The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced hockey will move from two 35-minute halves to four 15-minute quarters.
The release from the governing body suggests this will be done via tournament regulations and will affect world-level events after the 2014 World Cup and continental-level events from September. Exactly, how, or if, this is to be implemented in domestic hockey (ie. via a change to the Rules of Hockey) is unclear at this stage.
The purpose of the change, according to the FIH, is to improve the flow and intensity of the game and increase the fan experience and opportunity for game presentation and analysis. Other changes include the implementation of 40-second time-outs following both penalty corner awards and the scoring of a goal. Both stoppages ensure that the 60-minute game time is maximized for actual play and not consumed with penalty corner set up or other dead time when the ball is not in play.
FIH president Leandro Negre said: “The decision demonstrates our commitment to fan engagement. With the additional breaks, fans will have the opportunity to enjoy more replays and be more engaged with the event, whether in the stadium or watching from a far, while hockey commentators will be allowed more time to provide sport analysis between plays. In addition, coaches and players will see improvement in their performance with the additional opportunities to re-hydrate and re-strategize.”
Overall game time will move from 70 minutes (previously two 35-minute halves) to a 60-minute game with four 15 minute quarters where there is a time-out for penalty corner setup and goals.
After the first and third quarters, each team will have a two-minute break, while the existing 10-minute half time will remain unchanged. The new regulations will be applied to the upcoming Champions Trophy, World League Round 2, World League Semi-Final and Final, all continental Olympic qualifying events as of 1 September 2014 as well as the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Supplementing the new 60-minute regulation, FIH also announced the implementation of a 40-second time-out when a penalty corner is awarded. Additionally, a 40 second time out will also be added when a goal has been scored. Both time-outs allow for on-field team celebration time, video replays and analysis for televised matches, as well as additional opportunities to engage fans.
The time-outs should ensure that the new 60-minute format is primarily actual playing time and eliminates the dead time associated with penalty corner set up while allowing for teams to enjoy their goal celebrations.