Posts tagged ‘Falling ball’

April 14, 2018

Deflections and the falling ball



The Rule referred to by Simon Mason in commentary is Rule 9.10.

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

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

He correctly states that ‘the 5m Rule’ is the only consideration (to determine the legitimacy of the goal). The umpire refers to the video umpire but his only question is “Was the ball played by the stick of the attacker”.

Does the Explanation of Rule application change anything in this scenario? i.e. was there a clear initial receiver and if so, who was it?

Clearly the goalkeeper is the initial receiver, at the time the ball was deflected upwards off the defending CAN player, the ENG player was considerably more than 5m from the place the ball fell and the goalkeeper was within 1m of it. Therefore there was an encroaching offence by the ENG player.

Note that the Rule says nothing at all about how a ball came to be falling, nothing about the way it was put up in the air. The Rule covers all falling balls no matter how they were put up and whether or not this was done deliberately or accidentally.

Why was the Rule ignored and a goal awarded? 

This encroaching offence below from AUS v BEL is like the incident in the above CAN v ENG match.

But I suggest that because of the swing at the ball by the AUS player in the above video, besides there being an encroaching offence there was also other dangerous play. So two deliberate offences – and a yellow card should have been given. (there were several similar incidents in this match).  The ENG player in the CAN v ENG match does not play at the ball in a way that could have endangered the goalkeeper – but that, because of the prior encroaching offence, is irrelevant.

The incident referred to above in support of the Rule did not occur in the circle – and it has to be conceded that a ball that is falling into the goalmouth after a deflection off a defender creates problems that a ball falling considerably more than 5m from the goal-line (outside a circle) is unlikely to cause.

No goalkeeper or any other defender can be reasonably expected to allow an attacker receiving the ball off a defensive deflection falling within 5m of the goal-line to receive and control the ball to ground without contest: it might be considered unreasonable to demand such compliance if the ball is falling anywhere within the circle. An attacker within 5m of the goal-line and under a falling ball is moreover extremely unlikely to attempt to control the ball to ground – a volley shot of some description is far more likely. For a Rule to demand that a defender allow 5m of space is unreasonable (perhaps even impossible) and grossly unfair in these circumstances and no Rule should be either unreasonable or unfair.

These situations should be resolved by penalizing a deflection that gives rise to a potentially dangerous situation rather than allowing a subsequent dangerous action to occur. There is support for this approach in the Interpretation given in the current UMB, which uses the phrase “potentially dangerous”. All that is needed is to change the wording of Rule 9.8. back from what it is now

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

to what it was previously:- 9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which is likely to lead to dangerous play.

but it would be preferable to use both phrases

9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way that leads to or is likely to lead to dangerous play.

A deflection leading or likely to lead to dangerous play is then an offence and a free ball (or a penalty corner for a deflection within the circle – although a restart on the 23m line would be fairer) may be awarded.

The umpiring in the opening video is more erosion and an absence of common sense.  The umpire may not have been aware of the attacker’s position when the ball was raised if he was following the play directly in front of him. This is the first thing the video umpire should have looked at and it should have been the umpire’s first question. It was after all the first thing that occurred to the commentators and something both umpires needed to be certain about to make a sensible recommendation and decision. Where there is no video available, the trailing umpire, being in these situations in a position to see both the deflector and the attackers at the same time, should be consulted.

Stills from the video show that the ENG player was at least 10m from the goal at the time of the deflection and that he could not have been unaware that he would commit an encroaching offence.

The action sequence at the tail end of the video indicates that the umpire should have been more aware of the ENG player’s position. The ball was put up in front of the umpire’s position and slightly to his right, the same direction as the approaching attacker, but watching for two things (at different levels) at the same time when both are moving is never easy.

An example of umpire ‘brain fade’ he allowed the encroaching offence, which he must have seen, to fade from consciousness because he focused instead on whether or not the ball had touched the stick of the attacker – which in the circumstances was irrelevant – that the ball was contested for at all was an offence, in fact it was an offence for the attacker to have moved to be within 5m of the goalkeeper.

