Sunday, August 24, 2014 Proximity is defined as not more than 10 feet (3 m) (as measured from the hips) in front or behind the nearest pack skater.

Today we continue our discussion of “Pack Definition” under Rule 3, “The Pack”

Remember in 3.1.1 that to be in a pack, blockers must be “in proximity”. Today’s rule specifies what it means to be “in proximity”.

To be in proximity, pack skaters (which we learned in can only be blockers) must be within 10 feet of each other. It can be in front or behind. If a blocker is not within 10 feet of another blocker, those blockers cannot be a part of the same group of skaters that will form the pack. One skater might be in the pack, but the other one definitely isn’t. Which one is a part of the pack? Well that would be the skater that is within 10 feet of another blocker that happens to be in a group that has the most blockers from both teams. (See how I just combined the past few rules into one scenario?) Also note that the 10 feet is measured from the hips of each skater. So to determine the distance between skaters, the hips are always the reference point, no matter which direction they are facing.

Rules can be a maze of complex language, the important thing to remember is to break each segment of the rules down and make sure you understand each component in a way that makes sense to you. Everyone has different learning styles, so its ok if you use one technique to help you understand, while another teammate takes a different approach. As long as you begin to learn the concepts and applications of the rules, you will be a much better player.

Friday, August 22, 2014 The pack is comprised of the blockers. The Jammers are not part of the pack.

Today's Rule continues our discussion of "Pack Definition" under rule 3, "The Pack"

Today’s rule clearly defines which skaters can be a part of a pack. There are two basic positions in derby, blockers and jammers. When defining a pack, only blockers are taken into consideration. This rule makes it very clear and direct who is in the pack and has no confusing elements.

So when officials are defining a pack, or players are trying to adjust to where the pack is, you have to remember who the jammer is. Many teams nowadays are having their jammer remove their cover in order to confuse the opposing team once that opposing team has gained lead jammer status. Both officials and teams need to be aware that even if they are not wearing the star, they are still the jammer and cannot factor into pack definition.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

3.1.1 The pack is defined by the largest group of in-bounds and upright Blockers in proximity and containing members from both teams.

Today’s rule comes from “Pack Definition” under rule 3, “The Pack”.

Today’s rule is going back to the basics in terms of rules and game-play. I am going to also use this rule to demonstrate how to break down a rule to its elements in order to better understand them.

The first part of this rule says “The pack is defined by the largest group of in-bounds and upright Blockers...” So first, we know we are talking about “The Pack” because it’s clearly written out. Second, we know that we are talking about Blockers, as opposed to other skater positions. Next, we learn that in order to define what one is, there must be a group of blockers who are both in-bounds and upright. It also further defines this group as the largest. This means that not just any group of in play and upright Blockers can be a pack; it must be the largest group that meets that criteria.

The next element further defines how this group of in play blockers must be constructed. By using the words “in proximity”, the rule is saying that this group must be somewhat close together (Proximity is defined later in this section of the rules, so we will hold off on that for now). So now we know that a “pack” must have Blockers who are in play and upright and also close together.

The last element is that the must have “members from both teams”. That seems pretty straightforward. A pack cannot be all of one team; it must have Blockers from both teams.

The pack is the most basic element of derby. Without a pack, under this set of rules, there can not be any real engagement between blockers or even between a blocker and a jammer. This is why it’s really important to fully understand the elements of a pack that are required by the rules.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

1.5.5 Jammers and Pivots are permitted to put on their helmet covers after the jam has started. They must, however, have their helmet cover on their head or in hand before the jam-starting whistle. A helmet cover cannot enter a jam in progress.

Today’s rule comes from the Game Parameters section of the rules. Specifically, it states where helmet covers must be located at the start of a jam.

At jam start whistle, each team’s jammer and pivot must be holding their team’s respective helmet cover in their hand or wearing it on their head. It is not permissible for a pivot or jammer to be hiding the cover up their shirt, down their pants, or wherever (unless, of course, the player is also holding the cover in their hand while hidden in that location).

If the cover is not on the player’s head or in their hand, then the cover is considered to be outside of the jam in progress and is not allowed to enter. If the player dons a helmet cover that was not present at the start of the jam, they should be instructed to remove the cover. Failure to remove the cover warrants an insubordination penalty.

Should a cover not allowed in a jam land on the skating surface due to being dropped by a player, a missed throw at jam start, etc., it should be considered debris on the track and can be legally removed from the track by players, referees, NSOs, or even people not participating in a jam. (They cannot interfere with the actual jam, of course.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

1.5.4 Any skaters who are not completely in bounds at the jam-starting whistle will not be permitted to join the jam in progress. No penalty will be issued.

Today’s rule comes from the Game Parameters section of the rules. It is one of the limitations defining who is and is not allowed to participate in a jam.

Under this rule, a player must be completely in bounds at the jam-start whistle in order to join in the jam. In bounds should be interpreted as not having an out of bounds status, which is defined as touching beyond the track boundary with any part of your body, skate, or gear (exception: one hand/arm is permissible).

There is a notable exception to today’s rule. 5.13.1 states that a player who is established a legal starting position and is then blocked out of bounds before the jam begins may return to the track and rejoin the jam in progress.

Referees may use their discretion for rare and unexpected events as well. For example, if an opposing player grabbed the jammer’s helmet cover, threw it off the track, and the jammer stepped out of bounds to retrieve the cover then the jammer would be allowed to participate in the jam.

Assuming that exceptions apply, any player on the track in an out of bounds state at jam start will be instructed to return to the bench. No penalty will be issued for this offense, although failure to comply can result in an insubordination penalty or even a gross misconduct expulsion (“5.16.13 - “Illegal interference in game play by skaters or support staff not involved in the jam.”).

Monday, August 18, 2014 Number: If a referee chooses to wear a number, that number must be a numeral of no more than four digits (i.e., it may not contain letters and symbols, regardless of their size).

Today’s rule comes from the Officials section of the rules. It sets the legal standard for the characters allowed in a “referee number” on the back of a referee jersey.

In the prior (June 15, 2013) rule set, a referee number was restricted to up to four digits if the jersey did not display the referee’s name. If the jersey did have a name, the number could be any number of digits, letters, and/or symbols.

This has now changed. Whether or not a referee’s jersey displays a name, any “referee number” may only contain up to four digits with no letters or symbols. This is a stricter set of limitations than skaters have for their numbers.

The change in today’s rule is meaningless for skaters and does not impact the vast majority of referees, but for a small subset of referees it has significance. As many skaters will attest, one can develop a strong affection for their number. Affected referees in this rule set were required to either eliminate or change their skater number, quite possibly replacing their jersey in the process. Until they do so, their outdated jerseys are not a legal referee uniform under the rule set.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

8.2.5 Safety is the number one priority for referees. Illegal game play that causes an unsafe environment is not to be tolerated. The referees are to assess and enforce penalties and expulsions as described in Section 5 Penalties and Section 6 Penalty Enforcement. Referees will use their discretion and their decisions are binding.

Today’s Rule comes from “Duties” under Rule 8, Officials.

This rule is often cited by referees and skaters alike. Sometimes without its proper context. Yes, safe game play is the first priority of the referees. Its why the rules are written the way they are. The rules stipulate what is considered safe game play as opposed to what is unsafe game play. Roller derby is a full contact sport played by people wearing quad roller skates. Think about that for a second. A full contact sport played by people on skates.The sport has inherent dangers and risks.

It is with those risks in mind that the rules regarding legal and illegal contact have been formed by the members of the WFTDA. I have worked with officials that have seen hard contact between skaters and has called a penalty. When I ask them what they saw, the answer has been “That was just a really ugly hit”, so I follow up with this question, “Was the contact illegal?”
Referees need to be able to answer that question. If the contact was legal, then there is no penalty, its the result of a full contact sport. If the contact was illegal, the referee must be able to identify that illegal contact based on the rules set forth in section 5 of the rule book, then assess the penalty based on section 6 of the rule book. It is that simple.

Finally when it comes to discretion, we have discussed that in previous Rule of the Day posts. There is a limited amount of discretion a referee has and referees cannot simply make up rules in the name of safety.

The main idea I would like all skaters and officials to take from this is that Roller Derby is a full contact sport. Yes, safety is a priority. However safety does not supersede the rules that the teams choose to play under. Everyone remembers the line about “Safety is the number one priority..”. Lets also remember that what referees call MUST be based on the Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby.

Friday, August 15, 2014 Jam Timer: A game will have one Jam Timer. The Jam Timer is responsible for starting jams and for timing 30 seconds between jams. The Jam Timer is also responsible for ending jams that run the full two minutes.

Today’s “Rule” is the last in our “NSO” week. (And boy is this a good one!)

The Jam Timer is probably the most visible NSO position since every jam starts with the Jam Timer signaling the start of the jam with one long whistle blast. There is also a little confusion at times about the role of the jam timer in maintaining the game time and jam time clocks. Hopefully this can help clear up that confusion.

Let me say that what follows comes from my experience as a jam timer during sanctioned games. While other games might follow a different protocol, I believe in training all officials to the standard used at tournaments and high level sanctioned play. Train your staff to try and meet the highest standard, and you will be surprised how quickly they can get there.

Ok back to the Jam Timer, here are the responsibilities and expectations.

-JT will start each jam by first saying “Five Seconds” (when 5 seconds remain on the 30 second clock) and then blowing the whistle and pointing at the pivot line when the 30 second clock gets to “0”.

-JT will blow 4 rapid whistles to call off the jam and use the appropriate hand signal to end the jam. The JT will only use the proper hand signal (Placing the hands on the hips) when they are ending the jam after 2 minutes have elapsed. They will not use a hand signal if they are simply echoing a call off.

