Thursday, February 22, 2007

Throwing Fouls

Having recently gone through marking violations, these are closely related to throwing fouls--most specifically disc space--so throwing fouls is a logical topic to move into.

Before diving in, let me mention that throwing fouls apply to any defensive player near the thrower, whether they're the marker or not. [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.a)(6)]

Right off the top, throwing fouls are a good example of "general vs specific" rules [11th Ref: I.E.]. According to the definition of a foul, it's generally the person who causes (i.e., initiates) the contact who has committed the foul [11th Ref: II.E.]. However, the throwing foul section describes the more specific cases, where the general case doesn't necessarily hold true.

First, let's go through a few terms that are used in throwing fouls, which are important to clearly understand. Two specific terms in the throwing fouls section are: 'body' and 'extended arms and legs'.

"Body" refers to the entire person; in other words, everything included inside the skin (plus hair, nails, etc)... everything. More specific terms are used where a more specific body part is meant; for example, 'torso' is used in the Principle of Verticality rule [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.b)(3)].

"Extended arms and legs" specifically means limbs that are extended away from the midline of the body. Reaching out or forward with your arms, stepping way out with your leg to reach for a hand-block, or kicking up and out with your leg, are examples of extending your arms and legs out. Having your arms hanging down at or near your sides, or standing in a natural position, even if somewhat wide-stanced, are not.

And for further clarity, hands and feet are considered part of the limb they're attached to, so a hand is part of the extended arm. (Assuming, of course, that this is where your hands and feet actually are.)

Okay fine, thanks for the science and language lesson... let's get on with it.

The throwing fouls rules state the different cases where a foul is on the marker or the thrower.

The following 3 cases are fouls on the marker, regardless of whether it's the thrower or marker who initiates the contact:

(1) Contact with the moving OR illegally-positioned extended arms or legs of the marker. That is: if they're moving, it doesn't matter if they're in a legal or illegal position; if they're illegally-positioned, it doesn't matter if they're moving or not. [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.a)(2)]

(2) Contact with an illegally-positioned marker; whether moving or not. [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.a)(3)]

(3) Contact between the marker and thrower if both are moving to the same empty space. [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.a)(3)]

The following 2 cases are examples in which the thrower initiates contact with the marker, and are fouls on the thrower:

(1) Contact with the stationary AND legally-positioned extended arms or legs of the marker. [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.a)(2)]

(2) Contact with a legally-positioned body (excluding extended arms and legs) of the marker. [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.a)(3)]

Legal position... we gotta know the criminal code now?

When talking about being in a legal or illegal position, this means whether the criteria in the disc space marking violation is being met. If the marker is violating disc space, they're in an illegal position. [11th Ref: XIV.B.3.]

And remember that if the thrower is the one who violates disc-space, the marker is not considered in an illegal position, meaning that throwing fouls are resolved as if the marker was in a legal position.

Here's a different way to think about the various options:

- any contact between the thrower and the extended arms/legs of the marker is a foul on the marker, unless those appendages are legally positioned and completely stationary (fairly unlikely, but possible!)

- if the marker is in a legal position, and the thrower initiates contact with the marker’s body (other than extended arms and legs), that’s a foul on the thrower, regardless of whether the marker was completely stationary; so, even if the marker is bouncing up and down, the thrower can’t plow into their body

- if the marker is in an illegal position, then any contact will be a foul on the marker

- vying for the same location is always a foul on the marker; so if the thrower is trying to step around the marker and the marker tries to shift over to take away the breakmark throw, and they knock into each other, it’s a foul on the marker

As with most fouls, a throwing foul shouldn’t be called on incidental contact [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.a)(1)]. (We'll cover the topic of incidental vs non-incidental contact in a future post, but for now understand that it essentially means whether the contact affected the play in any significant manner.)

However, you shouldn’t wait to see the result of the pass before making your call, but rather the foul needs to be called immediately on the contact [11th Ref: XVI.H.1.]. Call it right away as soon as you think your throw was affected and then let the continuation rule take care of whether it's a play-on situation or a stoppage (the continuation rule also to be addressed in a future post) [11th Ref: XVI.C].

And for a final word, which is about contact on the follow-through that occurs after the disc is released [11th Ref: XVI.H.3.a)(5)]. This is not in itself a foul, and is consistent with the concept of whether the contact affected the play or not. Contact after the disc is released, in virtually all cases, will not affect either the throw (it's already happened) or the marker's ability to block it (the disc will already have passed by the time the marker reacts to the contact).

Now having said that, if the thrower knows you're right in the path of the follow-through and knows you'll be hit, especially if it'll be hard (e.g., on a huck) and throws anyway, there is certainly grounds for a valid 'dangerous play' foul. However, if the marker is moving across to block as the thrower is throwing, and the thrower did not expect to hit the marker, but there is contact, that's not dangerous play, even though the contact may be significant and potentially injurious. More on this rule in the future as well. [11th Ref: XVI.H.4.]

Overall, we hope that with the changes in the disc space rule (see disc space post), there will be fewer throwing fouls and less follow-through contact. The former resulting in fewer stoppages, which is always good for the game; and the latter of course being good for the players' safety.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Avoiding Infractions --- XIX.G.

After some questions coming up following "Clarification on 'Merely Running Across'", we thought it is time to discuss the last rule in the book in more detail:

XIX.G. In addition to the assumption that players will not intentionally violate the rules, players are similarly expected to make every effort to avoid violating them.
Again, there is a wide spectrum of possible interpretations of this, from very strict: "Do not behave in any way that could potentially lead to a violation of the rules."

to fairly loose: "Do not violate the rules out of negligence."

