Thursday, June 20, 2024

Should we bring offside back to outdoor hockey?

There are grumblings I’ve heard about outdoor hockey being boring to watch because it is being played like team handball when teams are defending. Coaches are seeking a result at every level, whether it is in school leagues, promotion/relegation club hockey, and winner take all tournament hockey. In a lot of games, from the moment the result is at hand (which could be from the opening whistle), all players are instructed to defend well inside their 23m space and just in front of their circle.

Whenever a discussion happens on the subject, the solution offered to the handball defending conundrum is to bring offside back to outdoor hockey, because of the belief that with offside there is space behind the defence that the attacking team can exploit, and so more attacking play will occur.

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Peter D’Cruz is the founder of the Hockey Curriculum for Players & Coaches

Total Hockey


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  1. I cannot imagine why anyone who played with the offside rule and is still playing now, would possibly want it’s return

    Offside added nothing good to the game and with only 2 umpires, getting decisions right anyway was next to impossible. Football has to have 2 officials running the line mainly to police this one daft rule

    Hockey is a far better game without offside. Packed defences are a great opportunity to win short corners, resolving the numbers issue in the attacking team’s favour

  2. Losing the offside rule and adding the self pass are two examples of how hockey has adapted to the changes in pitches and made the game more exciting. It has speeded up general play and taken impossible decisions out of the umpires hands. Football introduced var to deal with poor referees decisions and we can all see how messy that has turned out. Teaching offside to young kids was also hard so I’m more than happy with the rules as they are now.

  3. More goals would be scored if the D was enlarged to the 5 yards dotted line. D would then be 21 yards, this would give attackers more space and due to increased area, D would be less congested, thus more shots at goals.

  4. Is this click bait?! (If so, it worked!)

    Offside was scrapped because people complained that hockey was too boring, so to hear discussions of bringing it back because hockey is boring just makes me laugh.

    The way the game was played with offside was negative and very restricted with play squeezed into about half the pitch. It promoted lazy, physical defending with teams looking to cut out large areas of the pitch.

    Let’s focus on growing the game through innovation and improvement rather than reception and restriction.

  5. No offside has helped significantly to open up the game and make it more spectator-friendly, so no, any talk of reintroducing it should be squashed at birth.
    Odd to see no mention of the rapid growth of aerial passes, at least at international level, which has come about partly through the space available. The skills involved in launching and accepting passes of 50 or 60 metres or more are extraordinary – as demonstrated most spectacularly by Zach Wallace in his phenomenal first-time volley against NZ that’s just won the ‘magic skill’ award.


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