Field hockey is a safe sport when players follow basic guidelines on the field to protect themselves andothers.Derek Pappas copyright 2012The injuries are categorized into several different areas: 1. Hitting 1. Stick hits the head 2. Stick hits the body 3. Ball hits the head 4. Ball hits the body 2. Collisions 1. Sliding tackles 2. Blind side collisions 3. Two players run into each other 3. Blocking a runner with the ball 1. Stepping into the path of the runner to block them 4. Deflections 5. Dribbling 1. Sliding the stick up the other players stick to hit their hands 2. Hitting the other player in the body or head while running by 6. Short corner drag flicks 1. Runner is hit with the ball 2. Post person is hit with the ball1. Hitting injuries with a stickShiv Jagday, the former Canadian mens team coach, has written about the danger zone of a hit.http://www.fieldhockey.org/Articles/Coaching/Tackling-ShivJagday_files/Tackling-ShivJagday.htmshiv shows where it is safe and not safe when tackling from the left. Since the time the article waswritten the reverse stick hit has been developed. The same principles apply to tackling from the right.There are areas where you do not want to find yourself in when you are defending next to a playerhitting the ball. The player hitting the ball has a very serious responsibility to NOT follow throughwhen the defender is in the follow through path of the swing. It is not necessary to follow through on ahit to generate sufficient power in most cases to achieve the desired result (i.e. transfer the ball or shooton goal). With the advent of the reverse stick hit there are now two danger zones that defenders shouldnot enter and that the hitter of the ball should not follow through in, when the defender is in the followthrough path of the hit. Extension of the arms down and through the shot is sufficient to guarantee acorrect result when hitting the ball. Placement or direction of the shot is more important more oftenthan not when hitting the ball. Releasing down and through the ball with straight arms is the correcttechnique to use to guarantee the correct direction of the ball. The follow through often causes theplayer to lose direction control of the stick during impact since they are not focused on the directionand rather are focused on the power. This is a mistake. Power is generated from the correct techniqueapplied during the hit. The follow through is a natural result of the correct technique during the hit.The defender when defending a hit should either be next to the left shoulder of the hitter or a sufficientdistance away from the hit so that they can stop the ball or slow it down without deflecting it up in theair. The defender should not be one to two yards away on the left or right hand side of the hitter norshould they run into the path of the stick during the back swing or the follow through. The defender
should be next to the left shoulder of the hitter. The defender should have their right hand off of theirstick. The right hand should be ready to grab the hitters stick, on the follow through, half way up thestick next to the grip to prevent the stick from hitting the defender. Do not grab the end of the stick. It istraveling too fast and has too much mass. You will get hurt. The second reason that the defender shouldbe next to the player is that they cant hit you with the ball if you are next to them. The defender canpoke check the ball away when the hitter raises their stick. Be careful when defending hits next to thehitter.The USA/ARGimage above shows a very dangerous position for the ARG player to enter. If the USA had differentfootwork and a strong hit the ARG player probably would have been taken off of the field in a stretcher.They may accidentally or on purpose put the stick near your face. There are some players who arecoached to hit other players. They will try to hit you in the face, arms, or legs. In order to prevent thisyou must be next to their left shoulder and have your right hand ready to grab the stick on the followthrough or you need to stay out of the danger zone. Umpires should be aware of this self defensetechnique. the defender should only be on the shoulder of the player hitting the ball if thedefender can poke the ball away before the hitter can hit it. If the ball is poked away the hitter of theball should not continue their swing. The umpire in this case should card the hitter of the ball, since thehitter is either out of control or is deliberately trying to hit the defender. In the case of a reverse stickshot be extremely careful when defending the ball on the follow through side.
2. Hitting injuries with a ballThere are several possible ways for an injury to occur involving a ball that is hit. 1. A player can undercut the ball into another player. 2. A player can deflect a hit up into the body or head of another player or themselvesThese injuries are either by accident due to bad skills fundamentals to due to a deliberate cynical act onthe part of a player.3. Collisions 1. Blocking a runner with the ball
2. Stepping into the path of the runner to block them4. Deflections5. Dribbling 1. Sliding the stick up the other players stick to hit their hands 2. Hitting the other player in the body or head while running by6. Short corner drag flicks 1. Runner is hit with the ball 2. Post person is hit with the ballThere were many serious injuries at the 2012 Olympics.The first serious injury occurred when Kate Walsh entered the danger zone of a Japanese players hit.Walsh raised her right hand too late to stop the stick. Her right arm should have been further away fromher face. Also note where she is in relation to the hitters stick. She is in the most dangerous position atthe end of the stick. If she was closer to the player she would not get hit. A long extended followthrough, like the one used by the Japanese player is not necessary for a correct hit. In fact her followthrough could have been controlled and a serious injury could have been avoided.