Our intentions are somewhere in the middle of these. Yes, the word "every" in the rule is very strong, but it would be overly complicated to write down the exact line which behaviour should qualify as violation of XIX.G., so we felt that it was best to leave this interpretation to the parties involved. As in most cases, the desired affect of this "smearing of the line" is that players try to stay away from this line with their actions, and opponents only call this if the line is clearly crossed. But to give a good guideline, I will provide some examples below which clearly fall on the two sides of this line.

XIX.G intended meaning:
1. You are expected to read and learn the rules! And make your team mates read them.
2. If the only way to make a play is to violate a specific rule while doing it, don't do it.
3. If it is fairly certain that you will violate a specific rule while attempting a play, don't do it.
4. Practice your mechanics so that you will not frequently violate rules out of negligence (e.g., travel, off-sides, marking violations).
5. Make a reasonable effort to control yourself in not violating the rules (e.g., check yourself if you are marking too close and step back if it is the case, don't wait for the call; don't sprint down the field without ever checking if the space you are running into is unoccupied, etc.).
6. If you repeatedly violate a rule (no matter if you get called for it), question yourself if this is the right style of play (hint: probably not).

What it doesn't mean:
1. Don't go anywhere near an opponent to be sure not to foul him.
2. Don't catch a disc because this is the only way to be sure to avoid a travel.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Clarification on 'Merely Running Across'

We've recently had some comments and questions about the last sentence of the double-team rule: "However, merely running across this area is not a double team." [11th Ref: XIV.B.2.] We feel it's beneficial to provide the following clarification of how the SRC expects this rule will be interpreted. The original post, Marking Violations - the Rest of the Team, has also been updated with this clarification.

We've chosen the word "merely" in this rule for its specific meaning. Depending on which dictionary you're using, its definition will include something along the lines of, "only as specified and nothing else and nothing more". And this is exactly what we mean.

With that in mind, if the additional defender is running through that space to do no more than get to the other side, then that is allowed. Examples include trying to get to a player you are trying to guard, like when you're caught out of position or during a transition from zone-to-man; or to get into some other legal defensive position, like members of the cup running across to get to their position.

What you do, and how long you spend, in that defined space is what is important, not what you do once you get out the other side, or even why you're trying to get to the other side.

While you're in that space around the thrower, you need to be "merely" running across, not running across AND trying to obstruct the throw, or trying to get in the passing lane, or running closer than necessary to the thrower. Basically, to add an "AND anything" to running across means you are doing something more than just running across, and as such is contrary to the definition of "merely".

What about beginning to cross the space to catch up to a receiver and then abruptly changing direction while still within the space, in reaction to the receiver's movements?

That’s a really good question. Of course, if you're within 3m of the receiver, then you may well meet the "guarding" criteria. In other cases though, you are still merely running across that space, because you have no intention within that space except for moving through it. You may be taking another path through it, but you are still merely running through and not doing anything else while you’re in there, which is allowed.

Now having said all that, a double-team will be difficult for the thrower to call and will require a fair bit of judgment because often the intent of the defender won't necessarily be obvious to the thrower. This is a good example of the importance of the very last rule in the book, where it's the defender's responsibility to make every effort to not intentionally violate a rule. [11th Ref: XIX.G.]

... next up, Throwing Fouls... stay tuned...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Marking Violations - the Rest of the Team

Double-team, that is...

Other than the marker, no defensive player can come within 3m of the thrower, except under two conditions: [11th Ref: XIV.B.2.]

(1) They can if they're also within 3m and guarding another player; or

(2) They can otherwise run through the thrower's 3m area as long this is all they're doing.

"Guarding" is defined as (paraphrased): "being within 3m and reacting to an offensive player". [11th Ref: II.G.] Some of you may suggest that you can effectively 'guard' a player from farther than 3m, and that may be true, but for the purpose of the rules, you need to be within 3m.

And for clarity, especially since it clears up some players' interpretations of the 10th, the defender can validly be within 3m of the thrower while the offensive player that he or she is guarding is outside this circle, as long as they're within 3m of each other.

(And in case anyone's curious, "guarding" is also used in the 'pick' rule, and I'm sure we'll get to picks eventually. Just not today.)

So, guarding is being within 3m and reacting to.

The term "reacting to", while at first blush might not appear much clearer, this term really needs to be left to the individual players to define for any given situation. If you think about the various ways that players can guard someone, there are many options, depending on many factors.

With so many options, it would be very difficult to come up with any prescriptive and definite wording that will apply to all situations consistently. And there will be some criterion that may validly apply in one case, but that same criterion may not be valid in another.

It's also difficult for the rules to do the next best thing, such as provide specific examples and/or general guidance for what kinds of things might be considered 'reacting to'. To do that for all the rules that might require it would result in greatly increased bulk and size of the ruleset. Then there are the challenges with making sure that general guidance isn't misinterpreted as a prescriptive rule (e.g. vs i.e.). Which in itself is one of the benefits of a venue such as this blog and other guidance resources.

So with that thought in mind, let's look at a few common examples.

Let's take an example of a second offensive player along with the defensive dancing partner both being active within the 3m area. If the defender is moving his/her body and arms to keep between the thrower and the receiver, then I suggest that he or she is guarding the receiver. And normally not a double-team.

If, however, the defender changes his/her attention fully to the thrower, especially if moving an arm to attempt a point-block as the wind-up happens, then I suggest this is guarding the thrower instead. And depending on distances, especially if this point-block attempt is very close to the release point, this is more likely to be a double-team.

If the defender is reacting to the receiver, and the throw goes up, and then the defender moves towards the disc (and possibly towards the thrower), then I suggest this is still valid, even if only a few feet away and it looks somewhat similar to a point-block. The difference is whether the defender is ignoring the receiver and focusing on stopping the throw, or is attempting to stop the reception (i.e., of a disc already in flight).

Another example of a potential double-team would be when the defender is rather close to the thrower and then stays close--as if waiting for a throw to then attempt a point-block--when his receiver has decided to high-tail it out of the area. Especially if the thrower starts to fake in a direction away from his/her original receiver and this defender bites to point-block or otherwise stop the flight. It should be clear if his receiver is in another direction, that he's no longer reacting to that player... "double-team".

