Monday, August 19, 2013

2.1.3 The track boundaries must be marked by a raised boundary at least one quarter of 1 inch (0.64 cm) and no more than 2 inches (5 cm) in height, in such a way that is highly visible to skaters and officials and does not present a safety hazard to skaters. The track boundary line width must be at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) and no greater than 3 inches (7.5 cm). The track boundary must be consistent in height and width throughout the entire boundary.

This rule confuses many people. Mainly the question asked is “2 inches? How can a track boundary be 2 inches high?” Oddly enough, to some, there are track boundary materials that exist that are 2 inches high. Some rubber cable covers are 3 inches wide and 2 inches high. Most usually track boundaries are between 0.25 and 1 inch, but higher ones do exist. From a safety perspective it seems that a track boundary that is 2 inches high ought to be as wide as possible (3 inches) so as to have as smooth a transition as possible for skaters to roll over. From my own experience a track boundary material that is 0.25 to 0.5 inch is preferable as it allows skaters to feel the boundary while still allowing them to roll over the track boundary without a significant safety risk - after all, anyone can trip over even a 0.25 inch high track boundary

The requirement for the width of the track boundary typically applies to the tape used to affix the boundary material tot he ground. The overwhelming majority of leagues use either rope, plastic tubing or rope light for the height, and secure it to the floor using tape. Depending on the floor surface some leagues use packing tape, duct tape, gaffers tape, or wrestling mat tape. Usually the tape is opaque and satisfies the width requirement. If you are using the rope and tape method (or any similar combination) care must be taken to remember that when tape wraps around a piece of rope, the end result of the width of the tape laid down will be narrower than the actual width of the tape. For example, when laying down 0.5 inch width rope, the amount of tape if applied straight down from the rope to the floor, required to cover just the rope and reach the floor will be half the circumference of the rope plus twice the radius; to spare you the math, that would be over 1.25 inches of tape. So if 2 inch wide tape were being used to tap down a 0.5 inch wide rope, the end width of the track boundary, if taped perfectly, would be about 1.25 inch. That leaves very little room for error, and makes it very difficult for the track boundary to be consistent in width throughout.

Therefore, although the rules allow for a max height of 2 inches, and a minimum width of 1 inch, care should be taken when selecting track boundary materials so that a combination is used that allows for safe, legal and consistent track boundaries.