September 2010

Oct. 01, 2010, 9 a.m. (ET)
As you might imaging, with the start to the traditional Fall field hockey season and the introduction of the self pass option and indirect circle entry requirement into the high school game, September was a busy month for Steve Horgan, our nation's field hockey rules interpreter. In fact, over sixty questions were submitted and answered. Twenty-three were selected for publication on our website. 
 
Provided below are your September questions and Steve's answers.


In a college game, if a player substitutes illegally (prior to a penalty corner being started) what is the penalty?

Rule 3.4 states: Captains are responsible for the behaviour of all players on their team and for ensuring that substitutions of players on their team are carried out correctly. 
A personal penalty is awarded if a captain does not exercise these responsibilities. 

Whenever there is an illegal substitution, the captain should be warned with the appropriate card. If the substitution took place after a penalty corner is called and before the penalty corner is started, the substitute must leave the field of play. 

If the illegal substitution is recognized prior to the penalty corner insertion, then a green card to the captain is the appropriate first warning and the substitute is sent off to wait for the insertion to take place. Any subsequent illegal substitutions should be yellow, starting with a 5 minute suspension and longer suspensions if there are additional illegal substitutions. 

If the illegal substitution is recognized after the penalty corner is inserted then a yellow card to the captain is appropriate, even as a first warning, starting with a 5 minute suspension and longer suspensions if there are additional illegal substitutions because the illegal substitution was able to influence play. The substitute stays on at this point. 

It is important for everyone to realize that no decisions can be overturned that were given while the illegal substitute was in the game.


Can goalkeepers in NCAA games substitute from the back-line like in high school?

No. Goalkeepers in NCAA games must substitute from the substitution area (3 meters on either side of the center-line). Substitutions involving fully kitted goalkeepers are managed by the umpires (at an appropriate stoppage of play, the umpire stops the clock and signals the goalkeeper to substitute).


The goalkeeper for the blue team comes out to play an oncoming white attacker. As she makes a slide tackle to play the ball, her helmet comes off and comes to rest in the circle. Play continues as the ball is worked towards the cage and after several additional shots during which the goalkeeper has now returned to play the ball without her helmet, white scores. What is the proper procedure if a goalkeeper loses her helmet during play? Is this considered dangerous play by the goalkeeper at this level?

Keep in mind that safety is a priority and common sense should prevail. It is not a foul if a goalkeeper (or any other player) accidentally looses some equipment. Further, at this level, the goalkeeper may continue to play even though her helmet has fallen off. Certainly, at the first stoppage of play, allow for the goalkeeper to get the helmet back on. If, however, play is continuing and the attack has the chance to score, then the proper procedure is to, "Play on." This situation can be likened to an injury where under certain circumstances play can continue while in other circumstances play must be immediately stopped. Just as in those circumstances, let safety and common sense be your guide. In the situation you described, when there is no foul and the umpire stops active play for the sake of safety, play would be restarted with a bully at the 16. 

[ED: In games governed by NFHS rules, play would restart with a bully at the 16 or with a free hit for the team that had possession at the time play was interrupted.]


During a college match, a penalty corner was inserted but did not exit the circle. The attacker at the edge of the circle flicked the ball high towards the corner of the goal, a defender raises her stick to save, puts the ball down into an attacker who plays it back into the body of the defender on the goal-line. What is the call and why?

Based on your description, and assuming the attacker did not play dangerously, the play would be followed by a penalty corner because the defender either played the ball dangerously into the attacker or because the defender accidentally used her body to play the ball within the circle. There would not be a penalty stroke because the ball did not leave the circle so the defender did not use her body to stop a goal as one could not be scored. It is not a foul to attempt a shot at goal even though the ball has not left the circle. All parameters of a penalty corner are in play except a goal cannot be scored nor a penalty stroke awarded until the ball has left the circle. 

[ED: In a NFHS game, again assuming that no one played dangerously, the play would be followed by a penalty stroke because the ball doesn't have to leave the circle during a penalty corner.]


On a penalty corner, after the insertion the defensive team wants to sub, do they have to enter the field at the 50 yard line, or is it the nearest point of the substitution area? After a goal and either team who wants to substitute, does the player have to be off the field before the new player can enter?