The trickier part is in situations where the defender is reacting to both the receiver and the thrower at the same time. The rule doesn't say the defender has to react only to the receiver; so truly reacting to both at the same time appears valid. However, reacting to one and then the other is not the same as reacting to both at the same time. Again, it'll need to be governed by the particulars of each different situation.

And while I'm on what the rule does not say, the 10th required the defender to "establish a position" in order to be a double-team. However, the 11th does not consider or care whether you're moving or have established a position. In either case, unless you're within 3m and guarding, it's a double-team.

Unless... which brings us to the second point I made near the top, the "running through" part.

The intent here is to not allow the offense to use this 3m area as a way to stay away from a defender who finds him/herself out of position, or during a change in defensive patterns (e.g., zone-to-man). In other words, we want to allow someone to come through this area to catch up to another offensive player somewhere on the other side.

As long as this is all they're doing. That is, no trying to get in the way of the thrower, or attempting to block/stop throws. And you need to run through; walking doesn't work.

{update Feb 16}

We've chosen the word "merely" in this rule for its specific meaning. Depending on which dictionary you're using, its definition will include something along the lines of, "only as specified and nothing else and nothing more". And this is exactly what we mean.

With that in mind, if the additional defender is running through that space to do no more than get to the other side, then that is allowed. Examples include trying to get to a player you are trying to guard, like when you're caught out of position or during a transition from zone-to-man; or to get into some other legal defensive position, like members of the cup running across to get to their position.

What you do, and how long you spend, in that defined space is what is important, not what you do once you get out the other side, or even why you're trying to get to the other side.

While you're in that space around the thrower, you need to be "merely" running across, not running across AND trying to obstruct the throw, or trying to get in the passing lane, or running closer than necessary to the thrower. Basically, to add an "AND anything" to running across means you are doing something more than just running across, and as such is contrary to the definition of "merely".

What about beginning to cross the space to catch up to a receiver and then abruptly changing direction while still within the space, in reaction to the receiver's movements?

That’s a really good question. Of course, if you're within 3m of the receiver, then you may well meet the "guarding" criteria. In other cases though, you are still merely running across that space, because you have no intention within that space except for moving through it. You may be taking another path through it, but you are still merely running through and not doing anything else while you’re in there, which is allowed.

Now having said all that, a double-team will be difficult for the thrower to call and will require a fair bit of judgment because often the intent of the defender won't necessarily be obvious to the thrower. This is a good example of the importance of the very last rule in the book, where it's the defender's responsibility to make every effort to not intentionally violate a rule. [11th Ref: XIX.G.]


And for one final idea about the double-team call. As explained in an earlier post, and of course in the rules, the stall count pauses after the double-team call and does not continue until the player has retreated. [11th Ref: XIV.B.7.] So clearly the marker needs to know when this player has retreated, in order that the count can validly continue.

The marker could watch this player to see when he or she is out of the area. While this may work well if this player is in front of the marker, for double-teams behind the marker, the marker would need to take his/her attention from the thrower to watch the other player's retreat. This may not be the best option because since play is continuing, the thrower could throw at any time. In this case, it'd be a better choice for the marker to keep attention on and continue to guard the thrower and the double-teaming player to verbally let the marker know the area is clear. This will allow the marker to know when to continue the count without needing to take any attention away from the thrower.

Is that it for marking violations? Almost.

We haven't covered vision blocking yet, but this one's rather simple. For the most part, this will occur when the marker intentionally positions his or her hands to limit the thrower's view of the field. Of course, the marker's hands will come up to block high back-hands or scoobers, but since this is not to deliberately block vision, it is not considered vision blocking. [11th Ref: XIV.B.4.]

And other than hands, it's unlikely a marker will use any other part of his or her body to intentionally block the thrower's vision. There's a rare chance that a marker will deliberately position and move his or her head in line with where the thrower is looking, perhaps looking somewhat like a chicken bobbing in front of a mirror. But other than this, I can't envision any real examples of calling vision blocking because of the marker's body other than the hands.

That's the end of a long series of information on marking violations. Congratulations for making it through, and hopefully this helps with your understanding. We'll be happy to give more guidance, just ask away... that's what this is here for.

And of course, feel free to suggest other topics you'd like covered. We are listening.

Play on.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Marking Violations - What Else Is There?

Now that we've gone through the biggest differences in the marking violations, being the resolution when called and disc-space, we can blast through the rest of these. Which (in reverse alphabetical order by last letter) are: fast count, double-team, and vision blocking.

Fast count ... nothing difficult about this, right? ... if you count fast, it's a fast count.

Well sure, that in itself is correct, but it's more than that. Not only does it cover the speed of the count, but it also covers doing a count wrong [11th Ref: XIV.B.1.a)]. The rule gives three options:

(1) The marker doesn't start or continue the count with "stalling". This includes Sylvester's favorite, "StallOne", and starting the count with just "One" (i.e., no "stalling", no "stall", no anything). Also remember from reading an earlier post (Marking Violations - Part 1), that "stalling" is not required when a marking violation is called by name and you're dropping the count by one and continuing; so don't call a fast count here.

(2) The marker counts faster than one second. The requirement is one second between the first sound of each number--that's from the 'wuh' in "one" to the 'tuh' in "two"--not one second of silence between each number [11th Ref: XIV.A.1.a)]. And for those of you who did it correctly under the 10th, this second is no longer needed between the 'ess' in "stalling" and the start of the next number. So starting the count with "StallingOne" is perfectly valid; and there's also nothing wrong with saying it as quickly as you can; there is no cadence requirement. However, even said very quickly, it still needs to sound like "StallingOne"; so if it sounds instead like "stlwn", don't be surprised if someone calls you for a 'fast count'.

