Archive for ‘Rules of Hockey’

April 6, 2018

Stick and Stick Diagram

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Profile of ZigZag Ambi shown positioned over suggested stick diagram.


ambi-over-suggested-diagram

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey

The part of the Stick Rule concerning dimension as it was written in 1990 and as it last appeared correctly in the Rules of Hockey in 2003.

The Stick

4.4 Dimension and weight.

a. the length of the extended open curved end of the stick in the direction of the positive X axis is 100mm maximum (shown by the line D)

b. the stick may deviate from the line(s) A and/or A1 by a maximum of 20mm (shown by the lines B and B1 respectively)

c. inclusive of any additional coverings used, the stick shall pass through a ring having an interior diameter of 51mm

d. the total weight shall not exceed 737 grammes.

The current description of permitted protrusions to the edges of the handle.

2.4. It is permitted for the handle to be bent or curved to protrude beyond the line A once only to the limiting line B at maximum or but not also to be bent or curved to protrude beyond the line A1 once only to the limiting line B1 at maximum.

I have no idea why the change was made, I believe it to have been a mistake in transcription, made in 2004, when all technical specifications concerning equipment were removed from the Rules of Hockey and published in a separate booklet. Technical specifications for equipment were returned to the Rules of Hockey in 2006 and the mistake has been repeated in all rule books published since then. My repeated writing to the FIH HRB to have this corrected have got nowhere.

The current Stick Diagrams.

The current diagrams makes a very good job of concealing the configuration and dimensions of the edge protrusions that they are supposed to be illustrating. The bends shown on the diagram on the left below go in the opposite direction to the way the bends on my design go because the FIH did not want to be seen to be endorsing any particular brand while illustrating the scope of the permitted bends. The diagram on the right is taken from one I submitted to the FIH HRB but dotted lines, which I included to show the overlap of the two heads illustrated (a sample maximum possible set-back head and a conventional hook) were not included, so the difference between the conventional and the extreme permitted is not as clear as it could be. (The ZigZag Ambi, at about half the measurement that is permitted, is not close to the possible extreme configuration – see diagrams above and below).

Stick Diagrams

Suggestion.

A replacement diagram of the face side of the stick with the corrected Rule text set out within it and with an illustrated explanation of the permitted combinations of bends or protrusions to edges of the stick handle. This diagram has been in the possession of the FIH HRB/ Rules Committee for more than ten years.

Stick Diagram with text

Permitted stick bow dimensions and diagram.

Bow of Stick copy

I have not even seen a bow measuring device, only a diagram of one and I don’t know of anyone who owns one, so it is difficult to comment about it, other than to say it seems to be a very complicated shape to carry out a simple task that could be done with a cylinder or tube with an OD of 25mm. The only other equipment needed is a flat surface (an ironing board would provide a suitable flat surface pitch-side, such tables are easily portable and quick to set up), a short ruler or set square and a tape measure.

When the former Secretary of the FIH Rules Committee, Roger Webb, asked for my opinion concerning degree and position of stick bow, I suggested 25mm as a maximum and, foreseeing the possibility of what came to be known as the ‘low bow’ and the safety issue with accidentally raised hits, that the position of maximum bow should be no more than 200mm from the mid-point of the length of the stick and preferably within 150mm.

The bow that was then permitted was 50mm and there was initially no restriction placed on the position of maximum bow. When maximum bow was, very quickly, reduced to 25mm, the low-bow stick appeared (and was heavily promoted as a drag-flick stick). The 25mm low-bow presented the face of the stick to the ball at about the same angle as a stick with a 50mm bow at the mid-point did – so then the position of maximum bow on the stick was regulated, it is now to be a minimum of 200mm up the handle from the base of the stick-head, which puts it at between 325mm and 350mm from the mid-point of the length of a stick, depending on the length of the stick: almost twice what I suggested, but there is at least some regulation.

I later suggested that as the modern composite stick does not have a splice joining handle to head and even in wooden sticks this is an economic measure rather than a necessity, that the distinction between head and handle should be on a line level with the maximum permitted upturn to the toe of the head, 100mm from the ground or the base of the head of the stick. That suggestion was accepted.

Suggestions.

Concerning the Stick Diagram illustrating permitted protrusions to the edges of the stick – replacement as described above,

Concerning Bow (not rake, rake is a bend to the heel edge of the stick, not the face of the stick) – none, it is now too late, manufactures would need to be given several years notice of a more severe restriction.

ambi-over-suggested-diagram

The overlay on the suggested diagram is a representation of the configuration of the ZigZag Ambi. The protrusions to the edge sides of the Ambi are about half the width of what is permitted. In setting the maximum permitted protrusions 20mm was added to the width permitted by the limiting diameter of the FIH Stick Ring, to allow for goalkeeping sticks already in existence at the time which had an edge protrusion of about that much just below the handle grip (it being considered unacceptable to outlaw sticks which had been on the market for some years at the time).

The head of the stick, the part below the line C-C is not limited along the X axis and can therefore protrude considerably more than 20mm on the heel side as well as the toe side, but such a protrusion would be a handicap rather than of benefit in a stick intended for use by a field player. The set-back of the Ambi is determined by the degree of set-back possible before adjustment needs to made for it by a player when a push stroke is played. An extreme set-back (maximum permitted) tends to snag on the ground during a push stroke and must be adjusted for.

The slightly set back head achieved a better head shape for ball control than the previous ultra tight heel bend and also, with the use of lamination and the incorporation of a kink to the shaft above the toe upturn, overcame the problems of bending wood – which, when the stick was designed, in 1985 and until 1992, was the only material that a stick head could be made with.

The configuration shown is circa 1987. Later versions (developed after 2006, but not marketed) had a more extended toe (90mm). The goalkeeper sticks (Save and Reach, first produced in 1990 and 1992 respectively) always had a toe up-turned to the 100mm maximum permitted.

I have recently made other modification to the top of the handle, which I have not published. I very much doubt that this handle modification will be marketed but I still enjoy designing things and trying to improve the using of what we have.

 

Below an earlier, simpler version, of a suggested stick diagram.

April 5, 2018

Suggested rewrite of Rule 9.7 above shoulder playing of the ball

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey


The current Rule 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.

Action. Rewrite.

Reason. The Rule tries to be both directive (but weakly so)Players may“, and prohibitive,unless this is dangerous or leads to danger”, which is expressed as an exception, but without specifying what the dangers may be or suggesting how they may be avoided (rather than penalised after the event).

The previous Rule prohibited any playing of the ball at above shoulder height and the only exception, defending an on target shot at the goal, was extremely limited and hedged with penalty. For example, if a defender even attempted to play at an above shoulder height shot that was going wide of the goal the award of a penalty corner was mandatory (that was accepted because it punished defending – defending prevents the scoring of goals and therefore spoils the game and is considered offensive – fairness had nothing to do with it !!??).

Okay playing the ball at above shoulder height is now permitted, the focus of the Rule should now be on what is still not permitted and/or what will be considered to be dangerous play. The above Rule is far too loose, there is no defined or definable restriction at all. (Dangerous is not definable because legitimate evasive action, the main criterion, is not defined)

Problems.

or play the ballis far too wide and unrestricted a term and asking for play with the stick in control or with a controlled stroke at the ball does not improve it (the result could still be a ball propelled in a way that endangers another player). What I think should be done is to determine what the intercepting or receiving player should be trying to do and what he or she should be prohibited from doing. A start can be made by asking “Why was the Rule changed?” Once that is established, it is possible to provide limits to prevent players going way beyond what was intended to be facilitated. I can insert videos here to show exactly why the change was needed.

 

The German player seen in the video brought a ball, that had bounced up high off the ground following an aerial pass, quickly and safely directly to ground and into his own control. There was no possibility of his endangering anyone by these actions. Technically the umpire was correct there was a breach of Rule and had play been allowed to continue the Australian team would most certainly have been disadvantaged – very possibly by the scoring of a goal, but the annoyance of the attacker is understandable.

And there we have it – safely directly to ground and into his (or her) own control, without endangering anyone.

Now a Rule needs to be framed around those concepts. It can be seen at once that there is no need at all for facility for the receiving player to hit or deflect the ball away from his or her own control (actions that the term ‘play’ includes) and that those actions can be excluded by prohibition or by limiting them to the taking of the ball into the control or run path of the receiving player. Players were not asking for anything more than that.

 

The suggested Rule wording

A player who is receiving a falling ball and who plays the ball when it is above shoulder height, must bring the ball down to ground and/or into his or her own control, safely.

A ball that is above shoulder height must not be hit, hit at or deflected away from the receiver beyond what is necessary to put it into his or her own run-path – that is to where it may be chased and collected immediately and cannot endanger or be directly contested for by opponents before it is rolling along the ground.

The making of passes to other players by hitting or deflecting away a ball when it is still above shoulder height is prohibited.

Intentional raising of the ball with a hit is separately prohibited by Rule 9.9.and this Rule applies even when the ball is already in the air.

Any playing of a ball that is above shoulder height is prohibited to a player who is in the opponent’s circle – as a result the taking of an above shoulder shot at the goal is also prohibited.

 

I suppose in the incident below, from the 2012 Olympics (so when any attempt to play the ball at above shoulder height by any player except a defender defending the goal, was illegal), the umpire attempted to allow ‘advantage’ when the ball went up off the goalkeeper. But allowing ‘advantage’ (even when appropriate, which was not the case in this example as the potential for subsequent dangerous play was obvious) should not permit the allowed play-on to ignore other Rules. Again it does not matter what the Rules are if they are not applied or incorrectly applied. It is amazing that the umpire did not notice attempts by more than one GB player to hit the ball when it was above shoulder height and also missed dangerous use of the stick which forced opponents to take evasive action to avoid being hit in the face with a stick.

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A properly framed Rule would recommend the award of a free to the attack on the 23m line when there was such a deflection up off the goalkeeper’s protective equipment or another defender’s stick. Before the era of awarding a penalty corner for any accidental incident involving defenders – such as the accidental trapping of the ball in a goalkeeper’s equipment – this kind of incident was dealt with in a much fairer way, the award of a bully 5yds from the circle edge, but this was presumably not considered to be exciting or spectacular enough for modern tastes: fairness rather than severe penalty has long been forgotten. The GB team were awarded a goal instead of being penalised for the several incidents of dangerous play they were guilty of.

The oft made assertion, that high level players have the skill and level-headedness not to behave in a dangerous way when under a falling ball that could be contested for, is an obvious nonsense. There is no shortage of video clips showing examples of dangerous contesting for a falling ball by players in international level matches – or of umpires failing to take appropriate action to deter or prevent such play.

The action in the video from a match played at a time when above shoulder playing of the ball was prohibited (unless defending an on target shot at the goal). The ball was deflected high into the PAK circle off the stick of a PAK defender and was falling to an ENG player in space, when a PAK player closed on the ENG player from beyond 5m of his position and attempted to play at the ball with his stick above his head. The ENG player put under this pressure was obliged to play at the ball (shoot at the goal) immediately. Initially a goal was awarded but the PAK team asked for video referral citing above shoulder playing of the ball by the ENG player. The video umpire’s recommendation was to cancel the goal award.

If the ENG player did hit the ball at above shoulder height a goal could not have been awarded, but what was the correct and fair decision? Certainly not a 15m to the PAK team; there were two offences by a PAK player prior to the taking of the shot by the ENG player. A penalty stroke and a yellow card for the PAK defender could have been recommended but earlier intervention by the match umpire would have prevented the dangerous play (What would be fair and correct, a free ball from where the deflection occurred or a penalty corner for play leading to a potentially dangerous situation? The Rule is unclear about penalty and needs revision).

Allowing the playing of the ball at above shoulder height has not improved this sort of situation, under current Rule there would still be a deflection leading to a potentially dangerous situation and an encroaching offence by the PAK defender.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/04/05/suggested-rewrit…ying-of-the-ball/

March 30, 2018

Suggested introduction of a goal-zone Rewrite Rule 9.14.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey.

The current Rule 9.14.

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

Action. Amendment and Expansion, the introduction of a Goal Zone

Reason. A promise made in 1997, when Off-side was initially abolished:-

The (Hockey Rules) Board continues to explore ways of improving the flow of the game whilst retaining the fundamental pattern of play Having considered the results of world-wide trials of the offside Rule, the Board has to decided to introduce a mandatory experimental Rule under which “offside” is withdrawn. It is expected that the balance of influence will swing from defenders to attackers and will result in more goals, less congestion around and in the circle, and more flowing hockey with fewer stoppages. To prevent opponents from behaving in a potentially dangerous manner, their conduct near the goal will be subject to constraints. (my bold)

has not been honoured; there has been no Rule introduced to curb potential close in dangerous play by opponents, now free to position anywhere up to (and beyond) the baseline irrespective of the positioning of defenders. This is a huge additional advantage –  It is expected that the balance of influence will swing from defenders to attackers – No kidding? This does fundamentally change the pattern of play from what it was previously. The recent introduction of above shoulder playing of the ball and the development of edge-hitting as well as permitting (and removing all previous control of) what is termed 3D hockey has also made defending the goal more difficult and dangerous than at any previous time.

Suggestion.

This is new so untried and any suggestion to improve it is welcome. Obviously the first step is a trial.

A Goal Zone or Goalkeeper’s Zone marked out in a similar way to the marking out of the shooting circle, but with the measurement, from a point 2m out along the baseline from the inside faces of the goalposts.

The Goal Zone would serve as a miniature off-side area, no attacking player being permitted to enter it before the ball had done so and obliged to vacate it immediately the ball travels out of the Zone. Dribbling with the ball directly into the Zone would of course be permitted.

The Zone would prevent most of the physical blocking and crowding of the goalkeeper that now occurs frequently and also prevent opponent’s ‘goal-hanging’ prior to the ball being raised with a hit or flicked across the face of the goal by an attacker from a position on the base-line. Point-blank deflections into the goal, from attackers positioned on or very close to the goal-line before the ball was passed, would be eliminated.

At 2m radius the Goal Zone is small – the goal-line is only a little beyond playing reach from outside the zone – and the zone could possibly be extended by a further 25cms, but I don’t think it should be made any larger than that.

The suggested wording:-

Rule 9.14 Players may not enter the goal zone of the goal their opponents are defending until the ball is in the zone.

Players must vacate the goal zone their opponents are defending immediately the ball is played out, or otherwise travels out of the goal zone. (For example, because (a) the ball rebounds from a goal-post, or (b) the ball is propelled into the zone, directly across and out again.

Players may not at any time enter the goal their opponents are defending.

No player may run off the pitch behind either their own goal or the goal their opponents are defending, and back onto the pitch on the other side of that goal.

(I don’t know why the Hockey Rules Board long ago considered moving around the back of the opposing team’s goal an unfair action by an attacker (there used to be a risk of tripping over guy ropes) but I have left this prohibition as presently given)

It is suggested that during a replacement for the penalty corner, that is a Power play within the 23m area (another long overdue change), the zone be used in a different way. During a Power Play only the goalkeeper would be allowed to occupy the zone. The other defenders would position along the base-line outside the zone at the commencement and would not be allowed to enter the zone until the Power play was completed.The same restrictions as in open play would apply to the attackers during a Power play.

