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WFTDA Releases 2013 Ruleset

On Monday, November 19, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association released the most recent update to its ruleset. Beginning on January 1, 2013, all WFTDA-sanctioned games must be played under the new ruleset.

Download the new ruleset here.

Monday's release had been a particularly long-awaited document, as it was the first time in over two years that the rules had gotten a major update. From the release of WFTDA 1.0 in January 2006 to the previous release of May 2010, the rules had previously gotten a minor or major update at least once per year.

Below, a look at the most significant changes in the ruleset (not all changes are mentioned).

Contact Penalties

The biggest single change is the jettisoning of minor penalties; no longer will skaters accumulate minor penalties before being sent to the penalty box, which means everything that was a minor penalty in the previous ruleset has either been upgraded to a minute in the box or downgraded to "no impact." However, penalties that result in a minute in the box are still referred to as "major" penalties in the ruleset, even though minors no longer exist.

Some of the key examples of contact which previously resulted in minor penalties but is now considered no impact / no penalty:

Contact to the back which forces the recipient "off balance, forward and/or sideways but does not cause the opponent to lose relative position" (6.1.1; it's important to note here that being sent out of bounds is always considered a loss of relative position, though, and therefore a major.)

Contact below the legal target zone "that causes an opposing skater to stumble but not fall or or lose relative position" (6.3.3)

Contact to the head which is "secondary or which results from legally initiated contact" (6.2.1; this wording is new to the ruleset)

"Illegal contact with the elbow or swinging motion of the elbow that forces the receiving opposing skater off balance, forward and/or sideways but does not cause the opposing skater to lose relative position" (6.4.6)

Forearm or hand contact that forces the recipient off balance, forward and/or sideways but does not cause the opposing skater to lose relative position; pushing with hands or forearms; blocking initiated by shoulder with simultaneous or subsequent forearm push (6.5.5 through 6.5.5.2)

Contact from out of bounds that does not cause relative position loss; continuing a block while partially out of bounds; contact with a fully out-of-bounds opponent that does not affect their ability to re-enter play (6.8.14 through 6.8.16)

Out of play blocking that does not cause loss of relative position and out of play assisting that does not improve relative position (6.10.10 and 6.10.11)

Alternately, there is one notable contact minor under the previous ruleset that has been upgraded to a major penalty:

"Extended touching (lasting three seconds or more) with the forearms or hands to an opponent's legal and/or illegal target zone" (6.5.6)

Stopped Blocking / Assisting

With the evolution of WFTDA-style derby towards a slower and more positional game since the release of the May 2010 ruleset, the new set gets much more specific about what's allowable when blocking speed moves from a crawl to a stop; there's a distinction made between positional blocking while stopped (mostly reduced to no-impact) and contact blocking while stopped or moving clockwise (mostly upgraded to majors or remaining majors).

The following actions are no-impact (previously minors):

Assisting while stopped in a way that doesn't improve the recipient's relative position (6.9.10), clockwise blocking that does not cause loss of position (6.9.11), positional blocking while stopped that does not cause loss of relative position (6.9.12), momentarily stopping while blocking but continuing to move counterclockwise at first legal opportunity (6.9.13; new rule.)

The following actions are major penalties (previously minors):

Physical contact while stopped or moving clockwise that forces the recipient off balance or in any direction (6.9.15 and 6.9.17), assisting while moving clockwise (6.9.16).

Pack Reformation

Previously, blockers entering the pack from the wrong direction (having either lapped the pack or fallen a full lap behind the pack) received minors; this has been upgraded to a major penalty (6.10.14 and 6.10.15).

Cutting Track

The cutting track rules have been made both slightly more restrictive and slightly less so. Underneath the previous ruleset, cutting any single in-play skater would result in a minor penalty, while cutting more than one would result in a major. The new ruleset makes it a major to cut any opposing in-play skater (6.11.10), but downgrades cutting a single in-play teammate to no-impact (6.11.9). It is still illegal to cut more than one teammate, though (6.11.11).

Skating Out of Bounds

More upgrades come in this section; underneath the previous ruleset, skating out of bounds to avoid a block or to maintain or increase speed were minor penalties, but they are both major penalties in the 2012 release (6.12.5 and 6.12.6).

Illegal Procedures

A false start (by either jammer or blocker) is downgraded to a no-impact if the offending skater yields position (6.13.2).

Jam Starts / Jam Endings

The big one here is that jam starts have been changed to a single whistle for all skaters in 5.1.3.1: "Blockers and Jammers begin at the jam-starting whistle." There are no longer separate whistles for the pack start and the jammer release. This means that it's no longer possible for teams to delay a jammer start by hovering behind the pivot line, and accordingly no longer necessary for a team to start on a knee to force an immediate jammer start.

4.2.1.2.1 and 6.13.36 appear to be a preventative measure against shenanigans to force advantageous no-pack situations at the beginning of a jam: "Blockers may not intentionally take starting positions which purposefully prolong that skater's ability to return to an in-play position or a team's ability to reform a pack (e.g. intentionally starting on one's back, intentionally starting in a dog-pile)."

Starting with too many skaters on the track is now no-impact (6.13.7 and 6.13.8).

Per 6.13.9, it is no longer a penalty to attempt to call off the jam while not lead jammer. (Successfully calling off the jam while not lead is still a major.)

Per 6.13.14, contact after the jam-ending whistle that does not cause the opposing skater to fall is no-impact / no-penalty.

New Major Penalties

6.3.12 Intentionally taking a knee in an attempt to avoid a block.

6.15, Delay of Game, is an entirely new subset of penalty which covers three different situations -- failure to be on the track at jam start when in the penalty box queue (6.15.2), failure to field any blockers for a jam (6.15.3), and successfully requesting a timeout while holding none (6.15.4). In the latter two cases, the penalty is assigned to the team captain.

New misconduct penalties under 6.16 call for major penalties to be assigned if people are caused to "vacate their position to reasonably avoid being forcibly contacted" by a skater's entry to the penalty box; notably, 6.16.10 specifies that it is "not limited to people in the penalty box," which seems likely to cause some controversial conflicts between skaters on their way to the box and skaters returning to play from the box in a clockwise direction.

New Expulsion Offenses

6.3.15 is updated from "kicking another skater" to "intentionally kicking another skater."

New language in 6.17.4 and 6.17.5 expands the universe of people who can no longer be legally abused by skaters. Previously, "the repeated use of obscene, profane, or abusive language or gestures" was expulsion-worthy if aimed at officials, mascots or audience members; now, announcers and "other bout production officials" also qualify. Notably, there's a higher trigger for opposing skaters, teammates, managers, coaches and "other support staff" -- the obscene, profane or abusive language or gestures must be both "repetitive and excessive" rather than simply "repeated" to merit an expulsion.

There's a curiously strict new expulsion-worthy offense in 6.17.10: "Entry to the penalty box that causes either the skater, the skater's seat, or another seat to forcibly contact another person. This includes people correctly positioned in their team bench area and is not limited to people in the penalty box."

Star Pass Changes

It is no longer illegal for a pivot or jammer to skate clockwise or out of bounds to retrieve a fallen helmet cover, under 3.2.3.1 ("A Pivot may skate in any direction, including out of bounds, to retrieve the Pivot helmet cover") and 3.5.8.2 ("A Jammer or Pivot may skate in any direction, including out of bounds, to retrieve the Jammer helmet cover.")

A new 3.5.8.1.1 specifies that a pivot cannot become jammer if the original jammer is in the penalty box; the pivot may place the cover on her head, but will not become the legal jammer until the original jammer is released from the box.

In other helmet cover news, a new 3.4.7.3 specifics that lead jammer status is lost if the lead jammer's helmet cover is removed by a teammate; the previous ruleset specified only that the status was lost if the lead jammer removed her own helmet cover. However, with the current ruleset only stating three ways to lose lead jammer status (committing a major penalty, removing the helmet cover for any reason, or having the cover removed by a teammate), it would seem that lead jammer status can still be retained if the helmet cover naturally falls off in the course of gameplay.

Scoring Changes

For the first time, the rules specify that jammers must be upright to score points (8.3.1); the related 8.3.1.2 specifies that an airborne jammer must remain upright while landing to score points for an airborne pass (previously, it was possible to score points without sticking the landing on an apex jump, so long as the landing was completely in-bounds.)

There's also some new language in 8.3.1.4.1.2 - 8.3.1.4.1.2.3 that allows jammers to score on blockers ahead of the engagement zone while the jam is still in progress. Previously, these points were only scored if the jam ended with those blockers ahead of the engagement zone.

Overtime Procedures

Overtime procedures get a minor update to specify that a post-May 2010 clarification applies to overtime as well. Previously, overtime rule 2.5.1.1 simply stated "If an overtime jam ends before two minutes for any reason, the bout ends immediately and the score stands. Additional overtime jams will only be played if the score remains tied." The new ruleset makes clear that 9.2.6.3 creates an exception for overtime as well as regular game play: "In the event that a referee must call off a jam prior to its natural conclusion with time remaining on the jam clock but not the period clock, the points from the jam will remain and an additional jam may occur at the head referee's discretion."

Rule 2.2.2

Rule 2.2.2 remains unchanged.

Comments

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Damn 2.2.2

That one's been getting in the way of the right team winning for years.

2.1.3

Methinks WFTDA means '0.64 cm' rather than '0.064 cm'...

As soon as i read through all

As soon as i read through all this stuff, i will assure you that it is an outrage.

Passive offense and scrum starts

live for another 2 years.

Any word on when we'll get the next rules update? Hopefully ASAP because these suck.

Next Update

WFTDA has said that it will be taking in feedback based on this ruleset and issuing another revision in the very near future.

They seem to be prepared for a raft of unexpected consequences that will undoubtedly follow.

As I've always said, scrum starts aren't something that really bother me--and any team that really wants to avoid them can do so by lining up on the pivot line, and starting a jam by skating off; it's just that most choose not to.

Meh

I don't quite agree with that one. That either just moves the scrum start forward, makes the scrum start a 3-wall instead of a 4-wall, and/or guarantees the team in front loses because they constantly get out of play because they're starting too far away from the other blockers.

Do it properly...

...and you give the jammers a running start. which stops it being a scrum -- and if you actually follow through with it, it's the back who get out of play first unless they're moving forwards, which negates the static scrum start.

Rule changes aren't the solution

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

live for another 2 years.

Any word on when we'll get the next rules update? Hopefully ASAP because these suck.

A change in culture of derby and/or some innovative thinking is what will resolve those issues, not rule changes.

I don't mind the scrums.

Scrum starts are at least engaging play. They require teamwork and good technique like using leverage. They also make larger skaters more valuable again — something that was declining with the increase of positional blocking over "big hit" blocking. Plus, scrum starts only really last for like 5-10 seconds. After that it's just roller derby as normal again. Also, I think that scrums may actually decline with the one-whistle starts because teams now know exactly when the jammers will be released and don't have to take a knee. This means designed plays will be developed to break the scrums open for the jammers. This thought excites me.

Patient offense, on the other hand, isn't exactly engaging play. Sometimes it's a full minute of nothing but blockers standing around while a jammer does laps. And that may be more true in 2013 with the loss of a minor penality option for clockwise blocking. It seems to me that a team defending against the patient offense now could have almost no option to try and stop it. If you skate forward to block, you split the pack and have to let the jammer go. If you hold your ground, you probably get sent to the box. The only defense would be bridging to extend the pack, but that's extremely difficult and only the top 10 teams or so are coordinated enough to use this defense effectivelty. —Plus you probably need 4 blockers to do it. Patient offense requires only 1 blocker to use and no real derby skill. With the loss of minors, we may well see a 50-point jam in next year's playoffs. Before patient offense was invented, power jams used to be like 10 points on average. 15-20 point power jams were rare. And 15-20 point power jams will probably be below average in 2013.

Personally, I think that patient offense should be illegal. It's a strategy designed to destroy the pack by forcing the other team to create a gap of >10 feet when they try to block (play roller derby). The rules state that both teams are responsible for maintaining a legally defined pack, but they don't fully enforce that. If you actively destroy the pack, it's a penalty. —But if you just stand there and the pack gets destroyed as a result, then it's perfectly legal. I'm not sure exactly how to word it, but I'm hoping that WFTDA eventually defines inaction that destroys the pack through the normal continuation of play as illegal pack destruction. I know it would be a "judgement call" rule, but there are plenty of those in roller derby already (see: insubordination, degree of impact).

At any rate, we won't know how these changes will ultimately effect the game until we see the new rules set in action and see the new strategies that are developed as a result. I think it's a bit early to start knashing teeth when there have been exactly zero bouts played under the new rules. I'll reserve my final judgement until I see how it all fleshes out. —And WFTDA feels the same way too. That's why there's going to be a feedback period or whatever. To me, it's a sign that things are going to continue to move forward. It's more important that progress is being made, less important that the rules are a subjective view of "perfect." Right now, I'd rather just focus on the exciting new parts of the rules rather than what I wish had been changed.

Passive offense

I agree with some of your points, but not quite all of them.

I actually wrote something on the whole mess a little while ago, that you can find here: the Cliff Notes version is effectively that (in my view) passive offense isn't the problem, as the boring / non-engaging elements are a fundamental problem caused by only having one jammer out there; if you have the only jammer on the track, you want things to be stopped, and will always find a way, so we need to look for a more fundamental solution.

Yeah, I read your article.

I actually commented on it, too. Personally, I think power jams are exciting when teams don't use the patient offense strategy. Trapping a blocker and defining a slowed pack is fun to watch. I don't like the idea of doing away with power jams because I think it would fundamentally change the game. A lot of the strategies currently used are built around the threat of a power jam. If jammers couldn't go to the box, they would probably just cut the whole pack if they were about to be lapped (to avoid giving up more than 4 points). Jammers would also have no reason to approach a pack cautiously because they couldn't go to the box for back blocks. This would result in a lot of dangerous pileups, apex jumps into crowds, etc. I suspect injuries would go way up, and roller derby already has a problem with a high amount of injuries. The fact is, I can think of a lot of potentially game-changing things that could happen if power jams were eliminated. That's enough to make me think it's a bad idea.

In my opinion, eliminating power jams as a method of killing the patient offense is like using a sledgehammer kill a spider on your wall. Will it kill the spider? Sure, but it's also going to leave a big freaking hole. It's better to leave the spider than to put a hole in your wall just to kill it. Instead, I propose you just get a tissue or something and squish it.

Personally, I think WFTDA does a good job of maintaining a disciplined approach to rules changes. Changes don't just effect the "watchability" of derby. They effect other things like injuries, which effect insurance costs, which effect financial viability, etc. There's a lot to consider.

Fair points

Fair points on scrum starts. However, "I think that patient offense should be illegal. It's a strategy designed to destroy the pack by forcing the other team to create a gap of >10 feet" is exactly what scrum starts are doing too, there's just actual blocking going on to accomplish it. I don't hate scrum starts because they're ugly, difficult to beat without playing similar tactics, and the opposite of what roller derby is supposed to be about (although, all of that's true). I hate scrum starts because they're ultimately just trying to split the pack and that should not be a legitimate way of getting your jammer through the pack. Imagine in football if the offensive line could execute a strategy that meant the defense wasn't allowed to tackle, that'd be totally stupid, right?

I'm completely an advocate for "no pack no scoring" but I do wonder if it would work to just enforce a major EVERY time there's a no pack and if neither team can be deemed most responsible then both teams get a box trip.

Yes and No

I realize that scrum starts sometimes result in a split pack — that's why the back was the best position to have — but that's certainly not the only reason they're used. The main strategy behind them is to create a wall of blockers that a jammer cannot get through. It's just that teams realized that the team in the back has an advantage when both teams are using this strategy. It is important, though, to point out that teams have now developed "front team" strategies too. When you're in the front in the scrum it's easier to play offense because the back wall has to get past an offensive-minded blocker who is trying to break up your wall. My perception is that the lead jams gained by a no pack went way down in 2012, but maybe I'm wrong.

One whistle starts will create a whole new array of jam-start tactics. Because you know exactly when the jammers will be released, and because no team will be taking a knee, it opens up a lot of possibilities for playing offense against a scrum. It's impossible to know at this point how this is going to effect strategy. It may well give birth to an effective counter-strategy to scrum starts. The biggest weakness of the 4-wall scrum is that if the jammer beats 1 blocker, she beats all 4. If a one whistle start does make it easier to offensively block as I suspect it will, then scrums could quickly go out of style. We might see teams regularly on the pivot line again... we could see a variation between the two styles... no one yet knows. I think you have to wait to see what strategies teams come up with before you can say something like "Scrum starts are still ruining derby in 2013!"

No pack no scoring would be horrible.

It would turn into teams running away the ENTIRE time. There would be no technical play, and it would turn into pure race. No hitting, no nothing. Just race. You'd end up going lap upon lap without the jammers actually engaged in the pack, without any real play going on.

That would blow.

How would you do this...

without getting penalties for intentional destruction and failure to reform???

It would not blow because teams couldn't do what you're talking about.

The same way you don't get

The same way you don't get penalties for slowing down the pack and having it destroy now... carefully but purposefully. The rules just state that the other team has to have reasonable time in order to adjust. So, the team would just pull out front just enough to destroy, or force the other team to race even more.

Except

the opposing team reacts and slows down now because getting out of play means giving up points. Whereas with nopacknoscoring, the opposing team wouldn't need to speed up or slow down with the other team because not doing so doesn't cost them anything. They can maintain the already established speed of the pack.

Also, since there's no way to force a team to speed up but there are plenty of ways through legal blocking to force a team to slow down, I would much prefer a sport that defaults to fast skating rather than slow skating because there would actually be a way for the opposing team to combat it. The ONLY way to defeat passive offense is through exceptional blocking of the jammer over the course of multiple jams to render passive offense ineffective. I don't think I've ever seen a team be able to pull that off (so I don't even know if it's possible) but that may change with the new rules. I DO know that it's very possible to slow a team down because I've seen it happen roughly a million times.

With this rule in place, I also have a strong suspicion that blockers from both teams would be evenly dispersed in the pack (like the old days) because having separate walls gains a team nothing (unless they think that's their best defense/offense even with no pack situations not gaining them anything). Being able to just speed up the pack whenever a team wants would be impossible without total control of the front and difficult even with control of the front. Whereas slowing a team down now is pretty freakin' easy even without control of any part of the pack.

I prefer watching people do difficult things, not easy things. But, maybe that's just me.

Scrums

Our Man Flip wrote:

Scrum starts are at least engaging play. They require teamwork and good technique like using leverage. They also make larger skaters more valuable again — something that was declining with the increase of positional blocking over "big hit" blocking. Plus, scrum starts only really last for like 5-10 seconds. After that it's just roller derby as normal again. Also, I think that scrums may actually decline with the one-whistle starts because teams now know exactly when the jammers will be released and don't have to take a knee. This means designed plays will be developed to break the scrums open for the jammers. This thought excites me.

Scrum starts diminish the skill level on display to fans. While it may not be easy to play, it doesn't mean it's all that entertaining to watch either. Because of the stopped blocking rules, jammers get to backblock a four wall all by themselves until they push a team out of play or her blockers come back to play offense because the other jammer already pushed the opposition out of play. Scrum starts require blockers that can get hit in the back and not fall; the stronger the blocker is on her skates, the better. It's not necessarily your best blockers that are successful in your scrum starts, which means that we don't get to see the best blockers as much or see them do what they're best at. All the dirty stuff that goes on in those scrum starts is a concern as well. The hits to the face, the multi-player blocks, the swimming forearms, etc. are an even bigger concern with no minors. To me, that's telling the lesser skilled team they will get away with more because it's now legal and has "no impact".

Maybe I've become the old school, but I love watching talented skaters play. You don't get to see their talents as much in scrum starts. Blockers have lowered expectations of performance (especially as individuals) and jammers get caught in a mass of humanity. Even on the bench one can't see what's going on in the scrums more often than not. These starts are a lesser issue than the standing around crap in my opinion, but I wouldn't overlook them when discussing the current state of the game either. Hopefully you're right and more teams go away from such things. I don't think that will happen any time soon, but I hope I'm wrong.

Nah.

I don't think your take on "displayed skill" is true at all. If you look back at this year's playoffs, Pure 4 walls were a much rarer sight. Offense is not dead, and if jammers are relying on pushing the opposition out of play as the only means of getting past, they are going to fail. Again, watch the championship games. The effective jammers were the ones that were employing other techniques to segment and and break walls, not just the ones pushing them.

