The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed six rule changes to Indoor Hockey which will come into effect at the start of 2016, including a return to six players on the pitch.
Whilst that is the most significant rule change, several others will also come into effect on 1 January 2016.
One of these relates to attacking Free Pushes within three metres of the edge of the line. This follows a recommendation from the FIH Athletes Committee who thought that there should be a consistent approach between outdoor and indoor hockey.
As a result, an attacking Free Push awarded within three metres of the circle will now be taken from the point of the offence.
Another rule which will now be officially adopted is the interpretation that was first introduced at the 2015 Indoor World Cup in Leipzig, Germany - the banning of ‘Trapping’ players in the circle or against the side-boards.
This occurred when a player in possession of the ball is ‘trapped’ in either the corner of the pitch or against the side-boards by opponents’ flat sticks. They will have to be left with an outlet for the ball - failure to do so will result in the opponents being penalised.
Compared to previous Indoor World Cups, this resulted in far fewer ‘bullies’ and a more attractive game.
Furthermore, players who deliberately aim to trap the ball between their and an opponent’s stick to gain a ‘bully’ will be similarly penalised.
The number of times a team may substitute a fully kitted goalkeeper off the pitch for either a player with goalkeeping privileges or another field player will be limited to a total of two per match as of 2016.
Compared to the 2015 version of the Rules, this effectively means that substitutions between fully kitted goalkeepers no longer count towards the total number of allowed substitutions
The only other rule change sees the adoption of ‘No extraneous equipment inside the goals’ from the Tournament Regulations into the official Rules. This is aimed at making the goal area cleaner and therefore a lot easier for officials and spectators to see.
Whilst these changes will come into effect from 1 January 2016 for international hockey, National Associations will have discretion to decide the date of implementation at national level.
All of these changes were recommended by the FIH Rules Committee to, and approved by, the FIH Executive Board.
The latest Rules of Indoor Hockey will be uploaded to FIH.ch and available for download within the next few weeks.