A substitute coming into the game at the moment the ball is inserted during a penalty corner must enter from the designated substitution area, which is designed to be no more than 3 meters on either side of the center-line. 

By rule the substitute must wait until the player is off the field before entering but, given that the NCAA has a modification that the clock is stopped after each goal, the umpires can allow an unrestricted exchange without delay while the clock is stopped.


Time-outs for high school are a total length of 90 seconds. When the umpire blows her whistle and signals the time-out, when does the 90 second clock begin ticking? Does it begin rightaway or only after the teams are huddled?:

The 90-second time-out begins immediately. The total time without play should be 90 seconds. The manner in which a team uses the time-out period is a coaching decision. There is no requirement for either team to huddle.


A player shoots on goal from inside the circle. She lifts the ball high into the air but the ball goes through the net at the back of the goal. Neither the umpire in the circle, nor the other umpire sees the ball go into the cage at all. Is it a goal?

When the umpires arrive they should check the netting, minimizing the likelihood that this type of thing will happen. Regardless, if the umpires as you describe do not recognize that the ball went through the netting they can only judge it as a wide shot. If the umpire recognizes that the ball did actually go through the netting then a goal is awarded.


If a goalie has attempted to block a shot with a dive, and is then stormed by several players who begin swinging thier sticks wildly at the ball and the ball goes under the goalie on a subsequent shot should this be a stroke for covering, or should the wild swingers be called for dangerous play?

All players have the responsibility to play safely. No player is allowed to obstruct an opponent from reaching the ball. Based on your description, the action of the goalkeeper is perfectly legal. As long as the goalkeeper does not intentionally move onto the ball or pull the ball under himself or herself, it is the responsibility of the attacker to play safely and do something constructive with the ball. Beating it under the goalkeeper is not constructive and is dangerous. Therefore, based on your description of the play, a free hit to the defense should be awarded for the danger involved with this play.


New York State high school field hockey game. 27 seconds left in the game. Black team awarded a free hit. Free hit is inside the 25 yard line and almost at the broken circle line. Black team takes time out to set up the following play. Player on the black team stands over the ball. Official blows whistle to restart time. Black player fakes a self start, does not touch ball and moves off seven yards. Another offensive player who was 7 yards away goes to hit the ball. Before the black team's player can get to ball, the white team who was 7 yards away runs up and hits the ball down the field. Please advise what the call is? 

In every sense of the rule, the defending white team player has the responsibility to maintain 7 yards away until the ball is played. Any play on the ball or any attempt to approach and/or influence the free hit by the defense should be penalized. None of this as described is an accident...the defending white player did not adhere to the free hit rule. 

There is no "do over" and a penalty corner should be awarded with a possible card to the defender. To properly assess the situation, one would have to be the umpire in the situation making the call. 

No matter what the attack does to fake or otherwise set up the free hit, the defender(s) must meet the requirements of the free hit rule.


In a college game, the ball was injected on a penalty corner and broke apart. What is the proper procedure? Would the same hold true if the ball broke apart before it crosses the goal line on a shot?

When the ball breaks apart during the insertion of a penalty corner, stop time immediately and reset the penalty corner with a new ball. 

In order for a goal to be scored, the whole ball must cross the goal-line. If the ball breaks apart prior to crossing the goal-line it is no longer "whole" and no goal is scored. Play is restarted with a bully at the top of the circle, just outside the circle line.


There is a foul inside the circle by the attack. The goalkeeper kicks the ball towards the top of the D and follows the ball. The ball is still rolling when it gets to within 2 yards of the edge of the circle and the goalkeeper uses their stick to pass it out of the D (on the ground) and to a teammate. Is the goalkeeper's first action of kicking the ball legal for a self pass?

The rule states that a free hit is started with a hit or a push, therefore, all players, including the goalkeeper must use their stick to initiate a free hit. The goalkeeper cannot use a kick as a first action.


If the first shot on a penalty corner is a hit that, without being deflected, strikes the goalie in the chest. The goalie makes the save but then an attacker puts the ball in the goal. The rule says nothing about the first hit being over 18". It only says it cannot cross the goal line over 18". Would that be a goal or should that be a foul on the first hit.

