Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pre-stalls and delay of game

So what's new about this?

One small change is that you always have to announce "disc in" before beginning a stall count early due to a pre-stall or a delay of game.

Next, the easy part, the pre-stall. Only two things have changed:
1. the name. It is not called "delay of game" anymore, it is the pre-stall. This change was made to keep the two concepts apart.
2. You don't have to initiate the pre-stall by some words anymore. It is enough to loudly say "(twenty)...ten...five...disc in stalling one...". It is getting more and more common (at least in elite play) that pre-stalls are counted, go ahead, do it yourself!

And now to the trickier issue, delay of game. The relevant rules here are

XIX.B. It is the responsibility of all players to avoid any delay when starting, restarting, or continuing play. This includes standing over the disc or taking more time than reasonably necessary to put the disc into play.


XIII.A.5. If an offensive player unnecessarily delays putting the disc into play in violation of rule XIX.B, a defender within three meters of the spot the disc is to be put into play may issue a delay of game warning instead of calling a violation. If the behavior in violation of rule XIX.B is not immediately stopped, the marker may initiate and continue a stall count, regardless of the actions of the offense. In order to invoke this rule, after announcing “delay of game,” the marker must give the offense two seconds to react to the warning, and then announce “disc in” before initiating the stall count.

XIX.B tells you that you should not delay the game, and gives a couple explicit scenarios (but there are other situations this rule applies!):
a) don't stand over the disc.
b) don't take more time than reasonably necessary to put the disc into play.

Begs the question: what is reasonable? The rules don't give an explicit answer to this. A good rule of thumb is the following (this is what the WFDF rules now use as standard): When the disc is on the ground, the thrower-to-be should move toward the disc in at least walking pace. Similarly, while carrying the disc to the spot where it is to be put into play, move at least in walking pace at all times.
And what is "standing over the disc"? Well, we had this in the 10th and there were all kinds of different interpretations of this. Don't worry about it in the 11th too much, since in most cases it is covered by b) anyways. The only difference is that no offensive player may stand over the disc due to a) while b) only talks about the thrower-to-be.

So what do you do if you think the other team is violating XIX.B? Two options:
1) Call "Violation" and stop play. This does not really speed up the game, so it is somewhat counter productive. But well, there are times and places for this:
- The thrower-to-be delays the game to have his offense set up. Stopping play here will stop this.
- The other team repeatedly violates this rule and you get the impression that you should stop play to quickly and respectfully remind them of the rule.
2) Invoke XIII.A.5. This is like calling a violation without stopping play (a warning). It has some teeth to it since you are allowed to initiate a stall count if they keep delaying two seconds after the warning. But if they stop delaying immediately, play is continued normally.

What happened to the old "delay of game"?
In the 10th, you could call "delay of game" whenever someone was standing over the disc and start the count immediately, no matter what they did after your call. You don't have this sharp "weapon" anymore. If the offense reacts quickly to your warning, you don't get to start the stall. On the other hand, XIX.B applies to a lot more situations, where there was nothing you could do in the 10th, since there, no one was standing over the disc:
- on a stoppage, the thrower does not present the disc for a check but rather takes some time to call a play;
- the thrower-to-be jumps back and forth from one foot to the other over the disc to call a play and let his team set up;
- carrying a disc back from out of bounds, the thrower uses the full 20 seconds to put the disc into play (waiting just a couple feet from the line) while his team mates cut to get open. On a good cut, he quickly puts the disc into play and throws...
- the thrower-to-be stands 10 (?) feet from the disc waiting for his team to set up;
- ...

So, the new rule applies to many more situations, but in turn your reaction to it is less severe. If one player stands over the disc and runs away from it once you call the warning, there is nothing you can do about it, as long as some other player quickly moves in to pick up the disc. Still, standing over the disc like this IS a violation of XIX.B, so doing this intentionally is a violation of the spirit of the game (=cheating).

