Slipping up on slide tackles and deflections? Get a grip with the help of a well-grounded #RuleyTuesday. Let’s do this.
Hey friends! I’m Keely Dunn of FHumpires, you’re part of the #thirdteam and we’re together again for another a hot take on one rule in the book.
We’re heading down the slippery slope of sliding tackles and sliding non-tackles, prompted by this DM from one Simon Jackson where he asked when to call off a goal scored from a sliding deflection, and this desperate plea for help from Hockey World News editor Jade Bloomfield:[See video]
Let’s dive head-first into the rules:
Rule 9.13 – Body Contact When Tackling
9.13 sets out that:
Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact.
Reckless play, such as sliding tackles and other overly physical challenges by field players, which take an opponent to ground and which have the potential to cause injury should attract appropriate match and personal penalties.
Location associations often have briefings like this one from England Hockey, which expands on the guidance that the FIH has been providing for the last several years. It reads:
Going to ground is not in itself an offence; however, the creation of danger is, as are interference or obstruction. So there is no offence if a tackler takes the ball cleanly and the opponent does not need to take evasive action. If the must take legitimate evasive action, that is to be treated as dangerous play, even if the tackler takes the ball cleanly… When a deliberate slide takes the tackler into contact with an opponent, then the personal penalty is likely to be a 10min yellow.
Please note this guidance is not an absolute: circumstances may vary according to the state and level of the match. In particular, this applies to slides that are deliberate, and not genuine slips by the tackler.
Finally, the latest iteration of the FIH Umpires’ Briefing has this concise slide on 10min Yellow Card Offences:
Physical fouls – dangerous tackles that ground or trip players including sliding tackles by both attackers and defenders.
I think the principles here, at least on sliding *tackles*, are achingly clear. I wrote about them at length even in the Hockey World News almost 3 years ago under “Why Lucky Isn’t Safe” – you can go to fhumpires.com/HWNslides for more, it’s a super good read if I do say so myself.
Let’s deal with Jade’s scenario: what if the ball is taken cleanly and ball carrier is taken to ground after the tackle is made?
If the tackler causes body contact before the tackle, simultaneously with the tackle, or after the tackle, we in hockey still consider that illegal. This isn’t football.
Why can’t we just apply football principles? Because in hockey, field players are not permitted to play the ball with their body. They’re not expected to go to ground to make legal defensive actions using parts of their body as they are in football.
Then, there’s that thing where the ball carrier is literally dribbling the ball with their body. A fair tackle could well have some body contact involved because of that.
Neither of those things are true in hockey.
Incidentally, this is also why sliding goalkeepers are treated differently than sliding field players: expectations arising from legal conduct.
So although it’s absolutely legal for a player to play the ball while on the ground in outdoor hockey, they are taking the risk that by being on the ground they will use their body to play the ball, illegally, or can’t stop from contacting the ball carrier’s body, these are interpreted as intentional actions and penalized as such.
Let’s have a look at Simon Jackson’s question, which is a lot stickier. We’re now clear on tackles, but what about actions which aren’t made against a player in possession of the ball?
The factors which make a ball carrier so vulnerable may or may not be present, or present to the same degree, in an attacking play like this. The defender could be able to see the attacker coming and although the attacker is still responsible for their body and can’t go to ground recklessly, a defender can also move into a position that the attacker can’t expect that creates danger for themselves.
When the sliding player is going away from their opponent, but the opponent then runs into them, do we apply the same flat penalty? This is one of those “circumstances may vary” situations.
To be clear: if the defender can’t avoid the contact, it’s still on the attacker to be in control because they are taking the risk in going to ground. But if the defender puts themselves in a worse position through their movement an attacker can’t anticipate, the penalty may vary or there may be no penalty at all.
Back to our friend Simon: if that slide was dangerous enough to cause legitimate evasive action by the defender and as a result of that slide a goal is scored, the correct decision is to award a free hit defence and give the appropriate card to the attacker, depending on the circumstance, because but for the dangerous slide, the ball would not have gone in the net—just like the sliding defender who doesn’t make the tackle on the ball but for taking out the attacker on the slide a second or two later.
Can you stick to your call now you’ve reviewed this #RuleyTuesday? Get a grip and hit the like button now, then slide into the comments and replies below. Maybe even tag a slide-happy tackler on your team who could use a gentle nudge! If you think this was good value, go to fhu3t.com and join the FHumpires Third Team. Starting at just $3 a month, you can support our work and get access to more great material that’ll make YOU a better umpire. See you there, and chau for now!
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