

Obstruction.

Twists and turns good spin turning. Spatial awareness, timing, early wide movement away from opponents.
Turning into, shunting across, blocking.
Physical contact.
Boring, near static play.

September 19, 2019

Obstruction Basics Part Two

Rules of Hockey.

Responsibility and Liability. Turning into physical contact. Turning to shield and then shunt (crab). Running past the ball to shield it. Blocking off by stepping over the ball and turning.

September 16, 2019

Behind the play – not on-side of opponent

Rules of Hockey

Description of circumstances in which an opponent is not his or her own goal side of the ball or the player in possession of the ball and is trying to tackle. Such a tackler cannot be obstructed by the body of the player in possession of the ball (stick obstruction and fending off the opponent’s stick with a leg or arm/hand remain a possibility)

 

September 14, 2019

Not an offence – by who

Rules of Hockey

A look at related Rule and the forcing of ball contact in the last ten years or so. About thirty random examples from hundreds I have on video.
Watch the skill with which top players deliberately break the Rules and the aplomb with which top umpires allow them to do so.

September 13, 2019

Video referrals One.

Rules of Hockey

Ball body contact and encroaching mistakes.

Some very strange ‘interpretation’ of the ball body contact Rule , advantage and the Advantage Rule.

September 10, 2019

Learning from Mistakes.

Rules of Hockey.

After several years of producing incident clips from hockey matches I have seen the same umpires makes the same mistakes repeatedly. There is no evidence they know they are making mistakes, no acknowledgement of them, and certainly no learning so as not to repeat them time and time again.

I blame the FIH Rules Committee for inadequate Rules and the FIH Umpiring Committee for poor umpire coaching.

September 6, 2019

Guide Tape Dangerously Played Ball

Rules of Hockey.

Prior to 2004, the year when the stand alone Rule prohibiting the raising of a ball at another player was deleted (it was transferred to Rule 9.9. as Explanation and a 5m limit added to it – opening the way for the uncontrolled drag-flick shot, generally made as a first shot during a penalty corner). I used to write frequently to hockey forums to point out that the drag-flick shots then made, especially when made high towards opponents, were illegal.

I used to point to the absurdity of a severely height restricted first hit shot during a penalty corner and the lack of any height control at all over a drag flick, which could be made at the same or a greater velocity, than an undercut or edge hit, when any raising of the ball towards an opponent was prohibited. The Rule was simply ignored. The deletion of the Rule may well have been made in response to my pointing out it was not being enforced and that there did not exist any emphasis on player safety.

Now (and for at least the last ten years) I have suggested a height limit approach to both the raised hit made outside the opponent’s circle (even into open space – shoulder height) and a ball raised at an opponent (with any stroke or deflection – sternum height) from beyond 5m, even as a shot at the goal, as an additional means of applying both Rule 9.8.(dangerously played ball) and 9.9 (the intentionally raised hit). I have also suggested the restoration of the prohibition on raising the ball into the opponent’s circle with any hit, but all these suggestions are ignored.

There continues to be no evidence of concern for player safety, in fact quite the opposite, attempt has been made to remove legitimate evasive action as a reason to penalise for dangerous play. This is seen as progressive rather than stupid.

August 22, 2019

Dangerously played ball.

Rules of Hockey.

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.
The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.

9.9 Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal.

A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally. It is not an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field unless it is dangerous. If the ball is raised over an opponent’s stick or body on the ground, even within the circle, it is permitted unless judged to be dangerous.

The above paragraph is about raised hits, the following one is about flicks and scoops (which are by definition raised)

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous. If an opponent is clearly running into the shot or into the attacker without attempting to play the ball with their stick, they should be penalised for dangerous play.

I assume, following the advice of the UMB, applying common sense to the application of the Rules, the combination of the above two clauses, that a hit that is raised towards an opponent within 5m must also be considered to be dangerous play. Why would this not be the case when raised hits generally exceed the velocity of flicks and scoops? The paragraph does state that a raised hit may be considered dangerous.

The mention of a shot in the above clause is strange as in general play a ball could be raised at an opponent from anywhere on a pitch, it looks as if that phrasing was just ‘copy- pasted’ directly from the Penalty Corner Rule, which is careless drafting.

Most of the remaining Rules about a ball that has been dangerously raised with a hit or flick are contained in the Penalty Corner Rules. What is missing is the playing of the ball in a way, usually a scoop, that will result in a falling ball, a circumstance that may lead to dangerous play or be in itself dangerous if a scoop is made at an opponent. I am not going to comment further on a scoop or aerial pass in this article because I want to focus on an anomaly in the Rules concerning flicks and hits towards opponents.

Penalty Corner

3.3 l if the first shot at goal is a hit (as opposed to a push,flick or scoop), the ball must cross the goal-line, or be on a path which would have resulted in it crossing the goal-line, at a height of not more than 460 mm (the height of the backboard) before any deflection, for a goal to be scored.

The requirements of this Rule apply even if the ball touches the stick or body of a defender before the first shot at goal.

If the first shot at goal is a hit and the ball is, or will be, too high crossing the goal-line it must be penalised even if the ball is subsequently deflected off the stick or body of another player.

The ball may be higher than 460 mm during its flight before it crosses the goal-line provided there is no danger and provided it would drop of its own accord below 460 mm before crossing the line.

m for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous.

A defender who is clearly running into the shot or into the taker without attempting to play the ball with their stick must be penalised for dangerous play.

I have head match commentators and others state that it is a dangerous play offence for a defender to close on a striker during a penalty corner especially if the defender runs from within the goal. That is utter nonsense. Any defender who intentionally runs into the ball or the body of an opponent commits an offence, but a defender who closes on an opponent with the intention of playing at the ball with his stick is not committing an offence. If an outrunning and closing defender is hit with the ball that is a separate matter and then the Rule as published must be applied. It is wrong to conflate outrunning with getting hit with the ball. When a defender is hit with the ball that is frequently the fault of the player who propelled the ball.

Otherwise, if a defender is within five metres of the first shot at goal during the taking of a penalty corner and is struck by the ball below the knee, another penalty corner must be awarded or is struck on or above the knee in a normal stance,the shot is judged to be dangerous and a free hit must be awarded to the defending team

Readers may have noticed some anomalies in and between the above Rules.
1) The Rule governing the first hit shot at goal during a penalty corner is far more severe than the Rule governing any other shot taken at any time during a match. There is a height limit of 460mm which applies whether or not another player is actually endangered with the ball. A ball raised above 460mm will be penalised – for what penalised is not made clear, it seems to be just for failure to comply with the Rule.

2) On the other hand a hit shot which is raised below 460mm into an outrunning defender during a penalty corner, even if that runner is within 5m, will result in the award of another penalty corner. This directly conflicts with the Explanation of rule Application given in Rule 9.9 concerning the raising of the ball towards another player. The Penalty Corner Rule it seems overrules the open play Rule. However:-

3) Although there is no mention of knee height in the general open play Rules it has become common practice to regard any ball raised towards an opponent in open play as not dangerous if it is not raised to knee height or above. So Penalty Corner Rule is being applied outside of the penalty corner and is again considered the superior Rule – that has to be wrong. We have added to this the advice to umpires in the UMB which states that a ball raised into an opponent at below half shin-pad height is not dangerous – also a contradiction of Rule 9.9. Which, because it take no account at all of the circumstances in which such a ball might be played, is a dangerous nonsense.

4) The height restriction on a first hit shot during a penalty corner extends to and beyond the goal-line. The height restriction on a flick (drag-flick) extends to 5m; beyond that distance a flick shot can be judged dangerous only if it causes legitimate evasive action. But many umpires are of the opinion that evasive action taken by a player who is more than 5m from the ball cannot be legitimate because such players should easily be able to evade the ball (evading a ball that is travelling in excess of 100kmh is not at all easy). Legitimate evasive action is evading the ball to avoid being hit with it (and defines a dangerously played ball) so suggesting easy evasion as a reason for not penalising the raising of the ball at a player does not make sense especially when legitimate evasive action is not distance limited. The problem is of course that “legitimate” is not defined and is therefore a subjective judgement.

5) There is no mention of ball velocity in the Rules and no other objective criteria beyond knee height and 5m. There should be. It should be considered dangerous play to propel the ball at high velocity at another player at sternum height or above, from any distance. High velocity could be considered as a velocity that could cause injury to a player if hit with the ball at the height it was raised. The umpire can ask himself “If that hit me at that height would it injure me?”

6) The Penalty Corner Rule states:- for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous. That of course means that no flick or scoop shot should be made at the goal in a way that endangers another player. Hits are only separated into second and subsequent because the first hit shot is dealt with separately in the preceding Rule clause. Do we ever see drag-flick shots endanger or injure defenders? Hell yes, and the umpire then, contrary to Rule, penalise the defender.

7) The tactic of hitting or pushing the ball along the ground towards the goal during a penalty corner, an action which is indistinguishable from a shot, and then deflecting that ‘shot’ in a planned way, high into the goal from close range is another circumvention (the first being the drag flick) of the intent of the restrictions on the first shot at goal made during a penalty corner. I have seen defenders who have been hit with such a close range deflection penalised with a penalty stroke even though they had no chance at all of avoiding being hit with the ball deflected high into their body. A way need to be found of curtailing this development which is often far more dangerous to defenders than raising the ball to above knee height at an out-running defender who is within 5m.

The following video shows an example of what I consider to be a dangerously played ball. I have received comment via YouTube that the award of the penalty corner was correct because a defender can be seen to place his hand on the attacker. That is true, but that action, although an offence did not disadvantage the attacker in any way, and should have been ignored following Rule 12.1.  I hope my critic, who thinks I have a very awkward view of the Rules, is not an umpire but I suspect he is.

I have a collection of video clips, there are dozens of them, where an attacker has made what I believe to be a dangerous hit or flick into or towards a defender and a goal or a penalty has been awarded against the defender. I have only one example in which an umpire penalised a dangerous shot which hit a defender. The bias against defending is very pronounced.

August 19, 2019

Spin turn coaching and Rule

Rules of Hockey

The meaning and order of words.

The above video which contains two examples of online coaching of the spin turn to elude an opponent, one by a brilliant international player and the other by two youngsters. They are the same, and wrong in two vital aspects. Firstly no account is taken of a realistic tackle for the ball and secondly, the Obstruction Rule, which should determine how a spin turn is coached once the basic footwork is established, is completely ignored. In other words there is no advanced coaching, it does not go beyond the inactive dummy stage – so that is what is seen in hockey matches.

The Rule is not well written. I will here explain why I make that statement.

Firstly,clauses are incompletely or poorly worded.

Players obstruct if they back into an opponent.

Does that mean back towards an opponent (into the playing reach of an opponent) without making contact) or backing into physical contact? The following clause gives a clue.

Players obstruct if they physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent.

Backing into physical contact is physically interfering with the body of an opponent and there seems no reason to repeat the prohibition, ergo the first clause is not about making physical contact. But it could be claimed (and is) that this is a subjective interpretation of the wording and the matter is still not clear. So backing with the ball, taking the ball into the playing reach of an opponent could be legitimate except it is difficult to see how that could be done without shielding the ball from the opponent to prevent a tackle attempt, which is illegal. That brings me to the next problem clause.

Players obstruct if they shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

Under the heading Obstruction in the UMB umpires are advised to ask themselves the question “Is there movement to prevent a tackle attempt?” and then obviously to take action according to the answer to that question The shielding clause given with the Rule Explanation is not clearly about the prevention of a tackle attempt, when it should be. I think it needs to be reworded to replace “from” with “to prevent”:-

Players obstruct if they shield the ball to prevent a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

I believe that follows the intent of the FIH RC when they drafted this ball shielding clause.

The 2004 and 2009 amendments, (the first a rewrite of the Rule and the deletion of all the previous Rule Interpretation previously contained in an Interpretations section in the back of the rule-book), were not properly integrated with previous clauses, so we are taken back to the subject of moving bodily into and/or moving to position between an opponent and the ball when that opponent is attempting to play at the ball.

This is the result of the 2009 amendment (the part from the word ‘or’ onward was added). The first part reinforces that any moving bodily into an opponent – physical contact – is not permitted. ‘Backing into’ can therefore reasonably be seen as a different action i.e. moving into an opponent’s playing reach without making physical contact. The contact Rule clause is otherwise unnecessarily repeated three times in this Rule alone.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

That at first sight looks reasonably clear but there is an ambiguity that those who think the Obstruction Rule should be deleted (and such people certainly exist) take advantage of to misapply the Rule or not apply it at all. I highlight the problem below:-

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent

OR

into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

Put like that the clause is not clear, it can be interpreted in several ways because there is no emphasis on “except” when there should be.

The 2009 amendment was simply an extension of the adjoining clause using the word “or”. It is possible to add ‘alternatively’ to get “or alternatively” but the meaning and clarity is not much changed. It is also possible to use “or differently” “or similarly” Which is best? Would a separate clause be the best option to avoid the ambiguous “or”? I believe so. Therefore I suggest, using the negative form previously employed in the Rules as well as change to the wording which does not alter the meaning or intent of the Rule:-

A player with the ball is not permitted to move with it in any way, that will cause physical contact with an opponent.

A player with the ball is not permitted to move into a position which places any part of his body between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it.

Are clear Rule clauses too blunt for liberal tastes?

The remaining Rule clause is about an opponent running to position between a player and the ball and about the blocking off of that player from the ball. This is incorrectly described as ‘third party obstruction’. The description is incorrect because such obstructive actions can be the simple obstruction of one player by another, who has moved to position between the ball and an opposing player who would otherwise have been able to play at the ball, but it may instead be third party obstruction, where the obstructed player need not be within playing distance of the ball at the time of the blocking in order to be obstructed. These quite distinct actions require separate clauses and ‘third party obstruction’ needs an adequate description.

In the above incident the GER No.10 is clearly preventing an ARG player approaching a GER team-mate in order to challenge her for the ball. Obviously a third party obstruction. But not according to the coaching provided by the FIH Umpiring Committee who provide a quite difference interpretation to this incident in a coaching video presented via Dartfish.com.

I suspect the interpretation, given within the video (pause the video to read it) was devised to follow the decision made by the match umpire (unfortunately a common occurrence within these productions), which was to allow play to continue, instead of awarding the appropriate penalty corner and personal penalty.

August 18, 2019

Spin turn coaching

Rules of Hockey

This coaching video is on the right track, moving to position between an opponent and the ball is an obstruction offence. But I take issue with the action given as correct. The player with the ball turns to position between her opponent and the ball after she has moved to within the defender’s playing reach – this too is obstruction – the positioning of the leg of the ball holder prevents the defender from attempting a legal tackle when she would otherwise have been able to do so and obstruction can be made with any part of the body, it need not be a full body block.

The turning movement needs to be started before coming within the playing reach of a player intent on tackling, unless the tackler can be eliminated by his or her own angle of approach and momentum. This is rarely possible when the tackler has adopted a defensive stance and is watching the ball closely.

The turn should be used to achieve a more lateral movement, rather than a predominantly forward movement into the reach of the defender, so that the ball is put and then kept beyond the playing reach of the opponent who is being eluded.

The example given as correct play is not obstruction only because the ‘tackler’ in this case is just acting as a dummy and is not actually attempting to play at the ball. There can be no obstruction offence unless it is forced by a tackle attempt. (forced not ‘manufactured’). In a competitive match the two players would probably have collided in some way and that should be seen as the fault of the spinning player unless the tackler just uses a barge rather than trying to play at the ball with the stick.

August 17, 2019

Unqualified umpire.

Rules of Hockey

It’s unusual to see an unqualified umpire officiate a top level domestic league match (some readers might disagree with that statement) but this one really is a stand out ignoramus.

He ignored obstructions that breached every described obstructive action in the Explanation given with the Obstruction Rule, including backing into physical contact.
Then he ignored the deliberate raising of the ball into a close opponent and rounded of this charade by immediately awarding a penalty corner against the team of the player hit with the ball, despite the ball having rebounded off the defender and back into the possession of the attacker (so the defender could not possibly have gained an advantage from the forced contact). As the contact was clearly not intended by the defender (he tried to avoid being hit) and the attacker was not disadvantaged there was no offence by the defender to penalise, and even if there had been an offence by the defender (intent to use his leg to stop the ball for example), there would have been no reason, following Rule 12.1. Advantage, to penalise.

The march was played in 2018. I have no idea who the “umpire” is or which clubs the competing teams were playing for. But it is obviously past time the FIH produced some accurate Rules coaching videos for umpires and players – that is videos very different from the deeply flawed initial efforts which for some years were published via Dartfish.com by individuals appointed by the FIH Umpiring Committee.

August 14, 2019

“This is Obstruction” Coaching video 2004

Rules of Hockey

At end of the 2003 season Hockey Australia produced an umpire coaching video on obstruction which I have incorporated into the above video. There can be no doubt that the second incident shown included both obstruction and physical contact offences by the player in possession of the ball, but the first incident, featuring an ARG player in possession showed play that has never been considered obstructive.

It is true that umpires have generally been more inclined to ‘see’ obstruction when the ball is carried to the left of the body, but regardless of which side of the body the ball is carried, if it is kept to the front of the feet it is highly unlikely there can be an obstruction offence.

Moreover, body obstruction of an opponent who is behind the play (i.e. is not her own goal-side of the ball and the player in possession of the ball), is an impossibility, no matter how close to the ball that player may be.

It is still possible in such circumstances for a ball holder to be guilty of obstruction if an attempt by a tackler to play at the ball with her stick is fended off by the stick of the ball holder or by her leg or hand/arm to prevent contact with the ball which would otherwise have occurred, but a ball holder having her body positioned between an opponent, who has been by-passed, and the ball, cannot be guilty only because of that positioning, of an obstruction offence. Clearly the coach did not understand the Obstruction Rule. I wonder what he would have made of this current approach to blocking and ball shielding to prevent a tackle by an opponent? Bewilderment? Probably.

Going back to the first video above, had the player in possession been running towards her own goal she would have been obliged to keep the ball beyond the playing reach of any closing tackler, but she was moving towards her opponent’s goal and even if she did pull the ball back (which she did not) that action would not have been an obstruction.

The tightening up of the Obstruction Rule with the addition of “(sic) A player shall not move…. into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.” which occurred in 2009, was a “too little too late” attempt by the FIH Rules Committee to prevent the type of play, common by then, seen by the BEL player in the final action of the first video above. As can be seen in the video this addition, which reinforced what was already in the Rule, was completely ignored by umpires. In fact in these circumstances umpire are far more likely to penalise the tackler for attempting a tackle from a position where it it is not possible to play at the ball without making physical contact – a position which the ball holder has deliberately ‘engineered’ with just such an outcome in mind.

Amazingly defenders will sometimes hold the ball against their own base-line in the circle and then attempt to shunt sideways along the line and out of the circle while shielding the ball from opponents with stick, leg and body to prevent a legitimate tackle, without being penalised with a penalty stroke, which would be the correct decision in such circumstances, there being nothing accidental about such actions.

obs 9a

Here is some interesting coaching from 2014. The coach is instructing player to place the ball behind their left shoulder when carrying the ball to their left hand side in order to use the body to protect the ball. He is in other words coaching them to breach the Obstruction Rule. I wonder did he know that?

August 10, 2019

Use of Stick Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey

Players shall not:
13.1.1 Use of stick and playing equipment
a. play the ball intentionally with the back of the stick
b. take part in or interfere with the game unless they have their stick in their hand
c. play the ball above shoulder height with any part of the stick
d. lift their sticks over the heads of players
e. raise their sticks in a manner that is dangerous, intimidating or hampering to other players when approaching, attempting to play or playing the ball
f. play the ball dangerously or in such a way as to be likely to lead to dangerous play
A ball is dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.
g. hit, hook, charge, kick, shove, trip, strike at or personally handle other players or their sticks or clothing
h. throw any object or piece of playing equipment on to the field, at the ball, at another player, or at an umpire.
13.1.2 Use of body, hands, feet by players other than goal- keepers
a. stop or catch the ball with the hand
There is nothing to prevent players using their hands to protect themselves from dangerously raised balls.
b. intentionally stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their bodies

It is not automatically an offence if the ball hits the foot or body of a player. Players should not be penalised when the ball is played into them. It is only an offence if the ball hits the foot or body of a player and that player:
• moved intentionally into the path of the ball, or
• made no effort to avoid being hit, or
• was positioned with the clear intention to stop the ball with the foot or body or
• gains benefit.
c. use the foot or leg to support the stick in a tackle.
d. intentionally enter their opponents’ goal or stand on their opponents’ goal-line
e. intentionally run behind either goal

13.1.3 Raised ball
a. intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal
b. intentionally raise the ball so that it lands directly in the circle
Not every ball entering the circle off the ground is forbidden.
A ball which bounces into or lands in the circle after a short distance must be judged solely on the intent or danger.
A ball raised over a player’s stick or body when on the ground, even in the circle, must be judged solely on danger.

c. approach within 5 metres of a player receiving a falling raised ball until it has been played and is on the ground.

d. raise the ball at another player.

The above were the Rules concerning stick use and certain other potentially dangerous actions until 2004. There was an emphasis on player safety within them. That emphasis is now almost entirely missing. Note how many of the above Rules have been deleted or amended in a way that weakened them.

I would like to see a prohibition on the raising any part of the stick above shoulder height by a player in possession of the ball when an opposing player is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it and a similar prohibition when two or more players are competing for a loose ball.

The Rules concerning the playing, particularly the raising, of the ball towards another player should be restored (the Explanation given with the current Rule 9.9. already prohibits this action but it is apparently (but not really there being no limit put on legitimate evasive action) contained within a 5m limit, and this clause is anyway widely ignored.)

Raising the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit, irrespective of intention, should be a prohibited action and raising the ball into the opponent’s circle with any other stroke or even an accidental deflection should be height limited (elbow height ??)

July 16, 2019

Dangerously confused

Rules of Hockey.

9.2 Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a dangerous way.
Players must not lift their stick over the heads of other players.

That would be better put Players must not lift any part of their stick across the heads of other players (or even better over and across the heads of other players), because the published clause does not mean that a player may not raise any part of the stick above the height of the head of an opponent – which is what the previous shoulder height limit meant. What is written is not precisely what is meant (or not the way the Rule is commonly applied), which is potentially confusing.

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. The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.

Umpires almost always order the awarded free ball following dangerous play to be taken from the place where danger occurred – that is not what is written in the Rule Explanation. This has relevance to the penalizing of incidents following, in particular, a scoop pass (or a high deflection) and a falling ball. Sometimes danger occurs where its primary cause happened, sometimes it does not and the placement of the free ball should reflect that difference. 

The video contains a number of different kinds of ‘dangerous ball’ incidents. Some are confusing in (sic)their own right, others cause confusion when compared to similar types of incidents that lead to different (penalty?) outcomes or no penalty at all.

The first incident occurs so quickly that I use only slow-mo of the action and a still. A player in possession of the ball raises the ball at an opponent within 5m and forces him to self defence, Height is not a consideration in these circumstances (raised and within 5m is the Rule criteria) but for completeness, I mention that the ball was raised to above knee height (there is a possibility that there are some participants that believe the ball must be raised to knee height or above for there to be a dangerous play offence – even though this has never been the case, it is a meme)

The ball rebounded a considerable distance from the stick of the defending BEL player and he had to sprint to catch it before it went out of play or was collected by a NED player.

The umpire did not intervene, there was no penalty awarded for this foul, which was the result of deliberately raising the ball with a powerful flick that directed the ball straight at an opponent (the intention of the player who propelled the ball was unknowable – what he did, the action he took, was clear.) The fact that an opponent successfully defends a dangerously played  ball (as defined in the Explanation of Rule 9.9) does not make that raised ball a safe one, there has still been an offence.

The second incident shown is of an obviously accidental deflection off the stick of a defender who was trying to intercept/stop the ball. The ball loops gently into the thigh of a NED player (but again, despite what Charlesworth, said in commentary, height was irrelevant) who I think could have avoided it easily if he had wanted to. A penalty corner was recommended following video referral by the NED team. There was clearly no intent by the defender to raise the ball at the NED player and it is difficult to see how the NED player was disadvantaged by this unintentional breach of the  Explanation given with Rule.9.9.

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous.

Note a flick or a scoop is an intentional stroke used to raise the ball and an accidental deflection may not have been intended to be included as a criterion for offence. But again, a hit stroke is not mentioned – even though Rule 9.9. is about intentionally raised hits – and a raised hit is likely to be at least as dangerous to others as a flick or scoop may be. So we have a dilemma –  between intent of action and type of stroke – why were flicks and scoops mentioned in the Explanation but hits and intentional deflections omitted? The original Rule, by not mentioning a stroke at all, included all means of intentionally raising the ball towards an opponent. But then the original Rule did not include a distance limit either – it was a safer Rule – a ball could be considered to have endangered an opponent from any distance where there was legitimate evasive action. The original Rule with the addition of distance specific height limits would be a much better current Rule.

There is a huge difference between the outcome of this incident (the accidental deflection) and the outcome of the previous incident (deliberately raising the ball towards an opponent with a powerful flick) but I am not suggesting either decision was wrong – just incomprehensible, if actual endangerment and fairness are criteria for the award of a penalty for dangerous play.

The third incident is a high velocity raised edge hit into the circle. I have no doubt at all that this hit was raised intentionally. The BEL player attempting to tackle made a show of avoiding being hit, but I don’t think there a was any possibility of that happening. Nonetheless the raised hit was a foul which disadvantaged the BEL team.

9.9 Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except
for a shot at goal.

A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.       

Although the previous incident was an accidental deflection rather than a miss-hit I think the following has relevance.:-

It is not an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field unless it is dangerous.

We can go around in circles on this. Was the softly deflected ball in the previous incident likely to cause any hurt or injury to the NED player ? If not, then any evasive action should not be described as legitimate. ButA ball is dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action”. What does “causes” mean? What does legitimate mean? (Genuine? Legal? Necessary?) What if evasive action is not taken when the player towards whom the ball is travelling is 1) aware of its path and 2) the ball is not moving fast enough to cause hurt or injury and 3) evasive action could very easily have been taken? Does that not fit with an intention to use the body to stop the ball?

The raised edge hit, judged explicitly on the intent to raise it, was obviously an offence and should have been penalised. It was far more dangerous than the gentle accidental deflection for which a penalty corner was awarded. But umpires have lots of problems with intention because it does not have physical form and it cannot be measured i.e. it is not an objective criterion.

I have problems with edge-hitting; this (picture) is apparently a legitimate edge-hit:-

That looks like back-sticks to me and I think that if edge-hitting is to be permitted – and it obviously is – then the back-sticks Rule ought to be abolished. Then players could hit the ball ‘back-hand’ with a more upright stance and there would be less likelihood of the ball being raised accidentally or raised more than is intended.

The next incident the raise looping deflection into the circle looks, at live speed, to be a ball squeezed up between two sticks coming together on either side of it i.e. a no fault or at least, a no determinable fault, incident. I do not believe that at live speed anyone could have seen exactly what happened. I cannot understand the umpire (who possibly did not see the contact at all) immediately awarding a penalty corner.

Of course the BEL team disputed the award, but the video umpire had no chance of sorting out who was responsible and had no choice but to say “I see no reason to change your decision” If the umpire had initially ordered a free to BEL and the NED team had referred, he would have had to have said the same thing.

In saner times, such deflections resulted in the award of a bully five yards from the circle. Even high deflections up off the protective equipment of a goalkeeper resulted in the award of a bully. For fairness as well as safety these sorts of incidents still should result in the award of a bully restart on the hash circle.

The most dangerous aspect of this incident was ignored. That was the actions of the two players who rushed in to get beneath the falling ball and compete for it by taking a swing at it. The NED player ‘won’ that contest but thankfully he shot wide of the goal (thankfully because a penalty corner had already been awarded) Both players could reasonably have been awarded a yellow card, not least because they continued playing after the whistle had been blown, but also for dangerous play.

The final incident is an ‘air shot’ and I am really confused about it, not least because of this incident:-

Olympic Final Rossario. At the time it happened I was critical that the obstruction was not penalised, but there was also, obviously, dangerous use of the stick by the player in possession of the ball – that too was ignored. The match was restarted with a side-line ball to the NED team???. The injured ARG player had to retire for treatment and took no further part in the match.

Apparently it is not dangerous play to hit a player in the face with a high follow through after hitting the ball (the defender shouldn’t get in the way ???), but it is dangerous play to miss the ball when attempting to hit it, even when no one is endangered by the stick swing. Oh players ducked, but they were not at risk of being hit with the stick on that swing path: the evasion was not legitimate. The striker had firm control of the stick-swing path, it was his timing that was off.

The Rules about a dangerously played ball ought to be among the clearest and fairest in the rule-book, in line with the supposed emphasis on safety. In fact they are a confusing mess, heavily reliant on ‘legitimate evasive action’ which has no clear meaning, and missing objective criteria on height limits and ball velocity.

There isn’t a Rule about dangerous use of the stick which goes much beyond “Don’t use the stick in a dangerous way.” What does that mean? Here is an old video clip of an example of play which I see as obstruction and dangerous use of the stick (a view I have been roundly ridiculed for)

A tackler approaches from front left of the player in possession of the ball (PIP). The PIP turns about the ball to shield it from the approaching tackler, when the tackler is within playing reach of the ball, and then hits at the ball. The stick back-swing of the PIP catches the defender on the head as he attempts to adjust position to play at the ball. The tackler could not reasonably have attempted to go around the other side of the PIP (and into the follow through of the stick after the ball was struck).

The umpire penalised the tackler.

The PIP was obviously aware of the approaching defender and that he was very close when he turned to shield the ball from him (that’s obstruction).

I see the PIP’s use of the stick in the circumstances as dangerous play and I believe we need a Rule which prohibits the raising of any part of the stick to above shoulder height when there is an opponent within playing reach of the ball or within the range of the potential stick-swing of a PIP who is hitting at the ball.

The alternative in these circumstances i.e. when a PIP turns to shield the ball from an approaching opponent, is to say that the opponent may not attempt to play at the ball when it is shielded from him because he is not in a position to play at it. (Under current Rule if no attempt is made to play at the ball there can be no obstruction. An obstruction offence must be forced by means of a tackle attempt). We then arrive at a situation where a ball shielding player cannot be guilty of an obstruction offence because he cannot be tackled – because he is shielding the ball from (obstructing) the player intent on tackling – which is pretty much, looking at current ‘practice’, where we already are.

The combination of ball shielding (obstruction) and reverse edge hitting are a frequent cause of dangerous play and of injury.

July 11, 2019

Forced onto

Rules of Hockey

The deconstruction of the Ball-Body Contact Rule and the Forcing Rule.

Players shall not hit wildly into an opponent or play or kick the ball in such a way as to be dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play or play the ball intentionally into an opponent’s foot, leg or body.

A player shall not stop or deflect the ball on the ground or in the air with
any part of the body TO HIS OR HIS TEAM’S ADVANTAGE.

There is no suggestion in the above Rules (which were in place for decades prior to 1995) that a player who has had the ball intentionally played into their foot, leg or body has committed an offence – on the contrary, an offence was declared to be committed by the player who intentionally played the ball into an opponent.

