Wednesday, June 29, 2011

6.3 Low Blocking Skaters may not trip or intentionally fall in front of another skater. Any contact which lands on an opponent’s feet or legs, below the legal target zone, that causes the skater to stumble or fall is considered tripping and/or low blocking. Downed skaters re-entering the track are subject to tripping/low blocking penalties even on the first instance, and even if the downed skater has fallen small.

Today I decided to cover the explanation of Low Blocking. There have been a few times where I've made a Low Blocking call on a skater on her knees, or on one knee, who was upright (not sprawled or fallen small) and another ref has asked me why, mentioning that the skater in question wasn't tripping the receiver. Simply put, it doesn't matter how the initiator fell, or what position they were in when the Low Block was made (except, of course, if they fell small), but rather where they made the contact, which is what Low Blocking is all about. An illegal Low Block is contact made below the legal target zone, which ends mid thigh. While mid thigh may be hard to determine sometimes, you can be sure that any contact just above the knees and down is certainly illegal.

Low Blocking covers all kinds of illegal contact, including a skater falling into an opponent's legs; a skater who goes down to prevent a Cutting penalty returning to the track on their knees and bumping into an opponent's legs; a skater getting really low to pass through the pack and pushing an opponent out of the way by her legs; or a skater who kick strides outside of a normal skating motion and makes contact to opponent's, usually those behind them (this is sometimes called a donkey kick, Clydesdale, or other such term). Of course, illegal Low Block contact is not limited to these examples. I just wanted to illustrate that Low Blocking is more than just a skater sprawling into the path of an opponent and tripping them, or making them stumble.

All illegal Low Block contact is, like all contact penalties, judged based on impact per the no penalty, minor, and major sections under 6.3.

Monday, June 27, 2011

‎6.1.2 Any contact to the back of an opponent that forces the receiving opposing skater off balance, forward, and/or sideways, but does not cause her to lose her relative position.

Blocking To The Back (or Back Blocking) has been discussed a little bit before. Previously there was a lot of discussion regarding the Back Blocking major. Today's rule, however, is the minor Back Blocking description. Just as with the other contact penalties, if a skater is affected by an illegal Back Blocking action and her skating stance is altered but not her relative position, then it is a minor penalty.

I do want to take this time to rediscuss what makes something an illegal Back Blocking action. Basically, if a skater initiates contact to another skater in an illegal target zone on the back of their body, between the shoulders and mid thighs, then that contact is Back Blocking. The legal and illegal target zones are quite clear in Figure 2 - Legal Target Zones.

The pink shaded areas are legal target zones and the white areas are illegal. As can be seen, the shoulder and part of the back behind the shoulder are legal target zones. Even if a skater comes from behind, if she makes contact with the pink shaded area of an opponent it is considered legal contact and not Back Blocking. Lately I have personally seen a lot of overcalling of Back Blocking penalties in games I have reffed or watched. A lot of times what really is happening is a skater makes contact to a legal target zone of an opponent from behind but ends up pushing the skater forward with her hands or forearms. While target zone comes before blocking zone in the hierarchy of calls in Appendix A, if there is no contact to an illegal target zone then the call in those situations should be illegal Use of Hands/Forearms, not Back Blocking.

Friday, June 10, 2011

6.4.4 Contact may not be made exclusively with the point of the elbow (i.e. jabbing).

Today’s rule, also in the Use of Elbows section, is an important one that should definitely not be overlooked. While there are all kinds of rules that explain how elbows may not be used to block, this rule explains exactly what constitutes using the elbow. To clarify, if a skater is making a block with her upper arm, and the elbow makes contact during the block, this is still considered legal. The point of this rule is to prevent using just the elbow for block, such as the included explanation, jabbing. So, if a skater makes a block with her upper arm and the whole of the upper arm, including the elbow, pushes the skater, then it is a legal block. However, if the skater “rolls off” the receiver, and the point of the elbow is what pushes the receiving skater, then the action is an illegal Use of Elbows, and will be penalized, minor or major, based on impact, per section 6.4.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

‎6.4.3 The elbow must be bent while blocking with that arm.