I am again reminded that when the Offside Rule was finally deleted in 1997 the Rules committee, then Hockey Rules Board, undertook to put in place measures to constrain the behaviour of attackers in front of the goal. Neither the HRB or the renamed FIH Rules Committee have done anything of the sort. Clarity about dealing with a deflection falling into the goalmouth would be one step in the right direction. The nonsense, (the personal opinion of an FIH Umpire, which was spread via an Internet hockey forum) that a deflection cannot be treated as a falling ball under the terms of Rule 9.10., needs ‘kicking into touch’ once and for all, because it can be and it should be.


March 19, 2018

Suggested rewrite of Rule 9.10. Falling ball.


A suggested rewrite of a Rule of Hockey

The current Rule 9.10. Falling ball.

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

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

(a player in the landing spot prior to any opponent or in that position as the ball is raised is called the initial receiver)

Action. Amend the Rule and write the other half of it, the making of an aerial pass.

Reasons. The Rule has not been amended since the time the most common reason a ball would be falling from above head height onto the positions of closely grouped opposing players was an accidental deflection off a player’s stick or foot or off a goalkeeper’s protective equipment (still a common occurrence).

Now the more usual reason a ball may be falling from considerable height is because a scoop pass, commonly known as an aerial pass, has been made. Aerial passes made over 60m are now made frequently in the men’s game and aerial passes in excess of 40m are common in the women’s game. But the control of the scoop or aerial pass is weaker now, when the aerial pass is much stronger and much more frequently used, than it has been at any time in the last thirty years.

It is assumed in Rule guidance that the maker of an aerial pass will make a pass to a player of his or her own team who is in clear space (is by definition an initial receiver) or make a pass into clear space for a team-mate to chase. (Previous guidance that a scoop pass should not be made to a team-mate at a time when there was an opponent already within 5m (yards) of his or her position, which deterred the making of scoop passes to fall onto a contested position, because that action would be immediately penalised as dangerous play, has long since disappeared).

One reason a foul by the player raising the ball to fall into a contested area, is not often considered in the current application of the Rule is a consequence of the past assumption that passes will not be made into contested areas. The other reason is a recent transfer of obligation (by ‘interpretation’ not Rule) to the team-mate of the player making an unsafe pass – a requirement, which is not in the Rule (but can be put into it) to retreat if within 5m of an opponent who is positioned where the ball will fall as the ball is raised or is clearly the player already at or the first player to arrive at the landing point and is therefore the initial receiver.

That Rule application arises via ‘practice’ and ‘interpretation’ is the main reason there is confusion around the correct application of Rule 9.10 – anybody (any umpire) it seems can produce an ‘interpretation’ and via the Internet, declare it to be the Rule. Declarations, which are unsupported by Rule, such as “Aerial Rules do not apply to a deflection” or “Aerial Rules do not apply to a shot at the goal” (both of which have been made repeatedly) are not only false they are unhelpful, ‘a spanner in the works’ for those who are trying to understand the correct application of the Rule.

The making of an unsafe aerial pass and bouncing the ball on the stick while running with it into the playing reach of an opponent, are the two major elements ofplay leading to dangerous playthe second part of the Dangerously Play Rule. The bouncing of the ball on the stick has been dealt with in the suggested rewrite of Rule 9.9.

The safety requirements of the present Rulenot approach within 5 metres…until it has been received, controlled and is on the groundare too severe. 5m is a considerable distance to give to an opponent on a hockey pitch, and so the requirements are generally ignored or ‘interpreted’ in a bizarre way. Ignoring the conditions of the Rule is of course a cause of dangerous play occurring more frequently than it should because such ignoring means there is little or no penalty imposed: no deterrent. Players used to such ‘practice’ from umpires do not expect to be penalised for an encroaching offence and even come to view closing on an opponent receiving an aerial pass as a legitimate action.