-The JT keeps the ACCURATE game time and jam time, while the scoreboard keeps the OFFICIAL game time and jam time. Notice there is a difference. This is where communication between the JT and SO is vital. During a time out, the JT can communicate any adjustments to the game clock and make sure those adjustments are made to the official time. The JT can only do this during a time out.

-Once a Jam has started, the JT will take a position in the infield where they can see the official time and official jam time. JT will use the visible jam time to end the jam at 2 minutes. The JT can look at their clock to make sure it is accurate, but unless there is a major malfunction of the clock, the visible jam time is the one used to determine when the two minutes have elapsed.

-If there is an official time out, the JT will take a position on the Pivot line and give the appropriate hand signal for an OTO. Please notice that the signal is “The fingertips of both hands touch the top of their respective shoulder”. There are no thumbs used in this signal. You are not pointing with your thumbs to your back. Also there is no “up and down” of the arms. You touch the tops of your shoulders and leave them there. If there is a long OTO, you may “flex” the signal to stretch out your arms, but then you return to the OTO signal.

-If there is a team time out, the JT will take a position on the Pivot line and give the appropriate hand signal for a time out and then point to the team bench of the team who requested the time out.

-If there is an official review, the JT will take a position at the Pivot line and give the OTO hand signal, then point with both hands towards the bench of the team that requested the official review.

-If a jam is called due to injury, and more time than the 30 seconds between jams is needed, the JT will take a position on the pivot line and give the OTO hand signal. Even if everyone else on the floor is taking a knee, the JT will be standing and giving the OTO hand signal.

-Communicate with the HR about how they want to handle Delay of game penalties and make sure to follow those directions.

-Before starting a jam, make sure all officials are in position, and get one last look at the head ref. Sometimes a head ref will want a jam to start even if they aren’t in the starting position right away. Most head refs can get back into position quickly and do not want to interrupt game flow. Again, communication with the other officials is crucial for a JT.

I’m sure I missed a few things, but you get a good idea of what is required. To reference the discussion yesterday of the scoreboard operator, a JT cannot be tied to their watches. Keeping the time on the watches is very important, as it is the accurate game time and back up if the scoreboard malfunctions. However a JT must pay attention to the official game clock and make sure game play is based on that clock. The official clock is the one the skaters and fans see, and if the 2 minute clock has expired on that clock, the jam should end. If a malfunction has occurred, then refer to your watch and call an OTO once the jam has ended.

I have seen a few JTs that are always looking at their watches and not looking at the game clock. This is not a good practice. Remember you are the back up to the official time, not the true official time. Yes you make sure the time is accurate, and yes you communicate when adjustments are needed. Just don’t forget that there is a visible clock that everyone else in the game, and in the building, uses as the official time for the game. Strategy and other decisions are based on the time on the clock and the time left in the jam, so as a JT we need to make sure we are following it and adjusting it when the opportunity arises and is needed.

Thank you for participating with AoS and I in this week of celebrating our NSOs! We will return to our daily rule discussions tomorrow.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 Scoreboard Operator: A game will have one Scoreboard Operator. The Scoreboard Operator posts the score from the Scorekeeper and keeps the official period and jam clocks up-to-date.

Today, we continue our celebration of NSO week with the Scoreboard Operator (SO) position. The scoreboard operator is extremely important in any game. Remember that the SO is responsible for maintaining the visual score of the game as well as the Official Period Clock and Official Jam Clock. Please note that the visible clocks are the official time for the game and the jam, since they are the clocks visible to both teams. ( and

The first thing a SO needs to do is become familiar with the scoreboard program that will be used for the game. The most common scoreboard (and the one used at WFTDA tournaments) is the Carolina Scoreboard. There are a few others out there (Ultimate Derby Scoreboard, etc.), so make sure you become familiar with the program being used as to eliminate some possible issues that might come up before the game.

Elements needed in a good SO:
-Communication with both the scorekeepers and jam timer in order to keep the information on the scoreboard as accurate as possible.

-Making sure to have your eyes on the jam timer between jams, especially when they say “Five Seconds”, in order to start the jam clock (and period clock) accurately.

-Making sure to know your “Hot Keys” Hot Keys are optional shortcut keys to help with ease of use for the scoreboard system.

-Making sure to communicate with the head referee if there are any issues with the scoreboard that need to be addressed before resuming the game.

-Being calm under pressure. Being an SO is an important job, and you need to be able to communicate effectively and remain calm during any situation.

-Do not input any points until the scorekeeper gives you the information. We may all see the points the Jam ref has awarded, however they do not go on the scoreboard until the scorekeeper has recorded the points and relayed that information to the SO. Constantly verify the total on the scoreboard with your scorekeepers to ensure accuracy.

-Adjusting the time as necessary during a timeout when the jam timer communicates that an adjustment is necessary. You must adjust the game clock during a stoppage in time. You cannot adjust the clock while it is running. (

A really good SO can make a huge impact on the game by not creating the need for additional official time outs to make corrections. Tomorrow we will end our celebration of NSOs by looking at the job of a Jam Timer, who backs up the Scoreboard Operator.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Penalty Timing Officials: A game will have at least two Officials to oversee the Penalty Box. The Penalty Timing Officials time penalties and assist referees in ensuring a team skates short when they ought.

Today’s rule continues NSO week, wherein we’re saluting the non-skating officials who make roller derby possible. Today’s rule describes the third of the five NSO positions that must be filled in a regulation game: penalty timing officials, or more informally, “penalty timers”.

As stated in today’s rule, two penalty timers will oversee the penalty box. They are sometimes accompanied by an optional position, the “Penalty Box Manager”, who times the jammers and supervising the penalty box. Absent this position, the penalty times are each responsible for a specific team in the penalty box and overseeing the box as a whole. The jobs can be either quiet or chaotic depending on whether the game is light or heavy on penalties, and whether the referee crew is able to quickly and accurately address unexpected situations that arise.

Meany’s NSO Survival Guide outlines a number of tasks for the Penalty Timers:

- Instruct the skaters where to stand, when to stand, and when their penalty time has expired.
- Time the skaters’ penalties (stopping if they stand early or fail to stand at <10 seconds) for as many as four skaters as once. - Monitor the Point of No Return line for legal entry into the penalty box. - Monitor the players for legal safety gear usage (ie; only removing their mouthguard while in the box). - Manage double penalties on skaters (ie; serving two or more consecutive penalties) - Communicate unusual situations and penalty box-related penalties to referees. - Monitor the box for non-penalized individuals communicating with penalized skaters. As O.N. Meany also points out, a skilled penalty timer an excellent working knowledge of penalty box rules, good communication skills with skaters, refs, and NSOs; practice timing penalties with a stopwatch / penalty timing app, and a strong ability to focus and work amid noise and chaos. For more information read Meany’s NSO Survival Guide: Penalty Timer. Also, talk to your league’s resident NSO expert on the penalty box. Link:

If you have any tips on working the penalty box or want to shout out the name of your favorite Penalty Box Timer/Manager, please feel free to do so in the comments.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 Penalty Trackers: A game will have at least one Penalty Tracker. The Penalty Tracker records the penalties reported by referees and keeps track of the official penalty tally.

Today’s rule continues NSO week, wherein we’re saluting the non-skating officials who make roller derby possible. Today’s rule describes the second of the five NSO positions that must be filled in a regulation game.

As stated in today’s rule, a penalty tracker records the penalties that referees assign to each player, and keeps track of the official penalty tally. Doing so is usually a more chaotic process than a scorekeeper endures, as a penalty tracker sometimes needs to track down information from the penalty wrangler, the other penalty tracker, the inside whiteboard NSO, and/or the referees.

Beyond the basic job are a host of other tasks.

- Echoing penalties calls after receiving them,
- Notifying the head referee when a skater earns their 5th and/or 6th penalty,
- Notifying the jam referee when a jammer lines up with 5 or more penalties,
- Avoiding/addressing confusion between similar skater numbers,
- Verifying the correct roster of players before the game begins, and
- Tracking the jam number

All of this is compounded by this fact: most games have two penalty trackers, but the rules only require one. Meaning the penalty tracker may be doing this not just for one team, but for both… sometimes without the help of a penalty wrangler and whiteboard operator.

As O.N. Meany pointed out in his NSO Survival Guide, a skilled penalty tracker needs a good working knowledge of penalty codes and referee hand signals, good communication skills, and the ability to think and react fast in a loud, chaotic environment.

For more information read Meany’s NSO Survival Guide: Penalty Tracker. Also, talk to your league’s resident NSO expert on penalty tracking.


If you have any tips on penalty tracking or want to shout out the name of your favorite Penalty Tracker, please feel free to do so in the comments.

Monday, August 11, 2014 Scorekeepers: A game will have at least two Scorekeepers. The Scorekeepers record the points reported by the Jammer Referees and keep the official score.

Today’s rule continues NSO week, wherein we’re saluting the non-skating officials who make roller derby possible. Today’s rule describes the first of the five NSO positions that must be filled in a regulation game.

In its simplest form, a scorekeeper tracks points reported by a jammer during each scoring pass. A piece of scratch paper that records and summarizes them into an ongoing tally is sufficient to meet the requirements of this rule.

The reality is more complex. WFTDA’s Stats Package features a complex form that tracks not only the score, but also…

- Who is the jammer in each jam?
- Did the jammer complete their lead pass?
- Was the jammer awarded lead jammer?
- Did the jammer lose lead jammer status or the ability to become lead jammer?
- Was there a star pass? If so, to whom?
- Was the jam called off for injury?
- Did the jammer call the jam?

