The Query: If while attempting to hit the ball an attacking player misses but the act of attempting to hit causes a defending player to check his/her stride because of the flailing stick, can there be an argument that the defending player has been disadvantaged and could be awarded a free hit?
The usual response I receive to this question is that only if the flailing stick is deemed to be dangerous. However, it could be viewed that the very fact that the defending player checked his/her run or withdrew from a tackle is proof that they deemed the swing to be dangerous.
Likewise a "dummy hit" where an attacker raises his/her stick as if to hit the ball; a defending player checks his/her run or withdraws from a tackle only to have the attacker retain possession of the ball. I understand that this is bound to happen from time to time but increasingly some players seem to be using it as a tactic.
Ray’s Response: To answer this week’s question, I must use the quotes from the rule book - sorry about this! The way this question is framed, it tells me that the person who asked the question would only be happy with what the rule book has to say and play it by the book.
I am afraid, hockey umping is not that simple. Yes it is true, a player must not swing over the top of the ball (dummy hit) so as to be dangerous or intimidate other players (9.4 FIH Rule book*).
What an umpire must decide is did the action itself cause danger? This can only be done based on the proximity of the oncoming player, not the actions of the oncoming player who will very often try to impress the umpire as to the danger they felt they were in!
To sum up, the only reason a player must not make a (dummy hit) is, if it is dangerous to another player.
* FIH rule book 2010 9.4 - Players must not intimidate or impede another player.