Umpiring Resources

FIH "How to Hockey" Series

The link below is for a "How To Hockey" series prepared by FIH as part of the World Cup. Some basics of hockey and the rules. Done with some humour and not bad for some beginners. 

Some Q & A Feedback from Hockey WA

From time to time I have sought clarification from Hockey WA on a number of umpiring topics. I have found this very helpful and the input from Sarah Allanson and Fiona Stuart has been appreciated.

Don’t forget the Umpiring PageCLICK HERE on the side of the homepage is a link called Dartfish. This is a very useful place to go and look at different clips from actual games (international games) that not only shows the various scenarios (overheads, obstruction, breaking down tackles, danger, management of a game etc) but also has commentary on the clip and a discussion surrounding the rule.

Here is the latest batch for your assistance.

Question 1: Playing ball above head – 5m away or not??

What is the go if a player does not retreat 5m after giving away free hit before the attacker throws an overhead? In this case the ball was travelling at least a good 1/2 stick length above the defender head because that's about where it hit when stick was held straight up.

The umpire call was yellow card to defender as the ball was not dangerous and the stick action was ‎breaking down play. They were pretty much 5m away anyway (close enough) and I am pretty sure if the attacker has played on and was tackled they would have argued they were 5m if the call had been made otherwise!


The yellow card appears to be correct as the defender has deliberately played the ball above shoulder height to break down play. Had the overhead not been above the defenders head and in fact been dangerous, then that is the only way that I can see the defender getting away with no card (but still a free hit against them if they are within the 5 meters).

If a player is not quite 5 meters but has genuinely made the attempt and as you say is close enough that they think they are, this would not necessarily be a yellow card (unless it had been happening a fair bit in the game, there have already been green cards for the same offence, or the umpire had called the defender to stay out).

Question 2: Upgrading Free Hit to Penalty Corner

This particular game was nearing full time and scores level. Tensions on field were going up a notch as both teams searched for the winning goal.

Attacking team has progressed into 23m area and awarded free hit. Attacker moves on immediately with the ball and tackled by a defender who was within 5m. The umpire on the near side immediately blew the free hit and signalled PC (but was not his circle to call). The umpire then had a wry smile realising that he had made a mistake to call PC then managed the situation by awarding a free hit only. The umpire on other side allowed play to continue with FHA.

My understanding of this situation is that the non controlling umpire can certainly award the free hit as in this example send the player off with GC/YC. The controlling umpire should then award the PC.


The non-controlling umpire should never have indicated PC, but blown the free hit. While I don’t know if this was the first instance of a tackle within the 5 and therefore any previous penalties issued, the fact that the player was well within the 5 meters, the game was heating up and with game being in the last 5 minutes this was clearly a breaking down action and a yellow card (not a green due to the intent of the player) should have been issued immediately (by either umpire).

Had the non-controlling umpire done this then one would hope that the controlling umpire would then upgrade to a PC. The controlling umpire needs to recognise this play for what it was and the correct way to deal with it appropriately (at least award the PC given that the non-controlling umpire had indicated –albeit incorrectly – that a PC was appropriate), the mistake was not the PC being given, it was just indicated by the wrong umpire.

Question 3: Manage situation when a player throws opponents stick away!!

Two players marking up each other closely in circle as attacking move progresses into the area. Unclear exactly what happened in the circle but end result being the defender grabs attackers stick and hurls it some 10m away and over backline.

I am guessing some sort of niggle has happened leading up to this (surely this does not happen for no reason!!). However, I would be interested in your recommendations to an umpire to manage something like this on the basis that they have seen what happened in;

(a) Retaliation for something the attacker has clearly done to antagonise the defender

(b) If the there had been nothing specific from the attacker other than a bit of body on body in the circle


Difficult one here. My opinion on how best to handle this situation having seen someone’s stick go flying:

  1. 1. Having not seen the lead up incident yourself call time and go ask the other umpire if they saw anything in order to arrive at the appropriate penalty (be it a free hit to the defence for the lead up play, or penalising the defending team).
  2. If neither umpire has seen the attacking team infringe (that doesn’t mean they didn’t) you must penalise the defending team, be it a PC if you don’t think the now stick-less player was in a position to receive the ball, or if they were, a penalty stroke (umpires will probably be reluctant to award a stroke having not seen the build-up so a PC will probably be awarded).
  3. The defender must be penalised for this action as it is a personal penalty and a yellow card (I would think minimum of 10 minutes) must be issued regardless of whether the lead up play was seen. It doesn’t matter what happens in the build-up, a player cannot grab another player’s stick let alone throw it away.

Question 4: Sliding Goalkeeper

Sliding goalkeeper decisions can be really hard. Often we see the attacker go flying and no action called. I understand the important factor is intent but once the keeper is committed to the slide there seems to be grey area of possible decisions. With finals around the corner the desperation in the circle goes up a notch and I suspect our umpires will be required to make a decision on this one. Can you describe some examples that would result in either a Penalty Stroke or Penalty Corner please?


Decisions regarding sliding keepers aren’t as daunting as they seem, intent is not really a consideration, they either got it right and pulled off a good save or got it wrong and pay the price. There are 2 possible outcomes:

  1. Play On – when the keeper takes the ball and the player at the same time or the ball first then the player
  2. Penalty Stroke – when the keeper takes the player then the ball .... or just the player.

I can’t see where a PC would be awarded in the situation of a sliding keeper. Just like a player in the midfield, if a keeper chooses to slide they are making a high risk decision with high penalty outcome if they get it wrong.

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