As O.N. Meany pointed out in his excellent NSO Survival Guide, a skilled scorekeeper needs a good working knowledge of scoring and star pass rules, good communication skills, and the ability to work in a loud, chaotic environment. The scorekeeper is the pipeline through which points are communicated between the jam referee and the scoreboard operator.

For more information read Meany’s NSO Survival Guide: Score Keeper. Also, talk to your league’s resident NSO expert on scorekeeping.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

8.1.5 Non-Skating Officials

Today’s rule isn’t really a rule at all, but rather the title of a list of the specific Non-Skating Officials (NSOs) required to play a regulation game of roller derby. We specifically chose today’s rule as a way of kicking off “NSO Week” here at RDRotD. Today’s rule requires no explanation at all, so let us instead say two words to the thousands of NSOs out there:

Thank you.

NSOs are the unsung heroes of the roller derby world. Skaters get the lion’s share of attention with their jukes, flukes*, blocks, knocks, walls, and falls. Referees are flashy in their own way, with their black-and-white striped shirts and tweeting whistles. Yet it’s NSOs who hold the game together in their quiet, unassuming way.

A skilled NSO crew often goes unnoticed - that they’re doing their jobs effectively means that attention stays on the skaters where it belongs. An unskilled NSO crew pressed into service with little training can rapidly bring a game to a screeching halt. More than games, really -- the entire sport. Think I’m exaggerating? Consider what would happen if every game was peppered with three minute jams, incorrect scores, inaccurate penalty counts, penalty boxes that hold skaters too long, and official timeouts every other jam to sort out the mess. Good NSOs work hard to learn their jobs, and it shows if you know what to look for.

So we at Roller Derby Rule of the Day will spend this week saluting the heroes in pink (black, gray, etc.). Whether armed with a clipboard, stopwatch, marker, or keyboard, they are a part of Team Derby and deserve a rousing cheer from all of us.

Over the next five days we will describe the five positions covered in the WFTDA rulebook: Scorekeeper, Penalty Tracker, Penalty Timer, Scoreboard Operator, and Jam Timer. It is our hope that discussing these positions will help everyone develop a greater understanding of an integral part of the derby community.

Small side note: there are other NSO roles as well -- Inside Whiteboard**, Penalty Box Manager, Penalty Wrangler, Lineup Tracker, not to mention the folks in charge of track repair (a nightmare job at some bouts). And, of course, the Head NSO. I may be overlooking a position or two as well -- please make a note of these in the comments. These are optional (if useful) positions, but the rules only address the five we initially listed.

So again, thank you to all of the NSOs out there. The sport wouldn’t exist without you.

* I couldn’t come up with a better word that rhymed with “jukes”. My apologies for the lousy writing.

** A special salute also goes out to all the “old-timers” out there who served as Outside Whiteboard.

Saturday, August 9, 2014 The Jammer will also be awarded points for Blockers on the track and ahead of the Engagement Zone if said Blockers were not previously scored on during that scoring pass.

Today’s rule comes from “Points” under Rule 7, “Scoring”

Today’s rule is important to remember for both skaters and officials. The idea is that if there are blockers on the track, that are ahead of the engagement zone, their”points” are automatically awarded if the jam ends at that point,provided those skaters were not already passed and scored on.

For skaters: be aware of where the other skaters are on the track, if the jam ends and opposing skaters are more than 20 feet in front of the pack, those blockers are points. Make sure they get awarded by the officials. Some teams even use bench personnel to assist with this.

For Officials: please communicate with each other when you see that skaters are ahead of the engagement zone when the jam ends. A good crew will relay to the jam refs if skaters were in play or out of play so the jam ref can award those points. As in anything with officiating, strong communication and constant communication are important to make sure all the rules are being followed.

Also remember that this rule is a sub-rule of how points are awarded at the end of a jam. The jam must end with the skaters ahead of the engagement zone for this rule to be in effect.

Friday, August 8, 2014 Points for opponents who have not yet been scored upon in an incomplete scoring pass by a penalized Jammer, who themselves are penalized while the Jammer is serving penalty time, will be awarded to the penalized jammer upon the Jammer’s legal in-bounds re-entry onto the track in the same jam, or upon passing any opposing blocker (if their re-entry was illegal). If the jam ends before this occurs, points for those opponents will not be awarded. The Jammer may still earn those points by legally passing those opponents in the same jam.

Today’s rule comes from the “points” section, under rule 7, “Scoring”.

Today’s rule is quite a lot of information so I will break it down part by part. The first thing is that this rule is dealing with a very specific situation. The situation is a jammer on a scoring pass, who then gets penalized. While the penalized jammer sits in the box, an opposing blocker (who the Jammer has not legally passed yet) comes in the box to serve a penalty. The question becomes: When does the jammer earn the point for the blocker or blockers who are in the box?

The answer, according to, is when the Jammer legally re-enters the track. The Jammer does not have to pass any blockers in order to score that point or those points. The exception to that is if the re-entry is illegal. The illegal re-entry, that would not result in an immediate penalty, falls into one of the four categories I listed in yesterdays rule. If the Jammer re-enters the track illegally, then they will get the points for the penalized blockers once she legally passes an opposing blocker.

This rule is a very specific situation. Most times you do not earn a NOTT (Not On The Track) point unless you pass an opposing blocker on the track. In this specific scenario, provided you re-enter the track legally, you will earn the points for those blockers once you legally re-enter.

Again, the points awarded are for blockers who serve a penalty while the Jammer is serving a penalty.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

5.13.20 A skater exiting the Penalty Box who re-enters the track in a manner that would constitute a penalty for cutting (see Section 5.11-Cutting the track), given that all in-bounds and upright Blockers are assumed to have superior position to a skater returning from the box.

Today’s rule comes from “Illegal Procedures” under Rule 5, “Penalties”

The main idea behind today’s rule is outlined in the last part of the rule that states “all in bounds and upright skaters are assumed to have superior position to a skater returning from the box.” Notice that the rule refers to 5.11 for the standards of what is a cutting penalty. This is the metric that all officials are to use in determining if the skater re-entered legally or not. The assumption is that if a skater is returning from the box, all skaters on the track have superior position to the skater who is returning to the track. The times where no penalty would be issued are the following (I have adapted the standards from rules to give specific scenarios for not calling illegal re-entry)

-Skater returns in front of a skater who is “in the box”, having been sent off for a penalty
-Skater returns in front of a skater who is out of bounds
-Skater returns in front of a skater who is down
-Skater returns in front of a skater who has exited the engagement zone, or if during a “No pack”, is 20 feet from any member of the last defined pack.

The tricky one is the last one. If a skater is no longer in the engagement zone, they are not factored in to a cutting the track penalty. However with the dynamics of pack movement and judging distances at a particular moment, it is risky to assume a skater is out of the engagement zone unless you clearly see the official giving that blocker an “Out of play” warning. Even then, the pack might dynamically stop and affect where the engagement zone is.

The best course of action is to simply come in behind all the in bounds and upright skaters. Also be aware that some skaters will use techniques to “draw” a cutting penalty just when you think its legal to re-enter.

5.13.27 A skater initiating contact or engaging an opponent after the fourth jam-ending whistle that forces the receiving opponent down or severely off balance, forward, or sideways.

Today’s rule is our final segment in this week’s series on “illegal engagement”. Specifically, it is the threshold to give a penalty for illegally making contact with an opponent after the fourth whistle of the jam-call off signal.

This rule is unique in the entire rule set in that it only requires an opponent to be knocked “severely” off balance. No other rule in the rulebook uses this word. This is as opposed to yesterday’s no impact/no penalty version of this rule which specifies it is legally to knock an opponent “slightly” off balance. What’s the difference? You tell me -- it’s difficult determination to define, which means the rules leave it up to referee discretion.

Please note that today’s rule covers both blocks initiated after the fourth whistle, as well as engaging that continues beyond that point. A block which is initiated before the fourth whistle whose effect does not fully take place before the jam ends is legal provided the blocker ceases engaging once the jam ends.

It’s worth mentioning that the fourth whistle refers to the first set of jam call-off whistles, not the final whistle. Referees should sound three sets of call-off whistles that sounds like this:

tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet (jam ends)
(pause) tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet
(pause) tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet

The jam ends where I marked it above.

So now the kicker: the time between jams is both after a jam ends and before a new jam begins. Meaning BOTH types of illegal engaging (prior to jam start vs. after a jam ends) are in effect during this time. This includes team and official timeouts and official reviews, and the rules make no distinction between players arriving on the track for a new jam and players leaving from the old one. As far as the rules are concerned, any player is allowed to travel on the track and ref lanes between jams so long as they don’t engage. And if they do? That’s potentially illegal engaging. It makes no difference whether they were in the previous jam or not.

Using everything we’ve covered this week allows us to (unofficially) combine all four illegal engaging rules into two rules that read something like this:

Illegal Engaging (combined rule), not a penalty - A skater initiating contact or engaging an opponent after the fourth jam-ending whistle and before the jam-starting whistle that forces the opponent slightly off balance, forward, or sideways, but does not cause the opponent to fall or lose their legal pre-jam position.

Illegal Engaging (combined rule), penalty - A skater initiating contact or engaging an opponent after the fourth jam-ending whistle and before the jam-starting whistle that forces the receiving opponent down; severely off balance, forward, or sideways; or out of their legal pre-jam position (as per section 3.2).

In summary… if a skater makes or continues contact between jams or during any sort of timeout, they should receive a penalty if:

1) the opponent falls down,
2) the opponent is knocked severely off-balance,
3) the opponent is forcibly moved from a legal to an illegal starting position,
4) the player “steals” the opponent’s starting position, or
5) the contact allows the player to improve their starting position from illegal to legal

This concludes this week’s discussion on illegal engaging. For more information on the subject, please read ROTD’s last three posts.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

5.13.7 A skater initiating contact or engaging an opponent after the fourth whistle ending the jam that forces the opponent slightly off balance, forward, or sideways but does not cause the opponent to fall.

