Field Hockey Points of Emphasis - 2017

By NFHS on June 16, 2017 field hockey Print

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.” Properly marked protective eyewear, self-pass and delay of game, rough and dangerous play…. 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.

All equipment should be worn appropriately and in line with how the manufacturer intended it to be worn.

Officials and coaches need to work together to provide a positive learning environment for student-athletes to learn both the sport of field hockey and good sporting behavior. The positive values that are learned will serve the players long after their field hockey experience has concluded. Players, coaches and officials should pay special attention to specific points of emphasis as delineated below:


  • Throughout the game, players should demonstrate good sportsmanship. This includes huddling before a penalty corner in a timely fashion and conducting themselves after a goal is scored in a positive, respectful manner.
  • All equipment should be worn appropriately and in line with how the manufacturer intended it to be worn.
  • Goggles must be worn to cover the entire eye as intended.


  • Coaches need to participate in a pregame meeting with captains of both teams and officials and ensure that their players are properly attired and legally equipped.
  • Coaches should remain in their designated areas of the field during play and model positive language and appropriate sportsmanlike behavior with an emphasis on coaching the players and not interfering with official’s responsibilities.


  • Officials should approach the game with a positive attitude and use cards as a means to manage the play and safety of the players.
  • Officials should strictly adhere to the NFHS rules of the game and not use personal interpretations of the rules.

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 and officials. Players need to accept the possibility they could inflict serious injury. Officials 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.

It should be re-emphasized that a penalty stroke is not awarded when a red card is issued to a player for a flagrant foul during a non-scoring opportunity but the player will be suspended from the game and the team plays short. However, when a red card is awarded to a coach, a penalty stroke will be given in addition to the suspension of the coach and the team playing short.

In the spirit of the game, coaches are reminded that when a time-out is taken before a penalty corner, substitutions are not permitted.

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 shadow/defend appropriately without inhibiting the flow of the game.
  • Official(s) should establish and clearly communicate the 5-yard standard early in the game to support proper play and conduct of the players. This often occurs within the first few minutes of the game through the use of their voices, whistle, warnings, and cards.
  • 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 penalty to manage the game.