How often do you hear someone air an idea, and think that their idea makes a lot of sense? In fact it makes so much sense that it should be adopted.
For a long time the powers that be running the sport of field hockey have been concerned about the dominance penalty corners now have on the game and its outcomes. So vital have they become to a team’s success that if a team does not have a drag-flicker in their midst their chances of victory diminish.
This was in part why the Hockey India League, and recently the European Hockey League adopted the “two goals for a field goal” rule. This rule rewarded goals from open play. It also saw players and coaches become more innovative in the way they approached the game to try and score more field goals. However, the idea still has a number of flaws that need to be ironed out. Namely, that it is confusing to the viewer to have one goal worth two goals and another worth one. If this method of scoring is to be adopted the term “points” needs to be used rather than “goals.” So that the method of scoring is regarded in terms of points.
There is also the situation that sees teams that by the old method of scoring miss out on progressing in a tournament; one team scores two field goals worth two points each, another scores three penalty corners, yet they lose 4-3 as a penalty corner is only worth one. In truth they have won 3-2 and scored more, but end up losing.
The biggest negative to this scoring system is that the scores can blow up to be huge, as Hockey is a far more high-scoring game than football. If a viewer flicks on the television and sees a scoreline of 6-1 they will assume the game is all over. Yet it is in fact only three field goals to one penalty corner, and one field goal to the losing team would see them back in the contest. This needs to be packaged better, and hence if scores were tabulated like Australian Rules Football, and the goals resulted in points, it would be clearer. So it would in this example be Field Goals first, Penalty Corners second, and Penalty Strokes third, so a score could be 2:1:0 – 5pts to 1:2:0 -4pts.
Another complaint that has arisen from the advancement in the drag flickers skills is that virtually every tournament sees a drag flicker finish as top goal scorer.
Then there are many followers of the game who take a very responsible approach in relation to where the drag flick has taken the game. As spectacular as a well-executed drag-flick has become, it is still extremely dangerous. We see players wearing face masks as they look to defend a penalty corner, but as one doctor pointed out, that with these snug fitting masks a ball hitting a player flush in the face is still likely to cause a fracture as the mask will be pushed into the face.
With balls being flicked by the top exponents at around the 120-130kmh mark, players have next to no time to react. Especially when you consider that the top of the circle is only 3.66m from goal.
The rule makers have been trying to find a way to reduce the danger and also restrict the dominance of the drag flickers.
On the hockey podcast “The Reverse Stick” the hosts discussed putting the same restrictions on a flicked penalty corner as a hit penalty corner. In days gone by a fiercely struck penalty corner was deemed dangerous, so as a result all shots could not be higher than the backboard in the goal. Their suggestions is why not put the same restriction on a drag flick? That this too must not rise higher than the hit penalty corner.
This idea has a great deal of merit. It will make penalty corners safer. It will possibly reduce the debate as to whether a ball is too high or not when it strikes the first runner. It will still require the drag flicker to showcase great skill, as they will now have to sweep the ball past a sea of legs into the backboard. The ball will still fly at speed, but no longer are defender’s heads in the line of fire. It may even reduce the dominance of the drag flickers.
On hearing the idea it immediately made sense. Yet will those who are responsible for the rules of the game ever consider such a sensible suggestion? Would they even welcome similar suggestions from fans, coaches and players to make the game safer, more appealing and easier to understand? For a long time a workshop to discuss the rules as a whole has been suggested, but so far no such event has been planned. This idea proves that there could be a great deal of merit in such an event.
No doubt drag flickers may be against such a suggestion, but what does the overall hockey fan think?
Thank you “The Reverse Stick” for putting forward such an idea.