Today’s rule continues this week’s series on “illegal engaging”. Specifically, it is a no impact/no penalty rule in the Illegal Procedures section that defines legal contact with an opponent after the fourth whistle of the first set of jam call-off whistles.

Once a jam has officially ended, players are not to engage in contact or block each other. The reality is that opposing players do routinely make contact after the jam ends, usually accidentally but sometimes purposely. So long as the contact does not do more than force the opponent slightly off-balance, forward, or sideways, then no penalty is warranted.

Tomorrow: the penalty-level version of this rule along with a final explanation about how all four illegal engaging rules interact with each other. It’s what you’ve been waiting for.

Monday, August 4, 2014

5.13.26 A skater initiating contact or engaging an opponent before the jam-starting whistle that forces the receiving opponent out of their established starting position. This includes forcing an opponent down or out of bounds.

Today’s rule continues our series on “illegal engaging”, a type of illegal procedure involving contact between opposing players not during a jam. More specifically, today’s rule is the penalty-level version of the topic we brought up yesterday -- contact prior to a jam-start whistle.

When a player lines up for a jam, they establish a starting position on the track. That position is either up or down, and a legal or illegal starting position (as defined by section 3.2). Under today’s rule, contact prior to the jam-starting whistle is illegal if causes an opponent to lose their established starting position by knocking them down or altering their position from legal to illegal. Additionally, a Q&A makes it clear that it is a penalty for the initiator of pre-jam contact to gain an advantage from their action.

The Q&A has five examples on the subject, two of which are legal contact which we covered yesterday. The other three warrant a penalty under today’s rule. Simplifying a bit, these examples are:

1) Red Blocker makes contact with White Blocker causing White Blocker to stumble and put his/her toe on the jammer line. (Penalty for forcing White Blocker into an illegal starting position.)

2) Red Blocker jostles a White Blocker out of a wall and takes his/her starting position. (Penalty for usurping White Blocker’s established position.)

3) From behind the jammer line, Red Blocker makes contact with White Blocker and jostles him/her forward. Red Blocker then moves in front of the jammer line and takes White Blocker’s starting position. (Penalty for the gained advantage of moving from an illegal to legal starting position.)

It is also worth nothing in this rule says the offender must be a skater lining up for the next jam. The offender can easily be a player leaving the prior jam who makes contact with someone legally in place for the next jam.

Of course this is only one type of illegal engaging -- blocking prior to the jam-start whistle. There’s also another type of illegal engaging -- blocking after the fourth whistle. Both are equally in effect for the entire duration between jams (during timeouts, official reviews, etc.).


Sunday, August 3, 2014

5.13.6 A skater initiating contact or engaging an opponent before the jam-starting whistle that forces the receiving opponent off balance, forward, or sideways, but does not cause the opponent to lose the established starting position.

Today’s rule begins a four-day discussion about “illegal engaging”, an illegal procedure penalty for contact between opposing skaters when a jam is not underway. Today’s rule is a “no impact/no penalty” rule, meaning no penalty should be issued for the above action.

Before I begin, it’s important to understand when illegal engagement rules are in effect:

1. Between jams
2. During timeouts, official timeouts, and official reviews.
3. Before the start of the first jam of each half (5.13.6 and 5.13.26 only).
4. After the final jam of each half (5.13.7 and 5.13.27 only).

Under today’s rule it is a legal action if a player makes contact with an opponent before a jam-start whistle so long as the opponent does not lose their “established starting position”. That term is not defined in the rules, but a recent Q&A provides a definition -- a skater’s physical location on the track, their status as up or down, and their status as in or out of a “legal pre-jam position” (as defined by Section 3.2 - “Pre-Jam Positioning”).


The Q&A also provides two examples of legal contact prior to jam start. 1) It is legal if Red Blocker jostles two White Blockers apart to get in front of them and does not take their place in their wall. 2) It is legal if Red Blocker jostles White Blocker, who in turn stumbles and briefly steps behind the jammer line (ie; into an illegal pre-jam position) in the process of returning to their original position. The Q&A points out that it wasn’t the contact from Red Blocker that took White Blocker into an illegal pre-jam position, but rather White Blocker’s own effort to return to her original position.

Illegal engaging rules apply for actions by and against jammers as well, with the caveat that they have a different legal pre-jam position.

So basically, contact between opposing players before the jam-start whistle is allowed so long as it does not cause the opponent to lose their established starting position… sorta. Tomorrow we’ll cover the flip side of this rule by defining the level of “illegal engaging” that merits a penalty. There’s also another major restriction on contact outside of a jam which we’ll discuss on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

8.3.5 If the referee is not sure whether an action warrants an expulsion, an expulsion will not be assessed.

Today’s rule concludes the discussion of “Referee Discretion” under Rule 8, “Officials”

Today’s rule is the last rule of this section and follows the same theme as previous posts about referee discretion. In this case, the decision to be made is whether or not a skater is to be expelled for an action.

If an official is not sure that the action observed meets the standards for expelling a skater, as outlined in the rules (In most cases the action needs to be reckless, negligent, or intentional), then the skater cannot be expelled.

Expulsion is a very serious matter, and referees should make sure they have as much information as possible before recommending to the head referee that a skater should be expelled. Remember that only the head referee may expel a skater, coach, or manager ( If after all the information is presented, the referee’s are not sure the action was worthy of an expulsion, the skater will not be expelled.

This does not mean a penalty is not issued, it means the action did not reach the level of assessing an expulsion.

Friday, August 1, 2014

8.3.4 If the referee is not sure whether an action warrants a penalty, a penalty will not be assessed.

Today’s rule continues the theme of “If you didn’t see it, you can’t call it”.

Officials need to be in the habit of looking for the beginning, middle, and end of an action in order to judge if the action was 1) Illegal and 2) had impact. If you aren’t sure if the action was illegal, or if you aren’t sure that the impact met the standard for a penalty, then no penalty should be assessed.

Sometimes as officials, we are so focused on keeping the game “safe”, that when an official sees something that looks bad, but illegal contact cannot be determined, a penalty is called in the idea that it is keeping the game safe. This is flawed officiating. While we are charged with keeping the game safe, Derby is a high impact, full contact game. There are going to be violent, legal hits. As officials we need to be sure that the contact is illegal and be able to communicate exactly how the contact was illegal in the context of the rules.

So while today's rule is fairly straight forward. It is also very critical to remember.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

8.3.3 If the referee is in a position where intent must be inferred but is not clear, legal intent must be presumed.

Today’s rule is a continuation of the discussion of 8.3, “Referee Discretion”

Today’s rule has one main word in it that sets it apart from simply judging an action. That word is “intent”. There are a few situations where judging intent is important. Those situations are specific and are identified in the rules by using the word “Intentional”. Most of the places where you see that word in the rules is when it comes to judging if an action warrants an expulsion. While most actions need to be “reckless or negligent” in order to be awarded and expulsion. A few penalties also add the word “Intentional” (examples of this would be 5.6.5, and 5.2.4). In those cases, if there is not a clear way of judging the intent of the skater, then legal intent must be presumed. As always, if we as officials are not completely sure, we need to defer to the skaters.

To review: If the intent of the skater needs to be looked at, as well as the action, if you cannot determine the intent, then you must presume that the intent was legal for all discussions and decisions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 Repeatedly cutting small amounts of the lap distance short, which together add up to a significant portion of lap distance having been cut short over the course of the game.

Today’s rule is a Skating Out of Bounds penalty that is new to the rules in the March 1, 2014 edition. It is the second of two examples listed for 5.12.16, which states that significantly cutting short the lap distance while skating out of bounds is a penalty.

This rule says that repeatedly shaving off lap distance is a penalty. This is most commonly in the case of a jammer who zips around the apex so closely to the inside of the track that one foot goes out of bound. On its own this is not a penalty -- skaters can voluntarily adopt a straddling position if they wish. But each time the skater does so they trim a bit off the lap distance. Once, twice, perhaps three times are no big deal. But as those bits of shaved distance add up, the skater becomes increasingly likely to be generate a Skating Out of Bounds penalty.

Many skaters (and referees) dislike the rule because it’s so variable -- how does one define a “significant” portion of a lap? Yet it’s understandable why the rules leave this up to referee discretion. If the rules specified that a penalty is warranted after the skater cumulatively shaves, say 10 feet off the lap distance, there would be complaints that it takes trigonometry to determine when the threshold is met. Yet if there was no penalty for cumulatively shaving off lap distance, jammers may start regularly shaving the apex to increase their speed around the track. So don’t expect “significant” to be defined anytime soon.

By far, the best way of avoiding this penalty is to stay in bounds while skating around the apex by yourself. Or at the very least, minimize how much of the lap distance is trimmed. Shaving lap distance with a skate one inch over the track will add up slowly. But skating around the apex with one skate in bounds by only an inch will become “significant” fast.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

8.3.2 If the referee is in doubt on a call (e.g. the referee sees the effects of a hit but does not see the action). a penalty must not be called.

Today’s rule continues the discussion of “referee discretion” under Rule 8, “Officials.

Today’s rule is about making sure a referee only calls penalties on actions they see and the effects of those actions, and not just because they saw the effect of the action, but not the action itself.

Referees are trained to make penalty calls based on seeing the beginning, middle, and end of a particular action. If a referee does not see all three, they do not have enough information to make a correct call. A common example of this is when a referee calls a high block when they see a skater holding their head or reacting in some way that indicates they were hit in the head or above the shoulders. If the referee did not see who made the contact and the manner in which the contact was made, the referee cannot make that penalty call.

