Northerns "Blues" Hockey Association

Ask John

One of the "spin-offs" of having an umpire with John Wright's vast expertise and experience in our midst is that we have the privilege of easy access to that expertise and experience.  He is also always more than willing to share it in the interest of promoting good umpiring and getting all umpires "on the same page" for more consistency.

On this page we will be publishing John's answers to umpiring questions posed by anyone wishing to do so.  If you have a question to ask, just Contact Us and we'll get John's answer and publish it here as soon as possible.

John Wright and Spain
John Wright in a familiar situation - taking no nonsense from Spain

Question 12 - New Rules for 2014

Question: Is it true that the "own goal" rule will fall away in 2014?  Are any other rules changing?

This question was asked and answered before the FIH published its proposed changes to the rule.  John has subsequently confirmed that the own goal rule will fall away as of 1 February 2014.  He also emphasised that no other rules have changed, and specifically that the playing of the ball above shoulder height in open play will be limited to international level matches only.

John's answer: No, the "own goal" rule will remain as a mandatory experimental rule to be applied at all levels of hockey.  At this stage the FIH rules committee has not indicated that any rules will change, in keeping with their policy of, as far as possible, only issuing rules updates every two years.  The 2013 rule book will therefore apply for 2014 as well.

Question 11 - Early breaking at penalty corner

Question: If a defender at a penalty corner is sent to the half-way line for breaking early and, before the penalty corner is over, another one is awarded for a subsequent infringement, may the defence then have a full quota of five defenders again?

John's answer: No, they may only revert back to their full quota when the corner is over.  A subsequent re-award does not allow for the player to return.

Revised Answer

Subsequent to answering this question, John has notified us that the matter had been reconsidered and that it has been decided that the defending team may use a full complement of five players to defend any re-awarded penalty corner.

Question 10 - Receiving aerial ball

Question: A player from team A flicks a ball over the players in the field.  Then players from team A and B get to the the flicked ball at the same time.  Who is allowed to trap the ball?  I do not understand that rule.  The umpire always says to me I must be 5m away from the opposite team player to play the ball.  Please explain this rule to me.

John's answer: When a player plays an aerial ball to a team-mate it must be done in a safe manner.  A ball landing between players from opposing teams causes a potentially dangerous situation and therefore the rules do not allow it.  As soon as a player from team A raises the ball in this manner, the umpire must determine whether the ball is clearly on its way to an unmarked player from team A.  If it is, then team A has the right to the ball and all players from team B must remain more than 5m away until the receiving player has the ball on the ground and under control.  If the umpire determines that the ball is going to land in an area where there is already a player from team B, then players from team A must remain more than 5m away.  Failure of the non-receiving team to remain 5m away will result in a free hit against them.  In essence, therefore, when a player is considering playing an aerial ball he must make sure that it goes to an unmarked team-mate.

Question 9 - Cards to both teams

Question: At a recent tournament, umpires were told that if team A is shown a green card for an offence and team B repeats the offence later in the match then team B must immediately be shown a yellow card even if no verbal warning / green card had been given to team B. Is this correct?

John's answer: I think in general umpiring terms, yes, that would be the approach, because a green card is theoretically a warning for all players.  However, it is dependent on the circumstances in the particular game (time, score, physical aspects, temp, etc, etc).  Personally I prefer to try and manage the process a bit better, by possibly giving a green card to one team and then, should a similar incident occur, a green card to the other team, thereby ensuring that all are equal.

This said, the umpire would have egg on his face if he went about playing the “tit for tat” game, and that is probably why the UM’s said this at the respective tournament.  They are definitely not wrong.

Question 8 - Player not on half-way line at penalty corner

Question: During a recent match my colleague awarded a penalty corner.  When we were all in position, I glanced back to make sure all defending players were behind the half-way line, only to find one of them standing two meters behind me (far over the half-way line).  I sent him back to the half-way line with a warning that it mustn't happen again.

A short while later (and a number of penalty corners later) I again glanced back to once again find the same player standing two meters behind me (again far over the half-way line).  What should I have done?  Green card?  Wait a while and signal another penalty corner to my colleague?

John's answer: Thank you for the question, I think that there are some fundamental factors that we need to consider with regards to a penalty corner and the awarding thereof.

1. A penalty corner is awarded for a deliberate infringement in the 23m area, or an infringement in the circle area.

2. The actions of the team / players involved in the corner are paramount (ie: the players involved at the top of the circle and behind the line defending the corner).  The players at the half way line have little or no influence on the play.  Therefore the players involved in the corner need to be managed well.

3. In order to control or manage the players on the halfway line, I would in your circumstance have spoken to the offending player first (provided his actions - not standing on the halfway line would have had a major influence on the corner), should he again have failed to make an attempt to go over the halfway line, then possibly a green card could have been issued.  Definitely not another corner awarded.

4. There is no need to hold up the taking of the corner, merely to ensure that all the players are behind the line, this is not our major focus point at this specific time.

5. Furthermore, I'd like to suggest that you rather take up a position as the assisting umpire, a few meters over the halfway line and directly inline with the goals.  I would not suggest that you go all the way down to the 23m line and in doing so think you are being of assistance to your co-umpire.

Question 7 - Raised shot at goal

Question: Rule 13.3(l) states that if the ball strikes a defender, who is within five metres of the attacker who strikes at goal, above the knee, a free hit is awarded to the defending team.  Does the same apply during open play, even if the shot is on goal?  (A recent umpiring dispute about the award of a penalty corner when a defender within five metres of the attacker was hit in the back of the head by the ball, had a penalty corner awarded to the attacking team because the ball was adjudged to be on its way to the goal, prompts this question.)