The second serious injury occurred when a Pakistani player unnecessarily slid into a Spanish playerwho was facing away from the goal while receiving the ball. The Spanish player had their left armstraight and stopped the ball when the Pakistani player slid into the Spanish players arm. The impactresulted in a fracture. Another Spanish player should have warned the receiver of the ball that they wereabout to be blind sided by the dangerous slide tackle by the Pakistani player. Slide tackles of that typecan result in very serious knee injuries. A broken arm is a freak accident. When receiving the ball beaware of who is behind you. Your team mates should be monitoring what the defenders are doing andwarn you if you are about to be "run over" or blind sided by a defender. Take a look before you receivethe ball to know who is around you. Your team mates should not make what are known as "suicide"passes where as you receive the ball the other team has the opportunity to take you out as you receivethe ball.The third serious injury occurred when a Belgian player lifted a hit into the circle and Florian Fuchstried to stop a hard hit with a reverse stick while facing the shot instead of being turned sideways.The unwritten rule of hockey is for hard shots into the circle you stop everything with your front sticksand with the stick angled down. Fuchs stick was angled up and because the hit was lifted and Fuchsstick was angled up the ball deflected up and into Boons head. Boon was taken off of the field on astretcher and later returned. This could have been prevented if the Belgium player who hit the ball usedthe proper technique and glued the ball to the ground and Fuchs did not attempt to stop a hard shot witha difficult reverse stick stop across his body. Delme of Holland glued the ball to the ground whenhitting hard into the circle. Head injuries are a very serious matter and lifted balls into the circle orduring short corners require execution of skills and awareness on the part of all players involved in theplay. You must be prepared to deflect the ball with your hand in the event of a lifted hit in order toprotect your head. Tracking the ball off of the hitters stick and off of potential stoppers sticks requiressplit second thinking. A player recently died in Australia after being hit in the head. A Canadian playerwas hit by a lifted short corner in the 1988 Olympics and suffered from serious issues for the next tenyears. Pay attention in the circle when someone is hitting the ball. If you are attempting to stop the ballANGLE THE STICK DOWN to prevent any upwards deflections.The fourth serious injury occurred when an Indian player shot at goal and a KOR defender approachedfrom the back left and ran into the IND players follow through. The KOR player was too far away andwas hit in the head with the bottom edge of the stick above the hook. The KOR player did not try tostop the stick with their hand. The player was taken off of the field with a head injury.The fifth serious injury occurred in the womens NED vs NZ semi final when Gwynn dived in frombehind a Dutch player and was hit in the top of the head on the downswing. This resulted in a lot ofstitches.The sixth serious injury occurred in the mens NED vs GB semi final. Corner ace Mink van derWeerden was hit on the foot by a Matt Daly hit and left the game. Daly raised the ball.The seventh serious injury occurred in the mens NED vs GB semi final. Klass Vermulen has a brokencollarbone from a collision with Glenn Kirkham and missed the gold medal game.
The eighth serious injury occurred in the womens NED vs ARG final. A NED players follow throughhit the face of an ARG defender in the gold medal game. The ARG player required stitches.Some additional less serious injuries that are notable.IND left wing has the ball and hits full out into a KOR defender from 3 yards away. The KOR playerleft the field.The same IND left wing has the ball and hits full out into another KOR defender from 3 yards away.The KOR player left the field.Each time the IND player adjusted the direction of the ball to hit the KOR player.There were other potentially serious incidents such as when a Chinese player hit an under cut a ballwith a GB player (Panter) in front of her. Panter was hit in the face and taken off of the field.There is a common notion that there is a "wrong side" in hockey that the defender should not enter. The"wrong side" is the back swing area of the hit. The player swinging the stick back should not do so ifthere is a player in the back swing. And defenders should not run into the back swing of the playerhitting the ball. In another tournament Korean player recently attempted to defend a shot on goal by aNew Zealand player by running into the back swing of the player while poke checking the ball away.The Korean player was hit in the head.Advanced players will recognize prior to impact the hitters grip, stance, relationship of the ball to thefeet and the angle of attack of the stick. This information is used to predict where the ball is going togo. It is simply not possible to react to a hit from a short distance away without some priordetermination about the possible direction of the ball based on the above information. Knowing priorto impact where the ball is going to go allows the player to prepare for the direction of travel andspeed/spin of the ball and increases the odds that they will trap the ball cleanly and will not deflect it.There is a trick that some players have learned where on the follow through they rotate the stick 90degrees so that the edge of the stick strikes the defender. This can result in catastrophic injuries andmust be dealt with severely by the umpires and hockey administrators. Your shin guards will not protectyou if you are hit by the edge of the stick in the lower leg. In California a few years ago this happenedand the shin guard was shattered and the players leg was broken in several places.When running on the left side next to a player who is about to hit the ball you must either be shoulderto should with the player, ready to poke the ball away when they lift their stick or you must be out ofthe follow through range of their stick. Malicious players will use this situation to hit you in the leg.This can result in catastrophic injury if you are hit on the follow through.Players who have the ball and have a defender running at them from the left can setup the defender tobe severely hurt by pulling the ball to the right and hitting the ball just before the defender arrives topoke check the ball away. Defenders should not rush into a player from the left if the offensive playercan pull the ball to the right and hit it. Umpires must be aware of this situation on the field.Other injuries occur when a player is dribbling the ball and the defender has their stick out in front ofthem. The offensive player can move the ball along the defenders stick and slide their stick up the
