Our local CLFHA indoor competition got underway Sunday, and as per usual, we are all pretty rusty on indoor rules! In particular, a few questions came out of the day of matches regarding free pushes from inside the attacking half, and when can the team play the ball off the boards into the circle legally.
As always, start with the Rules, and 13.2(e) specifically.
13.2 Procedures for taking a free push, centre pass and putting the ball back into play after it has been outside the pitch:
e) from a free push awarded to the attack within the half of the pitch they are attacking, the ball must not be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 3 metres, not necessarily in a single direction, or has been touched by a defending player. The ball may also be played into the circle off the side-boards, providing that it has travelled at least 3 metres before rebounding off them.
If the player taking the free push continues to play the ball (ie no defending player has yet touched it):
– that player may play the ball any number of times, but
– the ball must travel at least 3 metres, not necessarily in a single direction, before
– that player plays the ball into the circle by pushing the ball again.
– after a defending player has touched the ball, it can be played into the circle by any other player including the player who took the free push
At an attacking free push awarded within 3 metres of the circle, the ball cannot be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 3 metres or it has been touched by a defending player or it has travelled at least 3 metres before being rebounded off the side-boards. On this basis, defenders who are inside the circle within 3 metres of the free push are therefore not interfering with play and may also shadow around the inside of the circle a player who takes a self-pass, provided that they do not play or attempt to play the ball or in uence play until it has either travelled at least 3 metres; or alternatively the ball has been touched by a defending player who can legitimately play it; or the ball has travelled at least 3 metres before it rebounded off the side-boards.
Players inside or outside the circle who were 3 metres or more from the point of the free push at its award are not allowed to move to and then remain in a stationary position within 3 metres of the ball as the free push is taken.
Other than as indicated above, any playing of the ball, attempting to play the ball or interference by a defender, or an attacker, who was not originally 3 metres from the ball should be penalised accordingly.
Following a time stoppage after the award of an attacking free push inside the defending half, upon the re-start all players other than the player taking the free push must be at least 3 metres from the ball.
In sum: when taking a free hit in the half that they are attacking the attacking team must ensure that the ball travels at least 3m, or be touched by a defender, before being played into circle; or that the ball must travel 3m before hitting the sideboard and rebounding into the circle.
Q: If a player has a free push within 3m of the boards, can the attacker play the ball off the boards and then self-pass 3m before taking the ball into the circle?
In short, yes. The intent of the rule is not to prohibit use of the boards when the ball is close to the circle. It is to ensure the safety of the defenders in not having to protect themselves from a ball that enters the circle at high speed before they've had a chance to close.
If the attacker wants to use the boards, they could:
- self-pass for 3m and then play it off the boards into the circle; or
- play it off the boards immediately back to themselves, dribble for a full 3m and then enter the circle.
Frankly, #2 seems fairly redundant in that the attacker takes an extra measure that doesn't gain them any ground. However, if an attacker mistakenly played the ball immediately of the boards and realized they needed that 3m self-pass, then so be it.