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NAH V 4.3 Feedback

I reffed the french EHBPC qualification tournament in Lyon this week-end (10-11 may 2014).
I reffed around 70 on the 91 played this w-e, on one court, with an assistants, and some random goal refs.

We applied the new ruleset NAH 4.3, but i provide some small tweaks:
- The highsticking rule was played at the opposite as it is written. You could play a ball above opponents shoulders if that's not in a dangerous way, but a hit above shoulders will results in a penalty. At the end, i didn't have to call any foul regarding highsticking. So this change made my job a bit easier, cause if you fallow the ruleset, you will have to call a lot of fouls because here it's common to try to catch passes with a raising mallet.

-Medium penalty. I sometimes took the guy who made a foul next to me and kept him for 5 second, facing is own net after a ball turnover. This was made when i thought that the foul break a situation who deserve more than a simple ball t-o but less than a 30 sec. At the end i think i called that between 5 or 10 times. I didn't had to call any 30 sec, and no players complained. The doors situation of the court made also the 30 sec penalty hard to call.

How the new ruleset work:
The interference for players
The interference rule become the be really enforced by player, they made screen but they avoid any contact. For now it seems that the defensives players didn't use to much the fact that they can engaging contact first, wich keep the game cleaner than when people where hitting each other around.
Teams or players who didn't enforce the rule were called anytime i saw them. wiche made a lot of call for some. It seems that they didn't understood the rule, or even noticed that a change happend. I will say 2 teams out of 14 didn't really get the thing.

As call were more frequent, it seems that players were more motivated for asking fouls out of the ball, and sometimes frustrated that the ref and his assistant didn't catch what happends. I noticed also that some players began to made vocal signal for ref when they tought they were engaged phys of the ball by an offensive player. They called or "interference", or more frequently, as soccer player, a scream of pain even if it wasn't painful at all.

The interference for ref:

Gosh, it's hard.
Last year i reffed at the same place, but for the pre-qualif, 80 games without any break. This year i had less game to ref and more breaks, but it feels way more exausting.
You have to have your eyes everywhere and to ask you assistant to check or what happen on the ball or off the ball. Alone that's almost impossible to enforce or ask a lot of concentration. Some situation we were 3, one main ref, an assistant and one trust guy, and we missed a check of the ball because 3 contact situations happens on the court at the same time.

I will continue this later, but to summary the good points now, i think that it keep the game cooler than before, make the ref more active and more an actor of the game.
During this whole week-end i didnt feel any real agressive tensions between players. The fact that the whole ruleset is absolutely well writen, give a lot of power to the ref, (almost) every situation is clear for them now, and the way the foul are called to.

ban screening...ban checking...every reffing difficulty above eliminated.


I would ban checking too i think, checking people on bicycles plus without protection is stupid ( last Do's video about hits show us mostly shitty contacts situations). And yes this would help reffing.

For banning screen, i would try to play a game like that. But i think it would still be hard to ref, as you have to see off the ball play the same as we have to do now. But i get the point.

Mr Do's video was nicely edited making some hits seem more severe. Also, considering the small amount of major injuries caused to players by checks through out last years season, I do not see a reason to ban checking or physical play.

I'd say increase pads before decreasing physical play further.

At first I did not like highstick rule. But after seeing the decrease of mallets at face level, I have changed my opinion. Mallets under shoulder height seems reasonable to me.

So you are saying, a player must let another player past, and can only play the ball? Like in horse polo.

Easy to ref, sure. But sounds pretty lame...

is there any sport where rules have not evolved to deal with "interference"? why did "interference" rules evolve in those sports? would those sports be more fun to play/watch if "interference" rules hadn't evolved? are we trying to make our sport more fun to play/watch? are we willing to evolve in order to achieve those goals?

you ask a lot of questions, but provide very none answers.

easy answer...ban "interference". I'm very transparent about how I feel the sport needs to evolve.
"screening"...shit's boring. "checking"...shit's boring. "stacking"...shit's boring. MOST polo games I watch...shit's boring...and I love this sport...like I love ellipses.

I want to evolve into an intentionally coed sport with an intentional ruleset banning all potentially injurious play.

I also want true 3v3 or 4v4...

Shit's boring because there are only three people.

I agree that it's incredibly boring to watch, it's painful.

I think if it were true 3v3 or 4v4 then a lot of the things you want a ban on would fix themselves.

I don't think that banning what you, or whomever, want to ban will turn this game into the dynamic, fantastical, eyes-glued-to-the-screen-game you / I would like. No matter how you slice it, the one goalie and two roamers on a court this big won't really ever be all that interesting to watch.

so fucking true


definitely...screening wouldn't mean shit if it were true 3v3 (4v4 with interchangeable permanent goalies). screening wouldn't lead to a power play so teams relying on players that need screens because they can't break ankles themselves would get locked down. fewer wack goals from breakaways, too. institute a crease and add a "pass interference" rule and 1v1 coverage on receivers and the game starts looking wide open. more movement from everyone and more shaking and baking just to maintain possession and make a contested pass.

way to make a depressing but accurate point.

Totes. Hell, I spend hours watching plain, straight up, jiu jitsu and find it fascinating, but other people see it as horribly boring because people who don't know what's going on just see two sweaty guys rolling around on the ground for 15 minutes until, *magically* one guy grabs the other and makes him tap. It's even harder to sell people on watching a points match, 4 minutes seems like 4 hours. Opinions, maaaan. That's sort of how I feel about watching most polo these days.

luv it.

uolmo wrote:

some players began to made vocal signal for ref when they tought they were engaged phys of the ball by an offensive player

chirp chirps chirp

Clement, one thing, I noticed you talked about defensive and offensive in terms of interference. It applies equally to defence and offence.

The defender isn't allowed to "engage contact first". Only a player who is being screened by the other player is, regardless of whether they are defending or attacking.

Now, of course, if you are talking about a situation where the offensive player has the ball, then yes the defender may initiate contact, and the offensive player not (unless they are being screened)

Im talking about the first part of your post.
You are right about the rule, but the fact is that screening are mostly made by offensive players who try to prevent defensive player to challenge the ball, so that's why I use this unofficial shortcut.

The contacts fouls I had to ref was mostly offensive players who initiate contact for a screen.
( I would say that overall, this foul was 70% my call, the rest was mallets penalties (jamming and slashing), some dangerous play, and check from behind, but not so much).

Some of the common mistake i made with some of my interfence call was this situation:
An offensive player take a line on the court to screen a player, but without engaging the contact, the defensive player try to cut this line to go to the ball, and fell down by engaging a messy contact with the offensive player. Two times at least i call that against the offensive player, because all was so fast that i tought that it was the offensive player who ride into the defensive on.
That's an hard part of the ref job i think with this ruleset. The crash of the defensive player made me call, but in fact, the screen was correct and didn't was a contact, even if it looks bit the same.

There will be close calls, that's for sure. Much the same as any sport, really. Reffing is tough, that's a fact.

What I like about the rule is that it advantages teams that don't heavily screen on offense. Even if you got a few of those calls wrong in hindsight, the rule is written to take some power away from the screen-and-tap-in as a stand-alone strategy for success. If your "bad calls" take just a little more power away from the screening strategy, I personally don't hate that. Especially when we are just talking about ball turnovers, here.

I make no effort to hide that the way the rules were written is in attempt to phase out the screen-heavy offense as a dominant form of success in the sport. Next year, if I still have a role in writing the rules, I will be even more aggressive in this way. If it's unpopular, the vote will tell.

I personally don't view close calls erring on the side of the defense as a bad thing (tie-goes-against-the-screener). We have to remember that bad calls come at the professional level of all sports, and for our resources, bike polo is doing a great job, ya know???

For me this was clear that team who get these bads calls were playing right on the border. they were passively screening in a very active way :)

I think it change the game for the best, but i want to see how this will evolve if we keep it like that. Does the game will go back to the almost the ancient scheme when player will know how to deal with the rule? Or changing their game because it will become too hard to being efficient without engaging contact and when the screened players will more use the fact that they can break screens?

Can't wait to see. Anyway great job with the ruleset, apart some small points (i will make my reviews about them), it's really great to work with. It made me realy confident in a lot of situation were in the past we were just like "hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, i don't know man..."

And thanks for the feedback. It's good to hear how the rules work in a real tournament. While I wasn't always, I am now confident in a ref's ability to properly manage the game, even if an occasional call is wrong. It's more about setting a standard by which we all hope the competitors will participate. Let me know if you got anything else.

A point about some issues we get this week end in Strasbourg:

Open tournament, 16 teams, around 3 swiss teams, 4 or 5 germans, the others were all french. Played on the NAH 4.3 again.

After playing and helping a bit reff staff in this tournament, that's pretty obvious that not everybody is playing the new ruleset. Some German players played by checking players off the ball as a screening move and seemed surprised when they get called for that. We weren't on the same page.

How are we going to deal with that for ehbpc in padova and WHBPC Montepelier? Because if a team is playing this way and the other the new ruleset it's gonna be messy, and it will ask a lot of job for refs...

Did you notice such things in NAH qualiflyers or last tournaments?
Had players played enough tournaments with this rules to be ready for main events this season?

Do somebody have some time to provide a small video who explain in 2-3 minutes the ruleset changes?
The job you did around certification is just awesome and help a lot, but that's too much for a lot of player who didn't took the time to read the rule.

Then those players should read the rules.

If the organizers of the tournament say "here are the rules" and the players don't learn them, then its the players fault and they will continue to get penalized.


I can speak for the SEQ (southeast qualifier).

there was a fair amount of screening and most of it involved contact (bike on bike and body and body) but there wasn't one call made. people argued that screening was legal and thought contact was allowed by the screener. the subtlety of the ruleset was lost on most players due to lack of knowledge of the rules and this was compounded by "ref's discretion" on whether or not it was an active screen.

something I encountered repeatedly as a player was opponents extending their arms and mallets across my body above the bars or in front of my tire or bars to prevent me from passing them. this wasn't called either because the contact wasn't an excessive body to body hit.

how do screening rules apply to players hopping and bumping against each other in front of the goal to open or close a shooting lane?

screening is so lame...what a wack ass thing to have to type this much about...womp womp womp.

It is nice to see that the South East had official refs and will be sending the best three teams to NA's this year.

That will never work.

I think that extending arms in front of someone should be called as a holding, even if that's a light one.

I saw players jumping on defensive players to keep them far away from the ball activity, and they were surprized to get call for that, arguing that jumping on somebody was clean.
Asking every team to really read the new ruleset and understand the change have to be an objective. Also at the start of every tournament who play under these rules, it should be a speach who summaries most of the modifications it involves.

uolmo .Clement. wrote:

arguing that jumping on somebody was clean.

bunnyhopping as entitlement. it's about as clean as a 180-turn into someone's bike.

"holding" is definitely the correct call...and "high sticking" if their mallet is above your bars, no?