After 1995 there was some ambivalence about whether or not a player hit with the ball on the foot (so not with a raised ball) had committed an offence, it seems to be suggested (without explanation) that there is an offence but that offence should not be penalised

Post 1995.
Players shall not raise the ball intentionally at another player.

Post 1998 

Players shall not raise the ball at another player.

(A Rule that was ignored for years after the introduction of the drag-flick as a first shot during a penalty corner. It was deleted as a Rule in 2004 – in line with the emphasis on safety??? – and with the addition of a 5m limit, illogically became part of the Explanation of Rule 9.9, which concerns the intentionally raised hit, when the ball is raised with a flick or scoop)

Umpires should be clear in their minds about the ball hitting the
foot, which may not be an offence, and the foot kicking the ball,
which may be an offence.
It is not intended that undue benefit be gained from such contact.

The previous SHOUTING (use of upper case) that (unintentional) ball body contact should not be penalised unless an advantage was gained by the team of the player hit (as is common now, umpires often penalised contact when there was no reason to do so) softened considerably to “It is not intended that undue benefit be gained from such contact”

Ball body contact.

Players shall not intentionally stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their bodies.

It is not an offence if the ball hits the foot or body of a player unless that player:
• has moved into the path of the ball,
(intentionally and without an attempt to use the stick to play the ball ?) or
• made no effort to avoid being hit,

(having clear intention of being hit?)  or
• was positioned with the clear intention of stopping the ball.
(presumably with the body. How positioning with intention to stop the ball with the body could be determined is a mystery.)

Players should not be penalised when the ball is played at them from a short distance.
(How short a distance?)

The comments required in parentheses give an indication of how poorly written these clauses were.

After 2004 the word “intentionally” disappeared from the Ball Body Contact Rule Proper (Rule 9.11) and ‘benefit’ becomes prominent in the Explanation clause. The only other clause in the Rule is a clarification on the ball hitting the hand holding the stick.

Post 2004

9.9 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.

It is not an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player, unless that player or their team benefits from this.

No offence is committed if the ball hits the hand holding the stick but would otherwise have hit the stick.

After 2004 there is a clear change of attitude – and a contradiction. A player hit with the ball because of forcing has now offended, all-be-it unintentionally. Unintentional ball-body contact is now also an offence, a forcing offence merely takes precedence over the contact offence – but the forcing must be clear and intentional – i.e. clearly intentional – a burden umpires proved unable to bear, rarely if ever seeing intent to force contact. This “difficulty” was a reason given for eventually deleting the Forcing Rule. The following Rule was deleted in 2011. The way was then open for players to ‘win’ a penalty with an action that was previously an offence even though the announcement of the deletion stated that any forcing action could be penalised under other Rules. (So why the deletion?)

9.13 Players must not force an opponent into offending unintentionally.

Playing the ball clearly and intentionally into any part of an opponent’s body may be penalised as an attempt to manufacture an offence. Forcing an opponent to obstruct (often emphasised by running into an opponent or by waving the stick) must also be penalised.

The debacle that followed the deletion of ‘Gains Benefit’ and the introduction of ‘Voluntarily’ in place of ‘Intentionally’ in 2007 is the subject of another fun article. Gains an advantage was restored to the rule-book in 2016 (effective by order of the FIH Executive May 2015)

Preface of Rules of Hockey 2011

The changes in this edition of the Rules essentially seek to simplify the game without altering its fundamental characteristics.

The Rule which used to say that “players must not force an opponent into offending unintentionally” is deleted because any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules.

It is difficult to see how a player the ball has been forced into can be said to have offended at all. A forced contact cannot be a voluntary or intentional contact and any advantage gained by the team of the player hit is a result of the player who propelled the ball disadvantaging him or her self. It cannot in these circumstances be fair or proper ever to penalise the player hit with the ball.

The statement that forcing actions can be dealt with under other Rules has not (as it should have) appeared in any rule-book published after the 2011-13 version, so many umpires are now unaware that the forcing ball-body contact ever was an offence (and any such forcing action still is an offence). The “other Rules” under which any forcing action may be penalised have never been specified (but Rule 9.8 and Rule 9.9 are obvious candidates).

None of the many changes (big and small and to and fro) made to the Ball-Body Contact Rule in the past thirty years have made the slightest difference to the way in which umpires have reacted when there has been a ball body contact in contested play. Penalising the player hit with the ball has become ‘automatic’ i.e. done without any consideration of the criteria for offence.

An example of forcing

The NED attacker clearly plays the ball with considerable velocity towards the left foot of the AUS defender in front of him, the AUS defender is backed up by two other AUS defenders so the NED attacker is clearly not attempting a pass with any expectation that the ball will reach another NED player. Such expectation would be unreasonable.

The AUS player defends his foot with his stick but the frame rate of YouTube videos is such that it is impossible to determine if he succeeded or if there was a ball foot contact. If there was contact it was obviously unintentional and gained no advantage for the AUS team. The ball deflects from the first AUS contact and rises into a second AUS defender, again it is not possible to ascertain from frame by frame examination of the video if there was any ball body contact. If there was it was unintentional and did not gain advantage for the AUS team – the ball runs free to the top of the circle and could have been collected by a NED player positioned there.

The possibility of dangerous play – raising the ball towards another player – by the first AUS defender can be discounted, as a recent change to the dangerously played ball Rule makes clear that a player endangering one of his own team in this way should not be penalised as an offence, because that action does not disadvantage opponents (I don’t think the change to be a wise one because attackers often endanger their own team-mates with wild shots at the goal and a injury is an injury no matter who causes it. An emphasis on safety dictates player safety first).

There was no reason for the umpire to award a penalty corner and good reason for him to penalise the NED player for playing the ball at an opponent from close range.
I cannot remember the last time I saw a player penalised for a forcing offence, this offence was not being penalised even long before it was deleted as a separate stand alone offence.

Forcing which is also clearly a breach of part of the Explanation of Rule 9.9 – raising the ball into an opponent within 5m.The ARG player could have played on with advantage but made no attempt at all to do so. Despite these clear reasons not to penalise the player hit with the ball the umpire did so, awarding a penalty corner.

 

Tags:
July 9, 2019

The destruction of the Obstruction Rule.

Rules of Hockey.

The explanation of application of the current Obstruction Rule states:-

1) A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction.

I’ll change the order in which the three clauses are presented, this is the third in the rule-book:-

2) A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this is third party or shadow obstruction).

The part in parenthesis should (in my opinion) read  this may also be third party or shadow obstruction because such actions may also be ball shielding by a player in possession of the ball (blocking) or carried out as an obstructive tackle coming from behind the tackled player and imposing the body between that player and the ball.

The clause below was the last amended.

3) A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

A player with the ball here is assumed to refer not to a player who is in the act of receiving the ball, but to one who has received the ball and has it under control.

When the exception to the Obstruction Rule, which permitted a closely marked player to receive the ball without immediately being in breach of the Obstruction Rule (that is without having first to create space to receive the ball without obstructing an opponent – usually by means of a lead run), was first introduced, instruction was given about what the receiving player had to do once the ball was in control, given that in these circumstances the receiving player, then in controlled possession of the ball, had an opponent positioned directly or almost directly behind (sic) them, i.e. within playing reach of the ball in what would previously have been considered an obstructed position.

Having collected the ball, the receiver must move away in any direction (except, of course, bodily into the tackler).

That instruction was fairly loose because it gave no indication of the distance the ball holder (having received the ball) must move away or the speed of such movement. But common practice at the time was that the ball needed to be moved immediately and rapidly beyond the playing reach of any marking defender or the ball had to be immediately passed away beyond playing reach. Critical was “must move away” the ball holder having received the ball was not allowed to dwell on it in a stationary position or indeed to dribble it away at, for example, walking speed – because that would not reasonably be considered to take the ball beyond the reach of any opponent intent on making a tackle for the ball.

The above fairly sensible instruction given in the Rules Interpretations did not last long. Two years later we were presented, without explanation for the change, with:-

Having collected the ball, the receiver may move away in any direction (except, of course, bodily into the tackler).

That is neither a directive or a prohibitive statement, it gives no instruction about moving the ball away or moving away with the ball, except not to move bodily into a tackler. It does not oblige the ball holder to move at all. From this moment on the Obstruction Rule began to fall apart as multiple personal ‘interpretations’ of the meaning of the above clause were applied. It is from this body of ‘interpretation’ that the idea that a stationary player could not obstruct arose – and persisted – despite later instruction to umpires to watch for players who “stand still and shield the ball when under pressure

Then we had A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent in the Rule Explanation – is permitted to move means exactly the same as may move (but “off” does not mean exactly the same as “away” – it is, if anything weaker) why the change to the wording was made is unclear, again no explanation was offered.

But, finally, in 2009, we had the addition of an extension to that clause:-

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it. Which is a current Rule Explanation of Application clause.

That means that a player who has received and controlled the ball may not then move into a position between an opponent and the ball, that is with the ball within the playing reach of an opponent who is attempting to play at it (such moving would naturally include backing towards and moving the ball into the playing reach of an opponent while shielding it, because such moving is not excluded)- and of course a ball holder may not remain stationary in a blocking position with the ball within the playing reach of an opponent who is attempting to play at it – see the clause numbered 2) above. The 2009 amendment seems however to have come too late, by the time it was enacted umpires had become accustomed to allowing receiving players to do as they liked once the ball was in control – and they continued doing what had become an easy habit – all the ‘onus’ (to get unobstructed) had long been transferred to the tackling player, the 2009 amendment was largely ignored and remains so.

But nonetheless the Rule as written means that static blocking or a very small movement to shield the ball from an opponent can be an obstructive offence.

Here is a subtle example of obstructive play from the 2018 World Cup- Aus v Ned . There is very little movement by the ball holder but he commits three offences.

The Aus player receives the ball with his stick near horizontal to make a strong secure stop.

He then moves his left leg forward and then plants his right foot to his right making contact with and blocking off the stick of the Ned defender who is trying to tackle – this is an offence.

He moves across until he has completely blocked off the Ned defender with his body. This is moving into a position between the tackler and the ball and is his second offence (the first being stick interference). He makes no attempt at all to move off or move away from the defender with the ball once it is in his control. His obvious first legitimate direction of movement with the ball would have been to his left, as the defender was to his right rear, however he chose not to try and outrun the defender but to try immediately to make space for a shot.

The Aus player now uses a reverse stroke to feint to his right with the ball.

Then moves to his left as he leans back bodily into the tackler (an offence) and pivots off his right foot. In stepping back he traps the stick of the defender between his legs – because the defender had reached for the ball between the legs of the Aus player who was blocking his path to the ball (there is no ‘onus’ on a tackler to position to tackle or to go around a ball shielding opponent – that ‘interpretation’ was deleted post 2003) The tackler here had no opportunity anyway to move around the ball holder’s left side (and to do so would have opened the way for a free reverse edge shot) and if he had attempted to move around the ball-holders right side he would have given him a free forehand shot at the goal – he had in the circumstances to stay behind the ball holder and attempt to play at the ball from that position.

Having tangled himself with the defender’s stick the Aus player became impeded with it and made an off-target shot that went off the end of the pitch. There was therefore no need to penalise his obstructions or the physical contact as these offences did not ultimately disadvantage the Dutch team, but I doubt the umpire would have penalised the attacker anyway (if he had achieved an on-target shot). Very few umpires appear to understand the words

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

As meaning:-  A player with the ball is not permitted to move bodily into an opponent or into a  [blocking/shielding] position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it – which the wording clearly does mean.

Once a receiving player has control of the ball he or she then becomes ‘a player with the ball’ and there is no further exception to the Obstruction Rule; any further ball shielding that prevents an opponent playing at the ball, when that opponent is demonstrating an intent (attempting) to play at the ball and would otherwise have been able to do so, is an obstruction offence.

I was surprised that the umpire did not award a penalty corner against the Dutch team for a contact tackle by the defender, even if that would have been incorrect, as Aus player’s entanglement with the defender’s stick was caused by his own turning action. Some umpires seem to regard any sort of tackle attempt as an offence. (See video below – which is another example, far more blatant, of obstruction by a player in possession of the ball, which was not penalised – but the the shadowing defender was penalised, which was absurd.)

Here we go again. Big butt skills.

June 30, 2019

Penalty Corner Rules should be amended or deleted

Rules of Hockey.

Replacing the Penalty Corner with a Power Play, This article is a near duplicate of one I wrote previously on the subject – which has now been deleted,.

Preliminary suggestions for the procedure for the taking of a power play, which it is proposed will replace the present penalty corner.

Penalty Corner

Rule 12.3. a-e Rule 13.3. a-m Rule 13.4. Rule 13.5. a-g Rule 13.6. Rule 13.7. a-f

Action. Deletion and replacement with a Power Play

Reason. The Penalty Corner, never reasonably safe, has been allowed to become stupidly dangerous and also to have a ‘stranglehold’ on the publicizing of the game, the playing tactics of it and even the development of the hockey stick (for the drag-flick). Video of match ‘highlights’ often contains little more than a showing of the taking of penalty corners – not even showing what led to the award of these corners.

There has been talk of replacing the Penalty Corner for at least twenty years (in fact ever since the drag-flick became as powerful a shot as an undercut hit) and even some limited trials of a Power Play in 9’s Tournaments (in which a substantially wider goal was used) have taken place, but no real will to change anything is evident. Nothing mandatory or worldwide has been imposed; certainly nothing like the extraordinary long Experimental Period given to the introduction of edge-hitting (over much protest at its introduction). There is always the excuse that next year (or this year) is a World Cup (or an Olympic) year and the qualifying tournaments (which must, to be seen as fair, be always in the same format for all teams), and which appear to be near continuous, are always “in the way”. On top of that we now have professional tournaments (perhaps a way in?). The quest and demand for spectacular goals (for television), seems to be an obstacle rather than an opportunity to try something different.

The only information I have about the workability of a Power Play (one where the score ratio is not either 99% or 1% ) has been obtained from reading the Rules of the Australian Lanco 9’s and from watching YouTube videos of game highlights from a few of these tournaments. What I read and saw conflicted in several areas with my own preliminary thoughts and previous writing about a possible format. For example in the Lanco 9’s the number of defenders (three rather than four), the very limited time (30secs) and the permitting of addition attackers to make (a gut wrenching) run from the half-way line, to join in the attack (but apparently prohibiting the defenders to increase their numbers in the same way – but I may be wrong about that) is very different from what I expected or envisaged.

My preliminary ideas included four defenders (including a goalkeeper) v five attackers, ball inserted to outside the 23m line and then passed in, with play then continuing between just those nine in the 23m area, with a time limit from commencement (insert of the ball) of one minute or until a goal was scored or the ball was put out of play or out of the 23m area (with various options for continuation or restart of play after that) or one or other side committed an offence.

Normal open play Rules, no first hit-shot height limit. The use of a new Goal Zone to prevent both goal-hanging by attackers and goal blocking by defenders, no player other than the goalkeeper permitted to remain on the goal-line. This format gives scope for the development of an indoor style passing game during a power play.

All the ‘bits and pieces’, reasons to award, continuation at half and full time etc. etc. already exist for the penalty corner and much can be directly transferred. A power-play even begins in a familiar way, with the ball being inserted from a position on the base-line 10m from either of the goal-posts and the attacking side must then devise a way of making a scoring shot. The significant difference is that the ball is played to a position outside the 23m line rather than to outside the line of the shooting circle. The expectation is that the inability of the attackers to set up an immediate shot at the goal will significantly reduce the endangerment of the defending players.

So what is holding up other trials? Perhaps it is the fact that the present Penalty Corner Rule has a great many clauses and a replacement that splits the two teams into four groups and needs to be timed, requires even more clauses and nobody can be ‘bothered’.

If it isn’t broken why fix it ?” is a common attitude to any suggested Rule change, but the penalty corner is ‘broken’; it has never been acceptably safe and is now unreasonably dangerous and the way the dangerous play Rules are applied within it (some being overridden) is grossly unfair. There may also be (certainly will be) resistance to the disappearance of the drag-flick, but it is mainly (but not entirely) the development of the drag-flick and the fact that absolutely nothing has been done to constrain the use of it, that has made the introduction of an alternative to the penalty corner an urgent necessity.

We have an absurd situation, where even if not hit towards an opposing player, a first hit shot during a penalty corner will be immediately penalised if raised above 460mm, but a ball flicked (at around 100mph by experts) at an opponent, that hits that opponent on the head, usually results in penalty against that defending opponent because of an advantage gained for the defending team (the prevention of a goal), instead of penalty against the attacker for dangerous play. That isn’t even rational – never mind reasonable – and the absurdity of it is obvious when it is realized that attackers using drag-flicks often deliberately target defenders on the goal-line with head high shots (usually by firing over-high (above 460mm) flicks ‘through’ out-running defenders) – they are actually coached to do so.

If the drag-flick is constrained, that is objective criteria concerning the propelling of the ball at an other player in a dangerous way, are introduced (there is hope for that now that drag-flickers have discovered that a low flick is as often as successful as a high flick – or more so) it may not be necessary to do more to the penalty corner than ‘tweak’ it a bit (introduce shooting height limits when the ball is propelled towards an opponent) – but discussion of the dangerously played ball has become as heated and as irrational as the gun control debate in the USA is. There is no sign of any drag-flick safety measures being introduced, they are not even discussed, there is a refusal to discuss this issue.

The current Rules: Penalties. Penalty Corner

A reading of the current Rule can be skipped by the reader, but it is necessary to include it here for comparison purposes.

13.3 Taking a penalty corner:

a the ball is placed on the back-line inside the circle at least 10 metres from the goal-post on whichever side of the goal the attacking team prefers.

b an attacker pushes or hits the ball without intentionally raising it

c the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must have at least one foot outside the field.

d the other attackers must be on the field, outside the circle with sticks, hands and feet not touching the ground inside the circle

e no defender or attacker other than the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to be within 5 metres of the ball when the push or hit is taken

f not more than five defenders, including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges if there is one, must be positioned behind the back-line with their sticks, hands and feet not touching the ground inside the field

If the team defending a penalty corner has chosen to play only with field players, none of the defenders referred to above has goalkeeping privileges.

g the other defenders must be beyond the centre-line

h until the ball has been played, no attacker other than the one taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to enter the circle and no defender is permitted to cross the centre-line or back-line.

i after playing the ball, the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must not play the ball again or approach within playing distance of it until it has been played by another player.

j a goal cannot be scored until the ball has travelled outside the circle

k if the first shot at goal is a hit (as opposed to a push, flick or scoop), the ball must cross the goal-line, or be on a path which would have resulted in it crossing the goal-line, at a height of not more than 460 mm (the height of the backboard) before any deflection, for a goal to be scored

The requirements of this Rule apply even if the ball touches the stick or body of a defender before the first shot at goal.

If the first shot at goal is a hit and the ball is, or will be, too high crossing the goal-line it must

be penalised even if the ball is subsequently deflected off the stick or body of another player.The ball may be higher than 460 mm during its flight before it crosses the goal-line provided there

is no danger and provided it would drop of its own accord below 460 mm before crossing the line.

l for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous

A defender who is clearly running into the shot or into the taker without attempting to play the ball with their stick must be penalised for dangerous play.

Otherwise, if a defender is within five metres of the first shot at goal during the taking of a penalty corner and is struck by the ball below the knee, another penalty corner must be awarded or is struck on or above the knee in a normal stance, the shot is judged to be dangerous and a free hit must be awarded to the defending team.

m the penalty corner Rules no longer apply if the ball travels more than 5 metres from the circle.

13.4 The match is prolonged at half-time and full-time to allow completion of a penalty corner or any subsequent penalty corner or penalty stroke.

13.5 The penalty corner is completed when:

a a goal is scored

b a free hit is awarded to the defending team

c the ball travels more than 5 metres outside the circle

d the ball is played over the back-line and a penalty corner is not awarded

e a defender commits an offence which does not result in another penalty corner

f a penalty stroke is awarded

g a bully is awarded.

If play is stopped because of an injury or for any other reason during the taking of a penalty corner at the end of a prolonged first or second half and a bully would otherwise be awarded, the penalty corner must be taken again.

13.6 For substitution purposes and for completion of a penalty corner at half-time and full-time, the penalty corner is also completed when the ball travels outside the circle for the second time.

b the player taking the push or hit from the back-line feints at playing the ball, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line but is replaced by another attacker : the penalty corner is taken again.

If this feinting leads to what otherwise would be a breach of this rule by a defender, only the attacker is required to go beyond the centre-line.

c a defender, other than the goalkeeper, crosses the back-line or goal-line before permitted, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced by another defender : the penalty corner is taken again.

If a defender at this or any subsequently re-taken penalty corner crosses the back-line or goal-line before permitted, the offending player is also required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced

A penalty corner is considered as re-taken until any of the conditions of Rules 13.5 and 13.6 for its completion are met

A subsequently awarded penalty corner, as opposed to a re-taken penalty corner, may be defended by up to five players

If a defender crosses the centre-line before permitted, the penalty corner is taken again

d a goalkeeper, or player with goalkeeping privileges, crosses the goal-line before permitted, the defending team defends the penalty corner with one fewer player : the penalty corner is taken again

If a goalkeeper, or player with goalkeeping privileges, at this or any subsequently re-taken penalty corner crosses the goal-line before permitted, the defending team is required to nominate a further player to go beyond the centreline, and they cannot be replaced

A penalty corner is considered as re-taken until any of the conditions of Rules 13.5 and 13.6 for its completion are met

e an attacker enters the circle before permitted, the offending player is required to go beyond the centreline : the penalty corner is taken again

Attackers who are sent beyond the centre-line may not return for re-taken penalty corners, but may do so for a subsequently awarded penalty corner

f for any other offence by attackers : a free hit is awarded to the defence.

Except as specified above, a free hit, or penalty stroke is awarded as specified elsewhere in the Rules.

 

Suggestion.

There are several Rules and many clauses to each Rule, preliminary amendment always leads to expansion of the number of clauses as sorting takes place and then duplication is reduced or eliminated. This instance is no exception. Numbering, syntax, tense, plural and singular etc. etc. will take several readings to sort out and these readings will have to be done at well spaced intervals and hopefully by a number of different individuals to overcome ‘blind-spots’.

There is also the introduction of a goal-zone – employed in a different way to the way it is suggested it be used in open play – and the splitting of the attacking team, in particular, into those involved in the power play and those not. In addition the timing of a power play is a new issue and there is also an effect on match timing. Substitution during a power play is to be permitted and the conditions that have to be met need to be described. For these reasons and also because this is a preliminary proposal, there may be some duplication and while many more Rule clauses have been added, not as many (from the penalty corner) have been deleted, so the suggestion is lengthy.

Whether or not it is necessary to be concerned about defenders breaking early or attackers moving early into the 23m area is debatable. The metre or so sometimes gained by such premature breaking is unlikely to be a significant advantage or disadvantage when a shot at the goal cannot be set up for immediate execution anyway, so such ‘breaking’ is probably not critical to outcome, but I have left these prohibitions and the penalties for them in place for the moment as they make for a ‘tidy’ if pedantic procedure. Numbering of the Rules and clauses needs amending, that is a detail I have not paid much attention to at this early stage (mainly because any subsequent addition or subtraction of clauses throws the numbering out of kilter and it has to be redone).

The proposal can be enacted without using a goal-zone if some other workable way to prevent crowding of the goal-line can be suggested.

Useful comment and suggestions welcome

Power play.

13.3 Power play procedure:

a. A goal can only be scored when the ball has travelled outside the 23m area and has then been played back into the shooting circle by one of the nominated attackers.

b The ball is placed on the back-line inside the circle at least 10 metres from the goal-post on whichever side of the goal the attacking team prefers.

c An attacker pushes or hits the ball to another attacker, positioned outside the 23m line, commencing the power play (The placement of the feet of the inserting player is not prescribed)

d Three defenders will be position behind the base-line and outside the goal-zone, the goalkeeper will position behind the goal-line.

e The other defenders will be positioned on the field and behind the half-way line

f Only the goalkeeper may defend the goal from within the goal-zone during a power play, the other three defenders are not permitted to enter the goal-zone

g Four attackers will be positioned on the field and behind the 23m line, a fifth attacker will insert the ball from the baseline.

h The other attackers on the field must be outside the half-way line.

i No player other than the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to be within 5 metres of the ball when it is taken

j Until the ball has been played, no attacker other than the one taking the push or hit from the back-line is permitted to enter the defensive 23m area and no players beyond the half-line are permitted to cross it.

k After playing the ball, the attacker taking the push or hit from the back-line must not play the ball again or approach within playing distance of it until it has been played by another player.

l. Immediately the ball is played back into the 23m area by a second attacking player positioned behind the 23m line, the attackers and defenders initially positioned behind the half-way line may move up to the 23m line of the defending team, but may not cross it until the power play is completed. (this allows rapid transference to normal play if the ball is put out of play over a side-line by either team or played back over the 23m line by the defending team)

m Only an attacker in possession of the ball may enter the goal-zone during a power-play; that attacker must immediately move out of the goal-zone if possession of the ball is lost or that attacker makes a pass to another attacker.

n No shot at the goal may be made in a way that is contrary to Rule 9.8. Dangerously played ball. (see separate suggestion for a proposed Rule)

13.4

Time and timing

On award of a power play match time is stopped.

There is separate timing of the power play.

Defenders should have no need to ‘kit up’ as they do now but thirty seconds will be allowed for both teams to prepare for the penalty.

The attacking side have one minute in which to try to take advantage of their numerical superiority by scoring a goal. The timing of the minute starts as the ball is put into play by an attacker from the base-line at the commencement of the power play.

If the one minute of time permitted expires while the ball is still in play the power play is terminated, and the defending team will restart play with a free ball to be taken from a position in front of the goal on the 23m line. Match time is restarted when the 23m ball is taken (“taken”, here, below and elsewhere, means a stationary and correctly positioned ball is moved by the player taking the free ball or restart – the introduction of a second whistle would remove all doubt about when a free or restart is taken).

When a power player is considered completed in the following circumstances, time is restarted as described in each case.

a A goal is scored – time is restarted when the restart on the centre spot is taken

b A free-ball is awarded to the defending team – time is restarted when the free-ball is taken.

d The ball is played over the back-line by an attacker – 15m ball to defending team – time is restarted when ball is moved by the player taking the 15m

e The ball is played over the back-line by a defender. A 23m restart for the attacking team opposite the place the ball when out of play – time is restarted when the 23m re-start is taken (this assumes that a ball played intentionally over the back-line by a defender will no longer be considered to be any different for restart purposes than one accidentally played out)

f A penalty stroke is awarded – if a goal is scored from the penalty stroke then as (a). if a goal is not scored then as (d)

g A bully is awarded – time is restarted when the sticks of the players engaged in the bully touch.

h If the umpire orders the resetting of a power play the timing of the initial power play will cease and one minute will then be allowed for the completion of the re-set power play as it commences. Match time will remain stopped until the re-set power play (and any subsequent re-set) is either completed or terminated and an open play restart takes place.

Exception. Where goal difference between the teams is five goals or more, match time will not be stopped when a power play is awarded but the power play will be time limited.

i. If an attacking player plays the ball out of the 23m area for a second time normal play resumes immediately

j. If a defending player plays the ball over the 23m line normal play resumes immediately.

k. When the ball is put out of play over a side-line by either a defender or an attacker the power play is terminated and match timing resumes when the side-line ball is taken.

Time extensions.

l The match is prolonged at half-time and full-time to allow completion of a power play or any subsequent power play or penalty stroke.

m If play is stopped because of an injury or for any other reason during the taking of a power play at the end of a prolonged first or second half, the penalty corner must be re-set.

13.5 A power play is completed when:

a a goal is scored

b a free-ball is awarded to the defending team

c the ball is played over the 23m line for a second time

d the ball is played over the back-line.

e time to complete the power play expires

f a penalty stroke is awarded

g a bully is awarded.

h. when the ball is put out of play over a side-line.

13.6 Feinting by attackers and premature moving into the power play area by attackers or defenders.

Attackers or defenders who are sent beyond the centre-line for a breach of this Rule may not return to participate in a subsequently re-set power play, but may do so for a power play subsequently separately awarded as penalty for any offence under Rule 9 Conduct of play.

b If the player inserting the ball from the back-line feints at playing the ball, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line : the power play is re-set but will then taken with only four participating attackers

c. If during a re-set power play, re-set because of feinting by the player inserting the ball, the attacker then making the insert also feints at playing the ball a free ball opposite to the goal and on the 23m line will be awarded to the defending team.

if feinting to play the ball leads to what otherwise would be a breach of this rule by a defender, only the attacker is required to go beyond the centre-line.

d If a defender, other than the goalkeeper, crosses the back-line or goal-line before being permitted to do so, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced by another defender : the power play is re-set.

If a defender at this re-set power play or any subsequently re-set power play crosses the back-line or goal-line before being permitted to do so, this offending player (unless the goalkeeper) will also be required to go beyond the centre-line and cannot be replaced

If a defender crosses the centre-line or 23m line before being permitted to do so, the power play may be re-set if the umpire considers the action to have disadvantaged the attacking side. A warning or a caution may in any case be given to this player.

e If a goalkeeper crosses the goal-line before being permitted to do so, the defending team will be required to nominate a player to go beyond the centre-line, and that player may not be replaced for the re-set power play. The defending team will defend the re-set power play with one player fewer.

If a goalkeeper, at this re-set power play crosses the goal-line before being permitted to do so, the defending team will be required to nominate a further player to go beyond the centre-line, and that player may not be replaced for the re-set power play. The goalkeeper should be warned that subsequent contravention will result in the award of a green card.

Should any defender cross the goal line or base line before being permitted to do so during a power play previously re-set for the same kind of offence, a warning or caution should be given as well as sending the player behind the centre line or to the bench. For a third infraction a penalty stroke should be awarded.

f If an attacker who is a member of the five initially engaged in the power play enters the 23m area before being permitted to do so, the offending player is required to go beyond the centre line and may not be replaced : the power play is re-set.

g If an attacker who is a member of the five initially engaged in the power play enters the 23m area before being permitted to do so, during a power play previously re-set for a similar offence, a free-ball will be awarded to the defending team.The free ball will be taken from in front of the goal and on the 23m line.

h If an attacker who was initially positioned behind the half-way line moves into the 23m area before a power play is completed a free ball will be awarded to the defending team on the 23m line in a position opposite to the goal.

i if a defender who was initially positioned behind the half-way line moves into the 23m area before the power play is completed the power play may be re-set if the umpire considers that the action disadvantaged the attacking team. Even where the power play is not re-set the player concerned should be cautioned or warned on the first occasion.

A power play is considered as untaken or incomplete until any one of the conditions of Rules 13.5, 13.6, and 13.7 for its completion or voidance is met.

13.7 Illegal entry into the goal-zone

a If a defender enters the goal-zone during a power play and in so doing prevents a goal or denies opportunity to an attacker to score a goal a penalty stroke will be awarded.

b If a defender enters the goal-zone during a power play but this action does not disadvantage the attacking side a re-set of the power play may be ordered at the discretion of the umpire. In the event of a re-set the offender will be sent behind the half-way line and may not be replaced for the defense of the re-set power play. Even if the power play is not re-set the defending player should be cautioned or warned on the first occasion there is such a transgression.

c If an attacker makes illegal entry into the goal-zone or illegally remains in the goal-zone instead of vacating it as quickly as possible, a free ball will be awarded to the defending side, to be taken opposite the goal on the 23m line.

