Rule of the Week - Point of No Return Q&A

Rules of Derby (according to WFTDA) ask our all-knowing officials whatever you like.
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Mags Payne
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Rule of the Week - Point of No Return Q&A

Post by Mags Payne » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:14 pm

I thought it might be helpful to go over the point of no return Q & A that was recently published, since people have had questions about it.

You can read the full thing here: ... -no-return
Question: When a penalty occurs beyond the Point of No Return (PONR) line but the Skater travels in the non-derby direction and ends up behind the line before the Official finishes the whistle, hand signal and verbal cue, how should it be communicated to the skater that they must skate around before entering the penalty box?
If you are uncertain what the point of no return is (I'm sure several of our newer skaters haven't encountered it yet!), it's the line that defines where you can enter the penalty box or if you have to skate around the track. The WFTDA glossary defines it as "The far edge of the Penalty Box, in the counter-clockwise direction (see Section, including its projection across the track.". This is ably demonstrated by this photo - the point of no return is the hazard tape line on the left that extends to the edge of the track.

This question has been asked because there was some confusion about *when* the point of no return came into play. Should a skater be signalled to skate around when the whistle was blown? When the call was finished? What about skaters changing direction? And who has responsibility for making sure they do skate around.

The response can be broken up into several parts.
It is the duty of the Skating Official that made the call to inform the Skater and the Penalty Box staff that said Skater must "skate around.” This should be done with the applicable hand signal as well as the verbal cue. This action should be secondary to any other penalty or penalties that may occur at this time. If the Skating Official knows that the Penalty Box staff has seen this and is echoing, they should go back to their normal duties.
Firstly, since the question was framed as 'before they finish the full call', it means that this should be taken as when the whistle is blown - that is when the point of no return and relative position to it is assessed. It is then up to the ref who made the call to make sure both the skater and the penalty box officials are aware that the skater needs to 'skate around'.

Obviously, if skaters are committing multiple penalties, the penalties take priority over skate around instructions! Once the penalty box is aware, the referee can return to normal reffing.
The Penalty Box Manager and Timers need to be aware of Skating Officials calling penalties near the PONR line. If a call is made near the PONR line, the Penalty Box staff should be looking for the Skating Official to make the "skate around" hand signal and verbal cue. If this is made, then the Penalty Box staff should also echo this call to the Skater until they begin to skate around.
The hand signal is a nice and clear one. The verbal cue, as per the standard practices, is "colour, number, skate around". So for example, if I was telling Die to skate around, it'd be "Green, 82, skate around".

Penalty box staff (we have many excellent ones), will keep an eye for people trying to enter the penalty box from the wrong direction when directed the other way by the refs. They also can make skaters skate around if they think they should:
If the Skating Official fails to give the proper verbal cue and hand signal and the Penalty Box staff is sure that the penalty occurred past the PONR line, then the Penalty Box staff should communicate that the Skater must skate around. If the Skating Official fails to give the proper verbal cue and hand signal and the Penalty Box staff is unsure where the penalty occurred, then the Skater may sit regardless of where on the track the penalty was issued.
Like with a penalty - if the ref doesn't see it and the penalty box doesn't see it, then they don't call it. You never make a call you're not 100% sure of!
If said Skater ignores the skate around signal, the Penalty Box staff should repeat the hand signal and verbal cue.
This can sometimes happen with newer skaters who are uncertain of what to do/what the point of no return is.

Hooray! The Point of No Return. Secondly only to the Bog of Eternal Stench (aka the changing room toilets).
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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