UMPIRES RULE: A growing problem with penalty shootouts">

UMPIRES RULE: A growing problem with penalty shootouts

Go Hockey News respects the hockey rules analyst and blogger Martin Conlon. When reading one of his articles ‘Absurd awarding of a penalty stroke’ the “I am in agreement with you hand went up”. Since the implementation of penalty shootouts we have witnessed improved strategic skills by attackers as they go into combat with goalkeepers to score. Some of these skills now appear to employ deliberate or non-deliberate obstruction tactics which seem to be ‘flying under the radar’ with umpires as attackers try to gain the upper hand against defending goalkeepers. There seems little hope for a goalkeeper to defend when attackers employ obstruction tactics to gain an advantage. The equality in penalty shootouts is being eroded away, not dissimilar to the plight of scrums now in rugby league.

The FIH rules for obstruction states;

Rule 9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball. Players obstruct if they :

– back into an opponent – physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent

– shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.

A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction.

A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.

A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this is third party or shadow obstruction). This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges) when a penalty corner is being taken.

It seems clear to me …’back into an opponent’ …’shield the ball’. Yet we are seeing more and more attackers in penalty shootouts carry a ball to the goalkeeper then turn 180 degrees to shield the ball, do some magic with the ball in which the keeper cannot see only guessing what the attacker is doing or not make a tackle fairly.  Then on occasions the attacker backs into the goalkeeper as depicted below and gets away with it. The question raised  is at what point is there obstruction according to the rules evident?

Martin unpacks an example in his article which brings the whole issue into context.

Extract: The failure to observe or apply the Obstruction Rule has now become standard playing and umpiring practice ( a meme) and the example shown in the first part of second video below does not really merit further comment (Not acceptance but despair. It is impossible to know what umpires are looking for when determining if there has been an Obstruction offence – whatever it is, it is not in the published Obstruction Rule:- see the video immediately below)

Positioning between an opponent and the ball and backing into.


Stick obstruction.

Physical contact, impeding.

The match is between Orange Zwart and Harvestehuder. Both teams were awarded a penalty stroke during the shootout, neither of which should have been given according to Martin]

The action of the attacker above breached all of the criteria for an obstruction offence by a player in possession of the ball, as published in the FIH Rules of Hockey; in addition it was both a physical contact offence and an impeding offence . The attacker simply charged into the goalkeeper while leading the ball with his body and was also guilty of a stick obstruction. I can’t see any offence by the goalkeeper who made a legitimate attempt to play at the ball while it was within his playing reach, but shielded from him.

Let us hope the powers to be will address this issue that has crept into the implementation of penalty shootout in 2018.

Adapted Source:

Martin Conlon.  A former player (Blackheath HC , Slough HC, Hounslow HC, Surbiton HC, Maidenhead HC, and Lusitanians) former umpire (Surrey Umpires Association), former hockey coach (Cuba to Junior World Cup and Pan American Games), retired but still alive and kicking.

One thought on “UMPIRES RULE: A growing problem with penalty shootouts

  1. I totally agree as to what has been said,from a Goalies prospective players shield with body and sticks and block you by standing in front of you with their body facing away from you and hoping you will obstruct then or push into you to make out that you pushed into them and swing away when you are on the ground. Both umpires should be looking for any obstruction on the keeper. I have had player run into me and put me off balance then go around me on the ground.

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