FOR DECADES, penalty corners have showcased thrilling motion sequences on a hockey discipline — from the cannonball-like pictures hurled by drag-flickers and “suicide runs” from defenders to dam them to the goalkeepers diving and lunging to maintain the ball out.
But now, the way forward for considered one of hockey’s most integral parts is being reconsidered, no less than in its present avatar. The motive? Rising danger of accidents and a diminishing success charge.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has launched a session venture titled, “Future of the Penalty Corner”, which goals to “balance between safety and the spectacle” of the set-piece.
Although there will likely be no rule change till after the Paris Olympics in 2024, the FIH has advised nationwide federations: “We must consider making changes to the penalty corner rules BEFORE serious or fatal incidents occur and not wait to react until afterward.”
The transfer, relying on the course by which this dialog flows, might have a profound influence on the sport.
Penalty corners are the go-to methodology for scoring targets and drag-flickers usually are celebrated as heroes of their groups. At the final two Olympics, 4 out of the top-five goalscorers had been penalty-corner specialists.
Jon Wyatt, the previous England captain who’s now FIH’s sport and growth director, insisted the aim of their venture is to “start a debate and raise awareness”.
“Personally, I do think there needs to be a change but that change doesn’t have to be removing certain parts of the game,” Wyatt advised The Indian Express. “We will still have something called a penalty corner… we have to have some sort of penalty for a foul in the circle but what that looks like is the discussion.”
The security facet of penalty corners has turn into a debate attributable to drag flicks — when an attacker, in a single movement, collects the ball simply outdoors the ‘D’, drags it into the circle and flicks it in the direction of one of many 4 corners of the aim. The flicks, unleashed from a distance of roughly 14m from the aim, can journey as much as 150kmph.
While goalkeepers put on full protecting gear, the defenders are left weak, particularly the primary participant who rushes straight in the direction of the drag-flicker to dam the angle and people standing close to the aim put up because the final line of defence.
In 2004, whereas taking part in a match in opposition to Pakistan in New Delhi, former India captain Dilip Tirkey practically misplaced imaginative and prescient in his proper eye whereas making an attempt to cease a drag-flick from Pakistani legend Sohail Abbas, arguably the best exponent of the artwork.
Future of the Penalty Corner – Global session venture
We invite you to fill in a brief on-line questionnaire to seize opinions on the present penalty nook guidelines, in addition to concepts for the longer term.
Follow the hyperlink to take part: https://t.co/UpjKoOG4cZ pic.twitter.com/RYnyXBoKwF
— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) May 6, 2022
“I suffered a hairline fracture below my right eye and even today, I experience pain, especially during winters,” Tirkey, who was positioned close to the aim put up, advised this paper.
The defenders are these days allowed to put on protecting gear — gloves, visors, knee pads, and so on — however the FIH mentioned it provides them “an unnatural sense of safety” and places themselves in harmful positions to cease the ball from going into the aim.
In late 2020, the members of FIH’s well being and security committee analysed 295 matches from 11 worldwide tournaments that came about in 2015 and 2016. Their analysis confirmed that penalty corners had been accountable for 13.9 per cent of the general accidents (49 out of 352), and included blows to the top.
Wyatt mentioned that at an elite degree, the place the methods of attackers and defenders are superior, the numbers is likely to be low.
“(But) we are responsible for setting rules for all levels of the game. At the grassroots level, the skills aren’t that high. Maybe that means the ball doesn’t travel as fast but are the defenders wearing the best possible protective equipment? Are they trained and able to react as quickly as possible? Are shooters fully in control of what they do?” Wyatt mentioned.
The sight of gamers strolling wounded on the sector, or them simply carrying all of the protecting gear, “gives the image of hockey being a dangerous sport, detracting from parents wanting their children to start playing”, the FIH famous.
And whilst the protection elements of the penalty corners had been being examined, the conversion charge on the Tokyo Olympics final yr additional pressured them to rethink the foundations.
“The amount of protection that is now allowed for defenders to wear means at Tokyo, most teams were sending two runners directly at the flicker, thus blocking half of the goal while the goalkeeper had to just take care of the other half or maybe two-thirds of the goal,” Wyatt mentioned. “That resulted in fewer goals scored from penalty corners. So, the penalty of giving a penalty corner was reduced.”
From lowering the variety of defenders to proscribing the peak of the drag-flicks to the extent of the backboard, the FIH has obtained plenty of solutions to make the set-piece safer. Wyatt mentioned he hopes to check out new guidelines in leagues and lower-level tournaments subsequent yr earlier than implementing them post-Paris Olympics.
But given how essential penalty corners are to groups and gamers, he’s conscious that any choice the FIH takes will generate extra debate. “We are not going to please everybody,” he mentioned. “But we have to put safety at the heart of the decisions we make.”