Posted in Field Hockey, Hockey, sport

Rules Rules Rules

Do you ever get confused by the rules? Are you a player that thinks you know them better than the umpires? Do you want to know more about the rules of the game?
You do? Then this blog may help…. I want to take a look at some of the rules that are played in the game of hockey, trying to get a beginners breakdown, and better understanding of the rules that govern our play on the pitch. This is often a controversial topic, with players often believing they know the rules better than the umpires on the pitch.

The rules are set by the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) and put into place by each hockey governing body. They are enforced on pitch through two umpires (and a video umpire at higher levels – International level).

The FIH introduced some rule changes that came into place on 1st January 2015 for International matches and have been played in the National Leagues from 31st January 2015.

From the 1st July 2015, all the new rule changes will be implemented in all levels of hockey, the 11 a-side game, for 2015-2016 season in England, Scotland and Wales.

In an attempt to understand some of these new changes, I have decided to first look at the traditional long corner re-start.
This rule comes into play at the ‘re-start after the ball has unintentionally been played over the back line by a defender or deflected by a goalkeeper or player with goal keeping privileges, and no goal is scored
Where before, a long corner would have been awarded, the new rule states, ‘Play will now be re-started with the ball on the 23m line and in line with where it crossed the back line.’

The FIH states that this re-start replaced the corner as it was ‘an ineffective and inefficient re-start‘. The idea is to open up the play, preventing the ball getting trapped within the corners of the pitch.

The umpire will point with one arm at the corner flag nearest where the ball went off. And the ball will then be placed on the 23m line in-line with where it went off.

FIH Rules

This rule seems simple enough… So the question is, will it have the desired effect on the game, or will it be another rule that will change in the near future?

Speaking to Lynsey Buchanan-Barlas, a player at GHK hockey club in Glasgow, Scotland who have been playing this rule since January in the Scottish National League, here is what she had to say about the rule.
Having played the new rule for the second half of last season I am of the opinion that it has done what the FIH set out for it to do – the play remains open and does not become stuck in the corner of the field.

From an attacking point of view this is a great addition to your attacking options with our coach now incorporating exercises that allow us to make the best use of the new long corner rule. It allows the play to stay in the middle of the field and the attacking options that playing from this area of the field allows is a massive advantage for the attacking team.

The ball must still move five metres before it can be played into the circle so occasionally the ball can still become trapped in the corners of the field due to players dribbling or passing into these areas in order to make the ‘5 metre rule’ before passing into the circle. However, on the whole this rule has been a great addition to attacking teams and allows the play to remain at a high intensity rather than being slowed somewhat by the old long corner rule.

From a defensive point of view, however, this rule has been a nightmare. As a defensive team the old long corners were seen as a way of disrupting the attacking teams ‘flow’ and often the ball would be played over the back-line in order to slow the play down and allow the defence to set-up properly, attackers and midfielders to get back into defensive positions, etc. With this new rule, from a defensive point, the play does not slow down sufficiently in order for the defence to receive any advantage of this. Yes, it takes some time for an attacker to return the ball to the 23 metre line where the ball went off the back-line however as the speed of this return is an attacking advantage, the ball is normally returned quickly.” 

And especially quick if you are playing an International match or a game with ball boys/girls to put that ball in position almost as soon as it leaves the back line. She continues,

The new rule also means that the attackers are playing around the top of the circle for most of the play and the ball is very rarely getting trapped in the corners of the field. Again, from a defensive point of view, this can be very intensive if you are playing a better quality team and are defending a lot. With the old rule, the ball becoming trapped in the corners by the attack was a huge advantage for the defensive team in that very rarely would players score from balls played in from the corners of the field.

As a defensive team, however, if you win the ball in these areas then you are at more of an advantage than if you had won it in the corners of the field and this can lead to more attacking options for the defensive team and on occasion more goal scoring opportunities.
Overall, I think the new rule is better than the old rule (perhaps because most of the time I am attacking) and that it allows the play to flow better and the intensity of the game to remain high. If you are a defender or are quite unfit then I can see how you would hate the new rule but I think there are more advantages to it than disadvantages.”

Sophie Hoskins of Stevenage Hockey Club, thinks the following, “long corners I think if passed back and taken quickly could be a super advantage to attackers but if not taken efficiently as a defender I think you get time to set and press play wide .. Obviously it still has to travel 5 so plenty of opportunity to upgrade to shorts etc .. All in all quick reaction from attacking team is imperative to gain benefit.”

From an umpiring point of view, will this be easier to enforce, or will it cause confusion on pitch? In discussion, the overall feeling is that it will be a rule that benefits the game and will be easy to enforce. Making sure the ball is taken directly on the line, and not behind, making sure the ball travels 5, and the defenders are held on the back foot, this rule should be easy to enforce and be of benefit to the game.

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