Beyond that, your definition of "best blocker" is odd. In what world is being stable on your skates not a core quality of a good blocker? Even when it's one on one play, that is *so* important. And "lowered expectations of performance (especially as individuals)"? ... *really*? This is so not true, and you yourself hint at that in your second sentence "While it may not be easy to play". If a weak skater is in my line, it affects the wall. You can only compensate so much. Beyond that, what is your "expectation of performance" for individuals?

Making a save by running up and catching the jammer about to escape?
-- Happens still. All the time. Exciting as heck to watch.

Putting a big hit on?
-- Perhaps not as common, but that's not just about scrums. Positional blocking works, and you still get big hitters.

The ability to hold a jammer by yourself, either at the top or at the back of the pack?
-- You'll see people try it still. Nobody beyond entry level play is going to just ... give up. The problem is that the skill level of jammers is going up and up and up... which is GOOD.

Being part of a coordinated, communicative team that is working as one to perform a difficult and demanding task?
-- This requires a HUGE amount of individual performance. Teamwork doesn't just happen, especially not in a sport like derby where everything is in flux constantly, and each individual skater has to understand the tactics and keep track of 9 other people, 5 of which are gunning for her.

Being able to put your body on the jammer, meaning, knowing where she is, where her teammates are, what the situation is, is there a pack, are you out of play, etc etc etc?
--That takes skill, that takes attention, and it takes ability. If you can't recognize it, that's sad. If you can't appreciate it? Well.. that's your thing.

Thank you for this response.

Thank you for this response. I've never worked harder, become more skilled and tough, or seen my teammates do the same than in the current gameplay environment. All of your points sum up why that is the case.

What about the impact on scores?

One thing we've seen with scrum starts is score inflation. Once upon a time, a team had a good win if they broke a hundred or 120 and held their opponent to less than 100 with defense. If both teams scored more than 120ish, it was a sign of weaker defense or too many powerjams. Nowadays we've got top level teams playing one another to 200-150 point scores. This IS a problem in my book.

Once upon a time jams typically started 30 seconds apart, barring a team or official timeout. With teams racing to the jammer line to occupy the back, jams are starting sooner (as soon as both teams are ready). This means more jams per game. How many more? Enough to break WFTDA's stats sheets.

Single whistle starts will probably make this worse rather than better. Nobody will ever be waiting even five or ten seconds for the last blocker to cross the pivot line.

Jammers tend to escape the pack more quickly, which tends to lead towards jammers scoring sooner. The rush to the jammer line to occupy the rear is probably the BIGGEST factor causing inflated scores.

Possible fixes:

  • Put some kind of minimum break between jams. Fifteen or 20 seconds, or even the full 30? See how much "boring standing around" that causes.
  • Change the jam time to 90 seconds. In previous seasons, Sun State Roller Girls used a 90 second jam variation of the WFTDA rules. They were having full length bouts with scores like 90-79. Looks a whole lot better in the newspaper (we can dream, right?) than 250-175.

huh?

Poobah wrote:

Once upon a time jams typically started 30 seconds apart, barring a team or official timeout. With teams racing to the jammer line to occupy the back, jams are starting sooner (as soon as both teams are ready). This means more jams per game. How many more? Enough to break WFTDA's stats sheets.

...
Possible fixes:

  • Put some kind of minimum break between jams. Fifteen or 20 seconds, or even the full 30? See how much "boring standing around" that causes.

Huh? Rule 2.4.3 defines the minimum break between jams. It still calls for a standard 30 seconds between each jam, just like before, no matter where people lined up.

These new rules well may have impact on scoring (more power jams due to single-foe cuts, or fewer due to accumulated jammer minors) but at the veteran levels both jammers were getting going within a 'no pack' whistle-breath of thirty seconds after the previous jam, nearly every time.

More jams

Calvin is correct. This was the case even under the May 2010 rules. The increased number of jams per period more recently is mostly due to shorter jams. In other words, lead jammers are more likely to call the jam off after one scoring pass than in the past.

Not quite

Poobah wrote:
  • Change the jam time to 90 seconds. In previous seasons, Sun State Roller Girls used a 90 second jam variation of the WFTDA rules. They were having full length bouts with scores like 90-79. Looks a whole lot better in the newspaper (we can dream, right?) than 250-175.
  • That was Adelaide Roller Derby, not Sun State. They went to full WFTDA rules -- ie, two minute jams -- in 2012. Someone else -- Vaderella? -- can probably speak to the direct impact of the longer jams on their games, but in the past I've heard those close scores attributed to training practices, not ruleset variation.

    60 vs 120

    Beck Wise wrote:
    Poobah wrote:
  • Change the jam time to 90 seconds. In previous seasons, Sun State Roller Girls used a 90 second jam variation of the WFTDA rules. They were having full length bouts with scores like 90-79. Looks a whole lot better in the newspaper (we can dream, right?) than 250-175.
  • That was Adelaide Roller Derby, not Sun State. They went to full WFTDA rules -- ie, two minute jams -- in 2012. Someone else -- Vaderella? -- can probably speak to the direct impact of the longer jams on their games, but in the past I've heard those close scores attributed to training practices, not ruleset variation.

    ARDL in the first Skate of origin wanted 60 second jams as they practiced that way, WFTDA at that time didn't have the stronghold it does now so some leagues didn't adopt all the rules of the ruleset. VRDL however had been working on 2 minute jams, they compromised with 90 second jams which majorly undermined both leagues strategies. VRDL came out victorious in that match but it might have been a different outcome had the game been either 60 second or even 120 seconds for that matter.

    Banked track shows, with 60 second jams they are a lower scoring game and potentially allow for a lot closer game. In flat track this would work well to gain closer games as you don't have 30 point power jams or similar unfairly weighted 120 seconds of game play. With a 60 second jam a game can be all about the jammer getting through the pack on the initial pass and first scoring pass rather then lapping the pack 4 times. I am still torn about which looks better from an audience point of view.

    Banked track games are not lower scoring

    Actually, the potential is the same. Tilted Thunder won a game 370-71 in a banked track game against a less experienced banked track league.

    I prefer shorter jams because the skaters tend to skate them harder, where with two minute jams, the last 30-40 seconds, everyone seems to be conserving energy, don't skate as low, and don't skate with as much energy. I prefer higher energy over energy conservation. It's less true of the top tier teams, but really, how many teams are really top tier.

    I know ...

    I know this is completely subjective, but I'd say about 40 in the flat track world. The teams I've seen at regionals just don't quit.

    Scoring averages

    The increase in scoring isn't a result of a greater number of jams in a bout. If anything, that would reduce the scoring not increase it. More jams = more 30-second runoffs between jams + more initial passes each team has to complete before scoring. If anything, long scrums delay the first pass and thus delay a scoring pass. High scoring occurrs when jams run longer because nobody can/does call off a jam. That's when jammers can rack up multiple scoring passes and put a lot of points on the board. This usually happens when a jammer either cannot escape the pack and is being lapped by the other jammer -or- when a team has a power jam.

    The biggest issue is that the scoring on power jams has more than doubled in the last year. I studied power jams in the 2011 tournaments, and a normal power jam in 2011 resulted in an average of around 10 points. Also, the average total score was around 140 for a bout. I didn't study this for 2012, but my perception is that 20+ points from a power jam seems to be the norm now, with average bout scores being somewhere around 190. Teams have averaged 4-5 power jams per bout, so when you average 10-15 points more per power jam, you get a 50-point increase in average scoring over a bout.

    My opinion is that this is due to the patient offense strategy being adopted by the vast majority of teams in 2012. It's easy to rack up 4 or 5 or 6 grand slams when the other team can only block your jammer for a couple seconds before having to let her go. Some people may disagree, but that's my opinion/analysis.

    It's unknown if the patient offense or scrum starts will survive under the new rule set. It's unknown if scoring will go up or down. I have a feeling scrum starts are the most susceptible to changing since the rules surrounding jam starts have now changed. Derby is unique in how everything effects everything else. One little change can cause a butterfly effect of changes in strategy and counter-strategy. There's really no sure way of knowing how the game will be effected ahead of time.

    And this is why variations of passive offence are so prevelant.

    Here's the thing. The reason that the older style of power jam play scores less is because it means that blockers passed by the jammer can keep recycling themselves back up to the top of the pack to get in front of the jammer. It means that by actively engaging in the pack for extended periods of time, the offensive line is actually making it harder for the jammer to escape quickly.

    But keep an eye on what you are actually defining as "passive offense". I think you'll find that there are several different styles, and that they've mutated even over the course of this past season. It's not going to stop going on, and teams are learning how to handle it a little bit better. I disagree with the previously stated opinion (I think it was you? can't remember) that only the top 10 teams or so can effectively bridge as a defense against this.

    I think it's just that there are really REALLY good jammers out there now. I think it's really hard to stop them one on one. Perhaps we'll see the development of blocking styles that work on this, but I think what is more likely to happen is more aggressive pack play from defense on power jams. More hitting, putting the jammer out and/or down in order to eat time.

    I agree with you about things changing. I don't know that scrums are super vulnerable, but I think you will see a bunch of different things being tried. I think we'll see actual plays... we are already starting to see some of it. Watch Rose and Denver (I think that's who I noticed). They are doing pre-jam movement and trapping. This stuff is getting experimented with. Give us time to do it.

    How do we know they suck?

    Can we actually see some gameplay before complaining about the rules?

    I've seen a bit

    My league adopted a version of No Minors for our home team season that is basically identical to what just got released and I think the the new rules are fine. Do they solve every problem in Derby? No, but they solve quite a few of them and make the game much easier to follow. They don't eliminate the sausage, but they do make it a lot more dangerous from a penalty standpoint. The failure to reform minor is a thing of the past and the new rules say skaters must attempt to reform immediately or incur a major. This has made for lots of penalties on the team sausaging as they usually try to keep the pack split long enough for their jammer to get through.

    Face it

    There are tons of teams that don't want anything to do with scrum starts and if that's actually how that would work, they would do it.

