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Vancouver Women's Field Hockey Association: Food for Thought (2021/22)


1. Abuse v Dissent v Rude

Abusive language and behaviour won't be tolerated to any participant in the VWFHA.  Persistent dissent during the match needs to be managed. Passive aggressive and 'jokes' loud enough for others to hear is rudeness.  Making others to feel bad about themselves in a non-direct manner reveals more about that individual and/or team rather than the person(s) being spoken about.  Having witnessed it a few times this weekend simply trying to put someone down without saying it directly is not in the spirit in which we play.  We also need to remember how many young and impressionable athletes we have in our league.  It does become more difficult to get certain games covered because umpires simply don't want to be subjected to abuse or belittling.  The other teams don't find this as an enjoyable environment either.

Umpires = give respect and it will be returned

Teams = show respect and you'll have umpires that want to be there

2. 23m hits and 5m

We need to remember that when there is a 23m hit (Long Corner) that all players need to be 5m EVEN those not inside the 23m area.  However, there is a noticing trend about where players stand when there is 23m in a more central location.  Standing on the dash mark does not make players 5m.  Take a look at the diagram below to help the areas where there are trends of players not actually being 5m then need to be another 1-2m back in order to ensure that the 5m is being managed.  https://youtu.be/tND5xdS39fw

3. Signals and Communication

We need to remember to signal and communicate on decisions to support both the players and spectators.  This is especially important on BIG DECISIONS such as PC upgrades, PS and personal penalties.  We can't expect players, coaches and teams to correct things if we don't communicate what they are penalized on. We as umpires need to signal clearly and vocalize what the infraction was for especially when players have a perplexed look on their face.  Help them out!

4. Uniforms

As the weather gets darker and wetter the contrast in uniforms is becoming even more critical for umpires.  Darks socks on both teams can lead to incorrect calls or a lack of calls.  In my own game this weekend I called a FH to the defence for a foot.  Both teams looked confused, I looked at the foot it hit and realized it was the defender and corrected to a PC. At a quick glance the colours can make it difficult for quick accurate decisions for all umpires.

Teams - please do ensure that the home team changes if they are too similar (same thing with tops - can be bibs)

Umpires - you have the right to request the home to change socks.  If they do not have an alternate please note in the feedback.



Hopefully you're all looking forward to the long weekend.  As an FYI high school leagues and tournaments are in full swing.  If anyone is interested let me know and I'll connect you with corresponding coordinators.

1. Personal Penalties

Does the player come on if the other team has scored? NO! This is NOT Ice Hockey.  A player that has received a personal penalty must remain off even if a team has scored.  The player must all finish serving the suspension even if the quarter or half is completed.  If a player has 30s remaining, that must be carried over to the next quarter.

2. When is a foot a foot?

Not every foot is a foul. Here is the rule and guidance from FIH.

9.11  Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.

  1. It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they gain an advantage or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping the ball in this way.

Take a look here! To PC or Not to PC?

3. 5m Infringements

How do we know when a player is actively trying to engage versus actively trying to avoid?  Take a look at this video from FHUmpires - https://fhumpires.com/5m-on-the-free-hit-how-to-apply-the-rules-of-hockey/

Here's also an example of how the defenders are attempting to back up.  We want to be careful not to penalize a defender attempting to move out of the way to have the attacker dribble right at them. (email VWFHA Umpire Coordinator for link)

4. Danger Zone

Whilst we want to allow dynamic and exciting hockey our main priority is to keep players safe.  Players must maintain control of their sticks and swinging wildly is not safe.

Take a look at the following clip: (email VWFHA Umpire Coordinator for link)

A dangerous play emerges when a defender deflects the ball up in the air and the attacker attempts to pick it with their stick, hitting the fouling player in the forehead. The initial danger was still off the defender but at every level, at the least a strong word with the attacker for the dangerous use of their stick would be a good measure to take.

It can be difficult to give a card to a player on a team to which you’ve just awarded a penalty corner but the recklessness of this action also needs to be addressed. Separating out the team penalty from the personal misconduct which happens afterwards with very clear communication will assist.