This brings up a few issues about officiating. First, its important for all officials to try to be in position to have the best viewpoint to make a call. In every sport I officiate, the philosophy is “Coaches are always going to complain about your judgement, they should never be able to question your positioning”. If an official is out of position in any sport, its very obvious and very hard to justify a call made when an official is out of position.

Second, it’s important for officials to review your own work. Video review with other officials is a great way to go over what you saw, what you didn’t see, and if you were in position at all times. Review makes you a better official and will get you more respect from the teams you officiate.

Finally, skaters need to realize that officials will NEVER see every call every time. Derby, as well as Derby officiating, is a human endeavor. The really good officials work hard to drastically minimize the calls they will miss, but they will miss calls. The dynamics of derby make it hard sometimes to see each and every illegal action. This is why this rule is crucial. It keeps the officials from “assuming” illegal action. If we didn't see the beginning, middle, and end of an action, this rule tells us we cannot make a penalty call.

Saturday, July 26, 2014 Referee discretion is intended ONLY to allow referees to keep the game safe, fair, and consistent in the event that an unexpected situation arises. Discretion does not allow referees to change rules.

(Admin note:I capitalized “Only” instead of using bold letters, as it appears in the rulebook. The emphasis is intended in the rule-JI)

Today’s rule continues the discussion of “Referee Discretion” under Rule 8, “Officials”.

Today’s rule is very important for all officials to know. The game of roller derby, as outlined by the rules set forth by the WFTDA, is to be played by those rules and those rules only. Referees cannot simply change a rule to meet a specific need. There must be a compelling safety reason, or some other reason that does not have any precedent, in order to alter the game and deviate from the rules.

The most common use of referee discretion I can think of is using a track that is not exactly measured out to the standards listed in the WFTDA rules. I have worked with a few leagues that do not have an official WFTDA sized track for their venue. Those changes to the track are made, however, in order to have the proper safety zones on the side for the officials and for the fans. Not every venue is ideal and adjustments have to be made in order for teams to have a public place to have games and sell tickets.

The consequence to this discretion is that a game played under those circumstances will not be sanctioned by the WFTDA. “Sanctioned” in this case means the game will not count for ranking purposes.

The bottom line is that referee discretion is actually a very limited action. All rules must be followed and cannot be changed. Any adjustments from the rules must have a very significant safety reason. I honestly had a hard time thinking of many scenarios that the rules did not cover in some way. Feel free to post if you think of any as a way to share with our small community of 50k followers :)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

8.3.1 The consensus of the referees will be the final decision on any disputed point that is not clearly spelled out in these rules. The referee may increase the severity of a penalty at their discretion. Similarly, the referee may decrease the severity of a penalty to a warning as the referee sees fit.

Today’s rule comes from “Referee Discretion” under rule 8, “Officials”

Today’s rule begins a small discussion of situations where the referee has to make a decision when there is no specific rule that will govern the decision. In today’s rule, the referee has the discretion to upgrade a penalty, or downgrade a penalty as they deem necessary.

The main situation this rule applies to is when issuing a Gross Misconduct or an Expulsion. Most times a referee will not downgrade a major to a warning unless there was official error. In that case it’s not a warning; it is a simple removal of the penalty all together.

Generally, when a player commits an egregious act, the referee will issue the immediate major penalty. Once the jam is over, the officials will meet to have a decision to determine if the action warrants an expulsion. If the action, in the eyes of the officials, warrants an expulsion, then the penalty is upgraded from a major to an expulsion. If the action did not warrant an expulsion, in most cases, the “warning” is the major penalty followed by a discussion with the captain about the penalty.

It is important to remember that occasionally, if an action is deemed obviously egregious or violent, the discussion of an expulsion is not needed and an expulsion is awarded immediately. This can only take place from the head referee, since only the head referee is allowed to issue an expulsion. (

Overall, this rule allows the referees to discuss any situation and make the appropriate adjustments to penalties as needed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

5.12.15 Being propelled fully out of bounds by a teammate. The out-of-bounds skater is still potentially subject to pack destruction penalties (see Section 5.10 Out of Play).

Today’s rule is simple and self-explanatory, but has never been formalized in the rules. Now it is. If a teammate pushes, blocks, knocks, or otherwise sends you sends zooming out of bounds, you do not receive a Skating Out of Bounds penalty.

If you are a blocker and your exit from the track causes the pack to be destroyed then you are still liable for a “destroying the pack” penalty.

This completes my series on new rules covering legal reasons a player can skate out of bounds. I’ll be back Monday to discuss new reasons why a player can be penalized for doing so.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5.12.11 After a warning (see Section 5.10 Out of Play), exiting the track whilst out of play, as a result of an immediate attempt to return to the Engagement Zone, so long as this does not substantially cut the lap distance short.

Like everything I’ve posted lately, today’s rule comes from the Skating Out of Bounds section. It’s yet another No Impact / No Penalty for skating out of bounds. This rule is newly added to the rule set in the March 1, 2014 edition.

As every blocker knows (or should know), when you’re outside of the engagement zone a pack referee will yell “out of play!”, a warning that you need to immediately stop blocking (even positionally) and return to the engagement zone immediately. Failure to do so nets an immediate penalty, so blockers must immediately get out of the way of a jammer trying to get through. So they step aside, and perhaps find themselves on the other side of the track line. Alternately, they may be partially around the track apex, so they skate out of bounds to “cut the apex” on the way back to the engagement zone.

Today’s rule specifies that these actions are legal. After an “out of play” warning, a skater can legally exit the track provided they do so 1) immediately (defined as “at the first legal opportunity”), and 2) in an attempt to return to the engagement zone.

Monday, July 21, 2014

5.12.8 Cutting across the infield in order to legally re-enter the track behind an opponent (for example, one Jammer attempting to return to the track after the other Jammer has skated clockwise).

Today’s rule comes from the Skating Out of Bounds section. It continues a series from early last week on newly defined legal reasons a skater may exit the track and/or skate out of bounds.

This rule states that so long as a player is trying to re-enter behind an opponent (often to avoid cutting the track), it’s legal to skate across the infield. Simple, really.

5.12.16 says it’s illegal to skate out of bounds in a manner that cuts short the lap distance. Prior to today’s rule, some referees interpreted that cutting across the infield to avoid a cut was also cutting short the lap distance and therefore a penalty. Others disagreed, pointing out that the player is backtracking and not doing laps at all.

Today’s rule settles the debate -- no penalty. The priority here is to get the player back on the track so they can continue playing, not to run them through a mini-obstacle course on the track infield.

Saturday, July 19, 2014 Prior to yielding, a Blocker who has false started is not considered part of the pack.

Today’s rule is the final rule in “Pre-Jam Positioning” under Rule 3 The Pack.

Today’s rule states that any skater who false starts is not to be considered a part of the pack until they have yielded.

This means for the purpose of defining the pack, a skater who has false started is not a factor. Realistically in game play, due to the popularity of scrum starts on the jammer line, a false starting skater will not really have an effect on defining the pack. If the pack is more spread out, then this rule comes into play more.

Ultimately at the start of a jam, with all the skaters bunched up, this rule rarely factors in much, its just good for officials to remember this. Its one of those rare situations an official needs to be ready for.

Friday, July 18, 2014 If a false-starting skater attempts to cede relative position (by coming to a stop), but no other skaters make an attempt to take back said advantage, the false starting skater is no longer required to yield.

Today’s rule comes from “Pre-Jam Positioning” under rule 3, “The Pack”.

Today’s rule describes what happens if a skater yields, and no one takes advantage of it. Once a skater has been given a false start warning (“Black 2112, FALSE START”), Black 2112 must now cease forward motion in order to give skaters around them a chance to regain their relative position. These skaters are not required to take advantage of the yield. The only requirement is that the false-starting skater must give the opportunity to regain position.

If no one takes advantage of the skater who is yielding, play continues and there is no further action required by the false-starting skater. The important part is that the skater must still cease all forward momentum in order to make sure the officials see that they are yielding advantage. A brief “Stop-and-go” is not enough to make sure other skaters know you are yielding advantage. If you come to a complete stop, and no one is doing anything different, or making any effort to move past you, you have met the requirement to yield. You may continue playing as normal.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 If, after the warning, no skaters are in immediate vicinity of a skater who has false started (In the clockwise direction), the false-starting skater must come to a complete stop in order to yield. After yielding, they may skate normally.

Today’s rule continues my discussion of “Pre-Jam Positioning” under rule three, “The Pack”.

Today’s rule describes the action a skater must take if they have false started and there are no skaters around the skater who has false started. More specifically, there are no skaters in the clockwise direction from where the offending skater is. If a skater is ahead of the skater who has false started, they already have superior position, and have no need to be yielded to.

If a skater has false started, and there are no skaters in the clockwise direction in the vicinity of the false starting skater, all the false starting skater needs to do is come to a complete stop. This is different from ceasing forward momentum. The skater must come to a complete stop in order to demonstrate to the officials they have acknowledged the false start and have taken corrective action. If the skater does not come to a complete stop, they still may be penalized under 5.13.9.

If you hear your color and number followed by “False Start”, and there are no skaters behind you, simply come to a complete stop. You then may continue skating as normal.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

5.12.14 Exiting the track due to a failed apex jump. This skater is still potentially subject to penalties under Section 5.11 Cutting the Track.

Today’s rule comes from the Skating Out of Bounds section of the rules. It is a “no impact/no penalty” reason for skating out of bounds.

