Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Hockey’s penalty corner: could we add two penalty stroke spots?

Earlier this week, our columnist laid out the path for potential changes to the penalty corner by hockey’s decision makers. Here, he throws out an idea to keep the entertainment and stemming danger

Limiting the height of the penalty corner shot would certainly go a long way to reducing the danger, but this would probably seriously diminish the scoring rates.

We’ve unsuccessfully tried to stop players running down the line of the shot and, in the women’s game in particular, we even have 2nd and 3rd defenders with facemarks and gloves, setting up with their sticks on the ground, seven yards out on a shooting line inside the post.

Brave and courageous yes, but also mad and bonkers.

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  1. Some really good analysis across both articles and there is a lot I agree with

    I’m not saying a penalty from the top of the D is not workable, but at club level it gives the attacking side a big advantage because it removes entirely the skill needed to inject fast & straight and then stop the ball cleanly. So the attacker gets an unopposed hit/flick at goal every time, that seems too big a reward when the original offence may have done nothing to remove the opportunity to score

    I’m still of the view that it is the height of the ball that causes most of the danger and the solution is to impose the backboard height rule for all short corner goals – hits, flicks, deflections, the lot. The best draggers can flick hard and low and good luck stopping one 6” above the pitch with a stick on the line. The advantage of this is that any incentive to have the ball above shin pad height disappears

    • I am *100%* behind this suggestion of William’s. Requiring the first shot – no matter whether flicked, struck, whatever – to be at no more than backboard height would massively reduce injuries across the board.

  2. when playing friendly matches with beginners, we often propose something that may be similar to your suggestion:
    – all attackers outside of circle (as in PC rules)
    – 4 defenders outside of circle, rest behind mid (as in PC rules)
    – one attacker is allowed to shoot the ball from top of D anyway he likes
    – as soon as the shot starts, all players are allowed in to play on rebound (as in soccer penalty)

    One could even allow for creative combinations by not making a shot mandatory but allowing a pass instead

    This ends up in a good and safe scoring opportunity, and an advantage for attack when a scramble occurs.

  3. The penalty corner is a spectacle that is unique to hockey and should not be lost because the rules have allowed it to become dangerous.

    However, anything that prevents a long stoppage of the game with players donning no end of protective equipment is a bonus as this promotes an image that the game is inherently dangerous.

    The backboard height rule is the perfect way to take away the danger but it must include deflections as well for the first attempt at goal for the same reason.

    Yes, it might result in a reduction of the number of goals scored but forcing teams to become more creative and speeding up the flow of the game while reducing the danger at all levels will only improve the game.

  4. Danger is the key to my mind and it must by eliminated. Regardless of type of strike (hit, drag flick etc) first strike should follow the height rule currently in place of a “hit”.

    If we wish to have the same rules across all levels of the game, forget the international game for now and look at the grass roots game and making that safe with higher levels following suit. Too many rule changes have been due to the international game and many are not appropriate for lower levels (yes I know that will be controversial).

    We are also at the point where time should stop at all levels on the award of a PC while defenders kit up and attackers discuss their options. This season I have seen both use this to run the clock down in close games; it used to be called time wasting and needs to be penalised more (sending the injector off isn’t the answer).

    We also need to find a way to encourage teams to try to score field goals in the D rather than look to create a foul to get a PC awarded.

  5. Why should the attacking team be given such a good goal scoring opportunity for innocuous unintentional infringements in the D?

  6. The current PC method is crazy and will inevitably lead to a horrible life-changing injury, or even worse. Then it will have to change but not before terrible damage is done to our sport’s reputation as an attractive option for parents in choosing a sport for their children. Surely, we can be more responsible and make a change before the worst happens, not after the event. Todd knows hockey as well as anybody in the sport and I like his suggestion. Definitely worth researching and testing.

    Here’s another option to put into the mix.

