09/16/14 – Clarification on skills and rules

September 16, 2014 Field Hockey Blog Updates

Suzi Stammer has asked the KHSAA to share the following information with coaches and officials. Information such as this should help the coaches when teaching and the officials when applying the rules and evaluating the skills within field hockey.

There has been some confusion surrounding the skill of air dribbling. It’s understandable because it is a newer skill which can be very effective if done properly and safely.

Here are some guidelines for you to use when a player uses an air dribble. And let me also say that it is not illegal or a foul to dribble the ball in the air.
1. Danger is always our first consideration so consider where the dribble is starting from. If the player is all by herself approaching defenders, does she keep the ball low, or is she dribbling at waist height? If she is keeping the ball low, the onus is on the defender to attempt to tackle it safely. She may not swing her stick wildly at the ball in the air. She may attempt to play the ball safely when it is off of the attacker’s stick. But, if she tackles badly and this leads to the ball popping up dangerously or, she has interfered with the attacker’s stick, the foul is the defenders for her poor tackle causing the foul or dangerous play.
If the player is dribbling the ball at waist height and approaches a defender(s), common sense rules and she must dribble at a lower, safer height.
2. Next, where is she attempting to air dribble? I have seen the technique being most useful when trying to beat a defender one on one in field play but it is also a great way to bring the ball into the circle along the end line.
When it is during field play, the ball must be dribbled safely as above, and the onus is still on the defender to get into position to try and make a safe tackle. If the defender fouls, don’t forget to apply the advantage rule unless of course there is danger involved.
If the attacker is air dribbling into the circle, the ball must remain low because of the number of people in the small space. It can be done. And even though our middle schoolers are getting more skilled all of the time, I would be exceptionally careful when judging this skill in a middle school game. I fully expect there to be some players at the high school level who are adept at this skill.
I hope this gives some clarity to this skill and things to keep in mind when you see it.