Loose Equipment in Field of Play Ruled as Foul in High School Field Hockey Rules

by USA Field Hockey

Content Courtesy of NFHS

A change in high school field hockey rules for 2023 defines loose equipment in the field of play as a foul when the loose equipment affects play.


This revision, which affects four rules in the NFHS Field Hockey Rules Book, is one of six revisions recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Field Hockey Committee at its January 9-11 meeting in Indianapolis. All changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.  


"The committee took an important step in defining loose equipment in the field of play as a foul and clarified that the throwing of equipment is a misconduct penalty,” said Julie Cochran, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Field Hockey Rules Committee. “This change gives clarification for officials on how to handle these different situations during play." 


As an example, in Rule 8-2-1k, throwing any object or piece of equipment at the ball or at another player, umpire or person will be considered unsportsmanlike conduct. A penalty corner shall be awarded when the ball hits any loose defensive player equipment in the circle, and a penalty stroke shall be awarded when the official deems that loose defensive player equipment in the circle stops the ball from entering the goal.


Two new penalties were approved in Rule 8-2-1 regarding suspended and disqualified players.  According to the new guidelines, a suspended player who remains in or re-enters the game before serving the full suspension time shall be removed from the game to serve the remaining time. In addition, a disqualified player who remains in or re-enters the game shall be removed from the game, and the team will play short-handed.


An adjustment to Rule 4-1-3 affects time-outs and the length of the playing period.


“We’re allowing a playing captain to request a time-out from a nearby official in addition to the coach, who already had that opportunity,” said Anna Saccoccio, chair of the NFHS Field Hockey Rules Committee. “If no playing captain is on the field of play, then only the coach may call a time-out.”


In other changes in Rule 1 (The Game, Field, Players, Coach and Equipment), a note was added to Rule 1-8-1h as follows: “Shoes worn under the kickers shall be rubber-soled shoes. Plastic, leather or rubber cleats may be worn.”


Regarding goalkeeper equipment, a note was approved for Rule 1-8-1a which will bring uniform requirements for goalkeepers in line with the player’s uniform number.


Finally, in Rule 1-5-5, players will now be allowed to wear jewelry with their uniform. According to the committee, permitting jewelry aligns with current trends in other rules codes for consistency of officiating and coaching.


A complete listing of the field hockey rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Field Hockey.”


Sixteen NFHS member state associations conduct state championships in field hockey, a sport that includes 55,829 girls participants in 1,767 schools nationwide according to the 2021-22 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey.