Rules of Field Hockey
This page is to help hockey fans understand the rules of hockey. High school and club games are covered by different rules (NFHS for high school and FIH for club). For the most part, these rules are the same but there are differences. On this page, rule changes will be announced, differences between the two sets of rules will be highlighted, and common misconceptions or questions will be discussed. The FIH rules are available for download here. The NFHS rules are available for a fee here. There are also different sets of FIH rules for indoor hockey and hockey 5s. Ih you have a particular questions about the rules of hockey, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Myth: If the ball hits the foot (or any other part of the body), it is always a foul.
The applicable FIH rule is 9.11: Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body. However, it is not always an offense if the ball hits the foot, hand, or body of a field player. The player only commits an offense if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way. It is not an offense if the ball hits the hand holding the stick but would otherwise have hit the stick.
Example: A player receives the ball but it touches her foot. If she does not advance the ball with her foot and there is no opposing player within playing distance of the ball, this may not be a foul.
Myth: The ball must hit the blackboard for a penalty corner goal to count.
The applicable FIH rule is 13.3 l, m, and n:
l. If the first shot at goal is a hit (as opposed to a push, flick, or scoop), the ball must cross the goal-line, or be on a path which would have resulted in it crossing the goal-line, at a height of not more than 460 mm (the height of the backboard) [18 inches] before any deflection, for a goal to be scored.The requirements of this rule apply even if the ball touches the stick or body of a defender before the first shot at goal.
m. for second and subsequent hits at the goal and for flicks, deflections, and scoops, it is permitted to raise the ball to any height but this must not be dangerous
n. the penalty corner rules no longer apply if the ball travels more than 5 meters [dotted line] from the circle.
Part l of this rule means that if the first shot on goal during a penalty corner is on a path to cross the goal mouth higher than 18 in, it must be penalized. Even if it hits a defender and subsequently enters the goal mouth below 18 inches, it must be penalized. The initial trajectory is what is the deciding factor. There is no requirement that it must hit the backboard. This rule does not apply if the first shot on goal is not a hit.
Part m of this rule means that any subsequent shot is not required to be below 18 inches when crossing the goal mouth. However, if the ball is raised, it cannot cause danger. This means that it cannot hit a defender, who is playing the ball, above the knee. If the defender is making no attempt to play the ball with their stick, the defender is penalized for dangerous play with another penalty corner.
Part n of this rule means that if the ball travels farther than 5 meters outside the circle (even on the initial insertion), these rules do not apply. If the subsequent first shot on goal is a hit, it does not have to enter the goal mouth at less than 18 in.
The applicable FIH rule is 2.2:
a it is not necessary for every offense to be penalized when no benefit is gained by the offender; unnecessary interruptions to the flow of the match cause undue delay and irritation
b. when the rules have been broken, an umpire must apply advantage if this is the most severe penalty
c. possession of the ball does not automatically mean there is an advantage; for advantage to apply, the player/team with the ball must be able to develop their play
d. having decided to play advantage, a second opportunity must not be given by reverting to the original penalty
An umpire may signal for advantage if there is an advantage to the team that has been fouled by holding the whistle. If there is no advantage to the team that has been fouled, the umpire should go ahead and whistle for the foul. If the umpire has held the whistle for an advantage and the fouled team has a chance to make a play but nothing comes of it, the umpire cannot go back and award the initial penalty. However, if the player does not maintain any advantage, the initial call may be made. Umpires indicate advantage by extending an arm in the direction in which free hit would occur if called.