Following on from the rules seminar held today with HBHUA representatives Iain Fletcher and Dougie Closs, I thought it a good idea to pass on what was learnt. Please be aware, these are from notes I recorded and not directly attributable to either Iain or Dougie.
Rule changes this season
There is only one change. A goal can only be scored if it is touched by an attacker's stick in the D and doesn't leave the D again. This comes as a relief to goalies and defenders alike, whilst raising the safety in the D.
Rules you may have seen in the Commonwealth Games and World Championships
People may have noticed in recent international matches a couple of things different to the normal club hockey we play. We continue to play the same way we have done previously. This means a stick raised above shoulder height is going to be considered dangerous. A stick "periscoped" (i.e. straight up in the air) should be treated as a deliberate action and a yellow card issued. If a player genuinely tries to play the ball and the stick just goes over shoulder height, then this should be judged on danger to players nearby and only penalised with a free hit, although a warning may be necessary. If a stick is deliberately raised within the 23 meters, a penalty corner should be awarded.
Another clarification regards green cards. Umpires at international games give a 2 minute suspension for a green card. There is no intention to bring this to grass roots hockey as it is tricky to keep track of 2 minutes when umpiring.
Finally, sending players to the half way line for breaking early on penalty corners. There is no intention to bring this in at grass roots either. If breaking early, there is an escalating scale of how to deal with them. The first time an early break happens, a warning should be given. The second should be met with a green card. The third, a yellow and a penalty stroke. This is not done on a basis of the player building up the offenses, but the team (i.e. the team get a warning and the team get a green card, but the person breaking the last time gets the yellow).
Taking a penalty corner or penalty stroke
A player must make one continuous movement when taking a penalty corner or a penalty stroke. Regarding the penalty stroke, once a player has said they are ready, then they shouldn't need to readjust their feet. If the taker does this, then the penalty stroke should be reset. If they do this more than twice, then the decision should be reversed as it could be considered that the taker is trying to judge where the goalkeeper will be going by moving a certain direction.
Retreating 5 meters
As early in the game as possible, let the players know that any 5 meter encroachment on a free hit is not going to be tolerated. A defender must retreat 5 meters from the ball before being allowed to engage. This means the defender is not allowed to run alongside the attacker for five meters and then make a challenge. Equally though, a defender must be allowed to legitimately retreat 5 meters. If an attacker moves towards a retreating defender to unfairly gain an advantage, the hit should be retaken. It must be stressed that the defender has to be retreating as best they can for this to happen.
Goalkeeper being sent off or replaced
It is considered that a reasonable time for a replacement of a 'keeper is 2 minutes. This allows for a goalkeeper to get off and give helmet and gloves to an outfield player (plus for them to get a different coloured shirt on) for them to play kicking back whilst a replacement 'keeper is readied (if necessary).
One-on-one with a goalkeeper
A question was asked about what point a goalkeeper coming out to take a ball on the ground becomes dangerous. Typically a 'keeper will make themselves as big as possible. But this also means a judgment needs to be made on whether the 'keeper was legitimately trying to play the ball first. As umpires, we need to keep a game as safe as possible, especially within the D. When necessary, such challenges must be harshly dealt with. A penalty stroke should be awarded and a yellow card issued to the goalkeeper.
The shot at goal (or, "but umpire, I was shooting at goal!!")
The D is an inherently dangerous place, so safe practice is key in front of goal. Typically, above East League div 4 players are going to be more skillful. So balls going up at goal should be considered on the skill itself. Lower down, the danger of the attempt at goal should be considered. Tomahawks, the act of slicing down on the reverse side to undercut the ball up into the goal, should be considered extremely dangerous below East League Prem level and should be treated harshly. It is considered that this type of hit is too erratic below Prem standard.
5 meters from the D - driving straight in
There are often times when a person driving directly at the D from the dotted line on a free hit push the ball for three meters and then put their stick alongside the ball for the last two. This should be looked for, as the attacker has basically not dribbled the full 5 and has therefore committed an offense.
Aerial into the D
If a ball is thrown into the D and an attacker is underneath it, then the defender must retreat 5 meters, even at the expense of giving a "free run" at goal. If this doesn't happen then a penalty corner should be given. However, if the ball is thrown and a defender makes it to the penalty spot sooner than the attacker can get under the trajectory of the ball, then the defender should get the free hit. Calling for a ball does not mean that person has a right to the ball.
If a ball is thrown and two people are underneath where it is going to land, blow early to prevent dangerous play and award a free hit to the defender.
Playing from the floor
A player should never be allowed to tackle from the floor. It would be considered that the player is on the floor when there is more than two point contact with the floor. Any other play should be considered on danger. A player can complete a pass whilst on the floor, but only if it is safe to do so.
There is NEVER any circumstance when it is acceptable for an outfield player to do a sliding tackle. Should a player completely fail in a slide tackle, this should be considered very harshly (yellow card with ten minutes off). If a player pulls it off, you may consider letting them get away with a warning, but you must consider the danger levels of this type of challenge.
A player receives a ball and then spins on the spot, is this an offense by the attacker? The nature of this kind of maneuver means that the attacker steps away from the defender as the first stage of the spin. Therefore, this is not an obstruction.
Attacker driving through a defender
If a defender is set to make a tackle and the attacker deliberately tries to play through them then this is an offense on the part of the attacker, so a free hit to the defender should be given.