    The jammer slamming into an unmoving four-wall is a recipe for power jams. If the jammer slows down to avoid penalties, then it's just moving the scrum start forward. A team hoping to get the back wall out of play is not going to get lead jammer 90% of the time. And, if the other team wants to scrum start hard enough at the jammer line, they can just bridge and you can do nothing about it (and it's not even a bridge that hurts them because their bridging blocker is still in front of the jammer).

    Stopped walls

    "The jammer slamming into an unmoving four-wall is a recipe for power jams."

    I suspect that if your jammer isn't subject to minor back blocks, can use forearms to break up walls, and will see any blocker who hits them when they're not moving forward, that'll change that sort of situation quite fundamentally.

    Actually there have been some "bouts"

    Beat Me Halfway used the new ruleset. They weren't actual bouts, but I fully enjoyed every scrimmage bout they had there. The changes to track cut, out of play, and stop/clockwise blocks were very evident in the penalty calling. The refs missed some stuff as I saw Quadzilla take a knee to avoid a block with no call and a jammer jumping the apex but not sticking the landing, but still getting the points. It (the new ruleset) makes scrum starts more strategic because with noone taking knees all 8 blockers now jockey for position. As for passive offense I have nothing against it. To me its perfectly ok to use doing nothing as a strategy as long as it is being done without breaking the rules.

    judging intent

    I'm not a rules fanatic, but I know some of you are, and so I'd like your opinion on something: Does it seem like there is more emphasis on "intention" in this revision of the rules? Instead of a ref having to just make a call "X just happened, which results in this penalty" it seems there are several new cases where he or she has to make a call "X just happened by willful intent, which results in this penalty." I watch a lot of roller derby, and sometimes I can tell when someone does something naughty on purpose instead of by accident, but not always. Will officiating likely be more difficult or more subjective under these rules?

    Didn't you see the new

    Didn't you see the new addendum that requires all referees to be telepathic?

    ah, telepathy!

    Busta Armov wrote:

    Didn't you see the new addendum that requires all referees to be telepathic?

    No, I didn't. I haven't even read the new rules. That's why I'm asking. So what happens to all the good refs who can't pass their telepathy test?

    Innovative is right

    and I will say that some team needs to try to bring back the runaway pussy this year in sanctioned play. I mean, I hope someone has the gumption to actually try it. I know Justice has said it before on here, and I agree, its gonna take something totally pushing the envelope to stop the sausage culture, or the PC passive offense. It's really sad watching teams as far away as Europe do it...trying to model the status quo. And even as a skater who has had to do it because of the culture that we have to because its the predominant strategy, I can tell you it just blows...being on either side of it....the side doing it and the side its being done to. Anyhow, its like a precedent has been set, same as in the law, might not be a law, but once someone decides it is only thing to do is do something radical to change it. I mean, so we give preference to the back of the pack stopping, it used to be the front skating away, thats how the goating concept was born, maybe the front of the pack idea needs to be pushed again.....Anyhow, just thinking aloud here.....overall like the new rules and no minors but the human centipede of avoidance play needs fixed above all.

    love or hate?

    don't get me wrong, I like what thare up to. but did they change the number of times you can go to the box?for some one like me I racks up alot of minors that have changed to majors ouch. did they test play with the new rules just asking it looks like now a lot more peps are going to hit that big seven mark now more than ever!!! once you get to six or five majors. I don't know about yous but I think the aggressive way the the game is played may be lost . one or two bad call that gets you a trip right to the box it just may start mess with some heads.

    For every penalty that's been

    For every penalty that's been upgraded, there's at least two that have been downgraded, including several 'aggressive' penalties like elbows, forearms and backblocks.

    The no-minors beta was tested in mid-2011 and has been refined since. The rules are set by skaters via the votes of their WFTDA leagues, and not set by referees as sometimes thought. The skaters have made a clear statement about which penalties they believe have a significant impact on their game, no matter what the effect, and which penalties they believe can be given some leeway.

    Roller derby is about adapting. Think back to this time last year, when scrum starts had just appeared, and even some of the best teams had no idea how to counter the strategy. People learn, and then teams learn, and then the game changes. If certain actions are now always majors, the skaters and the game will adapt such that those penalties occur less often - or foul outs will happen. It's the natural progression of a sport.

    You know what is interesting but ..

    ... I haven't seen *anyone* commenting on?

    6.9.4.1 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.

    6.9.13 A skater who, while blocking an opposing skater, momentarily comes to a stop, but resumes counter-clockwise skating and/or stepping at the first legal opportunity.

    6.9.14 If there is no legal opportunity to skate and/or step in the counter-clockwise direction no penalty will be assessed as long as the stopped skater does not continue to engage.

    These three could spell the end of scrum starts as we know them... the totally still line?

    If I'm right... When you are not moving forward, under these three rules, you are not allowed continued engagement. That means no stopped wall.

    It is up to defense to stop the "passive offense"

    It is up to defenses to learn how to stop the passive offense in my opinion. The problem is the use of what I call "passive defense" rather than confrontational defense. I am all about using definition of pack as part of the core strategy. If teams want to constantly place themselves at the very end of what would be called a defined pack that is on them. If their four person wall cannot learn to stuff a jammer what makes you think it can stuff a jammer with opposing blockers playing offense. Why should teams help keep defenses in play if they cannot play adequate defense?

    The answer to all of this is to create a real defense, one that actively seeks and engages jammers. I love scrum starts because they take the game to its most logical blocking conclusions. I like the pressure of being caught in negative power jam that really shows how good your defense is.

    Jodee

    Finally!

    The post I've been waiting for. Absolutely nailed.

    Yes. Play. Hard. Derby.

    Yes.
    Play. Hard. Derby.

    I like this post on many levels

    polerin wrote:

    Yes.
    Play. Hard. Derby.

    I like this post on many levels for many reasons.

    I'm not sure anything can be done by a defending team.

    Especially now that it's explicitly illegal to block from a stop.

    The reason why the patient/passive offense works is because the team using it doesn't allow the opponent to play defense. Like not at all. That's the whole point. If the defending team in front tries to skate backwards to give themselves a chance to engage the jammer (play defense) without splitting the pack, the team using patient offense will just skate backwards too to maintain the 9-foot gap and not let them. The whole point of the strategy is to force the defending team to split the pack if they try to play defense. With a 9-foot gap, the front team cannot engage the jammer without either splitting the pack or blocking from a stop. Neither is legal, and the defending team cannot force their opponent to close the gap.

    The only possible solution would be for the defending blockers to intentionally skate out of bounds and re-enter behind the patient offense's pace line. If that's even legal. Either way, there's no way of forcing a pack to move forward if one team simply doesn't want to skate.

    But hopefully I'm wrong. I wuld love to see someone come up with a patient offense-killing strategy.

    Hit the jammer out, run her

    Hit the jammer out, run her back. It's not *easy* but it works.
    Also, for fun and profit. :D

    That works now

    Probably won't be so great next year since any contact with an opposing skater while skating counter-clockwise will be an auto-trip to the box.

    Also, smart jammers can avoid getting knocked out of bounds.

    It's not "any contact". If

    It's not "any contact". If the opposing (forward moving) skater moves to initiate, it's not illegal and penalized contact. Plus, we are talking about how to combat the passive offense, which means those forward moving skaters would not likely be right there.

    And yes, smart jammers can avoid it, to an extent, but that doesn't mean that smart blockers can't find ways to work together to force the issue.

    Ideas for stopping patient offense.

    (From someone who employs patient offense - a lot.)

    Our Man Flip wrote:

    I wuld love to see someone come up with a patient offense-killing strategy.

    We have been discussing this quite a bit, and I think the best solution is to eliminate box trips by jammers. If both jammers are on the track, this strategy is no longer effective.

    Two ideas for how to do this:

    1 - Punish the player not the position.
    If a jammer commits a major, she serves 1 minute in the box as a blocker in the next jam, but the team still fields a jammer.

    2 - Jammer penalites = Points
    If a jammer commits a major, the other team is awarded 5 points rather than the jammer serving a minute.

    Both ideas would address multiple problems rather than just trying to stop passive offense. If we are worried about the fan experience and the watchability of the game, either of these would make for a much more exciting game because both jammers would remain on the track. Aside from the "boring" factor, the bigger issue that I see with passive offense is that it allows for huge blowouts or lopsided scores. A 5 point award rather than a 35 point swing for a jammer penalty would keep scores closer and keep the game moving. Closer games = more exciting games.

    I personally prefer this type of solution to rules changes which mess with pack definition, pack speed, or direction of game play.

    The problem is not power jams

    The problem is pack definition.

    Should there be periods of time in football when the defense isn't allowed to tackle?
    Should there be periods of time in baseball when the defense can't use gloves?
    Should there be periods of time in basketball when the defense can't use their arms?
    Should there be periods of time in hockey when the defense can't use sticks?
    Why then, should there be periods of time in roller derby when the defense can't block?
    Makes no sense.

    The actual problem

    It's a major problem, no doubt about it. But there's an even broader issue, one that includes pack definition.

    No matter what a roller derby rule set does, as long as only one team has a jammer (or more accurately, a scoring player) and another does not, there are going to be problems. Specifically, one location or another within the pack will be more advantageous. With WFTDA, it's the back. With USARS, it's the front. Neither version's extreme version of power jams are what you'd call desirable.

    However, it's not necessarily a bad thing that a position exists within the pack that is extremely advantageous. As long as both teams have an equal and fair chance to gain that position, it's okay. That way, most game strategies would revolve around what a team can do to try to gain it (or stop the other team from gaining it) just as much as what teams are doing once they have it (or don't have it).

    So really, on the matter of WFTDA "patient" offense—human centipedes, if you like—it's clear that a rear position within the pack is advantageous. But this problem is magnified when a team that has a bench nearer the jammer line can take that advantageous position right from the start, and keep it the whole jam, all without ever engaging the opposing blockers. If both teams had a fair opportunity at all times to combat one another to gain (and keep) this position, people like me wouldn't be up in arms about power jams and pack definition being a problem.

    The only way to gain a rear position is to skate backwards, which can't happen when the offense skates backwards with the defense, and the defense is required to skate forwards if they want to put up a defense. If the direction of play and the direction of advantage were going the same way, teams could do both (play defense and get into superior position) at the same time. But to ask a team to effectively skate both directions at the same time, just to play defense, is not only unreasonable and unfair, it's physically impossible.

