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Behind the Whistle: Unsafe Tackling from Behind

June 11, 2020, 1:04 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 9.3: Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other players or their sticks or clothing. 


FIH/USA Field Hockey/NCAA Rule 9.13: Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact.


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


NFHS Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1.j: Fouls include: Charging, pushing, tripping or personally handling an opponent.


Application: A defender in blue intercepts a crossing pass from the team in white. As the player in blue looks to control the ball, a player in white (now on the defense) places her elbow on the blue player while reaching around to try to play the ball. The umpire awards a simple free hit. The player in blue is taken to the ground by the action of the player in white. Technically correct procedure by rule but a card should have been issued to white player #20.


Guidance: This is a very common attempt to tackle at all levels. The process of pushing from behind with the stick in front of an opponent is a recipe for a serious injury. This violates the rules mentioned above and is not done by accident. A card should be issued for any handling or pushing of an opponent, especially when it is done in the breakdown fashion shown in the video. The only reason for this action by the player in white is that she is well out of position to play the ball legally. Look to stay mobile and create a sight line keeping up with the play. Also, communicate with your partner for any help on the push from behind. From the angle of the camera, it appears a better sight line would have been about 5 yards more toward the goal.


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