I had a player lose their mallet, screen me from the ball instead of picking up their mallet, then hop on me for like 10 seconds straight as I looked to the ref to make a call...no call. would you have made a call?

If he initiated contact with you while jumping i would call that. If not, then that's not a foul. Most of the time, people who play this move, as the endo or the holding on the board, initate contact so should get the call.
As Nick said, even if sometimes you gonna get close or wrong call, because the player didn't really initate contact, that's not a big mistake cause he was playing on the border, and only trying to kick somebody out of the play.

I hope that the game the newruleset provide will convice people that this kind of play are just fugly, to play and watch.


people who play this move, as the endo or the holding on the board, initate contact and it's just fugly, to play and watch.


I can't wait to use these rules in the euros this year. All it needs Is a crease..

"TIE GOES TO THE DEFENDER"...so everytime someone comes in hot to screen or pin and they endo and their back wheel or hip hits any part of the opposing players bike or body before their wheel is on the ground then it's a penalty? delayed turnover? even if it looks like it's really close...tie goes to the defender?

what about when defenders come in hot and endo their back wheel or hip into the ballhandler's bike or body before their wheel is solidly on the ground? delayed penalty? even if it looks like it's really close...tie goes to the non-endoer?

having axles endoed into your feet, ankles, shins and calves...not fun.

Hope we can have some feedbacks from last qualiflyers here, NAH ones and Hungary, Italy and Spain ones.

I'll chime in on the Cascadia qualifier. Reffing here was pretty top notch as far as I'm concerned, and I think most who attended would agree. There was some off the ball screening happening Saturday. Some was missed by the ref but there were also a good amount of delayed calls made. I saw a few instances of some extended screens happening that in my opinion was really pushing the limits and could have been called. When we got two refs going on Sunday it became easier to pick this out. There was one main ref watching the ball and another looking for excessive contact off the ball/extended screens made on players trying to get back to play the ball.

I still think it's really difficult for refs to make accurate calls on arm extension, steering arm checks and checking from behind when games heat up and players get clustered in high traffic areas far from where the ref is positioned. Not really sure what the solution for that is, but it's really hard to see things from a refs perspective in a 3-4 man tangle up on the other side of the court. Like Kruse said, bad calls are always going to occur, but the trade off for tight regulation of other things that may take away from the game is worth it. Other than off the ball play and some issues with checks I can't recall many other penalties that were assessed often. Goal judges did a good job of looking for and calling false starts, high sticking was called pretty much every time (although some follow throughs on swings looked pretty scary but were technically legal if I'm not mistaken?). Maybe Schultz, JT, Paul D, Kruse and other refs/ rules guys can chime in, but I think overall most people liked the ruleset and enforcement of it.

In Lyon we think about something like that:

With 3 official you cover the court pretty well. And you give GH or assistant the right to signal fouls.
As i asked several time to the goals refs what they saw in some messy situation. I would love to see them not behind the nets but on the side, around goal line, because i think that's a better place.

Agreed. I much prefer goal reffing from there, as you can see along the goal line. From behind the net it's basically impossible to tell if a ball has crossed the line, if it's a close one.

There is some allowance for this in the rules (if the behind the net position isn't available)

Aus/NZ champs we 2 months ago. We debated this but declined to as we use the main and assistant ref as a team that can talk to each other and swap notes or warnings during play and checks with each other as well as communicating for time pauses etc. Having the 2nd ref on the other side negates this.

Having goal judges there could help but they don't make penalty calls.

I always have my goal judges there. I use them for a few things and this position is better:
1. Determining whether the ball crossed the line or not. You gotta be somehow on the line to judge that properly.
2. Putting the goal back in place. Many of our courts have nets so that's the best place to jump into the court on short notice.
3. Toppling, away from the action stuff and other fouls (some players know that if they foul behind the net, the ref will most likely miss it).

I have two things to add, first being a goal ref is much harder than being a ref. It is like being a goalie in football(soccer). You're useless most of the time but that one moment you're useful, you are CRUCIALLY so. And most often than not you were bored and didn't pay so much attention. I therefore am pro-any rule that makes them more active and includes them. As a ref I always try to remember to check on them even if the goal was obvious, for that very reason. Second, I experienced with reffing on skates (I played inline hockey in college) and it is SO much better. It takes a lot of energy but there's so few dead angles and calls are easier to make. I'm curious to hear the comments of those who tried.

uolmo .Clement. wrote:

In Lyon we think about something like that:

With 3 official you cover the court pretty well. And you give GH or assistant the right to signal fouls.
As i asked several time to the goals refs what they saw in some messy situation. I would love to see them not behind the nets but on the side, around goal line, because i think that's a better place.

Awww shit, it's the new Milwaukee Bike Polo logo… Thanks Clement!

cody wrote:

There was some off the ball screening happening Saturday. Some was missed by the ref but there were also a good amount of delayed calls made. I saw a few instances of some extended screens happening that in my opinion was really pushing the limits and could have been called. When we got two refs going on Sunday it became easier to pick this out. There was one main ref watching the ball and another looking for excessive contact off the ball/extended screens made on players trying to get back to play the ball.

"off the ball screening" isn't really an infraction... unless it involves off-ball contact by the screening (offensive) player, or "trapping". perhaps it should be in the future, but as long as it's legal, i think it's important not to mix this up?

Correct. When I say there was off the ball screening happening Saturday I mean the type that is a penalty (contact initiated by the screener, or a screen continued after contact was made by the person being screened). These were called, and any confusion people may have had about what was acceptable was cleared up, I think. It didn't seem to happen much on Sunday. You're right about use of language though, extremely important. I should say off ball contact (?).

" or a screen continued after contact was made by the person being screened"

This is not a foul on the ruleset, no?

No. Anyone can screen as much as they want, at any time, anywhere on court.

Really?? Then we had some confusion on this

§ – A ‘moving screen’ is defined as the active obstruction of an opponent’s
movement to shield the ball, to block them from challenging the player in possession of
the ball, or to prevent them from gaining a particular position on the court.

From what I could tell the way we reffed this was a player could set a screen anywhere on the court, until challenged via check or bodily contact by the player being screened attempting to get to the ball. After this challenge, the person setting the screen had to stop (no back and forth checking anywhere on the court whenever they felt like it). Is this incorrect?

Kruse will know best, and was there. I don't see anything in the rules about having to stop screening.

§10.3.1 – An interference penalty will be assessed when a player initiates physical contact with an
opponent who is not in possession of the ball. All players not in possession of the ball have the
right to the space they occupy.

This and the section below it on moving screens are what come to mind. Schultz was head ref and made it clear that the player being screened has a right to challenge the ball, or gain some position on the court that may allow them to challenge the ball. Wouldn't being caught in a back and forth of checking that could run the duration of the court regardless of where the ball is fall under "active obstruction" in § Seems to be why the interference rule was created to begin with.

not sure if this will help the question Cody, but I think this is how everything goes down according to the rules.
A player should have a right to the space they occupy, but no lines are guaranteed. in the case of interference and screening, a line can be sealed by a offensive teammate through passive methods (i.e. looming up as the defensive player turns to chase/play the ball) but it is up to the defensive player to initiate contact which will then signal to the ref that offensive person needs to get out of the way. Schultz says if the offensive player takes the bait and starts pushing back and turning it into a shouldergrind pedal-off (my words summarizing his description, i.e. the back and forth checking), it will be interference at that point because of the active obstruction.

A lot of games in Cascadia Qualifier had plays that involved a screen and the defensive player did not challenge the line, which in turn led to a bunch of confusion about the ruleset, because it appears that the offensive teammate is interfering with that defensive player's ability to get to the ball. But that is the active screen at work and the onus of the rules right now; That a defensive player should initiate contact with the intent of creating their own opening rather than turning away from the situation or being actively screened into a worse position if they don't challenge it.

A screening player that *must* yield to contact by a screened player is an excessive interpretation of the rule and wasn't quite the intent in writing it.

A screening player is allowed to maintain their straight-line path, even after the screened player makes contact with them. They don't have to peel off or give up on the screen. What they must not do is proceed to turn into the screened player.

The rule is basically saying that you aren't allowed to blindside check someone and you aren't allowed to steer someone into the wall or away from the play. The screener must continue forward, straight. They must not take away the space from the screened player, but they have no duty to yield their own space.

If player A is riding straight, and screening player B, and player B initiates contact on player A, but player A maintains the direction and speed that he began prior to the initiated contact, thus maintaining the screen, he is not violating the rule as intended. They may slow down or speed up however they like if they are able to maintain the screen without being knocked from their bicycle.

So you may ask then what the fuck is the rule for? Right now, it only stops something that never really happened anyway (blindside full blown checks) and another that ends up in the same result as what is legal now anyway (the removal of a defensive player from the play, either done by steering someone into the boards [illegal] or perma-screening [legal]).

Yeah, I mean, I don't know what it does. It's not very effective. It just slightly modifies the way in which screen-heavy teams must operate, but doesn't render them much less effective. Mainly I was concerned with getting the players of the game to start recognizing screens, defining them, getting people comfortable with the necessary changes to how they affect the game, and then taking more progressive action against them next year.

I appreciate what you're after here Kruse, but I don't think the rules as they are presently written say what you said here in your interpretation. Specifically, there is no mention of rights to a straight line for screeners but no ability to turn into the line of the defender (which is good, it just means your interpretation here is somewhat contentious).

My interpretation of the rule for GPQ was that no offensive player could initiate or engage in screening by leading with body contact (even if it was high and level). If the screener got their front wheel in front of the the defender's while riding down the court, they were free to turn just like at any other time on the court (thus sometimes if they were quick and clever, they could catch a defender napping and turn them away from the play until the defender extricated themselves). What they could not do, I thought, was initiate contact (either with the body or with the bike, as it would be intentional bike-on-bike contact and not incidental).
After the defender initiates body contact to try and go through the screen (which they can do), then further shoulders in by the screener would also be called. My interpretation was that screeners didn't have to just fall off their bike when hit, but even after contact was initiated by a defender, they couldn't then proceed to ride their man/woman to the corner (like polo did to cody at worlds). That type of play i called, as well as any shoulder in on the screen by a screener. But a screen where you race ahead of a defender, beat them to a spot and then circle him/her away from the play by circling away yourself seemed within the rules as written to me. Of course if the defender can wheelie turn or hop, they can extricate themselves, but if everyone is guaranteed their space on the court, I don't know how to rule a screener who just beats their man to a spot illegal.
I don't know how, practically speaking, a ref could determine a 'straight line' or not by a screener.

If you are moving a straight line, and not leading/engaging in contact with the person you are screening, then you are doing exactly what the rules allow you to. As written. The rule does not mention a straight line explicitly, but its the result of the rule, and a good indicator of whether or not a screener is breaking the rule. If you are next to someone, and turning them in a specific direction, or if you are pushing them with your body, you're breaking the rule. If you have both hands on your bars, and are simply maintaining your path, you are not breaking the rule. (Your hands don't gotta be on your bars, just painting a picture.)