The effect of this whole change is that all these "crafty" delays are now illegal, and hopefully the game will move along quicker without the need of many warnings.


Monday, March 19, 2007

What does "affected the play" mean anyway?

As promised, here's a bit more on what is meant by "affected the play."
Understanding this phrase is important for correct application of the continuation rule. Here's the part of the continuation rule that's relavant:

XVI.C. Continuation rule
2. For calls made by a non-thrower:
b) If the team that committed the infraction has possession:
(1) If the infraction affected the play (XVI.C.3), play stops and the disc reverts to the thrower unless the specific rule says otherwise.
(2) If the infraction did not affect the play, play stops and the result of the play stands.
3. An infraction affected the play if an infracted player determines that the outcome of the specific play (from the time of the infraction until play stops) may have been meaningfully different absent the infraction. (For example, if a receiver is fouled and thereby prevented from getting open for a pass, the play was affected; however, if the receiver would not have received a pass even without the foul, the play was not affected.)

A few things to note about this rule:
-if the team that committed the infraction gains or retains possession (e.g.- a defensive infraction followed by a turnover, or an offensive infraction followed by a completed pass), it doesn't matter whether the infraction occurred before or after the throw.
-the infracted player gets to determine whether the infraction affected the play.
-the specific play is described as beginning at the time of the infraction and ending when play stops, and is not limited to a particular pass or event.

To explain this a bit more clearly, I'd like to illustrate this with some examples.

We'll start with an easy one: A receiver starts his cut but is fouled by his defender. The thrower either doesn't realize there has been a foul and throws the disc anyway, or has already thrown the disc. The receiver feels that he would have had a play on the disc if he hadn't been fouled. Therefore he determines that the infraction affected the play, and the disc returns to the thrower.... unless the specific rule says otherwise, which in this case it does (according to XVI.H.3.b.2 Receiving Fouls, if the foul is uncontested the disc goes to the receiver at the spot of the infraction; if contested, it goes back to the thrower).

Ok, now let's say that the same receiver was fouled, but this time the thrower, seeing that that receiver was not open (but not realizing that a foul had been called), decides to throw to a different receiver, perhaps the dump. The dump can't get open, and the thrower ends up throwing the disc right to the dump's defender. In this case, there's a reasonable argument to be made that if the first receiver hadn't been fouled, he may have been a better option for the thrower, and the pass may have been completed to him. Therefore, the fouled receiver may still determine that the foul affected the play, and the disc will return to the thrower.

At this point you may be thinking, well, every time there's a defensive foul before an incomplete throw, the offense can claim that the foul affected the play, and the disc will go back to the thrower. And in fact, this is mostly true. (Note that the 10th edition did not clearly address what should happen when there's a defensive violation preceding an incomplete throw, and therefore a special clarification was given at club and college nationals for the past several years, in which it was decided that this scenario would be played such that the disc would always go back to the thrower.)

However, the 11th edition is a bit more nuanced in that it allows for the infracted player to determine that the infraction didn't affect the play, if that is the case.

For example, imagine our same receiver being fouled, but now let's say that receiver is on the other side of the field from the thrower, perhaps out of range for that thrower's throws. Meanwhile, the thrower sees another receiver open up the line for an easy pass, and throws it to that open receiver, but the throw gets picked up by the wind and goes out of bounds. In this case, the fouled receiver recognizes that the fact that he was fouled had no impact on the fact that the disc was turned over, and determines that the infraction did not affect the play, and the turnover stands.

One last comment on this:

The phrase "affected the play," which refers to a specific play in the context of an infraction and the continuation rule (as described above), should not be confused with the phrase "affect continued play," which is part of the definition of incidental contact, and therefore of fouls.

The definition of a foul is "non-incidental contact," and the definition of non-incidental contact is contact that "affects continued play." For contact to affect continued play means that anything that happens afterwards might be meaningfully different because of the contact. So to return to our last example above, the receiver that was on the other side of the field from the thrower may not have even been cutting for the thrower, but may instead have been positioning himself for a future cut. However, if his defender pushed him over, his ability to position himself appropriately for the next cut would have been compromised, therefore the contact "affected continued play," and thus was not incidental and was a foul. So a receiver can call a foul (because the contact "affected continued play") but then determine that the foul did not affect the specific play for purposes of the continuation rule.

And as long as we're talking about fouls, I'd like to emphasize what I wrote above, paraphrased:
A foul is defined as contact that affected continued play.
Furthermore, the continuation rule states that in order for a receiver to gain possession of the disc after being fouled, the foul must have affected THE play (XVI.C.2.b.1 and XVI.H.3.b.2).
What this means is that contact alone is not necessarily a receiving foul...
For example, let's say that our poor receiver cuts for the disc, is thrown to, but while attempting to go up for the disc, his defender inadvertantly pushes his arm down. Now let's also say that the disc flew by 5 feet over the receiver's head... In this scenario, the fact that the disc was uncatchable by that receiver means that even though there was a fair bit of contact, this contact didn't constitute a foul because it didn't affect the play (the receiver wasn't going to catch the disc anyway), and it didn't affect continued play (the throw resulted in a turnover, and the receiver-now-defender wasn't impeded in any way from continuing to play defense). So although the receiver's arm was pushed down, this wasn't a "foul."

As another example, if a defender lays out and hits the disc away, but then subsequently collides with the receiver, unless the receiver feels that the contact was the result of a dangerous play or that the contact interfered with the receiver's second attempt on the disc, it is not a receiving foul. (It may be a general foul, if the receiver was knocked over and wants to stop play to be able to get up and get on defense, but the turnover would still stand.)

(Note that a dangerous play is always considered a foul, regardless of whether it affected continued play.)

I hope that was helpful,

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

list of major changes in 11th

The following was recently posted to the UPA website (and you can download it from there:, but we thought we should post it here as well. This is a list of short summaries of the changes in the 11th edition that are most likely to affect how the game is played. Some of these have already been addressed in greater depth on this blog, and others we haven't gotten to yet.


The 11th edition- summary of most important changes
For those of you that just want the quick and dirty “highlights” of the the 11th edition, here are the changes that will most likely affect the way the game is played (please note that these are layman’s summaries only- for official language please consult the rules themselves):

Thrower/marker fouls are clarified. A distinction is made between contact with the marker’s arms/legs vs. torso. Basically, if there’s contact between the thrower and the marker’s arms/legs, it’s a foul on the marker unless their arms/legs were completely stationary. If there’s contact between the thrower and the marker’s torso, it’s a foul on whoever initiated the contact (unless the marker is also violating a marking rule, like disc space). However, if this contact occurs as a result of the thrower and marker both vying for the same unoccupied position, and therefore it’s unclear who “initiated” the contact, it’s a foul on the marker. [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.a)]

Disc space” is now a marking violation (see below). The new definition of disc space now includes provisions against wrapping one’s arms around the thrower and straddling the pivot foot. This is done by defining disc space as the space between the thrower and “any line segment between two points on the marker’s body”. What this means is that if an imaginary line is drawn that connects the fingertips of a marker’s two hands (for example), that line cannot touch any point on the thrower’s body, and has to be one disc’s diameter away from the thrower’s torso and pivot. In addition, the fact that this is now a call has the added benefit that if the thrower is being fouled on the mark, he or she can choose to call the disc space violation instead of calling a foul (see below for why this is a benefit). [11th Ref: XIV.B.3.]

Marking violations (disc space, fast count, double team, and vision blocking) can now be called an unlimited number of times during a stall count, without stopping play. Just like in the 10th edition, when these violations are called the marker has to drop their count by one. Furthermore, if a marking violation is called, the marker is not allowed to resume their count until he or she rectifies the violation. [11th Ref: XIV.B.]

