Here's a kind of obstruction that you won't see in outdoor! Today, we take on the tricky concept of trapping obstruction in indoor hockey. How do we keep the ball moving and why, and were they really talking about “outlets of reasonable size” in The Princess Bride? You tell me.
Trying to take in the indoor trapping obstruction rule? Treat with #RuleyTuesday and we’ll trample all your troubles. Let’s do this!
Hey friends! I’m Keely of FHumpires back with a hot take on one hockey rule and keeping on with this month’s indoor theme. Now, I know that you may have completely missed out on an indoor season this year but that’s all the more reason to use this take to refresh or take your knowledge to the next level right now. Today, the tricky concept of trapping obstruction.
Rule 9.19: Players Must Not Trap The Ball
Rule 9.19 reads:
9.19 Players must not trap or hold the ball against the side-boards.
A player in possession of the ball may not be ‘trapped’ either in the corner of the pitch or against the side-boards by opponents with their sticks flat on the floor. Opponents must leave an outlet of reasonable size through which the ball may be played.
Umpires should recognise and interrupt play, with a bully re-start, when the ball is either trapped between players’ sticks or becomes unintentionally trapped against the side-boards. Repeated instances of players trapping or holding the ball against the side-boards should be viewed as an intentional offence and penalised accordingly.
Similarly, players who deliberately aim to trap the ball between theirs and an opponent’s stick should be penalised and not rewarded with a bully.
If you guessed from the rule number that this might be a relatively fresh addition to the indoor pantheon, cookie for you. In 2013, trapping was added in a much more concise form which only asked of umpires to reset the play with a bully when trapped between players’ sticks or unintentionally trapped against the side-boards. In 2015, a second guidance paragraph was added the the effect that deliberate trapping should be penalized as an intentional offence. In 2016, this whirlwind came to a probable temporary pause when they added that sticks must be flat against the floor, “repeated instances of trapping” are what make it deliberate and therefore penalized as intentional, and that the deliberate aim of trapping between sticks should be penalized and NOT rewarded with a bully. 9.19 read the same in 2017 and 2019, so let’s hope we’ve got things sorted for 2022.
Why Is Trapping Obstruction a Foul?
You may be wondering to yourself, self, why the need for this weird rule? If you’re not super familiar with indoor, the whole reason this *can* happen is the inability for players to use 3D skills to get away from flat stick tackles.
Mechanics aside, it doesn’t seem like the usual justification of player safety applies here as, well, nothing is happening at all.
For the FIH, that is a problem. In some areas of the indoor world, this form of stick and ball standoff became common enough that it made what’s usually a super-fast and fun game look rather ugly and boring at times. It then took 3 tries to get the message out that it needed to be called as a foul much more often because solving a standoff with a bully, which in indoor can often lead to just another standoff, might not be the best plan in the world.
A.K.A. Obstruction and Drilling
However, if you view trapping on the side boards as a form of obstruction as I do, you get closer to a safety rationalization. If a player can use the boards to prevent an opponent from accessing the ball like a levelled-up stick block, this can lead to defenders trying to go over the top of the stick in frustration and then you’ve got all kinds of potential danger there.
On the other hand, the same logic doesn’t really apply to the mid-court sumo standoff where two players are pushing against each others sticks with a ball sandwich, unless you consider this a form of mutual drilling and trying to force the ball through an opponent’s stick and potentially pinning thumbs and fingers or risking balls and sticks getting released into faces. But hey, rules committee, you do you.
So really, we have two quite different concepts. One is really a fourth form of obstruction to add to stick, body, and third-party, and the other, a specific kind of danger that is mutual and is averted with a bully. The provisions really should have been separated and then maybe added as sub-clauses or guidance to 9.13 and 9.8, respectively. Like I said, this rule is weird.
Outlets of a Reasonable Size or O.O.R.S.s
So let’s deal with the first part of 9.19, the concept of trapping and, an outlet of reasonable size.
Side note: am I the only one who can only think of R.O.U.S.es, or rodents of an unusual size? Really? Come. On. Well, you will now! Not even sorry.
This is a good example of what an intentionally trapped ball looks like. A defender is dribbling into the left boards and is completely surrounded by 3 opponents and their flat sticks. There is no outlet of a reasonable size, or any size for that matter, in which the ball can be kept moving. A foul is the right call here.
You can see the difference where the umpire is able to both give the players a moment to move the ball, and once it turns over, the dispossessed team gives a reasonably-sized outlet into the backcourt player in possession can take advantage of.
Sometimes, your best efforts to not intervene and give the players a chance to do something productive just don’t work out. Here, the ball isn’t actually trapped against the boards, just in *really* close proximity to them. There are attempts by both players to keep the ball moving but in the end, neither can do anything productive so the umpire ends up calling the bully as this is not intentional by either team.
You can find another scenario where a trapped ball was possible but didn’t need to be called in this #FeatureFriday episode, linked in the description.
Now, for the second variety of trapping, occurring in mid-court between two sticks. The key here is to intervene quickly so as to avoid any danger from actually occurring or tempers to flare between the sumo wrestlers. First, we have a player who intentionally tries to trap the ball against their opponent’s stick. As you can see, this is akin to a “drilling lite” as the ball isn’t pushed with any real force and is from a far smaller distance than 3m, but it is directly into the opponent’s stick rather than playing around them.
Contrast that with this scenario from the same game, where the players again try not to specifically move against each other when contesting this 50/50 ball. The best result here is a fairly quick bully, which is taken correctly on the 3m dotted line outside the circle.
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Chau for now!
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