    Never seen sports?

    Football: commit a penalty on defense and the ball is advanced without the defense having an opportunity

    Baseball: walk a batter and he gets a base without the defense having an opportunity

    Basketball: free throws

    Hockey: penalty shots

    Soccer: free kicks and penalty kicks

    Yes, roller derby does have a problem because in roller derby the thing you score on (goal, hoop, home plate, goal line) moves and is under the control of the opposing team. Thus there needs to be restrictions on where you can take your hips. If you just suck it up and figure out how to block within your 20 feet and maintain the pack and do it all legally, you'll be much better off in all of the other phases of the game. Your team might also benefit from successfully training Your jammers to not commit penalties. I'm not sorry that you can't just run away when a jammer comes to score on you. I like the physical confrontation that happens more often in derby these days.

    Football: penalty

    Football: penalty
    Baseball: four pitches out of the strike zone
    Basketball: penalty
    Hockey: penalty (and there's still defense)
    Soccer: penalty (and there's still defense)
    Roller derby: moving forward a foot

    All of the above are either penalties or punishment for a repeated infraction (so basically a penalty). One of them isn't. Also, they all occur outside of normal gameplay (as in the clock isn't running or the ball isn't in play). One of them doesn't.

    "I like the physical confrontation that happens more often in derby these days."
    Bhuwhaaaaaaa?

    I want there to actually be confrontation in roller derby. I'm not arguing for front of the pack is always the pack, I'm arguing for pack definition rules that make sense and promote blocking and don't give significant advantages to the offense or defense or front of the pack or back of the pack. Purposely splitting the pack shouldn't even be a strategy, let alone a winning strategy. Teams should win games with good blocking and jamming, not good splitting of packs.

    YOU=WIN

    "Purposely splitting the pack shouldn't even be a strategy, let alone a winning strategy. Teams should win games with good blocking and jamming, not good splitting of packs."

    Magically said.

    It's not broken

    I guess if you were a hockey fan in a world without penalty shots, and they suddenly added penalty shots to the game it would blow your mind and you'd be so pissed to be watching the other 10 players standing around waiting for the shot to be over? Why don't you watch the goalie and the player taking the shot like everyone else? Why are you so upset at power jams and passive offense? Is there not a jammer to watch? A defense she's skating against?

    Passive offense to me is like standing at the perimeter in basketball. There are guys who will run down the court and set up for a 3-pointer 10 possessions in a row and never touch the ball. If you're watching him and bitching that basketball is boring, that's on you. That guy waiting for a pass so he can shoot a three, that's his job. He has to do that so that the defense has to respect him and OPEN UP LANES FOR THE BALL. You can't always have all 5 of your players running around like idiots and trying to be under the net. That would be stupid. And your playmakers wouldn't be able to drive to the hoop and make plays and be all exciting for everyone watching.

    So, in the same vein, constant attacking offense in derby is stupid. When it works, great. When it doesn't work it just plugs up the track and speeds up the pack. We're not so stupid that we can't predict when we can trap a player, and when it's unlikely to work. I applaud teams who make those decisions well and are effective at attacking or knowing when not to.

    The confrontation that happens now is between stopped blockers and jammers. When the blockers can just run away it's not as confrontational. When they're forced to (or choose to, as the good teams do) fight for every foot, confrontations get really physical.

    Passive offense is not breaking the pack intentionally. If two teams are not moving, and one of them moves forward in reaction to a jammer and breaks the pack, it's their fault. I don't know how you're blaming a team or skater that didn't change his or her speed. I think it's either what we have now or a pack defined by the front-most group, and that sounds soooo terrible. The intention of a passive offense team (at least my intentions) are to maintain the pack speed at a slow speed and look for an opportunity to engage when chances of success are high. It's not always a good time to attack.

    You can't be serious

    Hitsteria wrote:

    Passive offense is not breaking the pack intentionally.

    Umm...do you really believe this? What is the point of it then? If it's not trying to split the pack, why don't the offensive blockers go help their jammer? Do you really think that passive offense would still exist if no pack situations didn't automatically release the jammer?

    Hitsteria wrote:

    If two teams are not moving, and one of them moves forward in reaction to a jammer and breaks the pack, it's their fault.

    Oh, okay. So, what do you do when you're the defense in this situation? When the offense starts slowing down, what do you do to speed them up? When they get it stopped and they hover at 9', do you stop moving, move backward? When the jammer then comes up, are you that good that you can knock the jammer out of bounds from a complete standstill while not moving forward an inch? Oh wait, I think that's illegal.

    Hitsteria wrote:

    I don't know how you're blaming a team or skater that didn't change his or her speed.

    Are you honestly trying to say that teams executing the passive offense maintain the speed of the pack? Seriously?

    Hitsteria wrote:

    I think it's either what we have now or a pack defined by the front-most group, and that sounds soooo terrible.

    Agreed. That would be exactly as bad as what we have now. Terrible. But, those are FAR from the only options.

    Not to defend the passive offense too much

    (because I think it is overused and not quite implemented correctly yet by many teams)
    ...
    BUT!
    The purpose isn't really to split the pack. The purpose is to slow the pack down so that any blockers the jammer passes have a much more difficult time recycling back to the top. If you keep attacking all the time, you are just giving the defenders more chances to knock yer jammer around.

    Then why not trap a goat?

    If the goal of passive offense is to slow the pack and not split it, then wouldn't it be better to trap a goat? That way you could stop the pack without destroying it. Also, if passive offense isn't trying to split the pack, then why are the teams using it so very careful not to allow the opposition space to block? Why maintain a 9-foot gap between blockers, skating backwards if necessary to do it?

    Regardless of why a team says they're using it, passive offense succeeds because it legally destroys the pack and forces the opposition to release the jammer for an easy 5-point pass. The team that tries to block and play roller derby is the team that gets punished. The team that doesn't do anything but stand around is rewarded for their good standing.

    Trapping a goat is harder than not bothering

    So why bother, when the result is the same?

    NO, no

    NO, there is no reason that either team needs to destroy the pack to have this work. There shouldn't be a no-pack if the defense bridges properly. They can continue to block until they've bridged to the maximum and the jammer has reached the end of the engagement zone or passed the last blocker. That is what I hope for when I play passive offense. If they screw it up and break the pack it's their fault for not practicing this. Seriously, it's been going on for over a year, everyone should know how to play against it.

    ...

    ...and the crowd boos, and the fans go home, never to return to watch derby again.

    RE ...

    But didn't you know John? It's not about them. It's by the skater, for the skater, and the TRUE fans will support the game no matter how boring it is... LOL. Now excuse me while I go wash my own seed out of my mouth. Seriously, anyone who's defended this style of game while it's gotten national competition booed and walked out on has made it abundantly clear that how fans feel is of little consequence - not matter how much anyone says they care about the future of the sport. No fans = no future.

    You'll see teams goating still

    Seriously. It's still effective, and you can use it to your advantage in other ways. But why is it wrong to use the passive offense when you lose that goat, and your jammer is fighting the last two people at the top of the pack?

    Going up to help her there is just *stupid* derby.

    That's the point

    The rulebook makes it "stupid" derby to engage and work hard. You know, things that make roller derby an interesting sport. To effectively promote standing around as the most efficient form of offense is just completely backwards and stupid.

    EXACTLY!

    I don't need to add to anything OMF said for the first part.

    polerin wrote:

    If you keep attacking all the time, you are just giving the defenders more chances to knock yer jammer around.

    EXACTLY! That's the sport that fans want to watch. That's the sport that the skaters I know want to play. A sport where offensive blockers are "attacking" and defensive blockers are "knocking yer jammer around." Doesn't that sound amazing?

    Instead, we have offensive blockers "standing" and defensive blockers "helpless to get a block in" before getting out of play. Doesn't that sound incredibly stupid?

    I'll stand by a team's right to execute passive offense with the current (and next) rulebook. Teams should try to win. I get it. But, I won't stand by WFTDA (those same skaters) and their insistence on not changing the freakin' rules to outlaw this nonsense.

    Lack of Skill

    Sounds like the "standing", "helpless" blockers need to get better at playing roller derby. Have you seen other sports before? Not every person is a major part of every play. In every great running play there was a weak side wide receiver who did NOTHING at all. Why don't you go tell him he didn't earn his paycheck and you were so bored watching him?

    You can't compare

    You can't compare the ENTIRE PACK doing nothing to a weak side receiver. A fair comparison would be the offensive line. If the offensive line literally did nothing but stand there, then there definitely wouldn't be any "great" running plays and they definitely wouldn't earn their paycheck.

    I mean, that's essentially what you're saying here. You want the offensive line to stand there and watch the running back gain 10 yards. That's not how it would work in football and that's not how it should work in roller derby.

    By the way, on "great" running plays, the weak side receiver generally does something like sell a fake or throw a block. They don't just stand there.

    Yes, of course

    Of course I believe what I said. No, the passive offense team can very well maintain their speed and execute the "passive offense." Intentionally, suddenly changing their speed would be an intentional destruction of the pack. That's not the goal the way I play it. I do not agree with teams who are happy to take those penalties and trade them for a free (maybe) pass through the pack. I also don't like it when teams accidentally do that because their skaters aren't very aware. I don't see that happening at higher levels.

    The defense team needs to just make sure that ONE of their skaters maintains the pack definition. Playing passive offense doesn't force a pack destruction, it forces the defense to use teamwork to maintain the pack and continue to block. If they fail, they should probably work on that skill. You do not have to stop the jammer while not moving forward, unless your blockers are all attached at the hip. Normally one blocker can maintain the pack so that his/her teammates can have 20+ feet to do their work.

    I don't want my team to do it all the time. There are ways we can attack smartly and shift at opportune times between those strategies. It's all really interesting and fun to me. I'm sorry ya'll are pissed about it, but they can't just potentially break the game trying to fix this problem for a vocal minority by making a big change that has unforeseen consequences.

    Expectations

    Hitsteria wrote:

    Of course I believe what I said. No, the passive offense team can very well maintain their speed and execute the "passive offense." Intentionally, suddenly changing their speed would be an intentional destruction of the pack. That's not the goal the way I play it. I do not agree with teams who are happy to take those penalties and trade them for a free (maybe) pass through the pack. I also don't like it when teams accidentally do that because their skaters aren't very aware. I don't see that happening at higher levels.