I have no doubt that what has been suggested above does not cover a multitude of reasonable “What ifs” you are invited to point them out and make further suggestions for Rule wording. 

 

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

 

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March 28, 2018

Irresponsible umpiring

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

I received a strange ‘friend’ request on Facebook on Tuesday (28th March). The individual concerned just wanted to be able to send me a message and a video which demonstrated again that I was wrong. What I was wrong about he did not say but as the video and his message were about a player shooting as he put it:-

“This is what you said last time about aiming and dangerous shots!! Another example that you were wrong because this is what happend in the hoofdklasse last weekend!! Amazing Goal while the girl sits on the ground the other girls smacks the ball in the cage! No time to look up and see if someone is there!”

In other words he said that the shooter in the video he sent to me, shot ‘blindly’ towards where she ‘knew’ the goal to be and she could not have taken account of the position of a defender because she had no time to do so or was blocked (he claims both in separate messages) and the umpire still awarded a goal. Ergo my view of reckless play is wrong.

Naturally he has put what I wrote ‘back to front’. in article about the video below (see link) I declare the action of the striker to be reckless precisely because he could see both the goal and the defender and had ample opportunity to make an alternative shot or even to pass the ball to a team-mate for an easy tap-in, but chose instead to raise the ball directly at the defender (who was within 5m of him) with a hit which was raised to above knee height – or rather not to care that that is what he did (or know that it was dangerous play by all the FIH published criteria). Ironically the shooter immediately, before the penalty stoke signal was given, asked for a video referral – a request he withdrew. 

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/reckless-endangerment/

The other incident we ‘discussed’ (I was abused for my opinion of) was the second one in the following clip. An incident from the Rio Olympics, where an attacker unnecessarily hit the ball hard and high across and past the head of a defender from less than one meter. I had and have no issue with the velocity of the shot but I have with the raising of it, the ball could have been driven low into the backboards, there was nothing the defender could have done to stop it.

(I have frequently wished that the commentator of the first part of the video below made some attempt to learn the Rules of the game: he is a menace. His social chit-chat and irrelevant background knowledge 100%, his Rule and game knowledge zero)

I was initially quite confused by the video that my new ‘friend’ (who now I notice has no friends listed) sent, because he informed me that the shot he was describing occurred near the end of it. There were a number of incidents in the video, which was more than 18 mins long and contained highlights from several matches, where attackers shot towards the goal when there was a defender in a low (crouched) position in front of it. I eventually realized that he must be referring to an incident that occurred during the first penalty corner awarded in the first minute of the video. The beginning of a video is at one end of it, so this simple example serves to illustrate one of the difficulties of communication – understanding common terms: like “end” or “reckless” or “dangerous” (even if the latter has both subjective and objective criteria provided within the Rules of Hockey to define it. The “within 5m” part actually proves at times to be a hindrance to correct interpretation; there is often an illogical assumption made that a ball propelled from beyond 5m of a player cannot have been dangerously played at that player)

As it happens the incident he described as correct umpiring (and demonstrating my error) contains one of the worse examples of irresponsible umpiring I have seen, and the attacker, far from shooting ‘blindly’ obviously uses a mental image ‘snapshot’ to define her target, because she clearly looks up as she approaches the ball, she does have the time and space to do so, and executes a perfect hit which is exactly on that target – the gap between the defender and the post. The problem is that the umpire should have stopped play before the shot was taken.

.Whether or not the penalty corner was correct is debatable. Had I been umpiring I would not have awarded it but allowed play to continue (there was more likely to have been some danger from swinging sticks than from the low velocity of the ball). In my view the attacker who closes on the raised ball as it is falling, is at least as responsible for the ball hitting her as the defender, who was trying to play it to ground and who had not initially raised the ball towards the attacker (and the attacker may be considered have been guilty of an encroaching offence). It is perhaps odd to view the player who raised the ball as an initial receiver, but the ball was never beyond her playing reach and the attacker was about 5m away from her when the ball was raised.

The drag-flick shot towards the defender on the goal-line was dangerous play Others may want to debate or even deny that assertion until ‘the moon turns blue’ but the actions taken by the players are a prima facie example of dangerous play – the ball was propelled directly, at high velocity, at the head of an opponent, who took legitimate evasive action but was nonetheless hit on the head with the ball.

It is what followed that hit to the head of the defender that I find astounding (I am no longer even mildly surprised at what is considered “Not a dangerously played ball”).  The umpire seeing that the ball had hit the defender on the head and that she had crumpled to ground and was obviously injured, also saw that the ball was rebounding to an approaching attacker and gave a ‘play on – advantage’ signal – putting the fallen defender in harms way.

That was dangerously irresponsible, I have never before seen any umpire do that. He had no way of knowing that the approaching attacker would hit the ball along the ground, she could have been as reckless as the shooting player in the first or second videos above. Had a second shot been raised into the defender while she was defenseless on the ground and injured her further, she would have had excellent grounds to take legal action against that umpire for damages for negligence. Geoff Erwin of Cookstown who was hit on the head with a similar drag-flick in an EHL match, suffered a fractured skull and a perforated eardrum from that single hit and was off work for a year, damages in cases where an initial injury is compounded by negligence (in addition to the negligence of not penalising the initial shot – which gives encouragement to attackers to make such shots) could be very substantial.

The umpire of the incident shown in the last video, after awarding a goal, didn’t even check to see if the defender was cut or concussed and there is no evidence he allowed medical aid staff onto the pitch to examine her or that he asked her to step off for a substitute until others considered she was fit to resume play. What was he thinking? Probably nothing at all.

As team coach at a tournament I would voice the strongest possible objection to that umpire officiating in any match my team were due to play.

There are those who consider this from page 1 of the Rules of Hockey to be a joke:

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.

my ex ‘friend’ is one of them.

The words participants and everyone both include umpires.

The umpire at the other end not long afterwards awarded a penalty stroke when a forward fell in the circle. I have looked at that incident several times and can see no justification at all for a penalty stroke. Maybe, and it is a very weak maybe, a penalty corner could be argued for.

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So, at that point, 1-1  the umpires.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/28/irresponsible-umpiring/

March 12, 2018

A suggested rewrite of Rule 9.11

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey

Rule 9.11.

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.

Action. Amendment.

Reason. The Rule is poorly written and incomplete, giving for example, no meaning or limit to the term ‘advantage’ in the exceptions – which are not clearly set out as exceptions to the Rule, they appear to be in conflict with the Rule.

The current Rule is not ‘working’, here is an example of typical application:-
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The umpire disregarded the criterion for offence (intent by a field-player to use the body to stop, deflect or propel the ball or advantaged gained from doing so unintentionally) in other words ignored instructions given for the application of the Rule and ‘automatically’ (without further thought) awarded a penalty corner as the ball rolled off the pitch after hitting the defender: there was clearly neither intent nor advantaged gained by the defending team, they were in fact disadvantaged by this accidental contact but umpires and players are long trained to respectively carry out and to expect this incorrect reflex penalising of any ball-body contact (the weak excuses offered are consistency of decision and player expectation).

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.



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Suggestion.

With the exception of the Rules concerning the penalty corner, this Rule has been amended more often than any other in the past thirty years (without any effect at all), so it should only necessary to choose from the parts of previous renditions that made sense and then add one clause (concerning goalkeepers), to devise a fair and workable Rule: getting it applied correctly will be another matter entirely but we should at least start with a non conflicting Rule and instruction for application.

I have avoided or removed mention of intention when making suggestion for the rewriting of other Rules because such intention is often difficult or impossible to discern (the main reason umpires used to avoid penalising the offence of forcing when it was extant, and still use to avoid penalising a lifted hit which is not a shot at the goal, is that they can’t see intent. In even the most blatant of incidents of undercutting or edge hitting used to raise the ball past a blocking opponent, intent to raise the ball escapes them or they “forget lifted” as instructed in the UMB.

Why the UMB gives us “forget lifted” when the first line of the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9. is

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

is beyond my comprehension).

 

But in the case of a ball hitting an opponent, it has been hit at or raised into, an entirely different approach is used. Umpires declare that a player who has the ball played into his or her legs or feet has an obligation, a responsibility, to defend him or her self, and failure to do so is a lack of skill for which the player hit should be penalised. This bias against a player hit with the ball is pronounced and has no Rule support at all – au contraire- but intent is simply assumed from a failure to avoid. It is moreover usually assumed that a player who has been hit with the ball has gained an advantage for their team, even in circumstances where it should be obvious that the team of the player hit has been disadvantaged by the contact.

Intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball must, if penalty is to be applied, be as clear as was demanded of the the intent to force contact when the forcing Rule was extant. Umpires should be looking for foot or body to ball rather than ball to body or foot. Advantage gained should be clear and substantial, that is undue and unfair (terms previously used in Rule guidance on the subject), not dubious or even intangible.

The Ball body contact Rule is deliberately written with a slant towards not penalising ball-body contact, that is towards not interrupting the game with penalty unless it is unfair not to do so, but it is currently being applied in the opposite way. The word ‘intentionally’ is for the above reasons necessary in Rule 9.11. It moreover makes no sense to remove the word ‘intentionally’ from the Rule when ‘intention’ is used in the Explanation of Application of it and ‘intention’ cannot be removed from the Explanation (or indeed the Rule) without fundamentally changing the way in which the FIH RC intended the game should be played

(The word ‘intentionally was removed from the ball-body contact Rule, but not the Explanation, when the Rules were rewritten and renumbered in 2004, which set up a conflict between the Rule Proper and the provided Explanation of Rule Application. This conflict, instead of being later corrected, was used by some to declare, on Internet hockey forums, the Explanation to be ‘notes’ or ‘advice’ and not the Rule; an absurd about face when compared with the way Explanation is used in other Rules.).

Useful comment and or suggestion is welcome.

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 is 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, 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.

With instances of unintentional ball-body contact by a player not in possession of the ball there are no other exceptions. If a player plays the ball 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. 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. If a ball played along the ground is intentionally forced into the feet of a defender play should continue unless the defender is injured.

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 (an out-runner during a penalty corner for example), rather than laterally into the flight path of it after it has been propelled, 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 while 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.

Exception 2. Should 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 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. 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; that is seen as a fairer requirement.

Goalkeepers.

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 to prevent an opponent from playing at the ball. These latter ball-body contact actions will be considered obstructive play and penalised as such.

The above Rule proposals and the penalties suggested are slightly different (okay, hugely different) to much of what will be seen in current practice (generally the ‘automatic’ penalising of all ball-body contact, especially by defenders in the circles), but I believe that they are fair and in keeping with a stick and ball game which is supposed to be played in a skillful way. The offence of forcing should not of course have been ‘deleted’ in its entirety (breaches supposedly to be “dealt with” under other Rules) in 2011. The statement that forcing would be “dealt with under other Rules” was one that was quickly forgotten or only ever a pretense. The note that was put in the Preface of the Rules of Hockey in 2011 regarding what was to follow from the deletion of forcing should still be part of Advice to Umpires in current editions of the rule-book and should not have been discontinued, as it was in 2013. It is still extant because the reason Forcing was deleted as a separate offence is still extant. The disappearance of the following (unfortunately constructed) advice meant (because the Forcing Rule was no longer in the rule-book) that no forced ball-body contact, no matter how caused, would be penalised, but that was clearly not the original intention.

“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”.

Why umpires often ignore the below instruction concerning dangerous play, which is given in the Explanation of Rule 9.9. is a mystery – but they do.

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.

Someone once told me in a comment to my web- blog that the above instruction applied only to scoops and flicks that raised the ball towards an opponent at head height, but I can find nothing in the Rules of Hockey to support that assertion.

Sports that developed as club games in the same era as field-hockey did – hurling, shinty, lacrosse, ice-hockey – have always permitted the use of the feet or other parts of the body, to stop, deflect or propel the ball or puck. Field-hockey also initially permitted this. I listened to older members of Blackheath Hockey Club (my first club) when I was a youngster, recounting the skill of trapping the ball under the foot within the opponent’s circle and then hitting a shot at the goal during the taking of a penalty corner. (The subject came up when stopping the ball with the hand during a penalty corner was introduced). Trapping the ball under the sole of a boot or trapping it with the instep during play was perfectly acceptable under the Rules of Hockey in the 1930’s.

What was not permitted by that time was to propel the ball by kicking it or pushing it with the boot. I don’t know the year in which it was decided that any ball-body contact that gained an advantage should be considered an offence and playing the ball was something that field-players could legally do only with the stick. Whenever it was, the idea was to promote stick-ball skills and discourage the lack of them. But, as is so often the case, the good idea has been taken to a ridiculous extreme and become an absurdity (in the same way as facilitating the receiving of the ball without the receiver giving obstruction has resulted in the near disappearance of the Obstruction Rule).

The forcing of ball-foot or leg contact or otherwise raising the ball at an opponent, now often covers a lack of ability (skill) to elude an opponent by fair means. (The needless introduction of a mandatory penalty corner, if an out-runner at a penalty corner is hit on or below the knee with the first shot taken, was the low-point of this absurdity – but it has got lower since then – it was possibly the seed of the obviously incorrect idea that an on target shot at the goal could not be dangerous).

Accidental and especially forced ball-body (foot) contact is not per se an offence by the player hit with the ball. It is possible to state with certitude that for fairness an intentionally forced ball-body contact should never be considered an offence by the player hit with the ball, no matter what the outcome in terms of advantage. An unavoidable ball-body contact is usually due to forcing or reckless or dangerous play by opponents or a combination of these.

An advantage, as can be seen in the video clips above, is not always gained by a player when hit with the ball – if an advantage always resulted there would be no need for the current Rule Explanation to state The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage..

Apart from the two exceptions mentioned in the re-write suggestion, players should just get on with the game following any unintended ball-body contact and umpires should encourage play to continue uninterrupted by unnecessary (and clearly unfair) penalty.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/12/a-suggested-rewrite-of-rule-9-11/

March 12, 2018

A suggested rewrite of Rule 9.9.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey

Rule 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.

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.

 

Action. Amendment to reverse the present criteria. Reinstatement of previous Rules.

Reason. The Rule contradiction forget lifted-think danger from the UMB, which is now a “convention” or meme that over-rides the Rule.

The current Rule is a badly enforced mishmash of unrelated or only loosely connected statements. For example, the statement, taken from the Penalty Corner procedure Rule, about a player running into the ball, is out of place in a Rule prohibiting an intentionally raised hit. Mention of dangerous play as a result of raising the ball into an opponent with a flick or a scoop is also out of place. The proposed amendment will remove the subjective judgement of intention entirely and replace the subjective judgement of dangerous play with objective criteria for non-compliance or dangerously played.

Neither of the intentionally raised reverse edge hits shown in the following video clip, which were made within 30secs of each other, were penalised. (The ball was raised with similar strokes, when the first one was not penalised how could the second one be, if the umpiring was to be consistent?). After consulting with her colleague the umpire at the defending end incorrectly awarded a goal to SA.

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Suggestion.

All of these proposals are suggestions and not ‘cast in iron’, useful comment and alternative suggestion is welcome.

Players must not, except for a shot at the goal from within the opponent’s circle, raise the ball to above shoulder height with a hit.

