Friday, June 29, 2012

4.2.5 No rules govern inside/outside positioning. Blockers may line up in any order behind the Pivots.

Today’s rule continues my recent theme of rules I find interesting. This rule isn’t all that interesting with regards to what it explains. This rule has existed since version 1.0 of the rules, but was changed to its current wording in version 2.1. In version 3.0 the rules were changed to allow Blockers to line up any any fashion before pre-jam, rather than in a very specific formation. What I find interesting about this rule is that it allows for Blockers to line up in any order “behind the Pivots”. I find this interesting because 4.2.3 allows for the non-Pivot Blockers to line up ahead of the Pivots (while still requiring non-Pivots to be behind a Pivot’s hips if the Pivot is lined up on the Pivot line). So, the rules allow for the Blockers to line up ahead of the Pivots, but only mentions that they may line up in any order behind them. Now, this rule was written when Blockers were required to line up behind the Pivots. So, now that they may line up in front of the Pivots as well, it makes sense that this rule apply to Blockers lined up in front of the Pivots as well.

Friday, June 22, 2012

4.1.2 When two or more groups of Blockers equal in number are on the track; are more than 10 feet from one another; and no single group meets the pack definition, no pack can be defined. Skaters will be issued a penalty for intentionally creating a no pack situation i.e. destroying the pack (see Section 6.10.2). Both teams are responsible for maintaining a legally defined pack. A skater or group of skaters is always responsible for the consequences of their actions. If their actions create a no pack situation (except those covered in Section, they should be penalized as directed in Sections 6.10.9–6.10.24.

Today’s rule is what defines the “no pack” situation (also called a no pack scenario) we are all becoming ever more used to seeing. 4.1.1 explains what defines a pack. This rule explains what happens when no such definition exists. Two or more groups of Blockers equal in number could be two groups of 4 Blockers; three groups of 2 Blockers; two groups of 3 Blockers; etc. Where this rule mentions no single group meeting the pack definition, that is again in reference to 4.1.1. If there are three groups of 2 Blockers on the track, and one group is 2 pink Blockers, another group is 2 black Blockers, and the third group is 1 pink and 1 black, that group is the pack. However, if the group of 1 pink and 1 black were instead 2 pink or 2 black, and all three groups are more than 10 feet from each other, then no single group would meet the definition of a pack, and no pack can be defined. That is why this is referred to as a “no pack scenario”, because it is a scenario in which there is simply no pack. If a team intentionally creates a no pack situation, they will receive a penalty for it. Pack destruction is only illegal if it meets the definition of illegal pack destruction, as outlined in section 6.10.2 and its subrules. Over the last couple of years the strategy of legally destroying the pack during a power jam has become commonly used. Section 6.10.2 also explains how a no pack scenario can happen legally, especially section, which is referenced in today’s rule. The rule finishes by referencing the rule sections that enumerate penalties to illegal pack destruction actions, which are contained among the rules from 6.10.9 to 6.10.24. Also contained within this rule is the requirement for both teams to maintain a legally defined pack. That is why teams are penalized for illegally destroying the pack.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

6.2.7 Choking.

Today’s rule is another Blocking to the Head or High Blocking expulsion. This one shouldn’t take much explanation at all. Choking is not only unsafe, but it is akin to fighting (in fact, could even be considered fighting), which also results in an expulsion.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

6.2.6 Pulling of the head, neck or helmet.

Continuing with a trend of expulsions, today’s rule is a Blocking to the Head or High Blocking expulsion. Contact above the shoulders is already unsafe, but pulling of the head, neck or helmet is very unsafe. While pulling the head, neck or helmet may be intentional, it is possible to be unintentional, yet still result in an expulsion. This is certainly one of those rules directly concerned with safety.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

6.3.13 Kicking another skater.

Today’s rule is a Low Blocking expulsion. This rule doesn’t require much explanation. A kick is a kick. There are times when a skater’s leg may kick out and trip an opponent, and it would not be considered a kick, but rather just illegal contact with minor or major impact. Kicking another skater implies intent, which, in all other contact penalty sections, is the impact for an expulsion. Interestingly, this rule says kicking another “skater”, not kicking an “opponent”. It appears the rules deem kicking anyone to be unsafe enough for an expulsion, even if they are a teammate.

Friday, June 15, 2012

6.3.12 Slide tackling an opponent.

Today’s rule is a Low Blocking expulsion. I have been told that in soccer it is legal to slide tackle and trip an opponent so long as the tackler is actively going for the ball. This is not true in derby. Partially due to the lack of ball (what, there’s no ball in derby?), and also because on skates, on a hard surface, slide tackling is incredibly unsafe. For those unsure of what a slide tackle is, it is when a skater slides feet first along the ground and trips an opponent. There is a difference between a skater falling feet first and tripping an opponent, and making a slide tackle, in that a slide tackle is done intentionally, which is why it is an expulsion.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 Pivots and Blockers are considered in position and ready if they are in bounds when the first whistle of the jam blows (this is the whistle to start the pack rolling) (see Section 6.13.4). They are subject to false start penalties if they are not in position (see Section 6.13.5 and Section 6.13.16). Pivots are permitted to put on their helmet covers after the jam has started. However, each Pivot must have her helmet cover in hand before the jam starting whistle. A helmet cover cannot enter a jam in progress.