13.8. Substitution during a power play.

Re-set power plays must be executed and/or defended by players remaining from the initial nine participants unless injury disables one or more of them.

Substitution because of injury will be permitted for the re-setting of a power play only from the players who were on the pitch at the time the initial power play was awarded and who are still on the pitch.

When a power play is awarded substitution is permitted by either team immediately the power play commences. No player substituted onto the field of play after a power play is awarded may participate in that power play or in any re-set of it because of breaches of Rule 13.6. but may participate in a subsequently awarded power play for any offence under Rule 9. A player substituted off the pitch at the commencement of a power play may not participate in a re-set of that power play.

That is a fair bit to ‘chew on’ and I doubt that I have covered everything that needs regulation, but a start needs to be made somewhere if any desirable change is to be achieved . I also referred above to a second whistle and a goal-zone, both of which I had previously presented articles about when I first wrote this article.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/30/suggested-introd…ewrite-rule-9-14/

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/14/a-second-whistle/

 

It is also necessary to consider replacing the award of a penalty corner with a less severe alternative penalty for several accidental occurrences and actions that are not offences (e.g. ball trapped in equipment, or ball deflected up off a goalkeeper or another defender’s stick in the circle). Most of these were previously dealt with by the award of a bully and could now be more fairly result in the award of a free ball to opponents on the 23m line.

Other bits.

The deletion of the prohibition on playing a free into the circle when it is awarded to be taken within the 23m area, is essential to free the game up and improve flow (it is a silly restriction not least because it has no counterpart in open play): as is the deletion of the raft of 5m restrictions surrounding the free ball, especially when it is taken as a self-pass. Only the repositioning of the ball outside the hash circle when an offence is penalised between the hash circle and the shooting circle need be retained (restored), because the advantage of a free close to the line of the shooting circle, without 5m limits, would otherwise be greater than the award of the present penalty corner.

Interim  measures.

The safety of the present penalty corner could be improved if the criteria for a dangerously played ball were added to as suggested in this recent article.

https://martinzigzag.com/2019/06/16/which-rules-shou…leted-part-one-6/

June 21, 2019

Umpiring Rules should be amended

Rules of Hockey

11.1 Two umpires control the match, apply the Rules and are the
judges of fair play.

11.2 Each umpire has primary responsibility for decisions in one
half of the field for the duration of the match.

11.3 Each umpire is responsible for decisions on free hits in the circle,
penalty corners, penalty strokes and goals in one half of the field.

For a few years now I have been advocating that the number of officials officiating a hockey match ought to be increased to five. I give my reasons via the videos in this article. Please watch the videos, navigating back to the WordPress article is a simple matter of closing a tab or using the back button.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/06/19/the-number-and-p…-match-officials/

The second part of this same article also suggests the introduction of the use of a second whistle to restart play when an umpire has blown the whistle to award penalty or a side-line ball has to be taken.

11.6 Umpires blow the whistle to:
a start and end each quarter of the match
b start a bully
c enforce a penalty
d stop the time after the awarding of a penalty corner
e re-start the time before the taking of a penalty corner
f start and end a penalty stroke
g indicate a goal
h re-start the match after a goal has been scored
i re-start the match after a penalty stroke when a goal was not scored
j stop the match for the substitution onto or off the field of a fully equipped goalkeeper and to restart the match on completion of the substitution
k stop the match for any other reason and to re-start it
l indicate, when necessary, that the ball has passed wholly outside the field.

It amuses me to see this ‘comprehensive’ list of reasons for an umpire to blow the whistle presented, while in other areas the Rules Committee have declared such comprehensive listing to be unnecessary (too wordy) or too difficult.

Tags:
June 21, 2019

Throwing Rule should be amended

Rules of Hockey.

9.16 Players must not throw any object or piece of equipment onto
the field, at the ball, or at another player, umpire or person.

I have several times seen a player throw his stick at a ball, sometimes when it was still in the possession of an opposing forward, inside the circle and going towards or into the goal, when the player who threw his stick was outside the circle.

In about half of the instances the ball was missed and a goal was scored, but in the other instances a goal was prevented. In these latter cases the umpire was able to issue a personal penalty (as he could also in the instances in which a goal was scored) but could not award a penalty-stroke because the action of the offence did not take place in the circle, even if the effect of that action did.

This to me seems unfair. I believe that if a defending player throws his stick at the ball from outside the circle with the intention of preventing a goal, and succeeds in that intent, a penalty stroke (as well as a personal penalty) ought to be awarded. This of course also requires an exception to the Rules regarding penalties.

 

10a Goalkeepers are permitted to use their stick, feet,
kickers, legs or leg guards or any other part of their
body to deflect the ball over the back-line or to play
the ball in any other direction.

I have recently seen goalkeepers in International Level matches freely using their hand protectors to bat the ball away towards one side-line or the other and i supposed that an alteration had been made to the Rule that forbade a goalkeeper forcefully playing the ball away using a gloved hand or a hand protector. Certainly that prohibition has disappeared but this is one of those few occasions when I think the FIH Rules Committee did not go far enough.

I see no good reason why a goalkeeper should not be allowed to swing his arm to present a hand protector to the ball, in the same way he is allowed to swing his leg, to use the kicker, to impart velocity and distance to any ball he is playing away from his goal area from anywhere in the circle. This use of the arm/hand is in fact likely to be safer and more accurate than the use of the leg and leg-guard with kicker. Why shouldn’t a goalkeeper launch a counter attack with a ball propelled high and long with a hand-protector after swinging it forcefully at the ball?

 

June 20, 2019

Ball body contact Rule should be amended.

Rules of Hockey

Suggestion. The Rule needs a different approach. I have written a suggested replacement which I hope will provide that different approach. The emphasis, contained in an exception, is on ball body contact by a player who is in possession of the ball, rather than by a defender who is trying to tackle for or to intercept the ball.

9.11 Field players must not intentionally stop, deflect, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.

There is no offence committed if the ball simply hits the foot, hand or body of a field player, play should continue unless the player hit with the ball intended to use the body to stop or deflect the ball or is injured.

Where there is injury caused by a ball contact and there was no intent to use the body by the player hit (or intent is not discernible) and there has been no forcing of contact or dangerous play by opponents, the game should be restarted with a bully.

Exception.1. Unless there is forcing of contact or prior dangerous play by opponents, for example a shot at the goal made in a dangerous way or the ball is illegally raised into the player hit, the umpire will properly penalise a player hit with the ball, even if the contact is entirely unintentional by the player hit, if that ball contact directly prevents the ball going into the goal of the team of the player hit and thereby prevents the award of a goal. The penalty will be a penalty stroke. The penalty is awarded on the basis of an undue and unfair gain of benefit from the contact.

With instances of unintentional ball-body contact by a player not in possession of the ball there are no other exceptions.

If a player in possession of the ball plays it into the legs or feet of an opponent and is disadvantaged because of that contact the umpire has no reason to intervene. The umpire’s only concern will be that the playing of the ball into a player does not injure, endanger or otherwise disadvantage that player. ‘Losing control of the ball’ so that it runs into the feet of an opponent is not a skill and nor is passing the ball into the feet of an opponent, that is a miss-pass.

If a player intentionally raises the ball into the feet, legs or body of an opponent that player should be penalised with a personal penalty and the team of the player hit awarded a free ball (for opponent’s deliberate dangerous play, a breach of the conditions of Rule 9.9). 

If a ball played along the ground is intentionally forced into the feet of a defender play should continue unless the defender is injured or otherwise unfairly disadvantaged, in either case a free ball will be awarded to the player hit.

Intention to use the body to stop or deflect the ball should be judged in as objective a manner as possible. Intentional contact will, for example, be generally foot to ball rather than ball to foot.

A player who is moving along the flight path of the ball, rather than laterally into the flight path of it after it has been propelled, and who is presenting the stick to try to intercept the ball (an out-runner during a penalty corner for example), has not demonstrated an intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball.


A player who moves laterally into the flight path of the ball, after it has been propelled, while clearly attempting to use the stick to play the ball and is hit, has not intentionally used the body to stop or deflect the ball. That there was an intent to use the body must be clear and certain before a player hit with the ball may be penalised for use of body. Intent should not be assumed simply because a player hit with the ball was in a position where he or she could be hit.

Exception 2. Should a player in possession of the ball make body contact – usually foot or leg contact – with the ball, and that player or a member of that player’s team retains or regains possession of the ball, and the same team are then able to continue their attack, that may be considered an unfair advantage and a free ball awarded to the defending team at the place the contact occurred or, if that was in the opponent’s circle, a 15m ball should be awarded. It is not necessary, however, in line with the Advantage Rule, to penalise such contact if the opposing team has not been unfairly or unduly disadvantaged by it.

The emphasis is moved from requiring a defender who is ‘attacked’ with the ball to have the skill to defend his or her feet (often an impossibility if the defender is at the time attempting a tackle for the ball), to requiring a player in possession of the ball to have the skill to not lose control of it with the stick and make contact with it with part of their body.

Goalkeepers.

Goalkeepers are not permitted to throw the ball. Goalkeepers are not permitted to pick the ball up – raise the ball off the ground – by gripping it in any way, nor are they permitted to hold the ball to the ground in any way except with the stick (but without thereby preventing an opponent from playing at the ball), by for example, lying on it or by trapping and holding it under a kicker. These latter ball-body contact actions will be considered obstructive play and penalised as such.

The current Rule

9.11 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or
carry the ball with any part of their body.

It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

It is not an offence if the ball hits the hand holding the stick but would otherwise have hit the stick.

 

 

I think this Rule ties with the Obstruction Rule as the most badly applied Rule in the rule-book but the Ball-body contact Rule is more miss-applied (applied when it should not be) and the Obstruction Rule the least applied when it should be applied. In third place I would put the Rules concerning a dangerously played ball – again not applied when they should be.

It might be thought that a rewording of the Rule might improve the matter*, for example restoring the word “intentionally” to the Rule Proper rather than referring to intent only in the Explanation of Rule Application (the part in italics).
*The matter is an apparent belief that any and all ball foot contact in particular, but any and all ball body contact by a player, is an offence that should be penalised unless there is a very substantial advantage to be gained by the opposing team by not penalising. There is large body of support for this utterly wrong interpretation of the current wording. The truth is that the majority of ball-body contacts are inconsequential and play should just be allowed to continue without interruption. That is the intent behind The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way. But current practice is to see all ball-body contact as a gain of advantage and all defensive positioning (on the goal-line for example) as positioning with an intent to use the body to stop the ball if it is missed with the stick. Both of these views have been strongly advocated on Internet hockey forums by senior umpires.

Video examples in this article on the same subject :-

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/29/if-only-only-if/

but my researches have led me to the conclusion that a change to either the wording of the Rule Proper or the wording of the Explanation is not the answer. Here is a Rule instruction that was contained in rule-books prior to 1998.

Players should not be penalised when the ball is played at them from a short distance.

It was completely ignored by umpires and the FIH dealt with that by removing the instruction.

The Rule proper was briefly amended to say that for a ball-body contact to be an offence the contact had to be deliberately made and (not or) gain an advantage for the team of the player who used his body to stop or deflect the ball. Umpires ignored that too, they just carried on penalising ball-body contact as they habitually had previously. That change was quickly withdrawn, probably because the difference between what was given in the Rule and umpiring practice was so obvious it was embarrassing.

The following two clips show even clearer examples of no intent, no advantage gained. In the first clip the first and second penalty corners resulted in a shot that hit the outside of the defender’s foot, which was positioned outside the goal-post, before going out of play over the base-line. The second clip requires no further comment.

.

.


Players who have been active participants for about fifteen years will remember (before and after) the replacement of “intentionally” with the word “voluntarily” and the attempt by the FIH Rules Committee, post 2006, to remove “gains benefit” from the criteria for this offence.

This resulted in the Chairman of the FIH Umpiring Committee ‘overruling’ the FIH Rules Committee (an impossibility) and insisting that “gains benefit” be continue to be applied as it was in 2006, even though the term no longer appeared in the Rule in the published rule-book.

(“Gains an advantage”, a much older wording, then replaced “Gains benefit” in the rule-book, but not before 2016, a gap of eight years). This saga gives a good idea of the stranglehold the FIH Umpiring Committee, who do not have the authority to make or amend Rule or the Interpretation of Rule, have on umpiring practice – which many if not most umpires follow as if it is (has to be) correct Rule and correct Interpretation.

“Gains benefit” was a blanket ‘catch-all’ with many umpires following the idea that any ball body contact would always gain an advantage for the team of the player who made the contact – even if the contact was forced – which is why the FIH Rules Committee wanted to remove it. But removing it completely was a mistake, it simply needed amendment in the hope of achieving a more realistic application. There are occasions when an unfair advantage is gained by a ball-body contact, but this is very rarely the case when the contact has been intentionally forced by an opponent and such forcing is anyway an offence, despite the deletion of the stand alone Forcing Rule. Forcing offences are supposed to be dealt with under other Rules.

 

 

 

 

 

June 19, 2019

Falling ball Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey

9.10 Players must not approach within 5 metres of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball until it has been received, controlled and is on the ground.

The initial receiver has a right to the ball. If it is not clear which player is the initial receiver, the player of the team which raised the ball must allow the
opponent to receive it.

The above Rule statement makes an assumption that the following earlier version does not make.

A player receiving a raised ball must be given the opportunity to
play it safely. If the receiving player is clear of other players at the
time the ball is raised, no players of the opposing team should
approach within 5 metres until the ball has been received,
controlled and is on the ground. Any [opposing] player doing so should be
penalised.

If the receiving player is clear of other players at the time the ball is raised The current Rule appears to assume that no defending player is within 5m of the intended receiver at the time the ball is received and makes little provision for dealing with situations where a defending player is close to – marking – the intended receiver at the time the ball is raised (a circumstance that means that the intended receiver cannot be the initial receiver). What action does “allow to receive” direct an opponent to take? None at all.

I played in Germany a number of hockey festivals in my younger days and recall vividly the difficulty the British players had in dealing with the interpretation of “If the receiving player is clear of other players at the time the ball is raised” that seemed to apply there. It seemed to work on the basis that a receiver should be in so much space at the time the ball was raised that no opponent could get to within five yards him (even if they tried to do so) before he received the ball – in these circumstances there were few direct passes but many passes into space beyond the receiver for him to run onto (this was easier at the time because there was still an off-side Rule and a high scoop pass could sometimes ‘spring’ an attempted off-side trap). The idea of passing with a high scoop pass directly to a team-mate who was level with an opponent and only six or seven yards away from him, shocked the German players and their umpires would not allow it (we were advised not to try to make direct passes). Any player who made what was seen as a dangerous scoop pass (because of the proximity of opponents to the intended receiver) was penalised at the place from which he raised the ball.

Back in the UK in the 1970s as a center-half I could, in contrast, accept a centre re-start pass-back and launch a high aerial to fall into the opponent’s circle between the penalty spot and the goal while the attackers in my team charged in to punish any defender (often only the goalkeeper) who failed to control or direct the ball away with the first touch .  On the following occasion the right-winger tended to be available and expecting a similar pass. That practice was ‘hit on the head’ with the reintroduction of the Rule to forbid raising the ball into the circle (which had been extant in my school days) – so the flanks got more service- that Rule has now been deleted, yet again, following the introduction of the Rule forbidding (but not really – “forget lifted”) an intentionally raised hit.

Anyway offside was abolished but the Rule the parameters concerning receiving an aerial ball were not amended in any way. These days penalty in nearly all circumstances is awarded at the place a high raised pass is landing – the exception is endangerment of an opponent as the ball is raised (but that is not penalised nearly enough)

Nowadays players seem to be allowed to play an aerial pass to a teammate who is perhaps no more than three meters from his nearest opponent and opponents charge right in as the receiver tries to play at the ball – long before it is in control on the ground – usually without penalty.

In this situation there has recently been Rule change to permit the playing of the ball at any reachable distance above shoulder height. At a time when more aerial passes are played than at any time in the past and the results are potentially more dangerous, the Rule is ‘fuzzy’ and what there is of it is poorly applied. I took full advantage of being able to drop aerial passes like mortar-bombs on hapless defenders who were offered no protection by umpires from the actions of in-running attackers. I expect current players to do the same kind of thing when given the opportunity. But this kind of dangerous play (going from poacher to gamekeeper) can be prevented with clear and enforced Rule. The start point has got to be the conditions under which a direct aerial pass with a scoop or flick will be permitted, but there are a number of common and complicated scenarios that need to be ruled for.

An aerial pass is made with a flick or scoop stroke or an intentional deflection. An aerial pass (‘aerial’ will be used to denote the ball being raised at the apex of its flight to a height beyond the reach of the sticks of players) may not be made by a player directly to a member of the same team (the intended receiver) if the intended receiver is not at least five meters from the nearest player of the opposing team at the time the ball was raised. Penalty a free ball or penalty corner if the passer is within his own 23m area, against the team of the player who made the aerial pass.

When a legitimate direct aerial pass is made, opposing team players may not close to be within three meters of the receiver until the ball has been played twice with the stick of the receiver or has been played away by the receiver beyond the receiver’s immediate playing reach (or two meters). Penalty for non-compliance, a free ball to the team of the receiver at the place the ball fell, with a yellow card if the ball is contested for while it is still in the air.

Where an indirect aerial pass is made (so that the ball will fall to ground a minimum of five meters from the position the intended receiver was in at the time the ball was raised) and the intended receiver will be the first player to reach the position in which the ball will fall, opposing players, even if they were previously contesting to reach that position first, must immediately and quickly withdraw to be at least three meters from the receiver until the receiver has played the ball twice with the stick or has played the ball away beyond his immediate playing reach. Penalty for non-compliance, a free ball to the team of the receiver at the place the ball fell, with a yellow card if the ball is contested for while it is still in the air.

Where an indirect aerial pass is made and an opposing team player will be (is) the first to reach the position in which the ball will fall, then the intended receiver (the same team as the passer) must be the one to withdraw. Penalty for non-compliance, a free ball to the defending team at the place the ball fell, with a yellow card if the ball is contested for while it is still in the air.

An aerial ball may not be played directly into the circle so that it is still above elbow height as it crosses the circle line.

For the purpose of this Rule an aerial pass that hits ground and bounces high into the circle must be treated as if it had been played directly into the circle. 

Where the ball is lofted accidentally and will fall into the circle, having crossed the circle line at above elbow height,  from a deflection for example, a free ball will be awarded against the team of the player who deflected the ball at the place of the deflection.

I probably have not addressed all of the many possible variations and may need to revise the above suggestion at a later date.

 

June 18, 2019

Raised Hit Rules should be amended or deleted.

Rules of Hockey

9.9 Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal.

A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.

It is not an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including
a free hit, anywhere on the field unless it is dangerous.

If the ball is raised over an opponent’s stick or body on the ground, even within the circle, it is permitted unless judged to be dangerous.

This Rule was preceded by two others.

First a long established Rule.
A player shall not deliberately raise the ball so that it will fall into the circle

Followed by:-

A player shall not deliberately raise the ball from a HIT, except for a shot at goal.

Which was introduce at a time when raising the ball safely with a hit was perfectly legal, but because (sic) the new ultra stiff carbon fibre reinforced sticks introduced in the early 1980s, facilitate the making of very high pitch length clip or chip hits (from one circle to the other) this quickly led to some very unsafe hitting of lofted balls as well as some ball exchanges that looked more like base-line tennis than hockey. There were also of course an increase in the numbers of instances where there were issues about the receiving of what is now referred to as an aerial ball (a term that has never appeared in any rule-book). It was not necessary to prohibit the raising of the ball with a hit, an absolute height limit of shoulder height would have served the purpose.

We then lost the prohibition on raising the ball into the circle (with a hit) (This was previously a Rule which had forbidden the raising of the ball into the circle with any stroke) because the prohibition was seen as unnecessary if the ball could only be raised with a hit when taking a legitimate shot at the goal.

We then had this written into the UMB.
Blow only in dangerous situations everywhere on the pitch -forget lifted, think danger., which contrasts sharply with:-

A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.

‘Forgetting’ that the ball that the ball has been illegally raised unless it is also raised dangerously overlooks that an illegally raised ball may have disadvantaged opponents even if it did not endanger any of them – and that is of course unfair.

In any case the UMB should not contradict the Explanation of Application provided with the Rule.  A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.

(I believe whoever drafted that explanation meant to  write “specifically” rather than “explicitly”, because “explicitly” does not make sense in this context).

Umpires generally avoid applying Rule 9.9 anyway (except when the raised ball has very obviously endangered an opponent i.e.  injury is caused) by declaring that they cannot be certain of an intention to raise the ball (just as they declared they could not be certain of an intention to force a ball-body contact onto an opponent when the forcing Rule was extant). The result is that it is now not at all unusual to see players using edge hits and forehand chips and undercut hits into an opposing team’s circle without penalty.

The problems with this Rule can be solved by going back to the original intent – preventing the raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle – but with several differences.

1) Introduce an absolute height limit on any ball raised with a hit in the area outside the opponent’s circle (this could be shoulder height)

2) All raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit is prohibited in all phases of play irrespective of danger or intention. Intention to raise the ball into the opponent’s circle is irrelevant, it is an offence even when there is no intent i.e. it is accidental, the result of a miss-hit or a deflection.

3) Raising the ball into the opponent’s circle with a flick or scoop to be height limited (sternum or elbow height)

4) All raising of the ball in the areas outside the opponent’s circle to follow the criteria for Dangerous Play laid out in Rule 9.8.

5) All shots at the goal to follow the criteria for Dangerous Play laid out in Rule 9.8.

6) A shot at the goal that is not also made directly at an opponent is not height limited.

The above provides a framework for the legitimate and illegitimate raising of the ball with a hit or flick or scoop.

 

 

June 17, 2019

Dangerous Play Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey.

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

Use of stick. It is not possible to get perfect fit with current Rule numbering and past Rule numbering because not only did the numbers change the Rule topics were arranged in different groupimgs, so there is now a need for a bit of back and forth. The current Rules separate stick use and a dangerously played ball into two Rules. I am trying to deal with all dangerous play under one Rule.

9.2 Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a
dangerous way.
Players must not lift their stick over the heads of other players.

Previous Rule said more about what dangerous use of the stick was considered to be. There was also a separate Rule which forbade using the stick to trip a player.

Rules of Hockey

A player shall not raise any part of his stick above his shoulder,
either at the beginning or at the end of a stroke, when approaching, attempting to play, playing the ball, or stopping the ball.

That was later amended and expanded.

A player shall not lift the stick over the head of or raise his stick in a
manner that is dangerous, intimidating or hampering to another player when approaching, attempting to play, playing or stopping the ball. A ball above the height of a player’s shoulder shall not be played or played at by any
part of the stick. (For goalkeepers see Rule 12.11(c).)

 

A player shall not play the ball wildly, or play or kick the ball in such a
way as to be dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play, nor play the ball intentionally into any part of an opponent’s body, including the feet and legs.

The last clause in 2004 became a separate Forcing Rule which for some unexplained reason was deleted in 2011.

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

As an aside, It was several times in the early part of my playing days permissible to use the hand to catch the ball (the facility was introduced and withdrawn and then reintroduced repeatedly- so there was obviously some ambivalence about allowing it ) as long as neither the hand or arm was moved after the ball was caught and it was then released immediately so that it fell perpendicularly to ground. (just as it was permitted at one time to trap the ball with the instep of the foot or to trap it under the sole. Again the ball had to be released immediately without imparting movement to it and then next played with the stick).
f) A player shall not stop the ball with his hand or catch it.(For goalkeepers see Rule 12.11(c).)

The fact that the FIH HRB are ‘shouting’ the following instruction is an indication that not all umpires were allowing self defence with the hand.

(THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS RULE WHICH PREVENTS A PLAYER USING HIS HAND TO PROTECT HIMSELF FROM A DANGEROUSLY RAISED BALL.)

Use of the hand was last allowed in the stopping of the ball on the ground after insert during a penalty corner. It was discontinued when it was no longer a requirement that the ball be stopped during a penalty corner before a shot was attempted.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I think this from the earlier Rule to be a more satisfactory wording.

A player shall not lift the stick over the head of or raise his stick in a
manner that is dangerous, intimidating or hampering to another player when approaching, attempting to play, playing or stopping the ball. Nor shall a player A player, play the ball wildly, or play or kick the ball in such a
way as to be dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play, nor play the ball intentionally into any part of an opponent’s body, including the feet and legs.

A small adjustment is needed – A player shall not lift the stick over and across the head of .…… the blanket ban on any raising of the stick above shoulder height can then be amended to prohibit raising the head of the stick above shoulder height when an opponent is (at the start of the stroke) or will be (at the end of the stroke) within playing distance of the ball and is attempting to position to tackle for the ball. At present tacklers get almost no protection at all. The current approach seems to be “It’s their own fault.”

This is an example of the Rules going from one extreme to another. In previous times I saw umpires who were daft enough to penalise a player taking a free ball for ‘sticks’ when no opponent could be within five yards of the taker.
Readers may remember the nasty cut an Argentinian defender received to her face during the London Olympic Final when she was obstructed and tried to reach around the obstructing Dutch player to play at the ball – and got a stick-head into her cheekbone as the result of a high follow through when the ball was hit. Incredibly the restart after that incident was from a side-line ball to the Netherlands team. (It is incidents like that that fuel my strong aversion to ball shielding tactics).

The only times players are now penalised for dangerous stick swings is when they make an ‘air-shot’ when within the playing reach of an opponent. Missing the ball is not an offence, so that does not make a lot of sense, especially when tackling players often have to evade a stick swing when the ball is struck with a hit. This is a example of play where legitimate evasive action does have a place.

Dangerous physical contact.

Rule 9.3. indicates that all physical is prohibited, end of.

Where physical contact also endangers an opponent, the umpire should be awarding at least a yellow card and also a penalty corner where that is permissible. Deliberate contact offences with high risk of injury to an opponent are Red card offences.

June 16, 2019

Dangerously Played Ball Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey.

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

While playing or attempting to play at the ball a player will possibly  endanger another player as a result of :- 1) the way in which the ball is propelled 2) the way in which the stick is used 3) bodily contact.

I am not in favour of the recent change that confines endangerment to opposing players, on the basis that a player who endangers a team-mate has not disadvantaged opponents, that does not fit with an emphasis on safety. Staff in hospital emergency treatment rooms are not concerned about who was responsible for an injury during a game, only that there is an injury that needs treatment – that is the attitude umpires need to adopt in order to try to prevent injuries occurring.

A player may even recklessly endanger him or her self by, for example, attempting a tackle with a headfirst dive directly into the feet of an opponent. This sort of recklessness must be discouraged with penalty because it is irresponsible.

(Many years ago I issued a yellow card to a player who was hit on the head with an opponent’s stick while attempting a tackle in this way as the opponent was in the act of hitting at the ball. He needed to go off anyway to have his injury treated but the “Don’t do that” message needed to be sent).

Dangerously propelled ball.

A ball has been dangerously propelled when it puts another player at risk of injury, that is obvious, but the Rules as presently written do not require injury or even the potential for injury for there to be dangerous play. We have this from the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9.

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick
or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or
scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is
considered dangerous.

There is nothing in that Explanation about height or velocity so it is far too severe to be applied literally in every instance and this instruction is thus widely ignored by umpires, the problem with that is that even when flicks and scoops are made at high level and at high velocity towards other players umpires tend to continue ignore this type of endangerment. A second issue with this Explanation is that there appears to be no constraint on any raising of the ball towards another player from beyond 5m. One has only to look at the way in which drag-flicks are propelled during a penalty corner to see how ridiculous this is.

It also needs to be pointed out that a dangerously played ball is defined in Rule 9.8. as a ball propelled in such a way as to cause an opponent to take legitimate evasive action: there is no distance limit given for legitimate evasive action, ergo evasive action is legitimate in any circumstance where a player is obliged to evade the ball to in order to avoid injury, irrespective of the distance of that player from the ball at the time it was propelled. Obviously over distances in excess of twenty or thirty metes a ball will lose velocity and opponents will have ample time to play at it with the stick. But to apply the same criteria to a ball that has been propelled at another player at high velocity, from say six meters, is absurd when the ball may be traveling at a velocity in excess of 120 kph. Umpires are advised several times in the UMB to apply common sense. This is an area where common sense is absent and a Rule change is required.

Ignoring the Rules written by the FIH Rules Committee is connived at by the FIH Umpiring Committee in these two statements in the UMB under the heading Ball off the ground.

Blow only in dangerous situations everywhere on the pitch –
forget lifted, think danger
Low balls over defenders sticks in a controlled manner that hit
half shin pad are not dangerous

These statements directly contradict both Rule 9,9 and the Explanation of what constitutes dangerous play given in the Explanation of Rule 9.9. This is direct contradiction in what is the most important aspect of an umpire’s role – fair play coupled with player safety. There is actually more about dangerous play written in Rule 9.9, which is about an intentionally raised hit, than there is in Rule 9.8. But I will get to Rule 9.9. next.

What needs to be done to rectify the first part of the present Rule 9.8. is obvious, but putting the obvious into clear instructions and then into a Rule is not so easy.

It is also obvious that umpires who apply the ‘standard’ at an opponent within 5m and at knee height or above are not applying the provided Rule about a dangerously raised ball, but adding to it the part of the Penalty Corner Rule which is relates to a first hit shot made during a penalty corner (probably because there is no other objective criterion offered anywhere in the Rules – shoulder height is mentioned in the rule-book, but that height is obviously inappropriate).

They are not going to stop doing that, the habit is too ingrained, so the Rule needs to be reformulated using additional distances, both less than and greater than five meters, and additional heights, both less than and greater than knee height. Ball velocity also needs to be used as a criteria.

We can start at what is supposed to be the current position – any ball raised towards an opponent within 5m is a dangerous play offence (note intent to raise the ball into an opponent is not a consideration for offence if the action occurs).

That is silly, because there is no mention of height or velocity, and it is easy to see why the FIH Umpiring Committee have contradicted it – even though they have no authority whatsoever to do so and should instead have liaised with the FIH Rules Committee to obtain an amendment.

Old Rule is in someways better:-

A player shall not hit [the ball] wildly into an opponent or play or kick the ball in such a way as to be dangerous in itself, or likely to lead to dangerous play.

How often we see a wild strike at the ball that propels the ball ‘through’ an opponent ‘justified’ as a shot at the goal.

So to start,

Any ball raised towards an opponent from within two meters, at above shoe height and at any velocity, will be considered an offence if it hits the opponent – provided of course that the opponent does not clearly intentionally stop the ball with his or her body when the ball would otherwise not have hit it.

In effect the offence of Forcing is restored but not exactly as it was – height is mentioned, intent is not.

Any ball raised towards an opponent from within five meters, at knee height or above and at a velocity that could cause pain or injury to that opponent will be considered a dangerous play offence. This includes shots made at the goal.

Any ball raised towards an opponent from within twenty meters, at sternum height or above and at a velocity that could cause pain or injury to that opponent will be considered a dangerous play offence. This includes shots made at the goal.