(3) The marker skips a number. That one's pretty obvious. There have been discussions about someone who starts a brand-new count with "StallingNineTenSTALL"? Not only did they skip a number, they skipped an entire place of significance in the octal number system. Just laugh real hard at them when they claim it's appropriate to come in at StallingEight under the contested stall because of a fast count rule. In fact, say you laughed so hard that you popped a rib and need an injury substitution. Best... joke... ever.

That brings up the rest of the fast count rule--the contested stall because of a fast count part--so let's move on to this.

There are two reasons that you, as the thrower, will contest a stall. These are: (1) you believe the disc was released before the 't' in "ten" [11th Ref: XIV.A.3.b)]; and (2) the marker fast counted such that you didn't have time to say "fast count" before ten [11th Ref: XIV.B.1.b)].

It's this second reason that the fast count rule covers, including an added consideration with a repeated contested stall.

Here's how it works.

Normally after a contested stall, the count comes back in at "StallingEight" [11th Ref: XIV.A.5.b)(3)(a)]. If further contested stalls are because of the first reason--i.e., throw got off before ten--then the count keeps coming back in at "StallingEight".

However, if contested stalls after the first are because of a fast count, then the count comes back in at "StallingSix". And this is the case regardless of the reason for the first contested stall. [11th Ref: XIV.A.5.b)(3)(b), XIV.B.1.c)]

Why the difference?

How many times have you seen a number of contested stalls in a row that then end up in a turnover? Some markers naturally and subconsciously speed up at higher counts; it's often difficult to control one's excitement or adrenaline when the count is high. So, even though this speed-up might be a natural and honest mistake, it's still unfair to make the thrower go through this multiple times.

Consider the case where the thrower repeatedly makes a throw at ten--but would have been before ten if not a fast count. Every throw needs to be completed or else it's a turnover. Giving the extra couple of seconds is certainly fair in this context. And certainly helps to keep heads calm and cool on the field.

A couple of last words... Of course, we're assuming that this fast counting is unintentional, and this premise needs to hold. If you find that you're being called a lot for fast counting, you may wish to work on your cadence.

Conversely, the thrower is also responsible for the other half of the honesty. That is, even though a second/subsequent contested stall because of a fast count will set the count back 2 more seconds than contesting it because of a believed release before ten, this is not a reason to choose which of the two types of contests the thrower should be choosing. This choice needs to be based on fact and honest belief... as always.

And that's pretty much it for fast counts. We'll cover the rest of the marking violations (double-team and vision blocking) in a day or two.

See you on the field.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Marking Violations - Disc Space IS a Call

"Disc-space: If a line between any two points on the marker touches the thrower or is less than one disc diameter away from the torso or pivot of the thrower, it is a disc space violation." [11th Ref: XIV.B.3.]

What the heck does that mean??!!!?

Before I explain, let me tell you one of the objectives for the change to this rule. The 10th had a number of rules that different people interpreted differently, and this new rule is intended to encapsulate them all.

What were these old rules, and how were they broken?

Well, of course there was the original disc space rule. Some contended that this was a callable violation that stopped play, while others countered that a call of "disc space" was more of a warning. And what did 'mutual responsibility' mean? It's an offsetting violation because they're both responsible?

Then there was the rule that the thrower couldn't be restricted from pivoting or throwing. Some referred to it as the "no wrapping the thrower" rule. Some contended that the thrower should be allowed all throws and pivots; and well, perhaps we shouldn't have a mark at all then?

Others suggested that as long as the thrower was allowed even only one pivot and throw, then the rule was satisfied. However, unless your arms complete encircle the thrower with your hands clasped, the thrower will always be able to pivot directly away from you and throw unimpeded in that direction.

There are more examples of differing arguments and interpretations, but the rule's gone now, so other than let you hear more of my dulcet tones, there's little benefit.

Then we had the 'straddling' rule. This may have been the clearest, although I still heard more than one (potentially valid) interpretation.

So now we have the new and improved disc-space rule.

First off, it's clearly a call.

The 'whose fault is it' is (or should be) clear. Take particular note of the second sentence of this rule, "if this situation is caused solely by the thrower, it is not a violation." [11th Ref: XIV.B.3.]

This says two important things:

(1) the thrower cannot pivot towards the marker and call "disc space" or "violation" just to get the count reset, because the situation was caused solely by the thrower; and

(2) if the thrower and marker both move in a direction (e.g., say from one side to the other during a pivot), and this area is invaded, then it's both players' movements that caused it, and not solely the thrower, and so is callable.

Okay, so what is this space?

First we have the "line between any two points on the marker". Oh my! There's dozens, hundreds, millions of points and lines on the marker... How can we keep track of them all?

You don't need to. We really only care about those closest to the thrower. For example, when facing the thrower, the toe-to-toe line will be more meaningful than the heel-to-heel or toe-to-heel lines. And the hand-to-hand line will typically be more important than the elbow-to-elbow line; severely double-jointed players notwithstanding.

What it really comes down to is that for a vast majority of situations, we'll be most concerned with the hand-to-hand and toe-to-toe lines. In most situations, the other lines will be farther from the thrower.

In some situations, for example with foot-blocks or some arm contortions and reaches, we might be concerned about foot-to-hand, or hand-to-body/head lines. But for the most part, I'd expect these will be rather rare. With most of the recent player interactions I've been watching and pictures I've seen, almost all will be governed by the hands/fingers across and toes across.

Sure, the rule could have been worded for only hands and toes, but then it'd have more potential for abuse in the other rarer but still relevant situations.

Okay, so I hope we all understand this 'any line' stuff. It really is rather simple.

Moving through the rest of the disc-space wording, we're told that these lines cannot touch the thrower or be within one disc diameter from the thrower's torso or pivot.

