Mags thought it would be a good idea for someone to write a Rule of the Week from the NSO’s perspective, so here I am!
This post is going to be about how we time periods and jams in roller derby, which — I get it — sounds like the most boring topic ever, but it’s a) incredibly important to NSOs, and b) potentially very powerful knowledge in the hands of your captains & bench staff. Let’s dive in!
O.K. This is straightforward stuff! If a jam is still in progress when the period clock hits zero, the jam will continue until it is called off by either the jam timer or jam referee, at which point the period will end. If the jam ends and there’s only 10 seconds left on the period clock, there will be 10 seconds of lineup time after which the period will end — unless a team uses either a Team Timeout (TTO) or Official Review (OR). Plenty of teams hold onto a TTO or OR so that they can secure an extra potentially-game-winning extra jam in just this way.184.108.40.206 - The Official Period Clock must be highly visible to Referees, teams, and audience members.
1.4.1 - The period begins when the designated Official blows the jam-starting whistle.
1.4.2 - The period ends when the last jam reaches its natural conclusion (see Section 1.5 - Jams). This may extend past the point when the period clock reaches 0:00.
1.4.3 - If 30 seconds or fewer remain on the period clock when a jam ends, there will not be another jam started in that period unless a timeout or Official Review is called by one of the teams (see Section 1.7 - Timeouts).
…But, wait: what’s this about a “natural conclusion” in Rule 1.4.2? If we go deep into the WFTDA rules, we come to the section on ‘Officials: Duties’, which states
Essentially, if the last jam of the period (after the period clock has hit zero) is ended prematurely due to a serious injury or track invasion by the crowd (amongst other things), the Head Ref may allow one more jam to take place in order to make things right.220.127.116.11 - In the event that any jam (including an overtime jam) is called off prior to its natural conclusion (for example Sections 18.104.22.168.2–22.214.171.124.8) with time remaining on the jam clock but not on the period clock, the points from the jam will remain and an additional jam may occur at the Head Referee’s discretion…
There is one other circumstance where an additional jam can be granted even though the period clock has run out, and that’s the OVERTIME JAM:
What we have to take away from these rules is that you shouldn’t assume the game (or period) is over just because the period clock has run out (or is about to). To further complicate matters, teams are allowed to use their Official Review immediately after the conclusion of the last jam of the period by Rule 126.96.36.199:1.6.1 - A game may never end in a tie score. If the score is tied at the end of a game, an overtime jam will determine the winner. After one minute, the teams will skate a full two-minute jam. This jam will have no Lead Jammer. Penalties will be called. Jammers will begin scoring points on their initial pass. The team with the most points at the end of the overtime jam is the winner. If the score remains tied, additional overtime jams will be played until the tie is broken. Additional overtime jams will begin one minute after the end of the previous jam.
This means there may be a number of minutes before the final score becomes official, or there might even be an unexpected Overtime Jam!188.8.131.52 - To request an Official Review, in between jams or immediately following the conclusion of the last jam of the period, the Captain or Designated Alternate will signal the Officials with the appropriate hand signal. Officials will signal for the clock to stop.
For a great example of some of the ways in which a game can be extended, I highly recommend watching the last ten minutes of this game. Bonus points if you can correctly follow the use of Official Reviews here!
Jam Time, and Lineup Time
We’re all fairly happy with these rules right? I want to focus on Rule 1.5.3. here, because it affects when people are allowed to call Team Timeouts and Official Reviews, and in practice it’s actually more nuanced than it looks (it’s only one short sentence!)184.108.40.206 - The Official Jam Clock must be highly visible to Referees, teams, and audience members.
1.5.1 - A period is divided into multiple jams. There is no limit to the number of jams allowed in each period.
1.5.2 - A jam may last up to two minutes. Jams begin at the jam-starting whistle and end on the fourth whistle of the jam-ending signal (see Section 1.10 - Whistles).
1.5.3 - There are 30 seconds between jams.
Thanks to Rules 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 both quoted higher up, we know that the Jam Timer must use the period & jam times displayed on the scoreboard when calling off the jam, or ending the period. This is great, because it means anyone can see *exactly* how much time is left in the jam/period, and plan their call-offs and TTO/ORs accordingly.
However, there is no such thing as an Official Lineup Clock. What this means in practice is that some games might use an old laptop to run their scoreboard software, and this software might have a 3 second time lag when starting the lineup time.
So we have a jam that ended 5 seconds ago, but the scoreboard says we’re only 2 seconds into lineup time!
When this happens, most officials will advocate using Rule 1.5.3 to start the next jam when the scoreboard says “lineup = 27 seconds”, because 27 + 3 = 30 seconds between jams. This means that any team planning on calling a Team Timeout at 29 seconds (as shown on the scoreboard) is going to be severely disappointed! Instead, listen for the Jam Timer shouting “5 seconds!” — you now have 5 seconds, no matter what the scoreboard shows, because the scoreboard does not show the Official Lineup Clock — because there is no such thing as the Official Lineup Clock.
Well, it's late and I've written far more about clocks than is healthy for any sane person. Post your questions below!