Shoulder height is an absolute limit, irrespective of any danger, for any raised hit in any part of the field outside the opponent’s circle.

It is not an offence to raise the ball with hit except when hitting the ball:-

a) from a free ball or any re-start

b) so that it will fall, beyond the immediate control of the hitter, directly into the opponent’s circle.

c) inside the opponent’s circle when the hit is not intended as a shot at the goal.

d) in a way that will contravene Rule 9.8. The dangerously played ball.

e) with an edge hit from either side of the body that raises the ball above sternum height at an opponent within 20m (knee height when at an opponent within 5m).

The prohibition on a hard forehand edge hit is deleted.

(see https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/a-suggested-rewrite-rule-9-8/)

Intention to raise the ball in a way that is non-compliant (i.e. above shoulder height or dangerously as defined by sternum and knee height limitations within the relevant distances) is irrelevant, it is a breach of the Rule even if done accidentally: a deliberate breach of the Rule should attract a more severe penalty than an accidental mishit.

Exception. A player who is in controlled possession of the ball, both before and after hitting it, e.g. is dribbling with the ball, may raise it up to knee height with a hit while entering the opponent’s circle in order to evade opponents but:-

The practice of putting the ball up and then hitting a shot at the goal on the volley before the ball falls to ground or as it bounces up from the ground, on the half-volley, following a lift made specifically to achieve such bounce, is to be discouraged and in no circumstances may the ball be raised to above sternum height with such a volley or half-volley hit

The practice of running with the ball while bouncing it on the stick – up to shoulder height – is not prohibited until and unless it is done at above elbow/sternum height within the playing reach of an opponent who is in position to contest for the ball. If it is continued to that point it should be considered dangerous play or play likely to lead to dangerous play and penalised. (This is a restoration from previous Advice to umpires) Ball bouncing at knee height or below is permitted even in contested situations. It is not permitted to bounce the ball on the stick to above shoulder height in any circumstances. Bouncing the ball on the stick and then making a bounced pass raised above shoulder level to other player (or the player in possession lofting the ball ahead in this way to run onto on the far side of opponents) is a breach of the Rule (such passing is legal with a flick, scoop or lob and therefore not necessary with a hit stroke).

A distinction needs to be made between dribblers carrying out what are termed 3D skills, especially as they enter the opponents circle and then take a shot while the ball is still in the air, and what might be termed a hurling style hit shot. This is a matter for common sense and subjective judgement made with an emphasis on the safety of players. If the ball is hit while it is in the air, particularly when taking a shot at the goal, it must not be raised if there are defending players other than a fully protected goalkeeper between the striker and the goal on the flight path of the ball. This falls within the already demanded play with consideration for the safety of other players and playing responsibly: opponents should not be forced to self-defence from a raised shot.

A shot made at the goal that is not made towards the position of an opponent is not in any way restricted unless made with an edge hit.

A shot raised to head height that is directed within the shoulder width of an opponent is to be considered at that opponent even if it will miss that player’s head – such a shot, if evaded, will be considered legitimately evaded and deemed to be a dangerously played ball. A hit shot or deflection raised to knee height or above and towards an opponent who is positioned within 5m of the striker must be penalised as dangerous play even if it is a shot on goal. A hit shot or deflection, even if it is a shot on goal, raised to sternum height or above and at high velocity (at a velocity that could injure) towards an opponent who is positioned within 19m of the striker (flank edge of circle to far goal-post) must be penalised as dangerous play if it forces an opponent to self defence. There is an emphasis on safety, players must play with consideration for the safety of other players. It is important that reckless and dangerous shooting that is also towards opponents be eliminated from the game.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/12/a-suggested-rewrite-of-rule-9-9/

March 3, 2018

Ball raised towards an opponent.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

Accidents.

Other than requiring that players play with consideration for the safety of others, that is responsibly and not wildly or recklessly, there is little else that can be done to prevent accidental injury caused by the ball. But playing responsibly is not a little, it is a lot and requires skill (stick and ball control) and self-control.

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It always causes outrage when it is suggested that a spectacular goal should have been disallowed. But this shot (below) caused legitimate evasive action by two defenders on its flight path – either of them could have been badly injured by it,  (the player closer to the goal could have been killed) and it should have been penalised as dangerous play. The attacker who was obviously careless of who was in front of him and with the circle crowded with players, (deliberately) raised the ball high towards the goal with the hardest edge-hit he could make.

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Below, another reckless shot. The attacker had time and space to make an alternative shot and even to pass the ball to a team-make near the right-hand goal-post, but choose instead to raise the ball with an edge-hit towards the goal and ‘through’ a defender directly in front of his position.
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Here below the shooter ‘targets’ the head of the post defender. Don’t believe it? You ought to, it’s a coached tactic. It’s not a coincidence that it happens so often. Legitimate evasive action taken and ignored, goal awarded – ‘accepted’ umpiring.

There is no good reason why a drag-flick shot made towards a defending opponent should not be height limited. A suitable height may be sternum height, which is about 120cms on a standing male senior (that is about head height when this player is in a dribbling crouch). This height could easily and cheaply be marked on a goal with an elasticated tape which would be readily adjusted to 110cms for women and 100cms for juniors. There is no need to limit the height of any flick shot that is not made towards an opponent. i.e. a shot that cannot cause legitimate evasive action.

Goal with adjustable height limit tape.

 


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.The intention of the attacker in the incident below was I think to propel the ball towards the forward close to the goal, for a hit or deflection into the goal. The defender seeing that possibility moved out to mark the attacker and had no chance to avoid being hit with the ball, which came at him on a high path he did not expect. I don’t know how the match was restarted, but a bully seems appropriate, neither player committed an offence.

 

This incident below shows a similar tactic but performed in a different (and illegal) way. The IND shooter uses a hard forehand edge hit (an action which is specifically prohibited) to raise the ball towards his team-mate . The second IND player then deflects the ball up into the body of the CAN defender – which was a dangerous play offence. The umpire awarded a penalty corner – of course, the ball hit a defender in the body.

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I have dozens of video clips which show a player raising the ball towards an opponent, often intentionally sometimes not. I chose the one below because the stroke used to propel the ball is not clear (the frame rate of the original video did not catch much of the movement of the stick). Why chose a clip where the stroke used is not clear? Because it does not much matter what stroke is used if the ball is raised and other criteria are also breached (and intention will also be irrelevant if the player hit is within 5m).


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The other criteria are not too demanding; if the opponent is within 5m, a flick or scoop made towards that opponent is dangerous play (not can be, may be, might be but, is dangerous play)

If the ball is intentionally raised with a hit towards an opponent that is an offence without the need for other criteria, there is no distance advice associated with the prohibition on the intentionally raised hit. Then there is the Rule (participants must) about playing with consideration for the safety of other players, and the admonishment heading Rule 9 Conduct of Play, that players are expected to act responsibly. Raising the ball towards another player cannot be considered responsible play when that action is an offence (forcing ball-body contact onto an opponent is still an offence if other Rule is breached. Other Rule is generally what is given with Rule 9.9.

Raising the ball towards another player, with any stroke, intentionally or not, is an offence if doing so causes that player to take legitimate evasive action (action to try to avoid being hit with the ball). There is no distance advice given with legitimate evasive action so such evasion is valid (legitimate) at any distance where the evading player has reason to fear that he or she will be hurt if hit with the ball; a typical situation would be a ball raised towards a goal when defenders are positioned between the goal and the player propelling the ball – a drag-flick during a penalty corner for example.

The commonly held view that defenders who are positioned between a shooter and the goal are “Asking for it” and should not be there, is no more than an erroneous view held by those who are ignorant of the Rules of the game (the oft quoted “Acceptance of Risk” does not (cannot) apply where the actions of an opponent endanger a player and are not Rule compliant. All players are entitled to expect the protection from endangerment provided by the correct application and proper observance of the Rules).

The defending ARG player in the video takes evasive action but is still hit with the raised ball (which appears to have been raised intentionally to try to get the ball past the defender), that was not an offence by the ARG player but by the CAN player. (the ARG player was penalised)

Try to avoid doing what you see FIH Umpires doing in these situations, they are following briefings, not the Rules of Hockey. They follow briefings, which are intended to ensure that all umpires are making the same decisions consistently – (therefore ignoring the relevant subjective criteria in each incident). They have, by previous similar decisions, trained players to expect them to keep umpiring in the same way and then, using circular reasoning, use this ‘player expectation’ as a justification for the decisions they make.

Being consistently incorrect is not seen as a fault but as the acceptable cost of consistency – it is easier and expected that an umpire penalise a player who has been hit with the ball. The fact that is may also be absurdly unfair is irrelevant. “That’s the way it is interpreted” is a ‘stone wall’ of indifference to fair play. It is ironic that a match umpire is the sole judge of fair play.

I have to ask ‘the interpretation’ of what? What wording is being interpreted in a way that is the opposite of a common sense literal interpretation of the words used in the Rules of Hockey? There isn’t any other wording. If it’s not interpretation of actions based on the wording of the relevant Rules or a reasonable interpretation of the words used in the Rules, and it isn’t, it cannot be, then how did this interpretation (invention) arise?

Listen to the commentator in the following video explaining an ‘interpretation’ – which I hope is now ‘dead’ but was the prevailing one for some time after this initial incident in which it was applied, during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (I have no idea where the commentator got the ‘interpretation’ he was ‘quoting’ (???) but it fits with bizarre commentary on other matches which he has irresponsibly broadcast). Did the commentator invent it or was he given instruction (a Rule briefing) by an FIH official (an Umpire Manager or Tournament Director)?

Maybe, like many umpires, he followed the briefing he was given without knowing or considering (caring) whether or not it was Rule compliant, the main thing with umpires (and commentators) is to be ‘in the group’, ‘ to go with the flow’, not ‘to rock the boat’ to ensure that he him/her-self is ‘accepted’ and asked to umpire (commentate) at a high level event again.

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This award of a penalty stroke seems to follow the above “Cannot be dangerous” ‘interpretation’, but the shot clearly endangers two players.

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This incident from the 2018 Women’s World Cup is as bad a the one shown above. The ball was raised into the Japanese player at considerably above knee height (it hit the crouching defender on the collarbone) and from well within 5m. Clearly a dangerous play offence yet a penalty stroke was awarded. It difficult to see what possible advantage the Japanese player was supposed to have gained (not that that is important, when there is prior dangerous play any gain of advantage for the team of the player hit with the ball becomes irrelevant, the dangerous play must be penalised. This incident resulted in an award of a penalty stroke to the New Zealand team: an example of umpire ‘brain fade’.

Other examples:-

The next two clips show examples of a player in possession of the ball raising it into a close opponent – in the first with a flick, an action which is specified in the Explanation to Rule 9.9 as dangerous play. In the second with an intentionally raised hit – directly contrary to Rule 9.9. In both incidents the player hit with the ball was penalised.

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The two incidents below show a similar action at different levels of play – a drag-flick raised high into an out-runner during a penalty corner. The AUS international player was hit on the upper arm just below his shoulder. Had he been hit below the knee, as a Dutch attacker claimed he was, another penalty corner would by Rule have been mandatory – an absurd contradiction of dangerous play as described in the Explanation given with Rule 9.9.

I am not claiming the current Rules are perfect – very far from it. I want to change them all – a hit that is raised into an opponent within 5m should also be declared in Rule to be dangerous play. At the moment penalising that action depends on the judgement of intent (of the shooter) and of legitimate evasive action – both subjective judgements.

I have no idea what the offence, which was penalised with a penalty corner, the veteran out-runner in the second incident was supposed to have committed. The offence by the shooter is clear – but the umpire instantly awarded a penalty corner, rather than stopping time to check on the injured defender.
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https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/03/ball-raised-towards-an-opponent/

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March 2, 2018

Hitting the ball illegally

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Aside from ‘back-sticks’ there are two types of illegal hit according to the Rules of Hockey.
1) A hard forehand edge hit.
2) The intentional raising of the ball with any type of hit stroke unless shooting at the opponents’ goal from within their circle.

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

This does not prohibit use of the edge of the stick on the forehand in a controlled action in a tackle, when raising the ball in a controlled way over an opponent’s stick or over a goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges who is lying on the ground or when using a long pushing motion along the ground.

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.

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.

Both of the above Rules require an umpire to make a subjective judgement. Rule 9.6. requires the judgement  of ‘hard’ and Rule 9.9. of ‘intentional’ and therefore despite some very clear objective criteria, much as the Obstruction Rule and the ball body contact/dangerous play Rules, 9.6 and 9.9 are seldom applied as they should be, if at all.

The subjective criteria in both of these Rules could and I think should, be replaced with a more appropriate objective criterion to improve application. I see no good reason that all intentional raising of the ball with a hit stroke should be prohibited (unless making a shot at the opponent’s goal from within their circle) – in fact that seems back-to-front to me. I do see reason to prohibit raising the ball at high velocity towards another player who is within 20m of the player hitting (or drag-flicking) the ball and that prohibition could reasonably depend on a height criterion – elbow or sternum height and on ball velocity.

I believe that in the area outside the circle an absolute limit could be placed on the height to which a ball can legally be raised with a hit if not propelled towards an opponent – this would prevent the making of the pitch length hits which were popular in the mid 1980’s (and which led to the imposition of the present prohibition on an intentionally raised hit) and the dangers which accompanied the making of those hits by players without the necessary skill would be avoided. I think shoulder height would be a suitable absolute limit. So in the circle a hit shot (or drag flick) at the goal would not be height limited unless the ball was propelled towards another player – in which case it would be limited to sternum height. The word intentionally could be struck out of the Rule.

Two other amendments are necessary. Raising the ball with a hit to propel the ball away from the hitter’s control and into the opponent’s circle to be prohibited (together with abolishing the present restriction on playing the ball into the opponent’s circle from a free ball awarded in their 23m area). Edge hits, both fore and reverse, to be height limited – to either knee height or sternum heigt – the word ‘hard’ could then be struck out. I would go further and abolish the offence of back-sticks, but that may be too much of a change for some to swallow although it would  make no difference at all to the way hockey is now played and would expand stick-work skills by expanding the available skill options.

In the following video there are nine examples of an illegal hit stroke incident shown, only the eighth incident (which comprised of three concurrent offences, a forehand edge hit, intentional raising of the ball with a hit and dangerous play – raising the ball towards an opponent who was within 5m, and injuring him) was penalised. I have written brief description of the action in each incident and a comment for each below.

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1) From a 23m restart following the ball going out of play over the base-line, the first ARG player passes the ball backwards to a team-mate who uses a forehand edge-hit in an attempt to raise the ball into the circle. The raised ball is accidentally deflected up and out of play over the base-line by a defender. The umpire having not noticed the illegal action of the ARG hitter (or having ignored it) awards another 23m restart for the attackers.

2) This incident occurred during a shootout, with both umpires positioned close to the play, presumably to ensure Rule compliance and fair play. The illegal hard forehand edge-hit was ignored (not seen?) and a goal awarded.

3) A free ball awarded to the ARG team about 1m outside the 23m line was hit hard and raised with forehand edge-hit. The ball struck a defending ESP player positioned just outside the circle, on the leg. The umpires, not noticing or ignoring these two offences (I cannot suggest that FIH Umpires are unaware of these Rules) award a free ball to ARG for the ball-leg contact. It is difficult to see what advantage, if any, the ESP team gained from the accidental ball-leg contact.