4. On Field 'Discussions'

Captains serve a purpose for more than just the coin toss.  They act as liaisons between the team and officials.  They are responsible for both the team, coach and spectator behaviour.  They are vital to communication between all parties.  However, we also don't want to be prescriptive that we don't allow any member of the team to ask questions.  There is a balance.

We should be open and receptive to any player/coach asking a question, but CONSTANT appealing and questioning goes beyond the tolerable. However, it is in the manner in which this is done.  We need to think about the moments in which we appeal.  Is it for that foot in the middle of the field or the bad stick tackle in the circle?  Which is more critical to the game?  

On the other hand, we need to think that if players/coaches are protesting is there something there?  Am I in a position to see it? Am I keeping the game safe? Am I using my colleague?

5. Resources

There are so many great resources out there for rules. Here are some links to rule information.  If you ever find a something you want me to check out let me know!






As we head into our forth week of play for most of us there has been some outstanding displays of hockey at all levels. Let's keep promoting the outstanding cooperation and respect for the game as we head into dreary weather.

1. Respect and Understanding

I wanted to share a short article with everyone written by my friend, David Ellcock in England, who is also an FIH Technical Official.  It really hits the nail on the head for both players, coaches AND umpires.  I strongly urge you all to read.

Players and umpires: Let’s approach post-Covid hockey by respecting all participants

With that being said I do want to remind everyone of our expectations.  Players get the opportunity to have at least one practice a week to work on skills, tactics and team building. Umpires unfortunately, do not have this opportunity. The way forumpires to improve is to be in lots of different games with many different levels of skill. Going to a practice may help with getting a whistle in the hand or increase timing, but it isn't conducive to working with a colleague, positioning or even management. We need to be kind to ourselves, but also to our colleagues whom we work with.

We also need to remember that at certain divisions there is only a minimum requirement.  It won't be guaranteed that a Div 6 game will get Provincials or even a Div 1 game will get a Regional.  We often see these high level clips of umpires and we can't expect our Community level umpires to live up to those expectations. Do we expect every umpire to get every call right...no, but nor do we expect players to trap the ball perfectly every time. However, it is up to all of us to keep the game SAFE. Umpires - manage the danger play with body and sticks.  Players - keep your body and stick in control.  Coaches/Team Reps - help us reinforce the positive image we want our sport to be. Together, we can make the matches enjoyable for EVERYONE.


2. Starting the PC

As we are on running time, we will NOT be blowing our whistles to start the penalty corner.  This is being done at the higher levels where they have a 40s countdown and time is out.  This is the same approach we took in England.  The only time you may need to blow your whistle to restart is in the event of an injury or a card where time has been stopped.  We need to be consistent for the teams.


3. Injuries

Incidents happen in a game.  When you have 22 people running around on a field with essentially a 'weapon' it can lead to injury and thankfully in our league most often unintentionally. However, as umpires we have a duty of care to all participants.

So how to manage injuries...

  • Stop time
  • Be immediate when player is in danger, bleeding or suspected head injury
  • Go QUICKLY to the player and ask if they need attention
  • If bleeding is obvious/head injury/serious wave on trainer, coach or ask for a team member
  • Call 9-1-1, we are not trained professionals nor should we be assessing - let the club and medical people handle it
  • If the player is able to get themselves off the field do not re-start play until they are off the field or in a safe environment - never let a player sit behind the goal
  • Team Reps/Coaches - should there be blood, head injury etc it is recommended that players do not come back on until they have been assessed.  If need be please send them to the hospital.  This is also to help protect you.
  • If there is any blood on the field, player or uniform is needs to be handled.  Players are not permitted to have any visible blood and need to be bandaged and cannot have blood on the uniform.  If there is blood is on the field it ideal to have rubbing alcohol and rag to scrub it away, but this is not always possible.  It needs to be cleaned down in such a matter where it is no longer visible or at a risk to participants.



