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Sept. 13, 2015 — A pair of necessary rules changes

Indoor field hockey, when played well, is equal parts magic show, circus, and fire drill.

Part of that fire drill is the interchange area, where the unlimited substitution of players, especially in the wide-open 5-on-5 game that has been the norm the past couple of season, has exposed a loophole in the rules.

What’s been happening in many competitions is that teams have been pulling their goalkeeper on every offensive foray down the pitch and substituting a fifth outfield player. This puts incredible amounts of pressure on a defense because of the open space afforded the offense, but there is also the lack of players on the defense for the counterattack on an open goal. With only four players on defense, it is harder for a team to execute the snowbird pass because of the lack of angles.

Countermeasures in the form of rules changes have been instituted by FIH for the next indoor hockey season. These are rules likely to be adopted for indoor hockey as early as December 2015 here in the U.S.

Six-a-side hockey is back as the new/old normal, and goalie subs for field players (either a sixth attacker or kicking back) are going to be limited to two per team per match. A goalie-for-goalie sub does not count in this scenario.

Credit should go to FIH for putting forth these changes, though I do wonder if there was discussion in the rules committee that foresaw frequent — even routine — goalkeeper subs.

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