When a pick is called, all players return to where they were when the call was made (or when the throw went up, if the disc was thrown). After that, the picked defender then moves to regain the relative position lost due to the pick. Furthermore, if a picked defender did not have a play on the disc, the disc stays with the receiver. In addition, it is no longer relevant whether the pick occured before or after the throw- only whether it affected or did not affect the play. [11th Refs: XVI.C.4.; XVI.I.3.; XVI.C.2.b)(2)]

A disc is generally checked in at the site of the infraction. What this means is that if there’s an uncontested receiving foul in the endzone, the disc is checked in at the spot of the foul, after which everyone is free to move and the receiver can carry the disc to the endzone line and put it in play. [11th Refs: XVI.H.3.b)(2); X.C.]

Penalties for offsides and time violations can now be instituted in Observed games. These are the same penalties that have been in effect for the College Series (under the “Supplemental Enforcement Provisions/X-Rules/Callahan Rules”). [11th Refs: VIII.B.4.e); VIII.C.4.]

The requirement of acknowledging a goal has been removed. In addition, if a player catches a pass in the endzone in which they’re trying to score, but doesn’t realize it and throws an incomplete pass, any player with best perspective can overrule the turnover and award the goal. However, if opposing players who both have best perspective can’t agree on the call, the turnover stands. [11th Refs: XI.A.; XI.C.]

In the endzone, an uncontested foul on a receiver after a catch has been made that results in a loss of possession is a goal (this covers a strip, but is extended to all fouls that occur after possession is gained). [11th Ref: XI.A.2.]

Uncontested offensive violations other than picks (for example, travels) are now treated like uncontested offensive fouls, such that the stall count does not revert to 6 if it was over 6, but comes in at the last number uttered plus one (but never higher than 9). [11th Ref: XIV.A.5.a)(2)]

The requirement for a one-second pause between the word “stalling” and the first number of the stall count has been removed. In addition, the stall count can never come in higher than “stalling nine”. [11th Refs: XIV.A.1.a); XIV.A.5.]

A contested stall now comes back in at 8 instead of 9 (due to the removal of the requirement for the pause; see above). Furthermore, if a stall is contested more than once in the same possession, and if second and subsequent contests are a result of a fast count, the stall count reverts to 6 instead of 8. [11th Refs: XIV.A.5.b)(3)]

Double team has been clarified: A defender is allowed within 3 meters of a thrower only if they are also within 3 meters of another offensive player and are guarding that other offensive player. [11th Ref: XIV.B.2.]

Additional perimeter restraining lines are recommended for spectators, gear, coaches and competitors. Any obstructed player or thrower can stop play if sideline players encroach into these areas obstructing their throw. [11th Refs: III.F.; III.G.]

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Continuation, continued...

Having covered continuation for calls made by the thrower yesterday, now what about calls made by a non-thrower?

Here, the first criterion is which team is considered the team in possession, ignoring the infraction, after the outcome of the pass. The choices are:

(1) the team that 'called' the infraction has possession (e.g., offensive foul with a turfed throw, or defensive violation with a completed pass) [11th Ref: XVI.C.2.a)]; or

(2) the team that 'committed' the infraction has possession (e.g., offensive violation with a completed pass, or a defensive foul with an interception) [11th Ref: XVI.C.2.b)].

And by "the team ... has possession", a person doesn't actually need to have physical possession, but rather the 'team' that has or may pick up the disc. [11th Ref: II.O.4.]

For the 'team that called' half, there's two main resolutions, which are a combination of which team (offense or defense) made the call, and whether the infraction was before or after the (start of the) throw. It's a lot of conditions to memorize--thrower/non-thrower, then called/committed, then offense/defense along with before/after the throw...whew--so let's try to make easy sense of it instead.

First, in concept, if the offense calls it and the offense keeps it, then it's exactly the same as if the thrower had made the call. Which is that an infraction before the throw will come back to the thrower, i.e., no free throw [11th Ref: XVI.C.2.a)(1)]; but one during the act of throwing stays completed [11th Ref: XVI.C.2.a)(2)].