An important thing to be clear about here is that we're talking about marker lines compared to thrower's body parts. Or in other words, we're not comparing marker lines to the thrower's lines. Or in other other words, it's two points on the marker (line) versus one point on the thrower.

And we're certainly not projecting thrower points/body parts into planar surfaces. Or inter-planar dimensions; at least not with current available technology. What I mean is that we do not project the thrower's pivot in a plane straight up. Even though the marker's hand-to-hand line may be above or inside the pivot, normally this line is nowhere near the pivot itself, so is not by itself a disc-space violation.

Now, if the marker was reaching way down to block a low-release throw, then the hand-to-hand line might come close to the pivot, but that's to do with the hand-to-whatever line and the pivot itself (of course with a disc-sized buffer), and not because of planar extensions.

So, one of the 'real/common' situations is that the toe-to-toe line needs to be at least a disc-space away from the pivot. That's the no-straddling part.

Yes, this is likely going to push some marker's back a bit from what they're used to. However, many will already have been 'straddling' the pivot or within a disc-space of the upper body, or "climbing all over" the thrower up until now. Before, the thrower may have reluctantly chosen to play through this hard/illegal mark because the 'worse evil' was to stop offensive flow. Whereas now, the mark is less likely to be this close and if so the thrower can make a call (or many calls) without stopping play.

Another common situation will be the marker's hand-to-hand line in relation to the thrower's torso or arms/hands. This line cannot intersect/touch any part of the thrower, and must be a disc-space from his or her torso. This will give the thrower some space to pivot around and move without your arms being excessively in the way, and still allow you to get close to the disc release point for hand-blocks.

That's the no-wrapping part... with some back-off for good measure.

For the most part, that pretty much covers the core rule itself.

There is a nice little side-effect of this rule, which is that this rule can also cover some marker-thrower contact as well. Think of the markers that bump early to disrupt flow and stop the give-and-go or quick huck. In the past, sure you could call a foul, but the count will reset only 1 or 2 counts and at a larger cost. Because you need to stop play to do it, this serves to disrupt flow even more, not to mention the defense has the time to look around and be more aware of the field during the stoppage. Often not worth it for a 1 or 2 count reset.

Here's where this rule comes in. Sure there was contact, but in almost all cases, disc-space was also violated. So call "disc-space" instead of foul and you at least get some relief: count reduction without needing to stop play or flow to do it.

And plus later in the count, because you've already called a marking violation earlier in the count, another instance of any marking violation will get you more relief again, including the option to stop play and reset the count.

For those of you who are doing that early count bumping/disrupting--whether as adrenaline-charged accidents, or intentional 'strategies'--in addition to re-reading rule I.B (re: "intentional infractions or other win-at-all-costs behavior"), you may wish to read new rule XIX.G. In fact, let me read it for you: "In addition to the assumption that players will not intentionally violate the rules, players are similarly expected to make every effort to avoid violating them." Interestingly, it's the last rule in the book; "the last word", if you will. Take that as you want.

Next up: the rest of the marking violations. Should be less to say about those... "and the crowd goes wild!"

Play on.

Marking Violations - Part 1

Yay! Now we start to get into the meat of the rules.

The new/updated section on marking violations arguably encompasses the largest, broadest, and deepest set of changes to the ruleset. So that's a great place to start.

Marking violations: "disc space", "fast count", "double-team", and "vision blocking". [11th Ref: XIV.B.] Big deal: those were in the 10th... what's so new about that?

First, and easiest, is that all four are explicitly callable, with defined consequences. You may (or may not) know that in the previous 10th, while there were rules on disc space and vision blocking, the rules weren't necessarily clear on what happened when called. Some even claimed that "disc space" wasn't a call at all, and more of just a warning.

Regardless of the merits of the arguments tied to those claims, they are all calls now. And they all have defined, explicit resolutions.

It's also quite convenient that all 4 types have the same resolution; so we only need to learn one thing. Well, a few things, actually, but the resolution(s) apply to all of the marking violations. So once you've figured out the right way to deal with one of them, you have it nailed for them all.

And given that it's quite possible that a majority of players (collectively across all skill levels) didn't know what they were supposed to do when called for these things in the past (e.g., double-team or fast count), that's positive.

Okay, so what is the resolution?

When the thrower recognizes any of the 4 situations, he or she calls it by name [11th Ref: XIV.B.6]. This is one major exception to the either 'call a violation by name or use the word "violation"'. [11th Ref: XVI.A.] With marking violations, calling them by name means one thing, while saying the word "violation" means something else.

This is very important to understand and of course to remember.

Okay, so the thrower calls it by name the first time it occurs. As in the 10th, play does not stop on the first call. The marker needs to wait for the violation to be corrected (e.g., the double-teamer retreating past 3m, backing off for disc space, or stopping blocking the thrower's vision) before the count can be continued. Then the marker drops the count by one and continues counting (without the word "stalling"). [11th Ref: XIV.B.7.] So, in addition to the extra time for waiting for the violation to be fixed, this gives the thrower back 2 seconds of stall ti...

Whoa whoa. Hold up. But I thought you said the count only goes down one? How is this 2 seconds?

Ah, you are paying attention. Good.

Let me illustrate with an example...

"Stalling.One... Two... Three... " "Disc Space" "Two... Three... Four... "

After 'Three', without the call the marker would have moved on to 'Four', and because of the call moved back instead to 'Two'. [4 - 2 = 2] Math lesson no charge.

Notice also that the marker doesn't say the word "stalling" when continuing the count after a marking violation. "Stalling" is only required when the count starts, or is restarted after a stoppage. [11th Ref: XIV.A.1.b)]

And now for another difference from the 10th...

On a second instance of a marking violation during the same count the thrower can again call it by name. And as with the first call, again play does not stop, the marker drops the count by one, and continues the count (after the situation is corrected).

