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.