Monday, October 31, 2011

‎3.7.1 Each member of a respective team participating in a bout must wear a uniform which clearly identifies her as a member of her team.

Today's rule is the first in the uniform section. What it specifies is that skaters must be clearly identified as members of their respective teams. Although many more uniform rules follow, none of them say that teammates must be wearing the same jersey, shirt, shorts, etc. The rules only require teammates to be clearly identifiable. This basically means players on each team must wear the same color uniform as their teammates, as that is a clear demarcation of team membership. Again, the "clearly" requirement prevents teams from wearing uniforms that may look too much alike as to prevent any skater's team being clearly identified. It is definitely preferable for teams skating in colored uniforms to all have the same shade of color uniform, however if the distinction between teams is clear then this rule has been satisfied. For example, if one team is wearing black and the other team pink, then a hot pink and a baby pink jersey would clearly both be the pink team's uniforms.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

‎6.12 Skating Out of Bounds Skaters must remain in bounds. No part of the skater’s skate(s) may touch the ground outside the track boundary. Skaters may not pick up momentum for a block until in bounds (see Section 6.8.2).

This is the main description of what Skating Out Of Bounds constitutes. The rules state that skaters must stay in bounds. Roller derby is played in bounds on the track. This section goes on to list exceptions where skaters may go out of bounds, but aside from those exceptions skaters must remain in bounds, as today’s rule clearly says. Some of these exceptions include being blocked out of bounds, going out of bounds as the result of a missed block, going out of bounds to avoid a downed skater, and of course skating to and from the penalty box. What is definitely not allowed is a for a skater to go out of bounds of their own accord. 6.12.5 penalizes a skater who skates out of bounds to avoid a block. 6.12.6 penalizes a skater who skates out of bounds to maintain or increase speed. A penalty issued per 6.12.6 happens most usually when a skater comes around a turn too fast and her momentum ends up taking her out of bounds. This is common with Jammers. This would be a Skating Out Of Bounds minor.

Previously the argument has been made that the phrase “skating out of bounds” referred to the skating a skater did while out of bounds. An official publication from the WFTDA, Exiting The Track (, makes it clear that “skating out of bounds” means skating from in bounds to out bounds. As well, the publication makes it clear that any skater who has both skates touching outside the track boundary must receive a Skating Out Of Bounds minor penalty. This may seem contrary to the phrasing of “to maintain or increase speed” as found in 6.12.6, but the intent of the WFTDA publication is to penalize skaters for going out of bounds of their own accord. Per the publication, it is not illegal for a skater to put herself into a straddling position, which will always be called as no impact/no penalty. However, if a skater puts herself into a straddling position and then afterwards completely exits the track, even to avoid a Cutting the Track penalty, she will receive a Skating Out of Bounds penalty. If the skater was hit into a straddling position, and then completely exits the track to avoid a Cutting penalty, she will not be penalized.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

‎ Below the mid-thigh

Today's rule is the third and final illegal target zone. The penalty section associated with this illegal target zone is 6.3 Low Blocking. Illegal contact to the back of the legs is covered under Low Blocking instead of Blocking to the Back, yesterday's rule. Something you may notice is that section 6.3 covers illegal contact made to this illegal target zone, and while the same area is also an illegal blocking zone, the Low Blocking section does not cover illegal contact made from that illegal blocking zone. However, due to lack of a penalty section that enumerates penalties for blocks initiated to a legal target zone with the illegal blocking zone below the mid-thigh, this same penalty section is used.

Something important to note is that the mid-thigh is above the knee, meaning an opponent's knee is an illegal target zone. So if a skater is sitting on the knee of an opponent to slow her down, she is making illegal contact to this illegal target zone. Skates are also considered part of this illegal target zone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 On the back of the torso, back of the booty or back of the thigh

Today's rule is the second of the three illegal target zones. The penalty associated with this illegal target zone is 6.1 Blocking to the Back. Because of the name of the penalty section I have discovered more than one person who believes that only the back is an illegal target zone and that it is legal to block a skater in the back of the booty. Where the rules are concerned, "the back" is the entire illegal target zone on the back of the body, below the shoulders and above the mid-thigh. A common misconception regarding this illegal target zone is that any contact between one skater and the back of another is always a Block to the Back. This is untrue. The back, the entirety of it, is a legal blocking zone, therefore a skater may initiate a block with her back into another skater, thereby creating legal skater-to-back contact. If, however, the receiver of this type of block were to counterblock into the initiator's back, then it would become illegal contact, and a penalty may be issued.

