in field hockey
Field Hockey, or Hockey, is a team sport in which a team of players attempts to score goals by hitting, pushing or flicking a ball into an opposing team's goal using sticks...
is a person with the authority to make decisions on a hockey field in accordance with the laws of the game. Each match is controlled by two such umpires.
Role and positioning
The role of the umpires is to control the match, apply the rules of hockey, uphold a duty of care to the players (keeping the game safe), be the judges of fair play and keep the flow. Each umpire has the primary responsibility for decisions in one half of the field, and is the only one allowed to award a Penalty Corner
The penalty corner or short corner is a special and important phase in the development of a field hockey match.Also called "PC" or simply "penalty", it is awarded to the offending team when the defending team committed a foul in its circle or a particularly bad foul in its defending quarter...
, Penalty Stroke
in their half of the field or a Free hit
in their Shooting Circle
(see diagram). However, they may consult with their colleague before making these decisions. They must also ensure that the correct amount of time is allowed for the match and record the scoring of goals and issuing of penalty card
A penalty card is used in many sports as a means of warning, reprimanding or penalising a player, coach or team official. Penalty cards are most commonly used by referees or umpires to indicate that a player has committed an offense. The referee will hold the card above his or her head while...
s to players. Similarly to football referees, most decisions are signalled using a whistle (and the use of the whistle is specifically instructed in the Rules), and the use of various hand signals.
Originally their half of the field was taken to coincide with the two halves of the pitch as divided by the halfway line. Now the division is generally taken to run down the diagonal of the pitch, from top left to bottom right in the accompanying pitch diagram. For breaches of the rules bordering the umpires' 'area of control', jurisdiction is generally given to whichever umpire the play is coming towards. When play is in and around their shooting circle, the umpire will generally take up a position in the shooting circle, particularly if play has come from the further side of the pitch, and when play is more in the middle of the pitch will be closer to the right-hand sideline (facing the goal for which they are responsible). Positioning in the shooting circle is critical as correct decisions are necessary here to maintain the control of the match as well as the outcome. Exact positioning will be determined by the need to keep the ball in view, the desire to be reasonably close to the ball and the relative pace of the game. The preferred position of most umpires is behind and to the right of the play as the lead umpire, whilst the other umpire (the trailing umpire) is around 15m behind at a 45 degree angle with the engaged umpire.
The early history of hockey officiating is quite similar to that of football refereeing: decisions could only be made on appeal by the players (compare with cricket
In cricket, an umpire is a person who has the authority to make judgements on the cricket field, according to the Laws of Cricket...
where this is still the case for some decisions); and if no dedicated official was available the team captain could act as an umpire in addition to playing. Over time it has come to be desirable that the umpires should be neutral, although many matches are still played with one umpire from each club involved in the game.