4) I am not sure if this hit was from a free ball taken inside the 23m line, but if it was the ball should not have been played directly into the circle at all. The BEL attacker uses a hard forehand edge hit to raise the ball into the circle, clearly to the disadvantage of the NZ team because a NZ player deflects the raised ball into the body of a team-mate. There is no evidence of any advantage gained by the NZ team because of the  ball-body contact  had the contact not occurred it seems probable that the ball would have gone into the possession of the NZ team. The offences of the player making the illegal hit were ignored and a penalty corner was awarded.

5) EHL match. The right flank (light blue) player uses a hard forehand edge hit to raise the ball into the circle – which was to the disadvantage of the defending team. These two offences were not penalised.

6) The picture quality on this video is poor. Not a forehand edge hit but an AUS player intentionally raises the ball with a hit into the circle. The illegally raised ball travels at about chest height towards an IND defender who is about 5m away.  The  IND player parries the ball with his stick and deflects it to another AUS attacker who is positioned near to the baseline (so the IND team are disadvantaged by the illegally raised hit). The second AUS attacker waits in possession of the ball until he is closed down by the same IND defender and then raises the ball into his thigh from close range (less than 2m). The umpire awarded a penalty corner, thus ignoring an intentionally raised hit and two instances of dangerous play by the AUS team.

7) An IND attacker used a hard forehand edge hit to raise the ball towards the goal from the top of the circle (it is not possible because of the frame rate of the original video to see if the ball was struck from inside the circle, but this is irrelevant anyway, the hit was illegal because a forehand edge hit was used to make it). If the ball was hit from outside the circle the intentional raising of the ball with a hit of any description would be illegal. The ball traveled towards a second IND attacker positioned in front of the goal who was  marked by a CAN player. The second IND attacker deflected the ball up into the arm of the CAN player (who could not avoid being hit at that range) this was clearly dangerous play by the IND player. The umpire awarded a penalty corner.

8) As mentioned previously, this illegal raising of the ball, use of a forehand edge-hit and dangerous play, were penalised by the umpire. The GER player was completely  ignorant of the Rules or despite knowing he was in breach of three Rules had the ‘brass neck’ to claim that the NZ player had committed a ball-body contact offence.

9) The AUS player intentionally raises the ball with a slap or punt hit across the circle towards the ARG goal.(to the disadvantage of an ARG defender and the ARG team) The ARG goalkeeper tries to kick the ball clear but propels it accidentally into the back of the legs of one of her own team, the ball then rolled out of play. This ball-body contact was of disadvantage to the ARG team, not the AUS team. Mysteriously the umpire, having ignored the initial raised hit offence by the AUS player, awarded a penalty conrner to the AUS team. For what?

It is not easy to understand what is going on concerning the Rules relating to illegal hitting actions, that is why they are so badly applied or ignored. The Rules are set out above, below is advice from the UMB.

Briefing Forehand edge
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Briefing Ball off ground copy

Page three of the UMB, which is headed, Rules of Hockey 2017, contains a paragraph that ends with a statement that the text in the Rule reinforces the existing interpretation. This is a bizarre statement, it must be the other way about – the interpretation must reinforce what is given in the text of the Rule.

The page headed Ball off the Ground (page 11) contains a first clause that is full of contradiction with the Rules of Hockey – and the umpires are anyway – as in the incidents shown in the video clips above – usually ignoring dangerous play as well as ignoring the fact of offence (that the ball has been illegally raised, often to the disadvantage of opponents).

When an offence disadvantages opponents it must be penalised; it is only when an offence is of no disadvantage to opponents that it can be ignored and play allowed to continue. Not all offences are dangerous play or lead to dangerous play.

Dangerous play is by definition of disadvantage to opponents because for there to be dangerous play an opposing player must be endangered (is it necessary to say that being endangered with the ball is a disadvantage to a player? – I’ve done it anyway).

To advise in a briefing document that ball raising offences be ignored (forget lifted) except when they are dangerous in themselves or lead to dangerous play (think danger) is not sound umpire management practice because this not only ignores the wording of the Rule it ignores any disadvantage to opponents. 

The umpires seen officiating in the above video clips (except #8) obviously do not understand the Rules. Rules 9.6 and 9.9. are applied (or not applied) in much the same way as Rule 9.12 is, and misapplied in much the same way as Rule 9.11. is misapplied. These umpires are consistently poor in the application of these Rules and there is not much common sense in evidence. There is therefore no good reason not to amend these Rules with the aim of achieving better compliance from both players and umpires.

In the first part of the video below the umpire ‘forgets’ lifted but he does not ‘think danger’ (here play leading to dangerous play). That close to the opposing goalkeeper, who was competing for the ball, the team-mate of the player who illegally raised the ball into the circle could not have been the initial receiver; the ball was potentially dangerous from the moment it was raised (I have no doubt about the flank player’s intention to raise the ball but would prefer a Rule situation where it was not necessary to determine intent – that the ball was raised into the circle should be sufficient to call an offence – as it was prior to the introduction of the Rule prohibiting the intentionally raised hit))

I am anyway firmly of the opinion that no player should be permitted to play or attempt to play at an above shoulder ball while in the opponents circle, especially if it is possible that the type of play seen in the video would not be considered by umpires to be dangerous. We have been taken in one step, by Rule amendment, from a situation where a defender who attempted to play at a shot at the goal that was going wide of the target would have to be penalised with a penalty corner (mandatory) to what looks like a free-for-all.

In the second incident the raised hit across the goal was obviously intended as a pass and not a shot at the goal and was therefore illegally raised. It is not possible (fair or safe) for the umpire to ‘forget lifted’ in such circumstances.

Back in 1997 when the Off-side Rule was finally abolished, the then FIH Hockey Rules Board promised that measures would be put in place to prevent attackers behaving in a dangerous way close to the goal (‘goal-hanging’, not previously possible, was a concern). These measures never materialized; in fact the opposite has happened, what little Rule protection there was for defending players after 1997 has been ruthlessly stripped away. Comment about this (from someone who pointed out he was a qualified umpire) is contained in my article ‘Reckless endangerment’ and illustrates a present common attitude towards players who are defending the goal when a raised shot is made.

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/reckless-endangerment/

 

Below, another example in which there is penalising of a second offence rather than the first offence and awarding of the free ball in the wrong place (the first offence led to the second offence and was therefore – Rule 9.8 – also dangerous play).


 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/02/hitting-the-ball-illegally/

February 24, 2018

Reckless endangerment

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

I recently posted a video clip to a USA field-hockey discussion group within Facebook and netted what I though was an extinct idea, the ‘automatic’ penalty stroke if a defender within 5m of an attacker propelling a high (above knee height) raised ball, is hit with it, while in front of his or her own goal and prevents the ball going into the goal.

We had Keely Dunn (a Canadian FIH Umpire) proclaiming back in 2006 that a defender positioned on the goal-line caused danger and also that a player positioned behind their stick to stop the ball, took that position to ensure that if they missed the ball with the stick it would hit their body – and that, if it happened, was intentional use of the body to stop the ball. Dunn, a self proclaimed hockey mavern, is however better remembered for her equally bizarre inventions (dunnie fodder) about an aerial ball, which I will not repeat here.

Unbelievably inventions about a shot at goal got worse than that when the Russian FIH Umpire Elena Eskina declared during a 2010 World Cup match between Spain and China, that an ‘on-target’ shot at the goal could not be dangerous play. She kept repeating “It was a clear shot on goal” (The television commentator obviously got the same briefing. It is clearly from umpire briefings that this nonsense is being disseminated The Umpire Manager at this Tournament was Jan Hadfield)

She made a similar decision during the London Olympics in 2012 following a reckless shot by an attacker, but had an opposite view in the same match, when a goalkeeper raised the ball during a clearance from the goalmouth as an attacker went to her knees in front of her in an attempt to play at the ball (which I saw as reckless self-endangerment by the attacker) even though the goalkeeper played the ball away from the attacker and not at or across her a penalty corner was awarded against the goalkeeper’s team.

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That was followed in 2016 by an inane decision from Christian Blash – that a raised hit shot that was going wide of the goal (and not at any player) was dangerous play – because it was hit wide of the goal (the ball was deflected into the goal by a defender who attempted to play at it with his stick when the ball was well above head height – previously (bewilderingly) a penalty corner offence, defenders were previously only permitted to play at a above shoulder height ball if it was ‘on target’). The goal, which should have been awarded, was disallowed. That, despite the fact that this decision contradicted what is given in Terminology in the rule-book about a shot at the goal, didn’t even cause the “can’t be dangerous” crowd to blink, they are used to accommodating extreme opposites in interpretation and even contradictions of what is given in the rule-book, as long as it is FIH Umpires who are applying them.

I see the action of the striker in the above clip as being both reckless and dangerous play. Reckless because it was made without consideration for the safety of the defender and also (or because it was) unnecessarily hit in the way that it was, the attacker had a number of alternative ways of scoring; he could have hit the ball along the ground or passed it to a team-mate positioned near to the right side goal-post for an easy tap-in. Dangerous because the ball was carelessly raised into the defender, who was within 5m and trying his best to avoid being hit with it – taking legitimate evasive action – see Rule 9.8

So what do the Rules of Hockey ‘say’ about a shot at the goal. Not much, what there is is contained in the Rules of the penalty corner – and it takes a bit of sifting to find it –  they are, despite all the clarification and simplification of the Rules since 1995, a masterpiece of obscurantism – the use of common sense and rational though is necessary to extend what is written in the Penalty Corner Rules  to cover open play situations.

13.3.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. (My inserts in parenthesis)

Nothing there about dangerous play, 13.3.k is about the criteria for the scoring a goal from a first hit shot. But, if the ball is raised to above 460mm the hit must be penalised – for what? Is it correct to assume it is for dangerous play? Maybe, maybe not, it could be for non-compliance with the criteria for a legal shot. The Explanation of Application to this Rule makes things clearer but not much clearer: danger is however mentioned, but not what it might be explained. There is however acknowledgement of the possibility that danger may be caused to opponents by a first hit shot made at the goal

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 (my bold) and provided it would drop of its own accord below 460 mm before crossing the line.

The Rule then moves on to deal with second and subsequent hit shots and also with flick or scoop shots.

13.3.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. (what ‘dangerous’ might be is not here revealed)

13.3.k deals with only the first hit shot, Rule 13.3.l deals with second and subsequent hit shots and any flick shot, including the first one, that is made at the goal, and it should be perfectly clear from what is written that any shot at the goal with any stroke may be considered to be dangerous play – why otherwise write “but this must not be dangerous“. If dangerous play was not a possibility there would be no need to admonish “but this must not be dangerous” 

What is not clear is what constitutes a dangerous shot, but obviously (I hope it is obvious) any shot that causes legitimate evasive action must be considered to be dangerous play. What ‘legitimate’ might be is another question. ‘legitimate’ is a subjective judgement; so ‘dangerous’ a subjective judgement is based on another subjective judgement for which the FIH Rules Committee have offered no criteria.

The Explanation of Application with 13.3.l  goes on:- A defender who is clearly running into the shot or into the taker without attempting to play the ball with their stick (my bold) must be penalised for dangerous play. (the part in bold is frequently overlooked and running towards a striker from within the goal or from just outside a goal-post – closing down in order to make a tackle attempt, that is legitimate defending – incorrectly considered to be dangerous play or self endangerment by a defender).

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 (this conflicts with the Explanation of Application provided with the open play Rule 9.9 which prohibits any raising of the ball towards an opponent who is within 5m – this clause was added to the Rule as an emergency measure  – an immediate or ‘knee jerk reaction’ – following the defending tactics at a penalty corner of the Korean team just prior to the 2004 Olympics – and we are now it seems stuck with it – even if it is an invitation to reckless propelling of the ball by an attacker during a penalty corner as a means of intimidation) 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. (my bold) (We now have clear objective criteria for a dangerous shot at the goal, something to work with)

This provides three objective criteria for a dangerously played ball (which have  been adopted by ‘umpiring practice’ into general open play) they are ‘raised at a player’, ‘within 5m’ and ‘above knee height’. There is no reason to suppose that what is considered a dangerous first (or subsequent) shot during a penalty corner should not be considered a dangerous shot during open play in a shooting circle – it’s not a great leap which defies logic to treat both in the same way, it is a logical step and common sense – it otherwise makes little sense to adopt ‘within 5 and above knee height‘ as a rule-of -thumb criteria for a ball propelled in a dangerous way at a player, in general open play, but these criteria are so adopted.

The initial response to my posting the above video clip with a comment about dangerous play, and part of the ‘discussion’ (expression of entrenched views) that followed, are set out below. My view is entrenched in the Rules of Hockey, POV, an umpire practicing in the UK, appears to be following what he sees senior umpires doing, particularly FIH Umpires, and to believe that they are not wrong about this sort of thing (because of the level they have reached and their umpiring experience) – If only it were true that the level of play an umpire is officiating at is an indication of the correctness of his or her decisions, but it is more likely that ‘pigs will fly’ – the higher the level the faster the game (for longer) and the more ‘pressure'(self inflicted anxiety) there will be

The exchange of views


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POV
This might open up a can of worms but from what I can see is that the shot was on target and unfortunately the defender was hit… any player who is in line with the ball and the goal mouth is always at risk of being hit and its in their best interest to the evasive action. Just like any player who stands on the goal line on penalty corners are at risk of getting hit and is their responsibility to move out of the way of the ball or risk getting hit and giving a penalty stroke away. it would have been a different call if it was going wide of the goal.

 

Martin Conlon
When an attacking opponent takes an illegal i.e. dangerous action – danger being defined as an action that causes legitimate evasive action – Rule 9.8 and also the responsibility of the attacker to behave in a responsible way and to consider the safety of other players (both Rules of hockey) have been breached. There is no counterpart in the Rules to suggest that a defending player is, when subjected to dangerous play by an opponent – in breach of any Rule if hit with the ball.
I should add that the defender was penalised because of an advantage gained for his team – he stopped the ball going into the goal – but that is irrelevant if there has been prior dangerous play by an opponent – which there obviously was.

POV
I’m not sure if I’m missing something here but what was the dangerous play from the attacking team??

Martin Conlon
If you don’t see dangerous play when one player blasts the ball high into another player who is within 5m AND there is legitimate evasive action from the defending player (which defines dangerous play), then you are certainly missing something – knowledge of the Rules of Hockey.
You are not alone of course FIH Umpires have been trained to wilful blindness in this area just as they have been with obstruction.

A pedant might point out that the Explanation of Application given with Rule 9.9 (which is a rule about the intentionally raised hit) prohibits raising the ball into an opponent within 5m only with flicks and scoops, but common sense should allow an extension of this prohibition to include a recklessly made raised hits towards a player, especially one who is within 5m of the striker, and when the ball is raised above knee height, as it was; (I now add) besides legitimate evasive action make no reference to the type of stroke the ball is propelled with.

