Tuesday, May 8, 2012 A skater who is more than twenty (20) feet in front of or behind the pack may receive an out of play warning by a referee; however, a referee is not required to issue a warning prior to giving a penalty. Once out of play, a skater must yield the right of way to the opposing Jammer by physically moving out of the Jammer’s path. Any engagement, including passive/positional blocking, can result in a penalty (see Section 6.10 Out of Play Penalties).

Today’s rule was alluded to in the explanation of yesterday’s rule. If a skater is outside of the engagement zone she must speed up or slow down to re-enter the engagement zone, as she is out of play. Once she is out of play, she may be penalized if she doesn’t immediately attempt to re-enter the engagement zone. In most cases, skaters who are out of play may be given a warning by the referees, which is a hand signal accompanied by an “out of play” verbal cue. This warning is highly recommended for referees to issue, however it is expressly not required for them to give before issuing a penalty. In cases where a skater leaves the engagement zone and does not contact an opponent, or assist a teammate, a referees is very likely to give a warning before issuing an Out Of Play penalty. However, in cases where a skater goes out of play and performs an illegal out of play action, a referee may choose to issue a penalty without a warning first. The reason why warnings are optional is because being out of play is illegal, regardless of whether a referee gives a warning or not. So, if a skater commits an out of play action that has major impact, such as hitting a Jammer out of bounds while out of play, then it is very difficult to justify not issuing a penalty just because a referee hadn’t given a warning first. Thus, penalties take precedence over warnings, but referees are trained to try and give warnings in all scenarios first, if possible. The latter part of this rule explains what a Blocker must do, and may not do, while out of play. Once a skater is out of play she may not engage in any way, as she is not in the engagement zone. If an out of play skater is in front of the opposing Jammer, she must yield the right of way to her, or else she may be issued an Out Of Play penalty. Contrary to common practice, throwing one’s hands up in the air does not constitute yielding to the opposing Jammer. The Blocker must make a physical effort to yield the right of way. In most cases, this requires the skater to step to the side to let the Jammer through. Something that has been asked of me several times before is, “what if the out of play skater steps to the side and is in the way of the opposing Jammer who is also stepping to the side?”. Unfortunately, the answer to this is not particularly straightforward, so what I personally have gone by is that if the skater who steps into the way of the Jammer appears to be doing so intentionally, I would issue her an Out Of Play penalty. If she appears to legitimately be doing so to get out of the way of the Jammer behind her, then I would assume legal intent, as instructed by the rules (9.3.3). Just as there is a difference between immediately attempting to re-enter the engagement zone or reform a pack, and pretending to re-enter or reform, there is also a difference between yielding right of way and pretending to yield right of way. Much like a lot of actions that may happen in a game, this is one of those judgment calls that referees learn to make properly. The last part of the rules explains that any engagement while out of play will earn a skater an Out Of Play penalty. Engagement includes initiating contact, as well as positional blocking. If a skater is out of play and impeding another skater from in front, she is performing an illegal out of play positional block. Out Of Play penalties are issued based on impact. What must be mentioned is that while this rule references a “skater” being out of play, it mainly refers to Blockers, since Jammers are not considered out of play when they are out of the engagement zone. That being said, if a Blocker is out of play, they may not be engaged by a Jammer. So, if a Blocker is out of play and does not yield the right of way to the opposing Jammer, the Jammer may not engage the Blocker in her way.