The FIH's playing rules amendment comes in the wake of Australian cricket Phillip Hughes' death after being hit by a Sean Abbott bouncer in a Sheffield Shield game last week.

In its website, the FIH mentioned that it had come up for discussion at its recently concluded Annual Congress.

"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 stated 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.

The new rule also allows players to raise the stick above their shoulders.

"The skill adds another dimension to the sport and provides excitement for fans and players alike."

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