World hockey has changed the penalty corner rule to make the sport safer, allowing defenders to keep their protective equipment on after the ball goes outside the circle – before removing them at the first opportunity inside the 23m area.
In an update to its rules, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) also changed aspects on the aerial ball.
Under its ‘Removal of Penalty Corner protective equipment’, the FIH said that Rule 4.2 has been tweaked so that defending players can continue to play the ball outside the circle after an interception during the taking of a penalty corner.
FIH sport director Jon Wyatt added that no player using PC protective equipment can play the ball outside the 23m area at any time.
Wyatt said: “This has been introduced to protect athlete safety so that the focus can be on the ball and the play, and not on removing protective equipment during a pressurised defensive situation.”
It was trialled in the FIH Men’s Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar last year and “received unanimous support from coaches, athletes and officials.”
Meanwhile, aerial balls Rule 9.10 has been changed as the previous text, said Wyatt, did not cover for the possibility for players to safely intercept a falling ball, which is now seen as both legitimate and positive to the development of the game.
“This followed extensive discussions before, during and after the Tokyo Olympic Games, during which a more consistent interpretation and understanding of this element of our game was agreed. Aerial Balls will continue to be closely monitored by all stakeholders so that player safety can be maintained.”
The rules came into effect from Jan 1.
Typically, rule changes are not introduced into domestic leagues mid-season although the FIH hoped that “with the simplification of the removal of protective penalty corner equipment rule, this may be adopted immediately in many domestic leagues”.
In the past, governing bodies have waited until the following season to implement any new changes if modifications have been made mid-season.
Full FIH rules of hockey and pdfs here
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