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Behind the Whistle: Penalty Stroke or Not?

July 30, 2020, 5:10 p.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 12.4: A penalty stroke is awarded: For an offence by a defender in the circle which prevents the probable scoring of a goal.


NFHS Rule 11 Section 1 Article 1a: A penalty stroke shall be awarded when, in the official’s opinion: a goal probably would have been scored, if a foul by the defending team had not occurred in the circle.


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: A penalty corner is properly executed. The push from the attack toward the goal is deflected by a defender which unfortunately goes into the body of a teammate standing in front of the goal. The umpire awards a penalty stroke for the ball off the body of the defender in front of the goal line. Since, from this angle of the camera it appears the ball is going wide of the goal, therefore the proper application would have been a penalty corner, not a penalty stroke.


Guidance: As the umpire, you must be sure that the ball would have gone in the goal for this to be a penalty stroke. It is not a penalty stroke just because the ball hits a defender in front of the goal. Again…the ball must have gone in the goal had it not been stopped by the body. Do not be too quick to look to call a penalty stroke, stay calm and be sure. As the umpire, keep moving to create the best sight line. When the ball was pushed toward the goal, it would have been best for the umpire to move toward the post of the goal which may have helped in the sight line to see the ball missing the goal. 


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