Back Blocking (as it is commonly called, and what the verbal cue is) has been covered extensively here. Check out the Rule of the Day archive for all the explanations and discussions.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

‎ Anywhere above the shoulders

Today's rule is the first of three illegal target zones. These are areas of the body where contact may not be initiated to. Each illegal target zone has a penalty section associated with it. For today's rule the associated penalty section is 6.2 Blocking to the Head or High Blocking. While the other two illegal target zone penalty sections have many degrees of impact penalties, High Blocks are either majors or expulsions due to the safety risks associated with being blocked above the shoulders.

Monday, October 24, 2011

‎ If the Jammer is not on the track when the jam starting whistle blows, the Jammer will not be permitted to join the jam in progress. No penalty will be issued.

Going to Friday's rule, a Jammer who is not position at the Jammer start whistle, the second whistle, will receive a false start penalty. However, according to today's rule, if a Jammer is not on the track at the jam start whistle, the first whistle, she not be allowed to skate in that jam. If she enters the track after the jam start whistle she will be directed back to her bench by the referees and given no penalty. Although, her team will skate that jam without a Jammer which is penalty enough.

Friday, October 21, 2011

‎ Jammers are considered in position and ready if they are in bounds when the first whistle of the jam (i.e., the whistle to start the pack rolling) is blown. Jammers are subject to false start penalties if they are not on or behind the Jammer line at the Jammer start whistle (see Section 6.13.5 for specific penalty details). ... (cont)

Full text below below: Jammers are considered in position and ready if they are in bounds when the first whistle of the jam (i.e., the whistle to start the pack rolling) is blown. Jammers are subject to false start penalties if they are not on or behind the Jammer line at the Jammer start whistle (see Section 6.13.5 for specific penalty details). Jammers are permitted to put on their helmet covers after the jam has started. However, each Jammer must have her helmet cover in hand before the jam starting whistle. A helmet cover cannot enter a jam in progress.

Continuing with the theme of being in position, today's rule explains where a Jammer must be to be considered in position. A Jammer must be on or behind the Jammer line or she will receive a false start penalty. Behind the Jammer extends all the way around the track until the Pivot line. If a Jammer is on or behind the Pivot line she is considered out of position. However, if she is standing inches in front of the Pivot line she is still considered behind the Jammer line, just very far behind it.

Now the rule is specific that Jammers must be in position at the jam start whistle (the first whistle) but that they don't receive false start penalties until the Jammer start whistle (the second whistle). This means if a Jammer jumps the start and goes ahead of the Jammer line after the first whistle but then turns around and is back behind the Jammer line when the second whistle blows, she doesn't get a penalty for false starting.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

‎2.4.4 If all skaters are not on the track and ready to start the next jam after the allotted time, the jam will start without the missing skater(s) and the team will skate short for that jam. If skaters are not in position on their start whistle they will be subject to false start penalties (see Section 6.13.5 and Section 6.13.16).

There's a couple key points to today's rule, both which have been covered here recently.

For starters, where the rule says "all skaters" it means the maximum allowed number of skaters per team according to Section 3, which is four Blockers and a Jammer. So if a jam starts and a team has three Blockers on the track, they skate that jam with only three Blockers, and the opposing Jammer will score for the fourth missing Blocker per 8.5.2.

The second point is "not in position". Skaters must be in position at their start whistle or they will receive a false start penalty. Per Section 4.2 and it's associated penalties in section 6.13.5, Blockers must be lined up between the Pivot and Jammer lines (with Pivots allowed on the Pivot line) and the Jammers must be on or behind the Jammer line.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

‎2.4.3 There are thirty (30) seconds between jams.

Today's rule is very straightforward, but sometimes forgotten. This rule does not say that there are thirty seconds between jams unless both teams aren't ready, nor does it say there thirty second between jams unless a coach happens to be in the infield talking to a referee. Unless a timeout has been called, once the jam ending whistle of a previous jam has hit the 4th whistle blast, thirty seconds count down (or up) after which the next jam begins. If at that point one or both of the teams has too many or too few skaters in the jam, they will penalized or skate short, depending on which situation occurs. A jam timer's responsibility must be to the clock (which is required to be highly visible to both teams), not the skaters. If a coach happens to be in the infield talking to the was referee and the jam starts, they must return to their bench without interfering with the jam. A jam timer should not delay the start of a jam because a coach, Captain or DA is conversing with the head referee, unless of course instructed by said head referee to call an official timeout in situations like that, which is perfectly appropriate. Of course, at that point it is on the head referee which official timeouts they take.