Situations in which you are, as a screener, in front of the person you are screening are not really a point of contention. You may go wherever and turn however you like.

Your interpretation in the second paragraph is correct on all accounts.

cody wrote:

I still think it's really difficult for refs to make accurate calls on arm extension, steering arm checks and checking from behind when games heat up and players get clustered in high traffic areas far from where the ref is positioned.

I reffed SW (first time reffing) and it was hard to see and tell what was going in certain situations, especially when there were 3-4 people in the opposite corners from the ref station. One of our refs was planning on reffing from the court (v. standing at half off court) which maybe would have made a difference, but he bailed due to a work conflict, so I can't say for sure. Due to the heat and the location of shade I okayed people to goal judge from a vantage point in line with the goal line and that worked better than behind goal. I found that the clearer the vantage point of the goal judge, the less likely an unsure call would be made, which in turn minimized arguments about whether a ball crossed the line or not.

Interference penalties were the most prevalent penalties of the tournament, occurring at least 2 per game on Saturday. I had a handful of "I haven't read the rules" conversations (frustrating, IMO), but after a brief explanation most seemed to grasp it and I would say it occurred less often Sunday. I called a fair bit of high sticking (one player actually got hit in the helmet with a mallet while sitting in goal) but overall games were clean though I'm sure I missed some calls.

After reffing solo and reffing with a second I would say that ensuring that there are two refs [at least? maybe more?] per court should be a priority of organizers and NAH should try to facilitate this process in any way that they are able. On Sunday I was reffing by myself and I missed a pretty bad off ball pile up on the opposite side of the court from where play was active and I had no idea what had happened and couldn't make any type of assessment. If I had had a second ref watching off ball a call might have been made, if there was in fact a penalty, and the game could have potentially played out differently.

shotgun your bike!

Cody said:

"high sticking was called pretty much every time (although some follow throughs on swings looked pretty scary but were technically legal if I'm not mistaken?)"

For me this is the only real point I had against the new ruleset. For me the highstick rule is completly written upside down, as you can still try to hit air ball under shoulder heighs, and don't get call for hitting players with your mallet, but you can get call by simply catching an air ball to control it in a completely safe manner... I still don't get it.

Yeah but you like hockey and it's almost a direct rip off?

Think we should have our own rule. This one make no sens regarding the way we play, there is no need of such a rule who limite safe play and allow dangerous ones. Wording are sketchy, what's a "normal shooting motion", what's a "wild" swing? If I keep a serious face but make serious wild swing shoot motion, is that normal or wild?
That's not because that's a copy/past from NHL that it would be cool.

I would prefere something who ban over the handle bar ball shots, but keep the mallet in the air passes interception( wich never hurt anybody).

How do you shoot a hard shot without having the mallet go over the handlebar?


My English is sketchy too,
I don't want to ban shot motion who goes over the handlebar but a rule who ban shot motion to play a ball over the handlebar.

That's why the rule don't get to the point right now. You can see safe play get call for no reason and still get legit dangerous play.

If you fallow the words of the rules:
I intercept a pass by raising
My mallet in the air in a safe manner and I get call, but I can try to shout an air ball at chest height without being call.

yeah yeah I can see that. so basically, if they included a definition of a natural shooting motion, then it would solve this problem?


Nope i would like a complete rewrite wich is not a copy paste from ice hokey.
I would keep the right of playing like we did before when we had right to intercept passes over our heads with a reaching mallet.
I would also see a rule who ban clearly trying to shoot a ball wich is over player handlebar.

The hitting while shooting motion is only a part of the issue in my opinion, and this could be solved by ref discretion:

A- If you hit a defensive players who goes at the last moment in your mallet way, without any chance to avoid it, then that's not your responsibility.

B- But if you try to shoot hard the ball in a crowdy slot area and hit a stationary player (the goal keeper) then that's your responsibility.

Of course, in any case if a player is injuries or if the ref have a doubt that a player is injuried he have to stop the game. The question will be to wich team he give the ball back ( A to offense, B to defense)

For me that's common sense and the actual rule don't go this way at all.

Any thoughts on the role of the official? Were they used in cascadia? Was the time of goals and penalties recorded?

I like Clément's medium penalty, it's effective as I noticed on a video where he was reffing in lyon last year. Bigger that just the ball turnover, yet not as dramatic as the 30 seconds out of court.
worth considering, should definitely appear on the next ruleset, and be applied for WHBPC this year.
The ball turnover doesn't really penalise the team who made the foul play.

None of you guys gave your opinions on that change he applied. What do you reckon ?

Personally I'm not sure it's needed.

In my mind, it's either a goal scoring chance, in which case it's a 30 second penalty, or it's just possession, at which point half court possession would be fine.

If we do need something more granular, I'd rather see the restart be on the line of the foul. For example, if the a player is fouled 3m away from the goal (and it's not a goal scoring opportunity), then have the turnover start from a line 3m away from the goal.

So like in soccer, the play is restored from the point the foul was made. But instead of starting from a single spot, you start play by crossing the line.

I would prefer to keep this thread on the qualifiers feedbacks way. That's important enough to make it clear to read.

This medium penalty is for me something who deserve a specific thread.

I also like the goal refs placed on the opposite board.

Great Plains Qualifier reffing was mostly done by me (with big help from Edm Neil and Wpg Dave) and I thought that players adjusted pretty quickly to the new ruleset. By Sunday afternoon there were almost no body contact screens being set (although there were still some screen heavy games). There was some confusion from players about new mallet play rules such as sweeping and high sticking, but it didn't come up much in gameplay (only once I think).
In general, the new rules definitely allowed me to keep heated games from getting out of hand. There was still physical play but it was mostly confined to ballcarriers and their defenders, as not very many defenders took advantage of their right to initiate contact on a moving screen (not sure if this was just unfamiliarity with the rules or the inherent difficulty of the act).

In the semi-final games and up we had a second ref up on the ref platform with the scorekeeper and head ref looking for/at off ball play and that was definitely a big help, both in terms of not missing fouls and also in having another ref to talk the game through with while it was happening, which helped make more decisive refs.

There was some disagreement from players about what constituted possession of the ball if their team was about to receive a delayed penalty. I called it like I was taught in hockey (i.e. a touch of the ball that does not demonstrate the control to make a polo move with it is not possession) but that was not received happily in a couple of cases. We also had a couple of missteps in terms of refs blowing the play dead too soon instead of letting the delayed penalty advantage occur, but that was sorted by Sunday.

There was also some unfamiliarity by players with the new handlebar and steering arm contact infractions. People (especially some of our region's more aggressive defenders) who are accustomed to reaching over a ball carriers front wheel to make a play on the ball were a little confused/unhappy about being called when they made contact with steering arms or handlebars, but they also adjusted quickly (I only called said contact when it created a clear advantage for the defender, but that meant more than just when it caused a dab or a crash).

We had our scorekeeper keep time, score, name and time of goal scorer, but not penalties (there were not that many 30 sec penalties and it seemed silly to track ball turnover fouls I thought).

Overall I thought the tournament went well, we had no major disagreements or dustups and no complaints were voiced to me about reffing after the tournament. Of course we probably missed some calls, but in general the new ruleset was easy to ref, relatively easy for players to adjust to, and helpful in keeping the games free flowing and clear of player retaliation for perceived wrongs.

Also, somewhat ironically considering Kruse's stated intentions, these new rules do seem to incentivize double (and even triple) goal stacking, since you can't remove players anymore with body contact. It certainly was a tactic applied (somewhat successfully) at the Great Plains Q.

Delayed Penalties. Yeah, absolutely a touch isn't control. Play on until there is clear possession for the other team.

Just to echo, somewhat late- I was amazed at how clean the play was and how well the ruleset worked all weekend. The learning curve on the new off-ball contact rules are pretty quick; we all put the odd shoulder where it didn't belong, but figured it out pretty quick. It works, and it really strikes the right balance between wanting a physical game with solid picks, and avoiding bullshit.

serious question...why do you want our COED sport to be a "physical game with solid picks" and what exactly is "bullshit"?

Co-ed and physical contact aren't mutually exclusive

shotgun your bike!

this whole fallacy of a meritocracy shit really gets me down. I'm not insinuating "girls aren't tough enough"...what I'm saying is why give a rules advantage to a player/team based on something so implausible based on current players...the ability to be a comparable size. everyone can improve on aspects of their game with no physical glass ceiling...except weighing x amount of pounds more than whoever you're playing.

ex. 1: 120 lb. player A is screened by 200+ lb. player B...A tries to break B screen and bounces off and wrecks resulting in a dab and a turnover plus potentially an injury and damaged bike.

ex. 2: 120 lb. player A sets a screen and is wrecked by 200+ player B breaking the screen resulting in a dab plus potentially an injury and a broken bike.

ex. 3: 120 lb. player A is collecting the ball off of the boards when 200+ lb. player B checks them at speed resulting in a dab and a turnover and potentially an injury and broken bike.

this is not about toughness...it's about fairness. there's a reason weight classes are a thing. no one considers it a sleight that they are the called the champion only of the bantamweight class...because they realize it's not a lack of skill that doesn't put them in the ring with the heavyweights.

I'm 185 and somewhat muscular so this isn't me petitioning for myself out of inability to hang with the "big boys"...I just want a skill based game. you want to be a faster player...you can train for that! more accurate shooter, harder shot, better endurance, better bikehandler, ...you can train for that! you can't train to be born weighing a certain amount when you grow up. height, arm length, speed, etc...those are gonna differ but there aren't rules making those insurmountable obstacles to a player's effectiveness and even safety on the court.

Say that to Luca and Alex from True Danger last year. I'd say their lightness and speed was more an advantage to them than their weight disadvantage against some players.

You don't have to engage physically, and you can use others players desire to do so against them.

I'm not sure what you are constructively adding to this process (which is what this thread is for, constructive feedback to make the rules better)

wee not trying to "Harrison Bergeron" the game...you could learn how to do everything that they do with practice.

can you give me an example? dodging a hit is a penalty...boarding, no?

what about me addressing interference rules as applied real world to our self titled COED sport isn't constructive?

At the SWQ a little guy (smaller than me) went up against one of the bigger guys in the region and had his ass handed to him. Everyone was yelling for a foul but the fact of the matter was; he was a small guy, who poorly executed a check on a much bigger guy and I didn't feel like the bigger guy had done anything to deserve a call. I stand by that call. When you're a small person you learn what you can and can't do to different types of bodies. I'm not a big person, but I could imagine that the same logic applies. There are plenty of small people who make it to podium and I'm sure they were getting checked on the way there. Its nothing new.

