Behind the Whistle: Hit Inside the 23 Meters, All Players Must be 5 Meters Away

Sept. 12, 2019, 10:30 a.m. (ET)

Each week, USA Field Hockey's Umpiring Department will provide video clips for educational purposes on recent plays/calls.

Rule 13.2

When a free hit is awarded to the attack within the 23 meters area, all players other than the player taking the free hit must be at least 5 meters from the ball.

If an opponent is within 5 meters of the ball, they must not interfere with the taking of the free hit or must not play or attempt to play the ball.

Any playing of the ball, attempting to play the ball or interference by a defender or an attacker who was not 5 meters from the ball, should be penalized accordingly.

Application: A personal penalty (green card) was issued without a penalty corner. It was deemed that the interference from behind did not prevent a goal scoring opportunity. Thus, a personal penalty and not a team penalty. The player tackling from behind was not 5 meters away at the start of the free hit, therefore she is required to allow the ball to move a minimum of 5 meters before engaging. Had she not interfered and influenced the play, the dark team had a very good chance to get the ball into the circle. This tackle from behind should be considered a breakdown/intentional foul from behind. Therefore, the proper application would have been a penalty corner for the tackle then the addition of the personal penalty.


Guidance: Be aware of the position of defenders and attackers when the free hit is inside the 23-meter line. Any influence by attackers or defenders who were not 5 meters from the start of the free hit should be penalized. When attempts to tackle from behind are made unsuccessfully causing a stick interference, the defender is not in a proper tackling position and should be penalized as intentional knowing if unsuccessful, they will slow down the attacker. An intentional foul by the defense inside the 23-meter line is a penalty corner. (Rule 12.3)


Video clips and photos are being utilized for educational purposes only and not meant to critique individual players, coaches or officials.