A radical overhaul of the structure of matches for Rio 2016 has been announced by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
A new system will see matched played in 60-minute games broken into four quarters and the introduction of 40-second time-outs, rather than the current format of two 35-minute halves with a ten-minute interval.
The new format has been trialled in both the Euro Hockey League and Hockey India League and will now be implemented at the upcoming Champions Trophy, World League Round Two, World League semi-final and final, all continental Olympic qualifying events as of September 1 2014, as well as Rio 2016.
Under the new structure, teams will compete in four 15-minute quarters and after the first and third quarters each team will have a two-minute break, with a 10-minute break at half-time.
The changes could be seen as a reaction to last year when hockey was among the bottom three sports from which the International Olympic Committee’s ruling Executive Board decided to vote off the programme after Rio 2016.
Wrestling was chosen but hockey got three votes, the same as modern pentathlon.
Wrestling was later given a reprieve following a successful campaign but the fact hockey was even considered for the axe shook many in the sport.
While the duration of the match has been reduced by 10 minutes, the FIH claims that actual playing time will be maximised with the introduction of 40-second time-outs following the award of a penalty corner and the scoring of a goal.
The time-outs are designed to eradicate the time lost with penalty corner set-up while also allowing for on-field team celebration time, video replays and analysis for televised matches after a goal is scored.
The FIH claimed the purpose of the changes, which mirror sports such as basketball, American football and netball, is to improve the flow and intensity of the game and will enable event organisers and broadcasters to develop more engaging fan experiences, both at the venue, on television and online.
“The decision demonstrates our commitment to fan engagement,” said FIH President, Leandro Negre.
“With the additional breaks, fans will have the opportunity to enjoy more replays and be more engaged with the event, whether in the stadium or watching from a far, while hockey commentators will be allowed more time to provide sport analysis between plays.
“In addition, coaches and players will see improvement in their performance with the additional opportunities to re-hydrate and re-strategise.”
This article first appeared in www.insidethegames.biz and is reproduced with permission.