With the new interference rules smaller bodies are going to have to realize that if they screen a larger player that they are open to a check, and if they are screening a larger player, they should be ready.
And yet, checking isn't new to this sport, but I haven't really heard any discussion around concerns about larger people checking smaller people.

shotgun your bike!

execution of the check is irrelevant if you are outweighed by 50+ lbs...that is why screening and rules allowing/ensuring screening are safeguarding a style of play that has an inherent unfairness to it.

in that example of yours...not only was the lighter player not fouled but if you dab when you lay a check it'll be a delayed advantage ball turnover...essentially giving the heavier player's team two chances to score because of an almost physically unbreakable screen due to disparity of poundage having nothing to do with skill.

what other rule in polo changes your style of play as drastically as allowing hits and screens?

you haven't responded to the question of injury and damage to equipment...you really think no one is ever going to get really hurt ramming each other at speed straddling sharp, metal, pointy things that they're attached to onehanded?

If I'm not mistaken as long as you don't affect the other player it doesn't matter if you dab while trying to check the other player.

As one of those smaller players that's frequently outweighed by those I play against... we're at a disadvantage in some respects but that's the name of the game. There are plenty of other ways to deal with larger players than by trying to simply check your way out of a screen. Speed modulation comes to mind (speed up and then immediately slow down and peel behind the screener). Sometimes I give the larger defender a check and when they come to try to check me back I'll slam on my brakes. If I'm worried that a larger player I'm screening is going to check me I just make sure I'm staying ahead of them. That way if they try to check me it'll be from behind and hopefully called.

Yeah, you're right... this isn't a case where the playing field is innately even. That's the case with all sports! I do think that you can learn to deal with any disadvantage you might have and eventually make it an advantage. Regarding American Football (kicker, qb, punter) the only reason they are protected is because they're viewed as being "defenseless" not due to their size.

But then again I totally agree with you that the sport as it stands is a dangerous one. You're absolutely right in that. I think the ruleset tries to find a balance between dangerous play and safety. Also I'm a big fan of that vonnegut reference btw

dystopias are where it's at...

Polo is dangerous, there are many aspects of it that are dangerous though, including just riding around on a bike one handed swinging a piece of metal with plastic at the end. Hits and screens have been a part of polo since the beginning, on ball and off ball. Interference limits the amount of situations where checking is legal, making the sport (slightly) less dangerous.

"not only was the lighter player not fouled but if you dab when you lay a check it'll be a delayed advantage ball turnover" I'm not sure what you mean here. The lighter player was being screened, initiated the check, and dabbed. He landed on his ass, and people laughed, but no harm, no foul. Literally. The rules state that a player being screened is permitted to initiate a screen, and after contact the offensive player can check back. So there was no call to make. No delayed penalty. The only advantage gained by the heavier player's team was a brief 2-3 situation and the fact that the light player never tried to check that player again.

You could turn it around and say that the interference rule is advantageous to heavier players as (maybe) they aren't going to be getting checked while screening out smaller players and smaller players might feel loathe to screen, not wanting to risk contact, giving them an advantage during play. [speculation and jest]

Ultimately, I agree with you regarding the risk, but I think the rules are being set up to minimize the risks where they can while still keeping the style of play how polo players want to play it. I think the rules crew did a good job, but its still fairly new and who knows, your concerns could get addressed in the next version. I'd like to see this ruleset play out a little longer before making changes.

shotgun your bike!

What kind of response about injury question are you looking for?

You laid out an example where people "could land on their head and neck."

If you "ram" people at speed you get penalized. If you come in shoulder to shoulder, you don't.

You seem to be under the impression that legislating away any kind of contact will reduce injuries--as if *intentional* contact is the leading cause of injuries in polo. Is there some statistic somewhere that I'm not aware of that shows that the injuries we're seeing in polo are due to intentional contact... or are they more to do with accidental contact gone awry?

I think Nick and the team have done a pretty good job trying to write rules that eliminate truly injurious play, it seems like at this point you're trying to legislate based on hypothetical situations that suit your other position of trying to take away size "advantages" etc.

Also, for the most part, official weight classes are only exist for combat sports that are one-on-one matches. They're to make the sport's "fair" in a different kind of "fair" than you're talking about in a team sport like bike polo. I cruise at 245, and if I'm rolling with a guy that's 185 with the about same skill set, I can get him in mount, drop my hips, prevent him from sweeping, splay out and smother him with my sweaty chest and stall... and there's literally nothing he can do about it until time runs out because I've got 60lbs on him, literally... he doesn't have a team to help him like he would in polo. Team sports are a totally different beast and it's not that great of a comparison and doesn't help your point, imo.

legal shoulder to shoulder contact 5 feet from the boards could easily have a player end up tipping over with their neck getting bent in half from the boards. initiating and ducking a hit from that distance could have the same outcome.

kruse is gonna start another thread and I'll be more precise anecdotally...I just wanted people to know there's a precedent for weight disparity. since our sport is such a mash up of multiple games and disciplines I felt okay playing fast and loose with my theoreticals...but understood on muddying the waters doing disservice to my cause.

mma is a physical chess match...the ground game specifically. I love that shit.

yes. could. grandma. balls. grandpa. if.

do the math.

why do you think checking isn't a skill you can learn?
Someone should tell Theo Fleury that little people can't effectively hit big people, he'll want to know so he can go back in time and not embark on a really successful professional hockey career built on this exact skill.

I don't think I ever said "ramming" was "unlearnable"...and I definitely didn't call "ramming" a skill.

you tell me how a 5'2" player can check a 6'2" player "high and even" when the smaller person is on a smaller frame and possibly even on 26" vs 700 AND the taller player can anticipate the hit and extend to full height. I feel sacrifices must be made for this to be an all-inclusive sport so we have to quit romanticizing "physicality" and alter the rules so that we CAN be all-inclusive...age, weight, height, etc...

this is a debate for another thread...waiting on kruse to start it up!

jason f-off wrote:

you tell me how a 5'2" player can check a 6'2" player "high and even" when the smaller person is on a smaller frame and possibly even on 26" vs 700 AND the taller player can anticipate the hit and extend to full height.

During the austrian championship I´ve played against a 2m/6,56ft player three times. Watching the recorded games afterwards I noticed that the few times I tried to check him it was always on his steering arm.

See 10:50
I realized that he was approaching and wanted to make sure they won´t sandwich me but clearly it´s an steering arm infraction,

how tall are you? what could you have done differently to have checked him in the shoulder? you weren't called for the steering arm infraction?

ok...I watched the game and that was definitely a steering arm infraction and it definitely wasn't called. you aimed high but you were way too low to be even close to legal height.

I most likely didn't call because there was barely any momentum carried to the arm. It was rather insignificant. But, Metriod had no right to initiate ANY KIND of contact with Django, since he didn't set a screen. Had Django committed to his block, the impact would have been significant and I'd have called the steering arm.
But there is really no way for him to hit Django fair and square.

metriod should have been penalized for initiating contact and specifically initiating contact "low and uneven" into a steering arm.

I don't agree with the whole "no blood, no foul" interpretation of the ruleset. ref's discretion should not include waiving off penalties. letting that "little" infraction slide encourages and possibly emboldens the player getting away with breaking the rules even if not on a conscious level. it's natural to push boundaries. maybe the next time the hit gets a little harder and then a little harder still after that until finally we've got "reckless play". spectators, players and even other refs can't help but somewhat internalize the fact that steering arm infractions are rarely called. plus, the player finally called for it is more likely to argue because they've gotten away with it so many times before. when the rules are arbitrarily enforced it just creates an environment of confusion and misunderstanding that leads to mistrust and even resentment both by the player expecting a call and the player expecting no call.

metriod would have had to extend to full height out of the saddle on his tippy toes and bunny hop in order to hit django "high and even" and that's if django came in low...that's a lot to ask of a player just to quite possibly end up going down hard while unsuccessfully attempting to break a stupid screen.

when kruse starts the other thread about contact being worded such that it favors the talker and larger unfairly this is a good example. it brings to mind grass assault games and the age factor in physical build.

Absolutely agree with the no call. Good job. Barely any contact, no dab, and he surely was setting a screen. Small guy made space for himself and put his body there before the screen got there.

If he comes into dude's steering arm in any way that causes the screener to dab, then it's a penalty.

The way that these rules are being interpreted in this thread is quite overboard if you ask me. If you approached any professional ruleset of any sport with the same manner of semantic scrutiny, you'd have ten times the argument you have here.

Look at the NHL's Charging Penalty:

NHL wrote:

42.1 Charging - A minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player who skates or jumps into, or charges an opponent in any manner.

Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.

42.2 Minor Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a minor penalty, based on the degree of violence of the check, to a player guilty of charging an opponent.

42.3 Major Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a major penalty, based on the degree of violence of the check, to a player guilty of charging an opponent (see 42.5).

42.4 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by charging.

The "Degree of Violence" is the factor by which a referee is allowed to issue a charging penalty in hockey, the most violent sport ever, at their discretion. You're going to have a hard time convincing me that we've given anywhere near that amount of discretion to a bike polo referee in the ruleset, and hockey gets along just fine in terms of the fairness present during most any game, EVEN WITH SMALL PLAYERS.

Look. If a little player attempts to fend off a check from a larger player and leads with their shoulder, doesn't extend their arm, and maintains that contact is solely between the players and not their bikes, then its the referees job to determine that the play is fair. The small player met that play as high and even as they physically could. If the small player utilizes their size to make sure that their initiation of contact is in attempt to make contact with the larger player's steering arm and makes them dab, then it's the referees job to determine that the play is unfair.

Consider the context in which we determine the rules. We are concerned with fairness, and it is a referee's job to have this consideration in their mind when officiating a game. This is a pretty crucial point. We are not robots, reading a text and interpreting it solely based on the definition of the words within it. There is an understanding here that the goal is to have the best bike polo players win. Not the meatiest, or the fastest, or the most brutal. The best players. The ref should maintain a focus on promoting GOOD PLAY. Allowing for a degree of calls to remain uncalled because the outcome is insignificant is not something I have a problem with. In my mind that is good refereeing.

To me, that play in the video was really great. He was engaged in a battle for the ball, he made free space for himself and he came out with possession against two huge players. The play does not represent something unfair to me. And he surely should keep playing like that if he wants to attempt to win a screen-heavy, light-passing game like that. Kudos little dude, and good work referee. Game on.

exactly why I shouldn't ref...and don't. I AM A RULES ROBOT.

another thing to discuss in that thread your gonna start. how do we feel about minors playing the game by the way? I keep thinking of AB checking the "piranhas" off of their bikes back in the day...their parents were pissed.

Well, in schools bike polo, at least that in London, we would ban checking, and various other more dangerous things.

But, when they choose to play with adults (obviously with permission from their parent/guardian), then I treat them the same as any other player.

so tell me how they can check "high and even" and break a screen? have you played with any minors yet? the size difference is impossible to overlook.

