Shots outside the D

For a shot to be a goal it needs to be scored within the D. If a shot is taken from outside the D and no-one touches it within the D, then it won’t count as a goal. By leaving it, you will give your team a 16 and the chance to restart play to their advantage.

When a shot is taken outside the D and it is not touched by anyone within the D, then your team will get to restart play with a 16 (free hit from the 25). For example, a failed pass that has gone through your defence with no-one on the opposition to get on the end of it, or if and your defence has chosen to leave it (so that it can go off the pitch for a free hit). Instead of kicking it away, straight back into play, you can essentially ‘leave it’ to give your team a sixteen; the rules of the game mean that your team will restart the play after the ball has gone off the pitch.

Ball into the D untouched

Instead of stopping balls that make there way through the D without an opposition player touching the ball, you can leave it for a 16. The rules state that if an opposition player does not touch the ball inside the D, there is no connection, meaning that your team gets a free hit. Shots outside the D don’t count as goals. It is therefore a good idea to take advantage of this, to give you team control of the play; restarting play from a free hit. Learning to leave the ball in this way will benefit your team by giving them the chance to start breakouts, instead of giving the other team a chance to score from your mistakes.

Letting the ball past you

If a shot taken outside the D is untouched and does not get redirected within the D, then, your team will be able to restart the play from the sixteen. A sixteen will be given, so you can let the ball hit the backboard, with your team gaining a free hit. Therefore, if a shot is taken and there are no opposition players within the D with a chance of touching the ball, you can happily leave it and let it go off the pitch.

Remember: any shots outside the D aren’t goals, so leave it for a 16!

Tracking the ball

You need to track the ball all the way through until it is off the pitch; just like you watch and follow a shot into the save. In case you are not paying full attention and another player moves into the D when you weren’t looking, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the ball to make sure nothing goes wrong. Watch the ball’s path; tracking the ball to see if any other opposition player gets on the end of it, just in case, and also to ensure that it goes safely off the pitch without getting touched. Afterwards, go and collect the ball to give to your defender to restart the play from the sixteen.

Moving out the way

In order to successfully play the situation to make sure the ball goes off for a sixteen, you need to move out of its way. As you get more experienced and improve your technique, you can soon pick up the ability to ‘dummy’ any players by pretending to kick it; stepping out to “meet” the ball, before dodging its path, before letting it roll off the pitch, or into goal, without touching it. This way you fool the player and make sure it goes off at the same time.

  • Move out the way: simply step or shuffle out of the ball’s path, which gives you the further option of being able to watch and track where it ends up
  • Lift the appropriate leg up and out of the way;
  • Jump out the way; jumping up and over the ball as


  • Make sure you move out of the ball’s way
  • If you do touch the ball, accidentally, then you need to kick it away, as the sixteen will no longer count because you (a player) have touched it.

Turning round

There is always a danger that the ball could hit the post and go back into play. By turning round, you can check that the ball does not hit the post and ‘stays safe’; ending up hitting the backboard. If it did hit the post, then you can easily get behind the ball to kick it away from danger, so that an attacking player can’t get to it. Act instantly and rush to get behind the ball (to block if needs be), or kick it away as far as possible to a safe area.

Rule of thumb

    • If in doubt, kick it out!

Tips and deflections

There is still often the chance of a player running into the D and getting on the end of the pass to redirect it. If they get a touch on the ball, even the slimmest, and it goes past you, then it will still count as a goal. If you are worried about a goal being scored and can’t tell if , then you can follow the maxim of “kicking it out if in doubt”. If a deflection does occur then make sure you close off holes in your stance (i.e. bringing your legs together and bringing your gloves in to help cover) to block the ball.

9 thoughts on “Shots outside the D”

  1. Good article, Grim. Nothing to ad directly to this except to say that recent feedback from the FIH rules meetings indicate that the “own goal” may be coming down the pike. Meaning that even if an offender doesn’t touch the ball, if a defender or goalie touches it within the D, it’s a goal. This is NOT a new rule or even an experimental rule yet, but it sounds like it may be coming in the next few years.

    Still doesn’t change the fundamentals of the “let” ball, but it makes your attention and communication with your defence all the more important.

  2. Also do not trust the umps to see everything, so unless it’s very clear that the ball hasn’t been touched: kick the ball away.

    @Whitr: This is already in use at the EHL and the first “own goal” has already been scored.

  3. @ Folmer, Yeah, I know. With the EHL rules being a testing ground for new FIH rules, and the recent conversations within rules interpretation meetings, look to see the “own goal” as well as the implementation of the 1-on-1 finish to playoff games. I, for one, am really excited about that change.

    @ Gerald, I suspect that as long as they don’t bring back offsides, I doubt they’ll get rid of the D.

  4. Love the article, I had about six shots outside the D in three matches the other week, one on a short where the player just stared at it for five seconds, then decided to wack it form outside the D! Didn’t half give the team heart attacks when I raised my foot. whitr’s comment confused me a bit, I’ve had own goals and 1-on-1 for the last five years at club and school, unless you guys are talking about another country, or I’m just confusing it. I’d like 1-on-1 if the first time I’d done it someone had actually explained it to me, so after losing three shots, I hate it.

  5. KeeperH… I was talking FIH rules so if your club level does something different, that’s a whole other question.

    The current rules (FIH) require an offenders stick to touch the ball inside the circle in order to count as a goal. The change in rule will likely be that a ball going into the goal after being touched only by a defender or goalkeeper will count as a goal.

  6. To complete Whitr:
    The rule currently in use at the EHL (Euro Hockey League) is that the ball needs to be touched inside the D by ANY player to count as goals. So it doesn’t matter if it’s an attacker or a defender.

    As for the 1-on-1’s: Also in the EHL, if a decision game (e.g. the final) end in a draw it is no longer decided by penalty strokes, but by 1-on-1 penalty shoot-out’s. The attacker starts at the 25m line and the GK behind the goal line. A 1-on-1 is then played until either a goal is scored, the ball is out of play or time has run out. (25s max)

  7. It is also wise to think and not just react from habit. As all good Keepers are constantly watching the game, they would know how the field is set. With this information, if there is sufficient time, it may be of greater advantage to play the ball to one of your unmarked players rather than let the ball go.

    While it is true that there can be advantage by gaining a 16, this opportunity also allows the opposition to reset. Allowing the ball through in order to gain a 16 is also the expected play so an unexpected, well-placed pass from a keeper to beging the offensive can catch the opposition flat-footed. This may be of greater advantage than simply accepting a 16.

    There is chance of making a mistake, just like any other play, so practice this play so that your player know to expect this play and so the margin for error is reduced.

  8. You really have to make sure you watch where players are coming in from and that the ball doesn’t bounce off of the post and remain in play. Happened twice in a game once, I cleared it both times but it was still a little nerve racking when I realized it stayed in play.
    I really hate strokes, but what would the odds be for a keeper in a 1 on 1?

Leave a Reply