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Behind the Whistle: Masks

July 02, 2020, 1:45 p.m. (ET)

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


FIH Rule 4.2: Players must not wear anything which is dangerous to other players.
  • Field players: are permitted to wear throughout a match for medical reasons only a smooth preferably transparent or single colored face mask which closely fits the face, soft protective head- covering or eye protection in the form of plastic goggles (ie goggles with a soft-covered frame and plastic lenses); the medical reasons must be assessed by an appropriate authority and the player concerned must understand the possible implications of playing with the medical condition.
  • Field Players: are permitted to wear a smooth preferably transparent or single colored face mask or metal grill face mask, which follows the contours of the face, when defending a penalty corner or penalty stroke for the duration of that penalty corner or penalty stroke including the immediate taking of a free hit awarded after a penalty corner when passing the ball to another player; the primary objective of wearing a face mask to defend a penalty corner is safety; wearing of face masks which are consistent with the underlying spirit of this guidance should be allowed.
  • Field Players: are not permitted, when wearing face masks, to conduct themselves in a manner which is dangerous to other players by taking advantage of the protective equipment they wear;
  • Field Players: are not permitted to wear protective headgear (face mask or other protective head covering) in any other circumstances.

USA Field Hockey Rule Modification: Players’ clothing and equipment: In addition to requirements found in the 2019 Rules of Hockey, players may wear face protection without a medical reason, however, cage-type goggles and other protection that protrudes from the face are not allowed at any time for field play. May be worn for defending a Penalty Corner but must be removed before exiting the circle. Player may finish and existing action being slightly outside the circle but may not progress forward on any attack with the goggles or protruding facemask on.

NCAA Rule Modification 8.1.b - Field players are permitted to wear throughout a game only a smooth preferably transparent or white but otherwise dark plain colored face mask which fits flush with the face, soft protective head covering or eye protection in the form of plastic goggles (i.e., goggles with a soft-covered frame and plastic lenses. (A caged frame cannot be worn in the field of play.)

Application: After the insertion of a penalty corner, the ball is dribbled outside the dotted circle line, thus ending the penalty corner. Since the defenders in white are all wearing metal grill face masks and are not in the process of taking an ensuing free hit, they MUST remove the metal grill face masks before engaging in the play. This should have been an immediate free hit to the team in red, once the team in white showed that they were not going to take off the metal grill face masks. This could also be given as a penalty corner if the action persisted. In the video, the team in red is trying to run down the clock late in the game thus moving away from the circle, but it is still the defender’s responsibility to remove the masks.

Guidance: The NCAA and USA Field Hockey follow the rule associated with the FIH. Metal Grill face masks cannot be work for general play. Please note the underlined sections of the above text. Once the penalty corner is over the players have the responsibility to remove the masks. If a player is wearing a metal grill face mask and is not a player taking an immediate ensuing free hit, they must remove the mask before getting involved in any general field play. Be aware of the difference in the type of penalty corner mask being worn and be prepared to react as necessary if this situation does occur in your match. By the rules…All penalty corner masks are not alike and have different parameters when wearing them.

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