POV
Are you talking about the player that got hit?? if so nothing wrong has been done by the attacking player he is well within his right to attack the goal at any high regardless of who is in front if the goal mouth. evasive action or not if it hits a defending player then unfortunately that is his bad luck that he didn’t move fast enough out of the way like I said before same rule applies when defending a penalty corner evasive action or not if it hits you anywhere on the body and you’re in the goalmouth then it’s an automatic penalty stroke. In both cases the defending player has prevented a legitimate goal from happening. (my bold here it was not in the original post)

Martin Conlon
You are wrong. I suggest you read a rule-book. On the first page you will find this unnumbered Rule:-
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. (my bold not in the original post)

Emphasis is placed on safety. Everyone involved in the game must act with consideration for the safety of others.
The Rule of Conduct of Play (Rule 9) is prefaced with this instruction:-
Players are expected to act responsibly at all times.
Then there is the prohibition I mentioned previously, contained within Rule 9.9, and the Penalty Corner Rules shed some much needed light on what should be considered to be a dangerous shot at the goal – which is missing from Rule concerning open play.

POV
Martin I have read the rules and understand them perfectly well, I’m a qualified umpire grated not international standard but very much on this occasion in respect to dangerous play… would have to agree to disagree with you. if what you are saying is correct no one and I mean no one should raise a ball at the goal if a player is within the goalmouth if less than 5m away… you’ll find that this is never the case. Both umpires in this short video you have posted are very experienced and would no doubt know the rules better than you or I… not saying that they don’t make a mistake but even the umpire assessing the referral agreed with the decision of the umpire who gave the PS in the first place.

POV clearly does not understand the Rules concerning dangerous play he just believes he does. This failure is very common among umpires largely because they just follow what they see other more senior umpires doing. The senior umpires they follow have been umpiring in this way since they were novices because they too followed what more senior umpires were doing: this ‘cascade’ system is self perpetuating. No umpire actually properly reads the rule-book once they have qualified except to catch up on announced changes.

 

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In answer to the point made in the last paragraph above .This (video above) might not be reckless play, the raising of the ball in the way that it was done was accidental, the result of a miss-hit; nonetheless the striker committed a dangerous play offence, propelling the ball from close range high into the defender. The umpire made an error of judgement in penalising the defender and the video umpire repeated that error by confirming her decision. It is possible the umpire did not see where the ball hit the defender, but the video umpire had no excuse for her incorrect recommendation. Yes umpires at this level do make mistakes and have their mistaken decisions approved by video umpires.

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The restrictions contained in the Penalty Corner Rules are not missing ‘in practice’ because it is common umpiring practice to apply the objective criteria “above knee height” (from the penalty corner Rule 13.3.l) together with “within 5m” which is also in the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9. (but see above example from the Rio Olympics). Rule 9.8 regarding legitimate evasive action applies to all propelling of the ball towards an opponent irrespective of the stroke used.

FIH Umpires have become used to devising their own ‘rules’ in practice, i.e. leading the FIH Rules Committee ‘by the nose’. This particular invention –  (application of common sense) within 5m and above knee height – is not all bad, it does at least provide objective criteria for dangerous play – which are ignored only when there is a dangerous shot at the goal (that is, illogically, in the only situation where it is legal to raise the ball with a hit ) but it also conflicts with what is provided with Rule 9.9 together with what is adopted from Rule 13.3.l because these Rules taken together prohibit any raising of the ball towards an opponent who is within 5m.  “It is legal to raise the ball with a hit when taking a shot at the goal” does not mean, applying simple logic, that such a raised shot is always safely raised; this must be so when it is never ‘safe’ to raise the ball towards an opponent who is within 5m. That action is, by Rule, always to be considered dangerous play – the Rule make no exception to “is dangerous” just because a shot at the goal is being made.

The Rules concerning the dangerously played ball are a mess,” a can of worms”, and there is obviously conflict between what is seen as dangerous play in general open play outside the circles and what is considered dangerous play (or more accurately commonly not considered so) when a raised shot is taken at the goal – there is no good reason for this conflict, it just exists (has been ‘developed’ in practice). There is no doubt at all that had a similar incident to the one seen in this video occurred in a mid-field area, that ball raising action (even if done with a flick) would (or should) be penalised and almost everyone, perhaps even POV, would expect that to be the umpire’s decision.

When it is considered that any intentional raising of the ball with a hit is an offence except (bizarrely) when the ball is being propelled towards the opponent’s goal from within their circle, anyone could be forgiven for thinking – given that there is supposed to be an emphasis on player safety – that the Rules of Hockey have not been drafted by rational people (because that is exactly when a high velocity raised ball is the most likely to be dangerously raised at other players. The circle, when a shot at the goal is being taken is usually crowded with players) and it can be no surprise that even the sane parts of the Rule, the criteria for ‘dangerous’, are being applied irrationally or not applied at all in the shooting circles when a shot at the goal is made.

These off-target shots at the goal are typical examples; the second one with obstruction thrown in for good measure.

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The part of argument POV made that I highlighted in bold  – he is well within his right to attack the goal at any high regardless of who is in front if the goal mouth. evasive action or not if it hits a defending player then unfortunately that is his bad luck that he didn’t move fast enough out of the way – is an illustration of this irrationality and of the weakness of the Rules and various other instructions and statements made in the rule-book when compared with interpretation (understanding), common practice and habit. No player has a right to endanger another player ever, but especially not when causing endangerment is easily avoided. To do it deliberately or recklessly has to be a cardable offence. That an umpire should make the statement POV made is almost incredible – almost because it is quite common for umpires, even very high level umpires, to make such statements.

That the statement in the previous paragraph that POV made is incorrect is obvious from a reading of the Rules and it is worrying that he is a qualified umpire and allowed to put into practice this approach to endangerment from a raised ball.

There is an analogy here with learner drivers and the driving test. Learner drivers quickly forget the Highway Code and probably could not pass on it a few months after passing their driving test, and of course their driving is not compliant with test standards for very long either. The analogy falls because drivers can be disqualified for dangerous driving, but umpires are not disqualified for being a danger to players in the matches they officiate.They do however leave themselves open to legal action when making public statements of the kind made above, if a player is injured in a match they are officiating. It could be demonstrated that an attacking player did not take the care he or she should have because they were given the impression by a particular umpire that it is perfectly okay to raise the ball at a close opponent, (sic) because if the opponent is hit with the ball and injured “it is the opponent’s fault for being in the way“, even when there are other easier shooting options available to the attacker. Any reasonable person would see that to be a nonsense.

The late Peter Savage, a hockey journalist and himself a former FIH Umpire, once wrote when referring to the promotion of umpires to FIH level These days they appear to give a badge to anyone who can stand up and blow a whistle without actually choking on it”  Below FIH level it seems that the shortage of umpires is so acute that the standard for qualification isn’t as high as that.

POV
I’m not sure if I’m missing something here but what was the dangerous play from the attacking team??

POV is not, and he says he is not, a FIH Umpire but FIH Umpires do have the same kind of blind spots or ‘brain fade’ – although because of the ‘recommended’ (coached) positioning of the umpire my criticism of this penalty corner decision by that umpire is not entirely fair (but the prior offence by the attacking team should have been penalised and an umpire is responsible for his own positioning). 

The video below is composed from one that was previously presented on dartfish.com (they have all now been deleted) by the FIH Umping Committee under the heading ball off the ground 3. The Interpretation provided with the video is as follows:


The IND player crosses the ball into the circle. The ball is lifted, but is not dangerous to either of the ARG defenders. The ARG goalkeeper tries to kick the ball clear, but unintentionally lifts it dangerously past his own defender towards the IND forward. A penalty corner is awarded to IND.

This ‘interpretation’ is not only inaccurate in its description of the action:-  (the ball was raised intentionally from outside the circle into and across the circle to the disadvantage of the defenders) – an offence which should have been penalised. The ball was not raised dangerously by the goalkeeper either towards his own defender or towards the IND player (evasive action was not necessary by either player – i.e. evasion was not legitimate – “when it causes legitimate evasive action” along with “raised towards a player within 5m” defines a dangerously played ball)  –  the interpretation given with the video runs contrary to the Rules of Hockey which state:-

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.

(not only whether or not it is raised dangerously, an illegally (intentionally) raised hit is an offence even when it is not also dangerous to opponents).

I have no doubt that the ball was raised intentionally into the circle with that hit.

and also

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 players.

The umpire made an understandable mistake but there is no possible excuse for these errors to be repeated and endorsed in an umpire coaching video and there was no excuse for the video umpire confirming the decision of the match umpire.



There are two offences shown in the video both committed by IND players. The first was the intentional raising of the ball with a hit across the circle from outside the circle, an action which was illegal and disadvantaged the defending team – so an offence, which I repeat, should have been penalised (and umpire positioning does not here excuse the failure to penalise). The second was the reckless and dangerous hit into the back of a member his own team by the IND #5. The award of a penalty corner was unjustifiable because the defending goalkeeper did not endanger anyone with his kick to clear the ball from the goalmouth. The recommendation from the video umpire was absurd.

From the ‘recommended position’, the umpire could have had no idea of the flight path of the ball or how close it actually was to the players in front of the goalkeeper. He had no choice but to react as he did to the false evasion. The ‘recommended position’ is a ‘crock’ and there is a need for more on-pitch officials.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/03/12/a-suggested-rewrite-of-rule-9-9/

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/02/24/reckless-endangerment/

February 21, 2018

What FIH Umpires are doing

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Two or three offences 1) Shielding the ball from one opponent to prevent him or her playing directly at it (a foul) and also 2) making physical contact while obstructing 3) deliberately lifting the ball into another opposing player (a cardable offence, because raising the ball into a close opponent is a foul contrary to Explanation of application of Rule 9.9 even when done unintentionally). But the obstruction offences and the dangerous play offences are both ignored and penalty here in each case awarded against the player hit with the ball (or even supposed to have been hit with the ball).

This is not good enough to earn approval for advancement from novice to Level One qualification following a watching by an umpire coach – never mind officiate at a World Level hockey event.

So what is going on and why would anyone follow such practice?

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/02/21/what-fih-umpires-are-doing/

February 14, 2018

A silly question

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

The silly or ‘trick’ question is one that I heard in my school days. I think it was first widely spread from the book ‘Hockey Umpiring’ by the renowned Indian FIH Umpire Gian Singh, which was published in 1958.

“A shot is taken at the goal by an attacker from inside the circle. As a result the cork of the ball passes between the goal-posts, under the crossbar and over the goal-line, whereas the leather cover passes over the base-line outside the goalposts. What should the umpire award?”

There were later variations on this theme with the ball splitting into two halves along the seam (common with the Victor ‘plastic’ ball) or shattering into two or more large pieces (when poorly composed ‘PVC’ balls were used). Obviously a goal cannot be awarded when this happens because the ball has not completely crossed the goal-line. A different slant on the usual understanding of ‘completely’, which normally referred to the ball (as a unit) entirely crossing the complete width of a goal-line and not being in contact with or overhanging part of the goal-line.

A different but equally old ‘silly question’, one which has a very obviously wrong answer other than “Goal” (and not “Penalty corner”), is-

What should the decision be if the ball touches the foot of a defender when the ball is hit wide of the goal by an attacker and then continues on out of play before any intervention by any other player is possible?

In these circumstances there can be no advantage gained by the defending team because if the ball-foot contact had not occurred the ball would have gone out of play, resulting in a 15m to defending the team. And if the ball-foot contact was unintended, there is no justification at all for the award of a penalty corner. Currently of course, following the discontinuation of the corner (previously known as the long corner), in these circumstances, a free ball restart to the attacking team should be awarded on the 23m line opposite to the place the ball went out of play…..

…….unless the on-pitch official happens to be an FIH Umpire.

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The first penalty corner shown awarded in the video clip is awarded correctly, because a defender, albeit accidentally, raised the ball towards a close opponent (within 5m) and hit him with the ball – technically a dangerous play offence  (but not with current umpiring practice – see the play from another tournament – if the ball is deliberately lifted into a defender in the circle by an attacker).

There is an apparent bias against defenders who make ball-body contact in their own circle, even if the contact is illegally forced by an opponent – see video below – because it seems this leads to ‘spectacular hockey’ – i.e. penalty corners (drag-flicks) – and generally to more goals being scored.
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The second and third penalty corners in the initial video follow the scenario of the second ‘silly question’ above. The shot from the second penalty corner, improbably, hitting the foot of the defender in exactly the same way as the shot from the first penalty corner did. The umpire did not feel a need to consult again to award a third penalty corner, he made a consistent, but incorrect, decision about a ball-foot contact and penalised the defender for a second time.

There were a total of five penalty corners awarded in close sequence at this time during the match, only one of which (the first) can be said with certainty to have been awarded correctly. Three were clearly incorrectly awarded (two glanced off the foot of a defender, with the foot that was hit positioned wide of the goal and close to – almost on – the base-line and the ball continued out of play; one was awarded as the result of an intentionally forced ball-foot contact by an opponent).

This is not an unusual ratio of correct to incorrect in the awarding of penalty corners; that’s a 60% – 80% error rate. Most error arises from penalising ball-foot contact which has been deliberately forced by an opponent – instead of allowing play to continue or, if the ball was raised, instead of penalising the player who did the forcing  – or arises from penalising unintentional contact when there is no advantage gained by the team of the player hit with the ball as happened when the second and third penalty corners seen in the video were awarded.

Here is an example of a similar mistake by an umpire (and a player) made in open play during an EHL match. Umpires have trained players (by previous decision making) to expect this kind of decision and to regard it as normal practice and correct umpiring, i.e. in compliance with Rule  – when it is not.

 

The decision making methods of the top level umpires are cascaded to those at the lower levels – few appear to have read a rule-book and none are seen to regularly comply with the wording of the published Rule and its Explanation of Application. Some even argue (on an Internet hockey forum) that the explanation/instruction provided by the FIH Rules Committee in regard to the application of Rule 9.11 is not the Rule Proper but merely advice or notes and can therefore be disregarded.

I am unconvinced by such argument because the same people take an entirely different approach to the Explanation of Application provided with other Rules (and even to some long deleted Interpretation), and also because I do not accept that the FIH Rules Committee produced the Rule Explanations provided in the rule-book with the expectation or acceptance that some of them would be ignored or countermanded by Umpire Coaches or Umpire Managers or Tournament Directors – or by umpire coaching/briefing produced and published by the FIH Umpiring Committee.

The FIH Rules Committee, with the approval of the FIH Executive, is the sole Hockey Rules authority and cannot be overruled by any other individual (not even by one or more of its own Members) or by any other FIH body (committee). The FIH Executive went to the trouble of reminding all National Associations of that fact in a FIH Circular in 2001 – another reminder appears to be required.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/02/14/an-old-umpiring-question/

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February 10, 2018

A peculiar interpretation

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

Cris Maloney is a well known, enthusiastic, and well liked umpire coach in the USA. He has produced a number of videos and written three books on the playing and umpiring of field-hockey. He has also been involved with Steven Horgan (the Pan American representative Member of the FIH Rules Committee since 2017) in the production of the USA Field Hockey Rules Briefing videos since 2012 – so he should know what he is talking about (even though there has not been a single mention of the Obstruction Rule – the subject of this article – in the USA Briefings for as far back as I have been able to track them: so no mention since at least 2012). It is therefore something of a surprise to discover that he has concocted a bizarre interpretation of part the wording of the Explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule (that turns the Obstruction Rule ‘on its head’) and which he presented in a pre-2017 season coaching session at Eastern. The video clip below is a small segment of that session.