Rule 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. 

Rule sub note:
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 penalized even if the ball is subsequently deflected off the stick or body of another player. 

Therefore the hit that you described would be illegal and should be a penalty against the attack (free hit to defense).


Does "self-pass" negate the old rule about a player who botches a free hit not being able to touch it until someone else (teammate or opponent) touches it? Can a player who attempts an old school free hit and messes up then call it a "self-pass" and continue to play it?

A player who "botches" an "old school" free hit is no longer required to move away from the ball. He or she can simply turn that mistake into the first action of a self pass.


Can you clarify "two distinct motions" on the self pass? What makes them distinct? The player's stick leaving the ball? A change of direction? Is there a limit to the area in which the two distinct motions must take place? Does there have to be some other "distinction" (such as a change of direction) as well?

What makes the "two distinct motions" distinct is a separation between the ball and the stick no matter how small of a separation there may be. This separation should happen relatively close to where the free hit occurred understanding that there may be some extended contact with the stick before the separation occurs.


Attacker has successfully dribbled the ball into the circle and is well into his hard drive at goal (focussed totally on the ball). A defender approached at speed from the attacker's left side and jabs the ball away from under the attacker's stick and there was no body contact, however, the attacker's early follow through on the drive catches the defender low on the shinbone (no shinguards) and opens a nasty wound there that required Emergency Room treatment. After the injury timeout, the umpire awards a Penalty Corner against the defender for a dangerous tackle. Defense is totally upset at this decision because their player was badly injured. Would a bully have been more appropriate? Or should the Penalty Corner stand? Or free hit to the Defense? There was no way the Attacker could have "pulled" his shot.

Based on your description, your judgment was that the play was clean and any danger was on the attacker. The umpire in your statement had the opinion that there was some danger to the initial tackle therefore a penalty corner. We have a disagreement with a call but, because the umpire judged that there was a bad tackle, by rule they must award a penalty corner. There is no option for a bully in this situation.


I have a two part question. First, if Red attack players are in the Blue circle. A ball is shot on goal, hits a defender's stick and flies into the air in front of an attacker waist high. The Red attacker swings her stick (softball swing) and sends the ball into the goal. 

Is it a goal under the following conditions?

  • It is just the goalie defending (1)
  • Red and Blue players are between the shooter and the goal  (2)
  • Nobody is defending the goal (3)
Second, on a similar play but at the center-line. Red player on attack passes to a teammate, the ball bounes high into the air the Red attack player swings at the ball (softball swing) and sends it towards the Blue goal. Is this legal? (4)

1. Yes.
2. Yes, unless the flight of the ball or swinging of the stick in and of itself is dangerous to the players.
3. Yes.
4. It certainly can be.


A college team huddles before every corner. On the next corner they do not. Are they then allowed to go back and huddle on subsequent corners? Would that make a difference if it were high school?

The type of change in behavior you've described is fine. Any reasonable preparation for a penalty corner is allowed at all levels of the game.


The attack has been awarded a free hit inside the 25 yard (23 meter) line just outside the broken line in or about the 20 to 18 yard line. The attack drives the ball toward the circle. A defender just outside the circle line DEFLECTS the ball off of her/his FOOT into the penalty circle. Is this a legal touch? The ball would have gone directly into the circle if had not been deflected off the foot of the defender. What is the appropriate management of this situation? If the incidental contact off the foot is deemed not a legal touch would this be an immediate whistle to award the defense a free hit at the site of the original hit or a held whistle. Essentially if it is not a legal touch the ball has entered the circle without meeting the specified criteria of being played 5 yards/meters before entering the circle. That being said if the ball is deflected off the attack foot what would be the appropriate game management? To give a complete picture - if the foot contact meets the criteria for "advancing" would this be the foul and the attack would place the ball on the broken line (nfhs) or outside the broken line(fih/ncaa).

The illegal contact by the defender that you described satisfies the indirect circle entry requirement. Obviously, if the illegal contact had happened by an attacker, a free hit would be given to the defense. 

This situation must be treated exactly like any other contact with the body of the defender inside the 23 meter area and outside the circle. As in all those cases the umpires hold to determine whether or not it is in the opponent's best interest to be awarded a free hit or to play on. 

