Posts tagged ‘Free-ball’

August 26, 2018

Free ball PLEASE


Can we have our Free-ball back?

The above video is based on a 2009 video about the introduction of the Self-pass which even then was a revised edition. There have been many other changes to the Free Hit Rule made since the 2009 video for the Sydney area was produced. I have noted most of them within the above video. The video may need pausing from time to time to read text for which I have allowed insufficient reading time. The exceptions to that are the three frames of text I included at the end of it. I have reproduced those three frames below. My previous article  contains the unlettered explanation text following Rule clause 13.2.f so I have not repeated that in this article. I can’t explain that text: I believe it to be inexplicable because of the logical fallacy and circular argument used within it to justify its existence: the justifications provided don’t make any sense to me.

The suggestions made above are not new (and to them can be added a restoration of an old Rule, the prohibiting of raising the ball into the circle with a hit in any phase of play – intention to do so being irrelevant) I have posted them many many times before, but I can only bear in mind, with hope, as I continue to do so, that these things take time. I was suggesting the Self-pass and Direct Lift in 2001; that is for more than six years before somebody with authority at the EHL took notice and acted. It took the FIH HRB another two years before they initialed the 2009 Experiment. The Self-pass did not become accepted as Full FIH Rule until 2011, but too much time has been allowed to pass with an unsatisfactory state of Rule.

The present complicated mess which is Rule 13.2 must be simplified, made workable, that is easy to apply and comply with, to produce hockey which is fair, sensible and attractive when a free ball is awarded.

The reasons for awarding a free ball and other penalties could do with some revision too. Have I mentioned the Rules concerning the Dangerously Played Ball, the Ball-Body Contact Rule and the Obstruction Rule?

August 24, 2018

Circular reasoning


I have been trying to write an explanation of the notes that follow Rule 13.2.f (which is about the permit to remain within 5m of the ball when within the circle and shadow an opponent, in possession of the ball, who has taken a self-pass). I think what is written following 13.2. f   contains two logical fallacies which are not explained away by the words “On this basis” and “are therefore“.

I can see that “are therefore not interfering with play ….provided that they do not play or attempt to play the ball or influence play” (my bold) is true, but it is a circular argument. It uses the premises as the conclusion and would work just as well (badly) in either direction. It does not explain why 13.2. c   is being overridden when there is an offence committed between the shooting circle and the hash circle. Can anyone put the ‘explanation’ that follows Rule 13.2.f  into simple Plain English and (more importantly) provide any reasonable justification for including it in the Rules of Hockey?



What was wrong with taking the ball outside the hash circle when a free ball was awarded between the shooting circle and the hash circle? That seemed very sensible to me (especially compared with the alternative we have been provided with). Defenders could then defend to the edge of the circle without getting within 5m of the ball and the umpire’s task was easier. 

Is the explanation given in the video below real?  “It didn’t look good on television“.  Does shadowing – but forbidding a tackle – look any better or even understandable on television? No, it looks very strange, especially when a defender is penalised for even attempting a tackle. I agree that placing the free outside the circle created a great deal of forcing of penalty corner awards but that was because it was not (still is not) possible to play the ball with a pass directly into the circle, so self-passers tried to dribble the ball over the circle line while also “trying to find a foot” or force some other kind of infraction from defenders. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the free had to be taken 5m from the circle.  The newly introduced facility to take a free ball from just outside the circle is not going to improve the previous situation. Why should it? A pass still cannot be made directly into the circle: if anything it makes the attacker’s task more difficult: there is in that situation, no or very little forward space into which to move with the ball.

Obviously the way forward is to withdraw this ban, which is irrational anyway when compared to with playing the ball into the circle in open play or the setting up of deflections during a penalty corner (it is the possibility of dangerous deflection, a potential danger, which is said to be in-back of the prohibition). It would make far more sense to ban the raising of the ball into the circle with a hit of the ball away from the continued control of the hitter, in any phase of play, that is prohibit a raised hit pass rather than 3D dribbling with the ball, including dink hits which do not propel the ball beyond the immediate control of the dribbler. Maybe that isn’t as obvious to others as it is to me. This might explain why the FIH RC persist with the present knot of interpretations; including forget lifted-think danger (which also forgets that an action which is contrary to Rule – an intentionally raised hit, not a shot at the goal – which disadvantages opponents, has unfairly disadvantaged opponents and should be penalised) It is a long standing principle of fair play that no player should gain an unfair advantage from a breach of Rule.

In soccer it takes at least two minutes to set up a free kick within 25m of the goal (with the referee having to mark the ground with a spray), that also looks terrible on television (besides treating professional players like unruly kids)- but what wonderful tension – just as with a hockey penalty corner, FIFA are not going to change this, they don’t care what it looks like on television.



March 3, 2018

Where the offence occurred



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.

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.

13.1 Location of a free hit :
a a free hit is taken close to where the offence occurred

‘Close to’ means within playing distance of where the offence occurred and with no significant advantage gained.

 When any play is dangerous play in midfield a similar play when a shot at the goal is taken  has also to be considered dangerous play – the same play must be treated in the same way in both circumstances.

The legality of a lifted hit is an entirely different matter from dangerous play – although a raised hit may be directly dangerous to another player or lead to dangerous play, it may not always do so. I have yet to see a raised hit-shot at a goal that was hit above the standing head height of a defender or a drag-flick that was going over or, not close to but past the head of a ducking defender on the goal-line, penalised as dangerous play – and it is unlikely I ever will, because evasive action is not necessary in such circumstances and therefore cannot be legitimate (necessary, genuine, rather than legal, evasive action is always legal).

The word ‘also’, recently added to the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.8. A ball is also considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players. although useful in other circumstances ‘muddies the water’ a bit in the scenario shown in the video, but there should be no confusion if common sense is applied. (An impossibility I know)

The correct location of a free ball (or penalising the right team for the wrong offence) may seem trivial matters, but if umpiring is seen by players to become this sloppy or mistaken  they quickly lose confidence in the judgement of umpires and this can have an effect when the umpires are making more important – game result changing – decisions.

The free ball should have been awarded for the intentional raising of the ball with a hit, not for dangerous play – as it happened the danger (if there was any danger) was not caused at the place it occurred – a distinction lost on those who do not understand that there is a difference between the meanings of ’caused’ and ‘occurred’ –

It is interesting that the umpire who did not penalise the hitter (or was it the other way about?) did not intervene when his colleague ordered a free ball taken, for an offence that did not occur, about 20m from where it should have been taken for the offence that did occur. A double ‘brain fade’ or umpires so intent on supporting each other that one would not correct the other even when the mistake made was obvious? There is an element of this apparent in some video referrals: it should not happen, the umpires should work together to achieve the correct decision – not just to spare each others blushes.

Even if there was endangerment of the NED midfielder the free ball should have been awarded for the intentionally raised hit – it would have been the first offence and much the nearer to the BEL goal – so a penalty awarded where the offence occurred and the more advantageous positioning for the team offended against.

Here is another similar type of odd decision about the placement of a free ball following an intentionally raised hit. The first offence was the illegal hit not the illegal contesting for the aerial ball at the place it was landing. The free ball was placed some 40m behind where it should have been.