Today’s rule explains that Pivots and Blockers must be in position at the first whistle of a jam, the jam start whistle, or else they are subject to false start penalties. Oddly, this rule seems to contradict itself. What it says is that Pivots and Blockers are considered in position if they are in bounds at the first whistle, but will be penalized with false start penalties if they aren’t in position. That appears to make no sense. Oddly, this rule was worded differently from when it was first reworded to include “in position” in version 3.0 of the WFTDA rules. Up until the December 1, 2009 version of the rules this rule said that “Pivots and Blockers are considered in position and ready if they are on the track when the first whistle of the jam blows (this is the whistle to start the pack rolling) but are subject to false start penalties if they are not behind the Pivot line and in front of the Jammer line”.It was then changed to the current language. The part of this rule that mentions false start penalties references two sections, 6.13.5 and 6.13.6, which are the sections that explain false start penalties for Pivot Blockers and non-Pivot Blockers. Why I am confused about the change in language of this rule is because of what 6.13.5 and 6.13.6 say. Here’s an example: A Non-Pivot Blocker false starts for being out of position at the pack starting whistle when she: is touching on or beyond the Pivot line. According to, if a Blocker is touching beyond the Pivot line at the first whistle, she is considered out of position. However, today’s rule,, says that she is in position because she is in bounds. That’s where the contradiction exists. That being said, false start penalties exist to penalize skaters not lined up in the correct starting position, regardless of the confusing language in Although it says that Pivots and Blockers are in position if they are on the track, they are technically only in position if they are in the correct starting position at the first whistle. If they are not in the correct starting position (as determined by 6.13.5 and 6.13.6) then they will receive false start penalties. Also, as part of this rule, it explains that a Pivot may put on her helmet cover after the jam has begun, so long as it is in her hand when the jam start whistle blows. If the Pivot helmet cover is not in the hands, or on the helmet, of a skater at the jam start whistle, then it is not considered in play and that team will not have a Pivot in that jam. If a Pivot cover has been thrown to a skater on the track, but is still in the air when the whistle has blown, it is still not considered in play, and may not enter play after the first whistle.

Monday, June 11, 2012

2.5.2 Overtime is not a new period. Overtime is an extension of the final period.

In many sports overtime is considered a new period, quarter, or inning of play. In roller derby overtime is just an extension of the final period, otherwise known as the second half.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

2.7.2 The penalty benches must be situated in an easily accessible, neutral area close to the track. Teams may use separate penalty boxes.

Today's rules explain where the penalty box, or boxes, may be located. By "easily accessible, neutral area close to the track", the rules have left leagues open to locating the box where their venue permits. Most leagues tend to use a penalty box located between the team benches along the front straightaway (where the Pivot and Jammer lines are). Some venues have the box located on a turn. Others have the box on the inside of the track. If the rules were to be very specific on penalty box location then some leagues would not be able to use their venues. The reason the rules specify a neutral location is to prevent one team from having an advantage over another, such as being able to communicate with skaters in the box if the other team's bench is too far away. Interestingly, this rule allows teams to use separate benches. I can't say for sure, because I've never seen this happen, nor have I ever discussed this option with anyone ever, but my personal assumption is that, again, this allows for venue considerations. Meaning, if a venue is so small that team benches are in the corners on turns 1 and 4, for example, the penalty boxes may be located in the other corners, turns 2 and 3. There's the possibility that the penalty boxes may be located on the inside of the track, with one box on either end of the infield, with NSOs in between. There's all sorts of scenarios and I can only imagine that is why this consideration exists in the rules.

Friday, June 1, 2012

10.2.2 Captains are responsible for supplying medical personnel with their skaters’ medical and/or emergency contact information as necessary.

Today’s rule makes it to the responsibility of team captains to provide the medical personnel with information in case of emergency. I wouldn’t be surprised if 95% of skaters who have been a captain don’t know this rule exists. Even I have forgotten about this when I have been captain of my team. Of course, while this rule may work just fine when bouts are between two established teams, it gets a little tricky during invitationals, open scrimmages, drop-ins, or any other form of game play that follows the WFTDA rules. Sometimes you show up at an open scrimmage and there either is no captain, or captains are established that day. There’s many similar situations where the captain would not have everyone’s medical and/or emergency contact information. In those cases, so long as the information is available, then the purpose of this rule is satisfied. After all, so long as every skater’s medical and/or emergency contact information is readily available if required, it shouldn’t make a difference if it was provided by the captains, coaches, event organizers, etc. That being said, if you are a captain for the team you regularly play/practice with, it is a good idea to ensure your team’s medical and/or emergency contact info is available with short notice, either by having that information yourself, or asking your league’s bout organizers or interleague coordinators if they take care of it. Chances are, this information has always been readily available, and has been taken care of by someone other than the team captains.