    The passive offense team *can* maintain the speed of the pack but they don't. I'm not talking about taking penalties, I'm talking about legally slowing the pack by just...slowing down. And, there's literally nothing the defense can do to stop it. It's an amazing exhibition of skill.

    Let me get this straight...you think this is good for the sport:

    One team essentially does nothing. They slow down.

    The other team works their ass off by bridging and blocking by not moving forward enough to get out of play.

    One team gets a ton of points scored on them, the other doesn't.

    You want the team that does nothing to be the one to score a bunch of points?

    Sorry, I don't get giddy with excitement to see the team that's doing essentially nothing dominating the jam. It should be the other way around. Oh, but the defense should "probably work on that skill." And, what skill is the offense executing, again?

    Hitsteria wrote:

    I'm sorry ya'll are pissed about it, but they can't just potentially break the game trying to fix this problem for a vocal minority by making a big change that has unforeseen consequences.

    Passive offense and pack splitting broke the game.

    Passive offense vs. Runaway Pussy

    For the sake of argument, let's agree that "passive offense" (the sausage, the human centipede, etc.) is just as bad and boring as "runaway pussy" (defense pullaway, etc.). That being said...

    "Passive offense:"

    Hitsteria wrote:

    The defense team needs to just make sure that ONE of their skaters maintains the pack definition [while the offense stands 9 feet behind and does nothing]. Playing passive offense doesn't force a pack destruction, it forces the defense to use teamwork to maintain the pack and continue to block [while the offense does not need to use teamwork or continue to block]. If they fail, they should probably work on that skill [while the offense works on skills of not skating and not blocking]. You do not have to stop the jammer while not moving forward, unless your blockers are all attached at the hip. Normally one blocker [on defense] can maintain the pack [because they are forced to disengage without room to play defense] so that his/her teammates can have 20+ feet to do their work.

    "Runaway pussy:"

    The defense team just needs to make sure that ONE of their skaters maintains the pack definition by physically blocking one member of the other team. The defense having the option to runaway pussy forces the offense to use teamwork to maintain the pack and continue to block, or else they will lose speed control of the pack and probably not score. If they fail, they should probably work on that skill of blocking and slowing down the other team while skating. You do not have to stop the jammer while not moving forward, because you have the ability to move forward to put up a realistic defense. Normally, a couple of blockers on offense can block an opponent to maintain the pack so their teammates can have space to push forward and assist their jammer break out of the pack.

    ...which of these two situations makes more sense, in the context of the sport of roller derby?

    right on

    love those two ideas.

    Another Solution

    Require the penalized team's jammer to make two passes before scoring points in the next jam. It keeps her on the track and is a pretty significant penalty, but not an insurmountable one.

    Question

    Donna Matrix wrote:

    (From someone who employs patient offense - a lot.)

    Our Man Flip wrote:

    I wuld love to see someone come up with a patient offense-killing strategy.

    We have been discussing this quite a bit,

    Wouldn't just not playing this way and not teaching others to do it be more effective than pontificating how to counter it?

    Exactly.

    Fans hate it, skaters hate it. Just don't do it.

    That doesn't work.

    The problem is, you can't make that decision on behalf of the other team. So long as these tactics achieve the highest probability of success under the current ruleset, teams that value winning above other considerations will continue to use them.

    Finding a viable counter (as proposed above) is one possible way to address the problem; I, for one, am skeptical that one will be found, leaving us with a change to the ruleset as the only road toward disincentivizing these tactics.

    If we can just find a way to change them that won't have other, equally unsatisfying consequences.

    Disagree, Hurt

    Hurt Reynolds wrote:

    The problem is, you can't make that decision on behalf of the other team. So long as these tactics achieve the highest probability of success under the current ruleset, teams that value winning above other considerations will continue to use them.

    Finding a viable counter (as proposed above) is one possible way to address the problem; I, for one, am skeptical that one will be found, leaving us with a change to the ruleset as the only road toward disincentivizing these tactics.

    If we can just find a way to change them that won't have other, equally unsatisfying consequences.

    I'm convinced that the culture of derby is broken in terms of gameplay. Every rule change creates something new and Gotham has consistently shown themselves to be a team that searches for loopholes to exploit for winning at all costs. They have influence (and also with Team USA) over a lot of the things that permeate the sport currently and have since 2008. They bring these tactics into the sport and/or utilize them to the nth degree.

    I understand what you are saying, Hurt. I do. And I don't 100% disagree. But I have a hard time taking Gotham at face value at this. They've gotten plenty of medals by playing non-engagement tactics over the years and they're still riding a winning streak from continuing to play those tactics. Nothing personal to Donna either. I just don't see much integrity in a team talking about counters to a strategy they've used so successfully. Why would they want to talk publicly about a counter to their own strategy? Because you don't want to play it or practice it any more? Then like I said, stop using it and stop teaching so many others to use it too.

    We all have a choice in it; the higher the level of team/skater, the more responsibility there should be to make the correct decisions for the sport. It's not like a skater has a bonus clause in her contract for making it to championships or winning medals.

    I think that doesn't account for the sociology of scale

    Small communities can self-regulate without written standards. As they get larger, the shared understanding of what's ok and what's not can no longer be disseminated successfully through regular direct contact between members throughout the community. Derby has become way too big for a gentleladies' agreement to successfully constrain acceptable behavior. If you want the whole community to abide by an agreed standard, you have to write it down.

    I don't see any evidence for your suggestion that Gotham somehow lacks integrity, as you perceive due to a member of the team looking for a within-the-rules counter to the strategy they currently employ heavily. To me, that just looks like someone else who doesn't care for the current mode of play, who's now looking for ways that the current mode can be rendered ineffective within the current ruleset. I think that should be applauded, not looked upon with skepticism as to motivation.

    In short, I think Donna (and others on her team, I'd wager) is looking for a way to stop using these tactics that will actually work. "Just stop doing it" won't, for the reasons I mentioned above. There will always be teams that like winning better than they like anything else.

    Popcorn

    Hurt Reynolds wrote:

    Small communities can self-regulate without written standards. As they get larger, the shared understanding of what's ok and what's not can no longer be disseminated successfully through regular direct contact between members throughout the community. Derby has become way too big for a gentleladies' agreement to successfully constrain acceptable behavior. If you want the whole community to abide by an agreed standard, you have to write it down.

    I don't see any evidence for your suggestion that Gotham somehow lacks integrity, as you perceive due to a member of the team looking for a within-the-rules counter to the strategy they currently employ heavily. To me, that just looks like someone else who doesn't care for the current mode of play, who's now looking for ways that the current mode can be rendered ineffective within the current ruleset. I think that should be applauded, not looked upon with skepticism as to motivation.

    In short, I think Donna (and others on her team, I'd wager) is looking for a way to stop using these tactics that will actually work. "Just stop doing it" won't, for the reasons I mentioned above. There will always be teams that like winning better than they like anything else.

    I completely disagree. I'm not talking about an agreement between teams like John is. I'm talking about a team taking control of itself and making decisions on how it wants to proceed and be perceived. Do you believe that because the strategy works, there's no choice involved? Is not skating to win the equivalent of heroin? haha

    Regardless of my joke, any team can choose how they want to behave. My team has agreed that we don't want to play that way; so, we don't. We practice and prepare for the teams that will be playing that way. We're certainly not alone in that regard either. Gotham chooses to play that way and has chosen to use it as often as they do. If a skater (or skaters) on the team don't like playing that way, then that should be handled internally. I'm sure Gotham would be just as successful with or without such tactics and they assuredly know that too. The "community" is made up of many individuals, each with their own choice. Don't like a style of play? Go play elsewhere or change things internally. Don't like the team/league? Go elsewhere. Don't like WFTDA? Go play a different rule set. These things aren't black and white; it just takes courage to go against the grain or to make a decision to not play a style of play that people don't enjoy playing or being associated with. Just stop doing it does work because it's already being done. Not easy to take that route, but it can be done. Just matters what's important to a person indvidually and to the collective group they skate with.

    Changing the rules without changing the culture will always lead to some other mutation that hurts the sport in my opinion.

    Angus
    -------------------
    Derby Goatspeak
    http://derbyunpopularity.blogspot.com/

    From someone over the other

    From someone over the other side of the world - the reason I have so enjoyed Gotham play, and win, these past years (and throw the sometimes or was then controversial slow game of Denver in there also) It's not because they play "loophole" strategy. It's because they have obviously worked so damn hard as a team to work smarter AND harder - every person knows exactly what they are doing, why, and they have the fitness and footwork to execute it. That's not something easy to achieve, getting 20 girls on such a high athletic and strategic page. And that's why I love to watch these teams play. <3

    And I agree with what's being said. strategy + sport is all about using the rules to your advantage. Like it or not it has to be a rule change for this type of play to stop, and until that happens, let's get a hell of a lot better at bridging+taking jammers out of bounds.

    Wow

    Angus, I am no longer a member of the Gotham support staff, but I can't sit silently while you accuse GGRD of not having integrity. To pretend like GGRD does not, at the very least, have a vested interest in furthering the sport is silly. I'm gonna go out on a limb here, as I never played at a national level, and say that winning is important to the Gotham All-Stars. I can't imagine someone in NYC deciding that they need a life-consuming sport to add to the pressures of earning enough to pay the astronomical rent on their apartment unless they are an A-type personality who wants to achieve. So yes, I would say the All-Stars want to win. Yes, they do. But they also recognize that it's more fun to win in a sport that fans care about.

    It's interesting to me that you are saying "they don't have integrity because they do this thing that is legal and wins games. And I don't believe them when they say they are looking to counteract it, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TAUGHT IT TO OTHER PEOPLE." Is it asking too much to believe that Gotham wants to skate fast, hard, AND strategic? Or that, having taught and practiced something, they might be into learning to play against this offensive strategy they've taught other teams? To, you know, have fun AND win? And maybe help advance the game to the next level as well?

    Hugs

    margaret.thrasher wrote:

    Angus, I am no longer a member of the Gotham support staff, but I can't sit silently while you accuse GGRD of not having integrity. To pretend like GGRD does not, at the very least, have a vested interest in furthering the sport is silly. I'm gonna go out on a limb here, as I never played at a national level, and say that winning is important to the Gotham All-Stars. I can't imagine someone in NYC deciding that they need a life-consuming sport to add to the pressures of earning enough to pay the astronomical rent on their apartment unless they are an A-type personality who wants to achieve. So yes, I would say the All-Stars want to win. Yes, they do. But they also recognize that it's more fun to win in a sport that fans care about.