Like the ‘curate’s egg’ what is said is not all bad, the opening statements he makes in the video, about the possibility of obstructing when moving the ball or moving with the ball, are accurate (but see video below for a different interpretation which was previously ‘fashionable’), but he very quickly departed from the rule-book and referred to an offence called ‘Misconduct’ which was deleted decades ago, and also refers to tackle prevention, which is not specifically mentioned in the Obstruction Rule – although instruction about the prevention of a tackle – “if  the opponent could otherwise have played at the ball” – was at one time included in Advice to Umpires in the back of the rule-book and should still be included in the Rule or Explanation of application, but isn’t. Strangely ball shielding when an opponent is within playing distance of the ball and clearly intent on playing at the ball – making a tackle for the ball – is no longer seen (interpreted) as the prevention of a tackle attempt. (That said “attempting to tackle” is presently very poorly defined and absurdly interpreted – see separate article

https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/attempting-to-play-the-ball/).

He then, after describing backing in as a contact offence, asks a player to back into him in demonstration, and declares when she does as she is asked, that she is not backing into him (but backing up), as he retreats behind her, because she does not make contact with him. When he stops retreating and the player does back into physical contact, he then declares that she is backing in and therefore obstructing him. The flaw in this reasoning should be obvious as the player with the ball simply continued with exactly the same action – but he did not.

The question that needs to be addressed is “Does ‘back in’ mean backing into physical contact?” Without additional information it is not possible to determine that because the term is ambiguous. Certainly (as Cris Maloney pointed out) someone who backs into another car hits that car. But, someone who backs into a parking bay or a garage does not normally keep going until they hit something – the terms used are the same and both interpretations can be correct, meaning clearly depends on the context in which the term is used. It is therefore necessary to go to the published Rule to see if there is other wording within the Explanation of application to support the contact interpretation or to make it doubtful or to contradict it.

There are other criteria described and I will set them out without setting out the entire Explanation of application, Third Party etc. 

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

Players obstruct if they :

– back into an opponent

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.

The last clause needs breaking down to highlight its component parts.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent which can be accurately transcribed into the previously used prohibitive form: – A player with the ball is not permitted to move bodily into an opponent. and  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. transcribes to become A player with the ball is not permitted to move into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

Summary

A player with the ball is not permitted to:-

  • back into an opponent
  • move bodily into an opponent
  • move to position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

I believe the separate listing of ‘back into’ and ‘move bodily into’ call for different interpretations of the two terms.

Because a player may be obstructed once that player is within playing distance of the ball, ‘back into’ can reasonably be interpreted to mean ‘back into the playing reach of an opponent’ and not only or just, back into contact. The separate ‘Move bodily into an opponent’, which is otherwise unnecessary, is then justified as a different action from ‘back into’.

Why then is another action described separately ‘move to position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it’. listed ? Is this not unnecessary duplication? No, one reason is because it is possible to turn (move) into a position between an approaching opponent and the ball without backing towards that opponent and a second, important one, is that if a ball holder is moving into an opponent while shielding the ball – which is likely if there is ‘backing in’ or ‘moving bodily into an opponent’ – it is not necessary for the opponent to be attempting to play at the ball at the time for there to be an obstruction offence; this requirement is omitted from the first two criteria listed in the Explanation to the Rule. That is a reasonable interpretation because if a player is forced to back away from a moving ball holder to avoid physical contact or has been barged into by the body of the ball holder, an attempt to play at the ball may have been made unfairly difficult or impossible (prevented) by either of these actions.

I assert that there are sufficient other terms and reasonable alternative interpretation to discard the idea that ‘back into an opponent‘ must mean back into physical contact with that opponent. Backing into physical contact is an offence, but so is backing into the playing reach of an opponent, while shielding the ball but without making physical contact, because this contravenes two other clauses of the Explanation of application 1) shielding the ball  2) moving to position between an opponent and the ball. (both actions separately or together preventing a tackle attempt) 

A difficulty with interpretation might disappear if the Explanation of application was clarified to read –  back into the playing reach of an opponent. but I think it better to expand the clause to include all leading of the ball into the playing reach of an opponent while shielding the ball from that opponent to prevent direct playing at the ball: this would include the common ‘crabbing’ actions – leading the ball with shoulder and/or hip and with a leg. So:- A player obstructs if leading the ball with any part of the body into the playing reach of an opponent, while shielding the ball to prevent that opponent playing directly at it.

Cris Maloney also presented some very strange ideas in the coaching session (shown in the video below) which appear to be based on this clause from the Explanation of application:- A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction. They are strange because that clause refers only to a player who is in the act of receiving and controlling the ball. A player in possession who is therefore not in the act of receiving and controlling the ball is subject to a player shall not shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body and must, when in possession of the ball but not in the act of receiving and controlling it, take account of the positioning of opponents to avoid an obstruction offence, i.e such a player is not always permitted to be facing in any direction. The shielding clause applies whether a player who is shielding the ball from an opponent is stationary or is moving at the time. That is something Cris Malone mentioned but did not expand upon when he referred, at the beginning of the first video clip above, to players who were moving the ball or moving with the ball.

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In fact the only times, other than when in the act of receiving and controlling the ball (receiving is not ‘in possession’) , a player in possession need not be concerned about the positioning of opponents vis a vis the possibility of obstruction, are when there is no opponent within playing distance of the ball or no opponent rapidly approaching who will be within playing reach of the ball before it can be put into an open position or when the ball holder and the ball are the opponent’s goal side of any opponent, (which includes any opponent who is within playing distance of the ball). An opponent who is ‘behind the play’ as described (behind – not own goal-side of – both the player in possession and the ball) cannot, no matter how close he or she may be to the ball, be bodily obstructed by a player in possession of the ball (but obstruction of a tackler’s stick, by ‘protecting’ the ball or fending off with stick or leg or hand/arm, is still a possibility).

Whether or not a player in possession of the ball is in “a legal position” or is “still in a legal position” when an opponent is attempting to make a tackle does depend on how they respond/position when a tackle attempt is made. The correct response when the group were asked “Is she still in a legal position” as a tackle attempt was demonstrated to be blocked by the body of the ball-holder was “NO”: Cris Maloney should have been explaining why it was “NO”. The “Yes” reply was an example of ignoring cognitive dissidence (between Rule wording and action) that is wilful blindness.

The Obstruction Rule is intended to put pressure on a player in possession of the ball to encourage movement with the ball (dribbling and stick-work) and movement of the ball (passing) – and to discourage physical contact, illegal ball shielding and static ‘play’: it by these means promotes game flow and all aspects of skillful play. ‘Diluting’ the criteria for obstruction does the opposite: it ‘dumbs down’ the game so that very little skill is needed to keep possession of the ball. The result is that many players, who are coached to shield the ball whenever possible and do so ‘automatically’ in contested situations, do not develop necessary stick-work and footwork skills or passing skills to properly (legally) play the game.

There is not much backing in taking place during the boring action shown in the video below, so what is seen complies with Cris Maloney’s view of “not obstruction”  – but not with what is written in the Rules of Hockey Rule 9.12.- besides it not being Rule compliant, could anyone want hockey to be played like this?

 

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The answer to that last question is possibly “Yes”. Now nearly everyone plays hockey like this because this, despite Rule 9.12, is the way it is umpired. (which is the justification Cris Maloney has offered to me for his coaching of obstruction) Are umpires umpiring as ‘everybody’ wants them to or only as umpires want to? In the following video there are many clips showing players shielding the ball while leading it into an opponent in a way that obliges that opponent to give way to avoid physical contact or moving into body contact (sideways or backwards) while ball shielding or alternatively, going over the ball and barging into an opponent. Only the last two incidents were penalised for obstruction, the first of them the reversal, after video referral, of a silly penalty stroke decision made by the match umpire, and the second, after a long delay, when a second player was deliberately obstructed in the same way as the first one continued to be deliberately obstructed – and even then the penalty awarded was a penalty corner and not, as it should have been, a penalty stroke.


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What Cris Maloney is currently coaching is at least two steps ‘behind’ what is now permitted, contrary to the Obstruction Rule, by FIH Umpires. To rescue the game we need to go back three or four ‘development’ steps, to where ball shielding to prevent an opponent playing at the ball, when he or she would otherwise have been able to do so, was considered an obstruction offence, and opponents were eluded or ‘beaten’ by passing and stick-work skills rather than, commonly, by barging and body blocking.

We are no longer trying to understand the wording used in the Obstruction Rule; we are trying to understand the umpiring which is supposed to be based on the provided wording, but clearly is not. What the above umpiring is based on is a mystery.

 

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

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation/

 

 

February 9, 2018

Two wrongs do not make a right.

RULES OF HOCKEY

This is from the Indoor World Cup in its concluding stages.

The only thing of interest in the first fifteen minutes of this match, which was otherwise about as fascinating as watching paint dry, was a blunder by an umpire who does not understand the ball body contact Rule. He immediately blew the whistle following a ball-foot contact without waiting (less than one second) to see if there was an offence, which in this instance, because the contact was obviously unintended, could be the case only if the AUS team gained an advantage from it.

The ball, following the deflection off the AUS player’s foot, went directly to a GER player who put it into the goal, but no goal could be awarded because the umpire had already intervened by blowing the whistle and incorrectly signaling for a penalty corner – incorrectly because there was no offence by an AUS player – because there was no advantage gained by the AUS team – advantage went to the GER team – so the Advantage Rule should have been applied..

How should he have restarted the game when there was no offence and it was the fault of neither team that he blundered? Should the GER team have been ‘compensated’ for his blunder by being awarded a penalty corner? No of course not, no more than the AUS team should have been penalised with a penalty corner for a ball-foot contact that was not an offence. The umpire tried to ‘make up’ for the blunder (or though he was doing the correct thing), by continuing with the penalty corner award instead of correcting it. To be correct he had no choice but to order a bully restart, no matter how embarrassed he may have been by his mistake.

Am I being too critical? No, I don’t think so: this was a tournament to determine which team was to be the champion of the world – world level Rule knowledge and self control by umpires must be expected at such events, not novice level blunders – and blowing the whistle the instant a ball-foot contact is seen is a novice level blunder.

It almost goes without saying at present that throughout the match both umpires appeared to be unaware of the existence of the Obstruction Rule.

Those who disagree with me about this incorrect award of a penalty corner in these circumstances should bear in mind that I did not write the ball body contact Rule or the Explanation of application provided with it – the FIH Rules Committee did so of course – but I have read it and I understand what I have read, these people could do the same: two wrongs do not make a right.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2018/02/09/no-offence/

October 5, 2016

Obsessed

FIELD HOCKEY RULES.

I was asked (in October 2016) why I have “this obsession” with the Obstruction Rule, a question which struck me as odd at the time because I recalled having an opposite attitude to ‘umpiring practice’ in regard to obstruction when I first started to write about this Rule around 1998. My ‘obsession’ is with persistent illogical and unfair Rule interpretation and application (or the absence of application) and that carries across a number of Rules.

In a previous article, now deleted, I described going, in 1968, to a Hockey Festival in Bad Homberg, Germany and coming across the most extreme interpretation of the Obstruction Rule and what was called ‘turning’ that I had ever encountered:-

In a game I was watching, a ball was played from deep on the left flank for the left-winger to chase. This was in the days when there was an off-side Rule and the through-pass put the chasing left-winger well clear of opponents and on his way to the goal. The pitch was of shale and a bit uneven and the ball popped up causing the winger who was then close to it to over-run it. He turned to collect the ball and the umpire immediately penalised him for ‘turning’ and awarded a free to the opposing team. There was not another player within 15m of him. I was astonished, but the winger, (and everybody else on the pitch) accepted the decision as if it was correct, they were used to this interpretation and behaved as if it was proper.  (This sort of thing explains in part why many players now never bother to learn the FIH published Rules – they are an irrelevance in such circumstances and knowing what the Rules are just causes annoyance with the umpiring that is encountered).

I also had experience of an extreme interpretation of shielding in one of my own games. I was running in possession of the ball towards an opponent and as he made a forward lunge in an attempt to tackle me I side-stepped to my right and took the ball past him. We passed each other closely but without touching, his lunge caused him to be off-balance, with no chance of contact with the ball or of recovery of position. I was penalised for running between my opponent and the ball – apparently I should have passed by him beyond his theoretical playing reach, rather than his actual playing reach from his off-balance position. 

The Obstruction Rule up until the early 1990’s was strictly enforced, by some ridiculously over-strictly, but it was generally not as daft as what I encountered in Bad Homberg; it did not almost prevent the playing of the game. I later learned that these interpretations were peculiar to an individual who had control of umpire selection in that area of Germany and it was ‘local’ and applied only at club level.

The video clip below, which was produced in 2003 by the Australian HA, was probably the work of someone used to the pre-1992 application of the Obstruction Rule, but even by the understanding and common application (‘practice’) of the Rule in 1992 (before the ‘new interpretation’ was introduced )it is completely wrong. There is no obstruction shown in this part of the video clip. It has always been impossible to obstruct with the body a player who is not own goal-side of the ball and who is behind the play i.e. behind both the ball and the player in possession of the ball, as the player in red in the video is positioned. (and at no point does the blue player pull the ball back, as the commentator/coach declares she does – and so what if she did? Nor does she illegally shield it from her opponent with her body, it is always in front of her feet as she moves towards the opponent’s base-line).


I don’t know what players and umpires made of this video when it was first produced. Those who saw it probably just ignored it because by 2004 the Obstruction Rule was for all intents and purposes ‘dead’.  I then, quite quickly, found myself on the ‘other side of the fence’, going from having attacked the absurdity of turning or shielding when there was no-one turned on or the ball shielded from, to having to attack the equal absurdity of these fouls, often combined with physical contact, not being penalised at all, in fact the obstructed player often being penalised for a ‘phantom’ contact tackle.We now have an equally extreme opposite ‘umpiring practice’ of application of the Obstruction Rule: many umpires seem unaware of the existence of it.

Compare the above ‘obstruction’ with the below 2016 penalising of a ‘tackler’, bearing in mind that there has been no change to the Rule except a tightening up and clarification concerning positioning between an opponent and the ball by a player in possession of the ball, added to Explanation in 2009  – and there has been no announcement of any change of interpretation at all made by the FIH Rules Committee (or the FIH Hockey Rules Board) and no change made to the wording of the interpretation of the Rule since 2001 (and that was ‘housekeeping’ – removing the words “if necessary” which did not in any way alter the existing interpretation, so there has been no change of any significance since 1993, when the receiving exception was introduced).

 

 

My persistence in pointing out the 2009 amendment to the Explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule, on the Internet forums at talkinghockey.com and fieldhockeyforum.com was rewarded with bans from both. George Brinks told me by email in 2009 that the Obstruction Rule was ‘dead’ and my insisting on writing about it was driving people away from his forum and he had therefore to ban me.