As well, when returning from timeouts there is a maximum of thirty seconds that may elapse. Teams don't get until they are ready before the next jam starts. They get a MAXIMUM of thirty seconds. I emphasize maximum because after timeouts the thirty second count is not a requirement like it is between jams normally. If the teams are in position then the jam may begin before thirty seconds is over. But this may happen only after timeouts.

If no timeout is called, then there are thirty seconds, no more and no less, between jams.

Monday, October 17, 2011

2.4.2 A jam may last up to two (2) minutes. Jams end on the fourth whistle of the jam-ending signal (see Section 2.9 - Whistles).

The length of jams is very well known by almost anyone in the derby world, and those who don’t know learn very quickly. What is sometimes misunderstood, albeit very uncommonly, is that jams end on the 4th whistle of the jam-ending signal. The jam-ending signal is 4 rapid whistle blasts. Up until the 4th whistle points may be scored and penalties issued.

Friday, October 14, 2011

‎ If the jam starts with too many skaters and the extra skater cannot be pulled, the referee must stop the jam. The team must be penalized according to Section 6.13.6.

When a jam starts with too many skaters (as discussed earlier, more than 4 Blockers and 1 Jammer per team) it is important to get the extra skater removed, as discussed in yesterday’s Rule of the Day. Today’s rule explains that if the extra skater cannot be pulled from the jam, the jam must be stopped by the referees, and a penalty given to the offending team, per 6.13.6. The team responsible for getting the jam called would receive a major Illegal Procedure, issued to the skater who was instructed to return to her bench.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

‎ If the jam starts with too many skaters, the referees must pull the last Blocker who entered the floor; if that skater cannot be identified, the Blocker that is closest to the referees must be pulled off of the floor. The team must be penalized according to Section 6.12.5.

Tuesday's rule was mainly in regards to a jam starting with less than the minimum and maximum allowed number of skaters on the track. Today's rule is about a jam starting with more than the maximum number of allowed skaters on the track

Before I get into that, the rule above was copied directly from the website, which is the same as the PDF. The reference to Section 6.12.5 is obviously a typo, since that rule is a minor Skating Out Of Bounds penalty. The actual rule to reference is 6.13.6.

As mentioned yesterday, the maximum number of skaters from one team allowed on the track in each jam, according to Section 3, is 4 Blockers and 1 Jammer. If a jam starts and either or both of the teams have more than 4 Blockers and/or more than 1 Jammer on the track, only extra Blockers are removed from the jam. This rule is very specific about only removing Blockers. That means, if there are 5 Blockers and a Jammer on the track, the Jammer being the last to enter, the. Jammer stays and a Blocker is removed. This aspect is important when it comes to extra Jammers and Pivots.

Section 3 states that a team may have 1 Jammer and 1 Pivot in each jam. Therefore it is a penalty to have more than one, an Illegal Procedure minor to be exact. If a team starts the jam with more than one Pivot in the jam then the second Pivot to enter the track will be given a penalty for being an extra Pivot when the jam starts, per 6.13.7. However, also according to 6.13.7, she is only sent to her bench if she is an extra skater on the track. Meaning, if there are 4 Blockers from one team on the track and 2 of them are wearing Pivot helmet covers, after receiving her minor the second Pivot will have to remove her helmet cover but will be allowed to stay on the track, as she is not an extra skater. While the rules don't specify exactly how to handle a situation with two Jammers, using the guideline for two Pivots is appropriate. Of course, any extra Jammer lined up behind the Jammer line will receive a false start minor as well. If, after receiving a penalty for being an extra Jammer or Pivot, those skaters don't remove their helmet covers, they may then get a Illegal Procedure major for improper uniform, per 6.13.18.

A reminder, all these actions happen only after the jam start whistle has blown. Referees do not warn nor penalize teams for lining up too many skaters until the jam starts.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 The referees are responsible for determining that both teams have the correct number of skaters in the jam, taking into account skaters in the penalty box. (See Section 2.4.4 for details on starting with too few skaters.)

