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Uniform Change Highlights 2008-09 Field Hockey Revisions

Date: 2/13/08

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 13, 2008) - A major change in uniforms was one of 18 rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Field Hockey Rules Committee at its January 20-21 meeting in Indianapolis. The rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Effective in 2011, the home team must wear a single solid white uniform top, and the visiting team must wear a single solid black or dark-colored uniform top.

According to the committee, it has become increasingly difficult for officials to differentiate between home and visiting teams because of the similarity of uniforms.

"This new rule should help officials tell the difference," said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of educational services and liaison to the NFHS Field Hockey Rules Committee. "We want to give the officials the best opportunity to make rulings and issue penalties."

Revisions were also made to the uniform design, including the position of the team name, decorative accents and side inserts. The committee chose to delay implementation until 2011 to give schools and manufacturers adequate time to update the uniforms.

"Currently, we are preparing follow-up diagrams, pictures and sketches for manufacturers and coaches to understand," Hopkins said.

Rule 1-7-3d was amended to allow the goalkeeper to move the ball away from her body with a stick, protective equipment or any part of her body while on the ground. The change helps reduce the risk of injury by eliminating the opportunity for attackers to drive the ball into the goalkeeper's body.

Other changes regarding the goalkeeper include Rule 1-7-3e. The phrase "may not propel an aerial ball with her body, hand or stick" was deleted to reinforce the flexibility of the goalkeeper pursuant to Rule 1-7-3d.

To maintain consistency with other playing rules modified for the goalkeeper position, Rule 8-1-1o was changed to include a foul for a "goalkeeper striking and/or kicking in an intimidating manner, playing the ball without the stick in her hand, or placing the ball after a hand stop of an aerial ball."

Other rules changes include:

  • Rule 1-2-4e states that the broken line five yards from each striking circle from end line to end line is now referred to as the "broken line circle."
  • Rule 1-4-3 clarifies that the winner of the pregame coin toss has the choice of the center pass or which goal to attack in the first half. The team that does not win shall have the remaining choice. Both possession and direction will then change at the beginning of the second half.
  • Rule 1-6-4 adds that, effective January 1, 2009, a player's stick shall not exceed a bow of 25 mm, which must be visible and permanently labeled on the stick. It shall also not weigh more than 23 ounces and must pass through a two-inch ring.
  • Rule 6-1-3 notes that any goal scored when an ineligible player is on the field shall not count, and play will restart with a free hit at the center of the field.
  • Rule 6-1-4 was added to state that all goals will stand once the center pass has taken place.
  • Rule 8-1-7b was added and reads "the field player removed by the coach in order for the team to play short during the goalkeeper's five-minute suspension may properly substitute with another field player provided that the team plays short."
  • In Rule 8-1-Penalty7c, an exception was added that states, "A disqualified goalkeeper must be replaced by another goalkeeper. The coach shall decide which field player shall leave the game in order to fulfill the penalty of the offending team playing short. However, a designated field player may properly substitute with another field player provided that the team plays short." Also, the rule was amended to note that the game shall be restarted by awarding the appropriate penalty.
  • Rule 9-2-3 was changed to read that on a free hit, the ball shall be placed on the broken line circle nearest to where the foul occurred.
  • Rule 10-1-11 was added and states: "Do not stop any penalty corner when time expires if insertion has already taken place."
  • A change to Rule 11-2-4 regarding the position of the goalkeeper's feet prior to a penalty stroke, deleted the phrase, "or lose contact with goal line."
  • Rule 12-1-2 Penalty now reads, "The head coach of the offending team shall remove one field player from the game for five minutes of elapsed playing time. The designated field player may properly substitute with another field player provided that the team plays short. The game will restart with a free hit unless a penalty stroke had already been awarded."
  • The signal chart was also amended to add "Pushing."
The committee also adopted five points of emphasis for the upcoming season. The identified topics include raised ball, raised stick, rough and dangerous play, body adornment, good sporting behavior and coaches' professionalism. According to the NFHS 2006-07 High School Athletics Participation Survey, 1,500 schools sponsor a competitive field hockey team with 63,881 girls participating and 405 boys participating.


This press release was written by Jennifer Searcy, a spring semester intern in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department and a junior at Franklin (Indiana) College.

About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and fine arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and fine arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 18,500 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; produces publications for high school coaches, officials and athletic directors; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, spirit coaches, speech and debate coaches and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS Web site at http://www.nfhs.org.

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