Thursday, March 31, 2011

In Play - When a skater is positioned within the Engagement Zone and is in bounds, the skater is in play and may legally block and assist. Downed skaters are not in play. Jammers may engage each other anywhere inside the track boundaries for the duration of the jam, but must be within the Engagement Zone in order to legally initiate engagement with Blockers.

Once again I am going to the Glossary for today’s rule. I feel it is a good time to revisit just exactly what “in play” means. The first line seems a little redundant, explaining that a skater is in play if the skater is within the Engagement Zone and in bounds, since the Engagement Zone is on the track, thus in bounds. The Glossary entry also says that downed players are not in play. So now we have three criteria to being in play: in bounds, in the Engagement Zone, and not down. Skaters are not required to be skating to be considered in play. This may confuse some, because stationary skaters are not allowed to block or assist, but that is a different rule altogether. It is Section 6.9 Direction of Gameplay that penalizes skaters for blocking or assisting while stopped. Section 6.10 Out Of Play is the section that penalizes skaters for being out of play. Once again, a stopped skater may not block because the skater is stopped, NOT because the skater is out of play. A stopped skater MAY be part of the pack.

The other part of this Glossary entry to note is how it differentiates Jammers from Blockers. When dealing with Jammers is when the seeming redundancy from the first line makes sense. Jammers are in play if they are in bounds and not down; they do not have to be in the Engagement Zone to be considered in play. Jammers must keep in mind the in/out of play status of other skaters that they may try to block, assist, or receive an assist from. Engaging or assisting with out of play skaters will earn a Jammer an Out Of Play penalty, minor or major based on impact.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

‎6.2.3 Any block with initial contact landing above the shoulders.

This is a High Block/Blocking to the Head major penalty. There is minor or no impact/no penalty options for a High Block. Blocking above the shoulders is very dangerous and will always result in at very least a major penalty. Notice, though, that the wording says “initial contact” meaning that if a block begins below the shoulders, and contact is made above the shoulders, but it is not initial contact, then it is not a High Block major penalty.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

‎5.1.1.1 Counter-blocking is any motion/movement towards an oncoming block by the receiving skater that is designed to counteract an opponent's block. Counter-blocking is treated as blocking and held to the same standards and rules.

“Counter-blocking is treated as blocking” is a good line to remember. There are many times when a skater may think they are doing something legal and are in fact going to be penalized for it.

The most common type of illegal counter-blocking I see results in a Blocking Out Of Bounds penalty. This happens when a skater gets blocked out of bounds, is usually straddling, and is actively counter-blocking with one or both skates touching outside the track boundary. A skater who is considered out of bounds, which straddling is, may not engage, which includes counter-blocking, as it is a form of engagement, while not initiating.

Another type of illegal counter-blocking that may happen with the widespread use of the slow pack strategy is clockwise counter-blocks. If a skater, most likely a blocker in a stopped or slow pack, has stopped skating and another skater legally blocks them from behind, if the stopped skater counter-blocks while remaining stationary (difficult but possible) the skater will receive a Direction of Gameplay penalty.

Of course, most rules have exceptions, and while counter-blocking at times when blocking is illegal is normally also illegal, one situation that is different is when being engaged out of play. 6.10.4 and 6.10.5 both allow for illegally engaged out of play skaters to counter-block and go unpenalized.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

‎9.1.3.1 Jammer Referees wear an identifier (wrist band, sash, helmet cover, etc.) corresponding to team colors to indicate the team for which the referee is responsible.

While the rules allow for Jammer Referees to wear any sort of identifier, Appendix A: Officiating Standardized Practices says otherwise. From Appendix A:

How should jammer referees designate which jammer is assigned to a specific referee?

Color coded arm- or wristbands will be worn by jammer referees to designate which team they are currently assigned to.

Teams are responsible for maintaining their own appropriately colored set of bands and providing them to the referee crew for each bout.

Jammer Referee helmet covers may optionally also be worn, but not to the exclusion of wrist- or armbands.

Since Appendix A, as with all Appendices, is considered as Official as the rules themselves, wrist- or armbands must be worn by all Jammer Referees. Helmet covers are not an accepted substitute.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

10.3.3 If a skater leaves the jam during play for equipment issues, the skater may re-enter the jam once the issue has been resolved. If the skater leaves the jam for any other reason, the skater may not re-enter the jam.

If a skater leaves the track and is on the floor out of bounds, but is not injured to the point of having the jam called off, and is out of the way and not a safety hazard, it will be determined at some point that that skater has removed their self from the jam, unless the skater is correcting an equipment malfunction. Unfortunately, there is no exact guideline as to how long a skater may be of the track before the skater is considered removed from the jam. In this case, it is up to the referees to judge the situation. For example, if a skater gets knocked out of bounds and goes down hard, the skater may crawl to the side, out of the way of the refs and other skaters, so as to prevent getting the jam called off, and lie on their side for a few seconds visibly winded. It is safe to say that once the skater has made the effort to move out of the way of the other skaters and spends a few seconds lying down, without any signs of attempting to return to the jam, that the skater has removed their self from the jam, and may not return. A skater who gets knocked down and takes a few second to get up is another story, so long as they are making the effort to stand up and return to the track. Once again, equipment malfunctions are excepted from this rule, so a skater that leaves the track, either on their own or by another skater, who is visibly correcting a piece of equipment (e.g., tightening or refastening a safety pad strap, tightening or replacing a toe stop, etc.) may return to the track and the jam.

