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Field hockey rule change could improve offense

A rule change recently approved by the field hockey rules committee for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) could drastically alter the way games are played this fall, improving the pace of the game and facilitating offense.

Under the new rule, teams can use the self-pass for pretty much all insertion plays -- center passes, 16-yard hits, side-ins, free hits, long hits and all free hits outside of the 25-yard area. That means instead of having to drive the ball to a teammate, a player now has the option of keeping it herself.

The only exception is on penalty corners, which will still require an insertion pass.

"The self-pass will improve the flow of the game and provide another option for schools," said NFHS assistant director Elliot Hopkins in a press release issued on behalf of the rules committee. "It provides teams with some strategic choices."

It's a rule change that drew plenty of praise from area coaches and was also adopted at the college level for the first time this fall. Many thought that its arrival was long overdue.

"It will totally change the pace of the game," said South County Coach Leah Conte. "I think it will definitely create more offense inside of the 25 [-yard area]."

Added St. Stephen's/St. Agnes Coach Marsha Way, "I think it's just another evolution, and I'm glad it's in. It just opens up the game a little bit more."

While everybody expects this to result in more offense -- and longer possessions for the team with the ball -- it also has a practical safety application, too. With free hits that travel too high, causing danger to players' unprotected faces and also a change of possession, this would eliminate them altogether.

"There are so many free hits we’re lifting, I think this could make the game safer," Way said. "[Before the change], you would have some kids really unloading."

A few other things have been tweaked by the rules committee. You can take a look at the release here.

By Jason Mackey  |  February 16, 2010; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  Field Hockey , Northern Region , Northwest Region  
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