USA Field Hockey NEWS Behind the Whistle: ...

Behind the Whistle: Aerial Dribbling

Aug. 17, 2020, 11:14 a.m. (ET)

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

FIH/USA Field Hockey/NCAA Rule 9.7: Players may stop, receive and deflect or play the ball in a controlled manner in any part of the field when the ball is at any height including above the shoulder unless this is dangerous or leads to danger.


FIH/USA Field Hockey/NCAA 9.8: Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play. 


NFHS Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1.a: Fouls include the following: playing in a dangerous or intimidating manner.


NFHS Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1.f: Fouls include the following: raising the ball dangerously or raising the ball in a way leading to dangerous play.


Even though the wording of the rule may be a little different, the application of the rule is the same for all levels of field hockey.


Application: The player in blue, legally and safely picks up the ball starting an aerial dribble up the field. As defenders’ approach and look to play the ball, the umpire awards a free hit to the defense due to danger by the attack…Proper procedure.


Guidance: Just as shown in the video, once the attacker is in close enough proximity of an opponent who can legitimately play the ball, “leading to dangerous play” should be called. We do not wait for danger to happen, then attempt to “pick up the pieces” after making the decision. Umpires must keep the game safe. A defender has every right to play the ball when presented properly. The attacker, being the player who put the ball up in the air, is responsible for the safe play when coming in close proximity of opponents. 


Additional Guidance: This is similar to when a ball pops up in between two players where an umpire almost immediately calls danger against the player who popped it up. When two players can play the ball while in the air, it can lead to danger. Be mobile and in a position to see the distance between players as the aerial dribbler is approaching opponents. Do not wait until they players are in very close proximity to blow the whistle…prevent danger before it can happen in this situation.


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