The third in the list of rules in the Use of Elbows section, this rule forbids straight-arm blocking. Oddly, this rule would help prevent a skater from committing an illegal Forearms action, yet is included in the Elbows section. Regardless, any block made by a skater with their arm must be made with the elbow bent.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

‎6.4.2 When engaging another skater, elbows may not be swung with upward or downward motion.

Like yesterday's rule, today's rule describes an illegal Use of Elbows action. This particular action is most commonly known as the "chicken wing" since the up and down motion with a bent elbow looks like a wing flapping. Often this type of action happens when an initiator disengages from a receiver and their elbow moves upwards as they push away from the other skater. Regardless of the circumstance, if a skater's arm moves in an upward or downward motion and the elbow makes contact with the receiving skater, and forces the receiver to adjust her skating stance or relative position, then the initiating skater will receive a Use of Elbows penalty, major or minor based on impact per section 6.4.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

‎6.4.1 When engaging another skater, elbows may not be swung with a forward/backward motion.

This is the first explanation of what constitutes an illegal Use of Elbows. Illegal elbow actions are usually quite simple to catch. By this rule, a skater would be performing an illegal elbows action most likely when in front of or behind an opponent. If the skater's arm swings forward or back, and the elbow makes contact with the opponent and causes her to adjust her skating stance, or lose position, then that would be a Use of Elbows penalty, minor or major based on impact, according to section 6.4. There is more to Elbows, and will be covered over the next couple of days.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

6.1.3 Any contact to the back of an opponent that forces the receiving opposing skater out of her established position. This includes forcing a skater down, out of bounds, or out of position.

Today’s rule is a major Blocking to the Back penalty, or more commonly known as Back Blocking. As covered in a previous Rule of the Day, Back Blocking is any contact to the back of an opponent in an illegal target zone. Legal (and illegal) target zones are shown in the rules in Figure 2 - Legal Target Zones ( If a skater makes contact to the illegal target zone area on the back of an opponent, and the illegal contact forces the receiving skater down, out of bounds, or out of position, then it is major.

It must be noted, however, that the rule includes the phrase “forces the receiving opposing skater out of her established position.” What this means is that the receiving skater must have established her position on the track for the forced contact down, out of bounds, or out of position to be illegal. For an example, if a Jammer is skating on the track, and just before she reaches the pack a Blocker steps right into her path, and as a result the Jammer slams into the back of the Blocker knocking her down, the Jammer will not receive a Back Blocking major, since the Blocker had not established her position. She had tried to gain a new position by moving on the track to a position in front of the Jammer, but unless the Blocker’s new position was established enough for the Jammer to adjust her path/speed, then the Blocker’s new position is not established, and thus she was not forced “out of her established position.”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

1.2 At most, fourteen skaters may be on the roster for a specific game. Leagues may rotate their game roster from their team roster between games.

Rule 1.1 explains that teams shall consist of twenty skaters, and today’s rule explains that individual game rosters may consist of up to fourteen skaters. Rule 1.1 is in regards to WFTDA charters, a requirement for WFTDA member leagues, and only for sanctioned bouts (which are bouts between the all-star/charter teams from two WFTDA member leagues). Rule 1.2, however, does apply to everyone else, and limits the number of skaters allowed to play in each game that is played by the WFTDA rules. There is really no rule that says when the fourteen skaters must be decided on, and in fact, up until the start of the first jam there needs to be no set game roster. This does, of course, make it very difficult for score and penalty sheets, and all stats sheets, and the like. Each game should have in the game contract when the final roster needs to be set for the purposes of keeping things simple. A common contract agreement is to have fourteen skaters on the roster and two alternates, which can be switched out with a rostered skater up the start of the game in case of any unforeseen situation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 Referees will use all officially designated hand signals as means to properly communicate to scorekeepers/penalty trackers, skaters, announcers and fellow referees.

Roller derby venues can get loud. Depending on the size of the venue, and size of the crowd, even the outside pack refs may not be able to hear the inside pack and jam refs making calls. That would mean the benches, fans, announcers, and anyone else not in the infield can't hear them either. That is why all referees must use hand signals, so that everyone watching may understand what is happening when a call is being made.