A sport that is widely regarded as having begun thousands of years ago, field hockey has evolved into a very fast-paced, exciting Olympic event. The FIH is the international governing body for hockey, and has a policy of reviewing and revising the rules for the sport every two years in order to keep up with advances in technology and skills.
This situation results in an ever-evolving set of guidelines that can be confusing for those new to field hockey. This article will address 10 common items regarding the rules and give a short explanation of how they affect game play, designed to help viewers as they watch the 2012 London Olympics.
Umpires - Two umpires maintain order and apply the rules during matches. Each umpire is responsible for one end of the pitch, and they share the middle of the field. Umpires have many options for punishment, most importantly determining whether a player has acted outrageously enough to warrant temporary or permanent suspension.
Advantage rule - Basically gives the umpires leeway in determining which punishment penalizes a team more: to have a foul called against them or to allow the attackers to play on. These decisions must be made quickly and the idea is to keep the match flowing with as little unnecessary interruption as possible.
Goal scoring - Field goals may only be scored on shots that originate within the circle surrounding the front of the goal. Shots can be hit, scooped or pushed, but must not leave the circle after being struck and before entering the net.
Playing the ball with the body - It is not allowed for a field player to intentionally play the ball with any part of the body. While in his circle, the goalkeeper may use any part of the body or equipment to defend a shot but only the feet, legs, stick, kickers, or leg guards to propel the ball. If the ball is accidentally touched by a field player, a foul probably won't be called -- only if the touch is intentional.
Substitutions - May be made freely and without limit to how many times a player may enter or leave the game.
Free hit - Used in various situations including after minor fouls, when a ball crosses the sideline, and when the ball goes over the end-line without being intentionally touched by a defender. Ball must be stationary and other players must be five meters away from the player taking the free hit.
Results of a penalty - Ranging from a free hit for the opposing team to player ejection for major rules violations, there are various levels of punishment for fouls. Penalty corners (ball is pushed out from the end line, then shot at the goal), penalty strokes (for fouls in the circle which prevent a goal) are taken one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and suspensions are given via three cards (see below).
Suspension - A player may be suspended for a more serious rules violation or repeated violations. Green, yellow or red cards are used to warn or suspend a player for varying lengths of time. A red card means a player is ejected for the remainder of the game. Any suspension results in the offender's team playing a man down.
Stick - The field hockey stick has various regulations which govern its make-up and use, but one of the most important rules to know regarding the stick is that only its curved (not rounded) side can be used to play the ball.
Golden goal - If a game in the knockout stage (preliminary matches may end in a draw) ends in a tie, there will be two extra time periods. During overtime in these cases, the golden goal rule applies. This means that the game ends immediately with any goal scored, the teams not required to finish the extra time.
The author always enjoys hockey during the Olympics, whether it is the variety played on ice during the winter or outdoor field hockey during the summer games. A lifelong sports fan, he is counting the days until the opening ceremony.
- Sports & Recreation
- field hockey