Free space to goal

This rule comes into play when the ball is within the 15m fan and requires an immediate whistle. This is a major foul. The free position is set at the spot of the ball (not where the defender was standing).

The free space to goal is an imaginary cone shape drawn from the ball to either outside edge of the goal circle.

In violation of free space rule Not in violation of free space rule
Defender standing in the space on her own – no opponent within a sticks length (2m). Defender standing in the space, within 2m of an opponent (i.e. legally marking)
Defender on her own in free space and the attacker is looking to shoot & has the opportunity to shoot i.e. facing goal, not being double/treble teamed Defender on her own in free space and the attacker is not looking to shoot e.g. passing the ball around the outside of the area or she is so closely marked that she cannot shoot.
When a defender is below the goal line extended they are not in free space to goal
When legally defending a cutter through the free space, the defender stops e.g. to go to the ball carrier When legally defending a cutter through the free space, as long as the defender keeps on moving through
GK coming out her goal circle is not exempt from free space to goal

Who calls it ?

Usually the trail umpire as she is in the best position (at the point of the cone looking goalwards). Free space is an immediate whistle (not a held whistle) and when it is called the umpire needs to identify the illegal player by number.

Where is it set up ?

The free position is set up where the BALL CARRIER was (not the offending player).

If the ball carrier was within the 11m area, then the free position will be set on the closest hash mark and the 11m area is cleared of players.

If the ball carrier was between 11m & 15m area then the free position is set where the ball carrier was  and all players are moved 4m away.

In both scenarios the offending player goes 4m behind the player taking the free position.

Things to be aware of

  • The player who is defending an attack who is standing directly behind the goal can be called for shooting space.
  • If an attacker takes the defender across the 11m area in front of goal and another attacker takes the shot, which hits the defender, then the call is for dangerous propelling (a card is given).
  • This foul is much easier to call if the umpire is correctly positioned – just to one side of the top of the cone.
  • The trail umpire needs to move on an arc that follows the sideways direction of the ball.

Diagram showing shooting space

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