The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has published the Rules of Hockey which come into effect from 1 May 2009. From this date, they will apply to all matches at international level. National Associations have discretion to decide the date of implementation at national level.
A starting date is specified but not an end date. FIH will avoid implementing changes to these Rules before 2011 and perhaps beyond. However, in exceptional circumstances FIH retains the right to make changes which will be notified to National Associations and published on the FIH website: www.worldhockey.org.
One of the objectives of the FIH and therefore of the Hockey Rules Board is to decrease the number and duration of interruptions to the flow of play and to increase the length of time the ball is in active play. With this in mind, the Rule specifying how a free hit is taken has been reviewed. The player taking the free hit may use a “self-pass”. This enables the player taking the free hit to play the ball again after taking the free hit.
In addition, attacking free hits taken inside the 23 metres area have been reviewed in general and in relation to the “self-pass”. The HRB is concerned that the ball is often played hard, indiscriminately and therefore potentially dangerously into the circle from free hits in the attacking 23 metres area. The 2009 Rules specify that these free hits must not be played directly into the circle.
These revised Rules are referred to as Mandatory Experimental Rules. They are mandatory because they must be played throughout hockey; they are experimental to show that they will be reviewed after experience before deciding if they become permanent Rules.
These are the main changes in the Rules. Other small changes to wording and some additional notes provide improved interpretation and explanation of certain Rules.
The Rules are provided here on the FIH website. The rules books are currently being printed and will be available in a few weeks.