Yep, plenty of times. I played in a tournament last year where a team of 14 year olds finished 2nd. They had no problem with the physicality when required, but relied more on a speed, passing, and manoeuvrability game, than getting caught up in checking.

Play to your physical strengths, if you are too quick for the goons, then they can't check you.

Chances are, if it the difference in size is that big, you gotta give up on breaking screens and focus on ball flow.

As for your "slippery slope" argument, I don't think it really holds. You can let a few things go and still keep the game under control, especially if the alternative are a myriad of calls lessening your authority for peanuts. Remember that polo players are overall pretty good at policing themselves and have done so for years. So in the instances where they don't, a few strong and affirmative calls usually brings them back to reason.

i think calcio storico's the most violent sport ever. imagine writing the rules for that shit. jeeeezzzzeeeee

you ever played calcio storico? you ever played calcio storico on weed? you ever played calcio storico on bikes on weed? it's crazy...

§10.10.2 – A Flagrance penalty will be assessed when a player initiates physical contact in an excessive nature such that they cause themselves to crash.

smaller player trying to break a screen against a larger player...or should they just let themselves be ridden towards a wall?

Dodging a hit is not a penalty. And when done well it's a great move.

Why isn't it constructive? Because you stated what you don't like, but not what the solution is.

How would you write the 2015 rules? Which bits would you change, and how. How do you see these changes impacting the game, and what other rules then might need to be added to stop strategies which are too powerful under the those rules?

dodging a hit is a penalty...it's boarding? it falls under "asking" for contact and then avoiding it so that the other player crashes head and neck first into the wall.

mine was the very first response in the thread...BAN SCREENING! BAN CHECKING! I'm not happy with seeing less and less players of smaller stature leave the game...I've had talented, competitive players tell me they're probably retiring because of feeling marginalized via injurious play. their size leads them to be considered a liability on a team and left considering hospital bills they're just over it.

even american football protects the diminutive of size! kicker, quarterback, punter...abd look at the pads they wear at walking/running speed standing on the ground.

jason f-off wrote:

dodging a hit is a penalty...it's boarding? it falls under "asking" for contact and then avoiding it so that the other player crashes head and neck first into the wall. .


wow...so the game is even more reckless than I thought.

I'll dig up the thread where this was discussed at length...it is not explicitly stated in the rules as so much isn't (ref's discretion) but it was agreed upon as illegal because of the crash it causes in the player anticipating contact near the boards. they'd go down sideways neck and head into the boards...not cool. what a tactic to have to resort to because some failed "toughen the fuck up" type athlete couldn't hack it in a true contact sport so they come over to polo to try to throw their weight around...

§10.2.1 – A player that is initiating contact has the responsibility to meet the opposing player ‘high and even’.

so if you invite/initiate contact you can't dodge contact. you also cannot alter your body either per the next rule...

The player initiating must meet the opposing player high and even. Not the other player.

There is literally nothing saying you have to accept contact.

If a player is going to go around gooning, they have to expect they will fall flat on their face when the player they are trying to check is not there.

Also, what you think is boarding, is not boarding. Even if it was a rule (and it could now come under a reckless check under Flagrence), it refers to checking a player who is boardside of you, where if there a certain distance away from the board they could hit their neck/head on it, or otherwise violently impact the boards. Again, no responsibility for the player being checked.

The player being checked CAN alter their body, that's not a penalty. All it may mean is a charging penalty may be not be called against a player who checks them

"If the referee determines that a player invites the contact outlined in §10.2.1 by altering their body position just prior to contact, no penalty will be assessed.

Toughen the fuck up.

If you don't want the physical contact than I want everyone running the exact same gear ratio to even the playing field.

I'll ignore the first comment out of embarrassment...

same gear ratio, check. oh, and weight vests for the smaller players! and snorkels for those too fit! and...Harrison Bergeron. look it up, dude...it's short and it's good.

For someone so steadfast about changing the rules, you don't seem to know the rules that well... There is not a penalty called boarding in the NAH ruleset.


§10.10.2 – A Flagrance penalty will be assessed when a player initiates physical contact in an excessive nature such that they cause themselves to crash.

any smaller player trying to check a much larger player to break a screen has to risk bouncing off and getting dabbed or injured on top of the turnover penalty.

§10.2.1 – A player that is initiating contact has the responsibility to meet the opposing player ‘high and even’. Contact to a player’s lower back, kidney or ribs or contact that carries momentum through an opponent from behind will be assessed a Charging penalty.

§ – If the referee determines that a player invites the contact outlined in §10.2.1 by altering their body position just prior to contact, no penalty will be assessed.

invite/initiate contact and you have a responsibility to meet them high and even...no dodging. dodging wound also be altering your body prior to contact.

Deleted because of what was repeated below by others

Apart from the rule that doesn't exist, as others have pointed out, you still have only said what you don't like.

How will this proposed game of yours work? What new situations do you see happening. What new undesirable tactics do you see it producing?

ummmm...he proposed banning checking and banning screening to alleviate problems associated with size differentials of players and to help promote a more fluid, skill-based game. I dunno if i always agree with that, but your insistence that he's not contributing anything constructive annoys the piss out of me. Do you have comprehension issues?

Now, why do you think this would be a bad idea? I've only heard arguments based on "how the game has always been played" but nothing about how this would change the game in a negative way. Coming from Jason's line of thinking, if you are a person against heavy physical contact in polo, a rule that allows screening off-ball offenders and allows the screened offensive player to initiate contact is a rule that seems to invite more physical contact creating a game environment contrary to how Jason would like to see the sport evolve. We are accustomed to contact in our sport, but it doesn't mean that it must necessarily continue to be a part of the sport. That is Jason's contribution to the rules discussion. Is that clear enough?

I see this creating a more fluid and less crash and bash game. Getting rid of screens altogether should leave people more open to make plays, while defenders concentrate on the ball carrier and anticipating the pass. It might be nice to see a game where players are more spread out, the game might be a bit speedier with less stop and go and it would be inherently safer.

Maybe that's more boring in some ways. I could see the loss of the high impact stuff being a big time bummer to some, but safety might be something to seriously consider as play gets faster, players get bigger and people take this more seriously. A couple 200 lb players crashing into each other is going to make for a good show, but it's not necessarily a great game.

Sorry about the tone, but I really don't like that you've simply dismissed a comment as unproductive when you asked for feedback and he gave you feedback. Feedback doesn't mean "propose a new rule" or "pull out your crystal ball and tell us exactly how a rule change will impact play ten years from now," it is simply commentary on how the rules worked in these tournaments. Other people on the board had more constructive responses than, but I think that you, as an NAH rep should be helping to encourage more productive conversations rather than stifling them.

If you're already riding a bike and swinging mallets at each other, you might as well anticipate some contact.

Heartland was tame for the most part, so I don't see why you need to remove contact. Or screening.

From what ice read, some people want everyone to have a twelve foot bubble around them. I think that sucks.

Not to elongate the sightly off-topic debate, but to me screens are inherent to our game, due to the behavior of the machines we use. They also bring a chess-like flavor to the game. And the answer to them goes exactly in the direction you want the game to go, favoring intelligence and agility. In other words skills.
You also want more plays ? Get bigger courts. We play on a 52x26 for ML and it favors passes and plays. Anyone that has played at the CosmoPark will understand that as well.

Thank you Daft Jap. That's the sort of post I'm looking for. That's constructive. So here is my response.

One thing though, you do realise the current ruleset has reduced contact? Before this, anyone could check anyone anywhere. It was completely legal to just fly into a stationary player and take them out. Players did that. With this rule we've already taken a big step to the sort of game you suggest.

So, let's have a look at what a game without contact and screening would look like. Now such a radical change to the rules does not just exist in isolation. We can't just add those rules, as Jason has suggested, without taking a serious look in the "crystal ball" as you call it.

If you remove contact, you have to remove screening. Otherwise players can just be steered into a board.

Not having screening means you have to add a obstruction penalty. Riding a bike isn't hockey or soccer, you can't just turn on a dime. Players will accidentally screen players.

What about stationary players. Will it be an acceptable tactic to stop in front of another players path, so that the player coming in causes the contact (drawing the foul, like in basketball). There would be no way of moving them, without the use of contact. Assuming we don't want that we need a right of way rule.

Basically what we've ended up with is grass polo rules (See http://bicyclepolo.org/ibpfrule.htm). It suits a game played on a huge field, with big spaces between games. My personal opinion that trying to implement those same rules in the smaller hardcourt environment would be very hard, simply due to the density of players on court.

I suggest if this is something you want to see happen, then test it out. This ruleset wasn't just written in one night. It took place over a number of months, with testing in games, and a couple of tournaments.

Write the rules as you would like them, and use them in pickup. Go and watch a grass polo game (or at least watch some videos), and see how they handle those very similar rules. Organise a tournament with those rules.

Come back, and report your findings. Right now i'd say it's fairly safe to say the majority of players don't want to see the rules you are suggesting, and for that to be come a reality, you will need to convince them.

John- under the current ruleset, if player A stops in front of a moving player B and player B collides with player A's bike with the front wheel, causing player A to dab, player B is guilty of a t-bone. (I'm fine with this rule, just clarifying how it is currently written)

Absolutely. I'm just speculating in the scenario where all contact and screening is removed if this would stay the same.

I know what you mean about the ruleset increasing the power of the turtle defense. This ruleset didn't do much to address it as a problem. It is something I would look to focus on next year with the addition of a crease.

I learned this weekend that the hardest part about the rules is that some people want the game to be something that differs from what other people want it to be. It brings us to an impasse of sorts. Not a complete impasse but a partial one. Our convictions don't mean very much; our opinions hold no more power than "theirs". No one is playing the game wrong.

I support people playing the game the way they like to play it, with the people they like to play it with. I think everyone should follow their own communities and paths in this way. Then, two times a year, we can all meet and scream at each other. Maybe our focus on "being the best" at a style of play that is just a middle ground of everyone's personal preferences isn't something we should be giving our highest energy to.


Yeah, I'm all kinds of all over a crease for next year.

I think the rules for this year are really good, a marked improvement. I also think there are good potential strategies for beating a turtle defence that don't just rely on smashing into them and I'm excited to see what people come up with this season (I've got my own ideas which I'm working on). Like I said, as a tactic it was only marginally successful at GPQ. But it certainly made an appearance.

The winners of NAs this year will not be a turtle-d team. I know that much for sure.

Every person playing in a qualifier, NAs, and Worlds should be a registered ref. no excuses for not knowing the rules.

We play the ruleset at pickup. It's easy, people have learned, and things are fluid. It's not difficult.

As for the feedback: thank you.

One can know the rules without being a registered ref


Tex - Certified Referee

I agree with that, but it would lessen the amount of constant bickering everywhere in the game currently and plenty if people refuse to read the rules out of laziness and habit.