A subrule of yesterday's Rule of the Day, which explained that officials assess team readiness at the jam start, today's rule explains that referees determine if the teams have the correct number of skaters on the track and also in the penalty box. Now, most might think the correct number of skaters per team is 4 Blockers and a Jammer. As far as the rules are concerned that is incorrect. The actual correct number is a maximum of 4 Blockers and one Jammer, and a minimum of one Blocker on the track. This is outlined in Section 3 - Players, and also rule That is why the last part of today's rule references a team starting with too few skaters. Rule 2.4.4 explains that if a jam starts with less than the maximum number of skaters from one or both teams on the track, then those skaters may not join the jam after the jam start whistle. So if a team has only 3 Blockers and and a 4th skating on the outside of the track to get to the rest of her team, and the jam start whistle blows before she enters the track, that 4th Blocker may not skate in that jam. This is made worse when the Jammer is the one to not make it to the track in time for the jam start. It is also important to note that Jammers are ineligible to enter the jam after the first jam start whistle. They do not get until the Jammer start whistle to enter the track. If a skater enters the track after the jam start whistle she will be directed back to her bench with a hand signal and verbal cue (found in the WFTDA officiating documents) but she will not receive a penalty.

In cases where a team starts a jam with more than the maximum allowed number of Blockers, the extra skater(s) will be sent back to their bench and issued a penalty. That will be covered as tomorrow's Rule of the Day.

As mentioned earlier, the minimum number of skaters required is one Blocker from each team on the track. Blockers in the penalty box do not count towards this minimum as they are not able to form a pack. If a team begins a jam with no Blockers on the track, the jam must be called off immediately, as forming a pack will be impossible. At this point there are few schools of thought as to how to deal with the situation. My personal preferred method would be to issue an Illegal Procedure major to the team who failed to field any Blockers, and it would be given to the Captain, since no Blockers means no active Pivot to default to. To me, this penalty would be justified as their actions as a team had a major impact on the game, much like a team failing to remove an extra Blocker and causing the jam to be called off. If the same team were to fail to field Blockers again in the next jam I would declare a forfeit, per I would, of course, let the team know after the initial major that failure to field a team in the next jam would result in a forfeit. Others have suggested charging a timeout to the offending team on the first offense, but I disagree with this because team timeouts are taken at the request of teams with a hand signal. Referees are not able to take away a team's timeouts by choice. Another option I have heard is the same initial penalty as I outlined above, however without the forfeit for continued offense, but rather a major each time the offense took place. Personally I find that to be contrary to and don't agree with that approach. There are also others, albeit very few, who suggest no recourse at all. Considering the role of impact in the WFTDA rules, it seems logical that an action that is contrary to the rules (having less than one Blocker on the track) that has a major impact on the game (jam is called off) be penalized with a major penalty. Hopefully in a future version of the rules a penalty for this offense will be enumerated.

Monday, October 10, 2011

‎9.2.1 Assessing team readiness for each jam

Today's rule falls under 9.2 Duties in Section 9 - Officials. One of the duties of officials is to assess the team readiness for each jam. This means checking to see that the appropriate number of skaters are in the jam (max 4 Blockers and 1 Jammer per team), checking to see if any skaters are in the box, looking for skaters lined up out of position (false starts), watching to see if there will be a pack at jam start, and other such responsibilities. Generally these activities are conducted by the referees. At the jam start the referees assess penalties for teams that have failed to be ready for the jam, which means assessing Illegal Procedure penalties for too many skaters on the track, illegal engagement before the whistle, improper uniform or safety equipment, and false starts. All these penalties are given at the start of the jam, not before (except illegal engagement which is penalized at the time it happens). As well, as it says in, which I have previously covered, referees do not warn teams line up with too many skaters on the track, nor do they warn when skaters are lined up out of position, or doing anything before the jam starts that will be a penalty once the jam start whistle blows.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

‎6.12.3 Maintaining or increasing speed while skating to and from the penalty box.

Under the No Impact/No Penalty section of Skating Out Of Bounds, this rule allows a skater to go unpenalized when racing to and from the penalty box. Since Skating Out Of Bounds penalties are to be given to skaters who skate purposely out of bounds to gain or maintain speed, it might seem like a skater being sent to the box would be penalized when they skate off the track and race to the box. This would definitely be a penalty that would add insult to injury. Thus, it is no penalty, and skaters may skate to and from the penalty at whatever speed they like.

