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Behind the Whistle: Aerial Ball Deflected Away

May 21, 2020, 11:39 a.m. (ET)

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

This is the fifth in a mini-series of eight aerial situations that will be posted as part of the “Behind the Whistle” video series. The intent is to review many different situations that occur with the falling aerial ball rule.


FIH/USA Field Hockey/NCAA 9.10: Players must not approach within 5 meters of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball until it has been received, controlled and is on the ground. 


NFHS Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1.g: Fouls include the following: players approaching within 5 yards of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball (aerial ball) that has not been received, controlled and played to the ground.


Note: Even though the wording between the FIH and the NFHS rules is slightly different, the application of the rule in both cases is exactly the same!


Application: Clip #1 – The player in white is in proper position to receive the falling aerial ball over her head. The opposing players are more than 5 meters/yards away. The player deflects the ball to her right, losing control of the ball. The player in red is able to play the ball safely as the player in white retrieves to attempt to regain control. The umpire awards a free hit to the white team…Improper Application.


Guidance: The white player deflects the ball far enough away and in the direction of the player in red to lose control/possession. The ball is well down on the ground to not be dangerous. This one should have “played on”. The player in red fulfilled the requirement of the rule and now should have been allowed to play the ball. As the ball is being received by the initial receiver, look at the area around the reception for any possibility of a deflection away from the area of control.


Application: Clip #2 – The player in black attempts to receive an aerial ball off the bounce. At the time she plays the ball, the defenders are properly 5 meters/yards away. In her attempt the ball deflects away from her immediate space but still well within the 5 meters/yards area to control it. The player in white comes running into the space trying to play the ball before it is received, controlled and on the ground. The umpire awards a free hit to the team in black…Proper application. 


Guidance: At the time the player in black receives the ball off the bounce, the player in white is the required 5 meters/yards away. The ball is not deflected toward the player in white, but into a more open space, still within the area of control for the receiver. The white player then comes running into the space in an attempt to play the ball, not allowing for the initial receiver to have any chance of controlling the ball, thus violating Rule 9.10. Even though this one was awarded to the proper team, look at the area around the reception for any possibility of a deflection and be prepared to blow this early before the danger can actually occur. 


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