Thank you to everyone who is providing feedback.  This has been extremely helpful on both sides to ensure we're all on the same page.  Please refer to the website for umpire's names if you aren't sure.  Please remember this confidential and nothing is disclosed to any party. VWFHA Website - Umpire

1. Professionalism

We need to ensure we are at the field 10-15 minutes before the start of the match.  We all understand there can be traffic, but we need to allow extra time to be there on time.  Please also be mindful of your attire - please avoid short-shorts and tank tops.  Team Reps - please do make notes on this in your feedback.

2. Management - The Elevator Strategy

Some of us may have heard of use the 'Escalator' when is comes to management during a match.  This WAS good as it when through the stages of how to progress your management in a game.  BUT the problem this is it only goes one way...up.  

The Elevator Strategy allows you to go up and down in a game and much quicker.  There could be a time where you have to give a yellow card right away in a game.  The old strategy would stipulate you could only issue yellow cards from here on out - this doesn't help the game or the players.  With the Elevator it would allow you to drop back down to using your voice and whistle to manage.

So...what strategies can you use to help you get into the elevator?

  • Verbal communication "Not 5", "Ball on the line" - these are proactive to establish expectations
  • Whistle Tone and Length - this is an extension of your voice.  A longer and harder whistle while signify a moment foreveryone to recognise that action isn't acceptable.
  • Signals - these need to accompany the verbal or whistle communication.  A hard whistle with the hand signal for 5m will help everyone to understand more clearly. Or even a hard whistle for penalty corner upgrade for the hand signal for 5m will help deliver that message.
  • Personal Penalties - these won't be a shock if you have communicated clearly.  When delivering a personal penalty please use your signals to show everyone what the penalty is for.  Should you be issuing a yellow card, signal for the the foul and follow up with " ?" or "??" for clearly show if the card if for 5 or 10 minutes.



Welcome to the first 'Food for Thought' of the 2021/22 season!  The purpose of these is to supplement what was provided in the briefing as well as trends/questions from the weekend past.  This is why the feedback from umpires AND teams is so vital. This has sent to all team reps and umpires to allow for consistency and discussion between everyone.  

Please review the briefing.  There were some comments made about some decisions that were outlined in the briefing especially on pages you needed to sign.  Understanding it's the first week back it's doubly important to review until we get back into the flow.

1. Timings (2-minute breaks)

The time at breaks and half are to be start promptly at the end of the breaks, HOWEVER, play does not begin until all players are back on the pitch.  That means players should not be running back on, ESPECIALLY GOALKEEPERS.  A reminder at 1-minute should be given to prompt teams.  Please blow the whistle to start time.  A second whistle to indicate the start of play.  After a few weeks of play the umpires will become stricter.

Coaches/Team Reps – please note the 2-minute break is NOT intended for coaching and the game should not be delayed for these purposes.  Please note in the briefing that if after a few weeks of play that delay of breaks will result in a green card should aforementioned have been managed by the umpires.

2. Penalty Corners

What happens if you end a Penalty Corner if the ball hasn’t travelled more than 5 metres outside the circle when there is no time left on the clock? 

When is a PC over? When do I award a bully?

13.5        The penalty corner is completed when: 

a.     a goal is scored 

b.     a free hit is awarded to the defending team 

c.      the ball travels more than 5 metres outside the circle 

d.     the ball is played over the back-line and a penalty corner is not awarded 

e.     a defender commits an offence which does not result in another penalty corner 

f.      a penalty stroke is awarded

6.5   A bully takes place to re-start a match when time or play has been

stopped for an injury or forany other reason and no penalty has been awarded 


FIH Rulebook Guidance

In the case of the award of a bully at a Penalty Corner without any

of the conditions of 13.5 a to f not being completed then the Penalty Corner is retaken

Therefore, another Penalty Corner is to be awarded should you end a PC (without 13.5 occuring) with no time left.  If there is time left on the clock, a bully is to be awarded.

3. Signalling end of time

When calling for end of time at the quarters these need to be distinct from the other whistles and hand signals.  This will help eliminate confusion for players as they react to the tones and lengths of our whistles.

Try to avoid...

* A long solid whistle

* Hand signals to stop time like you would on a card

* Yelling 'TIME'

* Blowing softly

* Blowing a sharp quick whistle

Instead try...

* 3 quick medium length whistles

VWFHA COVID-19 Safety Guidance