Thursday, February 6, 2014

4.3.1 Once the pack is in motion, Blockers may change location as long as they stay within the pack.

Today’s rules is from the Jam Positioning section. This sounds like an odd rule, and because the rules have changed over time, it sort of is, even though it is still relevant. This rule has actually existed since the first version of the WFTDA rules when skaters were required to line up in a specific formation before the jam. This rule allowed skaters to break formation - change locations - once the jam had begun. Over time, the formation requirement went away, but the rule allowing skaters to change locations has remained. I can only imagine this rule has remained unchanged because it does set a requirement for skaters to remain in the pack, which in itself is odd, since skaters may skate outside the pack as long as they are still in the engagement zone.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 All penalty clocks stop between jams (see Section 7.2.4 for procedure).

Today's rule comes from the Clocks section. According to section 6 Penalties, "A penalty is a punishment, handicap, or loss of advantage imposed on a team or competitor". The way it is a punishment is that it is time in which the penalized skater is not able to assist their team, thus the loss of advantage. If a penalty were to be timed while the game were on hold, it wouldn't be a punishment, since there would be no loss of advantage. That is why penalty clocks only run when the jam clock is running, as play happens only when the jam clock is running. Therefore, between jams, when play is not happening, all penalty clocks are stopped.

This can be easier said than done, depending on how the penalty officials time the penalties. If one or more smartphones are used, multiple clocks can be started and stopped with the push of one button. If multiple stopwatches are used, each one needs to be started and stopped individually, which will require more than one penalty timer to be able to start and stop them all simultaneously. The easiest method to start and stop all penalty clocks at the same time is to use the single clock method.

Monday, February 3, 2014 Each game must have enough time clocks to time all penalties simultaneously (see Section 7.2.4 for details on penalty timing procedures).

Today's rule comes from the Clocks section of the rules. Having enough clocks is very important. At first thought you may think this means six clocks, a jammer and two blockers for each team, as that is the number of seats in the penalty box. In reality, it is absolutely best to have right clocks available in the penalty box. After all, a team can potentially have two blockers standing with another seated, or one standing with two seated. Throw in a jammer as well, and that team could require four clocks to make sure every skater's penalty is timed accurately. If you are using stopwatches, this is a relatively easy thing to do; you just make sure there are eight stopwatches for the penalty box officials (and hopefully enough officials to operate them all). However, if you're using a smartphone app to time penalties, then it isn't as easy. Every penalty timer smartphone app that I know of has up to six clocks on it, a jammer and two blockers for each team. So if only one smartphone is used, then there won't be enough clocks to time all penalties simultaneously, thus this rule won't be followed. The easy remedy there is to have two smartphones, and have one person time the blockers on each team, while the jammers can be timed on the same phone, or on separate phones. The benefit to timing jammers on the same phone is that the penalty timers apps have all the rules from section 7.3 programmed in. Regardless, whichever method you use to time penalties, it is best to make sure you have the ability to time eight individual skaters at the same time. While it won't be for more than ten seconds, it's nice to make sure those ten seconds are accurate.

Another option that some people use to time penalties is the single clock option. When the first skater enters the box, the officials start timing up with a stopwatch, and let that skater go at one minute. If a second skater enters during that time, they make a note of when that skater entered and when they need to leave, so that only one clock needs to be started and stopped. This is a more accurate method of making sure all skaters have their penalty clocks started and stopped at the same time, however it is certainly a more difficult method of timing penalties and requires practice.