I have abandoned legitimate evasive action as a criterion. It is a subjective judgement which is used to define another subjective judgement (dangerous) and as such is inadequate and totally inappropriate. The only person who can really know if evasive action is legitimate, when the ball is propelled directly at him or her, is the player the ball is propelled at. Evasive action is only obviously not legitimate when the ball would not have hit the ‘evading’ player anyway.

Now to consider “or leads to dangerous play”. The current Rule is the result of a change to wording, that used to read (as above) “or likely to lead to dangerous play” which I think was better because it allowed an umpire to judge for potentially dangerous situations and intervene before there was any actual danger – which if done properly is obviously fairer and safer. Now it seems an umpire has to wait until there is dangerous play following an action that leads to it – which does not fit with an emphasis on safety. I see no reason why these clauses cannot be joined, so we get ” leads or is likely to lead to dangerous play” umpires can then determine their own margins of risk of danger actually occurring.

What are the potentially dangerous actions we are considering? The three most common are probably lofting the ball with a scoop or flick stroke so that it falls into an area where it will be immediately contested for by opponents who are already occupying that area – the subject matter of Rule 9.10, which I will get to in a following post. The second, which is seldom penalised,  is ‘blasting’ the ball directly towards an opponent from close range. This does not really need further comment – it’s clear reckless play, done without any consideration for the safety of another player. The third is bouncing the ball on the stick while ‘taking on’ and trying to ‘beat’ one or more opponents – which I will address here.

There is previous Advice to Umpires on this subject, at one time in the back of rule-books, which might now be considered ancient, but which could (with modification) usefully be resurrected.

The practice of carrying or bouncing the ball on the stick is
disapproved, because it becomes dangerous play when
the player concerned is tackled by an opponent, who is then
forced to play the ball in the air. Whenever it is continued to
this point it should be penalised.

Contesting for the ball in the air is discouraged in other Rule and it makes sense to uniformly discourage it. All that needs to be added to the above text is a height to which the ball may be raised and bounced without attracting penalty for actual or potentially dangerous play. Knee height seems to me to be an appropriate height; much above that and an opponent’s swing at the ball is likely to cause a stick inflicted injury as well as likely to cause the ball to go high. High ball bouncing – say at about elbow height – may look spectacular, but it is no more skillful than beating an opponent along the ground and besides it is a hurling skill not a hockey skill and while I am not opposed to importing team formations and tactics from a game like association football, I am opposed to adopting some of the playing techniques of that game, such as physical contact and ball shielding and I don’t want to see inappropriate practice imported from other games.

Different Rules make for different games and a hockey ball is too hard and heavy (compared to a hurling sliota) to have it much in the air in contested situations. Besides, having taken part in hurling matches (where the sliota is in the air for at least 30% of the time), I can tell you that one of the attractions of the sport for most of the participants is knocking ‘seven bells’ out of opponents with the hurl while pretending to be trying to obtain the sliotar, the game is like a mix of hockey and rugby with no discernible limitations on physical abuse as long as, ostensibly, the sliotar is being contested for. Off the ball fighting, enjoyable as that may be, is not allowed, but of course it frequently occurs in that sort of environment – just as it does in ice-hockey, where it is also part of the spectacle hugely anticipated by fans. Both of these sports have ‘best fights’ videos online.

I have seen it asserted that in ball bouncing circumstances in hockey matches (to return to near civilization) that it is a tackling defender who causes danger; that’s partially true, but it misses two points. Firstly, if a defender is not permitted to tackle an opponent who is bouncing the ball because that will be dangerous, that puts the defender unfairly at a disadvantage because of action taken by an opponent – that’s unfair – and no Rule should be inherently unfair. Secondly, the player bouncing the ball will likely breach the second part of Rule 9.8. “or play leading to dangerous play.” The dangerous play led to can be by the player who created the initial potentially dangerous situation or an opposing player.

As this post is now lengthy I will consider dangerous use of the stick and dangerous use of the body in subsequent posts.

June 16, 2019

Above Shoulder Ball Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey.

9.7 Players may stop, receive and deflect or play the ball in a
controlled manner in any part of the field when the ball is at
any height including above the shoulder unless this is
dangerous or leads to danger.

In the year before the above Rule was introduced it was mandatory to award a penalty corner against a defender who attempted to play at an above shoulder height ball that was going wide of the goal. The FIH Rules Committee then leapt to the opposite extreme and now pretty much allow a free-for-all when a ball is falling into the area close to and directly in front of the opponents goal, because high shots at the goal are very rarely penalised and most attackers, given the opportunity and especially in congested situations, will take a volley shot at the goal rather than play the ball to ground and then take a shot.

The above Rule unnecessarily introduced several dangers which had not previously been present .
All that was required was an amendment which would allow a receiving player in free space to receive a ball while it was still above shoulder height and play it in control to ground.  There was no need for a facility to allow a free receiver to play (a very wide term) the ball away (perhaps as as a hit  pass or shot at goal) or to deflect the ball away (as a pass or shot at goal) while it was still above shoulder height.

This Rule also ran contrary to an undertaking made by the FIH Hockey Rules Board at the time off-side was deleted from the Rules (1997), to introduce measures to constrain the actions of attackers close to the goal. The above Rule does the opposite. I have written an article suggesting a goal zone which would provide a small measure of protection to defenders,particularly to goalkeepers who are often unfairly crowded by opponents in the goalmouth.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/30/suggested-introd…ewrite-rule-9-14/

I wrote that article as a suggestion for a replacement to Rule 9.14, so there is no need for me to address that Rule again in this series of posts.

So rewriting Rule 9.7 I suggest:-

9.7 Players may intercept and play a ball in the air directly and safely to ground and into their own control and, where that ball is above shoulder height, safely onto a path where they alone will be able to chase and collect it. A ball may be intercepted at any height the player can reach with the stick in the air (it will be acceptable to jump to reach the ball with the stick).

A player may not hit or deflect the ball away beyond his or her playing reach while it is still above shoulder height, for example, as a pass or a shot or beyond where it can be reached and controlled before any opponent has opportunity to contest for it – so a player may control such a ball only into free space and where it is easily reachable by that same player.

A ball in the air that is below shoulder height when received may be played or played away in any manner that does not endanger another player.

A player may not under any circumstances play or play at a ball that is above shoulder height when he or she is in the opponent’s circle.

 

June 16, 2019

Intimidation and Impeding Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey

9.4 Players must not intimidate or impede another player.

The above Rule is a mix of disparate statements which seem to have little to link them and it is hard to see why they were cobbled together in one Rule with no Explanation at all.

Intimidation seems to have more to do with endangerment or potential endangerment, and impeding more to do with third-party obstruction and perhaps with physical contact.

The only thing they certainly have in common is that they are very rarely penalised under this Rule. Only once in my time as an umpire did I penalise a player for intimidation. They can both be transferred to more appropriate Rules and this Rule deleted.

9.5 Players must not play the ball with the back of the stick.

I have been advocating the abolition of the offence of ‘back-sticks’ for more than thirty years, from even before edge hitting was introduced. Now that we have edge hitting retaining a back-sticks Rule makes no sense at all.  Abolishing this Rule will allow the development of a much wider range of stick-work skills and will also enable the 10% of the population who happen to be left-handed to easily play with the right hand at the top of the stick and hit on their forehand off their right foot rather than their left.

9.6 Players must not hit the ball hard on the forehand with the
edge of the stick.

This is a silly Rule because it hangs off the subjective judgement of the meaning of ‘hard’ rather than objectively looking at what the effect of the hit is on the ball- the result of the hit.

I think that edge hitting should be permitted from both sides of the stick and of the body, but that any ball propelled in this way should be height limited, even when making a shot on goal. I suggest sternum height as a limit which is approximately elbow height or 120cms on a male senior. This height is easily marked on a goal with an elasticated tape running across each goal-post from the back of the post and then around the back of the net. Female players and juniors could use lesser heights (perhaps 110cms and 100cms respectively).

These height limits and goal marking will fit in with suggestions related to a dangerously played ball which I will come to in Rule 9.8.

June 15, 2019

Physical Contact Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey.

9.3 Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other
players or their sticks or clothing.

There are a number of Rules within Conduct of play that prohibit the making of physical contact. The Explanation of Application of the Obstruction Rule, for example, prohibits moving bodily into an opponent and Rule 9.13 below:-

9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball
without body contact.

is entirely unnecessary given Rule 9.3. but it is odd in another way too, it forbids a tackle attempt unless the tackler in a position to play the ball without body contact, when advice to umpires given in the UMB the Umpire Manager’s Briefing for Umpires at FIH Tournaments, to give this document its full title, suggests that umpires should not follow this Rule:-

Do not penalise if the tackler initially appears to be in an
impossible position from which to make a legal tackle.

So the umpire must await contact, which is also contrary to Rule 9.3. The UMB should never contradict Rule and where this does happen the FIH Rules Committee and the FIH Umpiring Committee should liaise and delete one or the other instruction. As the Rule have Executive approval and the UNB does not, it should normally be the conflicting UMB Advice that should disappear, but in this case I suggest the deletion of both Rule 9.13 and the Advice in the UMB.

Rule 9.3 should specify physical or contact interference, rather than just interference and then we are done describing the prohibition of physical contact in hockey.

June 15, 2019

Teams Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey

9.1 A match is played between two teams with not more than
eleven players of each team on the field at the same time.

That used to stipulate that one of the players on each team had to be a fully equipped goalkeeper wearing at least a helmet, leg-guards and kickers. These days “fully equipped” would reasonably include groin protection, gloves or hand protectors and a chest protector. It would not be unreasonable to require a throat protector and elbow protectors.

The requirement that there be a fully equipped goalkeeper was deleted because it was said that in some countries individuals or clubs could not afford to buy this equipment. That puts the emphasis on cost rather than on player safety and that should be unacceptable.

At present we have a number of complicated substitution Rules which allow a player with (limited) goalkeeping privileges, a (PWGP) sometimes known as a kicking-back, additionally protected only with a helmet, to guard the goal, while at the same time being an additional field player. This is not good enough, when opposing attackers feel free to propel the ball at a PWGP as if he or she were fully protected and umpires allow them to do so.

I suggest the substitution of a PWGP for a fully equipped goal-keeper be abolished as unsafe.

There is a need to research a cheaper way to produce HD foam or to make cheaper goalkeeping equipment in the cane and leather style but using lighter and stronger materials.

9.2 Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a
dangerous way.

That means that a player cannot continue to take part in a hockey match if he or she has dropped their stick, they cannot interfere with the play of opponents in any way – which is fair enough.

But the second part “and not use it in a dangerous way” is appallingly vague and the provided ‘Explanation’ that a player must not lift the stick over the head of an opponent is ambiguous and insufficient. What constitutes dangerous use of the stick should be set out clearly in a section of Rule 8 Dangerous play and not just ‘thrown away’ as if an afterthought. So possession of a stick needs expanding and the second part needs to be transferred and incorporated within Rule 9.8.

There have been more than sufficient serious injuries caused by high stick. swings to give serious consideration to limiting the height to which the head of a stick may be raised when there is or will be an opponent within the swing arc of the stick before or after a ball is played. At the moment players shaping up to strike at a ball are often getting away with deliberate intimidation or are playing without any regard for the safety of opponents, this needs to be addressed.

 

 

June 15, 2019

Liability Rules should be amended.

Rules of Hockey.

“If they are not broken why fix them?” Is a criticism I have often had leveled at my suggestions for Rule changes. I have two replies. “I think they are broken” (then hopefully the suggested change will demonstrate in what ways the Rule in question is inadequate) or “Do you wait until a car has to be abandoned by the side of a road before you think of doing maintenance to it?” When a warning light comes on (when there is indication of a fault) that is the time to take action.

The Rules of the game will never be perfect but there is need to adjust them so that they are fair and the practiced application of them does not unnecessarily endanger participants.

To begin.

9 Conduct of play : players
Players are expected to act responsibly at all times.

The responsibility statement above has been re-positioned and reworded. Both these actions have weakened it so that it hardly registers with readers of Rule 9 Conduct of Play.  If we go to the first page of the rule-book we find the following important declaration. 

Responsibility and Liability
Participants in hockey must be aware of the Rules
of Hockey and of other information in this publication.
They are expected to perform according to the Rules.
Emphasis is placed on safety.

Everyone involved in the game must act with consideration         for the safety of others.
Relevant national legislation must be observed.
Players must ensure that their equipment does not
constitute a danger to themselves or to others by virtue
of its quality, materials or design.

Participants are gives four Rules in that declaration but most of them are unaware of that, which is ironic. They used to be given six. The two altered/missing ones could be written. Players must perform in accordance with the Rules. Players must act responsibly at all times.

I believe there is a good case for restoring the two Rules to the statement about Responsibility and Liability and for repeating (and expanding), in numbered clause form, all of the above Rules within Rule 9.8, which should be about dangerous play in general and not just about a dangerously played ball. I would remove the ‘invisible’ expectation now at the head of Rule 9.,  so I start with a deletion.

Rule 9.8. Dangerous play requires a great deal of expansion, even if that means repeating instructions about danger attached to other Rules. This fits with the supposed emphasis on safety – which presently does not exist.

June 15, 2019

Which Rules should be amended or deleted? – Prelim.

Rules of Hockey.

I am going to confine this article to Rules 9, 10 and 11 Conduct of Play and Rule 12 Penalties. In other words to the Rules all participants should know if they are to take part in the game with comprehension of what they and others are doing.

Initially I will ignore the provided Explanation of Rule application but later (in Part One) make full suggestion for these Explanations (Instructions). I would also like to see changes to match duration and to the Rules of substitution but will deal with those in another article. The Rules of Conduct of penalties will also be dealt with in another article.

I highlight in red the Rules which I feel need either amendment or expansion or replacement or deletion. I will make no further comment about those that are not highlighted

9 Conduct of play : players
Players are expected to act responsibly at all times.

9.1 A match is played between two teams with not more than
eleven players of each team on the field at the same time.

9.2 Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a
dangerous way.

9.3 Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other
players or their sticks or clothing.

9.4 Players must not intimidate or impede another player.

9.5 Players must not play the ball with the back of the stick.

9.6 Players must not hit the ball hard on the forehand with the
edge of the stick.

9.7 Players may stop, receive and deflect or play the ball in a
controlled manner in any part of the field when the ball is at
any height including above the shoulder unless this is
dangerous or leads to danger.

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

9.9 Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except
for a shot at goal

9.10 Players must not approach within 5 metres of an opponent
receiving a falling raised ball until it has been received,
controlled and is on the ground.

9.11 Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or
carry the ball with any part of their body.

9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting
to play the ball.

9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball
without body contact.

9.14 Players must not intentionally enter the goal their opponents
are defending or run behind either goal.

9.15 Players must not change their stick between the award and
completion of a penalty corner or penalty stroke unless it no
longer meets the stick specification.

9.16 Players must not throw any object or piece of equipment onto
the field, at the ball, or at another player, umpire or person.

9.17 Players must not delay play to gain benefit by time-wasting.

10 Conduct of Play, Goalkeepers.

10.1 A goalkeeper must not take part in the match outside the 23
metres area they are defending, except when taking a penalty stroke.
Protective headgear must be worn by a goalkeeper
at all times, except when taking a penalty stroke.

10.2 When the ball is inside the circle they are defending and
they have their stick in their hand:

10a Goalkeepers are permitted to use their stick, feet,
kickers, legs or leg guards or any other part of their
body to deflect the ball over the back-line or to play
the ball in any other direction.

10.3 Goalkeepers must not lie on the ball.

10.4 When the ball is outside the circle they are defending,
goalkeepers are only permitted to play the ball with their
stick.

11 Conduct of Play. Umpires

11.1 Two umpires control the match, apply the Rules and are the
judges of fair play.

11.2 Each umpire has primary responsibility for decisions in one
half of the field for the duration of the match.

11.3 Each umpire is responsible for decisions on free hits in the circle,
penalty corners, penalty strokes and goals in one half of the field.

11.4 Umpires are responsible for keeping a written record of
goals scored and of warning or suspension cards used.

11.5 Umpires are responsible for ensuring that the full time is
played and for indicating the end of time for each quarter
and for the completion of a penalty corner if a quarter is
prolonged.

11.6 Umpires blow the whistle to:

11.7 Umpires must not coach during a match.

11.8 If the ball strikes an umpire, unauthorised person or any
loose object on the field, play continues (except as
specified in the guidance to Rule 9.16).

12 Penalties.

12.1 Advantage : a penalty is awarded only when a player or
team has been disadvantaged by an opponent breaking the
Rules.
12.2 A free hit is awarded to the opposing team:
a for an offence by any player between the 23 metres
areas
b for an offence by an attacker within the 23 metres area
their opponents are defending

c for an unintentional offence by a defender outside the
circle but within the 23metres area they are defending.

12.3 A penalty corner is awarded:
a for an offence by a defender in the circle which does
not prevent the probable scoring of a goal.

b for an intentional offence in the circle by a defender
against an opponent who does not have possession of
the ball or an opportunity to play the ball.

c for an intentional offence by a defender outside the circle
but within the 23 metres area they are defending.

d for intentionally playing the ball over the back-line by a
defender

Goalkeepers are permitted to deflect the ball with
their stick, protective equipment or any part of
their body in any direction including over the back-line.
(This clause can be amalgamated within Rule 10)

e when the ball becomes lodged in a player’s clothing or
equipment while in the circle they are defending.

12.5 If there is another offence or misconduct before the
awarded penalty has been taken:
a a more severe penalty may be awarded
b a personal penalty may be awarded
c the penalty may be reversed if the subsequent offence
was committed by the team first awarded the penalty.

So I am thinking of suggesting changes to only twenty-four Rules in this article – which is basically a rewrite of the Rules of Conduct of Play, a modest target (there will be some amalgamation and some replacement) as there is nothing I haven’t suggested many times before. I will begin these suggestions in Part One following the preliminary setting out above.

June 4, 2019

Change

An article from the Hindustan Times published in the fieldhockey.com website on 4th June 2019.

‘Focus on limiting changes to hockey,’ says FIH’s CEO Thierry Weil

Change is the only constant in international hockey, a sport that sees such frequent tinkering in its rules and tournament formats that even its ardent fans find it hard to keep up.

B Shrikant

 

Change is the only constant in international hockey, a sport that sees such frequent tinkering in its rules and tournament formats that even its ardent fans find it hard to keep up.

For example, the qualifying programme for the Olympic Games has been changed four times in the last three decades.

In the Olympics, the host country, five continental champions and six qualifiers make the 12-team field, and though the continental championships remain intact, the qualifying event has been changed regularly—a single tournament gave way to three events of eight teams each (till 2012), which was replaced by the Hockey World League, which in turn gave way to the Pro League and FIH (international hockey federation) Series (Open and Finals).

The Pro League currently involves eight top teams playing each other on home and away basis while the other competition involves a series of FIH Series Open events followed by three 8-team Finals.

However, even as eight teams—India, Japan, South Africa, Poland, Russia, Uzbekistan, USA and Mexico—get ready for the second event in the FIH Series Finals in Bhubaneswar, which will be held from June 6-15, comes the news that the event will be discontinued from next year.

Similarly, the FIH has dumped the Champions Trophy, and reworked rules nearly every year as the game has metamorphosed from a match of two halves to one involving four quarters of 15 minutes each.

So, why does the FIH introduce so many changes, unlike sports like football and tennis, whose basic structure has remained the same?

Hindustan Times put this question to Thierry Weil, FIH’s chief executive officer and he agreed that there have been too many changes.

As far as the FIH Series is concerned, Weil blamed financial burdens for scrapping the tournament.

“The FIH Series involves teams that are not in the Pro League, provide them a chance to qualify for the Olympics,” he said. But participating in these events is a big financial burden on these teams. Also, we found out that there was a conflict with the activities of the continental federations which were also conducting similar tournaments. I agree that changes have come too frequently but many of them were necessary, like ‘no offside’ because it was not conducive to the fast-pace of hockey. When I took over as CEO (in April 2018), I have asked them to limit these changes. My focus has been on standardising the calendar and evolving the Pro League,” Weil said.

Meanwhile, the game will continue to see some big changes in the next few years.

Pro League 2 in the offing

The FIH is planning to launch a second division of Pro League, tentatively named Pro League 2, which will involve teams ranked between 9 to 20 and introduce promotions and relegations.

“It’s one of the ideas we are working on,” Weil said. “Recently, we have introduced a two-year home and away system which will reduce by half the travel in the current format.”

The FIH is likely to roll out the second division from next year.

Big investments

Weil said the FIH has made significant investments in introducing a new ranking system from January 2020, and a new synthetic turf which reduces dependence on water. The roll out of a new match-based ranking system will also promote bilateral series involving top teams.

“Each match will become important as it will involve some points. All matches recognised by FIH will contribute towards the ranking of the team,” he said.

Introduction of a new turf before 2024 is the most ambitious project that FIH has taken up, as water scarcity is a growing reality that impedes the widespread adoption of the current astroturf, especially in countries like India.

“Currently we are in investment mode and have made big investments in the rankings system, new turf and promotion of Pro League,” Weil said.

The title of this newspaper article is misleading; the “Rules” written about are not the Rules of Hockey or FIH Tournament Regulations,  (the latter concern  the way in which players may compete in matches in an FIH Tournament.). Whether or nor a match is played in two halfs or four quarters does not effect the way in which players play – but may make the game more high paced or ‘frantic’. Whatever the current perception, the FIH Executive does not approve several changes to the Rules every year – they are very conservative – too conservative for me.

In the first of these areas, the Rules of Hockey, huge change is need to rectify the mistakes made in the past twenty or so years and to improve the way in which the game is played and officiated.

What is likely to happen is that the “no change” mantra, which is advocated above, will conflate changes to the way teams qualify for the Olympic Games and World Cups, with change to the Rules of Hockey (what is drafted by the Rules Committee and published as the Rules of Hockey by the FIH). As usual the FIH are not communicating clearly and neither is the newspaper reporter.

Thierry Weil was not talking primarily about the Rules of Hockey but about the Regulations concerning League and Tournament formats and the  means of qualification to World Level events, as well as about economics and water shortage concerns and standards for pitch surfaces, Technical Specifications such as these are not at all the same thing as “the Rules” as commonly understood.

If there is concern about the frequency of past changes to the Rules of Hockey this can be addressed by discarding from ‘practice’ those changes which the FIH Rules Committee have not actually made and dissuading umpires (and Umpire Managers) from imposing their own personal interpretations as if Rules.

The invention that an on target shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play, springs to mind. A stationary player cannot obstruct, is another. A third:- Aerial Rules (whatever they might be) do not apply to either shots at the goal or to deflections. The list of what will not be found in any rule-book but is applied as if it can be, goes on and on and the FIH Executive just look the other way even though they must know they have NOT approved these ‘Rules’. See

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/09/21/unauthorized-rul…-the-netherlands/

January 19, 2019

Alignment

Rules of Hockey

Bizarrely written and largely unnecessary additions to the Rules of the indoor game. No alignment.

9.13 Umpires should place particular emphasis on limiting time spent in situations where the ball becomes trapped in the corners of the pitch or close to the side-boards (especially towards the end of matches) when the player in possession effectively shields the ball such that an opponent is prevented from being able to play it. Early interventions by the Umpires will make teams aware that this type of play or tactic is of no benefit to them.

I will start by explaining what I mean by bizarrely written using  the first part of the first sentence of the above Rule Explanation (which has not been added to the outdoor version of the Obstruction Rule, even though holding the ball in a corner of the pitch while shielding it to prevent a tackle, is common in the outdoor game) as an example.

Umpires should place particular emphasis on limiting time spent in situations where the ball becomes trapped in the corners of the pitch or close to the side-boards (especially towards the end of matches) when the player in possession effectively shields the ball such that an opponent is prevented from being able to play it.

When a player in possession of the ball shields the ball in a way that effectively prevents an opponent playing at it that is immediately an obstruction offence, so why is the above explanation focused on limiting the time spent obstructing opponents and then only in corners and close to sideboards and especially towards the end of matches. This is saying in effect that obstructive actions should only be penalised when they are not brief (brief obstruction offences are therefore acceptable ???) So I suppose not carried out with the intention of ‘running-time’ to the advantage of the team of the player committing the offence. What is the time limit for this foul which, I repeat, should be penalised immediately it occurs if it disadvantages an opponent? I have no idea, that is presumably an umpire judgement.

The second sentence then presents an obstruction offence as a type of play or a tactic rather than as a foul.

I now come to Rule 9.19 which had been drafted especially for the indoor game. This Rule has two diametrically opposing parts

Part one

9.19 Players must not trap or hold the ball against the side-boards.

That is a simple and very clear prohibition. However it should but doesn’t only prohibit this action if it prevents an opponent playing at the ball. That is obvious to those who are familiar with the game, but not stipulating exactly what is meant is laziness.

Part two

A player in possession of the ball may not be ‘trapped’ either in the corner of the pitch or against the side-boards by opponents with their sticks flat on the floor. Opponents must leave an outlet of reasonable size through which the ball may be played.

That clause, besides giving the umpire a difficult judgement task, is ambiguous because it does not state that the player in possession of the ball must have the ball in an open position i.e a position in which an opponent could make a legal tackle attempt. So, following on from what is given in Rule 9.13 above, the player in possession could (briefly?) shield the ball anytime a tackle attempt was made and would, following Rule 9.19, quite quickly be awarded a free ball because opponents had him trapped against the side-boards or in a corner. This Rule appears to be written in opposition to the Obstruction Rule and to the advantage of a player who is in possession of the ball even if he or she is shielding the ball to prevent a tackle attempt.

Examples of obstructive play close to the sideboards. The second one is from the cover of the Indoor Rules rule-book.

It is not necessary to make any comment about the following add-on clauses but the second of them is an attempt to tidy a ‘loose end’ in a previous clause, that exists as a result of poor initial drafting.

Umpires should recognise and interrupt play, with a bully re-start, when the ball is either trapped between players’ sticks or becomes unintentionally trapped against the side-boards.


Repeated instances of players trapping or holding the ball against the side-boards should be viewed as an intentional offence and penalised accordingly.


Similarly, players who deliberately aim to trap the ball between their and an opponent’s stick should be penalised and not rewarded with a bully.

Tags:
December 28, 2018

Cheating

Back in 2006 when I was a regular contributor to fieldhockeyforum.com a ‘newbie’ named Keely Dunn joined and posted about a defender positioned in front of the goal during a penalty corner and asserted in that post that such a defended caused danger and should be penalised if hit with an attacker’s shot at the goal. I posted a reply to that assertion in which I stated that the opposite was true – that a ball raised towards another player that endangered that other player was always, provided there was no intentional use of the body by the defender to stop or deflect the ball, the fault and responsibility of the player who raised the ball. Keely Dunn’s response was a tirade of more than a thousand words in which she declared that the fact that a defender positioned between a shooter and the goal demonstrated an intention to use the body to stop the ball and she then went on to describe her dedication to umpiring, her ambition (at the time to be an Olympic Umpire) and her hard work to that end. She finished her response by scolding me for “calling her out” and stated that if I ever did so again she would not respond – so this time I am perfectly safe from rebuke despite the fact that I am again going to disagree with her (declare that she is wrong)  in the same way and for the same reasons. I will not accept that a defender is not allowed to defend the goal or to be in any position they need to be to do so.

Below, in coloured text, is part of her analysis of the changes to the Rules of Hockey for 2019, in which she makes a similar claim to the one she made in 2006, concerning the protection offered under the Rules to a defender in front of the goal when a shot is made at the goal. That this is presented as a matter of safety is bizarre as there would seldom be any danger in such circumstances if the ball was not raised by a shooter directly towards a defender (a deflections towards a defender is rarely the result of raising the ball directly at that defender).

In her defence I must point out that she has reversed the long-standing meme that an outrunning defender at a penalty corner who is attempting to tackle for the ball with his stick is committing an offence.  (She does not now refer to such out-runners as ‘suicide runners‘).

The reason for taking away a non-kitted player who can use their body inside the circle to play the ball is primarily safety. Watching a player without any real protective equipment throw themselves in front of a ball for club or country has become a Hunger Games-esque spectacle (for example, from the men’s World Cup, see the Blacksticks’ Bennett running down a Peillat drag flick, or England’s Gleghorne all but decapitating |Ireland’s O’Donoghue on the line at the end of their crossover match).

The two clips below contain the incidents referred to in the above paragraph.

I would not describe the PWGKP in the Ireland goal as a someone who had thrown himself into the path of a shot at the goal while aping the actions of a fully kitted goalkeeper, but rather as someone genuinely trying to get out of the way of the ball because he believed he would be badly injured if hit with it.

It is part of the training of goalkeepers to persuade them that a hit with the ball to the head when they are wearing a helmet is not life threatening (although there have been some nasty injuries caused to goalkeepers by the failure of a sub-standard helmet or a previously weakened eye-grill) and get them to use the helmet to deflect the ball. This training is not easy as it is counter-intuitive to most people, and it can be no surprise that a field-player who has not been properly trained as a goalkeeper should react as if his head was not protected with a helmet. (Injuries to the side of the head, including fractures of the skull, are not uncommon in defenders wearing face masks, who turn their face away from an incoming ball; overcoming the instinct to avert the face is not an easy task – the injury to Godfrey Irwin of Cookstown HC in the EHL comes to mind).

The Rule which penalises the raising of the ball into an outrunning defender during a penalty corner is a near copy of the part of the Explanation of application of Rule 9.9. concerning the raising of a ball towards an opponent – but there are critical differences.

The Penalty corner Rule contains reference to a height limit (knee height), Rule 9.9. does not, Rule 9.9 refers to the strokes used to propel the ball, while Rule 13.3.l does not. (but I believe it sensible to consider a ball that has been raised with a hit into a close opponent in open play to be dangerous play, even if done unintentionally and while the players are outside the opponent’s shooting circle). Do you see how unnecessarily diverse and complicated the Rules are even in simple matters such as raising the ball towards a close opponent? More about that following the last video below

At lower levels, the benefit to pulling the goalkeeper is still too often an exercise in futility where a hapless defender stands on the penalty spot wearing a different—coloured shirt, terrified to leave and create the numerical advantage that is the sole benefit of the exercise.

Teams are now constrained to using only all field players to create the numerical advantage (or continue playing a match where a fully—kitted goalkeeper is unavailable). It doesn’t change the fact that we have unprotected players running around in the circle, but hopefully, there will be less incentive for anyone brave soul to sacrifice their limbs for goal-saving glory. I nominate this the rule Most Likely To Be Forgotten It Was Ever Different When The Next Rule Book Comes Out.

Way less to remember. There are no fewer than 24 instances (yes, I counted them because I’m a giver that way) in the rule book where a PWGKP was specified in addition to the goalkeeper and those are now all gone. No more arguing about putting on helmets, whether they can wear the goalkeeper’s blockers on penalty corners, or reminding attackers that YES THEY CAN USE THEIR FEET, PLEASE JUST PLAY ON NOW CHEERS.