Using the PDGA (disc golf) as an example: to play an A tier event (tier is based on tournament size, money added, courses played, difficulty, ect) or National Tour event (akin to a qualifier or NAs) you have to pass a rules exam. A streamlined, hit the high points twenty five question test could be valuable to moving the game forward. Just throwing it out there.

So am I correct in assuming that if there is no contact I can screen even if they dont have the ball and then that person could initiate physical contact to break free of said screen?

Play to the whistle


So who has been using the hand signals?


This may have already been covered, but I couldn't find it.

In terms of interference, does hooking count as contact? It's seems right that hooking a goalie so they dab should be included in the off-the-ball interference rule.

Also we had some trouble recently with the high sticking rule. If player A hooks the mallet of player B (legal) then the both lift in the air to try and pull the mallets apart this is high-sticking. But who is at fault?

At the UK euro qualifiers we called it a couple of times and penalised the Player A as they initiated the hook which led to the high stick.


maco wrote:

In terms of interference, does hooking count as contact?

§10.3.1 – An interference penalty will be assessed when a player initiates physical contact...

No, it is only in regards to physical contact. For mallet contact, refer to the Slashing rule.

maco wrote:

If player A hooks the mallet of player B (legal) then the both lift in the air to try and pull the mallets apart this is high-sticking. But who is at fault? At the UK euro qualifiers we called it a couple of times and penalised the Player A as they initiated the hook which led to the high stick.

§9.2.1 – A high sticking penalty will be assessed when a player attempts to contact an airborne
ball at a height above the nearest opponent’s shoulders.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that simply having your stick in the air is high sticking. I suggest a thorough read through of the rules.

roustem wrote:
maco wrote:

In terms of interference, does hooking count as contact?

§10.3.1 – An interference penalty will be assessed when a player initiates physical contact...

No, it is only in regards to physical contact. For mallet contact, refer to the Slashing rule.

maco wrote:

If player A hooks the mallet of player B (legal) then the both lift in the air to try and pull the mallets apart this is high-sticking. But who is at fault? At the UK euro qualifiers we called it a couple of times and penalised the Player A as they initiated the hook which led to the high stick.

§9.2.1 – A high sticking penalty will be assessed when a player attempts to contact an airborne
ball at a height above the nearest opponent’s shoulders.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that simply having your stick in the air is high sticking. I suggest a thorough read through of the rules.

Thanks for the clarification. I guess I assumed the high sticking rule would apply to all circumstances of a high stick.

na, man... you ever seen that simpsons episode from like 95 where bart says he's just gonna swing his arms in the air, and if lisa happens to get in the space it's her fault... that's how the rules read.

There's lots of positive feedback coming in which is great to see, and a testament to the work NAH (Kruse, Joe etc) have done. I feel that the main difference isn't what is written, but simply the way we see rules in the sport. It's a cultural shift where the value of a reduction in physical play for a fairer and more skilled game is now realized and appreciated. For the most part, the new 4.3 is simply a fleshed out better worded document than the last.

It's promising to see for the longevity of the sport.

I played the cascadia qualifier this past weekend but I don't feel like I have much to add that other people haven't said. I guess ill just do some repeating...

Things got a lot better when we had two refs watching the court. We need more volunteers to step up so that we can have at least two refs with whistles watching the whole time.

Secondly, players need to read the rules. There were so many players getting upset because they thought someone wronged them, when in reality they had an interpretation of the rules that differed from the actual ruleset wording.

The ruleset is great but its also brand-new; if players and refs alike continually read the rules, then a much better sport will come from it. You can't simply read the rules once and say "okay, got it", it takes actual comprehension.


"Comprehension" is the key word. What I love about the ref certification CBT, is that it is has a written out description of rule changes, and suggestions on how to scrutinize in certain situations. Joe deserves major respect for putting that together. I can already anticipate how future ref training/certifications will be formatted.

Players are responsible for knowing the rules. Refs control a match. When we have both, we have exciting clean polo.

I'm also very excited to hear about ref assistants at the qualifiers. Every time I've reffed, I've wanted one.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

cbt? I feel like you know more about what I did than I do! Someone (you) should write all of the tests for me next year.

also, players not only need to know the rules, but attempt to follow them.

CBT - It's a TLA for "Computer Based Training." And, with future rules, and changes, I'll be glad to submit material for future iterations.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

Great, have the guy using acronyms to explain acronyms help write the rules.

shotgun your bike!

TLA - It's a TLA for "Three Letter Acronym."

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

Having reffed a bunch this weekend, I want to pile on the love for the role of the official. Having someone there to keep score and time really helped me focus on the match. Also it was nice to have a person to ask
"what did you see?"

The only problem at ESQ was that we needed more certified refs, so we need to push for more people to certs. The ref corps were worn really thin by the end of Sunday or needed to focus on their own upcoming matches.

Oh, and tournament planners, budget for shade. Even the simple tarp and 2x4 rig helped. Not everyone has a totally awesome sun hat!

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

RE: Interference

I just don't know if this rule is helping. I feel more it's more important to watch the ball carrier and how the closest defender interacts. I find it pretty rare that off-ball contact of two other players away from the two primary players of interest will be in immediate view unless the act is REALLY obvious.

I think the most common call I saw this weekend was toppling. I think this is one of the best rules we have in terms of play and risk, and tempering player behavior.

I saw (as a spectator) an incident where a player after getting knocked over, stood up and stomped on the another player's bike. The ref didn't see it because it was away from the play. It was also in the last seconds of a match where the team with the stomping player had a clear victory. My only point in bringing this up is that there's a lot happening on the court that a ref wont see, and I so far I haven't seen what the benefit of the interference rule is. I feel like it has a diminishing return given our other stronger rules on contact.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

In communities where active screening, and off the ball checks, were the most used strategies, the interference rules change the way we play in a important way. Players get used to really stupid plays, like keeping a player trap on the board for a decent amount of time to take it out of play. So in the games i reffed i had to be really aware of these kind of situations. With this rule, and an active reffing working on this situations, the game change for the best.
So for me that's important, but it seems that it depend if the region or teams you reffed was using a lot off ball obstructions strategies or not.

It's not that rule isn't working, its that we don't have enough volunteers to where we can get at least two refs on each court. One on ball ref and one off ball ref at all times.


I'll accept that. It does mean that if we can't provide that kind of staffing, we really won't be able to guarantee an acceptable level of enforcement of the said rule. So it's still a concern, yes? If an off-ball ref (OBR) is needed, then it should be written into the next version of the rules.

But you're right about the volunteers. We need more people to get certified. When calls went out for any certified refs at ESQ, I think some people used the idea that they weren't certified as a reason to put their feet up.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

I feel as though its not out of the realm of possibility to be able to ref it. You won't get every call, but you'll get the egregious stuff. I probably called it 5 or 6 times this weekend, and in many times I feel like the penalty served the game really well and gave pause to a player that might have been gettin' just too dang wound up and needed a second to check themselves on their offensive aggression.

In my estimate, reffing is probably a $200/day job if you wanna pay fair. I'd consider ~$120 a day to be sufficient for where our organization is at and should be a goal for next year. I think I'm pretty much on board with directing efforts at non-playing referees that are on all day shifts, rather than our constant and continued nagging over the microphone for someone to step up. It just doesn't work, and if I was playing in Eastsides I would have been one of the people running for a hiding spot when the organizers came over the PA beggin' for referees.

Yes, refs should not be playing in the tourney and should get a considerable payment. $150-$200 a day sounds about right.

It was ridiculous that Addison was reffing the losers bracket semifinal game, when we were on deck to play the winners bracket final. Not just because it didn't let him rest and prepare for our game but because it sets up the possibility of impropriety or just poor distracted reffing.

The Australian/NZ champs in March had 40 teams for 3 days. Start to finish had 2 goal refs, a head ref and assistant ref (timer and off-ball play). Every single game. We had refs register and kept a schedule of which brackets refs were in so we knew who was available. Yes, some refs did more than others. But when everyone knew games wouldn't proceed without all 4 refs then it was much easier to get volunteers to step up. We enforced getting refs months out and made it a priority. I can't think of any sore issue that will be discussed in the coming months in terms of the quality of reffing.

Point is, if there are the key organisers who set the tone and make it a priority, then this flows down to everyone playing. Until we are charging 100$ per player for the tournament paying that many refs isn't an option when there's so much more areas that need it.

To provide some perspective, when I played adult rec league soccer I believe the refs got $75 per 90 min game and the linesmen $50, and I'm pretty sure the refs in my hockey league make about $80 or so per game.

*the soccer league also cost $75 per player per season and the hockey league about $20/player/game, though

When I reffed soccer tournaments, I would regularly walk away from a 3 games with $375.

My thoughts after heartland:

I was the head ref for more than half of our tournament, it was my first time among others, but I think we did an alright job. Our players really made a lot of the games a breeze as they were light on contact, good sportsmanship, and quite a few of our teams were playing their first tournament. We treated the games as a learning device for some of the new teams, explained rules as we went along, used ball turnovers, and made sure we had a running dialogue with participants. Those games were great. Our top level games were also mostly great games where the emphasis was on polo and not killing each other. Again, thank you.

Going forward, I feel like there could be a player's test for all NAH events. Doesn't have to be as detailed as the ref exam, but it should show that you at least read the rules once. A lot of our players had read the rules and we had some yelling matches, and that was on me as much everyone. I blew the whistle once or twice on a call that was made to prevent dangerous unnecessary contact. I feel like NAH could really help out the community by releasing video clips like in the ref exam explaining the contact that is and isn't allowed. To that I'm speaking about how to check without dipping your shoulders into your opponent (situation above). Off ball contact is not easy to really call if you are watching the ball. I like the rule since it keeps people from destroying each other for no reason.

I didn't blow the whistle a ton for a few reasons: the ruleset is a bit of culture shock on paper and I believe in letting the game sort itself out (within reason). Players will learn that each ref does things his or her own way. Did I miss calls? Yes. Did I cost any teams a victory? I don't think so. But I let people play. I called the obvious ones, but when things are moving fast its not an easy task. I had a couple of instances where players were using mallets to fight (not slashing, grabbing and manipulating without striking) and someone would take the other guy out, not an easy call when its across court and half the time someone did to themselves.

I hope we did a good job, as we worked our asses off.

I thought the reffing was pretty great at ESQ if a tad inconsistent from ref to ref. I was also impressed by how the majority of players adapted to the rules, a lot less off the ball contact and overall everyone seemed to stay in control and crash a lot less.

I think the slashing rule needs clarification. A few times I hit someone's mallet and forced them to drop it, and I was called for slashing. I felt like I was making a controlled chop when they weren't expecting it which is why they let go, not because I made a wild slash.

I also believe as others do that we are getting to the point where we need a crease rule that addresses offensive players getting into the the defenses goal, and probably also deals with teams double stacking tight in front of net.

