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.