The March 1, 2014 rule set codified a number of understandings among referees. Among them was the issue of what happens if a skater fails in an apex jump by landing in an upright position straddling both sides of the track boundary. In the prior rule set, this puts the skater in a sort of no-win situation. If the skater fully enters the track, they receive a cutting the track penalty for the skaters whom they jumped past. If the skater fully exits the track, they receive a skating out of bounds penalty for exiting the track of their own accord.

Because the skater was doomed either way, an understanding among referees overrode the skating out of bounds rule and allowed the player to legally exit the track. 5.12.14 was added to the new rule set to make this understanding official.

New related rule also extends the above rule by saying that a skater doesn’t actually have to fail an apex jump. Simply believing they went out of bounds either during the takeoff or landing of an apex jump is sufficient to allow the skater to legally exit the track.

Today’s rule would not include a player whose apex jump fails, but does not exit the track due to the failed jump. For example, the skater would receive a penalty in this scenario: an apex jump that crash lands in the middle of the track, but then the skater crawls off the track so they can legally repass any blockers they bypassed in the air. Leaving the track “due to” a failed jump (legal) is not the same as “following” one (penalty).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

5.12.10 Exiting the track due to the belief that one had reason to be out of bounds legally.

Today’s rule comes from the Skating Out of Bounds section. It is a “no impact/no penalty” reason for skating out of bounds.

The March 1, 2014 rule set expanded the Skating Out of Bound rules to better define what are legal vs. illegal reasons for exiting the track. 5.12.10 is one of the new reasons; it is legal to exit the track under the belief that the skater has reason to be out of bounds legally.

Subrules and define two common reasons for this belief. We will cover tomorrow. refers to exiting the track after the player believes a maneuver took them out of bounds (such as a fall along the track edge that almost takes a player out of bounds.)

Another reason would be leaving the track because the player incorrectly believes the jam has ended. I’m sure there are others, perhaps you can think of a few.

The challenge for referees is to correctly assess what the skaters’ intent when they exit the track. Rule 8.3.3 states that legal intent must be presumed if intent is not clear, making this rule an easy threshold for players to achieve. The end result is that players who exit the track for an unknown reason and do not immediately try to re-enter in a manner that makes some sort of strategic sense are not likely to receive a skating out of bound penalty.

Friday, July 11, 2014

3.2.7 Skaters who line up completely outside of their legal starting area will be issued a penalty (see Section 5.13.10)

Today’s rules come from the “Pre Jam Positioning” section of rule 3, “The Pack”, and from the “Illegal Procedures” section of rule 5, “Penalties”

While yesterday’s rule was about what position a skater must take in order to get a false start warning, today’s rule is what earns an “Illegal” positioning penalty.

The legal starting area for a blocker is between the pivot line and the jammer line, with only the pivot being able to touch the pivot line ( and 3.2.2). The legal starting area for a jammer is on or behind the jammer line (3.2.4) If a skater is on the track (in between the track boundary lines) but are not touching anywhere within their legal starting area, they are immediately issued a penalty for “Illegal Positioning”. Also remember that this penalty is only issued if the skater is in that position at the Jam Start whistle.

This is a very different change from the previous rule set. In the past, a blocker could line up behind the jammer line and receive a false start warning. This was generally done if a skater was in a rush to get on the track and wasn’t going to make it to the legal starting area in time. The thought was “get on the track, take the appropriate action to yield, and you are good”. That thinking no longer applies. Now that action is penalty

5.13.10 Illegal Positioning: A skater who commits a false start (see Section 3.2.7) by touching completely outside of their legal starting area at the jam-starting whistle.

5.13.10 uses the term “False Start” because that is what the action was in previous rule sets and I believe is to help understand what specific action causes the penalty. If you are in bounds and not touching your legal starting area, you are issued a penalty under this rule.

Remember that in order for this penalty to be issued, the skater must be completely in bounds. If any part of the skater is touching beyond the track boundary, that skater is not in the jam and cannot be on the track. There is no penalty for that, simply an instruction to return to the bench.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

3.2.8 Skaters who line up fully in bounds but in an illegal starting position (while touching their legal starting area) are considered to have committed a False Start, and will receive a False Start warning. Once warned, skaters who false start must cease all forward motion until they have yielded to all skaters in the immediate vicinity by ceding relative position to those skaters, or they may be issued a penalty (see Section 5.13.9)

Today’s rule comes from “Pre-jam Positioning” under Rule 3 The Pack.

Today’s rule explains 2 things. First it explains when you will receive a false start warning as a blocker. The first important element is that the skater must be completely in bounds. Both skates MUST be between the boundary lines. If one skate is in bounds and the other is out of bounds, the skater will be asked to return to their bench. Second the skater must be in an illegal starting position, but still touching in their legal starting area. For blockers, this would be between the pivot and jammer lines, for jammers it would be on or behind the jammer line. If the skater has both skates out of their legal starting position, but is completely in bounds, they will be penalized under 5.13.10. So for this rule, the skater must be in bounds and touching in their legal starting area.

Next, if a skater is lined up in a way described above, they will receive a false start warning. The warning will sound like this “BLACK 2-1-1-2, FALSE START”. There will be no whistle, just the verbal cue. Once the skater has received the warning, they must cease all forward motion until they have yielded to all skaters around them. This means you must stop until all the skaters around you have had a chance to take advantage of you giving up your position.

If you do not cease all forward motion and therefore let other skaters around you know that you are giving up your relative position, you will be penalized under 5.13.9. That verbal cue will be “BLACK 2-1-1-2, FAILURE TO YIELD”

Knowing the proper verbal cue is just as important as knowing what action to take. If you hear “False Start” then all you have to do is stop all forward motion and let the skaters around pass you, if they so choose. If you hear a whistle and “Failure to Yield”, you will be going to the penalty box.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 Jammer status may not be transferred by handing off the Star via other skaters, or throwing or dropping the Star.

Today’s bonus rule comes from the Passing the Star section. It outlines illegal methods for a jammer to pass the jammer helmet cover (“the star”) to the pivot. New in this version of the rules is a prohibition against transferring jammer status via the jammer dropping the star and the pivot retrieving it. In the prior rule set this was legal way of passing the star. Handing off the helmet cover via other skaters is similarly prohibited as is throwing the star from the jammer to the pivot, although states the reverse throw is legal.

Two days ago in a discussion on rule, an argument was proposed that a jammer who throws the helmet cover to the pivot does not warrant a “star pass violation” penalty. This argument was made on the basis that this rule in the illegal procedure penalty section...

5.13.18 - Violations of rules regarding possessing or wearing helmet covers (see Section 2 - Skater Positions and Identification), including violations of the procedures outlined in Section 2.5 - Passing the Star). The initiator of the illegal action receives the penalty.

… does not penalize the process of throwing the cover to the pivot. The argument points at (discussed today in a separate posting) as not stating that the cover cannot be transferred via throwing. It then references today’s rule as stating only that jammer status cannot be transferred via throwing, not the cover itself. Combine the two and voila! -- it’s legal for the jammer to throw the star cover to the pivot, even if the pivot cannot don the cover without running afoul of 5.13.18’s prohibition against wearing a helmet cover illegally.

I disagree with this viewpoint. 5.13.18 isn’t just about illegally holding or wearing a helmet cover. It’s also about violating the star pass procedure itself. 2.5.1 explains the fundamentals of a legal star pass with this statement, “Pass Procedure: In order to transfer the Jammer position to the Pivot, a Jammer must hand their helmet cover (the “Star”) to the Pivot… The Pivot must be grasping the Star when the Jammer releases it.”

To me, the authors’ intent seems clear. A star pass is supposed to be conducted by hand. Throwing the cover from jammer to pivot isn’t just an act of pointlessness; it impacts the game by confusing referees, NSOs, players, announcers, and the audience. The proper place for a helmet cover is on the head, or in the hand during a star pass. If it falls to the ground -- fine, the pivot can help return the cover to the jammer to avoid disruption to the jam. But the helmet cover isn’t there for the jammer and pivot to use for an impromptu game of catch.

Which interpretation is correct? That depends on whom you ask. It’s a gray area in the rules that can be interpreted in multiple ways. As with any gray area, it’s important a referee crew for a bout be consistent regarding their calls on the issue. It’s never a bad thing to bring up gray areas with a head referee during the officials meeting so that all referees handle the situation in the same manner.

All this being said, there is little disagreement that the jammer can, if the skater wishes, throw the cover. It is perfectly legal for an frustrated jammer to take off the star cover and throw it at the ground, in the air, at the stands, etc. It’s when a jammer throws the cover to the pivot that they may run into trouble. The Jammer status may only be transferred by a Jammer who releases the Star while in the Engagement Zone, to a Pivot who is also within the Engagement Zone. It is illegal to transfer the Star while either the Jammer or Pivot is outside of the Engagement Zone, down, or out of bounds. This applies only to the moment of transfer (i.e., the Jammer’s release of the Star into the grasping Pivot’s hand).

Today’s rule comes from the Passing the Star section. It covers legal locations where a star pass can occur. Both players must be in the engagement zone, upright, and in bounds. It is important to note that these locations only matter at the moment of transfer (ie; when the jammer releases the cover into the pivot’s hand). It is legal for the pivot and jammer to both be grasping the cover while down, out of bounds, and/or outside the engagement zone. The jammer cannot release (voluntarily or otherwise) the cover until both are fully reestablished in a legal transfer location. Violation of this procedure is a “star pass violation” penalty for the jammer.

It is worth noting that what constitutes a legal transfer location has changed in the current rule set. In the previous set the jammer was allowed to be down. This is no longer the case.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Grasping - Physically holding onto something with a clenched fist. For example, grabbing a teammate’s uniform, or holding hands. The grasping skater’s arm, from the hand up to (but not including) the shoulder is considered to be part of the “grasp”. The teammate is not considered part of the grasp, unless the teammate is independently grasping.

