Posts tagged ‘Forcing’

September 10, 2019

Learning from Mistakes.

Rules of Hockey.

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

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

July 11, 2019

Forced onto

Rules of Hockey

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post 1998 

Players shall not raise the ball at another player.

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

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

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

Ball body contact.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post 2004

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

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

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

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

9.13 Players must not force an opponent into offending unintentionally.

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

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

Preface of Rules of Hockey 2011

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

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

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

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

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

An example of forcing

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

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

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

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

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


August 23, 2018

An apparently well umpired hockey match


It is amazes me what is now seen as acceptable, even good, umpiring following the ‘interpretation slide’ that occurred after the introduction of the receiving exception to the Obstruction Rule (1993) and the deletion of the Forcing Rule (2011). Umpiring practice has led to hardly any penalising of obstruction (and some incorrect penalising for it when it does not occur) and also, in the other direction, the penalising of nearly all ball-body contact, instead of there being hardly any interruption due to ball-body contact.  It is strange that ‘interpretation’ has almost inverted the proper application of both of these Rules.



The hitting of the ball at maximum power into the feet or legs of a close and/or closing opponent has never been adequately dealt with. The general attitude to this action seems to be that it is the defender’s (tackler’s) fault for getting in the way – and getting hit in such circumstances is an acceptable and accepted risk – tough players just rub the pain away and get on with the game (but a young novice who is subjected to this sort of treatment might well give up on hockey and instead play, the less painful and more reasonable, soccer – soccer is a contact sport but a player is not allowed to prevent a tackle by giving an opponent a kick in the shin, an action which would be about as painful as being hit with a hockey ball above the shin-pad or on an ankle).

I take the view that unnecessarily (avoidably and often intentionally) hitting the ball at high velocity into the feet/legs of an opponent who is attempting to position to make a tackle is not responsible play, even when taking a shot towards the opponents goal – it is irresponsible (because it frequently causes injury and almost always causes considerable pain to the player hit) and is therefore reckless play. I believe this action ought to be penalised as a forcing offence.

Obviously it is easier just to ‘blast’ the ball through an opponent rather than evading a tackle attempt and then resetting to strike the ball, that takes some skill, but hockey is supposed to be a game of skill.

The easy shove of the ball into an opponent’s planted foot when they reach for the ball with their stick is simply laziness and should not be rewarded with penalty. In most instances of “finding a foot” (how forgiving of what is cheating that phrase is) there is no good reason for the umpire to intervene and play should just continue.

I am not a fan of calling an out-runner at a penalty corner a suicide runner or of the mandatory award of a penalty corner if such an out-runner is hit below knee height with the ball; I think that simply encourages reckless, even dangerous, play and encourages intimidation and that Penalty Corner Rule ought to be deleted. (An out-runner who deliberately uses her body, rather than attempting to use the stick, to block the ball and prevent a shot during a penalty corner, may more rationally be penalised with a penalty stroke and a personal penalty)
One of the five video referrals from the same match.


My apologies for the up and down quality of the voice commentary on the videos.…red-hockey-match/




December 31, 2015

Forcing, deletion of Rule.


More than nine 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 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 practice. It then 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 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) raised intentional deflections and also (4) 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, might have been ‘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.


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)


Above. Another ‘raise into charge and barge’ Penalty corner awarded.

Above. An absence of Rule knowledge displayed by the match umpire, the video umpire and the expert commentators.


Above. Another cynical deliberate raising of the ball into an opponent at above knee height, a penalty corner was awarded.

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.


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 as only the forcing of ball-body contact, even if that was the most frequent breach of it. 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.



As we can see forcing offences are often combined with obstruction and/or physical contact offences. Is anyone not convinced of the need to change the current approach to ball body contact? I hope not.