Update: England Hockey guidance on returning to play as safely as possible

Further to the government announcement on 10 May and subsequent updated guidance issued on 13 May, England Hockey can now update on the initial implications for hockey in England.

England Hockey will continue to follow both government and Public Health England advice. Timings of any changes to the circumstances for hockey will always be led by government advice during the Covid-19 restrictions. Whilst these are the first steps for returning to play, we would encourage everyone to firstly consider the health of themselves and others.

The updated government advice means it is now possible to undertake the following activity. England Hockey strongly recommends that all involved in any activity follow the guidance beneath.

● Outdoor hockey pitches can now be opened as long as the government guidelines are followed.

● The following ways to play hockey are now available on outdoor pitches:

– Hockey played by two players (each from different households) under social distancing guidelines.

– One-to-one sessions involving a coach and a player from different households under social distancing guidelines. Where this involves a young person their parent/guardian must be present and observing social distancing guidelines.

–  Hockey played between a household group (where social distancing is not required)

● Whether coached or uncoached these sessions must be covered by suitable insurance – participants and coaches should ensure they have suitable arrangements in place before participating.

● This means that some one-to-one coaching activity can resume but the participants, coach and the facility must follow the respective government and England Hockey guidance.

● We encourage the fantastic ‘hockey at home’ initiatives that we have seen throughout the last two months to continue (examples here)

Please be aware that this guidance may change as the circumstances change. In particular, we are still seeking clarification from government on arrangements for one-to-one coaching of young people given the need for a parent/guardian to be present. There are different interpretations across NGBs on this issue at the moment and therefore we may have to update on this once a decision is made.

Hockey stick and ball

Summary guidance for outdoor hockey sessions one-to-one, or within one household
The following is a summary of the full guidance which is available at the bottom of this article:

● Follow Public Health England advice for good hygiene at all times
● Maintain 2m social distance (unless you are from the same household)
● Only meet 1 other person from another household
● Use your own equipment (stick and balls) and avoid touching other equipment (goals etc). If passing, only touch the ball with your stick!
● One-to-one coaching is permitted in line with England Hockey safeguarding guidance
● Think about how you divide the pitch if more than one group is using it to ensure there is sufficient space between groups
● Book online and leave space (10 minutes) between bookings to avoid bottlenecks
● Do not participate if you are required to self-isolate
● Ensure you are appropriately insured and first aid equipment is available

Maddie Hinch of England

International teams / NAGS / EDP
Recent guidelines have been published by the government detailing the possibility for some elite hockey activity. As we consider our social responsibility, strive to prioritise health and well-being and ensure that we are well planned for a return to training; the Great Britain men’s and women’s international squads are not returning to their Bisham Abbey training base in the next few weeks. We are monitoring the advice offered by the government and looking at a phased return to training for the senior international squads as soon as is appropriate.

In addition, our other international activity including National Age Group Squads and the Great Britain Elite Development Programme will not undertake any activity at present. We are in communication with athletes/parents/ guardians from those programmes and updates in the coming weeks will provide more information.

Next Steps
As the longer-term plan for lifting restrictions become clearer, England Hockey is developing a structured approach to managing the steps, linked to future government guidance. Our aim is to allow all those in the game to understand how we intend to navigate through the next few months. The impact of the expected timeline, and any changes to it, are being assessed alongside the lead in period that is required to change any large-scale activities in hockey. We intend to share this timeline and our expectations of what each step will look like and when decisions will be made over coming weeks. 

Hockey umpire

Detailed guidance
For our latest guidance in full detail, please click here [updated 22 May].

Frequently Asked Questions
a. Insurance (This advice is only applicable for those with Howdens insurance policies offered via England Hockey):
Regarding your coaching insurance, if you are insured with England Hockey through Howden then your cover will continue to apply, providing you adhere to the Government guidelines and any additional supporting guidance provided by England Hockey to its coaches concerning safety and social distancing. Risk assessments must be carried out and risk management put in place around Covid-19 requirements as these are key to evidencing that the risk is being assessed and managed. This is something that the Government has highlighted must be taking place. It is essential that coaches record and evidence that they are working to and controlling the social distancing measures expected by the Government.

b. Gumshields – Gumshields are obviously recommended for hockey and participants are encouraged to use them where possible, whilst also adhering to the Covid-19 hygiene advice. As with all other equipment they should be cleaned and disinfected between sessions.

c. Access to pitches – ultimately access to pitches is in the hands of the owner/operator of facilities. Many facilities may decide it is viable to open to support one-to-one coaching sessions.

d. One-to-one coaching of young people – A parent / guardian must be present and the coach following social distance guidelines from the player and parent / guardian. Coaches must hold appropriate insurance. All coaches should closely follow the England Hockey safeguarding advice on one to one coaching as covered in the document here.
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