India vs Australia
The amendment has been done to increase player safety (representational image).Hockey India

In the wake of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes' death during a match, hockey's world governing body (FIH) on Friday allowed metal grill mask to protect onrushing defenders during penalty corner executions.

The FIH said the issue had come for discussion at the Executive Board meeting at the Congress Oct 30.

"A wider range of masks, including metal grill masks, will now be allowed to defend penalty corners. This amendment has been done to increase player safety. This will be available for worldwide adoption at international level from January 2015," the FIH said on its website.

Other rule changes made by the body include "the ability to take attacking free hits, awarded within five metres of the edge of the circle, from the point of the offence. The change states that the ball still has to travel at least five metres before it can be played into the circle, or alternatively has to be touched by another player of either team, other than the player taking the free hit".

FIH also brought in a change regarding the re-start of the match to increase more passing options.

"Play will now be re-started with the ball on the 23 metres line and in line with where it crossed the back-line. Taking the re-start from the 23 metres line will open up the play and give more passing options," it stated.

Also, players will be allowed to raise the stick above their shoulders. "The skill adds another dimension to the sport and provides excitement for fans and players alike."