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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2.7.2 The team Captain must visibly display a “C” on their uniform or arm. The team Captain’s Designated Alternate must visibly display an “A” on their clothing, uniform, or arm.

Today’s rule follows upon yesterday’s discussion about skater numbers on players’ arms. It is from the Uniforms section in the rules, and covers how a team’s captain and designated alternate must be visually identifiable.

While yesterday’s rule was quite precise (visible, high contrast, characters must be 2+ inches in height), today’s rule is flexible. The main requirement is that the person must “visibly display” the letter. Using the same guidelines as a player’s skater number will almost always suffice. A team leader who writes an unusually a small-sized “C” or “A” will be asked to print a larger one on their arm, so there is little point in not displaying a large letter from the start.

There is one caveat. If a captain’s skater number is C4, they should not display the captain’s letter without sufficient spacing to distinguish between the “C” and skater number. Poor spacing could be reasonably be interpreted by a referee as a skater number of CC4. Ideally this would be noticed and fixed during equipment checks, as presenting a misleading skater number could warrant, at least in theory, a uniform violation penalty.

Regarding location, the “C” can appear anywhere on the captain’s uniform or arm. This includes their shorts and jersey, but does not include their helmet, pads, or skates. The designated alternate, often not a rostered player, is also given the option of wearing the “A” on their clothing. I have seen referees be flexible with this rule and allow alternates to print the “A” on the palm of their hand (so they can hold it up for a ref to easily see).

Where and how to display the “C” or “A” is granted significant leeway because it is not critical that team leaders be immediately identifiable in the same way as a skater’s number. It is mildly advantageous for the leaders to be immediately identifiable, as it allows referees to more quickly assess that a requested timeout is requested by the captain or alternate. This is just a perk, and there is no requirement the leaders be easily picked out so long as long as the letter is visibly displayed in a legal location.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

2.7.5 Each skater participating in a game must visibly display their number on each sleeve or arm. Numbers must be of high contrast and easily legible. Handwritten numbers on the arm are acceptable.

Today’s rule comes from the Uniforms section of the rules. It provides a means for officials to identify a skater by their number without looking at the back of their uniform. The range of acceptable sizes for each character (2-4” / 5-10cm) is set by rules and

There are several popular methods for meeting the requirements of this rule including writing numbers in ink, wearing arm bands, and using temporary tattoos. Each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Numbers written with ink can and do blur as the skater sweats and takes hits, which potentially sets up the player for a Uniform Violation penalty should the number no longer meets the “easily legible” or “high contrast” requirements of this rule. Some referees will warn players between jams to fix the number, while others consider that a form of coaching. Contrast and legibility can also be problematic for skaters with dark skin tones and/or complex tattoos. I’m told that silver metallic ink pens work well for these individuals, but have never seen it in use.

It is worth noting this rule does not specify that a number must be horizontal. It is perfectly legal for a player to vertically display their number. Indeed, this may be a good idea for skaters with thin arms or four characters in their skater number.