defenders stick and hit the defenders fingers/hand. The offensive player can push the ball past thedefender and then tap the defender on the knee or leg. Defensive players when beaten can hit theoffensive players hands, knees/legs, and feet as the offensive players runs past the defensive player. Theoffensive player can push the ball past the defender and then raise their stick into the offensive player.A particularly insidious foul is the cross check into the lower back of the player being marked. Bothplayers are facing the ball and the defender is behind the offensive player. The defender then crosschecks the offensive player in the lower back with their stick. This is a very dangerous foul because ofthe type of injuries that can occur to the lower back from the cross check.Additional fouls include deliberately undercutting the ball into and opponent.Another type of foul that is common in some parts of the world is raising the stick into the hands/faceof the defender that is closing down the runner with the ball from the runners right side. This isconsidered the “wrong side” in some countries and they think that they can hit you. Use your right handto protect your face if they try to raise the stick up into your face when you close them down from theright side.There are different kinds of body and hip checks being used on the field. These are professional foulsusually but can cause severe injuries if the player goes down or is hit in the head by a shoulder. Playersare seen dropping down on there knees when a player tries to go by them, appearing to be innocent ofany foul, but in reality they are undercutting the opponents knees out from under them. The offensiveplayer is expecting to run into a should or hip and the defender drops under the offensive playerscenterof gravity and the player goes down hard. This type of body tackle is not allowed in the NFL and forgood reason. Paul Amat of Spain was taken out this way and suffered a dislocated shoulder in a game atthe 2012 Olympics against Australia when he running baseline from the left side towards the goal.Other types of fouls include running up behind a player and tapping them in the back of their head withthe stick. This was done in the Vancouver league by a veteran player (who had been banned from theleague for life twice) to a junior junior player.From an umpires perspective (Kevin Parker): It is the responsibility of the PLAYERS to not getinto a position where they place themselves in danger. It is also the responsibility of thePLAYERS to not play dangerously. Viz:9.2 Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a dangerous way. Players must notlift their stick over the heads of other players.9.3 Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other players or their sticks or clothing.9.4 Players must not intimidate or impede another player.9.5 Players must not play the ball with the back of the stick.9.6 Players must not hit the ball hard on the forehand with the edge of the stick.and9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play. A ball isconsidered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.and9.13 Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact.Good, proactive umpiring will address these issues early and harshly in the game to set the tone.Players who behave in a dangerous manner (to others or to themselves) will be punished withpenalties for the offenses above and with personal penalties. The umpires responsibility is first
and foremost the safety of the players.A good principle to follow is that the punishment is in inverse proportion to the probability ofsuccess of the action. A sliding tackle, low probability of success, highly dangerous, severepersonal punishment including, possibly, immediate red card. "Face to face" tackle with sticksdown and the ball in clear view of both players, high probability of success, very low danger,minor punishment of a hit and no personal penalty.Note that a player who deliberately places themselves in danger inside the 23m area, in otherwords a deliberate foul inside the 23m area, will have a penalty corner awarded against themand, possibly, a card.In a hit it is common for the self-pass now to include the pass and the immediate lofting of theball. Because of the two actions required defenders are rushing within the 5m distance when theball is raised. This too is dangerous by the defender. New rules for 2013 will allow the self-pass toinclude the immediate raising of the ball on a hit so that the defender is still 5m away.It is the responsibility of the umpires to stop play on the field when they see that a dangerous play isabout to occur. One example is a player running into a hit. Or a player raising their stick to hit the ballwhen a player is directly in their back swing and will be hit. This requires a sophisticated level ofunderstanding on the part of the umpire. Experienced umpires can identify dangerous and potentiallymalicious play prior to the actual event and have a responsibility to do so. The players have aresponsibility to play safe hockey. Furthermore, players should be aware of potentially malicious playon the part of their opponents. Hockey is a safe game but like any sport has people who do unsafethings on the field. “Play tough hockey not rough hockey”, Shiv Jagday, former coach of Canada andthe USA. Have fun and be safe.Note:The images used in this document are copyrighted by others. It is hoped that they understand that this isan educational document that is designed to prevent serious injuries and will not have an issue with theuse of the images for educational purposes.