The NFHS Field Hockey Rules Committee and the NFHS Board of Directors
believe there are areas of the game of interscholastic field hockey that need to be
addressed and given special attention. These areas of concern are often cyclical,
some areas need more attention than others, and that is why they might appear
in the rules book for consecutive editions. These concerns are identified as
“Points of Emphasis.” For the 2016 high school field hockey season, attention is
being called to: Properly marked protective eyewear, 25-yard free hit, self-pass
and delay of game, rough and dangerous play, good sporting behavior. When a
topic is included in the Points of Emphasis, these topics are important enough to
reinforce and/or they are not being given the proper attention.
PROPERLY MARKED PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR
With the ASTM standards 2713-09, 2713-14 being in place since 2009 and
2014, respectively, the standardization of the performance of protective eyewear
is more important now than ever before. It is incumbent upon the coaches and
players to use the properly marked protective eyewear as it was manufactured.
Combining various protective devices is potentially harmful and immediately
voids any manufacturer’s warranty. By rule, required equipment shall not bemodified and shall be worn as intended by the manufacturer. Manufacturers
spend hundreds of hours researching and testing products before they are
released to the public. They ensure that their products will perform at the highest
level possible if it is worn properly. The NFHS makes a significant investment in
time and resources to identify appropriate equipment for field hockey, for the sole
purpose of minimizing risk. That is why there is a new rule requiring that all
protective eyewear that meets the current ASTM standard be permanently labeled
effective January 1, 2019.
ELIMINATION OF FACEMASK USE AS A PROTECTIVE DEVICE
The masks do not meet any safety standard for ball or stick impact, nor do they
offer any shatter resistance.
25-YARD FREE HIT
The 25-yard free hit is a new rule change previously handled as a long hit. In
an effort to improve the flow of play and standard of the game this rule has been
implemented with emphasis on:
• Any 25-yard hit must follow the rules as outlined for any free hit within the
• It is similar to taking a 16-yard hit, however, the attack has possession and
places the ball on the 25-yard line, in line with where the ball went over the
• All players shall be 5 yards away from the ball when the ball is put into play.
SELF-PASS AND DELAY OF GAME
The self-pass has been incorporated to improve the flow of the game. Delaying the game by any player should be avoided and coaches/officials should reinforce the following:
• Coaches should provide specific instruction regarding the 5-yard rule and how to defend it appropriately without inhibiting the flow of the game.
• Umpires should establish and communicate the 5-yard standard early in the game to support proper play and conduct of the players.
• A defender influencing or interfering with the self-pass before adhering to the
5-yard rule is a delay of game and should be penalized with the appropriate card progression to manage the game.
ROUGH AND DANGEROUS PLAY
Overly aggressive play and lack of regard for everyone’s safety is unacceptable in
the sport of field hockey. In both practice and game play, coaches need to teach the
safe use of the stick and good body control. Rough and dangerous play, such as
deliberately/blindly hitting the ball into players who have been properly instructed
and in good position to play defense, should be addressed by both coaches andOfficials must be able to recognize dangerous play and penalize it appropriately.
Although it is recognized that the possibility of injury is inherent in field hockey, all
participants have the obligation to minimize risk whenever possible.
GOOD SPORTING BEHAVIOR
Officials and coaches need to work together. Each contest is another
opportunity for coaches and officials to teach not only field hockey, but also
model good sporting behavior. The positive values that are learned will serve the
players long after their field hockey experience has concluded. Game situations
typically provide a coach the opportunity to identify a teachable moment to
reinforce good sporting behavior.