Thursday, February 28, 2013

8.3 After exiting the Engagement Zone and completing their initial pass, a Jammer scores points by passing skaters on their second and each subsequent pass. These are considered “scoring passes.” Jammers can score a maximum of one point per Blocker per scoring pass. Jammer lap points are independent of scoring passes. In order to receive a point for passing an opponent the Jammer must:

Today's rule comes from the Scoring section. It explains when a jammer begins scoring. This rule has been revised just a bit from the previous version of the rules. The changes don't change the rule, but rather make it more clear.

As this rule explains, a jammer doesn't begin scoring until completing their initial (non-scoring) pass. It has been revised to make it very clear that the initial pass is complete when the jammer exits the engagement zone. Although the jammer may exit the engagement zone in either direction, the initial and scoring passes are complete only by exiting the engagement zone ahead of the pack. When the initial pass is complete, the jammer will be on their first scoring pass. At that point they start scoring. On each scoring pass, the jammer may score one point per opposing blocker that they pass. Rule 8.3.1 explains exactly what a jammer must do to earn a point, but this rule explains that a jammer may not score twice on a blocker in a scoring pass. Similarly, rule 8.5.5 explains that once a point has been earned it can never be taken away, unless it was awarded in error.

This rule also now explains that jammer lap points are independent of scoring passes. This means two things. For starters, jammer lap points aren't scored per scoring pass. While jammer may only score a maximum of one point per opposing blocker during each scoring pass, the jammer may score multiple jammer lap points, regardless of what scoring pass they're on. Secondly, thanks to a new rule in this version of the rules, jammer lap points may even be scored before the jammer finishes their initial pass.

Monday, February 25, 2013

7.3.8 With one Jammer already in the box, if the opposing team’s Jammer leaves the jam because of a decision to quit playing (e.g. sits on their team’s bench mid-jam, leaves the track area mid-jam), the jam will be whistled dead after it has been determined by the referee that the Jammer will not again be re-entering play (Section 7.3.6 and Section 7.3.7 do not apply). A new jam will be started with the penalized Jammer still in the box serving the remainder of the required penalty time, and the opposing team fielding a new Jammer. The Jammer who ends a jam by quitting is to be considered as having quit the game. That Jammer is not permitted to return to play in the bout.

Today's rule comes from the Both Jammers Penalized/Both Jammers Off The Track section. This rule, much like most rules in this section, is designed to prevent a jam from continuing with no jammer on the track. This rule is not supposed to be enforced if the jammer who has left the track is still able to return to the jam (in the case of equipment malfunction), nor is this rule enforced if the jammer has become injured and is unable to return to the track. Rather, this rule is to be enforced when the jammer has left the track and has decided not to return. As the rule states, examples of a jammer quitting the game include sitting down on their team's bench and refusing to return to the track, and leaving the track area mid-jam. This second example can include multiple scenarios, such as the jammer sitting down in the stands with the audience, the jammer going to the bathroom, or even the jammer stepping off the track and sitting or lying down in the outside safety zone. Typically it will be the jammer's referee that will determine whether the jammer has quit the jam, however, any referee may make the determination if necessary. If the jammer has been determined to have quit the jam, the referee who has made that determination must call off the jam. The jammer in the penalty box remains in the penalty box to finish their penalty time. The team whose jammer quit the jam is able to field a new jammer in the next jam. However, the jammer that has quit the jam may no longer play in the bout.

This rule is silent on whether the jammer who has quit the bout must leave their team's bench, such as is made clear in the rules for expulsion and fouling out. It seems appropriate that the jammer quitting the game be treated like a foul out, and that the jammer be required to leave their team's bench area, but not be required to return to their team's dressing room/staging area. However, since it is not explicitly spelled out in the rules, the concerns is of the referees would be the final call on this situation.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

5.1.1 Blocking is any movement on the track designed to knock the opponent down or out of bounds or to impede the opponent’s speed or movement through the pack. Blocking includes counter-blocking. Blocking need not include contact. Positional blocking is blocking without contact. A skater positioning their body in front of an opposing skater to impede the opposing skater’s movement on the track is positional blocking. Positional blocking need not be deliberate and/or intentional to be illegal, e.g. if the blocking skater is not aware of the Jammer’s position behind the blocking skater.

