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USA Field Hockey

All questions, unless otherwise indicated, are answered by Steve Horgan, our nation's rules interpreter. If you have a question, please look through the questions that have already been answered. If your question hasn't been asked, please use this form to submit your question.


Q: During NCAA shootouts, does the ball need to be centered on the 23 meter line?

A: The ball is to be placed on the 23 meter line in the center of the goal. There is no variance to this.  As close to center as possible will suffice. Players may not begin a shootout by moving the ball to one side or the other.   

Q: Also, is it still a foul on the keeper if she comes out of the circle to kick the ball over the 23 meter to clear the ball? 

A: The rules pertaining to Goalkeeper action do not change during a shootout. The GK is not permitted to play the ball outside the circle with their equipment. They can play with the stick only when outside the circle.


Q: If a visible clock has an automatic horn that automatically goes off at the end of time is it permissible in that circumstance to turn off the visible clock or stop it with let's say 1:00 to go on the clock?

A: No. Visible clocks are to count down to zero. Players shall play to the whistle not the horn.


Q: In NCAA games, if the team has a visible clock at what point are we permitted to stop the visible clock or must we allow it to count down to zero?

A: In NCAA games visible clocks are required. The visible clock is the official game clock. Visible clocks are to count down to zero. The on-field umpires or alternate umpire shall keep a back-up clock. The time kept by the on-field umpires or alternate umpire will become the official time in the event of a malfunction of the visible clock.


Q: In NCAA games, is someone from the table still shadowing the lead umpire to do a last minute countdown at the end of each half, regulation and overtime?

A: Only in NFHS games does someone from the table shadow the table-side umpire to do a countdown in the final seconds of the half/game.


Q: A NFHS game went into overtime, then double overtime, then strokes. The first team (Team A) missed their stroke, the second (Team B) missed as well. The next stroker for the Team A made it, however the goal was rescinded by the umpire because the team crossed the 25 to celebrate the goal. Should the goal be rescinded because the team crossed the 25 to celebrate the goal?

A: No. There is nothing in the rules supporting that decision as you described it. During the penalty stroke the players not involved in the stroke must be behind the 25 but after the stroke has ended, there is no governance regarding player position. It is commonplace for a team to celebrate the successful completion of a penalty stroke.


Q: For Team B's second stroke, they made it making the score 0 for Team A and 1 for Team B. Both teams made their third and fourth strokes, bringing the total to Team A having 2 goals and Team B having 3. The game was not yet deemed "offificial", although there was no way for Team A to win, and a coach for Team B, stepped over the 25. The umpires proceeded to call that it was necessary to finish out all the strokes for the 5-stroker round. After this call is when the umpire pointed out that the coach for Team B had committed this "foul". My first question is, after it was impossible for Team A to win, shouldn't the umpire have called the game official as opposed to finishing with Team B's fifth stroker? My second question is how long after the winning stroke is scored should the umpires call the game official?

A: A penalty stoke competition is not to continue once a team has an insurmountable lead. Based on your description, even though Team A could not win, it could still tie the game on its next stroke. If Team A missed its last stroke, then Team B would have won the tie-breaker and it should not take its last stroke.

The umpires do not call the game official, once all play is completed according to the rules of the local league/conference/state association, the game becomes official. In games governed by NFHS rules, the officials' jurisdiction ends and the final score is approved when the officials leave the field at the game's conclusion.


Q: At a middle school game I was officiating we were using NFHS rules. The coaches requested that the game be split into four 15:00 minute increments so they could more easily substitute a large number of players. Near the end of the first quarter, I called a penalty corner. The ball was inserted well before time expired but time expired during the penalty corner. I waited until the penalty corner ended (a goal was scored) and then ended the first quarter.

My partner was kind of upset that I did not whistle the end of the 1st quarter during the penalty corner, but I was under the impression I should let play continue until the penalty corner ended. My partner stated unless scoring on the penalty corner would signficantly effect the score of the game that the quarter should have ended when the clock reached 00:00. I disagreed on that because this is first quarter and you do not know the score of the future quarters.

Should I have left the corner play on?

A: There are no parameters for any hockey game in the USA to be played in quarters so that was not proper procedure. That said, the end of the quarter should be seen as the same as the end of the half. The intent is to allow the penalty corner to be completed before play is stopped.


Q: Will a game not count at all, count as a tie, or count as a loss if a team refuses to play overtime?

A: The answer to this may vary from NCAA and USA Field Hockey events to NFHS level games. The NCAA requires overtime to be played. The result of whether or not a game counts or is forfeited, however, is up to each individual conference. At the NFHS level, individual state, local leagues and/or conferences would determine the result. Umpires have no jurisdiction over this matter.


Q: In the second overtime period of a high school game, with less than 2 minutes remaining, a yellow card is issued to a player, requiring a 5-minute suspension. The second overtime period ends in a tie and goes to penalty strokes. Is the player who was issued the yellow card allowed to be a stroker during the penalty stroke phase?

A: Overtime play is not explicitly covered by the NFHS rules, though a suggested overtime/tie-breaking procedure is provided in the book as a recommended approach. Therefore, overtime requirements can vary from league-to-league, conference-to-conference, and state-to-state. In the Rules of Hockey, NCAA and USA Field Hockey, a player who is in suspension at the end of regulation, should not participate in overtime until their suspension has expired, nor participate in a stroke competition if they are in suspension at the end of overtime with the score still tied. This is the standard for the game in general but there may be variations within your state.


Q: If a visible clock has an automatic horn that automatically goes off at the end of time is it permissible in that circumstance to turn off the visible clock or stop it with let's say 1:00 to go on the clock?

A: No. Visible clocks are to count down to zero. Players shall play to the whistle not the horn.


Q: In NCAA games, if the team has a visible clock at what point are we permitted to stop the 


Q: If a visible clock has an automatic horn that automatically goes off at the end of time is it permissible in that circumstance to turn off the visible clock or stop it with let's say 1:00 to go on the clock?

A: No. Visible clocks are to count down to zero. Players shall play to the whistle not the horn.


Q: In NCAA games, if the team has a visible clock at what point are we permitted to stop the