I am surprised that anyone could have doubted that a player in the position that used to be referred to as ‘kicking back’ could use their feet, but I suppose it is possible since PWGKP was introduced into terminology some years ago. But this mess is not going to be forgotten. It was wise of the FIH HRB to insist on a fully equipped goalkeeper when they did and a mistake to withdraw that requirement – despite the difficulties with the expense of kit in some regions. The eroding attitude to the safety of defenders positioned in front of the goal does not inspire confidence in the wisdom of the FIH RC in making the change made for 2019-. I believe the only reasonable course is to go back to the fully equipped goalkeeper being a compulsory element of a team, in the same way that helmets became compulsory for goalkeepers.  (It’s daft to compel a goalkeeper to wear a helmet but not compel a team to have a goalkeeper, and also to have the option to replace a fully kitted goalkeeper with a field player – who will be shot at as if he or she were a fully equipped goalkeeper. Where is the emphasis on safety?)

However, you’re likely going to have more situations where you have difficult decisions to make regarding dangerous play, i.e. when attackers shoot at goal with field players in the way. You’ll need to continue to keep in mind the idea that defenders who are standing in front of the goal doing their best Maddie Hinch are choosing to put themselves in danger (and really need to stop that, m’kay?).

No not m’kay or okay, what criteria are going to be used? An attacker who chooses to raise the ball at an opponent in a way that endangers that opponent (forces self-defence for example), chooses to commit a foul and should be penalised. A player who carelessly or recklessly raises the ball towards another player (I believe the change to “opponent” to be a mistake – the emphasis should be on the safety of all players – hospital emergency rooms will not make a distinction between injured same team or opposing team players) commits an offence and should be penalised.

Defenders who are marking, intercepting, closing down the ball or otherwise making an attempt to tackle are NOT putting themselves in danger and need to be protected.

Of course they are putting themselves in danger, given the present penalty-corner set up they have no choice but to do so. Anything which facilitates the near immediate making of a shot at the goal will be stupidly dangerous to defenders trying to prevent that shot and having to run between 12m and 14m towards opponents to do so, especially with the present attitude towards a ball raised towards a defender – even if it is only allowed below knee height when the opponent is within 5m. The penalty-corner needs to be replaced with a power-play conducted in the opponent’s 23m area and the now necessary ‘charge’ eliminated.

I don’t hate this change. Simple is usually better, and safety (when real and not imagined) is no one’s enemy. it’ll also make teams more cautious when pulling their goalkeeper. But when they do, they’ll go for goal with more rigour, making for more exciting, attacking hockey at the right moments.

I very much doubt what is written in the last sentence. Attackers will still back into opponents, spin and ‘look for a foot’, at present they are given, because of ‘umpiring practice’, no reason not to.

The above clip is an excellent example of the degrading of Rule to the point where it is applied in the opposite way to that which it was obviously intended it be applied. Any forcing action is still supposed to be dealt with (penalised) under “other Rules”. What other Rules if the ball is not raised? Your guess would be welcome.

The ARG player who makes a tackle and gets possession of the ball has several options immediately available to him but realizes what the team needs most is time to position to take advantage of their possession of the ball – they are grouped and still recovering from the chase-back to retrieve the ball from their opponents and are not ideally placed to exploit possession. So what does he do? He decides to ‘win’ a free ball.  He has no hesitation in raising the ball and aiming it into the legs of the NZ player (contrary to what is given with Rule 9.9), who is attempting to position to tackle him because he fully expects the umpires to ignore this foul and to penalise the player hit with the ball. As it happened the NZ player intercepted the ball with his stick, but the ARG player appealed for a contact offence anyway, possibly hoping that the umpire was too far away to be certain of what actually happened (the umpire was still recovering from his move to the baseline in anticipation of an NZ attack, but must have seen that the ball was raised from close range into the NZ player? No?) The umpire followed expectation and awarded penalty against the player the ball was raised at, following the claimed contact, and the ARG player got away with this blatant cheating.

This raises the matter of the positioning of umpires and the number of officials on the pitch. I think, at this level, there should be five officials. Four flag officials running the arcs between the half-line and the goal-posts, each responsible for one side of a single half of the pitch, with some overlap around the half-way line, and an umpire in the center between the circles running the diagonals between the widths of the circles. In that way almost all incidents on the pitch should be supervised by at least two close officials and often by three. Should anyone think this number excessive they might consider that a top level tennis match is supervised by eight officials (seven of them with a very limited task) and the playing area and the number of players involved is a fraction of that used to play a hockey match.

I view the shot at the head of the IRE PWGKP when there was nobody guarding the left post and therefore much of the left side of the goal open, as cheating i.e. as deliberate dangerous play. In my view the (highly skilled) shooter deliberately targeted the defender knowing the defender would not be able to adequately defend himself. A risible comment? If you like, but despite my Irish blood there are no ‘sour grapes’, a 3-2 loss is as much a loss as a 4-2 loss. There can be no doubt (the opinion of Keely Dunn aside) that the shot was dangerous play by the shooter and it was played where it was played deliberately. A small risk as ENG were winning anyway, but maybe the shooter thought a shot wide of the defender would be more easily saved. There was nobody doing “a Maddie Hitch impression”, there was desperate evasive action, which in the circumstances was, I believe, legitimate. That shot would have been saved easily by a competent goalkeeper but a PWGKP, wearing only a helmet for additional protection (which he would not have been accustomed to wearing), stood very little chance of stopping it.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/12/28/cheating/

December 19, 2018

Rule Changes for 2019

The FIH bring a band-aid to a train crash.

The following is from the FIH website (My comment in italics, but I don’t know why I am still bothering to make comment).

Lausanne, Switzerland: Every second year, the Rules Committee of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) may make proposals to amend the rules of hockey. In 2018, the following proposals have been made by the Committee and approved by the Executive Board:

(This is not a complete list of all the changes made; to find those you will need to look at the new version of the rule-book via the FIH web-site)

Introduction of the match format of four quarters as standard

In international matches, teams have been playing four quarters for some years and it is felt that uniformity in match formats can be achieved when all match formats are based on a four-quarter principle. Like in international matches, time is stopped between the awarding of a penalty corner and the taking of that penalty corner. Other than in international matches, where this is covered by FIH Tournament Regulations, time is not stopped to celebrate goals as this was introduced primarily for television coverage. The four quarters has additional advantages at junior levels of the sport in which coaches often umpire youth school matches and the additional breaks provide for coaching opportunities.

(It is not stated above if playing time will be reduced from 70mins to 60mins as in current International matches. I don’t believe a reduction of time played will be popular. We could and I think should, have four quarters of 20mins in all hockey i.e. an addition to playing time to bring hockey more into line with other outdoor team sports).   P.S. Playing time has been reduced to 60mins.

Removal of Goalkeeping privileges for substitute field player

A mandatory experiment, with effect from 1 January 2019, taking out the option for teams to play with a field player with goalkeeping privileges. Teams have now two options: they either play with a goalkeeper who wears full protective equipment comprising at least headgear, leg guards and kickers and who is also permitted to wear goalkeeping hand protectors and other protective equipment, or they play with only field players. Any change between these options should be treated as a substitution. It is hoped that this experimental rule will enhance safety as field players will no longer have goalkeeping privileges so will not be entitled to use their body to stop shots at goal and it also enhances the promotion of the sport by eliminating the issue of outfield players wearing other shirts to indicate goalkeeping privileges.

(What the FIH cannot bring themselves to say is that attackers will not be entitled to raise the ball at a field-player in the goal with impunity as they would at a goalkeeper in the goal – but fault and offence will apparently, and bizarrely, remain with defenders when an attacker raises the ball towards a defender in line with current umpiring practice but not with current Rule. The blurb above, especially that about the enhancement of safety and the promotion of the sport is only that – unsupportable blurb)

∙ Defending free hits within 5 meters of the circle

The explanation for how to treat free hits for the attacker close to the circle has been changed in Rules 13.2.f. It has now been made clear that players other than the attacker taking the free hit must be at least five meters away, including when they are in their circle. if the attacker, however, chooses to take the free hit immediately, then defenders who are inside the circle and within five meters from the ball may shadow around the inside of the circle as per the explanation of the rule before 2019. This has the advantage of not preventing the quickly taken free hit which has been widely welcomed by coaches and players, whilst maintaining the 5m rule used everywhere else on the pitch to provide space for the free hit taker.

(This is useless, there is in effect no change at all. What is needed is a restoration of taking the ball outside the hash circle when a free ball is awarded for an offence committed by a defender between the hash circle and the shooting circle. The present prohibition on playing the ball directly into the circle from a free inside the 23m line needs to be deleted and the Rules concerning the self-pass adjusted accordingly. Prohibiting the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit, in any phase of play, could sensibly replace both the present circumvented or ignored Rule concerning an intentionally raised hit and the direct playing of the ball into the opponent’s circle from a free awarded in the opponent’s 23m area. The long, high intentionally raised hit, which is very seldom penalised as it should be, could be dealt with with the imposition of an absolute height limit on any raised hit which is not a shot at the goal from within the opponent’s circle – but shots at goal that are made towards and ‘through’ defenders from beyond 5m must also be height limited, sternum height is suggested. The current adoption from the penalty corner Rules “above knee height and within 5m” being considered dangerous play, although not strictly Rule compliant in open play – where there is no minimum height mentioned – See Rule 9.9 is better than the lack of control we have from beyond 5m.)

∙ Free hits awarded inside the defensive circle
As in Indoor Hockey, a defender may now take a free hit awarded in the circle anywhere inside the circle or up to 15 meters from the back-line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to the side-line.

(Back to where we were, this should not have been changed the last time it was)

∙ Completion of a penalty corner
Rule 13.6 that described the completion of a penalty corner for substitution purposes and for a penalty corner at the end of a period, has been deleted. The option that a penalty corner is completed when the ball travels outside the circle for the second time no longer exists.

(A change that seems designed to further disadvantage the defending team. I can’t see the need for it or anything wrong with the present reasons to terminate a penalty corner)

(Other areas where change and reinforcement are desperately required have – as usual – been ignored )

I notice elsewhere that a goalkeeper is now allowed to propel the ball over long distances with any part of his or her equipment, a welcome change and one I have been advocating for years. We can now expect to see goalkeepers launching counter-attacks using a hand protector as well as a kicker.

These amendments will come into force on 1 January.

These detailed revisions to the Rules of hockey will be available from Friday 21st December on the FIH Rules app.

Why do I compare the Rule change actions of the FIH RC in 2019 to the application of a Band-Aid following a train crash? Because it is obvious to me that some ‘heavy lifting’ needs doing to move things out of the way that are impeding the playing of the game to a consistency applied set of Rules. I think not only should that be obvious to everyone, it IS obvious to all that some Rules are not applied at all. In this category I will put the Obstruction Rule (where the prevention of a tackle attempt and not the making of a tackle attempt should be emphasized, but most umpires seem instead to be oblivious to the existence of the Rule) and the dangerously played ball when it is a shot at the goal (excepting a first hit shot during a penalty corner). Some Rules are routinely misapplied, here, for example, we have the ball-body contact Rule and the Advantage Rule. Some Rules are unnecessary or unfair, here there is Rule concerning the taking of a free ball in the opponents 23m area: a defender intentionally playing the ball over the base-line; and the Rule/s surrounding the aerial or falling ball, just to mention the more obvious ones. The FIH RC has yet again done nothing at all to address flaws in the game arising from these Rules, some of these flaws have been with us for thirty years or more (and are therefore ‘well established’ or ‘traditional’ elements which are preserved for only that reason.

Why do the FIH RC have a ‘back-sticks’ Rule, but permit edge-hitting? The ‘back-sticks’ Rule could reasonably be deleted, that would not be more dangerous than allowing edge-hitting and would not fundamentally change the way in which the game is played – rolling the stick-head over the front of the ball would remain the most efficient way of moving the ball left to right during stick-work. I mention only that one suggestion for change (which I accept might be too far ‘outside the box’ for some) for to list all of them would take several pages (*footnote).

A related article:- https://martinzigzag.com/2018/12/30/the-prevention-o…and-rule-wording/

* It actually took sixteen posts to list the suggestions with reasons and even then some appropriate changes were not included, because I referenced only the Rules concerning the Conduct of Play and two Penalties, the Free Ball and the Penalty Corner – see my recent posts Which Rules should be Amended or Deleted?  I haven’t made a count but I have probably suggested in excess of fifty changes – none frivolously.

So in 2020 we might see the FIH Rules Committee change an umpiring signal (because umpires are now not always using the advised signal) Tail wagging the dog.

December 14, 2018

A rant about historical callousness.

I came across the article below, which was initially published in the Indian newspaper Firstpost, on the fieldhockey.com website on the 14th December 2008. It is a rant, and as such, it is repetitive and overlong – and it therefore reminds me of some of my own writing about the Rules of Hockey. Certainly, some of the phrases used struck a chord, those contained in the first and last sentences for example. I think there is overuse of the words ‘callous’ and ‘callousness’, other words could have been used more effectively on occasion, and the message is clear before the writer has written half of what he did, but there is no doubt about the indignation and passion felt.

I can at least break up some of my own ramblings with pictures and video examples to illustrate the points being made; even if very few readers interrupt their reading of an article to view a video (and very few people who browse YouTube videos link to articles when videos are produced just to illustrate them, which is often the case).

So here we go:-

When, just when, will the International Hockey Federation (FIH) stop peddling false information to the world at large!

The official tournament programme of the ongoing men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar is an illustration of the callous and distasteful level of indifference toward the game’s history.

India’s wins against Germany in the previous editions are not reflected in statistics published by in the programme for 2018 World Cup.

India’s wins against Germany in the previous editions are not reflected in statistics published in the official programme of the 2018 World Cup. (I assume that repettition is deliberate)

For a moment, forget what the FIH and its affiliated national associations across the world have done over the years in trashing the game’s history, the World Cup would still seem to be an elite event whose records remain sacrosanct.

Err sorry, think again.

And, please think yet again if you consider the FIH and its affiliated units as custodians of hockey’s legacy. (Perhaps a reference to the Hockey Museam?)

Even in disseminating the records of the elite World Cup tournament of the past—just 13 tournaments since the inaugural edition in 1971 —they seem to prefer fiction to fact.

“Don’t tell me they want to pass them off as official records, these guys should be fiction writers,” screamed a former Indian player who had featured in four early World Cups and even won a gold medal in 1975.

Drawing the attention of The Hockey Insider to the disinformation being passed around with FIH “Stats” as the label, the ex-Indian striker was aghast after a simple glance at India’s head-to-head World Cup records.

‘They’ve simply scratched out the victories we carved out,” said the former Indian striker who noticed something amiss when two games where he had played a role in the Indian victories over Germany did not figure in the FIH statistics published by the Official Programme of the 2018 World Cup titled “Stars Become Legends” and carrying images of lndian players Manpreet Singh and PR Sreejesh on the cover.

The startling missing facts that prompted the ex-Indian World Cup player to call Firstpost would stare any Indian hockey follower in the face. India had an unbeaten record against Germany, who played as West Germany until the 1990 edition, in the initial three World Cups: two victories and a draw.

India won 1-0 in Barcelona in 1971; drew 0-0 against the then Olympic champions at Amsterdam in 1973 and outplayed them 3-1 in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur. The India-Germany encounters at Kuala Lumpur were the stuff that lingers on in the memory of sports fans. India were leading 1-0 in their preliminary group encounter when rain disrupted the match.

Given the practice in the rain-affected 1975 World Cup —where a match was even shifted to another ground at half-time —this game was supposed to resume from that stage. But the FIH decided to replay the encounter afresh, brushing aside India’s protests. In the replayed match, which India needed to win to advance to the semi-finals, the Ajitpal Singh-led Indian team turned the form book upside down yet again to defeat the Olympic champions 3-1.

The 1978 edition in Buenos Aires saw the Germans hammer India 7-0 with the two nations playing out a 2-2 draw in London 1986.

Imagine, these matches are not part of the statistics that show just three India-Germany matches with all three confirmed as German victories. History is often misinterpreted by people wanting to twist it to their liking, but here is a case of sheer callousness.

It is not as if the FIH is an organisation incapable of actually dishing out the correct information. But, it seems, callousness about the game’s history has assumed such drastic dimensions in the FIH that they do not care about momentous events even the other day.

Thousands of matches are missing from the FIH data, simply because it seems the federation could not be bothered to look up the records or conduct research. The FIH wants the hockey fraternity to forget memorable matches and just have a tunnel vision that looks just at the elite events.

Those propounding great theories about legacy may one day find time between their coffee breaks to look up the game’s history. History, most often, is not confined to elite events. But then, the World Cup is one of hockey’s few elite competitions and here too a star player of yesteryears had to scream to draw attention to the callous mistakes.

Just scratch your memories for international matches you have seen or read about. The chances are they will not be there in the FlH’s “glorious” collection of records. Over the past two years, it has been highlighted by the hockey fraternity of South Asia that a majority of encounters that are part of the game’s epic rivalry between India and Pakistan are missing from the FIH records.

The FIH, however, does not seem to have the time and inclination to even look into the mess it has created by recognising some matches and de-recognising the others.

A few years ago, the FIH actually tried to give some semblance of sanity to the historical data that they circulate to the world.

Since then, the media and the FIH television partners are fed historical data that, politely said, is a joke. And this data is being circulated along with the television pictures.

It seems the hockey mandarins are very busy trying to sell misinformation.

Firstpost.

My own rants include articles about the statement by the Hockey Rules Board, in the Preface to the 1997 Rules, under Rule Changes, that following the deletion of the off-side Rule, “measures would be put in place to constrain potentially dangerous actions by attacking forwards close to the goal“. These ‘measures’ did not materialise in 1998 (Why not?) and were never again referred to (Why not?). In fact the opposite has happened attackers are allowed to hit a ball from any height, including from above head height, up into the goal from any distance within the circle and any evasive action taken by defenders, far from being a signal for penalty for dangerous play by an attacker, is just ignored.

What did appear in the 1998 Rules Preface was a statement that all existing Interpretations had been incorporated into the (sic) current rule-book, including those which up until that point had been produced exclusively for FIH Umpire briefings at FIH Tournaments, and that therefore no further such documents were necessary (so presumably the publication of such documents would cease?). The current reality is that the content of the still published UMB is now regarded as superior to what is given as Rule and Interpretation (Explanation of Application) in the rule-book and there is much unnecessary contradiction between the two, which creates ambiguities; it seems the hockey mandarins are very busy trying to ‘sell’ misinformation.

In 2001, at the behest of the HRB, the FIH Executive sent a Circular to all National Hockey Associations, which declared and instructed that no person and nobody, other than the HRB could compose or amend a Rule or an Interpretation. That didn’t stop the flow of unofficial ‘interpretation’, it increased dramatically after 2004, and in 2007 that instruction was sunk without trace when the HRB deleted ‘gains benefit’ from the ball body contact Rule. A Senior Umpire Manager had a chat with a few of his friends and ‘over-ruled’ the HRB on that deletion: so “gains benefit” was applied for the following eight-year period when it was not contained in the wording of the Rule Proper or in what was called the Explanations (of Application) after 2004 – so it was not Rule. “Or gains an advantage” (a pre “benefit” wording) was restored to the rule-book in 2016, but activated in May 2015 via an Executive Circular (an amendment which the UM’s did not disregard but which umpires now seldom apply correctly, often not even considering it at all before penalising a ball-body contact – I have written that a few hundred times in the past twenty years – umpires refused to let go of “gains benefit” but at the same time did not apply it appropriately or even in some cases, at all – especially when there wasn’t any benifit gained – and that is still the case).

During this same period, very sensible advice to umpires, which was introduced in 2002 and concerned what to watch for when applying the Obstruction Rule, for example:- “standing still and shielding the ball when under pressure” and advice about a player who was dragging the ball along a line while shielding it behind his legs and feet, among others, just disappeared during the ‘wholesale vandalism’ of the rule-book in 2004, which was presented as “simplification and clarification”.The above list is by no means a comprehensive one but the FIH present a picture of highly competent and consistent umpiring that they are very happy with and which all players respect.
The outrage of the Indian Team at the umpiring of an incident in the quarter-final match of the 2018 World Cup between the Netherlands and India which resulted in a ten-minute suspension for an Indian player at a critical time of a match, which India lost 1-0, is based on an incident which does not exist. The problem with ‘Records’ is that a 7-0 drubbing is recorded in exactly the same way as a 2-1 loss, which the losing side ascribe to poor umpiring. The FIH produced video highlights of the match do not show any such incident. I have no opinion concerning it as I have not seen it. When just when, will the International Hockey Federation (FIH) stop peddling false information to the world at large!

What is amazing to me is that players rise above the incompetence of Rule makers, the indifference to the Rules of the game and the poor display of Rule application by officials, which is the result of the FIH’s casual approach to Rule writing and to conflicted umpire coaching: some of the hockey played during the 2018 World Cup was incredibly good. 

November 29, 2018

Authority and unwanted Rules

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

One of the simplest and clearest Rules in the rule-book is Rule 9.9. which concerns a ball raised with a hit.

9.9 Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal.

A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.
(a misuse of the word “explicitly”, I think what was meant was “exclusively”)

It is not an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field unless it is dangerous. If the ball is raised over an opponent’s stick or body on the ground, even within the circle, it is permitted unless judged to be dangerous.

There are however two difficulties within the Rule requirements that need to be properly addressed if the Explanation of application is to be applied as written. The first of these arises because application depends on two subjective judgements and two objective judgements required of an umpire when the ball is raised with a hit – and then secondly, there are the exceptions to consider.

Objective decisions. 1) Was the ball hit? Yes/No 2) Was the ball raised? Yes/No Then Subjective decisions 1) Was the ball raised intentionally Yes/No 2) Was a player endangered by the raised hit? Yes/No and Finally do any of the exceptions apply – a ball raised in a controlled way (at low level and low velocity i.e. safely) over the stick of an opponent or an opponent lying on the ground? Yes/No.

The only one of these decisions that can possibly cause any pause for further consideration is the intention to raise the ball, but in the majority of cases it is perfectly clear when there is intention by the hitter – not least because the ball is raised towards an opponent who would have no difficulty at all in intercepting it if it was hit along the ground. Another indicator is the use of an edge hit in circumstances where an edge hit is not a necessary or even the best option available to propel/pass the ball, so it is obviously the raising of the ball that is aimed for by the hitter.

A third, and overwhelming, difficulty is vague contradiction to the Rule that umpires receive as advice in the published FIH Umpire Briefing (for umpires officiating at FIH Tournaments) as part (there is also a verbal element) of their induction at each Tournament See below:-

 The UMB contradicts the Rule instruction to consider intent and tells an umpire to consider only danger caused if the ball is raised with a hit.

Why should the UMB be considered advice and not Rule? It’s a matter of common sense. An umpire cannot be obliged by Rule to have and use common sense and the inclusion of “Use common sense and show understanding of the play” in the UMB must therefore make it advice and not Rule. Moreover advice is not ‘lumped’ together with Rule as if they were both the same thing – and the UMB has a lot of similar advice – it even advises umpires to enjoy themselves, something that is clearly not subject to Rule.

The UMB is therefore not Rule and should not be regarded or used as if Rule – but unfortunately, parts of it are. Why is this unfortunate? Because much of the UMB is contrary to common sense, as it actually conflicts in places with what is given in the FIH published Rules of Hockey – as the above “blow only in dangerous situations everywhere on the pitch – forget lifted, think danger” does. Why do umpires follow the UMB in preference to the Rule? Because the individual Umpire Manager who gives an umpire additional verbal briefing, based on the published UMB (or not), about expected performance at the start of a tournament is going to write a report on the umpire’s performance and that report will have a bearing on his or her future appointments and the chance of promotion within the ranks of umpires – so the reason is self interest.

By-the-by in 1998 It was announced in the Preface of the Rules of Hockey that the (sic) new format of the rule-book included all the material which had previously been contained in umpire briefings – and so in future separate briefing papers would no longer be required. The fight continues, about a year ago I was informed by an FIH official who was replying to me (an official who is no longer with the FIH) that I was in a minority of one in wanting the separately published UMB discontinued – so in other words something that had Executive approval was not long afterwards completely disavowed by administrators despite never have been formally revoked by the FIH.

That the UMB is used in place of the Rules of Hockey is all the more bizarre because the FIH Execuitve have made it perfectly clear that no body – no other person, no other official, no group or committee, other than the FIH Rules Committee, make Rule, can amend Rule or provide Rule Interpretation. The FIH Rules Committee cannot be overruled in matters of Rule and Rule Interpretation – not even by the FIH Umpiring Committee. The only way forward when change is required is to persuade the FIH Rules Committee to amend the Rules where this is considered appropriate. In the meantime however umpires go their own way and do their ‘own thing’.

The words “forget lifted, think danger’ in the first clause of the UMB page above are a case in point when discussing conflict. The Rule is absolutely clear about judging a ball raised with hit as an offence based explicitly (exclusively) on an intent to raise the ball , not on whether or not endangerment (a separate offence) is caused because the ball has been raised with a hit. It is absolutely wrong to permit a player to intentionally raise the ball with a hit, to the disadvantage of opponents and to do so without penalty. That opponents are endangered by an illegally raised ball is a second, related but separate issue. An umpire cannot properly apply the Rule and at the same time ‘forget’ lifted (it’s a very vague bit of advice because the essential element, intent, is not mentioned at all.)

It is clear from the wording of the Explanation of application of the Rule that accidental raising of the ball with a hit is not an offence unless endangerment is caused. The UMB therefore effectively advises umpires to regard all raised hits as accidental – and to look only for dangerous play when a ball is raised with a hit,  ignoring any intent to raise the ball; an obvious nonsense given the wording of the Rule – and a very unfair one. The exception to the Rule, accidentally raising the ball with a hit not being an offence, has replaced the Rule and intention is simply disregarded.

The umpire in the following incident made a horrible blunder in not penalising the clearly intentional raising of the ball with a hit past the two IND defenders (to their disadvantage) and allowing the AUS team to score a goal as a result of this planned tactic. Comment elsewhere has pointed to the possible disappointment of the spectators if such a spectacular ‘goal’ had been disallowed. I think more about the deliberate cheating and the certain dismay of the Indian players that it was awarded (and it was the only goal of the match).

In the above video not only the match commentator (but a former FIH Umpire, Keely Dunn – who posted and commentated on the above video) are wrong in considering this foul play to be “superb” or “magnificent”, an intentional and planned contravention of Rule, which this action obviously was, should never be so described. A deliberate offence is cheating and foul play no matter how well executed.

In the video below the pass from near the half-way line was wrongly praised as “great skill” by the match commentator. Yes, it was made with excellent weight and direction and caused no danger, but it was made in an illegal way and to the disadvantage of opponents, it should have been penalised under current Rule (the same pass could in any case have been made in a legal way with a scoop stroke) There is no point in having Rules to control specific actions if these Rules are ignored.

The intentionally raised edge hit into the circle in the following video is similar to the play seen in the first one above, the only real difference is the distance involved. This too resulted in the award of a goal when it should not have done. The umpires caught themselves in a consistency trap by the failure to penalise the first raised edge hit, which a defender used to clear the ball over a side-line. That clearance (which also looks to me, because of the evasive action taken, to have been dangerous play) should have resulted in the award of a penalty corner.

Do we want or need intentionally raised hits that are not shots at the goal to be penalised? No obviously not, not unless they are also dangerous play, but that is not how the Rule is presented or how it should be applied. It’s a rotten Rule which was put in place in the late 1980’s to prevent hits that at the time had become popular, because of the introduction of the ultra stiff carbon-fibre reinforced stick, which facilitated, in expert hands, a clip or chip from one end of the pitch to the other. The reason given at the time for banning such hitting was because it led to boring play rather than the real (possibly seen as ‘wimpy’) reason, which was that it was dangerous or potentially dangerous play.

In not so expert hands attempts to emulate the high and long chip hits of the experts (including the taking of shots at the goal) became extremely dangerous and the long and high chip/clip hit had to be banned before someone was killed – but a better way to achieve such a ban could have been employed, for example an absolute height limit on any raised hit which was not a shot at the goal (it’s apparently still okay to put at risk of death players who are defending a goal, but that’s another story)- and the then extant prohibition on raising the ball into the circle (with any stroke), irrespective of intent to do so, should have remained in place. It was instead ‘lost’ to deletion because it was not considered necessary. When there was a ban on intentional raising of the ball with a hit unless taking a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle, the ball could not be raised with a hit into the circle, could it?- How wrong that supposition turned out to be.

Would restoring the ban on any raising of the ball into the opponent’s circle with a hit (and perhaps a height limit on other strokes and deflections) lead to fairer umpiring? It should do. It should at least lead to more consistent umpiring. Few umpires confuse raised with not raised, but most are apparently (and unsurprisingly, given they are effectively told to ignore it) very poor at determining intent.

I recall a Commonwealth Final some years ago, again between the Australian and Indian women’s teams, which Australia won ‘at the death’ after the ball had been raised with a hit into the Indian circle – an illegal action at the time – (the raised hit was also dangerous, forcing evasive action by an Indian defender) the ball was then put into the goal by a Australian attacker who dived to connect her stick with it as it bounced up off the ground inside the Indian circle and it was deflected high into the Indian net. The deflected shot was so spectacular that everybody, including the umpire, just forgot the Rules and a goal was awarded. As in the first video above the Indian team did not deserve to win that match but neither did they deserve to lose it like that.

Dangerous play.

The other part of the Explanation of Rule 9.9 does not explain anything that is actually written in the Rule Proper (which is only about an intentionally raised hit). This is the instruction concerning the raising of a ball towards another player within 5m with a flick or a scoop.

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres IS considered dangerous.(my upper case bold)

That inserted statement is properly part of the Rule concerning a dangerously played ball, Rule 9.8. The clause concerning the raising of the ball towards a close opponent is however generally ignored (ignoring danger caused by raising the ball into an opponent- is contrary to the advice given in the UMB as well as in the Rules), with the result that Rule 9.11 – ball body contact – is very badly applied. Players are ‘winning’ penalty corners instead of being penalised for contravention of the Explanation of Application given in Rule 9.9: the ‘Rule clause’ under which the forcing of an unintentional contact from an opponent by raising the ball into that opponent should be dealt with.

The following part appears to be random repetition of a clause from the Rules of the Penalty Corner. I cannot explain the reference to a shot or why this clause is repeated in the Explanation to Rule 9.9 at all. It almost goes without saying that it is poorly applied, the words “without attempting to play the ball with their stick” being generally ignored.

If an opponent is clearly running into the shot or into the attacker without attempting to play the ball with their stick, they should be penalised for dangerous play.

It does not matter at all what the Rules are if umpires (or their coaches) decide not to apply them – which they often do even though they have no authority whatsoever to pick and choose which Rules or bits of Rules, to apply as given in the rule-book and which to subvert. Rule 9.9 is clearly a mess which needs sorting out with a rewrite by the FIH Rules Committee, but then Rules 9.8,  9.10, 9.11 and 9.12 are also urgently in need of rewrites not least, but not entirely, because of the mess umpires have made of their ‘accepted’ application of them.

Authority

It is only the FIH Rules Committee that can introduce new Rule or amend existing Rule or Interpretation. The FIH Executive issued a Circular to National Associations in 2001 that made that perfectly clear. The wording of that Executive Circular could usefully have been added to the preamble in the Preface of the Rules of Hockey under the title Authority, just as the emphasis on safety (ha ha) is included each year under Responsibility and Liability. In that Circular it was stated that no other person or official or body (committee) has authority to amend the Rules or the Interpretation of the Rules. The opinion of umpires seems to be entirely the other way about. As part of an exchange of views on Facebook following comment about umpire briefings (the UMB) posted with the first video shown above, I received this in reply.