Skaters who remove themselves from the jam and then attempt to return to the jam must be sent to their bench using the Official hand signal and verbal cue. Since there is no specific penalty for a skater returning to the track after having removed themselves from play, the rules must be used as a guide to determine the appropriate action. The way that I interpret the rules, a skater who is returning to the track after having removed themselves from play is just like a skater entering the track after the jam has started:

2.4.4.2.1 If a Pivot or Blocker is not on the track when the jam starting whistle blows, that skater will not be permitted to join the jam in progress. No penalty will be issued.

They aren't committing a penalty, per se, so they don’t get a penalty for it, but they are not allowed to be on the track and must be sent back to their bench. Now something the rules don’t specify is what to do if a skater ignores the instruction to return to their bench (except in cases of too many skaters on the track, but that is more a major penalty for causing the jam to be called off when the extra skater doesn’t leave the track). So the closest part of the rules to use as a guide is:

6.14 INSUBORDINATION
Insubordination is willfully failing to comply with a referee’s orders. Examples of insubordination include but are not limited to failure to leave the track for a penalty or failure to leave the floor after fouling out.

The key part here is “include but are not limited to” which means the penalties in Section 6.14 are not the end all be all for Insubordination. Therefore I believe it is appropriate to penalize a skater willfully failing to return to their bench after being instructed to do so as the same penalty as:

6.14.3 Willfully failing to leave the track for a penalty.

This is a major Insubordination penalty.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

‎9.3.2 If the referee is in doubt on a call, i.e. the referee sees the effects of a hit but does not see the action, a penalty must not be called.

Referees are not there to assume things happened, they are there to make calls they see to facilitate the safety of the game. A referee should never, ever use the explanation “well, I saw someone fall so there must have been an illegal hit.” Granted, I have never heard such an explanation, nor do I know of anyone who has, but I have experienced referees explain that they made a call they weren’t 100% sure of. This is akin to a police officer saying “I didn’t see you hit that person but they’re on the ground so you must have, and now I’m arresting you for assault.” Yeah, that may seem like a ridiculous comparison, but the idea is the same. As a head referee I have told other referees that I am willing to stand behind them on every call that they make, so long as they can defend every call they make. Also, this rule is a little misleading. Refs don’t just make a call when they see an action and then an effect. We don’t make calls based on action and reaction, we make calls based on cause and effect. If a skater makes a hit with an elbow, and the receiving skater goes down, the receiver may not have been forced down by the elbow. The referee must be absolutely sure that the illegal action (elbow) was the cause for the effect (fall). The rules include very specific wording such as “that causes an opposing skater” and “that forces the receiving opposing skater”. Here and there over the next week or so I will be covering the companion rules to this one from section 9.3.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

‎4.3.4 The Jammers may engage each other anywhere inside the track boundaries for the duration of the jam. When a Jammer is outside of the Engagement Zone the Jammer may only engage the opposing Jammer (see Section 6.10.3).

While Jammers can go out of play by going out of bounds or down, they can't go out of play by leaving the engagement zone. Jammers are free to engage each other anywhere on the track. However, they still may not engage, give an assist, or receive an assist from, a Blocker who is out of play outside the engagement zone. If they do so they will be given an Out Of Play penalty, minor or major based on the change of relative position of the receiver.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

‎9.1.1.1 All referees must be on skates.

The rules used to allow the outside pack referees to be standing referees off skates. This is no longer allowed.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

4.1.1.1 The pack is comprised of the Blockers. The Jammer is not part of the pack.

Just something to remember. Many times the rules refer to "the pack" or "pack skaters." The Jammers are never included in these definitions. This means a Jammer can't "bridge" a pack. It also means that referees need to watch carefully for Jammers in groups of skaters in case there is no pack; a lone Jammer in a group of opponents can be confusing.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

‎6.10.8 Skaters may not assist teammates outside the Engagement Zone.

I feel like people pay very close attention to the rule that says skaters may not block opponents while out of play, while this rule gets overlooked. I find it odd when I meet people who don’t know about this rule since it actually appears two other times in the rule:

4.3.2.2 Skaters who are out of play may not assist their Jammer or other teammates.
4.3.2.5 Skaters may not assist teammates outside the Engagement Zone.

The rules definitely make this point very clear. Out of play is out of play, no matter what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Out of play blocks are illegal, and so are out of play assists.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

‎9.2.1.3 The referees will determine that the skaters are in the proper formation.

This may seem like an odd rule unless you are familiar with Section 4.2 Pre-Jam Positioning. Here are a couple examples of what this rule is looking for:

4.2.2 Pivot Starting Position: Pivots generally line up in the front of the pack. Only the Pivots may line up on the Pivot line.

4.2.4 Jammer Starting Position: Jammers line up on or behind the Jammer line.

Of course, refs must also remember a rule we covered a couple weeks ago:

9.2.1.1.3 Referees do not warn teams when too many skaters line up on the track.

Basically this rule just informs referees that they are to be watching to make sure skaters line up where they are supposed to, penalize the ones that don't accordingly.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

‎3.4.1.3 Jammers do not need to pass Blockers ahead of the legal Engagement Zone in order to become Lead Jammer.

This rule is why it is important for pack refs to communicate in/out of play status to the jam refs during the initial pass for skaters ahead of the pack. If a Jammer has broken the pack but there is still an in-play Blocker ahead of the pack, the Jammer is not yet lead, since the rules require her to pass the foremost in-play blocker. However, if that in-play Blocker doesn’t watch her position on the track, and ends up exiting the engagement zone, as soon as she is out of play, the Jammer has become Lead Jammer.

For referees, especially front of pack referees, make sure that during the initial pass that attention is paid to Blockers ahead of the pack and that if they go out of play that the jam ref knows immediately.

For skaters, if you are ahead of the pack during the Jammers’ initial pass, you will want to watch your position or else you can inadvertently hand over Lead Jammer to your opponent rather make an expected block. Also, once you’re out of play you are liable to receive penalties.

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