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In an effort to pre-empt serious injury in field hockey, this editorial examines the penalty corner in the sport. Specifically, the potential risk of serious head injury is highlighted, with structural changes that could make the sport safer also discussed.
Contextualising the problem
A penalty corner is primarily awarded for a defensive infringement in the penalty circle, or for a deliberate infringement within the defensive 23 m area. It provides the attacking team with an opportunity to shoot at goal from a distance of 15 m. While the significance of the penalty corner has increased over time, it has always presented one of the most important scoring opportunities in field hockey.1
Initially, the ‘hit’ was the most prominent penalty corner striking technique. However, owing to safety concerns, the rules of field hockey were revised by the International Hockey Federation in 1987 to state that: ‘…the first hit at goal must cross the goal-line at a height no greater than 18 inches [a height equivalent to that of the backboard] for a …