And regardless of when the throw happens, if the defense calls it and the pass is turned over, it's always a turnover and a "play on" situation without a stoppage [11th Ref: XVI.C.2.a)(2)]. This makes sense: if the offense can't complete the pass WITH the infraction that disadvantages the defense, they really shouldn't be given the chance to redo the play. Or in other words, this best simulates what would most likely have happened absent the infraction.

And then for the 'team that committed' half, there's two main resolutions (easier than the 'called' half), which is whether or not the call 'affected the play' (that concept covered in another post). If the infraction affected the play, then the disc usually gets returned, unless another more specific rule applies (e.g., uncontested offensive receiving foul) [11th Refs: XVI.C.2.b)(1); XVI.H.3.b)(2)]; and if not, the play will stand [11th Ref: XVI.C.2.b)(2)].

It's important to note that in both cases, play will stop regardless of whether the result of the play stands or the disc is returned. In other words, when the play stands, rather than it being "play on" unhalted, a discussion will typically be necessary to determine whether the play was affected, and as such play really needs to stop.

Remember that if the infraction affected the play, it'll usually go back to the thrower, so is fair to the offense to reverse the turnover when the defense caused the infraction, and is fair to the defense to not let the pass stand when the offense caused it.

We go over 'affecting the play' in more detail in another post, but for here, think of examples where the infractions truly do not affect the play: a pick where the defender may have been 9 feet away at the time of the pick with no chance to block the pass even without the pick; or a foul on a receiver who is “two passes away” from a thrower who turfs a throw to another open receiver up the line. (Note that in both of these situations the call is still valid, and play stops, but the outcome of the play stands.)

In both of these cases, with or without the infraction, the result of the pass was very likely to be the same. So in keeping with the philosophy that, in general, we want to simulate the outcome that would have occurred absent the infraction, the play stands.

For some final words today, let me cycle back to a sentence I skipped at the very beginning, and then we'll save the rest of the rule for another time. And that is, "[ ... ] an uncontested stall that occurs after another call is treated the same as an incomplete pass." In other words, a call that the thrower doesn't acknowledge before "ten", is resolved the same as if he had turfed a throw instead of being stalled.
[11th Ref: XVI.C.]

What this means is either it was a defensive call and therefore it'll be a "play on" situation [11th Ref: XVI.C.2.a)(2)]; or it was an offensive call and the disc stays with the thrower, assuming the call affected the play (e.g., intended receivers no longer viable option because of the infraction) [11th Ref: XVI.C.2.b)(1)], or the stall stands if it did not affect the play [11th Ref: XVI.C.2.b)(2)].

One of the most effective ways of helping to make sure the thrower isn't stalled after a call, is for players (as many as possible) to echo the call so that the thrower is aware of the call as quickly as possible. [11th Ref: XIX.F.]

We'll take care of the rest of the continuation rule (i.e., affecting the play, and positioning after a call) another day.

Play on.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Continuing on to Continuation

The continuation rule has been significantly reworked and rewritten for the 11th Edition. The primary motivation for the change was clarity, and secondarily to improve and/or correct a few small anomalies in the 10th Edition and conditions that it missed.

However, the basic tenets of the continuation rule are still the same:
- If a call is made while the disc is in the air (or while the thrower is in the act of throwing), play continues until the outcome of THAT pass (only) is determined;
- If a call is made while the disc is in the possession of a thrower, play continues until the thrower acknowledges the call OR until the outcome of ONE additional pass is determined.
Play CAN continue further in specific situations (described by the contiuation rule), but in those situations players must say "play on".
Also note that it is now clearly stated in the rules (XIX.F) that the thrower MUST acknowledge a call as soon as he or she is aware of it- to not do so is not only cheating but also a violation.

Even with the clarifications we tried to make, the continuation rule may still seem somewhat complicated. Especially if you read it to memorize all the conditions and what the resolution is in each case, it may actually seem somewhat overwhelming.

