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Two Rules Changes for Hockey from 1 January 2003.
08 Dec 2002 11:58

The FIH Executive Board has approved two rules changes, proposed by the Hockey Rules Board, at its meetings which took place this week in Perth, Australia.

Formally, these changes are Mandatory Experimental Rules and apply throughout hockey. This means their impact on the game will be closely monitored. They will be introduced for international competitions for one year with effect from 1 January 2003. National hockey associations will have the discretionary powers to decide when to implement the changes in their domestic leagues and competitions.

The first change allows a defender to save a shot at goal which is above shoulder height. At present only goalkeepers are permitted to play the ball with any part of their sticks when it is above shoulder height. This will continue to apply to general play throughout the field but the change means that defenders can use their sticks to stop or deflect a high shot at goal as long as they do so safely. It terms of the sporting challenge of scoring goals in the one instance and saving them in the other, this is much fairer.

The second change means it will no longer be necessary for attackers to stop the ball before taking a shot at goal at a penalty corner. However, the ball will still have to travel outside the circle before a shot can be taken. All other requirements for taking a penalty corner continue to apply.

Peter Cohen, FIH Secretary General, said "this is all part of our aim of making the game easier to understand. The penalty corner change will make the game more enjoyable to play and watch without altering the overall nature of the penalty corner which is unique to hockey."

Former Olympic player, captain, coach and manager of Pakistan and now a member of the Hockey Rules Board, Islahuddin, commented that "allowing defenders to save a high shot is much fairer. I am especially pleased that the penalty corner change will lead to more attacking variations. This will make penalty corners even more interesting and exciting."

These changes are consistent with the objective of the Hockey Rules Board (HRB) specifically and the FIH more generally of simplifying the Rules where appropriate. The HRB is also re-writing them in clearer language. The aim is to introduce a revised set of Rules from 1 January 2004. Thereafter the Rules will be published with an annual implementation date of 1 January to enable everyone involved in the game (including the FIH in relation to its international competitions) to plan to a fixed schedule.

A 2003 set of Rules will not therefore be published in the middle of the coming year. Instead a small supplement will be produced to confirm that the 2002 Rules continue to apply subject both the changes referred to above.

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