Wednesday, May 25, 2011

3.4.1 Lead Jammer is a strategic position established on the Jammers’ initial pass through the pack during each jam. The Lead Jammer is the first Jammer to pass the foremost in-play Blocker legally and in bounds, having already passed all other Blockers legally and in bounds.

Today's rule explains how a Jammer earns Lead Jammer status. It is pretty much straightforward, with a couple of minor side notes.

Basically, the first Jammer to legally pass all in play Blockers is the Lead Jammer. The status of Lead Jammer is earned by the first Jammer to pass the foremost in play Blocker from either team, legally and in bounds, and having passed all other Blockers from both teams legally and in bounds. The requirement of having passed all other Blockers does not apply to Blockers in the penalty box or who didn't make it to the track for the jam. Now, once a Blocker has been passed legally, that pass counts for the whole initial pass. So, if a Jammer passes a Blocker legally, then gets knocked down, falls behind the same Blocker, then passes her again illegally, the legal pass still counts for the "all other Blockers legally" part of the rule. Of course, if the illegal pass results in a trip to the penalty box the Jammer then becomes ineligible to be Lead Jammer in that jam. Also, in regards to Blockers already passed, the requirement to pass the foremost in play Blocker does not include Blockers already passed. Even if the Blocker who is foremost in play has already been passed, they must be passed legally and in bounds again, as long as they are foremost and in play.

In regards to a pass made "legally and in bounds," it is the same as in the scoring section. A legal pass is one in which the Jammer does not get a penalty. If a Jammer commits a major penalty while passing a Blocker, they obviously are sent to the penalty box, and are then ineligible to become Lead Jammer. If the Jammer commits a minor penalty while passing a Blocker, they will not be sent to the box, but that pass will be considered illegal. To remain eligible to become Lead, the Jammer must repass the illegally passed Blocker. Of course, in bounds is pretty self explanatory. Any pass made out of bounds will not count. If a pass is made out of bounds, the Jammer may receive a Cutting The Track penalty. Even if the pass made out of bounds was around a down or out of bounds skater, which isn't a penalty, the pass will be signaled as "no pass/no penalty," which means that even though there was no penalty, the pass did not count. This same signal is used in scoring passes as well. Something that has been the subject of argument among referees is in regards to legal and in bounds passes made while down. The requirements of 3.4.1 say nothing about a skater being up or in play, only legally and in bounds. Therefore, passes made by the Jammer while down count towards Lead Jammer status, so long as they were made legally and in bounds.

There are a few subrules to the Lead Jammer section. The first, 3.4.1.1, and its subrule, 3.4.1.1.1, explain that Lead Jammer status will be signaled (by the jam ref) as soon as it is earned, and that the Jammer must be in bounds to become Lead Jammer. 3.4.1.2 explains that the Jammer must be in front of the foremost in play Blockers hips to be Lead Jammer, which is what a pass is anyway. 3.4.1.3, which has been covered here, explains that Blockers that are out of play ahead of the engagement zone need not be passed to become Lead Jammer. The requirement is to pass the foremost in play Blocker, therefore if that Blocker is passed and there are still otu of play Blockers ahead of the Jammer, she will still be signaled Lead. This is a confusing point to many new refs, because it seems wrong to signal a Jammer Lead when she is still behind other Blockers, but if the Blockers ahead are out of play, then they don't matter to that Jammer becoming Lead. 3.4.1.4 explains that if there is a no pack situation, a Jammer must pass all Blockers to become Lead, since there would no way for the foremost Blocker to be in play without a pack.

It must be noted that Lead Jammer is the first to satisfy rule 3.4.1, therefore only one Jammer may become Lead, and only the Lead Jammer may call off the jam. However, if the second Jammer is signaled as Lead Jammer, and calls off the jam, they will go unpenalized according to the WFTDA Official Rules Q&A (http://wftda.com/rules/qa/both-jam-refs-award-lead-jammer). One other thing that must be noted, while the Jammer may start the jam with her helmet cover in hand, she must make all passes in her initial pass with the helmet cover on to be eligible for Lead. Any pass made without the helmet cover on is not considered a legal pass for Lead Jammer eligibility.

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