TWO GOAL OR NOT TWO GOAL

We can’t think of a more fundamental change to the rules of the game in our lifetimes. And there have been a few. Some have been very successful. Others not so. That changes are made should be of no surprise. But to change the way the game is scored is such a radical move that it deserves far more public discussion and scrutiny from the Hockey world than it is currently receiving.


Two points to make. First up, you can’t blame the FIH for trying. In recent times they seem to have acted very quickly to adjust new rules when deficiencies became apparent. And new rules are the sorts of things that governing bodies do. Secondly, there are two tiers of the game when it comes to rules. There are those who play internationally or at high levels domestically and those that don’t. And while for the most part the rules are the same regardless of which group you fall into, the adjudication of the game can be vastly different. And that is no slight on umpires, but in itself worthy of another editorial.


So now we have seen it in action. Two goals for a converted shot from field play, one goal from a short corner. We have to admit our first instinct upon hearing of this change was not favourable. And we can’t say our opinion is any different now that it’s been tried. And with this being The Reverse Stick it’s no good just saying you don’t like something. So these are the basic issues we are struggling with.


Two paths, same destination. This reminds us of high school maths. Remember being told you didn’t get full marks for some test question because you didn’t use the right method of calculation? That’s the teaching orthodoxy of the day at work. It turns out that teachers don’t really care about answers that much anymore, it’s all about process. Teaching the kids how to do it. Unfortunately educators keep changing there mind about which is the best process. And despite all the talk of method and process none of the answers have changed. Getting goals is the important thing. Teams with good penalty corner batteries will always try and score from them, teams with a gun centre forward will always score more field goals. Why should one be rewarded more than the other.


It basically distorts the game. We have all at some time played in a game where one team totally dominated the other but failed to score, then conceded a goal in the last couple of minutes to lose a game they should very well have won. As players it can be a hard one to swallow. Just as bad to be 1-0 up and concede in the last couple of minutes for a draw. Imagine being 2-0 up with 30 seconds to go and conceding a field goal after dominating the opposition. Or worse still, losing 2-1 on the last play of the game. A draw in such circumstance is bad enough.


And we can see it actually making Hockey less of a spectator experience. Coaches do not coach for the betterment of the game, nor should they. They are there to win. This rule could encourage some teams to play behind the ball and just stifle any scoring opportunities, waiting and hoping to sneak a field goal on the break. Now some may claim that situation exists currently and has done for years. True. But will this rule encourage or discourage this negative defensive mindset?


 If authorities are concerned with the number of goals scored from short corners they could always ban the drag flick. You can’t drag on a penalty stroke, why allow it on a penalty corner? There have been all sorts of changes and tweaks to the rules governing penalty corners over the years. Some to make scoring easier and some to make it harder. We like the drag flick. It is a skill and it is exciting for spectators. But it does beg the question 'If I can lift it at that pace from a flick, why not a hit'. And the reasons you can't take a big wind up and smash it into the roof on a penalty corner are all about injury and personal safety. Those reasons should apply equally to the drag flick considering the speeds now attained by those skilled in the art. (Ed: not us)


We are sure for every con we could list there is someone who can list a pro. Haven’t met one, but we are sure you exist. This is a major change to the way the game is played. It should be thoroughly debated by the Hockey community.

                                                           The Reverse Stick         Thursday 15 June 2017


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