John's answer: No, rule 13.3 (l) refers only to a penalty corner.  In field play the rule refers solely to danger, no distance is stipulated.  So the incident as described I would deem to be incorrect, and should have been a free hit to the defenders.

Question 6 - "Automatic" cards

Question: Many umpires and umpires' managers equate specific offences with specific cards, apparently without consideration of individual circumstances.  For example: playing the ball with the back of the stick is an "automatic yellow"; breaking early at a penalty corner for the second time is an "automatic green"; playing the ball above shoulder height is an "automatic yellow".  Pre-2005 rule books advocated this to an extent but since the 2005 rule book the only "automatic card" is in rule 2.3h which requires a red card if a player "intentionally misbehaves in a serious manner".

Should umpires continue with "automatic" cards or should the change in the rule book be seen to indicate that we must stop doing so?  How does one decide when to issue a card or not?

John's answer: There are numerous situations that occur in hockey when umpiring which require a high degree of common sense to be applied.  All the rules are created to prevent unfair play and to create a fair match for both sides.  When players deliberately use the back of the stick then, yes, a yellow card can be given.  However, when it is accidental then no cards are necessary and probably just a free hit awarded.  Similarly with trapping / playing the ball above the shoulder, although here I think a warning for accidental and definitely a yellow card in other circumstances (depending on the game of course) should apply.  If this action deliberately stops an attacking movement then, yes, a yellow card.  As an umpire we need to sum up the intent of the players who have infringed and penalize accordingly.  A red card should also be used carefully - hitting an opponent with the stick, swearing at the umpire, intentional serious offences - should most definitely warrant a red card.

Question 5 - Balled kicked high by goalkeeper

Question: Under what circumstances is it an offence when, as is prevalent amongst schoolboys, the goalkeeper picks up the ball and kicks it high into play, much like a soccer goalkeeper?

John's answer: In order to do that either he or one of his players close by would have to get the ball “live”, then lift it up / scoop it up somehow before kicking it.  This is allowed so long as there is no danger.

Question 4 - Ball leaving / not leaving circle at penalty corner

Two questions relating to short corners:

Question A: With reference to short corners, Rule 13.3(j) reads "a goal cannot be scored until the ball has travelled outside the circle".  How long do you allow play to continue, or at what point does the umpire award a free hit to the defending team, if the attacking team did not allow the ball to travel outside the circle following its injection at a short corner? (assuming that there is no need to re-award the short corner)

John's answer: There is no time consideration that an umpire should adhere to.  The only consideration should be as it is stated in the rule book "a goal cannot be scored until the ball has travelled outside the circle."  So, in other words, play continues as normal, however, for the attacking team to score a goal the ball SHOULD HAVE TRAVELLED OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE.

In order to effectively manage a situation whereby the ball at a Penalty Corner does not travel outside the circle:

1. Wait until a so called “goal” is scored before making your decision.

2. Remember it is not an offence to take a shot at goal, dribble, pass the ball, etc, before the ball has travelled outside the circle...the team can just not score a goal.

3. Take note that, if a defender commits an offence which normally would have prevented the probable scoring of a goal, a further penalty corner should be awarded.

Question B: Must the ball cross the line marking the circle for it to be considered as having been outside the circle or can it legitimately be played back into the circle from on the line?

John's answer: Hockey rules determine that the ball should cross the line of the circle before being classified as “outside the circle.”  On the line (as is the case anywhere in the field of play) determines that the ball is still in play (side lines, back lines, etc).  So “on the line” when referring to the circle means that the ball is still in the circle.

Question 3 - Repeated penalty corners

Question: How many times may penalty corners be awarded consecutively? May a penalty goal ever be awarded and, if so, under what circumstances?

John's answer: There is no specific number of times that a short corner may be re-awarded.  However, there should be a game management concern if for the same offence by a team or players it continues to happen.  Should a warning after the 1st or 2nd time of an offence go un-noticed by the defenders then I would suggest that a yellow card be shown to the offenders.  Should this still not have an effect then a penalty stroke could be awarded.

The only time that a penalty goal may be awarded is at a penalty stroke when a definite goal is illegally saved / prevented.*

* This question was asked during 2010.  The 2011 rule book introduced new rules with regard to penalty strokes, amongst others doing away with penalty goals and suggesting that an infringing defender rather be given a green card, or yellow card for a repeat infringement.

Question 2 - Self-pass when injecting ball at penalty corner

Question: Is the player taking a short corner allowed to hit the ball twice before it leaves the circle? In other words, if he mishits, is he allowed to hit it again to get it out of the circle or must another player hit the ball?

John's answer: No, in the event of the player mishitting the ball at the injection at a short corner, he may not again play the ball until either a defender has touched the ball or one of his team's players has touched the ball.

Question 1 - Ball travelling 5m at free hit within 23m area

Question: An attacking player takes a free hit inside the 23m area and intends taking a self-pass and then playing it into the circle without passing to another player.  Before he may play it into the circle, must the ball travel to a point more than 5m away from where the free hit was taken or is it sufficient for it to, for example, travel 3m in one direction and 2.5m back (ie: ending up only 0.5m away from where the free hit was taken)?

John's answer: The ball doesn’t have to travel 5m in one direction.  If the player taking the free hit has enough time to do 5 x 1m pulls on the spot then he can do so.

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