A ball placed on or just outside the proximity markers outside the circle satisfies the placement requirements of the NFHS, the NCAA, USA Field Hockey and the FIH.


A player from the RED team is within the circle and hits the ball. It rises up and like a line drive in baseball and races towards the head of a BLUE opponent who is pretty far outside the circle. There isn't any question whatsoever that the play is dangerous. I have been given conflicting information about the call to make. One person told me that the BLUE team should get a penalty corner because that is where the RED player hit the ball dangerously but lots of people have told me that the BLUE team gets a free hit where the BLUE player almost got hit in head was standing because that is where the danger occurred. They added, if that BLUE player hadn't been there, the line drive wouldn't have been dangerous so, the BLUE player made it dangerous because she happened to be standing there. But the person who told me it's a penalty corner said, "No. The BLUE player has a right to stand anywhere on the field. It isn't dangerous to stand some place. We blame the player who hit the ball up." Which is right, a free hit outside the circle coming in or a penalty corner?

In the situation you described, the dangerous action took place in the circle when the ball was initially hit and had no chance of being played safely by the Blue player, therefore a penalty corner should be awarded to the Blue team.


On a penalty stroke in a NFHS game, both the attacker and goalkeeper have indicated they are ready. Official blows whistle to start the stroke. Before the stroker takes the stroke, the goalie moves to her right (she has fouled). Then the attacker hits the ball (now the attacker has committed a foul). What is the call, and why?

The only foul that matters is the first foul -- the goalkeeper's foul. According to Rule 11.2, Art. 9, (on page 55 of the 2010-11 NFHS rule book), "The penalty stroke may be retaken when the goalkeeper takes a step in any direction after he/she and the stroker have indicated they are ready, and the stroker's shot completely misses the cage."


What is the correct progression for multiple violations of the 7 yard rule on free hits? Warn, bump up, green card or warn, green card, yellow card? Also, what is the progression after the first yellow for this type of foul? Should it be another yellow or a red? It seems to harsh to go to a red card for a 7 yard violation.

The progression for minor misconduct violations would typically begin with the umpire cautioning the player or warning him/her with a green card. For subsequent minor misconduct by the same team, the player would be suspended with a yellow card. Additional yellow cards are acceptable for this violation unless by the same player when a red card must be issued in NFHS games but yellow cards with progressively longer suspensions can be given in NCAA, USA Field Hockey and FIH games. In cases involving different players on the same time, when the umpire deems that the teams are clearly not "getting the message", the players have given the umpire no other choice but to issue a red card for their lack of regard for the rule.


The player restarts the game after a goal has been scored. They self pass and on their second action scoop the ball onto their stick and run with it sitting on their stick. The stick and ball are held at knee level. A defender closes in and hacks down on the stick to make the ball drop. The ref. called it against the attack player saying you cannot play the ball like that for more than 5 yards. Never heard this before...what is your take on this?

There is no rule stating that a ball cannot be carried off the ground for more than 5 yards -- not in the NFHS rules, the NCAA modifications nor in the Rules of Hockey. If that is why the umpire made the call he or she made, it was not correct. Air dribbling should be judged the same as a lifted ball...the attacker lifted the ball safely...when they are close enough for an opponent to play it...it is a lifted ball between two opposing players, therefore creating a dangerous situation. The defense has the same right to play the ball as the attack and nothing good can come out of opposing players trying to play the ball while in the air. The call should be made well before the defender hacked down on the attackers stick and the foul should be against the attacker for creating the dangerous situation. 

Please note that in field hockey the officials are called umpires.


When driving the ball on a free hit or just during regular play, can the stick go above the players shoulder and/or can they round-house with stick prior to striking the ball?

In a player's attempt to drive the ball as you describe, there are no restrictions to the height of the stick, in front or in back, provided the action is not dangerous to other players in proximity of the play. It will be the judgment of the umpire based on player positioning that will determine the call. Also, any player coming from the blindside or from behind would be creating the danger if they put themselves in a position where they could be hurt. Everyone has to play safely and umpires will penalize players whose actions they judged caused the danger.

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