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09/14/15 – Clarification on Obstruction Rule

September 14, 2015 Field Hockey Blog Updates


It has come to our attention that there has been some misunderstanding lately in regards to the obstruction rule, so we wanted to take a moment to review the topic with all coaches and officials.

The following post from the KY Field Hockey Umpires Association that serves as a good refresher for all coaches and officials:

Rule 9.12: –
Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.


  • Players obstruct if they: back into an opponent; physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent; or shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.
  • A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction.
  • A player with the ball is permitted to move off with the ball in any direction except bodily into an opponent, or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.
  • A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them from legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this is third party or shadow obstruction). This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges) when a penalty corner is being taken.

Think of obstruction as an action. For obstruction to occur, both the defender and an attacker must be acting in certain ways.

For the defender:

  • The player must be within playing distance of the ball;
  • The player must be in a position to legitimately make a tackle;
  • The player must be actively trying to make a tackle.

For the attacker:

  • The player must move (either physically or with the stick, into a defender who meets all three criteria above);
  • The player must do so in a way that actually prohibits the defender from making a tackle.

Again, both the defender and the attacker must play a role in order for there to be an obstruction penalty.

Lastly, a note on stationary players:

A stationary player has every right to remain stationary. It is the defender’s responsibility to move to a position in which she may make a legitimate tackle, not the attacker’s to present the ball to the defender. Once the defender moves, then we can observe how the attacker reacts and begin determining if obstruction is actually taking place.

For more helpful information regarding Field Hockey, visit KY Field Hockey Umpires Association


The KHSAA staff routinely publishes blog posts to better communicate with its various constituencies and the public. For a list of those blogs, go to


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