USA Field Hockey NEWS Behind the Whistle: ...

Behind the Whistle: Equipment Interference

July 23, 2020, 10:54 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 9.16: Players must not throw any object or piece of equipment onto the field, at the ball or at another player, umpire or person. Following a penalty corner, if the ball hits any discarded equipment, such as a hand protector, knee pads or face mask, a free hit should be awarded if this occurs outside the circle, and a penalty corner awarded if this occurs inside the circle.


FIH/USA Field Hockey/NCAA Rule 12.4: A penalty stroke is awarded - for an offense by a defender in the circle which prevents the probable scoring of a goal. If the ball hits a piece of equipment lying in the circle and a probable goal is prevented, a penalty stroke may be awarded. 


Note: Since at the USA Field Hockey and NCAA levels, masks are allowed at any time, the above rules apply to general play as well.


Application: The goalkeeper makes a proper save with the blocker. The blocker comes off and now interferes with the attacker playing the ball. Subsequently the goalkeeper reaches with her stick and that glove, with the stick, are now out of her possession and also in the area of the attacker to play the ball. Since the blocker prevented the attacker from a probable goal, a penalty stroke was awarded after the video review…proper application and clarified by the 2019 Edition of the Rules.


Guidance: This same type of play can happen with “any” piece of equipment including facemasks not properly discarded. There is no reason to give a card or misconduct penalty for an unintentional loss of equipment (blocker in this case). But as you can see in the video, it can possibly be deemed intentional that the goalkeeper throws the stick at the ball. Since the loose stick DID NOT interfere with the play, it would be appropriate to issue a misconduct card to the goalkeeper for throwing the stick at the ball. But because the blocker did prevent a probable goal, a penalty stroke would be appropriate. This can be hard to see sometimes from the opposite side of the goal. Be mobile and do not be afraid to get even closer to the play to have the best sight line to make the decision. Most matches and umpires will not have the luxury of video review when making this call.


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