Friday, July 19, 2024

Sam Ward: Why we shouldn’t get rid of penalty corner rule in hockey

There is always going to be some form of a danger element in our sport. We use a hard ball and it is just about managing the dangers.

There’s no doubt that hockey needs to be as safe as possible, but there is a line of ruining the excitement. I am referring to the FIH, who have been reviewing the danger of the penalty corner, and if there could be any potential alternatives.

I think removing the PC or even changing it would open a can of worms.

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Total Hockey



  1. I agree with minimal change, and strongly agree that the defending team should be allowed more time to put on protective gear *if the umpires believe that they are making genuine efforts to do so as quickly as possible. Some gear is thrown off in a hurry and can end up a long way from the goal.

    The attacking team should also be limited to 5 players in the half – same as the defence. This will help cut down on the chaos in the D.

  2. It needs to chage. The game evolved from grass with not very powerful sticks and smaller / lighter players. Ball is now travelling much faster at all levels on quick pitches , s and c and carbon sticks . The shape of the goal should be considered, make it lower and perhaps slightly wider ? 14 feet wide and 4 feet high? Instead of 12 x 7 The goal is the same shape as when GKs didnt wear helmets, ie the shape of the goal was for a different time when the ball wasnt lifted as much and travelled slower by and large.

    • Totally agree about the size of the goal, making it lower and wider would reduce the risk of balls hit towards goal at head hight

      • As long as someone is going to fund the replacement of thousands of hockey goals around the country…. just needs to be added into the equation

  3. Safety is the key. Defenders at PC should not have to run the line and sacrifice their bodies with minimal gear. Donning and doffing slows the game. and will only get worse as new gear adaptations develop (more costly). Making the goals larger is not practical in our cash-deficient sport. Every goal will need to be replaced. Reduce the legal width of goalie pads and gloves to protect with thickness only. Maddie Hinch is as wide as she is tall. Still protected without artificial obstruction of goal-scoring space. Remember narrow cricket pads in the 80’s? Make drag flick same as hit at PC – back board height and only allow deflections (2 touches in circle) permitted above knee height goal shot from PC. Coaches and players will adapt to make goal-scoring percentages increase and a higher scoring game is why hockey rules have changed in the past. Keep players safe!

  4. My suggestion is to link/resolve this with a reduction of penalty corners awarded for minor infringements in the circle which, anywhere else on the field, would probably not be awarded as a free hit.

    Create a two-tier system, the first as is current and the second, making the ball travel to the (now redundant) dotted five metre line before coming back into the circle.

    As an umpire, I find that the “one size fits all” system is patently unfair. Why should I award a free shot at goal when the ball brushes (or is deliberately pushed onto) the defender’s foot several metres away from the goalmouth??

    A two-tier short corner would not only be one way of getting the right balance on that issue but also, as a side benefit, reduce the window of opportunity for injury being considered here.

    I also would welcome the indirect incentive created to have more goals scored in open play. Our game is in danger of becoming dull with the frivolous penalties being too frequently awarded.

  5. My Son plays U15 Tier 1 Hockey and was seriously injured defending a penalty corner in October last year.
    He was wearing a mask and was defending the post.

    The ball hit him flush on the mask, resulting in a deep laceration to the eyelid, fractured socket and bleeding internally.
    Thankfully he is OK and back playing and cites Sam as an inspiration for his speedy recovery.

    I agree that the PC rule should not be amended but at Junior level there needs to be some adjustments, maybe the ball has to be passed twice before a flick at a goal is attempted – at lower levels where skill levels are lower, there is more danger of injury from wayward shots – but as Sam states, it is very rare to see these types of injuries from penalty Corners.

    It should also be mandatory for masks to be worn at all levels when defending corners.

  6. Junior level in particular it should be a rule that it crosses the line at backboard height on a 1st shot regardless of the type of shot. I also believe at junior level reverse stick tomohawks should also not be allowed. Junior boys in particular have plenty of power but not necessarily the accuracy therefore that type of shot in the D in my experience is very dangerous as at least 50% do not end up where they intended. I have had 2 recent injuries where players running in on back post have had serious head injuries from a wayward reverse stick shot.

  7. THE PENALTY CORNER is a fundamental element of Hockey and one of the focal reasons why the scoring rates are where they are. Naturally, S-a-f-e-t-y is an important issue in a sport played with composite sticks – weapons the Police don’t even dream about – and hard balls, removing the PC will not change this, it’s down to the players to be responsible and the umpires to be competent and strong. We don’t want our scoring rates to fall to those of Soccer, which is dismal in terms of goals scored. R-e-t-a-i-n the Penalty Corner!

  8. I love all the responses in the comments section. Taking PCs off will make the game less interesting because with the ball in the D both attacking and defending players are cautious of their play. It is left for the players and umpires to do the needful.

  9. There is considerable pressure on an umpire to award a pc for any infringement in the circle. I was vilified when I applied the play- on rule when a ball rolled on to the toe of a defender from his stick when, unusually, there was no opposition player within playing distance.
    Too expensive to change the goals and not all pitches have a dotted 5-metre line: ours, installed in 2017, does not.
    Every shot, whether hit or flick, having to hit the back board makes sense but will never be introduced owing to international requirements.

  10. In truth the vast majority of the risk comes from the ball being at height, so the obvious improvement to safety is that all PC goals have to be below back-board height, including flicks and deflections

    If we did this, then we could do away with the protective gear – players already have shin pads on. You are not facing shots around the ears


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