And ditto for the third instance, fourth, fifth, etc.

The important thing to understand when comparing this to the 10th is that play continues, or in other words, offensive flow doesn't get stopped unless the thrower wants play to stop.

Okay, then how does the thrower stop play?

Easy. Once the first marking violation is called by name, then on the second or subsequent instance of a marking violation--and it doesn't need to be the same violation--instead of calling another marking violation by name, the thrower says "violation". This stops play. One important caveat is that it needs to be called before the act of throwing. [11th Ref: XIV.B.8.]

Or said in a different way, if you don't want to stop play, then call the marking violation by name. If you do want to stop play, then call "violation"; but you cannot do this on the first instance in any count.

Why would you ever want to stop play and stop flow, instead of repeatedly making the marker drop the count?

A few reasons. First, and likely most common, the marker might not know the rule and be doing the wrong thing when it's called by name. Perhaps they're not waiting for the situation to be corrected before continuing, which in itself is another instance of that particular marking violation and callable again (or stoppable with 'violation', of course). [11th Ref: XIV.B.7.a)] So in this case, often the easiest thing is to call "violation", and explain to the marker the proper way to deal with marker violations.

Or perhaps so many marker violations have occurred during your possession that nerves and/or tempers are rising--either you two folks near the disc, or the teams in general--and stopping play is a good way to keep moods from escalating.

I'm sure you can think of other reasons as well, but the main thing here is it's the thrower's decision to stop play and disrupt flow, not the repeated 'bad' actions by the marker.

A few other 'clerical' things before moving to more detailed explanations about the marker violations themselves.

First, once the thrower has stopped play by calling "violation", the count comes back in at one if the violation is not contested by the marker. [11th Ref: XIV.A.5.a)(1)] However, if the violation is contested, it comes in at the count last reached plus one, or at 6 if over 5. [11th Ref: XIV.A.5.a)(3)]

This different resumption depending on whether a violation is contested or not is new to the 11th, and applies to any defensive violation. And for consistency, which will help us remember, this is exactly the same as for a foul as well, which is the same as from the 10th.

Second, for a thrower to call the marking violation by name, they need to hold onto the disc. Well, they could call it and then throw, but nothing would happen as a result. Remember that play does not stop on these when called by name. It's as if it wasn't called at all. In other words, if you see a double-team as you're throwing or after the throw's up, don't bother calling "double-team"; a throw-away will still be a turnover.

Additionally, if you call it before you started a throw and then see a good opportunity and throw a pass, but before the marker has reacted, the pass counts and the marker can't claim you need to bring it back because you made this call. The continuation rule doesn't come into it for marker violations called by name; the continuation rule only applies when the call would have stopped play.

Now, if instead, the thrower calls "violation", for a second/subsequent marking violation, then the continuation rule would apply. We'll surely get into the continuation rule soon in a future post, but for now, just understand that if you call this violation and throw, a turnover will stay a turnover, while a completion will come back. So don't throw it after calling "violation"; it's a never-win situation.

And third, as the marker, of course you can contest a "violation" call by the thrower if you believe the infraction did not occur. Additionally, on the thrower's calls of marking violations by name you can also contest these if you believe it did not occur. Essentially, this would fall under the general "dispute that stops play". [11th Refs: XVI.D., XIX.D.] The count would then come in at 'count reached' plus one (or 6 if over 5), just like any other contested defensive violation.

So, let's take all this count/re-count/stop/resume stuff to a fuller example:

"StallingOne... Two... Three... " "fast count" "Two... Three... Four... Five... " "double-team" {pause while double-teamer retreats} "Four... Five... Six... Seven... " "Violation" ... and play stops.

If not contested, the count comes in at "StallingOne". Or if contested, it comes in at "StallingSix" (because we're over 5).

Okay, we get it... so what exactly are the marking violations themselves and how are they different from what we might already know?

Stay tuned, that's coming right up in Part 2.

See you on the field.

About Calls and Contests

Okay, now that we have the Spirit stuff behind us, there's one other 'general' topic to cover before getting into details of the rules. (I apologize right now for the length; I expect this'll be the longest of all my posts by far--i.e., I'm not getting into a pattern here, I hope--so please bear with it, if you can.)

And that topic is making calls and contesting others' calls.

Both of these are virtually unique to Ultimate. Sure, something similar exists in pickup games of other sports--like making your own calls in pickup B-ball and then someone on the other side 'arguing' their perspective--but only in Ultimate is this formally written into the rules. So it's an important thing to understand.

And since each one of us is expected to make calls when necessary, it's an important thing for everyone to understand.

As you likely know, in Ultimate we don't have referees. That's not perfectly true... in actual fact, every player is a referee, so really there are 14 referees.

So it's vitally important that every player understands the rules; otherwise we have 14 referees on the field, some (or in many cases, 'most') not knowing the rules, which of course means they're not making calls they should be making. Or worse, making calls that are just flat-out wrong, which greatly increases the chance of arguments... either from some who truly know the 'correct' rule, or from others who understand an opposite and equally wrong rule.

Or even worse, someone will say to themselves, "oh, I didn't realize that was a rule; I'll have to remember that". And then next time, it's them making the bad/wrong call. Even arguing vehemently that they know what they're talking about.

I'm likely preaching to the converted. Otherwise you probably wouldn't be here in the first place... so I'll climb down from my soapbox now. Before someone knocks me off.

So, if you've come this far, it goes without saying further that it's important to know and understand the rules. (Oops, I said it anyway.)

Okay, so who is actually supposed to make a call?

It depends on the type of call, but generally:

(1) the person fouled makes a foul call [11th Ref: XVI.H.1.];

(2) anyone on the 'violated' team makes a violation call [11th Ref: XVI.A.]; and

(3) anyone who sees it makes any other type of call.