Today's rule comes from the glossary. It defines grasping, which in turn is used in the rules sections for Passing the Star and Multi-Player Blocking. The Use of Forearms and Hands section uses the word "grab" instead of "grasp", which the definition for grasping makes clear is functionally the same thing.

Some months ago an argument circulated that the definition of "grasping" contains an inherent loophole. Proponents argued the use of the word "fist" indicates that all five fingers must be used. According to their logic, if the thumb is not used then it is not a fist and therefore not a grasp.

This is sophistry. The WFTDA rules do not define "fist", which means it is left to the discretion of the referees. I know of no referee who requires a thumb be used in a grasp, and by extension, would consider this "loophole" to be valid.

Monday, July 7, 2014 When the inactive Jammer is once again grasping the Star, said Jammer may immediately release it back into possession of the Pivot, so long as the other requirements of Section 2.5.1 are met. Such an action constitutes a valid transfer of Jammer status.

This rule comes from the Passing the Star section of the rules. On March 19, the original writer at RDRotD outlined the previous rule which covers legal and illegal methods for the Pivot to return the jammer helmet cover to the jammer following a failed star pass. Today’s rule expands on one legal method of returning the cover, the direct hand-off. Under this rule, the jammer reestablishes control of the helmet cover once he or she is grasping it. The pivot is not required to let go over the cover for this to happen.

This rule also provides the option for the jammer to immediately release the cover back into possession of the pivot. Doing so is considered a new star pass and, if the transfer is done legally (ie; upright, in bounds, etc.) then the pivot immediately assumes the role of inactive jammer. If the jammer releases the cover into the pivot’s hand in an illegal manner (ie; out of play, etc.) then this is an illegal star pass that warrants a “star pass violation” penalty on the jammer.

Today’s rule also mentions “other requirements” of 2.5.1. These cover most of the legal requirements for a star pass. Simply put, the jammer and pivot must both be grasping the cover when the jammer releases it. Both players must be upright, in the engagement zone, in bounds, not in the penalty box queue, and not directed to the penalty box. The star cover may not be dropped, thrown, or passed via other skaters.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

5.11.1 ... The outcome and aftermath of a block are complete when the receiving skater has re-established control of their own self on the track. If the receiving skater exits the track after the outcome and aftermath of a block, that skater is not required to return behind the initiator of the previous block. The skater is, however, still subject to Skating Out of Bounds penalties, and Cutting the Track penalties on skaters other than the one who initiated the block.

This rule comes from the Cutting the Track section. It is an unnumbered rule listed after Or perhaps the text is meant to be part of 5.11.1? The indentation differs in the online vs. downloadable versions of the rules making it difficult to determine how it should be numbered within the overall rule set. Whatever its number, this rule refers to how the outcome and aftermath of a block should be assessed.

More specifically, the rule defines the aftermath and outcome of a block as continuing until a skater has re-established control of their own self on the track. In cases where a player precariously skates on one foot near the track to maintain their balance, this can take as long as five or six seconds. If during that time the player’s skate touches beyond the track boundary, the player is considered to be out of bounds. The initiator of the block also gains superior position to the now out of bounds opponent regardless of their respective positions at the time of the block.

Exiting the track after regaining control is treated as a different matter entirely, and does not give the initiator of the block an superior position. The player is still subject to a Cutting the Track penalty if they better their position against an opponent (or two teammates) while out of bounds. In addition, when exiting the track and skating out of bounds, players are subject to all of the rules in the Skating Out of Bounds subsection as well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 When an initiating Blocker exits out of the Engagement Zone at any time after the initiating block or when, during a No Pack scenario, said Blocker is 20 feet (6 meters) from any member of the last defined pack.

Today’s rule comes from the Cutting the Track section of the rules. Yesterday I discussed rule 5.11.1 wherein which the initiator of a block which knocks an opponent out of bounds can lose their superior position in four ways. The first three are defined in through (being sent off for a penalty, going down, or going out of bounds). This rule is the fourth and final way and covers two scenarios: if a does or does not pack exist.

When there is a pack, the initiator must remain within the engagement zone to maintain their superior position. Exiting from either the front or back forfeits that advantage.

If no pack exists, the initiator must remain within 20 feet of any member of the last defined pack. This second requirement is new to the March 1, 2014 rule set, and reflects a concerted effort in the rule to clarify various situations during a no pack scenario. Falling afoul of this part of the rule is possible in several ways, but the most common scenario is when the initiator blocks the opposing jammer out of bounds near the front of the engagement zone, a no pack situation occurs, and her momentum takes her beyond the 20 foot margin.

Sunday, June 29, 2014 When pack reformation is imminent, the rear group may slow in order to avoid unsafe contact.

Today’s TWO rules come from the Penalty section under “Out of Play”.

Rule allows skaters who might be sprinting an opportunity to slow down in order to avoid contact. This rule is simply for the safety of the skaters. Skaters who are printing to reform the pack need to have an allowance to slow down when pack reformation is imminent. This way there is less chance of unsafe contact when there are sprinting skaters moving towards skaters who are slowing or stopping. The idea is that while reforming the pack is important, it cannot happen at the expense of safety. Skaters coming from the back need to remember this and know you can slow down when you are about to reform the pack. During a No Pack scenario, the front-most group is never required to skate clockwise to reform a pack.

Today’s TWO rules come from the Penalty section under “Out of Play”.

Rule makes it very clear that no skater in the front part of a No Pack scenario is required to skate in the clockwise direction. As rule 5.10.6 explains what the front pack must do (Slow until they come to a complete stop), makes sure that the front skaters do not have to skate clockwise. Once the front skaters have stopped, they have done all they are required to do by rule in order to reform the pack. Most skaters will skate clockwise in order to reform due to the necessity to quickly reform a pack. Clockwise skating is allowed, however it is not required. No penalty for failure to reform the pack should be given to any skater in the front group who is stopped in order to reform the pack.

Friday, June 27, 2014

5.10.6 An attempt to reform is considered “immediate” if the action is taken as soon as legally possible. If an immediate action is not sufficient to reform the pack, however, additional effort is required. If a blocker is in the rear group, they must accelerate (until sprinting) toward the front group until a pack is reformed (coasting, stepping slowly, or only stepping in a somewhat-counter-clockwise direction are insufficient). If a blocker is in the front group, they must actively brake until they come to a complete stop (coasting is insufficient).

Today’s rule comes from the Penalty section of the rule book under “Out of Play”

Today’s rule helps clarify what skaters should be doing in order to not get a penalty for failure to reform the pack. While 5.10.5 covers what to do to meet the standard of “Immediate”, 5.10.6 covers what to do if there is a sustained no pack.

The first thing that must happen is that the skaters must be given a warning of “NO PACK” from the officials. Once this happens, the skaters must take immediate action to reform the pack. If skaters take immediate action, no penalty will be issued. If after that immediate action, there is still no pack, skaters must continue to take action in order to not get a penalty.

If you are a skater in the front of the group of skaters, this means you must continue to actively brake and slow down. Simply coasting is not enough to avoid a penalty if there is a sustained no pack scenario. Actions would include, plow stops, T-stops, tomahawk stops, hockey stops, or any other action that is clear to the official that the skater is actively slowing down. Also note that not every skater needs to do this, as long as one member of the team is taking action, no one should receive a penalty (unless one of the team members is actively blocking during the sustained no pack per rule

If you are a skater in the back of the group of skaters, this means you must continue to accelerate until you are sprinting until a pack is reformed. Skaters often will take a few strides and coast in order to meet this standard. This is not sufficient action. During a sustained “no pack” scenario, as an official, I am looking for continued acceleration. I should be seeing a continual change in speed all the way until a pack has reformed. Like the front group, only one member of the team needs to be taking this action in order to not receive a penalty. (unless is possibly in effect again).

Bottom line is this, when there is a no pack, until you hear “Pack is here”, both sides must take continual action to reform the pack or be subject to out of play penalties.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Out of Bounds - A skater is out of bounds when part of the skater’s body or equipment is touching the ground beyond the track boundary, including both arms or hands (one arm or hand does not render a skater out of bounds), or any part below the skater’s waist (e.g., a knee, a skate, or a hip). Skaters who are airborne maintain their prior in-bounds (or out-of-bounds, or straddling) status until they land. Skaters who are straddling are considered out of bounds, except where otherwise noted.

Today’s rule comes from the glossary. In the prior rule set, any part of the body or equipment touching beyond the track line rendered the player out of bounds. New in the March 1, 2014 rule set is an exception: if one arm or hand is the sole part of the body touching beyond the track line, the player remains in bounds. This exception also brings the definition of Out of Bounds into line with the definition of Down, wherein one hand touching the floor does not count as being down. This is also an allowance for speed skaters who touch the floor with their hand as they skate, although its implications go beyond that. A player who falls in a heap on the track with an arm sticking beyond the track boundary is not considered to have gone out of bounds and is not in danger of receiving a cutting the track penalty.

When today’s rule says, “including both arms or hands… or any part below the skater’s waist”, the rule is not saying that those are the only parts of the body that can render a player out of bounds by touching the floor beyond the track boundary. The operative word is “including”. Touching beyond the track boundary with another part of the body (e.g., the head or butt), would have the same effect.

There is one possible exception to “one hand or arm out of bounds” exception: when a skater’s arm or hand is the only part of the skater touching the floor. For example, a skater that successfully completes a one-handed cartwheel or handspring across an apex of the track. A literal reading of this rule states this is legal, but it is reasonable to assume that the description of the “one arm or hand” exception implies that at least part of the skater continues to touch the in bounds area of the track. Potential for severe injury to other players aside, skaters may want to avoid one-handed cartwheels across the apex until such a time that the move is clarified as legal.