Below, is my notification of my permanent exclusion from fieldhockeyforum.com – a typical umpire ‘interpretation’ by Magpie (a previous moderator), a convenient corruption of what I wrote (which was impure invention on his part) and a ban without any justification whatsoever.

ban3_zpsfb960238
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Neither of these forum moderators were interested in (probably didn’t even read) what I was actually advocating, they just incorrectly assumed I was pushing for a return to the pre-1993 era interpretation of the Obstruction Rule. The following clips indicate what I consider to be both legal and attractive hockey – I am not at all opposed to turning on or with the ball as long as it is not obstructive play.

.The art of evasion with the ball, by turning with it or about it, is about timing, spatial awareness, footwork, ball-control (stick-work) and, to a lesser extent, speed – and when properly done, which is a difficult combination of skills, it makes for attractive hockey. Not at all what we are generally getting at present.

Because of the 2009 amendment to the wording of the Explanation of application (which simply rephrased and repeated what the Rule already contained, so it was just clarification), the present (2018) Obstruction Rule seems to be more prescriptive of an obstructive action by a player in possession of the ball than the Rule was in 2004 – but ‘practice’ is very different.

The follow clip shows an obstruction decision from a match played in 2013 that is every bit as extreme and bizarre as the ones I witnessed in 1968, but for different reasons and at the opposite extreme. There was an obstruction offence as well as two physical contact offences but all theses offences were committed by the NED defender the umpire awarded the free ball to. Neither of the ARG players committed an offence during this incident – but the NED played appealed for a decision and an obviously clueless umpire complied. The award of a penalty corner to the ARG team would have been an appropriate response from the umpire because the fouls by the NED player were intentional.

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This swing from one far extreme to another has also occurred in other Rule areas I have also been accused at various times of being ‘obsessed’ with. I pointed out for a number of years prior to 2004 that raising the ball towards another player at any distance was an illegal action and also dangerous play if it caused evasive action, so at the time many of the drag flicks made should have been penalised –  fieldhockeyforum later (about 2006) effectively banned any discussion of the shot at goal as a dangerously raised ball – eventually, after many threads on the dangerously played ball, especially as a shot at the goal, had been prematurely closed or sin-binned, the ‘final word’, a ridiculous and inaccurate post by Diligent (Chris Horton), one of the forum moderators, has been pinned to the top of the Umpiring Section for years. 

The control of dangerous play had gone from the prohibition of any raising of the ball towards another player, a (poorly enforced) Rule extant in 2003, to the deletion of the Forcing Rule (2011) and collected along the way (2008) the invention that an on target shot at the goal could not be considered dangerous (which although dangerously absurd is ‘practice’ (I cannot yet accurately write “was practice”), and so far more powerful than any Rule published by the FIH.RC could ever be). The following video is an example where this “cannot be dangerous” invention seems to be the only possible explanation why the umpire did not penalise the shooter but awarded a penalty corner against a defender who was hit with the ball.

 

The ball-body contact Rule has been plagued with alternate reintroductions and deletions of ‘gained advantage’ and ‘intentionally’ (often in other forms such as, ‘gains benefit’ and ‘voluntarily’ or ‘deliberately‘). Sometimes these changes have been made to the Rule Proper and sometimes to the Explanation of application. Sometimes both terms have been used, at other times neither. At present the Rule Proper appears to conflict with the Explanation, so those who for some unknown reason (simply to get their own way in argument?) regard the Explanation as ‘notes’ and not as direction and apply the Rule in an entirely different way to those who read and apply the Rule using all the provided instruction (which is obviously what is intended by the FIH RC when giving such instruction). Yet others ‘cherry-pick’ the Explanation, so the ball-body contact Rule is now applied as severely, and as illogically, as I saw the Obstruction Rule (according to local ‘practice’) being applied in 1968 – to the point of ruining the game (largely because the offence of forcing is no longer applied, as it is supposed to be, using “other Rules”).

Here is a sample of umpire coaching (also by Chris Horton who, incredibly, is a level one umpire coach) published in a County Hockey Umpiring Association Handbook in 2009, a time when ‘gains benefit’ was not in the Rule Explanation. The criteria for offence were a voluntarily made contact or positioning with intent to use the body to stop the ball.

The notes to the foot body rule 9.11 say it is an offence ‘only’ when contact with the ball is ‘voluntary’, but in practice an accidental contact that alters the balance of play is just as much an offence as deliberately playing the ball with a foot or the body.

This is just one example of interpreting rules consistently with your partner and with other umpires the teams will have. Sometimes their interpretation will differ from how the rule seems, to you, to read. But you must umpire play their way, and never apply your own version. If that leaves you uncomfortable then a bit of lateral thinking should soon enough make the same sense of it for you as it does for everyone else.

  So “in practice”, according to the above opinion (and employing “alters the balance of play” in place of ‘gains benefit’), the Rule can be applied in a way that is the opposite of what a reading of the Rules of Hockey would lead any reasonable person to expect. And it is still umpired in that way; isn’t that wonderful? If the above advice to new umpires strikes you as perverse you would be astonished by an account of how ‘gains benefit’ came to be continued to be applied after 2006 despite the fact that the FIH Rules Committee had deleted it on issue of the 2007-9 Rules of Hockey. ‘Gains advantage’, the replacement of ‘gains benefit’, did not appear in the Rules of Hockey until 2016  (effective from May 2015 by order via a FIH Circular) but, ‘practice’ following Umpire Managers’ or Tournament Directors’ instructions was always ‘the Rule’, not what was printed in the rule-book. “Don’t think, just do as you are told”.

Then we have the Rule on the raised hit, which started out as a prohibition on the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit. That prohibition after many see-saw changes, was extended to all raising of the ball into the circle and then deleted (the usual extremes, all or nothing). The present Rule on the intentionally raised hit (which should not have been introduced in its present form, all that was needed was a height limit to prevent the long high chip hit) has been undermined to the extent that it is virtually ignored because of the forget lifted-think danger advice in the UMB. which has become ‘practice’  (it is common to also ignore any danger or disadvantage to opponents resulting from a raised hit

(I have more than one example on video of a player using a hard forehand edge hit to lift the ball at high velocity into the opponent’s circle – two deliberate offences – and that player’s team being awarded a penalty corner because the ball was deflected by one defender into the body of another).

The ball is not raised very high in this example but it was still raised illegally (intentionally) and with an illegal stroke, and these fouls disadvantaged the opposing team.

The Rule on the falling ball has been messed up by firstly, change to the wording of  the second clause of the Dangerous Play Rule  …or leading to dangerous play ( from ...likely to lead to dangerous play) and secondly, by ignoring this clause. Poor wording of Rule 9.10. (for example, the deletion of “at the time the ball was raised” from the Guidance) has resulted in different views on the placement of a free ball awarded for danger or other contravention following a scoop pass (an aerial), and an attempt to make a ‘one size fits all’ type of decision about that placement for at least three very different scenarios – which is absurd – but ‘practice’. 

And it goes on. I have had sufficient ‘Rule obsessions’ to obsess about a different one every day of the week. All a complete waste of time of course, but that is what games are for, to occupy our time and to prevent us using our intelligence on more important matters.

I no longer enjoy watching hockey, the officiating at the Rio Olympics made me cringe as did much of the play, and I am also at the point when I consider writing abut the Rules of Hockey and the application of them to be a waste of my time.  The apathy and complacency so far encountered in response to what I have written previously hardly makes it worth bothering. I am dismayed that apparently intelligent umpire coaches coach according to “what FIH Umpires are doing” when much of what these umpires do, is not only not Rule compliant, it is extreme and bizarre and wouldn’t get them approval in a watching for promotion from novice to Level One qualification. I am extremely irritated by calls for a period of ‘consolidation’ with no changes to the Rules.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2016/10/05/obsessed/

 

 

 

December 31, 2015

Forcing, deletion of Rule.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

More than eight years ago the following announcement was made in the Introduction of the 2011-13 Rules of Hockey under Rules Changes.

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.

Both of the above statements, whatever the original intention of the FIH Rules Committee, turned out to be false. Also the above announcement did not appear in any rule-book after that of 2011-13 when obviously, being an on going change, it should have done. The result is that umpires who were not made aware of the conditions of this change post 2013 didn’t get educated/instructed beyond “The Forcing Rule is deleted”.

The play by the ENG player in the video clip below did not contravene any “other Rules” because the ball was not raised, but it would (or should) have been penalised prior to the deletion of a stand alone forcing offence. The deletion did cause an unintended but a fundamental change in umpire coaching and therefore in practice. It became standard practice to penalise the player hit with the ball rather than the player who had forced contact – an 180º turn – adopting the opposite extreme rather than the more rational “play on”.

The award of a penalty corner by the umpire was a failure of common sense or ‘brain fade’, the defender did not commit an offence and play should have been allowed to continue. It is not the case that if forcing ball-body contact by an opponent is not an offence then any ball-body contact is an offence by the player hit with the ball. To penalise the player hit with the ball in circumstances similar to those seen in the video is to irrationally and illogically leap from one extreme to another. Only very rarely (I would like to say “never” and I think the Rule should state that) will there be any justification for penalty against a player hit with the ball when the contact has been (intentionally) forced by an opponent who was in possession of the ball – and clearly, to comply with the instruction given with Rule 9.9, if the ball is raised at all when forcing such contact then penalty must always be against the player who raised the ball into an opponent: that has not been changed, Rule 9.9 is still extant and has remained unchanged since 2004.

I did not mention, but I do now, that the incident in the above video did occur in a match played before the deletion of the stand alone offence called Forcing (World Cup 2010). Penalising the player hit with the ball as a result of forcing – even though such forcing was clearly an illegal action – was common ‘umpiring practice’ before the Rules of Hockey were amended. The deletion of the Forcing Rule, was a case of the prevailing ‘umpiring practice’, which was contrary to Rule, leading the FIH Rules Committee ‘by the nose’, a not unusual occurrence, but something that should never happen: umpiring practice should follow Rule, not the other way about.

 

Interpretation of the 2011 change.  

Any forcing action made (intentionally or otherwise, because intent is not mentioned in any of the “other Rules” referred to* – a welcome simplification) which directly caused an opponent to be unintentionally in breach of a Rule could (and presumably would) be penalised under other existing Rules.  

Rule breaches can be ‘dealt with’ in only two ways, by the award of penalty or by application of the Advantage Rule, so the above interpretation of “dealt with” can be considered to be reasonable.

*The other Rules that could be contravened by a forcing of ball-body contact are (1) Rule 9.8, the Rule concerning the dangerously played ball – legitimate evasive action, which defines a dangerously played ball, is however not limited to balls propelled at an opponent from within 5m (2)  Explanation of application given with Rule 9.9. “A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous” (to which it is reasonable to add an intentionally or recklessly raised hit made towards an opponent) and (3) Rules 13.3.k and 13.3.l, which respectively concern non-compliant and dangerous shots (which are specifically prohibited) made towards the goal during a penalty corner.

Here is an another example of an intentional forcing action (in 2016)  – forcing a ball-body contact from an opponent by (here deliberately) raising the ball into his legs from close range, in this case from within playing distance of the ball. Technically, because the ball was raised, this is deliberate dangerous play and (for a first offence) the award of a green card to the attacker for this cynical action would have been appropriate.

Instruction given with Rule 9.9. 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.

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 there is no minimum height mentioned here)

Flicks and scoops are by definition raised.

The above instruction given with Rule 9.9. is what remains of another Rule Players shall not raise the ball at another player. which was ‘deleted’ (in fact transferred, with the addition of a 5m limiting distance, to become part of the explanation of application of Rule 9.9.) in 2004  (in much the same way as the once separate offence of forcing was transferred to “other Rules” in 2011). I might be partly responsible for that, as well as writing to the Secretary of the FIH Rules Committee about this I was causing ructions on Internet hockey forums prior to 2004 by pointing out that drag-flick shots made towards defenders during a penalty corner were illegal and players who were defending the goal and were hit with the ball, especially when trying to avoid being hit, should never be penalised with a penalty stroke, but that the shooter ought to be penalised and carded if the offence was repeated. I had some interesting exchanges about that with individuals who, judging from their use of foul language, seemed to be ‘frothing from the mouth’ in anger. I had to remind some individuals several times that I didn’t write the Rule, I was just pointing out that it existed and it was generally being ignored (in much the same way as the current instruction with Rule 9.9 is widely ignored)

 

Neither the present Rule 9.9. or the deleted 2003 Rule 13.1.3 d, (sic) mentions height or velocity; the only differences between them (other than the very significant addition of a 5m limit which has been ‘interpreted’ by some to mean a ball cannot be dangerously raised at a player from more than 5m – an obvious nonsense because there is no distance limit placed on legitimate evasive action) is that this instruction is now Guidance or Explanation of Rule application, rather than Rule Proper.

To the text of the current Rule 9.9. Explanation of application “within 5 meters” andis considered dangerous” was added and “towards  replacedat, none of these amendments significantly changes the way in which contravening play at close range should be dealt with and “IS considered dangerous” (my bold) removes any uncertainty and should prevent failure to penalise because of a subjective interpretation of danger or the absence of evasive action.

Umpires may also feel obliged (even though it is not part of the Rules of Hockey) to follow the UMB advice, which declares that a ball that has been raised over an opponent’s stick in a controlled way and hits that opponent below half shin pad height (20cms?) is not dangerous – and play can just continue (the UMB does not recommend penalising a player so hit with the ball), but there is no reason at all to suppose that any ball raised into an opponent at above half shin pad height should not be penalised, especially if the player is hit with the ball or otherwise disadvantaged in any way (and what exactly does “in a controlled way” mean. Can it mean low velocity? Probably not but it obviously means ‘not recklessly’).

So why is it current umpiring practice to make directly opposite decisions to the those the Rules of Hockey instruct should be made? It is not a skill or even legitimate play, to raise the ball from close range at or into another player’s legs or body, it is a foul.

In my view the failure to properly penalise forcing offences and properly apply the Obstruction Rule has ruined the game (not, is going to ruin the game).

Some examples.


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Above. “Raised above knee height” is not the relevant criteria “raised towards” is. But the umpire awarded a penalty corner over the protests of the NED players, even though the ball was raised into the NED defender at above knee height (which has become the criteria for dangerous in ‘accepted practice’) and the AUS player then charged into the NED defender to prevent him from controlling the ball (I have seen the latter part of this action included in a video showing examples of obstruction – which is dishonest and absurd)
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Above. Another ‘raise into charge and barge’ Penalty corner awarded.
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Above. An absence of Rule knowledge displayed by the match umpire, the video umpire and the expert commentators.
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Above. Another cynical deliberate raising of the ball into an opponent at above knee height, a penalty corner was awarded.
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The ‘standard’ tactic (and penalty award) when a defender attempts to reach for the ball with the stick. This has to be removed from the game; in these circumstances play should just continue.

Multiple dangerous ‘raise into charge and barge’ offences by the ESP team followed by  ridiculous video umpire advice on the taking of a self-pass (a second whistle to restart play following the award of a free ball would be helpfulon this occasion the commentators were correct, the self pass had been taken before the defender moved to within 5m of the ball – the ball had been made stationary and then moved).