    The attacking team can only have 3 players in the 22. They can stand where they like outside the circle, but I would assume that they would be the injector and 2 others, probably at the top of the circle. One of the players at the top of the circle is identified to the umpires as the Striker. The Striker is designated to take the initial shot on goal.

    The defending team also have only 3 players inside the 22. The keeper plus two others. The two outfield players have to stand on the backline, but outside the goalposts. There are two imaginary lines running from the two goalposts to the Striker. These two lines along with the goal line form a No-Go Zone. The defenders can run out into the circle but cannot enter into this triangular No-Go Zone until after the initial shot on goal. The defenders are absolutely rigidly policed by the second umpire, who is standing behind the Striker, such that they cannot get their bodies in the way of the Initial Strike. They can’t run down the line of the ball from Striker to the goal. The only defender in this No-Go Zone is the Keeper.

    For their part, the Initial Striker is free to do anything. The ball has to be stopped outside the circle, as today. They may choose to:
    – Stop the ball themselves, push it into the No-Go Zone in the circle and hit at the goal
    – Have the ball stopped by their colleague, push it forwards into the No-Go Zone in the circle and hit at goal
    – Have the ball stopped by their colleague and then drag-flick from within the No-Go Zone

    – Or execute all sorts of variations and trick moves with the other two attacking teammates, or simply dribble straight towards the Keeper within the No-Go Zone before flicking or hitting at goal. If they choose this option, then if the ball is moved more than 2 metres from the Initial Strikers position at the edge of the circle, then any attacker can take the first strike at goal and defenders can move anywhere in the circle to counter these variations, as today.

    Initial experiments might mean that the No-Go Triangle might need to become a No-Go Corridor, with parallel sides about 3-4 metres wide. Same basic principle. No defenders running at the Striker to charge down the first shot.

    You would have to experiment and play with the variables, in such a way that the desired outcome would be to motivate the attacking team to choose to use the specialist Initial Strikers to attempt to score from a drag flick or hit from the top of the circle.

    It would hopefully turn into an initial gladiatorial, one-on-one challenge between the Striker and the Keeper. The intention would be to keep the overall structure and dynamics of the historic PC, with the ball coming out from the backline, defenders running out and the attacking team hitting and flicking shots from the top of the circle at any height and speed, often going into the top corners of the net. This routine is one of the iconic trademarks of our sport. It can be both spectacular and easy to appreciate by the players as well as by spectators who have never seen hockey before. It would be easy to appreciate on TV.

    Spectacular, but safe. The only person in the way is the Keeper, hopefully well padded, anyway dispensable! (Just joking Keepers).

    If the Initial Strike does not produce a goal, then play on as today.

    Banning any shots above knee height does solve most of the safety problems (except for the lethal deflection issue) but it also robs the game of an exciting event, which the PC can be. It is a mini-event within the game, just like rugby’s try conversion, or football’s free kick just outside the penalty box. Would those sports ever changing the essence of those mini-events?

    We have a wonderful sport, but it is poorly marketed and hasn’t yet resonated with the wider public. A bit too complicated and difficult to appreciate on TV. We need to keep and develop our iconic trademark features.

    Joe Middleton

  7. I think this is a good option, but give it for stick tackles and foot deflections of shots on target only. For other feet, if it stops a certain goal or is deliberate it’s a stroke. If it’s innocuous near the baseline then a free hit on the 5 metre dotted line could be given. Give a decent chance of scoring only when the foul is significant.

  8. We created a game at training that would work. A box is created in front of goal from a stick either side of goal posts and up to p spot the” PC box ” the D remains.

    Normal PC rules apply BUT in order to be a PC

    1) The offence must be in PC box and
    2) The ball must have been played by an attacker in the D.

    If neither apply but a PC would have been awarded under current rules the ball is taken a meter from top of D.

    The other idea would be for four specialist defenders all kitted up that come on only to defend short corners but can be interchanged with other team members.

    As others have mentioned ball in all circumstances must hit back board and not cross goal line above
    back board.


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