Michael Margolien Briefing obviously overrides rules.

Think of it as an executive decision overriding a law (a rule) which is a more complicated and longer process (the rule change is). Hockey develops in a certain way (and international especially) and this is the way it is umpired.

He could not be more wrong, umpires and even umpire managers are not the FIH Executive (and even the FIH Executive cannot unilaterally introduce or amend a Rule – it approves such changes made by the FIH Rule Committee – who are also unable to unilaterally impose new Rule).

It only takes a few minutes considering the consequences of the above statement by Michael Margolien  to realize that it is a path to chaos – and it is anarchy. (Changes to ‘umpiring practice’ in regard to Rule application, made via umpire briefings, are in large part responsible for confusion about the Rules and the perception, which is inaccurate, that “The FIH are always (unnecessarily) changing the Rules“).

Umpire Briefings do not override the Rules of Hockey, that is an impossibility. Umpire Managers and Umpire Coaches cannot make short term or immediate changes to Rules or Interpretations according to the way the game is being played (has developed) and then expect or demand that the FIH Rules Committee ‘catch up’ with ‘their Rule’ at a later date. That is ‘cart before the horse’ as well as acting without authority. It is in fact allowing hockey coaches to determine the Rules of Hockey – each nation trying to do so to their own advantage

(I am reminded that edge hitting was ‘legal’ in Argentina for several years before it became so in the rest of the world and that the focus on speed and fitness in Australian hockey led to the Australian HA pressing hard for the introduction of squads of sixteen and rolling substitutions (this has lately been extended by breaking matches into four period of 15 minutes rather than two of 35 minutes). Edge hitting and a game of four quarters might now be considered to be good things, although I am not happy to see shorter more ‘frantic’ matches and I feel that playing time should have been increased to 80 mins (4 x 20) to reflect the influence and advantage of three breaks in play, rolling substitutions and larger squad sizes, the changes are not balanced, they are all in one direction. Hockey is being ‘packaged’ like confectionery. Year on year the portion given is reduced and the price (our annoyance at changes) increased. The current ignoring of the Obstruction Rule and the increase of physical contact in play and several other aspects of ‘modern’ hockey may not be regarded as improvements in the longer term and I certainly do not want to see the FIH RC changing these Rules to reflect how International Level umpires (especially in Europe, Australia and the Americas) are currently interpreting them (with the Asian teams being dragged reluctantly along the same path)

The Royal Dutch Hockey Board are as I write, instructing umpires that legitimate evasive action does not apply to a defender defending the goal while positioned on the goal-line during a penalty corner. That instruction has been brought to the attention of the FIH Rules Committee. I am interested to see how they are going to react to this invention by the KNHB.

Umpire briefings must follow the extant Rules, not attempt to lead them. The ultimate authority, Congress, who appoint the FIH Executive, decides how the game will be played. The FIH Executive in turn appoints a Rules Committee which is given sole authority to issue Rules and the Interpretations of those Rules – which the Executive must then approve before they become official – so that the game is played in the way desired by Congress. What is not clear is exactly how much influence Congress actually exert in the drafting of new Rule or how they do so. A Congressional Inquiry into the Rules of Hockey might provide a way forward.

Umpires (unless they lobby the FIH RC as individuals or via their National Associations) have no direct part in making Rules or Interpretations of (the wording of) Rules while umpiring (despite what the Australian Umpire Coach Jan Hadfield might think). Their task while umpiring is to apply the Rules as instructed by the FIH Rules Committee. (so with the assistance of the FIH Umpiring Committeewho are said to liaise with the FIH Rules Committee – they interpret player actions during a match for compliance with the wording of published Rules and Interpretations). If umpires don’t understand how a Rule should be Interpreted then they need to ask (probably via their National Association) the FIH Rules Committee to issue clarification; these days that can be done fairly quickly. Rule clarification from authority cannot be only the personal opinion of a TD or UM , issued on an ad hoc basis just prior to or during a Tournament, especially when that opinion conflicts with FIH RC instruction (For example the bizarre invention, which appeared during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, that an ‘on target’ shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play)  Nor can it be instruction issued solely by any National Umpiring Association, none of these individuals or bodies have this authority.

We sometimes hear of the FIH fining or threatening to fine a National Hockey Association if they fail to turn up to participate in an FIH Tournament – and the fines are heavy. It would I think be a good idea if the FIH similarly fined National Associations who invent amendments to the Rules of Hockey and allow them to be applied without first seeking and obtaining the approval of the FIH Executive via the FIH Rules Committee.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/06/24/an-unwanted-rule/

November 27, 2018

The Einstellung Effect

The Einstellung Effect (pronounced Eye-stellung)

Einstelling is a German word which the author of A Mind for Numbers  Dr. Barbara Oakley, states means to put or erect a barrier or block a way, (that is not the translation I get on German language translation websites, but I will go with it because it is the inadvertent blocking of the mind by using a particular focus, as explained in her book that, I want to examine)

The Einstellung Effect is a tendency to continue to think in a way that is being used (on a present problem) or has previously been used in making judgements and decisions, which can lead to blocking of relevant though and therefore to less-than-optimal decisions or judgments. That is answers or decisions that are incomplete or incorrect.

The effect can be the culprit in failure to find optimal and/or simpler solutions to new problems when we see features of a problem that reminds us of similar problems we’ve solved in the past, (or seen others solve in a particular way). The first solutions that come to mind  tend to follow similar lines to those past solutions/decisions (to put it mildly). Those first ideas often get in the way of (block) the finding of better solutions or the making of correct decisions because they prime us to think in a certain way.

Cognitive traps like this may be the result of our natural desire to simplify the way we process information since simplification saves mental energy. Our minds are cognitive misers, using shortcuts to save cognitive power whenever the opportunity arises (we are naturally lazy or ‘economical’ with effort).

An example from the 2018 World Cup.

 

 

We can fall prey to the Einstellung Effect whether we’re novices or masters in any problem-solving arena (but you have been warned so may not immediately do so here).

Here are two examples of problems where difficulty with the Eintellung Effect is possible. The first has often been solved by young children in less than 20 seconds but has still completely baffled their teachers. Be warned there is some misdirection in the following puzzle.

 

1)

Car park puzzel

Solution

 

2) Read the following sentence and identify how many errors it contains

Thiss sentence contains threee errors

The solution is contained in this pdf along with the remainder of this article:-  Thiss sentence

Video examples

The following clip labours the text of the Rule and suggests improvements to it. I am not convinced that the umpire was even watching, and saw this incident, as he struggled to get back into a position in the circle. His failure to penalise for obstruction and physical contact (backing in and barging) is otherwise inexplicable (a goal was awarded).

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/11/27/the-einstellung-effect/

October 31, 2018

Running down the barrel

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

An absence of cognitive dissidence.

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a belief of a person clashes with ‘new’ evidence perceived by or presented to that person. (The evidence from the Rules of Hockey is not new but it has been blanked out by following what others are doing – following selected parts or peer gossip and invention – rather than by fully reading and understanding what is given in the rule-book)

When confronted with facts that contradict personal beliefs, ideals, and values, people will find a way to resolve the contradiction in order to reduce their discomfort. Often the way found is to dispute the validity or authority of the evidence (I am frequently asked at what level I umpire or umpired, as if that could change what is given in the Rules of Hockey, which I frequently quote)  or to point to practice by others that confirms the held belief or simply – and most commonly – to ignore it, shut it out, pretend it isn’t there.

A commonly held belief, that is wrong, is that umpires are responsible for interpreting the Rules of Hockey. In fact they are responsible for applying interpretations (meanings and purpose) of Rules provided by the FIH Rules Committee to the actions of players during a hockey match – that is interpreting the actions of players vis-a-vis the Rules of Hockey and the Explanations of Application provided with them. This has nothing to do with the interpretation (meaning, use) of the wording of Rules and Explanations, which is determined long before an umpire sets foot on a hockey pitch to apply it. The distinction is lost on many players and umpires, but only the FIH RC can provide Rule Interpretation, and umpires as well as players are obliged to follow what is provided in the rule-book by way of Rule Interpretation in all matches played under the auspices of the FIH. The above references to interpretation do not include changes to interpretation inadvertently made to Rules during translation from English to another language. It is common practice to disdain the ‘black and white’ of the rule-book as inadequate, based on ignorance of umpiring by rule-makers, umpires have even previously been told by senior umpire coaches that they should throw their rule-books away, because the Members of the FIH RC have no umpiring experience (which is untrue). It is worth enduring the following video (a little over five and a half minutes long) to get a picture of the process of the undermining of the authority of the FIH Rules Committee by those who should be supporting it and the mistaken notion umpire coaches have that it is part of their job to determine interpretation – rather than to pass on the provided interpretation. Umpire coaches should be seeking clarification from the FIH RC when this is necessary, not providing interpretation to the FIH RC for the Rules the FIH RC have written.

 

 

The video above is an extended version of a clip I first posted to You Tube in mid-March 2018, upon learning via a video Rule Briefing from the American Hockey Association that the positioning of an umpire close to the base-line and close to the left-side goalpost is, according to statistical evidence, the best place for an umpire to position to see offences committed in the circle. I always found this position very uncomfortable (and cannot believe in the reliability of such ‘stats’ – I would like to know what they were based on – i.e. what was being seen and what missed) because I felt this positioning cut me off from the play I wanted to see, and I avoided taking it up except when supervising the taking of the now defunct long corner on my ‘own’ side of the goal – and even then I disliked it.

I posted the above video (I have others showing similar ‘blindside’ decisions) because the incidents in it clearly demonstrate the weaknesses of the baseline/goalpost position during the taking of a penalty corner. Three times in this match a shot was made at chest height or above at an out-running defender during a penalty corner, the ball hit the defender on each occasion and then deflected into the goal. Each time the umpire missed that the shot was high and had hit a defender and awarded a goal. Each time the award was overturned on video appeal. Why the umpire positioned near the half-way line did not signal for dangerous play following any of these incidents I do not know, but she didn’t.

At the end of October 2018 I received comment on the video (which began “What are you on about“, and went on to state that I was “absolutely incorrect” to assert that any of the shots made were dangerous play by the shooter (a follow-up message conceded that, on review, the first shot was dangerous, but only because it was going wide of the goal – which gave me a good idea of the Rule knowledge of my critic). My critic did not seem to realize that the shots had been declared dangerous on the recommendation of the video umpire and that the opinion that the shots were dangerous play were not mine, I just agreed with those decisions. He then went onto say that shots two and three were dangerous play by the out-runner who was “running down the barrel” and thus caused the danger. When I disagreed and pointed out that there was no barrel and that a shot at goal with a drag flick was not in any way like a ball shot from a gun in a fixed position with a predetermined ball trajectory, he replied with a selected part of the Explanation of Rule 13.3.l – leaving out the critical “without attempting to play the ball with their stick” (see the video). According to his interpretation any out-runner at a penalty corner who closed on an attacker in the act of shooting was committing a dangerous play offence – the Rule statement to the contrary, (sic) “a shot made at a defender within 5m and at knee height or above must be penalised as dangerous” was simply ignored – avoiding cognitive dissidence.

A little history is helpful here. Prior to 2004 the relevant Rule, which related to all raising of the ball towards another player, not just to the first shot at goal during a penalty corner was this:-

By 2004 I had been pointing out on various Internet hockey forums for some years that many of the drag-flick shots (which were routinely made high until Ric Charlesworth changed this approach) were illegal, simply because they were raised at opponents, and this circumvention of the height limit on the first hit shot by means of a drag-flick should have a separate height limit imposed to a) make it legal and b) so that a dangerously raised flick – one that was made too high and at a player- could be identified and penalised as dangerous play. I still hold this view and suggest the sternum height of a standing player as a height limit (120cms which can be shown on a goal with a elasticated tape post to post around the back of the goal. This height avoids the problem of the ‘logging’ keeper but keeps the legal ball shot below most areas to which an injury could be life threatening). Shots not directed at a player would not be subject to a height restriction – so high shots wide of or above players would be legitimate.

Unfortunately, in a Pre-Olympic tournament in 2004 the coach of the S.Korean team, playing against Pakistan, devised a stupid way of defending against the drag-flicks of Sohail Abbas. These flicks, once made, were unstoppable by any player except a goalkeeper because above shoulder playing of the ball was not permitted to field players. The Koreans out-running players were coached to charge down the shots in groups of three, using their bodies to stop the ball. Their coach ‘reasoned’ that as raising the ball into the body of an opponent was an offence, an offence which would be committed just prior to the deliberate ball-body contact, this tactic would prevent Abbas from scoring. I don’t know why the match umpire didn’t use common sense and card the offending out-runners on the first occasion this happened, but he didn’t and the tactic was repeated.

As a result of these incidents in a single match an emergency change to the Rules (for the Athens Olympics) was made by the FIH RC, this was confirmed during a complete (and unrelated) rewrite of the rule-book, which changed the Penalty Corner Rule and introduced a mandatory penalty corner when an out-runner was hit with the ball below knee height. Rule 13.1.3.d. (above) was deleted as a stand alone offence and became, with the addition of a 5m limit, part of the Explanation of Application of the new Rule 9.9. – a Rule about the intentional raising of the ball with a hit when not taking a shot at the goal (so completely unrelated to high drag-flicks during a penalty corner). Part of the new penalty corner Rule 13.3.k. then conflicted with (contradicted) part of the Explanation of the new Rule 9.9, but never mind, umpires would use common sense – wouldn’t they?

We still don’t have a height limit on a ball raised at an opponent (with any stroke); from beyond 5m. Dangerous play from beyond 5m is left to the opinion of umpires, and based on a subjective view of the legitimacy of any action taken by a defender to avoid being hit with a raised ball – bizarrely raising the ball towards an opponent high and with high velocity from beyond 5m is not prohibited by Rule even if it is done intentionally.

This ‘cock-up’ has similarities with the later (2011) deleting of the Forcing Rule with the announcement made in the rule-book at the time that “any forcing action of this sort can be dealt with (penalised) under other Rules”a statement which has long been forgotten because it was not included in any rule-book after 2011 – Why not?. Could it be that the FIH were later made to realize that there were no other Rules which were applicable if the ball was not raised so the “any action of this sort” clause was a misstatement?

In 2008 at the Beijing Olympics a match commentator broadcast the view that an on target shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play, and during the incident being commentated about that was the line the match umpire took. The commentator seemed to be quoting from briefing he had received. The Tournament Director at Beijing was the Dutchman Peter von Reth (the same guy who in 2007 attempted to overrule the FIH RC concerning the deletion of “benefit gained” and who ‘contained’ a change in umpiring practice even though the FIH RC did delete the ‘gains benefit clause – and it was not restored to the Rule until May 2015 as ‘gains an advantage’ – so umpiring practice should have changed after Jan 2007, but didn’t).

The Dutch are at it again; in 2018-19 the KNHB have instructed umpires that legitimate evasive action does not apply to a defender defending on the goal-line during a penalty corner. A notion that is as inventive and wrong as the 2008 on-target shot nonsense was and is, and the notion of a defender “running down the barrel” is (this is, in fact, an alternative version of the “on target” invention).

Why isn’t there cognitive dissidence re: “running down the barrel” when a defender who has closed to within 5m of the shooter and is then hit by a ball raised towards him at knee height or above by the shooter, should according to Rule be awarded a free ball for dangerous play by the shooter? The contradiction between the assertions made about “running down the barrel” and this Rule could not be more obvious and it is not a complicated concept. An out-running defender closing on the player intending to shoot during the taking of a penalty corner, with the intention of preventing a shot or making a tackle for the ball with the stick, is not committing an offence: although I have heard more than one television commentator assert that this closing down action is of itself an offence, especially if done from within the goal (this added detail seems to lend credibility to this nonsense). The replacement of the penalty corner with a power-play in the 23m area is long overdue: it was overdue in the 1980’s when Fischer and Boverlander were making their fearsome ‘banana hits’.

Even now we have umpires who insist that an on-target shot at the goal cannot be dangerous play, that out-runners are the sole cause any danger to themselves even if a shot is raised high and directly at them and that defenders on the goal-line will not be afforded the limited protection from a dangerously played shot that is given by legitimate evasive action (the sole definition of a dangerously played ball from beyond 5m, even though it shouldn’t be the sole criterion). Prior to this time umpires used “positioning with intent” and “acceptance of risk” (risk from illegal actions cannot be accepted) to try to justify their unfair penalising of defenders. Some even declared – demonstrating their poor knowledge of playing hockey – that when a player was positioned behind his or her stick when attempting to stop the ball that was an intention to use the body if the ball was missed with the stick. (Have they not seen a defender trying to defend his feet to prevent a ball contact being forced by an opponent? Where are his feet positioned? Behind his stick of course).

 

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/10/31/running-down-the-barrel/

 

 

 

September 21, 2018

Unauthorized Rule exception in the Netherlands.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Dangerously played ball

While commentating on a video I recently posted to YouTube I was critical of a television sports commentator speaking within it who declared that a defender hit with the ball while on the goal-line defending the goal would (always) be penalised with a penalty stroke. The ball had in this particular incident been deflected up into the chest of the defender from very close range off his own goalkeeper – and yes, in such circumstances the award of a penalty stroke is correct, but the statement made is not (this commentator also said several times during the match that any ball-body contact would (should) result in penalty against the player who was hit with the ball – which is also incorrect  It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way”.).

I pointed out that if the defender had been hit like that by a ball propelled from close range by an attacker a free ball should (must) be awarded to the defending team. (In the same match the NZ team tried to score a goal during a penalty corner  using a pass followed by a high deflection of the ball at the goal from less than one meter (the ball hit a post and then the goal cross-bar and bounced back into play). That defection shot narrowly missed the head of a defender after hitting the goal-post. Had the ball been played directly at that defender he would have had no chance to evade it. Evasion in such circumstances has to be considered legitimate and therefore an indication of dangerous play by opponents. This is true even if the evasion attempt is not successful and the player is hit with the ball). These assertions have to be correct because otherwise Rules 9.8 (dangerously played ball) and the Explanation with Rule 9.9 (ball raised towards an opponent within 5m) would be ignored. Comment was made about what I had said during that video by an umpire from the Netherlands, who subsequently gave me a link to a special letter to umpires from the KNHB. The relevant part is set out below.

 

The Netherlands Hockey Federation

Koninklijke Nederlandse Hockey Bond

https://www.knhb.nl/

AGREEMENTS CLUB SAFETY ARRANGEMENTS (FIELD) SEASON 2018 - 2019 

AFSPRAKEN CLUBSCHEIDSRECHTERS (VELD) SEIZOEN 2018 – 2019

Wees Alert!

– Ook een schot op doel kan gevaarlijk zijn. Het schot op doel is gevaarlijk wanneer
spelers een terecht ontwijkende beweging maken (dit geldt niet voor de lijnstopper bij een strafcorner-situatie);

Obviously inaccurately translated by Google Translate below, but the message is clear enough for comprehension.

— A shot on target can also be dangerous-

The shot on target is dangerous when players make a rightly evasive move
(this does not apply to the line stopper in a penalty corner situation).

The invented clause, given in parenthesis, will always conflict with the second statement and is likely to align with the first statement, so I find the ‘club safety’ title ironic with this clause included.


I also got another translation which makes even less sense.

— A shot on target can also be dangerous-

The shot on target is dangerous when players make a rightly evasive move
(this does not apply to the line stopper at a criminal responsibility situation).

I does not matter which translation I write about but I’ll take the first one because I have been told by the Dutch Umpire that this is how umpires are instructed and anyway, to refer to criminality (by a defender) seems beyond bizarre. (There could well be a case made for criminality by the player who propelled the ball, but the deliberateness of a severe action (for example propelling the ball at the head of a defending opponent with the intention of inflicting injury) would be difficult to prove without several instances of it occurring. There might be need to be able to demonstrate that the player had been warned or penalised for doing it on a previous occasion – possibly even in the same match before criminality could be asserted. This difficulty has always stood in the way of penalising a deliberately dangerously played ball).

The first difficulty about applying this (this does not apply to the line stopper in a penalty corner situation) exception to legitimate evasive action, is that it is not a legitimate i.e. legal, Rule clause (which ‘kills’ it stone dead); it is an invention by the KNHB who do not have the authority to invent or impose such exceptions to the FIH Rules of Hockey (nobody other than the FIH Rules Committee has this power). It was not drafted by the FIH Rules Committee and submitted to the FIH Executive for approval and then approved by the Executive, which is the only legitimate procedure for making or amending Rule, (that is why it is not in the FIH published Rules of Hockey) so it is not and cannot be considered to be FIH authorized and should not be applied by any umpire anywhere in the world as if it is authorized by the FIH. I am not referring here to a correct interpretation of a valid Rule statement using different wording with the same meaning, which would be acceptable, but to contradiction. This exception does not even appear in the Dutch language edition of the Rules of Hockey produced by the KNHB themselves.

Even if this exception was valid (if it had been introduced by the FIH RC) there would be difficulties with the interpretation and application of it. For example, would this exception overrule not only what is given about evasive action in Rule 9.8 but also what is described as dangerous play in Rule 9.9. (that is raising the ball towards another player from within 5m)? If Rule 9.9 still applied (as it should) the exception would not be complete, there would be an exception to it, which would further complicate umpiring. If Rule 9.8 still applied there would be a contradiction created. Then, when is a defender considered to be a line-defender? When he or she is positioned on the line or a little in front of it? How far off the line must a defender be to be not considered a line defender or is that irrelevant, with “gained an advantage” overruling dangerously played? (Which should not happen because if the ball is dangerously played by a shooter before any advantage from stopping a dangerously raised ball with the body is gained, the first offence must be penalised first)

If Rules 9.8 and 9.9. would not apply because of this exception then there would be no emphasis on the safety of players or an enforceable demand for the consideration of the safety of other players or an enforceable demand that players behave responsibly – and the FIH Rules Committee might just as well be disbanded and cease its function. Then all National Associations could compose their own Rules, as the KNHB have done here and we could wave goodbye to participation in the Olympic Games (because of the IOC demand that there be a sole world Rule authority for any sport included in the Games): this means that the FIH are obliged to prevent National Associations or any other body or group from imposing their own “Rules” or altering FIH Rules.

There is also the problem of the Common Law legality of the exception. In Civil Law, accusation of the tort of negligence is often defended by pointing out that the plaintiff knew the risks and knowing of them willingly accepted them and in such circumstances there is at least contributory negligence by the plaintiff. Sport is an area where it may be claimed that participation alone carries a certain risk and that the risk must be assumed to be accepted by willing participants.

But that legal defence cannot be used if the defendant (the player who propelled the ball) has caused injury to the plaintiff due to a breach (especially a deliberate breach) of a Rule of the game being played. In hockey it is declared in Rule that to raise the ball (with no minimum height or intention mentioned) towards an opponent within 5m IS dangerous play, i.e. doing so is prohibited. There is no Rule forbidding a defender from positioning on the goal-line (if there were an umpire would be obliged to clear the goal-line of field-players before the commencement of a penalty corner).

It is also the case that causing legitimate evasive action (forcing evasion to avoid the probability of injury) defines a dangerously played ball (with no height or distance criteria for legitimate evasive action mentioned in the Rule, so no such limits can be assumed). Therefore any ball propelled towards an opponent, from any distance, where there is potential that a player may be injured if hit with it, can be a cause of (force) legitimate evasive action and can (must) be considered dangerous. Is that extreme and unreasonable? No, not when the ball can be propelled at a player at velocities in excess of 150 kmh and often is. Stripping out legitimate evasive action as a definition of dangerous play removes the possibility of dangerous play and that runs contrary to the FIH declared Rule emphasis on player safety, so doing that cannot be correct or acceptable.

Demonstrating knowledge by a defending player that the ball might be propelled at the position of that defender is an insufficient justification for penalising a defender hit with the ball (or awarding a goal if evasive action is successfully taken) because it is also true that the ball might be propelled elsewhere rather than at the defender forced to evasion – the defenders cannot know with certainty where the ball will be propelled – and attackers often engage in deception to cause uncertainty about the timing and positioning of the shot.

Moreover, when there is a defender positioned on the goal-line the player propelling the ball knows where that defender is positioned both before the ball is propelled and while it is being propelled and chooses anyway to propel the ball in the direction it is propelled while having that knowledge – and also with knowledge of the existence of a duty of care towards the defending players. The admonishment (i.e. Rule – “players must”) which demands play with consideration for the safety of others is set out in the rule-book on the very first page. Players are also instructed that they are expected to play responsibly (play with care and take responsibility for their own actions) at the commencement of Rule 9 Conduct of Play.

The fact that the existence of a dangerously played ball is based on evasive action means it must be acceptable in Rule for a defender to be in a position where evasive action may become necessary, it is therefore illogical to declare that a defender should not or cannot legitimately position on the goal-line to defend the goal during a penalty corner or may be penalised simply for being so positioned or for having accepted risk. Defending the goal is not in itself irresponsible behavior and attempting to defend a goal with the hockey stick can never (unless there is backsticks) be considered to be an illegal action (intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball is an entirely different matter – but the umpire needs to be certain of such intent before it may be penalised, a failure to stop the ball with the stick when an attempt is made to do so, cannot be assumed to be intent to use the body to stop the ball if it is missed with the stick even if the body is positioned behind the stick, players frequently position their bodies behind their stick especially when defending their feet and legs from ‘attack’).

When a ball is raised at another player and obliges that player to take evasive action to avoid injury (the opposite of intent to use the body to stop the ball) it is always the fault and the responsibility of the player who chooses to raise the ball in this way, not the fault of the player towards whom the ball was raised. If any penalty is to be applied in these circumstances it should always penalise the player who raised the ball – not a difficult concept and one that is fair and completely Rule compliant.

“But that will make it more difficult to score goals” That’s true, but so what? It is right and proper that it should require considerable skill to score a goal. The emphasis of the Rules is supposed to be on player safety, not on unfairly disadvantaging defenders or making easy the scoring of goals.

I wrote to the FIH about this matter last year shortly after posting this article and received a reply in November from Jon Wyatt, the FIH Development Officer. He assured me in that reply that neither the FIH Rules Committee nor the FIH Executive have given approval to a change to the Rules of Hockey along the lines of the instructions issued to umpires from the KNHB concerning legitimate evasive action, but I do not know if the FIH have contacted the KNHB about this problem.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/09/21/unauthorized-rul…-the-netherlands/

September 13, 2018

Moving with the ball

COACHING NOVICES

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/19/holding-a-hockey-stick/

Before moving the ball with the stick it is necessary to learn how to hold a hockey stick correctly See above link for separate article.

A learner driver backing a car out of a garage for the first time is probably unnerved by the starting of the engine when turning the key, and in a car with a gear-stick has to look through or under the steering wheel to locate the clutch pedal, puts the car in reverse gear using both hands, and then struggles to coordinate engaging the gear, steering and looking where he is going. A year later he is doing these things easily without a though about how he is doing them. How? Long practice develops muscle memory and confidence – and he is also very motivated to learn.

The motor tasks a novice hockey player has to learn to usefully be able to take part in a match are no less daunting than those a learner driver in a car has to master and bad habits can be learned in the early stages of developing muscle memories which are later difficult to correct – so it is best to avoid learning and repeating poor technique.

Moving with the ball in close control is fundamental to the playing of hockey but by itself is near useless, the player also has to have reason for moving in a particular direction and be able to see where he is going and what needs to be avoided if he is to make progress with the ball to a passing or shooting position, and then be able to pass or shoot – evading a tackling opponent is akin to driving in fast heavy traffic on narrow roads – not for the complete novice.

Before or during the process of learning how to hold a hockey stick and move a ball in control with it, it is necessary to learn how to look and how to move the feet to maintain a balanced position. I’ll start with looking. This can be done before introducing a walkabout session in which players simply try to avoid colliding with each other in a confined area or after the difficulties have been discovered by the players taking part in a walkabout.

Peripheral vision.
It is not strictly necessary to look at the ball at all while dribbling with it because it is possible to feel the ball in contact with the stick and well practiced players can move the ball about using just feel, but even skillful players will take an occasional glace at the ball while at that time keeping their surroundings in peripheral vision and will usually employ peripheral vision to keep track of the ball rather than looking directly at it or at the other extreme,  using just feel. Players who look directly at the ball the whole time (which novices may do to the exclusion of all other available vision) can’t direct their moving with the ball because they cannot see where they are going or plan to go anywhere in response to any stimuli – they are reversing a car while looking at what they are doing with their hands and the steering wheel.

To demonstrate peripheral vision, ask the players to spread out along a 23m line and the look at the cross-bar of the goal at the further end of the pitch. Now get them to put both arms straight up in the air above their heads and bend their hands forward 90º at the wrist so that they are pointing towards the goal. Then while wiggling the fingers and keeping the crossbar in focus slowly lower the arms forward until the fingers come just into the edge of vision – they can be seen moving. Now, keeping the cross-bar firmly in sight move the arms further and further apart until the moving fingers disappear from view on both sides at the same time. Move the arms the other way until the fingers come back into the edge of vision.


Second phase.
With the arms down by the sides palms facing front and again while looking at the cross-bar bend the arm at the elbow while wiggling the fingers, until the fingers rise into view. Again from here move the arms far apart until the fingers disappear from view and then move them back into the edge of vision. The periphery of peripheral vision has now been explored. It should be discovered that because of binocular vision (two eyes side by side) it is in the shape of an oval which is wider side to side than it is top to bottom. The range of peripheral vision can be increased by doing this sort of exercise and others that can be discovered on the Internet – and it is very useful to increase it as much as possible, it should be a regular practice.

Now with stick and ball.
Stand upright with a ball positioned in front of the feet and touching them. Obviously no forward movement is possible without hitting the ball with a foot which is not good. Move the ball away about the length of a shoe and it is now possible to move the feet without hitting the ball. But, with the ball in this position it is not possible to see very far beyond the ball with peripheral vision, perhaps 3m-4m, perhaps enough to see people in time not to bump into them when there might otherwise be a collision and loss of control of the ball, but nothing more than that. Unfortunately, many players while moving with the ball don’t move it any further away from their feet than this (about 20cms maximum) and therefore not only restrict their forward vision but also therefore the speed at which they can safely (without collision) move with the ball.

Now let’s see how far away from the feet the ball could reasonably be moved. With stick and ball look at the further goal cross bar from a 23m line and with the stick move the ball out from the feet until it can be seen at the edge of vision. It will probably be found that this distance is 60cms -70cms from the feet (depending on player height) and that to keep the stick in contact with the ball it is necessary to bend the knees (something not done at all or not done deeply enough when the ball is close to the feet). It should also be found that to remain comfortable in this position it will be necessary to move one foot in advance of the other. The position can be modified slightly by, bringing the ball back, perhaps 10cms. because it is not likely that a player will often be looking up at a cross-bar seven feet off the ground and almost 70m away. The ideal distance of the ball from the feet can be fine-tuned by looking at players (or other objects such as flag posts) positioned at various distances and finding the best distance to place the ball so that it can be seen in peripheral vision (or the player or object 15m – 20m away can be seen in peripheral vision while looking at the ball). This should rarely be less than 50cms and more usually about 60cms. Then start to practice moving with the ball at the established distance from the feet.