This rule comes from the General Blocking portion of the Blocking section. It has been slightly revised from the previous version of the rules. Although the meat and bones of the rule stay the same, the definition of positional blocking has been removed and put in the Glossary, at the end of the rules. Positional blocking is still held to the same standards as blocking with contact, and must be done legally. For example, a counterblock to the back of an opponent that knocks the opponent down will be penalized just as if a block was initiated to the opponent's back. The exception to this is in the Direction of Gameplay. If a skater makes a clockwise or stopped block that includes contact, and has impact, they will receive a penalty. However, if they make a clockwise or stopped positional block, they will not receive a penalty.

As this rule says, blocking is engagement by a skater to an opponent. A skater is not, by definition, able to block a teammate.

Monday, February 18, 2013

4.2.2 Pivot Starting Position: Only the Pivots may line up on the Pivot line. Pivots are considered on the Pivot Line when they are upright and also touching the line.

Today's rule comes the Pre-Jam Positioning section of the rules. This rule has been changed from the previous version of the rules. Previously, this rule stated that only the pivots may line up on the pivot line. This allowed a pivot to lie down while touching the pivot line with their outstretched fingers, forcing all non-pivot blockers behind their hips. The change in the rule now requires pivots to be upright to be considered "on the line" while touching it. This means that if a pivot is touching the pivot line, but has one or both knees, or both hands, on the ground - the definition of down according to the Glossary - they will not be considered on the line, and non-pivot blockers are not required to line up behind their hips.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

6.15.3 Failure to field any Blockers for a jam, preventing a jam from beginning. Penalty will be assessed to the Captain (see Section for refusal to field skaters).

Today's rule is a Delay of Game major penalty. This a new rule in the current version of the rules. It was created to address a situation that had been a point of contention among referees. The rules require both teams to have at least on blocker on the track at all times so as to always be able to form a pack. That is why the rules instruct referees to not send the last blocker on the track from either team to the penalty box until one of their teammates has returned to the track. Teams are required to field at least blocker in a jam or else the jam will begin with no pack, and no ability to immediately reform it. Previously, there was no specific way to handle a situation where a team failed to field enough blockers for a jam. This rule now gives an answer as to how to penalize this illegal action.

Even better than just adding this rule, the language of the rule explains how to handle the situation, as well. Since this rule includes "preventing a jam from beginning", if a team has failed to field enough blockers for a jam, then an official timeout will be called when the 30 seconds between jams runs out. At that point a major penalty will be issued to the offending team's captain.

Although this was a Rule of the Day already, I have decided to post it again because a WFTDA Official Publication has given new information on how to possibly address a forfeit after issuing this penalty. The Publication entitled "Jammerless Jam" ( is very similar to this situation, in that it deals with a lack of enough skaters to start a jam. As explained, before a jam begins without enough skaters (in this case blockers) on the track, an official timeout will be called when the 30 seconds between jams has expired, and this penalty will be issued to the captain of the offending team. The Publication explains that any subsequent delays may result in a forfeit, per It is key that this says "may", which allows the head referee to judge subsequent delays to determine whether they are failures, or refusals, to field blockers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 If an out of play opposing Blocker initiates contact with the Jammer, the Jammer may legally counter-block

Today's rule comes from the Jam Positioning section of the rules. It is a subrule of 4.3.4 which explains that jammers may engage each other anywhere on the track. Normally, counterblocking as outlined in Section 5 is to be treated just like blocking, which would make it illegal to counterblock while out of play. That would make it illegal for a jammer to counterblock a blocker while out of play, just as engaging that blocker while out of play is illegal. However, per this rule, if a blocker engages an opposing jammer while out of play, the jammer is allowed to counterblock without being penalized.

Friday, February 8, 2013

6.9.1 Skaters must be skating and/or stepping in the counter-clockwise direction when executing a block. Skaters may not skate in the clockwise direction while executing a block. These illegal blocking techniques include positional blocking. Clockwise movement is measured by the skates moving past a line perpendicular to the track boundaries.

Today's rule is the first in the Direction of Gameplay penalties section. This rule has been slightly revised from the previous version of the rules. Nothing major has been changed, except that this rule now doesn't reference a "direction of normal counterclockwise gameplay". This isn't particularly interesting, because clockwise movement has become very prominent in roller derby over the course of several years now. This change seems to just reflect that clockwise movement has become "normal" as well, even though a majority of the game is, of course, played in the counterclockwise direction.

The meat of this rule has definitely not changed at all. Skaters must be moving in a counterclockwise direction when making a block. I've always found this, and similar rules, odd because it says that blocks must be made while moving counterclockwise, but then goes on to define what clockwise movement is, rather than define counterclockwise movement. Regardless, considering there are only two ways around the track, counterclockwise and clockwise, it is simple to deduce that if the movement isn't clockwise - which is defined - then it is counterclockwise.