    It's interesting to me that you are saying "they don't have integrity because they do this thing that is legal and wins games. And I don't believe them when they say they are looking to counteract it, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TAUGHT IT TO OTHER PEOPLE." Is it asking too much to believe that Gotham wants to skate fast, hard, AND strategic? Or that, having taught and practiced something, they might be into learning to play against this offensive strategy they've taught other teams? To, you know, have fun AND win? And maybe help advance the game to the next level as well?

    Didn't say they have no integrity. Saying I don't see much integrity in this circumstance, which is publicly talking about counters to their strategy. It doesn't come across very well to me coming from someone that does constantly and into the ground. I would imagine if they wanted to skate fast, hard, and strategic, they would've been doing that in the past two years and also when they blowing out much weaker opponents. They weren't likely to beat Rocky or Oly the past two years without this conscious choice however nor does their style change based on the scoreline. So with that background, I think it's reasonable to say discussing counters to one own's conscious decision to play a style that is unpopular is not going to come across well.

    Having been a part of a style of play that was unpopular at a high level, I have experience with this. Like I said, if they care about furthering their sport, they can just choose to abandon this style of play. Gotham shouldn't give a crap what I have to say about it and I'm sure they don't. Hugs.

    Two things:

    1) I do know that part of how Gotham shows respect for their opponent is by playing with the same focus, intensity, and passion in every single game, no matter if it's a top-ranked team or not.

    2) You do not further a sport by going backwards. You further it by pushing through, and on to the next advancement. I still don't understand how discussing counters to an implemented strategy comes off poorly, and I feel certain that even if Gotham "abandon[ed] this style of play", it will be visited and revisited by WFTDA teams until a strategy overcomes it or the ruleset makes it illegal.

    You can't, but you can do something.

    Hurt Reynolds wrote:

    The problem is, you can't make that decision on behalf of the other team.

    But you certainly can come to a gentlewoman's agreement about it. Outside of tournament seasons, we choose our opponents. All you've got to do is choose to play teams who don't engage in this crap.

    Hurt Reynolds wrote:

    So long as these tactics achieve the highest probability of success under the current ruleset, teams that value winning above other considerations will continue to use them.

    I find it sad that there are so many people who are more concerned with winning now than the future of the sport.

    I spent today at a junior derby scrimmage. A lot of these kids are already better skaters than some of the adults were back in 2004. They're playing fast, hard-hitting derby, and they deserve to have to have the sport around in 5, 10, 15 years when they get old enough to play in WFTDA leagues. But if this style of play – this anti-fan play – continues, there won't be enough friends and family buying tickets to support the sport.

    Change the rules instead of a holier than thou attitude

    It doesn't help to create a rift in the community with silly name calling etc. I haven't see a good solution yet, and I don't think anyone has proposed an ironclad one either. There is a desire to not simply regress to satisfy a few fans and reintroduce things like runaway pussy. There are valid reasons why the rules evolved to this point, how to take it to the level is the question we all should want to solve together.

    Oh, come now.

    sativa wrote:

    It doesn't help to create a rift in the community with silly name calling etc.

    Where did I call anyone a name?

    sativa wrote:

    I haven't see a good solution yet, and I don't think anyone has proposed an ironclad one either. There is a desire to not simply regress to satisfy a few fans and reintroduce things like runaway pussy.

    A *few* fans? Seriously?

    I don't think it's "regression" to play fast and hard as opposed to sausaging off to the side, forcing your opponent to let your jammer through. More like how modern derby has been played for the majority of its existence.

    Don't let them continue this

    Don't let them continue this myth that the only option to fix the problem is to revert back to the "runaway pussy" days. That is just completely not true.

    slow game? na

    Having just come from the USARS tourney, I feel their ruleset solves many of the problems (but not all)....It is a faster game and solves the problem of 1 jammer jams....OLY won, but was pushed for every point except for their power jams (when will jam time go down to 1 minute). my post on it: www.rollerderbyjesus.com.

    Ahh. The Dark City solution.

    Ahh. The Dark City solution. Or do you prefer Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?

    Wacky idea

    Following up on Donna Matrix's idea above. What if a jammer's current pass is nullified, instead of a jammer leaving the track when she commits a penalty?

    So, if the jammer cuts the track on her initial pass, she must go around and "re-do" her initial pass.

    Or, if the jammer back blocks on her scoring pass, she loses all points earned on that pass, and must go around and "re-do" that scoring pass.

    Since points aren't reported until the pass is concluded, I don't think this would be confusing. When a jammer gets out first but doesn't get lead, her jam ref signals the penalty instead of lead. Could see the same thing on "nullified" passes.

    This would eliminate power jams.

    Power Jams

    While I like the idea of limiting powerjams, getting rid of them all together will seriously hurt the sport. Some of the most exciting jams I've watched are huge momentum swinging power jams that bring a team that's been down the whole bout back into it/into the lead. Eliminating the powerjam or severly limiting it to almost nothing all but guarantees a team that gets off to a slow start and gets down big in the first half will come up short in the end. The PJ is the great equalizer. I see miss Donna's point though as well. Huge power jams can also lead to big blowouts, but even in major leagues sports blowouts still happen. I also get the point everyone makes about in what other sport in creation does a team not get to score or defend? Me personally, I've never had a problem with the passive offense, but I understand peoples issues with it. Why can't the solution be don't take jammer penalties? I know that's a very simple yet difficult solution, but there are obviously some jammers out there that are good enough to almost never take a penalty. To me, until they change the rules to stop skaters from stopping on the track or skating backwards, that's my solution. Don't forget, both teams get to take advantage of these rules, and I don't want to lose the all mighty power jam.

    Fixing the patient offense problem?

    How about this for a simple fix? Current rules define the pack as the largest group with skaters from both teams. How about the following:

    When there is a single jammer on the track, that jammer counts for the purposes of pack definition.

    So... you have to define the pack, not destroy the pack, to play patient offense. If you can catch a goat, you win. If you can't, you race.

    That's a brilliant idea!

    I wrote an article in Banked Track News advocating that very idea back in August. Banked track has the same problem as flat track when it comes to the "patient offense". However the BT leagues and the RDCL do look at "patient offense" as a problem that drives away fans, and needs a solution:
    They're All Just Standing There

    Fair?

    So you're saying that as a part of the punishment for the penalty you committed, the pack rules will be temporarily changed in your favor?

    I advocate doing it full

    I advocate doing it full time. I talked to some refs about it, and they said the adjustment for them would be easy, since they'd only have to look at uniforms and not uniforms+helmet cover for pack definition.

    The only time it has a significant impact to have the jammer as part of the pack, is during power jams and maybe scrums. It has some impact under certain pack configurations (e.g. opposing jammer is a goat). Just not as significant.

    For it to work, though, the jammer has to be excluded from pack definition penalties. Jammers have to maintain their ability to engage anywhere on the track.

    What it means is that jammers have a significant impact on pack speed. They can slow or reverse and hang the opposition way out to dry in a "no pack" call. The result is what we see with the better teams using patient offense, which is line your opponents where you want them, don't make your jammer spend more than a few seconds trying to bash through the wall, and then attack the wall. Engagement is the only way to get your jammer out of a solid wall.

    Basically, all players as part of the pack definition tilts the game from the current "offense centric" game to a less "offense centric", but not entirely defense centric game (like USARS).

    Completely agree

    Jammers as part of pack definition but not subject to pack definition penalities. Problem solved, and would make refs jobs easier. Win/Win.

    Why Can't A Team Forfeit?

    I can't find anything on this rule and I've seen it happen a couple of times now. The Arizona team at Besterns and most recently with Birmingham at last nights USARS Tourney. As a result a player of the team requesting to forfeit had a seizure allegedly due to exhaustion. Here's the thing, even in horse racing a horse can be scratched to perserve the health and well being of the athelete\animal. From a strictly spectator point of view, it's really boring to watch an out matched team get the snot beat out of them. Even more boring, the bout constantly stopped due to penalties from an exhausted team. Two freshmeat teams well matched makes for a more exciting bout than say Gotham vs...well Gotham vs just about any other team. What's with this non forfeit rule? I don't understand. I feel like it should be up to the team, the EMTs and not the officials.

    It's not a rule

    It's a cultural norm, that many people do seem to think is written in stone. I understand the premise behind it, which is, everybody's giving up time and money to be there, and now you're denying your opponents a game they may want, or (in the case of tournaments that lots of teams want to get into and many don't qualify), you've begged off some or all of a game that another team would die to have.

    Anyway, you're right. It's not a rule. It could be made a rule, if the community really feels that it shouldn't be permitted, but it hasn't (though this year, WFTDA did implement policies providing some penalties for forfeits within a select set of WFTDA-sanctioned competitive events).

    WFTDA and USARs Please Take Care of Our Players

    Hurt Reynolds wrote:

    It's a cultural norm, that many people do seem to think is written in stone.

    Thanks Hurt Reynolds. I think you hit the nail on the head in that it's a cultural norm. I don't think either instance (Arizona and Birmingham) request to forfeit was a choice they came to easily and I think it should be based on an EMT determining the health of the players over "the show must go on" attitude.

    I want it to be clear that as a fan, I don't support making teams participate in a bout they are grossly outmatched either due to fatigue, team instability or whatever. It makes for a predictable and boring bout. Please WFTDA and USARs take care of our players.

    Were you really there

    Arizona did not forfeit, nor request to forfeit any games at Western regionals this year. They skated all of their bouts to the last jam.

    9.2.7

    If the OP was talking about WFTDA rules, not sure what the issue is. Forfeiting is spelled out clearly.

    9.2.7 - Declaring a Forfeit

    9.2.7.1 - The Head Referee may call a forfeit for the following reasons:

    9.2.7.1.1 - A team has five or fewer un-injured rostered skaters remaining due to expulsions.

    9.2.7.1.2 - A team refuses to field skaters on the track to continue play.