If the player is used to an almost upright position with the ball held close to the feet, the new position will seem odd and maybe even uncomfortable at first, but it is worth persevering with it until the new practice overrides the previously learned habit. The coaches can empty their water pistols at players who allow the ball to drift back closer than 45cms from their feet (I wrote this article in response to a coaching video in which the coaches were ‘disciplining’ children in a fun way, with water pistols, when they did not comply with instruction).

The method described is of course for use in what is termed the Indian style of dribbling. The former English style involved overtaking the ball from the left when moving it to the right and also a more upright stance when doing so. Moving between these styles (which are modified as a result) is an essential skill as both styles are necessarily incorporated into one style called stick-work – but that development can wait for the moment.

The eyes move and the head moves on the neck, which makes looking to other objects and the ball much easier but may also cause the player to carry the ball too close to the feet. The habit of keeping the head up as much as possible when in possession of the ball needs to be developed. It could help to think of breathing out through the nostrils towards the ground, rather than towards the chest or keeping the base of the nose parallel to the ground. After a while it is no longer necessary to do this sort of thing consciously, it becomes part of the muscle memory of the neck when a player is in possession of the ball.

Consciously thinking about what a particular part of the body should be doing – what position it should be in to carry out a particular task – is a fairly standard way of developing desired habits. Focusing on the use of the little finger of the left hand, followed by the positioning of the left elbow, when capturing the ball to the left prior to moving it to the right, is but one of many such combinations. Each part is developed separately and they are then strung together, in the same way that changing gear in a car is learned so that this is thought of as one action rather than a combination of several different actions.

It is probably a good idea to get players familiar with moving the ball from side to side across the feet, so that they know about reversing the stick-head to play the ball, before having them try walking about with stick and ball in a small area avoiding bumping into each other. This is because it is quite difficult to move to the right unless the reverse stick is used, which can, without use of the reverse stick, result in the whole group moving anti-clockwise and always avoiding collisions or changing course by moving to their left (repeating triangular paths) with the ball on the forehand face. Being able to sidestep in either direction with the ball in control is a desirable skill when avoiding collision (or a tackle) and the next step after being able to walk forward with the ball in control.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/19/holding-a-hockey-stick/

Moving with the ball.

The typical foot-step when in possession of the ball might reasonably be called a kind of shuffle. It is certainly not similar to a typical long walking stride where the usual mode is to plant the heel with the foot pointing up at somewhere between 35º – 45º and then rock or power forward onto the ball of the foot.

The step might be explained to the novice as follows. Stand upright feet together and then take a side-step, keeping the foot pointing forward, to just outside shoulder width, to the right. Note how the foot is used, which part touches the ground first and how the foot is inclined to the ground. It will probably be outside ball of foot to ground first with the foot held almost parallel to the ground but with the toe end inclined slightly downwards. That is the sort of step that needs to be made, but forwards when dribbling forward. It is, incidentally, quite difficult to make a heel first stride when the knees are bent, so if there is a heel strike (which is caused by a leg movement made from the hip with the knee almost locked) it is more than probable that the player will not have his knees properly bent.

Stride speed increases dramatically as the player increases running speed but, stride length remains relatively short. A longer stride length and a heel high style of running (on the balls of the feet) with a high knee lift, does not generally appear until the player is sprinting free and has simply pushed the ball ahead and is chasing it, rather than trying to maneuver around opponents with it in close control.

So use the water pistols when players place a heel on the ground and have the foot pointing sharply upwards.


https://martinzigzag.com/2018/09/13/moving-with-the-ball/

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/19/holding-a-hockey-stick/

 

September 8, 2018

Now after 25 years.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

In agreement with the point made in this article:-

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/25/opinion/sunday/college-professors-experts-advice.html

I have over the years come to the conclusion that those who umpire, especially those who are considered to umpire well, cannot explain to anyone else what the Rules of Hockey are and haven’t the slightest idea about improving them, either by re-writing them in simple English or by removing contradictions within them or by suggesting new ideas, new Rules or new ways of applying existing Rules. They just don’t consider these things and seeking improvement and change does not occur to them. In general they tend to have learned the Rules of Hockey by ‘boning up’ on them just prior to a test taken many years ago and continue to apply those Rules as they were, come what may, until they are no longer offered appointments. At which point, or perhaps earlier, they become umpire coaches and perpetuate these same ‘own’ views. Many umpires were probably coached by such people. Here is a high level umpire coach, coaching on the Obstruction Rule (from the FIH Umpiring Committee’s published Umpire Managers’ Briefing – not from the Rules of Hockey)

.

.

The coach, Jan Hadfield (above), speaks as if attempting to ‘manufacture’ an obstruction offence is a common occurrence, when it isn’t now (but it was up until the 1970’s), it now seldom happens (it is generally a waste of effort anyway because obstruction is so seldom penalised). The most common obstruction by far is by a ball holder who illegally shields the ball from an opponent to prevent a tackle attempt, but she does not mention this type of obstruction at all. It is ignored, perhaps in order to “take the whistle out of the game”. Examples of this kind of ‘application’ are seen in the videos below. Umpires should not of course interrupt the game with the whistle to award penalty more than is necessary, but they also should not fail to award penalty when it is necessary (required by Rule) that they do so.

.

Bizarre

.

What I have written in the opening paragraph may seem to be a bit harsh, but aside from the evidence of practice seen in the videos, which is not at all unusual, there is the writing of the Rules as published (that is piecemeal – bits being added or deleted over the course of years without any editing or incorporation or consolidation of the existing text) which results in conflicts and contradictions and absurd assertions, which I have only touched upon in the two videos above, to support that view. The Obstruction Rule is a case in point.

As I demonstrated in the first video. The major rewrite of 2004 left us with three bullets points under the heading ‘Players obstruct if they’; to those there can be added another four points, two from what is written (badly) about third party obstruction and two from the paragraph which was extended by amendment in 2009 (to prohibit a player moving to position between an opponent and the ball) ; this ‘tightening up’ which prevented players who were “moving away in any direction” shunting sideways with the ball to maintain a ball shielding position, was the last amendment made to the Obstruction Rule.

But then in 2002 Advice to Umpires in the rule-book (which was also presented in the 2002 Umpire Managers Briefing), contained three sensible additional points (or sub-points) that simply disappeared in the 2004 rewrite without ever making it into acceptance in what is termed Full Rule. Part of what was deleted in 2004 (from the 2002 advice) was restored in 2009 but the language used is (it’s still there) not as specific i.e. it is vague. There are a total of ten possible “Players obstruct if” bullet points (with some overlap and repetition) – and these do not specifically cover the two circumstances (aside from ‘manufacture’) in which an obstruction offence is an impossibility, one of which (on-side of the ball and the player) I try to explain in the second video above (the other being when an opponent is receiving the ball – because receivers, moving or stationary, are permitted to be facing in any direction).

There is, as further example of potential confusion, the assertion made in the Rules Interpretations up until 2003, that there is an onus on a tackler to position to make a tackle, which, it was written within Interpretation, usually meant that a tackler should move around the player in possession of the ball. (This entire interpretation was taken out of the rule-book in 2004 (deleted) but is still being applied by many umpires as if extant – the coaching video below ARG v GER is an example of this ‘interpretation’)

In the days when a receiving player could be guilty of an obstruction offence (pre -1993) the best time to attempt a tackle, other than an interception before the ball reached the intended receiver (which is still the most advantageous way to gain possession), was as the ball was being received. In those circumstances obstruction was always seen as occurring before the tackle attempt and the obstructing player penalised if the tackler was or came to be within within playing reach of the ball before the ball was played away or the receiving player moved away to keep it beyond the playing reach of opponents (so considerable skill, besides collecting the ball, was required of a player receiving the ball – which is no longer the case Practically the Rule application really demanded that a closely marked receiver made a lead run to ‘create’ space in which to receive the ball without obstructing his marker).

The ‘new interpretation’ (in fact an exception to the Obstruction Rule) reversed this situation. A receiver no longer needed to make a lead run to create time and space to receive the ball and among the worse times to attempt a tackle was (and is) as the ball was being received (these days such a tackle attempt is likely to be regarded as a contact offence even when there is no contact made). A player already in controlled possession of the ball, but shielding it, is in an even stronger position if the umpire sees no genuine and legal attempt to play at the ball by a tackler  – and what constitutes an attempt to play at the ball might actually be an impossibility when the ball is shielded to prevent such a thing happening – this is a circular situation, but one that is usually interpreted to the ball-holders advantage (which is hardly fair).

The video immediately below is a clip that was published by the FIH Umpiring Committee via the dartfish.com website. The ‘Interpretation of the action’ provided with it failed to describe most of the action which occurred between the time the GER player received the ball and when she had completed her turn about it, to once more face the ARG player, but concluded that the ARG player made no attempt to play at the ball and so could not have been obstructed. Such coaching can only cause great confusion, as the tackle attempts made by the ARG player are obvious, as is the deliberate blocking off of the ARG player by the GER player (it was with much relief that I discovered recently that the FIH Umpire coaching videos that were produced are no longer available on that website. It was infuriating to see such a potentially valuable coaching tool so badly produced. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, replaces them.)  I have overwritten this clip with my own comment.This is the interpretation of the action that was provided with the video by the FIH Umpiring Committee (in fact whoever they appointed to do the job).

.

.
.

.
The only thing that was (and is as a lone player) even worse than attempting to tackle a player in the act of receiving the ball was (is) to attempt to go around a player receiving the ball to try to make a tackle. That simply provided the receiver, then in control of the ball, with opportunity to turn away to the other side and into the space just vacated by the player attempting to tackle. Whoever drafted the conditions of the ‘new interpretation’ clearly had no idea what was involved when defending or tackling during a hockey match.

There is no onus on the opponent of a receiving player to make a tackle attempt, there cannot be, and there certainly should not be direction given that a tackler must go around a ball holder to make a tackle attempt (or even the impression given that this is the case). In most circumstances sensible defenders will try to block movement by an opponent with the ball and hold their ground until they have sufficient numerical advantage to actively confront a ball holder and try to win the ball without the risks associated with loss of defensive position. This is of course not a hard and fast statement, a forward will try to tackle a full-back in possession of the ball in the full-back’s own circle whenever the opportunity arises, but in general defenders do not rush to tackle forwards outside the 23m area, when the attackers have good control of the ball and unmarked support, that is just common sense. 

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2015/10/31/rewrite-rule-9-12-obstruction/

 

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/09/08/now-after-25-years/

 

September 5, 2018

Mistakenly corrected

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

 

The incident in the video is about whether or not there was a ball-foot contact by the defending player but, perhaps more importantly, what the umpires should have done if they believed there had been a ball-foot contact. The fact of contact (once established) is not the end of the matter, it is not what penalty is based upon because it is not what offence is based on. if there is ball-foot contact a reasoning process must take place before a decision may be made. The Rule Explanation is absolutely clear on this point.

It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.(my red bold)

So was there either intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball or an advantage gained from doing so?

I think that intent by the defender to use his body can be dismissed as he is clearly trying to play at the ball with his stick and besides that, at that range he did not have time to move into the path of the ball even if he had guessed what that path would be.

So advantaged gained? The ball clearly went out of play over the base-line before anyone else from either side could play it; but did it go out of play off the defender? If yes, then the defender disadvantaged his own team as a result of this contact because the umpire would have been obliged (following proper reasoning ) to award a restart to opponents on the 23m line (not a 15m to the defenders) – so no advantage gained therefore no offence. If not, then the correct decision is the one the umpire initially made, a 15m ball for the defending team.

Enter the support umpire. He believes he saw a ball-foot contact by the defender and indicates for a penalty corner. Why? Why he though he had a superior view of the incident compared to the view of it his colleague in the circle had from close range, is a mystery, but his reasoning should have been no different to that of the umpire in the circle – Assuming contact, was there either intent or advantage gained? – His signal if he thought he saw contact (but no deflection of the ball away from the goal, which there clearly was not) should have been for the award of a restart on the 23m line (one arm pointing in the direction of the base-line?) He had no grounds for recommending any other decision.

The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way“.

The Rule Explanation statement above is  something that does not appear to be generally known, or if known not understood, or if known and understood (as is claimed by all umpires), simply ignored by most umpires. Why?

 

 

 

 

 

August 26, 2018

Free ball PLEASE

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Can we have our Free-ball back?
.
.

The above video is based on a 2009 video about the introduction of the Self-pass which even then was a revised edition. There have been many other changes to the Free Hit Rule made since the 2009 video for the Sydney area was produced. I have noted most of them within the above video. The video may need pausing from time to time to read text for which I have allowed insufficient reading time. The exceptions to that are the three frames of text I included at the end of it. I have reproduced those three frames below. My previous article https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/24/circular-reasoning/  contains the unlettered explanation text following Rule clause 13.2.f so I have not repeated that in this article. I can’t explain that text: I believe it to be inexplicable because of the logical fallacy and circular argument used within it to justify its existence: the justifications provided don’t make any sense to me.


The suggestions made above are not new (and to them can be added a restoration of an old Rule, the prohibiting of raising the ball into the circle with a hit in any phase of play – intention to do so being irrelevant) I have posted them many many times before, but I can only bear in mind, with hope, as I continue to do so, that these things take time. I was suggesting the Self-pass and Direct Lift in 2001; that is for more than six years before somebody with authority at the EHL took notice and acted. It took the FIH HRB another two years before they initialed the 2009 Experiment. The Self-pass did not become accepted as Full FIH Rule until 2011, but too much time has been allowed to pass with an unsatisfactory state of Rule.

The present complicated mess which is Rule 13.2 must be simplified, made workable, that is easy to apply and comply with, to produce hockey which is fair, sensible and attractive when a free ball is awarded.

The reasons for awarding a free ball and other penalties could do with some revision too. Have I mentioned the Rules concerning the Dangerously Played Ball, the Ball-Body Contact Rule and the Obstruction Rule?

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/26/free-ball-please/

Tags:
August 23, 2018

An apparently well umpired hockey match

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

It is amazes me what is now seen as acceptable, even good, umpiring following the ‘interpretation slide’ that occurred after the introduction of the receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule (1993) and the deletion of the Forcing Rule (2011). Umpiring practice has led to hardly any penalising of obstruction (and some incorrect penalising for it when it does not occur) and also, in the other direction, the penalising of nearly all ball-body contact, instead of there being hardly any interruption due to ball-body contact.  It is strange that ‘interpretation’ has almost inverted the proper application of both of these Rules.
.
.

.
.

.
.

The hitting of the ball at maximum power into the feet or legs of a close and/or closing opponent has never been adequately dealt with. The general attitude to this action seems to be that it is the defender’s (tackler’s) fault for getting in the way – and getting hit in such circumstances is an acceptable and accepted risk – tough players just rub the pain away and get on with the game (but a young novice who is subjected to this sort of treatment might well give up on hockey and instead play, the less painful and more reasonable, soccer – soccer is a contact sport but a player is not allowed to prevent a tackle by giving an opponent a kick in the shin, an action which would be about as painful as being hit with a hockey ball above the shin-pad or on an ankle).

I take the view that unnecessarily (avoidably and often intentionally) hitting the ball at high velocity into the feet/legs of an opponent who is attempting to position to make a tackle is not responsible play, even when taking a shot towards the opponents goal – it is irresponsible (because it frequently causes injury and almost always causes considerable pain to the player hit) and is therefore reckless play. I believe this action ought to be penalised as a forcing offence.

Obviously it is easier just to ‘blast’ the ball through an opponent rather than evading a tackle attempt and then resetting to strike the ball, that takes some skill, but hockey is supposed to be a game of skill.

The easy shove of the ball into an opponent’s planted foot when they reach for the ball with their stick is simply laziness and should not be rewarded with penalty. In most instances of “finding a foot” (how forgiving of what is cheating that phrase is) there is no good reason for the umpire to intervene and play should just continue.

I am not a fan of calling an out-runner at a penalty corner a suicide runner or of the mandatory award of a penalty corner if such an out-runner is hit below knee height with the ball; I think that simply encourages reckless, even dangerous, play and encourages intimidation and that Penalty Corner Rule ought to be deleted. (An out-runner who deliberately uses her body, rather than attempting to use the stick, to block the ball and prevent a shot during a penalty corner, may more rationally be penalised with a penalty stroke and a personal penalty)
.
.
One of the five video referrals from the same match.
.
.


 

My apologies for the up and down quality of the voice commentary on the videos.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/23/an-apparently-we…red-hockey-match/

 


.
.

 

August 14, 2018

A second whistle

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested amendment to a Rule of Hockey

The current Rule 1.4.d

use all the available tools for control
Action. Amendment. Addition

Reason. Clarification. Improvement of control.

Suggestion.

Useful comment and suggestions are welcome.

The headings below could be greatly expanded for umpire coaching purposes but the primary purpose here is to propose the introduction of a ‘second whistle’ so I will focus on that proposal and the reasons for it.

Rule 1.4.d. Know how to use all the available control techniques (tools).

Positioning, Presence, Body Language, Timing, Whistle, Signals, Voice, Cards.

 

Second whistle.

When a free-ball is awarded or a restart is to be taken, play will recommence with a second whistle signal, the first whistle signal having been made to interrupt play and signal penalty. The second whistle signal will be given immediately the umpire is satisfied that the ball is stationary and in the correct position.

The giving of the second whistle signal will not be delayed because players of the team the free is awarded against have not retreated or are not retreating to attempt to get 5m from the ball. If there is such failure to comply with the Rule requirements from the team the free has been awarded against, further umpire intervention and more severe penalty may be required.

Whenever there is a free ball awarded or a restart is being taken, the team about to take it will be required to start with the ball in the correct (an acceptable) position and to make the ball stationary (In the introduction to the current rule-book the FIH RC declare that umpires are not adequately requiring that the ball be stationary – even if only briefly) . Players will sometimes try to gain an unfair advantage by not complying with one or other or neither of these requirements. It is far easier and quicker to ensure compliance before such events occur than to stop play and to reset or reverse the free-ball or re-start. One way to do this is to make it impossible to continue play until there is compliance.

At present the umpire blows the whistle to signal intervention and gives an hand-arm signal to indicate in which direction a free ball has been awarded. Only if the ball is not made stationary or is not placed reasonably close to where it should have been placed when the free is taken will the umpire be required to take any further action. But sometimes necessary further action because of non-compliance is not taken, when it should be.Teams should not be permitted to disadvantage opponents unfairly by, deliberately or otherwise, not complying with rule requirements when taking a free ball.

In the video below (which is one of the large number of umpire coaching videos about the self-pass produced by the FIH and previously presented on dartfish.com) the umpire blows the whistle and signals direction but does not maintain sufficient presence to ensure that there is Rule compliance from the team awarded the free ball. (This compounded the mistake he made by incorrectly penalising the NZL player for obstruction – if that was the reason [which was stated to be the case in the provided ‘interpretation of the action given with the video] he penalised the NZL player – when the RSA player should instead have been penalised for an impeding offence).

That an umpire coach should select this play as an example of an umpire correctly applying advantage, because complying with the Rule might have disadvantaged the player taking the awarded free ball, is incredible.

That aside, the situation could not have arisen if it was standard practice for an umpire to whistle to signal intervention and the stopping of play whenever that was considered necessary and also standard practice to blow the whistle for a second time immediately the ball was satisfactorily positioned and stationary. With such standard practice the players of the team awarded a free ball would comply with the Rule requirements for the taking of a free ball as rapidly as possible and not, as at present, try to avoid compliance if they think they can rush the umpire into going along with such contravention (or they believe, often correctly, that the umpire will be either too flustered and confused or too lazy to call play back and have the free taken correctly or to reverse it).

==============================================================

(The following part is taken from a previous article on the FIH umpire coaching videos about the self-pass. The comment with it is edited and shortened for this article)

Self-pass 4 FIH Umpiring Committee umpire coaching video – Analysis

 

4 Self pass Interp - incredible

 

The comment about the moving ball is very strange ‘interpretation’. It is a Rule condition of the ‘Free Hit’ that the ball be stationary when the free is taken (I don’t see a stationary ball at any point after the whistle was blown for the supposed offence). Umpires sometimes ‘bend’ this Rule if there is clearly an attempt made to make the ball stationary (something that has ‘wandered in’ from indoor hockey) but ignoring the requirement, because complying with it might disadvantage the taker, is not an option. If players get into the habit of making the ball stationary (which can be done in an instant) the problem doesn’t arise and the fact that the second whistle will not be blown until the ball is both stationary and in the correct place should encourage rapid compliance with the requirement – and very shortly improve game flow by completely removing a need for further interventions when a free ball is taken.

==============================================================

This second video, below, is not one of those produced by the FIH for umpire coaching but it is a good example of a situation where obliging an umpire to ensure there was Rule compliance and then – and only then – blowing the whistle for a second time to permit play to recommence would have ensured fair play.

The positioning of the ball for what was supposed to have been a 15m ball and the number of touches made before the restart was considered taken are both matters for concern in the following incident. (The umpire then compounded this sloppiness by awarding a free ball to the Spanish side, penalising the ball-body contact of the New Zealand player, instead of, as he should have, awarding a free to the New Zealand team because of dangerous play of the Spanish player.).



Example. of the ball not being stopped at all when a free-ball was awarded for an infringement within the circle.

In the following incident there was no attempt to make the ball stationary before the self-pass was taken and a team-mate of the taker was not 5m from the ball (a requirement in the 23m area) – defenders were given no opportunity to get 5m from the ball.

The umpire fails to enforce compliance to the Free Hit Rules, in effect manufacturing the conditions for the penalty corner he then awarded.

The player taking the awarded free does not allow the defender to retreat from the ball – immediately charging directly into him and then deliberately playing the ball into his feet. (at the time there was some very strange ‘interpretation’ about direction of retreat being applied)

Play at frantic speed, with neither side attempting to comply to 5m requirements – which caused a break-down in play much longer than ensuring a properly taken free ball would have done.

Not retreating the full 5m can be employed as a means to delay play and pack the defence when a free ball is awarded – perhaps an objection to the introduction of a second whistle – but the use of a second whistle ensures opponents are 5m away and the umpire has clear indication when compliance is not taking place and may, where appropriate, upgrade the penalty or award a personal penalty.

The Ned player commits an obstruction offence followed by a forcing offence (at the time still extant) and then immediately, on realising it is not he that is being penalised, takes a self-pass, before the GER players, who are appealing for the award of a free ball against the NED player, have been given any opportunity to retreat. The penalty corner was awarded for failure to retreat 5m.

In the above and many more similar incidents, some of which would have required telepathy for the players to immediately know in which direction they should be moving, a second whistle would have done much to ensure fair play.

 


https://martinzigzag.com/2018/08/14/a-second-whistle/

Tags:
August 11, 2018

Lizzie Watkins. Regrets are not enough

I posted this article more than seven years ago and took it down after about six months exposure. I re-posted an edited version, with videos added, about a year ago, because this needs to be asked:-           What has been done since May 2012 to try to make hockey a safer sport? 

Answer, absolutely nothing. On the contrary, players are now permitted to play the ball and even take shots at the goal on the volley when the ball is above shoulder height – which they were not permitted to do eight years ago. We still have participants who believe that an ‘on target ‘ shot at the goal cannot be considered to be dangerous play and that in such circumstances legitimate evasive action (bizarrely the definition of a dangerously played ball) does not apply.

Nothing has been done to limit the way in which a ball may be propelled towards another player from beyond 5m and even the existing restriction on raising the ball towards an opponent within 5m (given in the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9) is widely ignored. The video below shows an incident during the 2018 WWC in which an attacker raised the ball towards a defender positioned within 5m of the attacker, causing her injury, and the umpire awarded a penalty stroke. I have no idea why the Japanese defender was penalised at all. As far as I can tell from the video the ball was travelling across the face of the goal and was not even going towards the goal when it struck the defender (that should not of course be relevant when the ball is raised at another player from close range but regrettably it is still considered to be so)

.

The umpire saw no reason to intervene during the play shown in the above video.

.

The fact that the death of Lizzie Watkins was not caused by an opponent raising the ball towards her with a hit, scoop, or flick and the deflection was not off another player’s stick (there seems in fact to have been a deflection up off her own stick) appears to have been accepted as an indication that all is well, rather than as terrible warning that even fit high level players are at risk from ball injuries when the ball is raised by an opponent with a stroke or deflection – just as other participants are.

Reports on the death of Lizzie Watkins in a field hockey incident.

.


.

Aside from a mention earlier in the week on the WA Website that Lizzie was “Rushing to tackle” there has been no hint from those involved that the incident occurred during a penalty corner or that a drag-flicked shot was made. Later reports state that the incident occurred during open play.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

There was also a regrettable incident, in a European Hockey League match in October 2011

From the Belfast Telegraph.

Geofrey Irwin

Godfrey Irwin might be said to be lucky. He was defending the goal during a penalty corner. The ball was propelled, with a drag-flick, high ‘through’ an out-running defender, who took evasive action(so there was a separate dangerous play offence before Irwin was hit)

Irwin, unable to track the ball from the moment it was propelled, because it was screened from him, had no chance to evade it. He knew the ball was traveling towards the goal but not the exact path of it.

He was wearing a mask but instinctively turned his head to protect his face and was hit on the back of his head just below his ear. A few centimeters higher and the strike could have been fatal to him.

He walked from the pitch unable to continue playing but unaware of the seriousness of his injury. (He had a fractured skull and a perforated ear drum and was later taken off work for a year by his doctors)

The game resumed with a penalty-stroke against Cookstown – for the ‘offence’ Irwin committed  –   being hit with a dangerously propelled ball. His attempt to evade the ball was not seen as legitimate – which was of course absurd even if the umpire did not realize the extent of his injuries.

I agree with Errol D’Cruz (Field Hockey.com article above) the penalty corner is now too dangerous to be continued in its present format (a statement I here base on the drag flick shot in the Irwin incident rather than the death of Lizzie Watkins, which D’Cruz mistakenly thought occurred during a penalty corner), but there is also a need for a definition of a dangerously played ball based on objective criteria, such as: 1) at a player and 2) within fifteen metres, 3) at a velocity that could cause injury, and 4) at above sternum height.

The emergence of the lifted reverse edge hit, so that it is now the preferred method of shooting at the goal in open play, makes such controls essential because the edge hit is generally not as well controlled, especially regarding height, as hit made with the flat of the face of the stick.

.

Players should be given the facility to judge for themselves when they can evade the ball without ‘giving away’ a goal. At present players are being forced to self-defence when a high ball is played directly at them, because evasion of the ball is generally not seen as ‘legitimate’ by umpires unless the shooter is within five meters of the defender when the ball is propelled (and often not even then – see the first presented video above). When a ball may be propelled at 75mph / 150kph or more, five metres is a ridiculously short distance on which to base ‘dangerous’ – evasion is often not possible from more than twice that distance. To talk of skill level in determining if a ball of that velocity is (or even can be) dangerous is absurd.

Endangerment should be based on the propensity of the ball to inflict injury to any person it hits, not on the supposed ability of the person endangered to avoid being hit. The physiology of international level athletes, when it comes to the effects of ball impacts on flesh and bone, is the same as that as any other human being, and the difference in reaction times, between Olympic level athletes and the average healthy individual of the same approximate age, are statically insignificant.

The death of Lizzy Watkins caused some activity aimed at mitigating player injury from ball impact and a spate of newspaper reports and comment on the Internet.


17th May 2012
I see from the news reports in Perth, Australia….

http://www.perthnow.com.au/sport/london-olympics/australias-olympic-hockey-players-shattered-by-death-of-perth-player-lizzie-watkins/story-fn9dj0r8-1226349325677

…that there is movement for the resurrection of a previous campaign to introduced protective helmets for field players.

I am sure that this would make the present situation re the dangerously played ball worse rather than better. Past experience has shown – as with the introduction of helmets and HD foam equipment for goalkeepers and the face-mask at a penalty corner for other defenders – that an increase in protective equipment results in a more cavalier attitude to endangering those wearing it.

I am also sure sports equipment manufacturers will be adding their support to the proposal, but I feel that the essential first step is to redefine the dangerously played ball so that a goal cannot be scored with a shot that has been lifted high and ‘through’ a defender. If a goal cannot be scored with a shot made ‘at’ an opponent in a dangerous way, but instead the shooter will be penalised, then attackers will stop making such shots.

This is the shot that hit Irwin on the head while he was positioned in front of the goal-line. At this point there has already been dangerous play; the ball was raised to above knee height directly at a defender who was within 5m of the shooter, compelling his evasive action.

Even if helmets are introduced that alone will not be sufficient action to reduce incidents of injury, it may indeed have the opposite effect. Changes to the Rules concerning the dangerously played ball will be needed even more if field-helmets are introduced.

Press article and comments from Perth Now

http://www.perthnow.com.au/sport/london-olympics/australias-olympic-hockey-players-shattered-by-death-of-perth-player-lizzie-watkins/story-fn9dj0r8-1226349325677

A DOCTOR is on a collision course with hockey officials over the sport’s lack of protective headgear after a young player died in Perth on Sunday.

Lizzie Watkins, 24, died after being hit in the head during a match at Curtin University when the ball deflected off her stick.

Melbourne doctor Denise Fraser said she would reactivate a campaign to make players wear protective headgear so such a tragedy would not be repeated.

“I am a hockey parent and I see a lot of kids hit with the hockey ball,” she said.

“A hockey ball … is not like a football or a soccer ball. It is more like a cricket ball, and when you are facing a cricket ball, you wear protective headgear.

“Goalkeepers wear head protection in hockey but the other players don’t. I have written to Hockey Victoria before and all they say is, ‘Thank you for the letter’. The rules don’t change.”

Hockey Australia chief Mark Anderson defended his sport’s safety record, saying the death was the first of its kind.

“We certainly believe hockey is a safe sport,” Anderson said.

 

Actual hockey player of Perth Posted at 3:14 PM May 11, 2012

This reply to the Doctor’s comment made in the above letter to the newspaper is typical of the other extreme – and based entirely on assertions that are false.

    As she said “hockey PARENT” never played the game to see wearing a helmet would get in the way more than anything and cricket players like goal keepers have the ball directly have the ball pelted at them at speed at head height. On the field the ball is meant to be kept below the knee unless flicked over head. People who don’t play the sport should keep stupid comments like that to themselves. If she’s that worried she can make her own kid wear one see how that goes for them…….. PS Wasn’t the ball that killed her was the ticking time bomb in her brain that got knocked enough to rupture. Get all facts before commenting.

Frank Watkins later e-mailed to inform me that his daughter had no skull weakness or especially vulnerable area like an embolism in her brain, she was physically a normal healthy individual.