We realize that, regardless of our wishes and best efforts, some players will not know and/or remember all of the rules. However, given that the design of some continuation rule resolutions is to continue the game without stopping, and player confusion in knowing these parts in particular will keep that from happening, it's important that every one of us understands the continuation rule as best as we can.

Not to mention that it applies every time a call is made, so it's the most commonly-used rule.

With all that in mind, rather than help you only memorize the rule, I'm going to try to help you to understand the why of the rule from a common sense point-of-view, which should increase the likelihood of automatically knowing and suggesting the right resolution on the field.

Before we get into the particular conditions, let's look at the opening lines of the rule:

Play stops when the thrower in possession acknowledges that an infraction has been called. If a call is made when the disc is in the air or the thrower is in the act of throwing, or if the thrower fails to acknowledge the call and subsequently attempts a pass, play continues until the outcome of that pass is determined. [ ... ] Play then either stops or continues according to the following conditions: [11th Ref: XVI.C.]

So, if the thrower acknowledges the call, easy: play stops right there; that's the first sentence. To help players know that the thrower has acknowledged the call, there is now a requirement for the throwers to visibly or audibly show/say they've stopped play [11th Ref: XIX.F.]. It's important for players to know when play stops for a number of reasons, including so players actually stop moving around the field and so should know where they were when play stopped in order to set up properly.

If the thrower instead throws a pass, or if the disc is already in the air, the last sentences essentially say this: (1) first resolve the pass; then depending on whether the pass was complete or not, (2) look to the rest of the continuation rule to see whether play is considered stopped at that point, or whether play continues unstopped.

This is only a one-pass continuation. If a second and third pass is thrown before play stops, what happens for those passes doesn't matter for how the continuation rule is resolved; it's only that first pass that matters.

What are the resolutions?

The resolutions are first split into two conditions, calls made by the thrower, and those made by a non-thrower.

For thrower calls, these are then split between infractions that occur before the throw starts, and those that occur after the throw starts (i.e., that occur during the act of throwing [11th Ref: II.T.3.]).

With thrower calls for infractions before the throw starts, the primary desire is to not allow the thrower to have a free throw, which would happen if the thrower made the call and then made a throw. In these cases, a completed throw comes back (i.e., no free throw) and an incomplete pass stays incomplete. So if you're the thrower and an infraction is made before the throw and you make a call, don't throw it; a completed pass will never stay complete, and you're only risking a turnover. [11th Ref: XVI.C.1.a)]

After the start of the throw (i.e., during the throwing motion), however, the primary desire is that we don't want a valid throw and catch to be taken away, and of course want a do-over if the throw is bad because of it. So the results are opposite when the infraction occurs after the start of the throwing motion. That is, a completed pass stays complete and an incomplete pass is returned. This makes sense considering that in many cases, the thrower is already committed to a throw and cannot stop easily, and regardless, it's unfair to take away the valid opportunity. And for incomplete passes, it's likely the infraction caused, at least partially, the turnover. [11th Ref: XVI.C.1.b)]

Also take particular note that it's whether the infraction was before the call, not the call itself. So delaying the call won't change how it's resolved. This is an improvement over the 10th, where the time of the call was important, and a slight delay in the call could theoretically have changed how it's resolved. That's no longer the case with it being determined instead by the time of the infraction.

So in both instances--infraction before or after the start of the throw--there's a "play on" result where play continues un-halted, and a stoppage result where the disc is returned to the thrower. So when you recognize the "play on" situation, just yell it out right away (and repeat it if you hear others yelling it) and keep right on playing (i.e., turn, burn, strike, and score if you're on offense; or watch for that if on defense). And for a stoppage, if you've heard the call, please echo it, and especially once you realize that play should be stopping so players are more likely to stop faster and to reposition more accurately [11th Ref: XIX.F.].

On to calls made by a non-thrower tomorrow...