Friday, October 7, 2011

‎3.6.1 A team’s helmet cover colors must meet the definition of high contrast beyond a reasonable doubt or the Head Referee shall request that the team use helmet covers that meet the definition. The Jammer and/or Pivot’s helmet cover colors are of high contrast if there is a large degree of visual difference between the star/stripe color and the base color of the cover such that the star/stripe color stands out from the base color.

A simple rule that doesn't usually affect anyone but the person on a team in charge of the helmet covers, today's rule requires a high degree of contrast on a team's helmet covers. What this means is that the colors used in the helmet covers stand out against each other. For example, high contrast would be a black stripe on a white helmet cover, or a white star on a black helmet cover. Low contrast would be a light gray stripe on a dark gray helmet cover, or a yellow star on an orange helmet cover. This rule exists to make sure stars and stripes are easily seen by referees, skaters, and fans. Low contrast colors make that difficult, thus high contrast colors are required.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Out of Play - A Blocker that is positioned more than twenty (20) feet outside the pack, out of bounds, or down is out of play. A Jammer that is out of bounds is out of play.

Previously I have covered "in play" but today I am covering the Glossary entry for "Out of Play".

There is one major important factor to this rule. A skater is out of play if they are 20 feet from the pack. This is important because if there is no pack there is nobody out of play. Granted, nobody is in play, which is why during a no pack scenario Blockers may not engage or be engaged. However, during no pack scenarios all cutting rules apply, even though none of the Blockers are in play. That's because they aren't out of play either.

This distinction becomes important also when looking at scoring. states that Jammers earn points for out of play skaters they return from the box in front of. However, in a no pack scenario there are no out of play skaters so this doesn't apply. Similarly, 8.6.7 awards Jammers points at the end of a jam for skaters out of play ahead of the Engagement Zone. If there is no pack, there is no Engagement Zone to be ahead of, thus 8.6.7 only applies when there's a pack.

Again, in a no pack scenario all Blockers are not in play but also not out of play. It is a sort of limbo which gets solved by the reformation of a pack. Even though out of play penalties exist for engagement during no pack scenarios, being out of play is dependent on the existence of a pack.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

‎6.1.4 Intentional, negligent, or reckless illegal contact to the back of an opponent, back of an opponent’s legs, or back of an opponent’s booty.

This rule is a Back Blocking expulsion. Expulsions for Back Blocks are defined in the rules as:

The following egregious acts will be automatic game expulsions, and can be punished as a multi-game suspension (see Section Expulsions will be issued for a conscious, forceful attempt to block an opponent in the back egregiously, whether or not the action was successful."

Now the tricky part when it comes to expulsions is the inclusion of the word "intentional". After, aren't a lot blocks intentional? And some of them are minors, and others are majors. This also ties in to another point sometimes made by some that when making a call referees are not to judge intent. Well the existence of "intentional" makes it impossible to not judge intent. That being said, intent must be clear, not inferred. Unless a referee is absolutely 100% certain of the intent of a skater they must defer to:

9.3.3 If the referee is in a position where intent must be inferred but is not clear, she/he must presume legal intent.

So how does this all tie in to back block expulsions? Intentional back blocks may be called as expulsions, but the impact of the block must merit the expulsion. What that means is that if a skater pushes another skater from behind and the receiver doesn't lose relative position or go down or out of bounds, but the block was clearly intentional (such as you might see before a fight for example), then an expulsion may be warranted. A block such as my example may not be considered fighting, but certainly impactful enough to be considered an expulsion as intentional.

Further today's rule calls for expulsions for reckless and negligent blocks to the back. An example of that would be a Jammer who sees a stopped wall of opponents ahead of her and plows into the back of one at full speed. That could be considered negligent and/or reckless. If a block to the back is worthy of an expulsion, chances are the referees will know it when they see it, as will most anyone else watching the game.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

‎ The mid and upper thigh (including the inner portion)

This is the fourth and final legal target zone. What's important to note here is that the legal target zone ends at the mid thigh, not the knee. I have heard in the past people who refer to low blocks as being below the knees. This inaccurate. Low blocks happen below the mid thigh. Meaning, if a block is made to the knee of an opponent, then it is being made to an illegal target zone.