By "anyone" (in 2 or 3), this really means a player on the field. In other words, "sideline, shut up". The exception to this is sideline people helping beginners, or Captains whose job it is (in some cases) to help resolve disputes.

It's also important (in 1 or 2) that you do NOT call fouls or violations on yourself. Sure, we all want to do the right, honorable and Spirited thing, but this isn't it. It's actually UNspirited to call it on yourself.

For example, say you're the marker, you accidentally bump the thrower while he's pivoting, and you call a foul on yourself. The thrower may have intended to play through the contact, especially since he's only 5 feet from the goal line and a cutter is completely open for the score. You've effectively stopped play, and taken away their scoring chance.

So don't ever make infraction (i.e., foul or violation) calls against you or your team. If you feel strongly that a foul should be called on you, suggest to the person you fouled that they should call it; but let them then decide to call it or not. [11th Ref: XIX.A.] It's their decision to stop their flow, not yours. Don't try to fix your first mistake by committing another.

However, for category 3, everyone is expected to make these calls. And this is the case regardless of whether it's for or against your team or your opponent. Examples of these are in- and out-of-bounds calls, up and down calls, and in or out of the end zone calls.

Rule myth: "It's the receiver's call".

Some people believe that the receiver is the only one who is allowed to say whether they're in or out, or have landed in the end zone or not, or caught it before it hit the ground. You call someone out and they immediately snap back with, "it's NOT your call!"

This is wrong. Being the receiver's call has never been in the rules. The 9th edition had a part in brackets that suggested the receiver 'might' have the best perspective on an up/down disc. However, it wasn't definitive, and didn't cover the in/out calls. And that was removed at least partly because people thought that was the rule, and partly because it just often was not true.

The correct rule (mostly unchanged from the 10th, btw) is that the player who had the best view (i.e., "best perspective") is the one who makes the call. [11th Refs: II.A., XI.C., XV.E., XVI.D.]

If you got a view of the receiver's foot at the time of the catch, and you believe his foot was on the line, then immediately call, "out". (This should be the case whether they're on your team or the other team.) In other words, if you saw it this clearly, you already have 'great perspective', so assume it's also 'best', or at least the same decision as someone else who might have the best perspective (and more of a quiet person), so make the call.

If someone else (your team or theirs) thinks the receiver is in, they should also immediately call "in". Then you can discuss and decide which of you had the "better" perspective, and that's the call that stands. Or you can agree to disagree on which of your two 'great perspectives' is actually 'best', and send the disc back to the thrower.

However, when you have someone (or a couple of someone's) who saw the receiver's feet in relation to the sideline, I doubt that a running receiver, looking up at the disc while catching it, could be anywhere close to having even just a good perspective, let alone the 'best' perspective. It's not the receiver's call.

It's entirely different when the receiver knows the disc is flying at/near the boundary, looks down as he or she plants his or her feet just inside the line, then falls OB as the disc is caught. He or she certainly may claim best perspective, and possibly be right. But it's based on actual fact, and not some mythical rule that it's always their call.

And while I bring up mythical rules, "check feet" is not a call. Sure you can say it if you want, but it does NOT require the receiver to do anything. If you see someone out then it's your responsibility to call them "out"; not say "check feet" in the hope that they'll do the Spirited thing and call themselves out. As explained above, if you've got the 'good/better/best' perspective--which you do have because you saw them out--and they often do not have any perspective, call them "out" right away.

Oh, and while I've brought up calling something right away, that's actually a requirement of the rules. You need to make your calls immediately. You don't get to wait to see the outcome of the pass, that's too late. Waiting to make your call is actually a violation in itself. [11th Refs: XVI.A., XVI.H.1.,XVI.I.2.]

Notice that earlier (5 paragraphs up) I said "discuss and decide" and "agree to disagree". More importantly, I did not say "argue to win" and "not be willing to concede so just give up".

One of the core differences between these two types of interactions comes down to respect for your opponent.

If you respect your opponent, you will (read: 'should') immediately understand that your opponent has made his or her call based on an honest perception of what happened and the right call to make. If you don't, then it's more likely that you'll automatically assume his or her call was made dishonestly to gain an unfair advantage.

It's exactly the same when dealing with contests by your opponent. That is, your opponent truly believes that his honest perception is different than yours. Let's be clear here: your opponent is not calling you a liar, accusing you of cheating, or trying to gain an unfair advantage. They simply believe the infraction (i.e., foul or violation) did not take place. [11th Ref: XVI.B.]

So, that's what the rules say that a contest is--an honest belief that the infraction did not occur--but what exactly is a contest? Are we actually required to say the word, 'contest'?

Some have suggested that a contest is a quick one-word sentence that means: I disagree with the call and am not willing to discuss it so send it back and play on. And then they immediately halt your attempt to discuss the difference of opinion or why they're contesting, suggesting that discussion is not an option.

This is not the best way to resolve calls.

We first need to assume, believe, and support that the person making the call has one perspective and the other player has a different, but equally valid perspective. No matter what the call, or whether there's a different resolution for it being contested or not, absolutely there is great value in discussing the basis for the call and contest. Assuming of course that this discussion is based on mutual respect, and with calm heads.

Consider this exchange: "Foul!" "I contest, that wasn't a foul." "You hit my arm, and I could've caught it otherwise. " "I think I got all disc, and your arm hit mine, and after I had already caught it." "Hmm. You know, I think you might be right. No foul. Your disc."

That's way better than, "Foul!" "What!!???! There's NO WAY that was a foul!!!" "Yeah, you hit my arm". "No way, you hit mine! Contest...back to thrower." "Fine!"

So what is the value in a contest and discussion, especially for calls where the outcome is the same? I mean, why even bother?

In the first of the two examples above, both players should come out of the exchange understanding that the other player made his or her call from the basis of honest and valid points of view, and that it was both of them calmly discussing and collaborating that resulted in a resolution that both of them fully supported, believed was fair, and therefore agreed with. And I know they will each continue to respect each other, probably even moreso. Regardless of the outcome, or whether the outcome ended up any different, this respect and building it further is invaluable.