It is suggested that instead of ‘control to ground’ before an opponent can even approach to within 5m, approach to within 3m of the ball is permitted immediately the opponent has played the ball with the stick (but not before that point) and the ball may be contested for once the receiver has played it twice with the stick or has moved the ball a distance of two meters.


These proposals are not ‘cast in iron’, useful comment or alternative suggestions are welcome.

The ball is generally assumed to be falling from considerably above head height although there has never been anything in the Rules to suggest or confirm that assumption (but there could be) it could however just still be falling ‘in the air’ i.e. be off the ground.

Players must not approach within 3 metres of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball until it has been played by the receiving player.

The term ‘falling ball will refer to a ball that is falling after having been raised to above head height. The ball may be raised and become a ball falling either as a result of a deliberately made pass or accidentally as the result of a deflection off the stick or body of a player. The rule as it concerns receiving and encroaching is to be applied in the same way in both situations. But, obviously, a falling ball which arises as the result of an accidental deflection cannot be penalised as the intentional making of an unsafe pass – a pass deliberately made to fall onto/into an area occupied by opposing players, which is per se a dangerous play offence – that is play leading to or likely to lead to dangerous play.

The initial receiver has a right to the ball. If it is not clear which player is the initial receiver, the player of the team which raised the ball must allow the opponent to receive it by retreating to be at least three meters from the receiver until he or she has played the ball. The ball may then be contested for when the receiver has played it a second time with the stick or moved the ball two meters.

If the ball is scooped or lobbed to fall onto the positions of close opposing players and the team-mate of the passer does not retreat or even contests for the falling ball, then both the passer and the contesting player will have committed an offence. The contesting team-mate an encroaching offence and dangerous play – usually dangerous use of the stick. Penalty, for play leading to (or potentially leading to) dangerous play, should be awarded against the player who raised the ball, to be taken at the place the ball was raised – and the same team player who illegally contested for the ball, should be awarded a personal penalty.

If the ball is lofted to fall onto the positions of opposing players and the team-mate of the passer does retreat as required the passer has committed an offence (play leading or likely to lead to dangerous play) but, as opponents have not been unfairly disadvantaged by it (despite the gain of ground) and can play on, there will be no reason to penalise that offence. No penalty: this is in compliance with the Advantage Rule

If the ball is lofted to fall to an opponent who is in clear space at the time the ball is raised and subsequently a player of the same team as the passer encroaches to within three meters of the receiver before the ball has been played, then only the encroaching player has committed an offence. Penalty at the place the ball was falling. Free ball against the team for the encroaching offence and a personal penalty to the encroaching player as well if the ball was also illegally contested for.

Most of he following clauses are contained in the suggested rewrite of Rule 9.9. but, in line with the FIH declared emphasis on the safety of players, are repeated for emphasis in this suggestion. To avoid any ambiguity some of the following clauses state the same prohibitions given in other clauses in a different way.

The ball may not be played into the opponent’s circle with a raised hit that propels the ball beyond the immediate control (playing reach) of the hitter. A raised hit is a hit ball that is not traveling along the ground.

The raising of the ball directly into the opponents circle with any sort of flick stoke will be penalised if the ball crosses the circle line at above elbow height.

No player may play or attempt to play at a ball in the opponent’s circle while it is above shoulder height.

A ball that bounces into the circle and rises to above shoulder height must be allowed to fall below shoulder height before it may be played at by an attacking player.

A player in the opponent’s circle may not in any circumstances approach to within 3m of a defender playing an above shoulder height ball until the ball has been played twice by the stick of the defender or been moved a minimum of 2 metres. For example: Following up on a high drag flick shot at a penalty corner and attempting to play at a rebound from a defender while the ball is still above shoulder height will be considered a deliberate dangerous play offence.


When the ball is in the air at any height, particularly in the shooting circles and when it is possible it will be contested for by opposing players, that is a potentially dangerous situation and umpires need to watch for and penalise careless or reckless play (particularly shots at the goal or high velocity clearances) that endanger another player.…-10-falling-ball/