The Query: “When pressing a defender who then chooses to flick the ball clear, when is it considered dangerous enough to be a free in?”
This is a excellent question: If you don’t mind, I will be a little bit like a politician and not answer the question the way it was asked. I will deal with it on the basis of any player flicking (throwing an overhead) the ball; not “pressing a defender”
The main element to consider of any ball off the ground in Hockey, is danger. To me, there are three elements of a “flicked Ball (throwing an overhead)”
– first: the way up,
– second: traveling in the air
– third: the dropping area
In all 3 areas there must not be danger. So let’s look at each one:
1) The way up:
How close is the opposition? I would suggest a minimum of five metres away in the line of the ball as it goes up. The five metres are based on the technique of the player putting the ball into the air. The same five metre rule of thumb is used by the rules in a shot at goal from a penalty corner.
What I mean by technique is: some players throw the ball straight into the air. Some players try to get a lot of distance and it takes a long time to get into the air to a height where is not dangerous.
2) Traveling in the air
This one is a little bit easier to explain. When the ball is traveling in the air, it must be at a safe height so that players can’t be competing for the ball.
3) The dropping area
Now we are in the area of most frustration for players. I have to hold my hand up here on behalf of the Umpires and say the frustration is caused by inconsistency of Umpires.
Let me first say NOBODY has the automatic right to the dropping ball.
The umpire needs to be alert and see early where the ball is going to drop. By doing this, the umpire will see which player was in that area first and be able to make an early decision as who has created the danger. The free should go against the player who arrived second.
I can hear you say, BUT BUT BUT what happens if both players arrive together. If this is the case the Umpire has no choice but to give the free against the team that put the ball into the air. This is a better option than letting the danger happen.
*** The LHUA will host Training Session # 2 for 2009/10. With the new rules bedded in, the LHUA plans to gather our members together for another valuable Q&A session.
The session will be at Grange Road on December 3 at 8pm. It wil be open to non-members and the Association is accepting questions at firstname.lastname@example.org from both members and non-members in advance.