Obviously, raising the ball at a player and then charging into physical contact with that player should not be allowed or accepted in hockey because such actions are specifically forbidden by two Rules, but there is apparently no limit to what may become ‘accepted practice’. We have only to look at current umpire coaching to see that ‘accepted practice’ in the application of the Obstruction Rule, as in the application of the ball-body contact Rule, bears little relation to the wording of the Rule, indeed the ‘interpretation’ of both Rules is often at the extreme opposite to what it should be. Deliberate physical contact frequently accompanies the forcing of ball-body contact, without penalty, as frequently as intentional physical contact accompanies obstruction (backing in) without penalty – that is far far too often – given that it should not be happening at all.

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The offence of forcing covered a great deal more than forcing ball-body contact; it included the forcing of self defense from dangerous play and it also encompassed the ‘manufacturing’ of obstruction and the forcing of physical contact. The Rule was not as narrow of the forcing of ball-body contact, even if that was the most frequent breach of it and the other elements should still be part of the Rules of Hockey.

I would have no difficulty finding dozens of video examples of a player in possession of the ball leading and shielding the ball and while so doing so, forcing physical contact with an opponent – and, as with the ball-body contact Rule examples above, penalty will often be awarded against the opposing defending player who has been barged into while trying to play at the ball.

Here are more than forty examples:-

Who is responsible for creating this mess?

The forcing of ball-body contact is often combined with barging to deny an opponent towards whom the ball has been propelled opportunity to play it. In nearly all of these incidents the ball is raised into the opponent from within two metres and incredibly, in the overwhelming majority of cases it is the ball-body contact that is penalised – even the fairer, but still incorrect,  ‘play on’ is a rare decision

Here are some examples of forcing combined with other offences:-

And here we have examples of forcing that is not an offence by either player but always results in the player who was hit with the ball being penalised, which is contrary to what is given in Rule 9.11.


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Is anyone not convinced of the need to change this approach to ball body contact? I hope not.

 

https://martinzigzag.com/2015/12/31/forcing-deleation-of-rule/

 

 

October 31, 2015

Rewrite: Rule 9.12. Obstruction.

FIELD HOCKEY RULES

 

A suggested rewrite  of a Rule of hockey. Obstruction

The current 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.

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.

Action. Amendment.

Reason. The Rule is a fundamental element of the fair conduct of a non-contact game and is at present almost totally ignored due to deviant interpretation of Rule purpose and word meaning.

Comments and suggestions are invited.

The Obstruction Rule obliges a player in possession of the ball in contested situations to move the ball beyond the reach of opponents (by dribbling or passing) and to possess the ability, the stick-work skills, to retain the ball while keeping the ball open to opponents who are competing for it.

Hockey is not like soccer in this respect: soccer is a game which permits physical contact in challenges for the ball and also allows a player in possession of the ball to use the body to shield it from opponents and even hold them off, to prevent them from playing at the ball – hockey Rules permit neither action, physical contact nor ball-shielding. That naturally means that hockey is more difficult to learn to play properly than soccer is, but, once in possession of the ball, playing hockey without an Obstruction Rule is akin to playing tennis without an net – it requires little skill and the side/player in possession will almost always score. Keeping possession of the ball when there is no obstruction becomes for competent players almost as easy as it is in basketball, but hockey then becomes duller than basketball (which has generally unenforced physical contact Rules) because the time, shooting and zone limits imposed on basketball players, to prevent endless possession by one side, do not exist in hockey.

The suggested rewrite below is basically the Rule as it now exists, it adds only a clarification of “move into” and the concept of an ‘on-side’ tackler to the existing Rule – the latter something which has always been there but never stated – and restores the original “must move away” in place of the present “is permitted to move off”: a clear instruction replacing an empty statement, empty in that it is neither prohibitive or directive and therefore serves no purpose.

The suggestion has been made as explicit as I could make it, even at the cost of repetition. I have tried to avoid ambiguity. The suggested Rule is of about the same length as the original ‘new interpretation’, (the misnomer give to the guidance which contained the exception to the Rule allowed to a receiver of the ball which was introduced in 1993 – it was and is an exception to the Rule not a new interpretation of the criteria for an obstruction offence, which remained and  remains unchanged) which was previously contained in the Rule Interpretations section in the back of post 1995 rule-books.

Suggestion.

Rule 9.12  Players must not shield the ball from an opponent with any part of the body or with the stick in a way that prevents or delays that opponent playing directly at the ball when that opponent would otherwise be immediately able to do so.

Shielding the ball to prevent an opponent playing at it is called obstruction and is an action contrary to this Rule of Hockey..

A player in possession of the ball illegally obstructs an opponent with his body or stick when:-

the opponent is level with or own goal-side of the ball (‘on-side’ of the ball)

and
the ball is within the playing reach of the opponent who intends to play it

and
the opponent is demonstrating an intent to play at the ball  

 and
the only reason the opponent cannot immediately play directly at the ball is because the direct path to it is obstructed by (any part of) the body or stick of a player in possession of the ball.

Obstructive ball shielding is therefore an offence that has to be forced by an opponent while demonstrating an intent to play at the ball or while trying to position to tackle, who in so doing shows that the direct path to the ball is obstructed; that is the opponent who is intent on playing at the ball is prevented from doing so only because the ball is shielded by the body or stick of the player in possession of it.

An obstructive offence may be forced by an opponent immediately that opponent approaches to within playing reach of the ball and demonstrates an intent to play at it.

A player in possession of the ball

who is :-

(a)   faced with an ‘on-side’ opponent who is within playing distance of the ball  and who is attempting to play at the ball, may not move (turn) with or on the ball to position any part of the body and/or the stick between the ball and that opponent with the effect of blocking that opponent’s direct path to the ball and by this means or by moving the ball to the same effect, prevent or delay a legal attempt by an opponent to play at the ball. Moving to maintain a ball shielding position, for example ‘shunting’ sideways to continue shielding the ball from an opponent is not legitimate “moving off” or “moving away”.  

A player in possession of the ball who is:-

(b)   beyond the playing reach of a closing opponent who turns on or with the ball to position the body between that opponent and the ball or moves the ball to the same effect IS NOT allowed the time and space leeway, after the opponent has closed to within playing distance of the ball, that is exceptionally, given to a player in the act of receiving and controlling the ball. The ball must be kept beyond the playing reach of a closing opponent OR before the opponent is obstructed in his or her attempt to play at the ball (has come within playing reach of the ball and tried to play it) the player in possession of the ball must again turn on or with the ball to face opponents or position the ball, so that it is no longer shielded.

A stationary or slow moving ball-holder who obliges an opponent who is intent on playing at the ball to ‘go around’ a ball-shielding position to attempt to play at the ball, when that opponent would otherwise be able to play at the ball directly, is obstructing that opponent. (This is almost the opposite of the ‘onus’ on the tackler to position to tackle by going around a ball shielding opponent, which was contained in the original (1993) Rule Interpretation – the onus on a ball holder not to obstruct was in that interpretation ignored)

Within the criteria given above, an Obstruction Offence occurs when a player in possession of the ball, whether moving or stationary, positions the body in relation to the ball or the ball in relation to the body, so that the execution of a legal attempt to play at the ball by an ‘onside’ opponent, who would otherwise be able to immediately play directly at the ball, is not possible without that opponent having to move around the body or stick of the player in possession of the ball in order to play at it.

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A player in possession of the ball :-

must not while shielding the ball with any part of the body including the legs, move into the playing reach of an opponent or move bodily into an opponent, causing contact, or by moving towards an opponent while shielding the ball i.e. by leading the ball with the body, oblige an opponent to give way to avoid body contact (Rule 9.3).

may not interpose his body as an obstruction to an opponent. A change of direction by a half-turn of the body with this result may amount to obstruction. It should be noted, however, that even a complete turn does not constitute a breach unless an opponent has thereby been obstructed in an attempt to play the ball.

 

The Tackler.

A tackle may not be attempted from a position where physical contact will result (Rule 9.13), but obstruction may be demonstrated; it is in fact a requirement that obstruction is demonstrated for an obstruction offence to occur i.e. to demonstrate that a legal attempt to play at the ball is being prevented by an opponent’s ball shielding.

A player who is within playing distance of the ball and intends to make a tackle, but who is not in a position of balance from which a tackle attempt may be made, is for example, facing or moving or reaching in the wrong direction to play at the ball with a reasonable expectation of making contact with it with the stick, cannot be obstructed except as already noted, when evasive movement is forced to avoid physical contact being caused by an opponent in possession of the ball who is leading the ball with the leg or body and thus shielding the ball. When a ball holder moves into an opponent in either of the ways described in this clause the opponent who is being moved into is no longer obliged to demonstrate that an attempt is being made to play at the ball because such moving into will generally prevent a tackler (who may be forced to retreat to avoid contact) from attempting to execute a legal tackle.

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The ‘Receiving’ Exception to the Rule.

Exceptionally, a player who is in the act of receiving and controlling the ball is during this time exempted from the possibility of a ball shielding offence.

A receiving player is permitted to receive the ball while facing in any direction and while either in a stationary position or while moving. Such a receiving player will not be obstructing any opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play at it, even if shielding the ball from that opponent while receiving it. The receiving player, however, having received the ball and controlled it, must in these circumstances then immediately either:-

a) pass the ball away or

b) move away from opponents with the ball to put and keep it beyond their playing reach and/or turn on or with the ball to face opponents, so that the ball is no longer shielded from them.

 

It will be necessary for a receiving player who elects  to turn on or over the ball, after the ball is in control or as the ball is controlled, to:-

a) make such a turn before an opponent is within playing reach of the ball or after having first taken the ball beyond the playing reach of the opponent or

b) create space for a turn having duped the opponent into moving or reaching in the wrong direction, before there has been any obstruction.

 

Once an opponent is within playing reach of the ball the only options then available to the ball holder will be:-

a) to either turn on the ball while moving the ball away from the reach of the opponent (which may be achieved with appropriate foot-work and stick-work ) or

b) to move away with the ball to put and keep the it beyond the opponent’s reach, and then to turn on or with the ball  – and/or to pass the ball away.

 

Once the ball has been received and controlled the receiving player may not,  in a way that shields the ball from opponents who are within playing distance of the ball and demonstrating an intent to play it, dwell on the ball in a stationary position or while so positioned move the ball to shield it with the stick or body and thereby prevent a legal attempt to play at it.

After having received and controlled the ball while facing towards his or her own defence, making feints over the ball while stationary or slow moving or ‘dribbling’, which comprises of ‘weaving’ from side to side without taking the ball beyond the playing reach of the opponent and while maintaining a ball shielding position (thus preventing an opponent from immediately playing at the ball or from positioning to do so), will be considered an obstruction offence.

The receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule facilitates the receiving and controlling of the ball and continuation of play without the receiver who is facing towards his or her own baseline immediately committing an obstruction offence when closely marked by an opponent who is intent on playing at the ball – nothing more.

The ‘Manufactured’ Exception to the Rule.

A player in possession of the ball who plays it to the far side of an opponent (who is, for example, attempting to channel the ball holder or block the ball with the stick or execute a tackle) and then runs into that opponent claiming to be obstructed, has not been obstructed if there has been no movement with the intent to obstruct by the defending player. If there is physical contact the player who was in possession of the ball is in these circumstances the one more likely to have committed an offence. (This was a part of the previously deleted ‘Manufacturing’ Rule which should be restored).

 

Third-Party Obstruction.

A player who is not in possession of the ball who moves in front of or blocks the path of an opponent to stop that opponent legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing. This form of obstruction is known as third-party obstruction because the obstructing player often carries out this action so that a team-mate (the second party) has more time and/or space to reach and/or play the ball. It can also be regarded as an impeding offence or according to the circumstances as a physical contact offence.

It is not necessary for the obstructed player to be within playing reach of the ball at the time a third-party offence is committed, it is only necessary that but for the offence, the obstructed player would have been able to intercept the ball or would have been in a position to challenge a team-mate of the obstructing player for the ball and was denied that opportunity. This form of obstruction is often carefully planned to create passing space in mid-field and is often deliberately carried out during penalty corners to a) give the stopper and shooting player more time to set up and make a shot and b) to block line of sight to the ball to defenders. It is in the latter case often a very dangerous action. 

For there to be a third party obstruction It is generally necessary for the obstructing player to move to block the path to the ball of the obstructed player and third party obstruction cannot otherwise occur, but exceptionally, a player in possession of the ball may deliberately use a stationary team-mate as a shield by dribbling the ball very close to him or her so as to impose a compliant team-mate between the ball and an opponent who is intent on tackling for the ball – leaving the tackler, with the choice of going around or stopping or barging into the stationary third player i.e. in an obstructed position, unable to challenge the ball holder for possession of the ball.

Stick Obstruction 

The same principle applies to stick obstruction as applies to obstruction with the body. Positioning the stick between the stick of an opponent and the ball is obstruction if that action prevents the opponent playing the ball. It makes no difference if the stick of the player in possession of the ball is in contact with the ball or not. If, for example, the stick is positioned Indian dribble style with the stick-head over the top front of the ball in contact with and covering it, or the stick is used away from the ball to fend off the stick of a tackler as the tackler’s stick is moved towards the ball. Both these kinds of action are obstructive, if direct playing of the ball by an opponent, who is within playing distance of the ball and is attempting to play at it, is thereby prevented.

It might be asked “what is the point of a rewrite” if this:-

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

– back into an opponent

and these two complimentary statements:-

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 pretty good encapsulation of the Obstruction Rule) are already in place?

The answer is that what is written may seen perfectly clear but it is possible, as may be seen in most hockey matches, to either ignore it or interpret it in very different ways, so emphasis on purpose and intent and clarification of wording are required. (What for example, is the difference, and they have to be different to justify the inclusion of both in separate clauses, between back into an opponent and move bodily into an opponent ?).

A second answer is that “for evil to triumph it is only necessary that good people do nothing“. Calling deviant interpretation evil may seem overly dramatic, but I don’t want to see dribbling with the ball in hockey carried out in the same style as it is in basketball – backing into opponents to achieve a scoring position or to a ‘win’ a penalty for a ‘manufactured’ contact foul, but we are already well along that road and unless action is taken to remedy that, these practices will get much worse (although it is difficult to see how some of them could get any worse than they are now).  I am serious when I say that the game has been destroyed; it was not intended that opponents should be ‘eluded’ by shielding and backing in and that sort of play is not attractive or spectacular – i.e pleasant to watch.

The video clips below, two of hundreds of possible examples available, also illustrates why the Obstruction Rule needs to be written more explicitly than it is at present. The player in possession of the ball, who clearly obstructs his opponents several times, was not penalised for these offences in an international level match. The mistaken assumption Cris Maloney et al make (see article https://martinzigzag.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/a-peculiar-interpretation) is to really believe or be prepared to accept, that if FIH Umpires are not penalising such obstructions then not to do so MUST be correct.

 
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The ‘poster boy’ for the latest interpretation of obstruction (where there is apparently no such thing as obstruction even when there is physical contact caused by the attacker) is the shootout. The strength of this meme was illustrated when, in the BEL v ESP match during the 2018 WWC Michelle Joubert did penalise a shooter for backing in during a shootout – there was uproar – despite Joubert being perfectly correct.

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