Rule of the Week - Back Blocks

Rules of Derby (according to WFTDA) ask our all-knowing officials whatever you like.
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Mags Payne
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Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:28 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Rule of the Week - Back Blocks

Post by Mags Payne » Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:09 pm

I bet this is the one area of the rules that everyone feels pretty comfortable with. Back blocks! But I thought they were worth going over again just in case.

Here is a perfect example of a back block:
Please try to *not* get distracted by the adorable small referee (it's not me by the way. There are other adorable referees around. Unbelievable or what?)

What the rules say:
Hitting an opponent in the back of the torso, back of the legs, or back of the buttocks is prohibited. Hitting an opponent with a legal blocking zone into a legal target zone while positioned behind said opponent is not blocking to the back and is not necessarily illegal.
Where are these mythological 'illegal target zones'? Luckily the WFTDA has a list AND a picture.
4.2.2 - Illegal Target Zones: For safety reasons, a Skater may not be hit in the following locations: - Above the shoulders - The back of the torso, back of the buttocks, or back of the thigh - Below mid-thigh
This is ably demonstrated by this picture:


As you can see, basically the whole butt (apart from bits at the side), the back and the back of the legs are prohibited.

No Impact/No Penalty
5.1.1 - Any contact to the back of an opponent that forces the receiving opponent off balance, forward, and/or sideways, but does not cause any opponent to lose relative position or any teammate (or the initiator) to gain relative position.
Ok, so incidental contact is probably not going to warrant a penalty. Same as all rules.

5.1.2 - Any contact to the back of an opponent that forces the receiving opponent out of their established position. This includes forcing an opponent down, out of bounds, or out of relative position.
Now, this is where things get a little bit weird. The wording of this seems to actually be a little bit contrary to the NI/NP section as there is a difference between 'relative position' and 'established position'.

From the glossary:
Relative Position
A Skater’s location, when in bounds and upright, in relation to other Skaters involved in the action. Relative position is said to be “gained” or “lost” if said location changes in a way that gives or loses some advantage (for example, one Skater passing another, or being knocked down, out of bounds, or out of play). Relative Position is only measured in the counter-clockwise direction.
Established Position
Where a Skater is physically; an area of the track where the Skater has secured their place. Examples: up, in bounds, down, out of bounds, in play, and/or out of play.
So established position is where the skater is on track. Relative position is where the skater is on track IN RELATION to other skaters. Hopefully that makes sense.

That means that as long as the skater is not moved from where they are on track AND where they are in relation to other skaters, then it's probably not a penalty. Example of a penalty would be - a jammer pushing against a blocker's butt so that she goes out of play (she has lost her established position ie, being in play). Another would be a skater hitting another skater in the back of the thighs so that she falls. However, if a blocker back blocks another skater out of a wall (for example, moving her forward in front of two of her fellow blockers) this is *not* a penalty if no one immediately takes advantage of the space created by the moved blocker. Because, in relative position terms, she has GAINED relative position - there has been no loss of relative position for anyone, and the opposition has not gained from it. This is followed up by the following rule:
5.1.3 - Any contact to the back of an opponent that causes any opponent to lose relative position, or the initiator or any teammate to gain relative position.
Note how it does not say "that causes the opponent to gain" relative position - in other words, you can back block the opposing jammer through your own wall and you probably won't get a penalty (there are no guarantees, obviously, I'd have to see it to call/not call it - if it's intentional you might get expelled.). Your team mates might hate you though.

Basically - you hit someone in an illegal target zone and the result is that they do one of the following, you will very much likely get a penalty:

*Fall (even if just on one knee)
*Go out of bounds
*Go out of play
*stumble so severely that an opposition player can get past (even though they don't fall, the result is a loss of relative position for them)

The following egregious acts will be automatic game expulsions. Expulsions will be issued for a conscious and forceful attempt to block an opponent in the back egregiously, whether or not the action was successful.

5.1.4 - Negligent or reckless illegal contact to the back of an opponent, back of an opponent’s legs, or back of an opponent’s buttocks.
I'm sorry, but this rule always makes me think of this:

Basically, don't do it. It's dangerous. I've seen a few people get really hurt this way.

Now, I appreciate that the whole relative/established position bit was confusing, so ASK AWAY.
Head Referee, WFTDA Officials rep, WFTDA Rules Committee Member, MRDA Recognised Official.

Good? Bad? I'm the girl with the whistle.

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