Related video:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

1.2.7 The track and the boundary marker line are considered in bounds.

Today’s rule comes from the rules defining track design. It is defines what constitute the in-bounds area during a game. Skating on the track or on the tape lines themselves is considered legal play. Skating beyond the line, even by half an inch, is considered out of bounds.

Sunday, June 22, 2014 If, after being sent to the Penalty Box, all parts of a penalized skater have passed beyond Point of No Return (see Section 10 Glossary), the skater must skate all the way around the track in order to enter the box from the appropriate counter-clockwise direction.

Point of No Return - The far edge of the Penalty Box, in the counter-clockwise direction (see section, including its projection across the track.

Today’s rule is a rare 2 for the price of 1. The rule comes from the Penalty Enforcement section of the rules, and the definition is from the glossary. These two are directly related to each other (as the rule references the glossary and the glossary definition references the rule).

The main point of this rule is to show at what point a skater has passed through the box, and at what point they have not. All parts of a skater have passed the point of no return when no part of their body or equipment is touching before or on point of no return line. An example of this would be a skater coming in a bit too fast for the box, tries to stop using a knee drop, and slides past the line. Once they are completely past the line, the penalty box official will instruct them to skate around.

This also means that as long as you maintain at least a fingertip touching on or before the point of no return line, you do not have to skate around. The rest of the skater can be over the line, as long as one part is touching before the point of no return, you have not passed it.

The last part is where the glossary is important. The point of no return extends to the track. So if you are called on a penalty right in front of the box, and you skate past the point of no return while on the track, you cannot go clockwise on the track and come into the box. At that point the penalty box official will instruct you to skate around. If instructed to skate around, you must go all the way around the track in the counter-clockwise direction, and re-enter the penalty box.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

5.7.9 Linking with a teammate in a manner that, upon a physical challenge by an opponent, prevents said opponent from passing between said teammates.

Today’s rule comes from the Multi-Player Block section under Penalties.

Yesterday we went over the definition of what a “link” means in terms of the rules. Today we are looking at the rule that outlines when that link becomes a penalty.

Once a link is physically challenged by a skater, the blockers engaged in that link have committed a penalty. A physical challenge means that a skater is attempting to “break” through the wall created by the link.

Skaters who are aware of their actions are really good at releasing a link as soon as a skater is coming up to challenge the link. Also, there are times where skaters can get away with a link when it cannot be seen by the official. For officials, this is why positioning yourself to see the pack and these links is crucial.

One final note…While some might parse the language of the rules in order to try and make illegal actions legal, common sense needs to apply. We all know a link or a grasp when we see it. A previous analogy that I have heard is this: If the people involved with the link or grasp are frozen, and you cannot separate them by sliding one of the frozen blockers apart from the other blocker, you are in an illegal position for blocking it if is challenged. If you can slide the blockers apart, then the skaters are in a legal position. The one exception to this will be addressed tomorrow when we discuss an “impenetrable wall”.

Monday, June 16, 2014

6.2.8 After being released from the Penalty Box, a penalized skater may return to the track. A skater may skate clockwise in the clearance around the outside of the track when exiting the Penalty Box (see Section 5.13.20).

Today’s rule comes from the Penalties Enforcement section of the rules. It refers to what happens to a player upon being released from the penalty box.

Earlier today WFTDA released a set of clarifications, Q&As, rules publications, and corrections. We’ll need a day or two to assess the significance of them all, but this one I can address immediately. An additional sentence was removed from this rule: “When returning to play, the skater must return behind the rearmost pack skater.”

The reason for this change was that this sentence should not have existed in the March 1, 2014 rule set. It directly conflicts with 5.13.20, which penalizes illegal re-entry to the track after being released from the penalty box. 5.13.20 states that the re-entry rules follow similar rules as cutting the track. Re-entering the track in the engagement zone ahead of two teammate blockers, or one opposing blocker warrants a penalty. Unlike cutting the track rules, it is not a penalty when returning from the penalty box for re-entering the track ahead of a jammer.

The old 6.2.8 says that a skater must only avoid entering in front of the pack skaters. This was true in the last rule set. Now 5.13.20 says it’s not just the pack, but the entire engagement zone. Referees understand that 5.13.20 takes priority because WFTDA specifically announced they were rewriting the re-entry in the new rule set. Unfortunately someone in the rules department simply forgot to adjust the writing in 6.2.8 at the same time.

(Small side note: 6.3.3 has this same issue but has not been corrected. It references pack skater when it should be referencing any blocker inside the engagement zone.)

The rest of the 6.2.8 has not been changed. When released from the penalty box a skater may return to the track. They can travel either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the outside of the track as per their preference.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

5.9.18 A clockwise block that forces the receiving opponent to lose relative position, or allows the initiator or a teammate to gain relative position.

Today’s rule comes from the Direction of Game Play section of the rule book. This rule explains when a clockwise block is a penalty. The first element is movement in the clockwise direction. While previous discussions have brought up what might or might not be considered clockwise movement, as an official, I need to be sure that the blocker is indeed moving in the clockwise direction to call this penalty. If I cannot determine that the skater is definitely moving in the clockwise direction, I cannot make a call for a clockwise block. Also remember that officials need to position themselves as best they can to make this call. If I am completely in front of the action, or completely behind the action, I might not be as close as I need to be to make a clockwise block call. Also, as has been stated before in discussions, clockwise is determined by drawing an imaginary line across the track and if the skater is going past perpendicular in the clockwise direction, there is potential for a penalty based on the impact of the actions.

The impact assessment for this penalty is the same as all other blocking penalties. If you put the skater down or out, or if you or a teammate gain relative position, the action is illegal. Never forget the last part. Just because a skater stayed upright does not mean you didn't commit a penalty. Any block initiated while moving in the clockwise direction has the potential for a penalty.

The final part I want to bring up is the idea of initiation. In order for this penalty to be called, as an official I need to determine who initiated the action. If the clockwise skating blocker initiates the action, then the action is potentially illegal based on impact. If a counter clockwise skater moves to initiate contact with the clockwise skating blocker, then the impact of the action falls on the counter clockwise skating blocker since they are the ones initiating action. It can get confusing at times, but that is why as officials we must always be training our eyes to look for initiation and impact.

Bottom line is that if you chose to skate in the clockwise direction, you are opening yourself up for potential penalties. As in all things derby, track awareness is essential in avoiding this penalty.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

5.9.17 A block by a stopped skater that includes physical contact that forces the receiving opponent to lose relative position, or allows the initiator or a teammate to gain relative position.

Today’s rule comes from the Direction of Game Play section of the rule book. This rule is the first action that is listed as a penalty under Direction of Game Play, and gives the elements needed in order for an official to call a penalty. The first element that is required is that the skater is stopped. All forward momentum has stopped and there is no clockwise or counter clockwise motion. (Clockwise motion is covered by 5.9.18). The second element is that the block MUST include physical contact. A positional block will not warrant a penalty under this specific rule. The final element is the impact; does the block cause the receiving skater to lose relative position (knocked down or out), or allows the initiating skater or a teammate to gain relative position.

The first two elements are pretty straight forward to explain. If the skater has ceased all momentum and initiates a block with physical contact, they are now potentially committing a penalty. The final element is what has changed about this rule from previous rule sets. The impact area is now consistent with all other blocking penalties. If the block causes the skater to lose relative position, which means it causes the skater to go down or out of bounds. Remember that simply causing the skater to place one skate out of bounds will trigger this penalty.

The last element of impact involves the initiator or a teammate gaining relative position. I see this most often when a skater will come to a stop, just as a jammer is coming through the pack, then initiate contact with a skater which creates an opening for the jammer to get through. The confusing part for skaters is that this happens so quickly, and because the receiving skater did not fall, they don’t see how the penalty occurred. I have even been told “There was no impact!” as the skater was going to the box. There was impact, as the jammer was able to get through the pack because of the contact initiated while the blocker was stopped.

The one thing to remember is that anytime you are initiating contact while you are not moving in any direction, you are potentially engaging in an illegal block. All it takes is one of your teammates to gain position because of that block to trigger this penalty.

Friday, June 13, 2014

5.9.6 Skaters may block and/or assist while their body is facing any direction as long as they are moving in the counter clockwise direction.

Today’s rule is from the Direction of Game play penalty section. This rule is what allows for all of the backwards skating and blocking we are seeing in the game. As an official, this is one of the elements I am looking at when determining if an action is legal or illegal. Basically as long as you are physically moving in the counter clockwise direction, your body can face in any direction to engage in a block or assist a teammate.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 A skater who is engaged in a block who then comes to a stop for any reason must cease all engagement until there is another legal opportunity to engage.

Today’s rule comes from the Direction of Game Play penalty section. This rule directs a skater who is properly engaging an opposing skater in the counter clockwise direction, and then comes to a stop for any reason, to stop all engagement until they have another legal chance to engage again.

The first element of this rule is that one skater is engaging another skater. That means some sort of blocking, whether positional or physical, is happening. If that skater comes to a stop for any reason, they must stop any engagement. This could happen for a whole variety of reasons. The most common I have seen is the backwards facing blocker, moving in the counter clockwise direction, who comes to a stop while engaging an opposing blocker. When that skater stops, they must stop engaging the opposing blocker.

The final element is when that blocker can begin to engage again. A “legal opportunity to engage” is when the skater is moving in the counter clockwise direction again. While there might be other factors in deciding when a “legal opportunity to engage” has occurred, for the purposes of this rule, I will focus on legal direction of game play. The basic idea is, if you stop skating in the counter clockwise direction while you are engaging an opposing skater, stop all blocking until you can legally move in the proper direction again.