Once people realize that the rules are open to individual interpretation, people will learn to live with different refs. I know at our tournament, between the three of us that reffed the majority of the games there were subtle differences. To the point you made regarding slashing: its not an easy call to make. I called it once this weekend on a very new player who didn't exactly take a huge slash, but the motion was there, it was learning call. Jamming is the penalty that gave me the most trouble since it tended to happen at high speed and without a slash to start it, resulting in two people fighting for a ball that was clean, until one mallet went under a wheel.

Also, I wasn't at Midwests last year due to a wedding, but have watched most of the Mr. Do videos from that tournament: we didn't have the crazy the checking this time around. I'm going to say that part of it was that our boards don't move since its a permanent structure, basically it fucking hurts.

first off, send my props to Addison. I was so short handed on refs that every game he could do really helped.
(where were you Chris Roberts???????)

I'd say for ESQ the reffing was pretty decent. Had we been able to have a cert. ref on every game, you would have seen more 30'sec and clean calls.. but alas, we did not.
That being said, I think the every day calls were made and made accurately. I didnt see any big game changing miss-/non-calls.

Shade was an issue for us, and one we couldn't get around frankly. I spend our money on the best courts money could build.

$20 is an insult for how much work and attention reffing requires.

agile for my size.

I know the qualifiers aren't over yet and NAs is still to come, but the attitude of the players towards referees, the experiences of those who play in the tournaments, the frequency of calls and the toned down physicality of the games I've observed... to me it seems there's real tangible improvement over this time a year ago.

So far, the list of main things to work on goes like this:

- Revisit some of the contentious rules (interference) and start thinking about how to implement a crease.
- Work on expanding the referee certification material, and mainly do this by increasing video analysis stuff and short answer submission. This should take care of most necessary clarifications (slashing, etc..)
- Get the referees some real pay for the real work it is. We have to think about real incentive if we want sustainability. And is pay even enough of an incentive? People are involved in this game to have fun. Weekend/vacation/time is really valuable. That's hard to give it up to travel and go do work. Who is going to keep doing it?

Other stuff?

-I would had highsticking in the rules to revisit and rewrite. There is small other point who looks glitchy in the ruleset too like the Time-out restarting rules:
If you fallow 4.7.4 then you have to rejoust after a time-out, wich is not the way we play it i think.
§4.7.4 – At the expiration of the time limit, or when the team which called for the timeout declares they are ready, the game will resume according to §4.1. (4.1. mean joust or im i wrong?).

-Job you guys did on video was dope, i hope we can also provide some video from our part of the globe to clarify some points.

-About paying ref. The two tournaments i really reffed seriously in my life, i get almost paid for. Frecnch comitee paid me my train ticket two years in a row, wich cost around 90$ round trip. First year they gave me also a pro whistle. And during my shift they were bringing me everything i need. This make you feel way more responsable because you know that people are waiting a serious job.
That's only one court. So that's easier, it makes around 1 or 2 $ per players to paid me.
First year i was able to ref the main tournament, 80 games, because ruleset was easier to enforce.
This year, after 30 games i began to make mistakes, so i had to take a break and ask two experienced ref and players (Hugo true danger, and Woody Hooks) to take shift of few games. They know before playing that they will be sub reffing for small amount of time, and it worked pretty well. We were 3 so we were able to never let a player ref just before his game.

Question here is should we pay ref more than just make their week-end free?

If I were going to ref another qualifier, say in Florida or Toronto, $300 ($150 per diem) would barely cover travel, not to mention housing, food, beer, aspirin...

$20 a day to ref isn't much money, but I'm not playing polo to make money, so that issue will hopefully work itself out as things progress.

I'm hoping to attend NAs with an Indy ref crew as I want to watch how other people from other regions approach the game.

Great summary.

I'll also add that there is something of a panic to realize that the person you thought was a goal judge was just some person near the boards, and then suddenly they are gone, and you realize mid-game that you don't have a goal judge. Oh, and there was a bit of confusion on out of bounds where fences were concerned. This is easily dealt with by improving communication. Refs need to hand-off the whistle with a short briefing on court issues.

e.g. - The fence was out of bounds.
e.g. - Remind players that the ref platform was not exactly at mid court so they know where to tap in.
e.g. - Point to and wave at your goal judges so they know who to look for specifically.

Note to Horse: Hang on to those whistles and game clocks. I just realized I left them up in Lancaster.

Note to Addison: Thanks for coming over to ref. That was my match, and I thought it was a bummer that you had to do that while on deck. It was appreciated.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

I reffed while on deck all weekend, as did one of my teammates. We sucked all weekend, so no excuses, but it could have been a factor.

Alias wrote:

I'll also add that there is something of a panic to realize that the person you thought was a goal judge was just some person near the boards, and then suddenly they are gone, and you realize mid-game that you don't have a goal judge.

Question to no one in particular: what are your thoughts on giving goal judges whistles? Is it too much power (ability to stop play) to a secondary official? Presumably the goal judge is in a better position to see goals. Also, how often are False Starts being called? Would they get called more if the goal judges had whistles?

Less whistles. Most polo courts are close together and too many whistles is a pain in the ass.

I think giving goal judges power to control the game is a good thing to look forward to as a long term goal. I think right now, our focus on producing one competent ref per game is enough of a challenge (one we are definitely improving at) and we aren't to the point where the level of skill is such that multiple whistles would be helpful.

I could see it start to be something we think about by the end of next year though. Linesmen calling penalties in the corners, conferences between referees to discuss calls by any one of them, an officiating force that can back each other up to control dissent amongst players... that would be pretty great. Sure seems like a lot to juggle right now, though.

I would argue against whistles. It's bad enough right now trying to figure out if that was your ref whistling, or the court next to you. Perhaps give the goal judge a flag or something to signal with- that'd also help distinguish them from the random person who happens to be in the area.

I like the idea of flags. Maybe my flags from my soccer reffing days will see the daylight again...

Cool thing about the assistant referee flags in soccer: you can make a rather loud snapping sound with the flag to get the attention of the referee/players

Yep, a red flag has been part of the standard kit at many tournaments I've been to. It's empowering and useful as a signal.

It should be the standard

Excited to see an evolution of a crease! Regarding the ref cert materials, the videos were awesome, more visual examples will make understanding the rules easier for ref and players alike. I would suggest a revisit of the actual quiz itself as some questions didn't quite agree with what the rules state.
Regarding incentive for reffing, after the SWQ I was burnt out, and if asked to do it again for what I received, I probably would be running and hiding too - granted, it wasn't an ideal situation. But if there were at least two refs per court for the duration of the weekend, and I was getting my gas/fare/whatever covered hell yeah I would ref a neighboring region's qualifier or other event. Getting to see friends from other states is a damn good incentive to ref an event for me.

shotgun your bike!

The refs in the SWQ had a particularly bad situation (one ref per court for the WHOLE WEEKEND). They did a great job though. The major problem I noticed was an issue of respect. You can love or hate your referee but you have to respect them. There are rules in place that give the refs the power to penalize players who are being disruptive or argue with the refs too much. Players should be able to say something in the heat of the moment... but not to carry on. I'm not sure how it was with the other qualifiers but we had a couple players who were particularly bad with arguing with the refs. It would be awkward at first, but the precedent needs to be set that the refs have the power and you can't keep arguing with them. In most other sports you can say your piece (respectfully) but if you are yelling/agressive/continue on too long you will be given some sort of penalty. I guess it's not a concrete recommendation of a rule change, but perhaps a quandary in how we can create an environment where the refs get the respect they deserve.

From what I saw, folks at the ESQ were pretty respectful of the refs. I know I certainly had some disputes with the refs but I hope I didn't come across as anything more than frustrated (<3 u dirks/kruse/zachburn)

§§ of NAH v4.3 allow for ref discretion with respect to excessive/aggressive argument

That said, respect for the ref is a culture thing. I'd like to see something like "only team captains can talk to refs" eventually

ANY form of dissent, foul language or aggressive behaviour towards a ref should be an automatic 30s or 2min.

Rather than just 'captain' another idea is for only 1 player per team to be allowed to approach the ref unless called over to prevent intimidation.

There has to be some way for a player to get clarification on a call from a ref though. And while I try as hard as I can to be a pretty nice dude, I know I have had to check my tone with refs in order to get that clarification. The ref's ruling should be, and as far as I know, is final. But I don't think we should start having conversations where we say any dissent is a 30s penalty. That's too much of a judgement call by the ref, and leaves no room for the heat of the moment emotions on the part of the player. If we want to put into place a warning system I think that's fine, but I know if I was a ref at a tournament for the whole weekend I would be in no mood for shenanigans by sunday afternoon. And I guess I should say thanks to the refs for not having my grumpy disposition.

Why? Unless the actual call itself is unclear, any explanations can wait until after the game. If a player starts getting into a discussion with me I'll say "talk to me after the game, now play on"

Volunteer reffing is a hard enough job as it is, without having to tolerate angry players in your face. If I raise my voice at a ref, or swear at them, I expect to be sent off.

I agree with AJ regarding not just dissing out 30 second penalties. I gave out zero 30s penalties, had to raise my voice, but still kept things moving on the court.

By having an ongoing conversation with the players during the game a ref can still keep control and explain what's going on. Little things like, "watch that extension," "keep it high and even," and just telling people to keep it clean kept heartland moving in the right direction.

I also held pre game meetings when two potentially heated teams came on the court and explained what I expected of them.

This ref process will take time and years to find the happy median. Players: keep cool. Refs: stay vocal.

why did you have to "raise your voice" as a ref yet it didn't warrant a 30s? "technical penalties" have no minimum penalty assigned to them so I'm assuming it's "ref's discretion" to neglect to call penalties on players? if you're having to yell at players then they probably deserved a 30s, no? if you're telling someone to watch the "arm extension" then why not tell them with a penalty. if you're telling someone "high and even" then why not tell them with a penalty. "keeping the game moving" is secondary to enforcing the ruleset, right?

Because I reffed it like the glory days of the NBA, play to the whistle and call the rough stuff. Again, there is a learning curve, for everyone.

this sport has a HUGE problem trying to get refs, why make it difficult by allowing dissent because it's "heat of the moment"? i'd be surprised if you could name one sport that allows this. the proposal I made still allows for a player to approach for clarification but if a ref starts to 'reason' or 'discuss' then they've lost their respect from the player. they need the option to give a 30s (at a minimum) if they're sworn at or verbally abused. i've reffed plenty of other sports and done a number of ref courses through them and it's the only way to keep it civil.

as tournament organisers of the AUS/NZ champs, we brought this rule in, clearly stated it before the weekend and not one ref was abused or yelled at. results speak for themselves.

People aren't not reffing because someone at the tournament might argue with them. People aren't reffing because it's a tedious job that most people don't give a shit about. You're not going to entice them by saying "come ref, nobody will "dissent" with you."

Well shit... I hope you don't have a pace-maker because this shit's about to pop off...