    9.2.7.2 - The Head Referee must call a forfeit for the following reasons:

    9.2.7.2.1 - A team fails to show up to a WFTDA sanctioned bout or tournament. The Head Referee must make this decision in conjunction with WFTDA Games Committee representatives.

    9.2.7.2.2 - A team elects to forfeit rather than continue play.

    Forfeit in USARS

    With Birmingham at the USARS champs, they could have forfeited before the game. Champs was structured this way to prevent a strategic forfeit to rest for the next day. Birmingham was trying to hold on until the end to retain their placement, but they racked up too many injuries to continue. They were heartbroken that they could not continue. There is not a rule in USARS that says that you can't forfeit. Sometimes pride is stronger motivator, as it was this weekend for Birmingham.

    Forefeiting

    There has to be a reasonable solution. If player safety is at risk, forfeit and remove them from the tournament vacating their wins (if any).

    There was an issue in the Olympics with the Chineese table tennis team intentionally losing their match, for a more preferable seeding in the bracketed games (originally they were in the round robin pre-seeding stage.)

    If the issue is that the team cannot compete and needs to forfeit. Allow them to forfeit, have a back up plan, and move forward.
    Player safety should be priority #1.

    Passive Offense is an Oxymoron

    Whoever coined that term, should be taken out back and given a stern talking to.

    Seriously though, too much kool aid has been drank over this play. The problem stems back to when the play was first used, and that issue is, a player from the back pack is not being issued a failure to reform penalty. When the team in the front is being constantly pushed forward, legally, they never actually have to skate backwards, in bounds, to return to the other team's pack. They just have to stop. It's the back pack's responsibility to reform or show an attempt. This trend has carried forward to where back of pack preference is just being granted commonplace now. And just moving side to side doesn't fulfill that requirement nor should scooting up 6" and sticking your arms out like you are spanning. But it's accepted.

    Anyhow, slow play, hard play, goating, scrums, incidental contact, pulling cuts, etc...all of that stuff is really a great advancement to the athleticism of the sport, IMO. But the complete allotment of allowing one team to not have to engage in play during the game, and how many points can possibly be achieved through inaction, is just odd.

    Teams must learn to force the other teams offense to engage

    I still think that there are ways to kill this strategy. First, most teams look at the immediate short term strategy rather than the whole story of the jam. The impulse strategy is for the team without a jammer to immediately wall up and play your best defense possible, hopefully staying out of the danger zone of being subject to both out of play penalties and offensive blocking. This the conundrum of being in the front of the pack. Breaking this down, the whole problem stems from ceding back position to the other team because the immediate focus is playing defense. What if I told you that a team without a jammer's main priority should be to not play defense but to first secure back position? What would you say? Could you turn a 20-30 point jam into a 10-15 point jam simply by conceding the jammers first pass and jumping to back wall? Imagine a wall just letting a jammer go and getting back wal, then beating the shit out if the jammer for one minute. The new rules help this by assigning majors to skaters that commit directional block penalties. Much harder to play offense from the front and the back wall has way more than 1 foot to make their stand. If is a tactical retreat to establish better defensive position. The problem would be convincing skaters letting a jammer go for the first pass is okay.

    Even Gotham, the master of passive offense is not immune to the damage of being on the flip side. They were killing Oly like 52-7 until a 29 point power jam made it a game.

    Direction of advantage vs. Direction of gameplay

    Jodee wrote:

    Breaking this down, the whole problem stems from ceding back position to the other team because the immediate focus is playing defense. What if I told you that a team without a jammer's main priority should be to not play defense but to first secure back position? What would you say?

    In theory, this is what teams should be doing. However, in practice this is impossible to do for three reasons:

    1. Any attempt by the team in the front to get behind the team in the back will never work, because all the team in the back has to do is skate backwards, making it impossible for the team in the front to catch up to them and get behind them. You can't force a team to not skate backwards unless you physically impede them from doing so ... which would require you being behind them anyway, wouldn't it?

    2. Even if the team in the front were able to get to the back do this by being quicker in skating backwards, all they'd be doing is putting themselves into scoring position even faster as the jammer is coming around to score. And even then, the team trying to get to the back can't do anything to stop the jammer, since it's illegal to block while moving clockwise (the same direction players need to skate to secure the back position).

    3. Since it's practically impossible to get a wall once the jam starts, the only realistic way to get behind it is before the jam. However, even this is impossible if the team you want to get behind is on the jammer bench, allowing them to line up everyone at the back with no fair way for their opponent to get behind them.

    I mentioned this in a previous comment, but the direction of advantage (counter-clockwise) and the direction of gameplay (clockwise) need to be the same for things to be competitively fair. Because they are not, you get wholly unfair and unbalanced situations like the scenarios above.

    Jodee wrote:

    Even Gotham, the master of passive offense is not immune to the damage of being on the flip side. They were killing Oly like 52-7 until a 29 point power jam made it a game.

    This exactly proves the argument you're trying to counter. Even the best WFTDA in the world can't do anything to prevent getting scored upon big during a power jam. If Gotham can't stop it, what on earth makes you think anyone else can?

    Gotham are "masters" at passive offense because they have Bonnie Thunders and Suzy Hotrod to make the pack go lickety-split lickety-spit. They're just as vulnerable as everyone else while killing power jams because their opponents can make their blockers disappear in a no-pack by doing the same thing in the pack as Gotham does when they're on a power jam: Absolutely nothing.

    I understand the argument of

    I understand the argument of killing time vs. skating back to establish superior position. I just do not think the few seconds sacrificed by skating back really make that much of a difference. I am only at thus point considering jams that start with a power jam situation. In this situation even if the opponent has their bench close to the jammer line the other pack If they decide to fight for position first should be able to outfight the opponent for it. At this point it is active blocking on the stopped opponent right at the single whistle to create the opportunity to establish better position. I will actively look for solutions to this I move forward with coaching in 2013.

    There's no argument because there is no counter

    Jodee wrote:

    I am only at thus point considering jams that start with a power jam situation. In this situation even if the opponent has their bench close to the jammer line the other pack If they decide to fight for position first should be able to outfight the opponent for it. At this point it is active blocking on the stopped opponent right at the single whistle to create the opportunity to establish better position.

    If your opponent starts behind you on a power jam, and your team in front of them tries "active blocking on the stopped opponent," the only way that would be possible is if your team blocked them while stopped or moving in a clockwise direction (if your opponents didn't immediately start skating backwards at the start whistle). Both are illegal and now major penalties in the new ruleset.

    There's no counter to this, people. The sooner you learn to accept that, the sooner we can come to a real solution.

    you are wrong.

    Just utterly and totally wrong.. having played under the new ruleset, there are plenty of ways to do this type of thing. What you are not noticing is that they can't be dead still and still engage the jammer. Just don't go counterclockwise, find the edges. Hit them.

    Wrong. There are always

    Wrong. There are always gaps, even in a back four person wall. They cannot cover every single path. It takes one blocker to wedge in and if strong enough, open up the wall legally creating a path for teammates. Think about it. Does the back wall plan to never let their own jammer out? That is the only way a gap is never created. Once that whistle blows and they open up a lane for their jammer that is also opportunity for the front blockers to better their position. I have already played with opening up back walls legally and have found success with the right kind of strong blocker that can take on two, even three blockers strength wise.

    The most popular sport

    The most popular sport in the US, football, has an average of 12 minutes of total action for 60 minutes of game clock. Most of the time is spent by teams planning the next play and waiting for the play clock to get down to one before doing anything. Also, a football game runs about three hours. Fans swear by that game. A lot of it is spent in inaction, and at the end of the game teams just let the clock run down.

    I think we're freaking out a little too much when we say that roller derby is being ruined by the passive offense. I personally think it is very exciting to see a group of blockers working together, keeping the blocker in play, when they're in that situation, and the really good teams can mitigate the damage done. Also, like said above, the jammer is working their butt off, and it's fun to see them go against four blockers.

    Also, I hate the idea of trying to simplify the rules too much. Fans are smart enough to figure things out. Other sports have a ton of rules, and fans stick around for them.

    As far as the action to time spent at a bout ratio goes, it's a pretty good one.

    Wrong sports analogy

    filthy mcnasty wrote:

    The most popular sport in the US, football, has an average of 12 minutes of total action for 60 minutes of game clock. Most of the time is spent by teams planning the next play and waiting for the play clock to get down to one before doing anything. Also, a football game runs about three hours. Fans swear by that game. A lot of it is spent in inaction, and at the end of the game teams just let the clock run down.

    This is true, but football is by its nature a start-stop sport. If you wanted to make an equal comparison to roller derby, you'd have to say about 35~40 minutes of game clock time is spent in live play due to the 30 second resets between jams. And in a game that lasts about 90-100 minutes in real time, having a solid third of that be actual gameplay is, as you say, a pretty good ratio.

    But that's not what the point of discussion is about. We're talking about what happens during that "live gameplay" part. While that 12 minutes of football going on is small compared to the full game clock, there is no downtime during virtually 100% of that 12 minutes; certainly never when the game is close. Contrast this with roller derby, where a very significant portion of jam time is spent with blockers not engaging each other, only the other team's jammer...or in the case of power jams, engaging no one.

    Imagine what football would be like if the offensive and defensive lines did not engage each other after the snap. Yes, that happens at the end of a game, but only after the result has been secured and both teams know it. (The derby equivalent to this would be a jammer coasting around the track waiting to call it off at the end of the game.) That's pretty much what WFTDA derby is becoming in all game phases, and despite how people try to justify it, it's not good for the game.

    Football analogy still holds.

    Because once the play has moved away from the scrimmage line, the offensive and defensive linemen generally sorta.. stand there. Nothing they can do until the next down.

    Football! Ha!

    Think baseball. You can literally read a newspaper or a novel during the game and not missing a thing. I've done it.

    Crazy Canadian

    2 things....

    1. Hurt how do I change my post name? It should read Mack The Mouth, not Mouith...thanks I will await your response because as Norb says....this is an outrage.

    2. how about the opposing jammers penalty ends the moment the team on a power jam stops skating? No-pack called due to a stopped pack, jammer is released from penalty box.

    Oh and my coahing strategy for defending "ass-ive offence", keep your jammer on the track.

    It's been changed!

    You're now Mack the Mouth, as you should be.

    thank you

    You are a gentlmen and a scholar, regardless of that whole thing with Bob Noxious's Mom.