Australia seems to have a thing for playing hockey with 9 players instead of 11. Can’t say I’m a big fan of these experiments. IMHO we’ve got two formats of the game : 11v11 and 6v6 or indoor hockey. These should do…
The traditionalists will favour the 11v11 game. This is the Olympic sport we all know. The indoor hockey or 6v6 game could be useful in those parts of the world where it’s more difficult to play the traditional game, because of infrastructure and the number of players playing the game already most likely.
I see no reason nor benefit for the Hockey 5 the FIH is so keen on testing. And I see no benefit for the test Australian hockey is doing these days with 9-a-side hockey… But maybe that’s just the conservative traditionalist in me talking ;)

Anyway Hockey Australia is making things rather complicated with their newest fling… but they did make a good infographic explaining their intentions:

Australia testing hockey 9

So to sum up… Each “team or club or organisation” has 3 teams : men + women + mixed. First the men play each other in 4 quarters of 10 minutes. That game is followed by 2 “quarters” (should be halves) of 10 minutes of mixed hockey. Finally the event ends with a women’s game of 4 x 10 minutes again. In between these 3 games there is only a 5 minute break. In between quarters there is a 2 minute break. Each team has max 12 players including 1 goalie. On the pitch they field max 9 players of which 2 have to stay in the attacking half of the pitch at all times. When playing the mixed game each team needs at least 4 of each gender at all times on the pitch and from those 2 staying up front 1 man and 1 woman. During the mixed game the usual penalty corner is replaced by a shoot-out. And to top things off field goals result in 2 points instead of 1 plus the opportunity to gain an extra point with a shoot-out following each field goal. And if that is not strange enough for you already… here comes the cherry on the cake :) Each team will chose before starting the game their “so-called” powerplay quarter in which all of their own PC’s will be converted to a shoot-out and…. all points scored during this powerplay will be counted double.

Talk about simplifying the game of hockey ;)

Anyway… if you’ve got some spare time tomorrow at 8am European time, 7am UK time which would be 6pm Sydney time you can watch this experiment live. There will be some seriously good players participating in this test :

If this test goes well… Hockey Australia would like to implement this for their National Hockey League and they’re calling it the future of Australian hockey. Oh boy… ;) Gotta love the attitude of always questioning what exists so as not get stuck in habits. But for me this seems a bridge too far for now…