.
My reply to the newspaper comment. Martin Conlon of United Kingdom Posted at 1:08 PM May 17, 2012

    Actual Hockey player of Perth has obviously never defended a drag-flick at a penalty corner. The Rules do need to be changed, the dangerously played ball is at present an almost entirely subjective decision by an umpire and a common approach among umpires at present (sic)  is that there is no such thing as a dangerous shot on goal. Defenders need to know when they can evade the ball because it WILL be called as dangerous (just as they can with a first hit shot during a penalty corner that is raised too high) and attackers need to know that they will not be allowed to score with a ball that is directed over-height at (‘through’) a defender. If attackers were prevented from scoring with high shots made ‘through’ defenders the problem of the dangerously played ball would rarely arise. The number of near-misses and minor head and face injuries occurring at present, particularly during the penalty corner and when other shots at the goal are made is unacceptable. I am however skeptical of the merits of protective helmets. Past experience has shown that allowing protective wear – like the face-mask at the penalty corner – simply increases the degree of danger players protected with equipment are expected to accept.

Actual hockey player of Perth  Posted at 10:21 AM May 19, 2012

   Penalty corners are another story all together I believe in the higher grades the posties should have to wear a mask and with saying that everyone that plays hockey know the risk and still choose to put themselves in the line of fire. Rules state everything goes in the D IF you are having a direct shot at goal if you choose to stand there knowing full well that’s the rule they are there at their own risk. It’s not a wimpy sport if you can’t deal with it don’t play it and stay at home and knit.

Although the above views could reasonably be described as inaccurate and extreme they are not at all uncommon. I have heard the ‘acceptance of risk’ meme even from senior umpires, when common sense should ‘tell’ everyone that no player is obliged to accept the risk of dangerous play from an opponent, because dangerous play is an illegal action. Illegal actions can never be ‘accepted’ as a legitimate risk. Everyone of course accepts that there is a risk of injury or worse from purely accidental actions – actions like the one that killed Lizze Watkins – and that it is impossible to legislate for incidents of this sort. But raising the ball at an opponent from within 5m is legislated for and such action is always to be considered dangerous play – there is no leeway for a different interpretation and no exception to this Rule (the only additional proviso is applied only during a penalty corner when the ball is raised towards an out-running defender; in those circumstances the ball is considered dangerously played when it is raised at the defender at knee height or above – I think that this exception should be struck from the Rules and the raised ball propelled at an opponent from close range should be considered dangerous play in all circumstances. The Exception given in the UMB, that a ball raised towards an opponent at below half-shin pad height is not dangerous, contradicts the Rule and should also be struck out – as should other Rule contradiction in the UMB such as “forget lifted – think danger” because the evidence is that umpires don’t think “danger” they generally don’t even react to clear disadvantage following such offences)

The gentleman wrote  PS Wasn’t the ball that killed her was the ticking time bomb in her brain that got knocked enough to rupture. Get all facts before commenting”. I agree that it is helpful to have all the facts concerning the fatal incident, but with nothing else that he has written. I wonder where he got his ‘facts’ about the ‘ticking time bomb’, the nature of the incident and also his opinions about the Rules of Hockey “Rules state everything goes in the D IF you are having a direct shot at goal. The Rules of course state nothing of the sort, but if theses opinions are generally held, or held even by a minority, then hockey is not a safe sport. And it is not in ‘safe hands’ if administrators and Rule makers do not accept that it is potentially a very dangerous sport.

The drag-flick came into being as a way of circumventing the height restriction on the first hit shot during a penalty corner, The FIH should address the circumvention of a Rule which was (and is) intended to curb dangerous play, not ignore it. (Aside from prohibiting the use of a drag-flick when taking a penalty stroke, the drag-flick is not mentioned in the Rules of Hockey, it is not even listed in the Terminology along with the other strokes that are listed. Oddly, edge hits are not listed either).

July 31, 2018

Utterly wrong and absolutely right

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Edited 4st Aug 2018.

The Hockey paper have published a longer second (and I think objectionable) opinion piece on the shootout decision by Michelle Joubert, that decided the match between Belgium and Spain at the Women’s World Cup. I have added it at the foot of this article with a comment. Link immediately below.

http://fieldhockey.com/index.php/comments/41252-shoot-outs-still-excite-if-right-calls-our-made

The first article and my comment

https://www.thehockeypaper.co.uk/articles/2018/07/30/hockey-world-cup-controversy-as-belgium-denied-in-shoot-out-over-spain

By The Hockey Paper Rob Gilmour

Belgium’s Red Panthers were denied the chance of a World Cup quarter—final berth in controversial fashion as Spain advanced in a tense shoot out on Tuesday.

With the scores locked at 3—2 to Spain in sudden death, and after 12 shuttles, Louise Versavel had to score to keep Belgium in the game.

But with her back to goal in the D she was adjudged to have backed into Spanish goalkeeper Maria Ruiz by umpire Michelle Joubert and the game ended abruptly.

With no video referral forthcoming, Belgium remonstrated with Joubert leaving Spain, who achieved fourth in 2006, to celebrate wildly-

It did seem a particularly harsh decision given that the same obstruction ‘offence’ would generally be considered legal on the field during normal play.

However the FIH said in a statement to The Hockey Paper that video referral regulations do not allow the umpire to refer decisions of this nature, while “the footage shows the Belgium player backing into the Spain goalkeeper which is an obstruction-”

“Our world cup ends here, this is sport,” tweeted the Red Panthers account on social media.

The decision marred an othenwise drab play-off game after it had finished 0-0 at full-time_ Germany now play Spain in the last eight.

Comment

The umpire’s decision to penalise the BEL striker for obstruction was correct and I have to take issue with this mischievous and wildly inaccurate statement.

“It did seem a particularly harsh decision given that the same obstruction ‘offence’ would generally be considered legal on the field during normal play.”

It is never acceptable play, that is, within the Rules (legal) for a player in possession of the ball to move to impose her body between the ball and an opponent, to shield the ball with her body, and then to back into contact with that opponent. There are in fact three offences committed obstruction (Rule 9.12), physical contact (Rules 9.3) and impeding (9.4). but all of the described actions are specifically prohibited within the Explanation of Application of the Obstruction Rule. The fact that this combination of offences is frequently not penalised should be a scandal. It is ridiculous that when an umpire does penalise this combination correctly she is lambasted for it. The fault is with hockey coaches who encourage this sort of illegal play and have not instructed their teams in the Rules of the game – and of course with umpires who fail to penalise when they should do so and have created a false culture of ‘acceptance’ or even the impression that there has been a change made to the Rule or to the Interpretation of the Rule – a change that only the FIH Rules committee can make – and they have not done so..

I don’t understand why a video referral is considered not possible. “Did the attacker move to position herself between the goalkeeper and the ball?” is a question that is objective and the answer, which is observable, is a simple “Yes” or “No”. In the same way “Did the attacker back into the goalkeeper while shielding the ball from her?” and “Did the attacker make contact with the goalkeeper?” Are straightforward “Yes” or “No” questions. No subjective judgement is required to answer any of these questions: they could all be correctly answered simply by looking at video replay of the action.

The response from the FIH vis-a-vis subjectivity of decision concerning referral of the above incident is interesting with regard to questions concerning ball-body contact which the umpire has not seen – technically, if the FIH statement is true, a video umpire cannot accept such questions because a ball-body contact offence depends on two subjective criteria, intent or advantage gained. But I have never seen or heard of a ‘question’ like “They are asking for a penalty corner for a foot in the circle” rejected by a video umpire as an unsuitable or unacceptable question. Such ‘questions’ should of course be rejected.

I now have to indulge in some lambasting of this umpire myself because of an incident earlier in the match. It is the initial incident in the video clip below. The opening still picture was captured after the ball had fallen into frame, it went up about a meter higher than that.

The BEL #6 in attack deliberately lifts the ball upwards from the ground as it comes to her from the left flank, it goes up at least two meters above her head ( a height she may not have intended) and as the ball falls to within her playing reach she takes a volley hit at it, propelling the ball towards the goal, despite there being a ESP player within 5m of her (timidly in contention for the ball).

Even if the ball had been deflected off one of her own team and was falling towards her, to take a volley shot at it – instead of allowing an opposing (ESP) player to play it to ground – would have been an encroaching offence and dangerous play. To put the ball up like this herself and take a volley shot at goal as it falls in a contested situation is unheard of. I have never seen it happen before – although a very long time ago raising the ball and hitting on the volley was specifically prohibited within the Rules of Hockey.

Had that shot gone into the goal and a goal been awarded (which might have happened as the play that occurred was not penalised) then there really would have been grounds for protest and uproar. I don’t know what Joubert was thinking there. Perhaps surprise ‘threw’ her and she did not properly take in the action of the BEL attacker The whistle should have been blown to stop play (restart with a 15m) even as the ball began to fall.

I see that in the ENG v KOR cross-over match, that the ball rebounding directly up off the KOR goalkeeper’s protective equipment when she made a save on the goal-line (the ball went up less than 1m above the cross-bar), resulting in the immediate award of a penalty corner. That was a harsh decision, I believe a restart on the 23m line would be a fairer penalty for such an accidental (and potentially, but not actually, dangerous incident) even if the falling ball would probably, if the whistle had not been blown, have been volleyed into the goal by an attacker. This type of incident as well the intentional playing of the ball over the base-line by a defender, should not I think, be punished as if an intentional offence.

By The Hockey Paper Rob Gilmour
 The second article

Not surprisingly, the first shoot out of the Vitality Women’s World Cup created the tournament’s first genuine controversy. With Louise Versavel needing to score to keep Belgium alive, the enormously experienced umpire Michelle Joubert, awarded a free hit against the Belgian attackerfor obstruction on the Spanish goalkeeper. Spain are now in the semi-finals.

There has been plenty of conjecture as to whether the decision was correct. To me, there wasn’t enough for it to have crossed the ‘obstruction’ line but on the other hand, a far greater authority, the multiple Olympic and World Cup umpire Peter Wright, said on Twitterthat the decision was spot on.

But whether the decision was right or wrong doesn’t really seem to be the issue. What seems far more relevant is why Michelle Joubert chose to blow the whistle and not wait until the play ended, one way or another.

By deciding to intervene before any shot or save was made, Joubert, for all her experience, put herself into the still precarious territory of being perceived as the match decider. Had the play been allowed to continue, the onus would
have stayed on the players as well as allowing Joubert to stay true to a couple of age-old, but still important, umpiring principles.

Obstruction or not, a shot over the backline or cleared by the goalkeeper, would have meant no decision to make. Relatively speaking we then wouldn’t have known the umpire was there. Had a goal been scored, the umpire, having
sensed a possible obstruction, could have used her referral. At least she would have ensured that she only had to blow the whistle when she had to.

As it was, the play was cut short not for an obvious foot or back of the stick but for a subjective decision with both players still in the contest for the ball. Belgium, having used their own review, were then doubly frustrated that Joubert would not review the decision herself but, in her defence, that would have raised a new set of issues.

Not only was it reasonable for Joubert to be 100% confident in her decision but umpire reviews are not intended to be prompted by aggrieved teams who have used up their own referral. Unfortunately, though, this turned an already
messy situation into a fully-blown controversy.

And it is this point that is far more important than whether Louise Varsavel was backing into the Spanish goalkeeper or not. With no extra time and double the number of knockout games, umpires need to be experts in understanding
and managing shootouts.

To that end, surely they should be allowed to use all the resources they have available to help them reach their decisions. So rather than just using referrals in shootouts as it is used in normal time, maybe it makes more sense for
the for the Video Umpire to go and grab a cup of tea and let the umpires to use the replays in shootouts for themselves?

How much better would it have been for everyone had Joubert been able to just signal for a possible breach, and then four seconds later as the play had finished, use one of the conveniently placed big screens, as referees do in
Rugby Union, to review her decision, if it was still needed?

Referrals to the Video Umpire are great for situations where the speed or congestion ofthe play have made life difficult for the one umpire in their circle but the simple fact is that shootouts rarely throw up those type of problems.

Not only do hockey shoot outs have one umpire perfectly positioned to watch the two competing players right in front of them but unlike in normal play, the other umpire is standing just as far away on the other side of the circle. Surely
those two people, with the added advantage of having been right next to the live action as it happened, are better placed to work out the right decision from exactly the same replays that the Video Umpire has access to?

Obstruction or not, the conclusion to the tournament’s first shoot out was untidy and unsatisfactory and in its current form, there’s nothing to say that the same sort of scenario won’t happen again.

Shoot outs are an exciting, competitive conclusion to matches but they will only be better than the lottery of penalty strokes if we increase the chances for the on-field umpires to make the right calls.

The Editor of the Hockey Paper does not seem to be able to accept that the right call was made. This correct decision was also made at exactly the right time, which, given that playing advantage was not an option, was immediately the offence occurred. There could have been no possible advantage to the IRE goalkeeper in allowing play to continue (the only reason to delay a decision) Advantage is not allowed to the player who is seen to commit an offence but to her opponent, if that is possible.

The other thing he has not been able to grasp, although it has been explained in the first article above (which I brought to his attention), is that obstruction was not in this case a subjective decision. When a player in possession of the ball backs into physical contact with an opponent, whether or not the opponent is at the time trying to play at the ball (the only subjective judgement that might be needed to be made during obstructive play) is irrelevant.

Obstruction is here (and usually) about the player in possession of the ball illegally preventing an opponent from attempting a legitimate tackle. Physical contact is in all cases where it occurs an additional offence that has nothing to do with whether or not an opponent is trying to play at the ball at the time of the offence. Whether or not there has been physical contact is not a subjective decision – when it occurs it is an objective fact – and it’s seen or it’s not seen by the match umpire.

Of course Peter Wright backs the decision Michelle Joubert made. We have one Olympic and World Cup level umpire backing the decision of another Olympic and World Cup Umpire (when he need not have done so) Rob Gilmour is not as far as I know a hockey umpire. 

Michelle Joubert was voted by her peers to be the best female umpire in the world in 2016. Is it the fact that the word ‘female’ is contained in that accolade that made the editor of The Hockey Paper forget that Michelle Joubert is also an Olympic and World Cup level umpire? That ought really get people annoyed. I’m not known for singing the praises of umpires (which is of course an understatement), I have even had caustic things to say about some of the decisions that Peter Wright has made, and I was critical of Michelle Joubert for a ‘brain fade’ on a high ball, in an incident during the same match, which I related in reply to the first article above, (no umpire is perfect as the late George Croft often remarked), but when an umpire is right she is right – Michelle Joubert was right to give the decision she did in the BEL v ESP shootout.

Here is an example of Peter Wright allowing a ball-holder to back into an opponent and make physical contact – without I believe noticing that it had happened. (I think that if he had seen the contact he would have penalised it, but he should have penalised for obstruction for the shown actions anyway, the ball holder certainly backs into the playing reach of the defender on at least two occasions, each time forcing the defender to give way to avoid contact. For some reason umpires are extremely strict on any contact made during a tackle attempt but very lax about penalising illegal ball shielding even when it is combined with backing in, which is obstruction – there should be balance here)

More on backing in here:- https://martinzigzag.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation/

I make my criticisms of umpiring ‘practice’ when that ‘practice’ does not comply with the published Rules of Hockey, Mr Gilmore appears to believe (and he is not alone) that past ‘practice’ (no matter what it may be) should (or does) over-rule Rule, which in a shootout at least, would (does) lead to a player turning her back to a goalkeeper and, with impunity, barging her aside.

My hope is that many more umpires will now (following Joubert’s good example) deal with obstructive play correctly, and coaches and players will rethink the tactic of turning to position between a goalkeeper and the ball during a shootout – and other opponents at other times – especially when they then back into the playing reach of an opponent who is intent on playing at the ball (clearly obstruction) and even go so far as to make physical contact (an additional offence). 

https://martinzigzag.com/2015/10/31/rewrite-rule-9-12-obstruction/

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/31/utterly-wrong-and-absolutely-right/

July 29, 2018

If only….only if.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Rule 9.11 Ball-body contact and the related advice from the 2017 Umpire Manager’s Briefing in shouting size with colour highlights.

The above Rule is very simple and the Explanation about how it is to be applied is reasonably straightforward, ‘reasonable’ depending on what is interpreted to be an advantage. So why is the application of Rule 9.11 so abysmally badly carried out in practice?

I think it indicative of the attitude taken to the Rules of Hockey by the Umpiring Committee that the text in the Rules is said, in the UMB, to reinforce the existing interpretation – instead of, as it should, declaring that the interpretation follows the text of the Rule and Explanation. Rules are not intended to reinforce interpretations that have arisen via umpire practice, umpires are supposed to be applying the Rules of Hockey, not making them, and the Explanation of application must, if there is to be consistency, be regarded as instruction, not just as advice or recommendation. But at least it is clearly stated in the UMB that the player only commits an offence if they gain advantage. Is that clear or does it in fact ‘plant’ the words “the player only commits an offence“? The above Rule Explanation, if it is read at all, appears to be ‘skimmed’ and applied as follows.

It is always an offence if the ball hits the foot of a field player. The player commits an offence if they stop the ball with their body.

The UMB leaves out the criterion of intentional ball-body contact, as well it might even if that should not have been left out, intentional ball-body (ball-foot) contact occurs about once in a thousand instances of such contact, if that. The gaining of an advantage following a ball body contact occurs in possibly 50% of instances but probably far less than that as the player is usually occupied trying to avoid being hit with the ball and if the player is hit the ball can rebound in any direction. Which team benefits is generally similar to the result of a coin toss, but it may be neither team, the ball might just run loose so that it can be evenly contested for. But a player who has been hit with the ball is penalised for ball-body contact in at least 95% of instances.

If, as seems to be the case, umpire coaches are striving to “take the whistle out of the game”, penalising ball-body contact only when it ought to be penalised would be an excellent way to achieve that aim.

Here (video below) is an example of an umpire, during the 2017 Women’s European Cup Final, BEL v NED,  accepting a video referral from the NED team claiming a ball-foot contact. I suppose that, because the match umpire obviously could not make these judgements, not having seen the incident, intent to make contact or advantage gained from doing so would have to have been left to the judgement of the video umpire, even though video umpires are not supposed to make these subjective judgements (see Tournament Regs. Appendix 15) – but only to make recommendation to the match umpire based on what is seen – which seems to me to be a contradiction which places both the match umpire and the video umpire in an impossible position: but on we go.

 

 

The BEL goalkeeper deflects the ball with her stick onto the foot of a defender positioned very close to her. This was an unintentional contact by the BEL defender, she could not avoid being hit. The ball then deflects away from the hit defender, was missed by a NED attacker – who immediately ran to the umpire to request a video referral – the ball then continues into the possession of another NED attacker without a BEL player being able to gain possession of it. The NED player then in possession passed the ball to a team-mate and an attack on the BEL  goal proceeded, but was halted by the umpire who had stopped time for the video referral. Naturally the video umpire confirmed there was a ball-foot contact and a penalty corner was ‘automatically’ awarded.

(What would have happened if the NED team had played the ball into the BEL goal before time was stopped, but while one of their number was occupying the attention of the umpire with a video referral request?)

Why didn’t the video umpire see and report that the BEL team had gained no advantage from the ball leg contact of one of its defenders. It is in any case unlikely that a team will gain an advantage following the disadvantage of having their goalkeeper play the ball into the body/legs of one of her own team. A gain of advantage became an impossibility when the ball then deflected off that defender into the possession of a member of the opposing NED team and the NED team were then able to play on and make an attack on the BEL goal. That the NED player closest to the defender failed to intercept the ball is irrelevant, the NED team gained an advantage so the BEL team could not have done so – therefore no offence occurred. I can see that from the play and I trust that anybody looking at the incident with an impartial eye would also. The answer to my question is I believe, that it is likely that this trained video umpire did not bother to look beyond the fact that ball contact with the leg of a BEL defender had occurred. Penalty just flowed, automatically and incorrectly, from the fact of ball-leg contact

What happened in this incident is pretty much the standard ignoring of the Explanation of Application given with Rule 9.11. thereby ignoring the criteria for a ball body contact offence to have occurred. The BEL team gained no advantage from the contact, on the contrary, if the ball-foot contact had not occurred the ball deflected by the goalkeeper would I believe have run to another BEL player further away from her and not into the possession of the NED player it was deflected towards off the BEL defender. That could have been ascertained in less than three seconds following the contact.

The umpire could correctly have penalised the ball shielding of the NED right flank player prior to her passing the ball into the goalmouth, a pass which led to the goalkeeper deflecting the ball away from the goal-line. But ignoring ball shielding is also pretty much standard practice – which is why ball shielding at every opportunity is standard practice for players. This is an area where the whistle really has been taken out of the game – almost completely.

Is there something beyond the reach of translation or beyond literal interpretation of word meaning in the text of Rule 9.11 and the Explanation provided with it? Are the words ‘only’ and ‘if’ being made to do too much work? Could the Rule be reworded so that it ceases to be so badly applied? How about Ball-body contact is not an offence unless the player hit with the ball…. But I think not, almost everything, including various rewording of the same criteria, has already been tried without making any difference whatsoever to ‘practice’. 

“Ball-body (foot) contact is an offence” is a meme, which umpires have been unable to get out of their heads for thirty or more years, despite the considerable efforts of the HRB and the FIH Rules Committee to get them to change that approach. It is a meme which will be heard repeated in every explanation of the Rules of Hockey offered by contributors to YouTube (including England Hockey), in many an International level player stands before the camera and informs viewers that this is a fact.  This ‘fact’ was also contained in the video made by the FIH, to give an idea of the Rules of the game to people who might be watching hockey for the first time during the WWC.

That raising the ball from close range into the legs or body of an opponent is always an offence is very rarely mentioned (perhaps because seeing an umpire penalise a player so hit, which is common, would confuse viewers?). 

I believe an entirely new approach to ball-body contact is required.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/12/a-suggested-rewrite-of-rule-9-11/

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/29/if-only-only-if/

July 27, 2018

Back-sticks Question

and a rant about obstruction.

https://www.thehockeypaper.co.uk/articles/2018/07/26/womens-hockey-world-cup-are-umpires-leaving-an-open-goal-over-own-referrals

The text below is taken from a part copy of the article by Todd Williams (link above) which was re-published on fieldhockey.com on 27th July 2018.

All four teams can still progress and three of the four (Australia, NZ and Japan) are fighting to top the pool and go straight through to the quarter-finals.

The margins are tight, every point and, in all possibility, every goal will be important in determining who progresses and who has to play in the, wait for it, pre-quarter-final cross-over elimination games, for finishing second or third.

The stakes at a World Cup are, as you would expect, as high as they get.

The preparation has been extensive and intensive but that of course doesn’t guarantee anything. Part of the appeal of sport is the fact that luck will play its part; whether that be the bounce of the ball or the shot off the post or goalkeeper that goes in or stays out.

Umpiring decisions also come into that category and there will always be, and should be, moments in sport where the interpretation of the umpire determines in what direction the play should go.

That said, the successful and effective introduction of the Video Umpire into top-level hockey has given teams at least one opportunity to question whether or not they’ve been on the wrong end of the stick from a big decision.

Seeing goal, penalty stroke and penalty corner decisions questioned and then overturned is now common place and all teams are aware of the need to use their referral, particularly early in the game, with care.

Critically, with the sheer speed of the game, as well as the congestion and intensity of the attacking circle, it makes absolute sense that on-field umpires have this extra resource to help them get as many of the big decisions correct.

That is why, sensibly, umpires also have the ability to make their own referrals when they sense that something they were initially sure about needs a second look.

With all these points in mind, doesn’t it seem a little bit crazy that the final make-up of Pool D, including which team’s tournament finishes then and there, could come down to a goal that was clearly scored off the back of the stick?

By pure coincidence, this conversation actually started on day one, with Japan’s second goal against Australia. With the umpire quite rightly allowing an excellent advantage instead of awarding a penalty stroke, Akiko Kato swept the ball on her reverse into the goal.

The only trouble was the replay showed that it almost certainly had been hit flush, not even off the edge, but with the whole back of the stick. Given that the game was into the last minute and Australia still had a referral, it seemed strange that they didn’t go the Video Umpire.

Barring the extraordinary, they had nothing to lose and, if successful, they might have just saved a goal which, as it has transpired could be worth its weight, if not in gold, in reaching the quarter-finals.

According to one of the Australian coaching staff, this was a rare self-confessed “brain fade” from the Hockeyroos wonderful goalkeeper Rachel Lynch.

The big question for all umpires out there though is what would the decision have been had the referral been upheld? Back to the penalty stroke or a free hit out?

While bettering your goal difference is one thing, gaining a point from a draw is another level altogether and that is why it would be understandable if Black Sticks coach Mark Hager had a polite word of concern to the Umpire’s Manager about Japan’s second goal in their 2-1 loss to Japan.

With NZ pressing for an equaliser, a speculative aerial was intercepted and played forward to Minami Shimazu who rounded the goalkeeper and, on her reverse, hit the ball into the open goal.
The trouble was, as players and umpires through most grades now know, when the ball had been hit by Shimazu, it had risen off the ground with the tell-tale looped trajectory that was slower than the speed of the swing and which almost always means that it’s been “topped” by the back of the stick.

Despite that, the umpire awarded the goal and although NZ scored four minutes later, Japan held on for a hard fought win.

Now, let me first of all say that none of this is Japan’s fault and nor am I questioning the ability of the umpire. It does however seem crazy and somewhat inconsistent that with the use of video at hand, we are talking about such an important goal being allowed to stand when, had NZ been able to refer it, it would almost certainly have been reversed.

I also take the argument that NZ had played their referral card and lost but back of the stick, just like the ball coming off the foot, is the equivalent of football’s hand ball and whether it’s Diego Maradona or Thierry Henry, we all know the justifiable uproar that has caused over the years.

After watching the extraordinary over-complication of VAR at FIFA’s World Cup, I couldn’t imagine for a second finding myself wondering if hockey should adopt any of their methods but maybe this shows that the VU checking the goal that has been awarded and letting the umpire know if there is a problem isn’t a bad idea.

Again, I’m happy to side with the umpire and say that the speed and angle of the play and the crowd noise has prevented her from seeing and hearing the critical clues of incorrect contact but surely we want goals scored with the correct side of the stick, no matter how close or open the goal is.

That is like reading the published views of a 16th Century Skeptic who knew he would be burned at the stake, for stating in plain language and spreading to others, what he really believed.

Does crowd noise prevent seeing?

I find it odd that Todd Williams should write an article about back-sticks and umpiring, especially in relation to Tournament positions at the pre-Quarter Final stage of a World Cup when we recently had a Commonwealth Games Final between Australia and India decided on the failure of an umpire to penalise an intentionally raised hit pass from outside the circle – which is a clear offence – a pass from which the only, and therefore the winning goal, was scored by the Australians with a volley hit from that raised pass . A Tournament Final decided on a combination of cheating and incompetence – where was the protest? Is that umpire in retraining? Are the players (especially the Indian players who should have asked for a video referral and clearly stated why they were doing so) being taught the Rules of the game? The Indian team were under pressure for much of the match and did not at any time seem likely to win, but they did not deserve to lose like that, through the carelessness of an official.

Clip of incidents in the JAP v GER match

I have studied the video highlights clip presented within the article, made a slow motion excerpt of the relevant part and also taken frame by frames stills from it. The first thing that needs to be said is that the video quality and frame rate are such that it is impossible to be certain about anything concerning the striking of the ball. The second, is that I can see no evidence at all that the Japanese player struck the ball with the back of her stick-head. The flight of the ball looks consistent with an edge-hit and perfectly normal in that context. I have no idea how Todd Williams arrived at “a goal that was clearly scored off the back of the stick.”

So what to do about the potential back-stick problems? That’s easy, delete the offence.

“Back-sticks’ is no longer sensibly an offence; and if it is possible to abolish the prohibition on above shoulder playing of the ball and, before that, Rule concerning the raising of any part of the stick above the shoulder, it is simply part of ‘progress’ and common sense, especially when edge hitting has been permitted for years, to allow the ball to be played with any part of the stick. Stick-work would not disappear, in fact it could be expanded, as ball-stick movements not legal now, could be added to the repertoire of those prepared to put in the necessary practice.

In another match, ARG v GER, I cringed as a television commentator, an expert international level player, demonstrated in commentary that she has no awareness of the Obstruction Rule, as she fulsomely praised a GER player for using her body to shield the ball from an opponent. As it happens she was wrong; the GER player collected the ball while facing towards her own goal and then immediately and quickly moved away from her ARG opponent – and the ARG player let her go – allowed her to create ample space to turn on the ball and pass it towards the goal, and from that pass a goal was scored. There was no use of the body to shield the ball in that incident.

Ball shielding is an illegal action carried out when there is an opponent within playing reach of the ball who is demonstrating intent to play at the ball, and who could play at it but for the shielding of it by the body or stick of an opponent – it is specifically prohibited within Rule 9.12.

So back to the JAP V NZ match and an incident shown at the end of the clip. A JAP player in possession of the ball turned to position her body between a close NZ defender and the ball (ball shielding) and then backed into her (a second criterion of obstruction), I am not sure from the video if she made contact but it is possible that she did (a physical contact offence). The NZ player was obliged to move away to give herself room to use her stick to either side of her opponent. The umpire positioned about 3m away saw nothing untoward in the play of the JAP player and allowed play to continue.

I find it absurd that there is ‘hand wringing’ about back-sticks but very few seem to care ‘a toss’ about obstruction. But it is certainly the most important Rule in the book after those concerning dangerous play.

Back-sticks even when there is no attempt from the player doing it to disguise the fact it has occurred, is generally difficult to see and it is frequently impossible to determine if it has taken place, even with video replay. Obstruction on the other hand is usually a full body block – players don’t even much bother with fast and subtle half-turns these days (but see clip below), they are generally blatant and brazen and even slow, when using their body to block off an opponent (also in the clip below).

The only real difficulty, is the speed of the action, the duration of the obstruction. An obstruction that disadvantages an opponent sufficiently to prevent them playing the ball when they would otherwise have been able to do so can occur in a split second – the time it takes a moving opponent who is shielding the ball to have run beyond playing reach. If an attacking player moves her opponent’s goal-side of the ball before she comes to within the playing reach of her opponent and then maintains that position as she moves across her opponent – thus shielding the ball from her as she does so (usually done with the back presented full on to the opponent) – there is no turning action at the position of the defender but there is certainly obstruction.

The video below shows two different kinds of obstruction offence. The first in the first seconds of the clip (and later in slow mo) is by a NED player who runs ahead of the ball and between the ball and an ARG defender. As the ARG defender, unable to play at the ball, accelerates to try to get ahead of her, the NED players slips the ball behind her legs to a team-mate (clever stuff and obviously a rehearsed move). The second obstruction is by an ARG player who simply runs in front of the NED ball holder – between her and the ball -and then props to physically block her off from the ball (rough stuff). I suppose that the umpire played an advantage as the ball ran on to another NED player. I would have awarded a penalty stroke to the NED team for that offence (Oh yes, definitely), if I had not already penalised the first obstruction by the NED team.

So what do we do about this sort of thing? Delete the Obstruction Rule or retrain our umpires and our players?  I can’t accept a deletion of the Obstruction Rule because that would lead to a fundamental change to the playing of the game. Retraining umpires would probably necessitate doing without the services of many of the current FIH Umpire Coaches, for who could retrain them but themselves? They show no sign of changing what they are currently coaching (which is to “take the whistle out of the game” by ignoring Rule breaches).  To apply the Obstruction Rule it is necessary to believe that there is such a thing as obstruction and that it is described in that Rule – and they obviously do not believe these things.

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/07/27/back-sticks-question/