The opposite results from the second example. Neither player will be happy with the result. One will think they were thieved of their turnover, while the other will feel the 40 yard gain was taken away. And neither will understand at all why the other made a call opposite to their own. Certainly no respect was strengthened, and likely worsened.

Which would you prefer? The upward spiral of building respect, or the downward spiral of increasingly unspirited calls and play? I know my choice.

Okay, okay... enough 'preaching'. So where are we now?

- Know the rules.

- Make your calls according to the rules and the spirit of the rules.

- Respect your opponent.

Hmm... that's kinda like what Kyle said a while back. (see my previous post on Spirit)

What's next?

These discussions about Spirit and calls, contests, and discussions should lay a good foundation to move on to the 'meat' of the rules.

So next up is the new/updated group of marker violations: disc space, fast count, double-team, and vision blocking.

Play on.

The Importance of Spirit

Oh no, not more people, spouting off about songs and cheers and wearing goofy clothes. Don't worry, that's not the Spirit we're talking about. Songs and outfits have nothing to do about the rules, and we're going to try to keep this blog focused on the rules.

So then, what does Spirit have to do with the rules?

If you look at the rules, the very first paragraph explains that we are assumed to not intentionally violate the rules, that an intentional infraction is cheating and an offense against Spirit, and that it is each player's responsibility to uphold Spirit of the Game. The very last clause of this first paragraph states, "this responsibility should remain paramount".

Okay, so the rules say that Spirit is important. Not only just important, but of supreme importance, above all other important things.

Are we sure it's that important?

As we read on in the rules, the Introduction starts with a part on Description, which is simply a very high-level explanation about how a game is played, and is immediately followed with the part called, "Spirit of the Game". Placing it first in the rules echos the paramount importance stated in the first paragraph.

Interestingly, although not surprisingly, for the Vancouver Ultimate League (my home league), it's their Spirit Committee that is tasked with implementing the 11th Edition to the League. Clearly from the VUL's perspective, the rules fall directly under Spirit.

So yes, Spirit is Paramount... Spirit is Supreme... Spirit is Ultimate. (no pun intended... okay, maybe a little)

So then, what is Spirit?

A big start is looking at the wording of this section, I.B.

"Spirit of the Game: Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate unsportsmanlike conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional infractions or other "win-at-all-costs" behavior are contrary to the spirit of the game and must be avoided by all players."

You should at least come away with the following main points...

Spirit means each player:

- is responsible for fair play;

- respects competing players; and

- understands and adheres to the rules.

So with that in mind, this 'first rule' of ultimate requires that players need to understand the rules (as they are, not as we think they are), in order to play fair and respect the other players. As stated, it's our 'responsibility'.

Kyle Weisbrod, in an article in the Spring 2005 edition of Ultimate News, put forward three main tenets to Spirit of the Game:

- Knowing the rules;

- Respecting and following the rules; and

- Respecting your opponent.

This sounds like pretty much the same thing.

It should be safe to assume that at least some of you agree. So, to the side you'll find links to the 11th Edition Rules and the Substantial Changes From the 10th documents (see the '11th Edition files/documents' link). Have a read, they're really not very long.

You don't have to memorize them letter-for-letter, or become a rules guru, nor does (/should) anyone expect you to. However, after reading them even only once, you will remember later on the field that you read something about that situation and will feel more comfortable that the explanation your opponent just gave you sounds similar. And you will certainly recognize something different than that 'rule' you thought was correct. ... and hopefully not be too embarrassed at how strongly you argued it. And each time you read through them, you'll pick up more and more.

So have a read now. And even if you find yourself royally confused, try to get through it. Our plan is to put forward some useful information here over the coming days/weeks/months to help with the confusion and build some good, strong, simple understanding. At least that's our goal.

Going forward, if you feel like suggesting a topic or clarification, just speak up. Others out there will most probably have similar questions.

See you on the field.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Welcome to the UPA Rules Blog!

Welcome to the UPA Rules Blog- the official blog of the UPA Standing Rules Committee (SRC) and your source for rules explanations, up to date interpretations, clarifications and general discussion of the UPA Rules of Ultimate.

In January of 2007, the UPA membership voted to approve the 11th Edition of the Rules of Ultimate. This blog is designed to help Ultimate players learn and understand these rules.

As a self-officiated sport, Ultimate is unique in placing the responsibility of fair play on the players themselves. Since we are our own “referees”, it is therefore our responsibility to know the rules of the game. However, since the rules themselves are written in language that must often be somewhat convoluted in order to be precise, encompassing, and leave no loopholes, they can be difficult to read and understand. The SRC recognizes this, and is therefore taking several steps to increase “rules accessibility”.

The goal of this blog is expound on some of the trickier rules in more accessible language and by providing examples, especially for those rules that are different between the 10th and 11th editions. Various members of the SRC will post to the blog, and all players can submit comments on those postings.

In addition to the UPA Rules Blog, there is another forum for rules discussions: This is a newsgroup that was set up to collect players’ feedback on the 11th edition during the revision process, and it will continue to be actively monitored by the SRC. This group is a resource for anyone that has a question about the rules, would like an official SRC interpretation/clarification about a rule, or would like to discuss the implications of a particular rule or make suggestions for revising a rule in a future edition. Unlike the Rules Blog, the topics on the newsgroup are driven by you. The newsgroup is intended to take the place of as a forum for rules discussions, so that all such discussions can be easily found and accessed rather than being mixed in with unrelated postings.

We hope that you find these resources helpful and accessible. As always, any questions or suggestions about the rules or the rules accessibility initiative can also be directed to upa_standing_rules_chair at upa dot org.

-Peri Kurshan
SRC Chair