Clockwise movement is still something that confuses some people, so I'll explain it. As the rule says, it is movement that is measured by the skates moving past a line perpendicular to the track boundaries. Now, for starters, I've always been bothered by this wording. After all, the track boundaries are not parallel. The movement must be measured from the inside track boundary, which is not skewed like the outside boundary. Now, the rules say the "skates moving", and this is a very important part of the rule. All too often I am asked by skaters and refs about skaters skating backwards in a counterclockwise direction, but moving their body in a clockwise direction. Please take very careful notice that this rule says "skates moving" and NOT "body moving". Skaters move their bodies in a clockwise direction all the time during a game. So long as their skates are moving in a counterclockwise direction, then the direction of gameplay is legal. Finally, this rule says that clockwise is movement past a line perpendicular. This means past in a clockwise direction, of course. But more importantly, clockwise is past. Since counterclockwise is any movement that isn't clockwise, if a skater goes perfectly perpendicular to the track boundary (assuming anyone can actually measure perfectly perpendicular without a protractor) then it is legal movement, since it is not past perpendicular.

If skaters execute blocks on opponents while their skates are moving in a clockwise direction, they are at risk of clockwise blocking Direction of Gameplay penalties.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Skating - Using your skates to move. This can include stepping in any direction, rolling, and sliding on the wheels, as well as stepping in any direction and/or sliding on the toe stops.

Today's rule comes from Glossary. It is a new definition in this version of the rules. Previously the word "skating" was used throughout the rules, however it was never properly defined. You might think that it seems silly to have a need to define the word "skating" and for a long time that was true. But changes to gameplay have made a need. Something that has become more and more popular with blockers is backwards blocking. This is when a blocker spins around so they are skating backwards, and they make a block while still moving in a counterclockwise direction. As this became a more popular way to block, skaters figured out that by going up on their toe stops, they would be able to slow down the opponent they were blocking, and use the opponent's counterclockwise motion to make sure their skates remain moving in a counterclockwise direction. This became a controversial practice, since "skating" was sometimes interpreted as actually moving the skates, which is what people think of when they think of skating. The rules have now been revised so that skating is any movement of the skates, whether it be rolling or sliding, on the wheels or toe stops.

Friday, February 1, 2013

6.16.11 Habitual entry to the penalty box where contact, either actual or potential, by the skater’s seat to another person is caused by a structural failure of the seat and not the entry of the skater. Penalty is to be issued where proper precaution is not being shown by the offending skater, causing the habitual failure of a seat or seats.

Today's rule is a Misconduct major penalty. It is a new rule in this version of the rules. Previously, there were no rules concerning dangerous entry to the penalty box. This penalty is issued to skaters that habitually enter the penalty box, and sit down unsafely, causing structural failure of their seat. What does this mean, exactly? Basically, penalty box seats can be any of a number of items. Some leagues use folding chairs, some use plastic, law chairs, some use wooden benches, other use metal chairs such as found in ballrooms, and of course other options exist. Since there is no standard of what is used for penalty box seats, it is difficult to write a rule specifically to one type of seat. So, the rule was written to put the responsibility on the skaters to enter the box safely taking into account the seats in the box. For example, if the penalty box is made of flimsy folding chairs, and a skater repeatedly sits down very heavy, collapsing the folding chair, and makes contact with another person, they will be given a major penalty. If the penalty seat is a bench, and a skater repeatedly enters the box too quickly, topples over the bench, and makes contact with another person, they will be given a major penalty. The same formula applies to all types of seat used in the penalty box.

As the rule mentions, contact with another person is not entirely necessary. If another person avoids being contacted, but the potential was is there for contact, the penalty will still be issued. This means that if, for example, an NSO jumps out of the way of a toppling bench and isn't actually contacting, the skater who topples the bench will be given a major penalty.

Another factor of this rule is that it is issued when this action happens habitually. You might wonder what habitually means. Good news, there's an easy answer, and it's found in the Glossary. The Glossary entry for "Habitual" is:

Habitual - Any behavior that occurs three or more times over the course of a bout.

Therefore, if a skater enters the penalty box, causing structural failure of the seating, and makes actual or potential contact with another person, and they do this three times, they will be given a major penalty. Although this rule references "another person", thanks to 6.16.3 this does not mean a teammate.