Basketball allows this.
Baseball allows this.
American football allows this.
Hockey allows this.
Rugby allows this.



Lots of sports allow players to make a plea after a play and don't drop the hammer at the first sign of dissent with a ref or line judge. Usually players try to make their emotioned plea for 20 or 30 seconds and then chill out. If they don't chill out or they get physical... THEN you penalize them. Nine times out of ten it's a heat of the moment thing that should be forgiven... like when your old lady screams my name.


Definitely agree with this. I don't mind a player letting of some steam. I think a confident ref can stand to let them do that for a second but moderate it when it becomes absurd. Issue a warning to the player who is getting hot at the ref, if they don't calm down then follow through. A little drama doesn't hurt anything.

§10.10.2 – A Flagrance penalty will be assessed when a player initiates physical contact in an excessive nature such that they cause themselves to crash.

any smaller player trying to check a much larger player to break a screen has to risk bouncing off and getting dabbed or injured on top of the turnover penalty.

§10.2.1 – A player that is initiating contact has the responsibility to meet the opposing player ‘high and even’. Contact to a player’s lower back, kidney or ribs or contact that carries momentum through an opponent from behind will be assessed a Charging penalty.

§ – If the referee determines that a player invites the contact outlined in §10.2.1 by altering their body position just prior to contact, no penalty will be assessed.

invite/initiate contact and you have a responsibility to meet them high and even...no dodging. dodging wound also be altering your body prior to contact.

these rules don't unfairly favor the larger player in every physical risk/reward scenario?

I'm not going to answer every question you raise.

First, please take the ref test so you know what is being called and why. You will know the rules better and I think it will clear up some of your problems. Second, after reffing half a qualifier I never once saw a bigger person go after a smaller person with the intent of taking them out. Did people get tangled up? Sure. But never once did I think it was intentional and malicious. That's not to say it can't and won't happen, but I feel like most people playing understand the concept of not killing each other.

I really wish you would have made your own thread to discuss the, in your view, gross disparity in fairness based on size.

The opinions you are expressing here, and your fundamental philosophy about what polo should be, are outside of the conventional and established views of the community at large. There's nothing wrong with that, but you've blown up a thread that everyone else was using as a means for fine tuning and analysis of the semantics of the ruleset and injected a big, boisterous opinion, going so far as to copy and paste some of your replies in multiple places just so no one misses them. If you do a better job of presenting your ideas in a concise way and in the right place, you are going to have much better luck getting quality responses and a productive conversation.

I like big opinions. Your discussion is an interesting one. Just go start your own thread. The debate you're wanting to have is over the philosophy of the game, not the details of a ruleset.

understood...my original points did have to do with the reffing difficulties and how to avoid them. I'm not gonna lie...I get worked up when people have knee jerk reactions to those trying to progress the game by critiquing it. I try to provide situational examples that have a very real impact on how players play the game. I regret any derailment because that was not my intent. since my posting a thread would probably doom it in advance would you care to start one worded more officially and I'll try to bite my tongue. my bad.

I don't regret bringing up the fact that our ruleset should ensure a level playing field for ALL players...COED...but I do regret doing it in a manner that was counterproductive to this thread.

It's cool dude! No worries. I will try to get one going a little later today.

Reffing at Northside was amazing. Tex, Paul, Patti, Luke... there were others too. Very little off-ball contact, Very little talking back to the refs by players...

For now, I think the two-refs-talking-to-each-other is better than the two-refs-spread-around-court. Sure, some things will get missed, since you can't see everything from the middle of the court. But the advantages outweigh that:

1) speaking the rules out loud, at least to someone, is better than just talking to yourself, using your inside voice.
2) less experienced refs get to shadow more experienced refs.
3) provides a natural buffer against random people hanging around the reffing area, distracting the ref.

A few small things got missed, but the only really incorrect call i saw all weekend was a ball-carrier who tried curling around a defensive player with a mini scoop, and initiated contact with that defensive player, with their back. Defensive player got called for charging, just for having kept a straight line. this is sort of the "right of way" discussion, although i think contact happened before the line of the bike got crossed by the scooper.


§10.2 – Charging
§10.2.1 – A player that is initiating contact has the responsibility to meet the opposing player
‘high and even’. Contact to a player’s lower back, kidney or ribs or contact that carries
momentum through an opponent from behind will be assessed a Charging penalty.
§ – If the referee determines that a player invites the contact outlined in §10.2.1 by
altering their body position just prior to contact, no penalty will be assessed.

I think the "initiating" contact part of that is hard to call. And the word "initiate" appears 15 times in the ruleset, 5 times in section 8, 10 time in section 10. In some cases, both players might initiate at the same time... if there's any thing that needs more video clarification (especially for new refs) it's that verb.

Let us initiate an investigation of initiation

It was exceptionally helpful to have worked alongside Tex until I felt confident to take on reffing solo. For being new to reffing I was happy to bite the bullet and officiate most games apart from those where I knew the teams were demanding of their refs. In those situations Tex or John stepped in to be a second set of eyes and bring a greater degree of authority to the play. People will challenge a newcomer until they are no longer "new". That step from outright "whothefuckareyou" to players merely muttering under their breath "shitcalldude" is hard. But Northsides were willing to give out respect. For new refs it is an intense time. There is so much going on and you so badly don't want to fuck up. But of course you do and you begin to see that it is impossible to have a perfectly called game. I would encourage more people to ref. You WILL see the game differently. You WILL understand the complexity of reffing and maybe not try pull some shit or try to bully down a ref.

I found it interesting that I had to keep the spectator/player side of myself at a distance. You see cool moves, you see shit moves and you have to filter that through the framework of a rule set. You may see a friend make a move and gain possession and you have to suppress the cheer and consider whether they did so in a way contrary to the rules. And then call it, and then have your bud give you the stink eye and be ok. Or a player you hate gets infringed upon and you have to put aside your personal feelings and give them a ball turnover even though it shits you.

Working alongside Luke and Patty was cool because we spoke out the rules with each other. And it helps so much to have someone do the time, remind you of players names and watch out for sneaky little buggers off ball trying to fuck with other players. And they are right there, not across court where, yes, they might be able to see something else but you can't communicate/corroborate quickly and easily. The players don't stop playing waiting for the "reffing" to "happen".

But those are just some personal thoughts.

I did see a lot of contact that was difficult to call because it seemed like two players apparently aware of each other but wanting the same space. Neither player is, possibly, wanting to initiate contact but nor are they willing to concede the space.

The high stick thing did seem weird. We spoke about this Kev. I agree I made a call that was probably surplus to requirements. but we agreed that the flattened plane of a single veiwpoint, especially in a fast game, means it can be difficult to ascertain how close players are to each other. And when someone sticks their mallet up in the air, a pretty obvious move, the sheer blatancy of it (not the actual danger of it) is hard to resist reacting to!

I have reasons as a player for wishing we had a crease but as a ref I would suggest that whilst we would need to keep an eye out for transgressions of THAT space we might at least might not have the clusterfucking that seemed damn near impossible to see whose elbows/shoulders/bikes were doing what to whomever's ribs/back/bike. It's going to happen out there but in the goal mouth there's going to be a greater possibility of unfair goals or unfairly challenged goals. Although maybe some sharp goal judges would help...

I find it troubling that "ref's discretion" doesn't solely exist to increase a penalty but rather seems in practice to mostly exist to waive off penalties and/or minimize their severity. I think this whole "local flavor" shit has gots to go! reffing should be consistent from region to region from tournament to tournanent and even ref to ref. I think infractions need concrete penalties that cannot be waived off or minimized via "ref's discretion"...the ref should only have the power to increase the severity of an infraction otherwise we need to stop calling it a "ruleset" and call it a "suggested guideline".

Man, I'm glad that I gave this thread one last chance. Whatever else has been going on in here should be forgotten about so that this concept can receive serious attention.

A penalty is a penalty. You can't just shrug it off because it "didn't effect the play." It does, and it's a slippery slope to more aggressive play. The words 'discretion' and 'excessive' are peppered through the ruleset enough to give the referees room to make a call and keep a game from getting out of control.

You are wright, Jonathan. A penalty IS a penalty. However, that penalty is in fact based on the referees 'discretion', or else we would need Robots overseeing our games..

These rules are new for everyone, and the 'discretion' you speak of is the best way to help those players who have been playing for hella long to adapt to these rules.

Remeber though, a non penalty is not a penalty. And non-penaltys are open to interpretation. For example, Slashing (§9.1.1) does not have the potential to cause damage or injury if the contact is on-mallet, and no mallets are broken. By your interpretation (based on your on-court verbal feedback) you may think this is a penalty. Jason, you may think its "local flavor", but I think its someone not knowing how to hold on to their mallet.

Where do you suggest we draw the line?

It goes far beyond Eastsides, Addy, but be honest with yourself. You were blindly wrapping your arm and mallet around me and slashing my ankles... No hopes or attempt at actually reaching the ball. Accept it. The worst part about shit like that is that you (and dozens of other players) are fully capable of lighting a team up without being shitty, but without fear of a discretion call, so many games are cheap and ugly to watch.

How many people sat in the box at Eastsides? What about at other qualifiers? If there were 10 trips to the penalty box in all of them combined, I would be sincerely surprised. It seems, to me, like that should be impossible. The tendency is to let people play on, but it sets a tone for tournament. I would like to see more calls being made, even a few too many, just to establish the presence and authority of the referee. That's all I'm getting at.

OK, so:

30 seconds: – An infraction that takes away a clear scoring opportunity or a distinct situational
advantage from the fouled team will result in a 30–second man–advantage penalty.

2 minutes: - Any infraction listed in §7 – §10 that is overtly dangerous or reckless in nature will result in
a 2–minute man advantage penalty.

Are you saying you saw these are Eastsides, and they were not called as such?

I can only refer to NS, as the only qualifier I was at. I reffed about 10 games, and did not see a single incident in any of those games that met those criteria.

I called about 10-15 turnovers, for minor fouls, which weren't dangerous, and did not stop a goal scoring opportunity, or a distinct situational advantage.

I'd see that as a good thing, as it means people are playing cleanly.

that's the point...here you've got some set ones that people magically played so cleanly that they didn't called an entire tournament...okay, whatever. no video so I can't speak to that. I'd love to examine a video with you and discuss point by point where the ruleset should be applied.

it's the ones that should equal 30s or more but have no accompanying severity that are being discussed. things labelled excessive or injurious or whatever. how about ignoring or arguing with a ref. repeating verbal warnings with no consequences in gameplay is not reffing, agreed?

To be completely honest, I didn't watch many games at Eastsides, so I can't say that I did or didn't see instances that were or were not deserving of 30 second penalties, etc.

I'm sticking to my guns, however, that it seems very unlikely to have an effective rate of zero penalties in all of the games at all of the qualifiers (and beyond) in the second (or third, whatever) season that featured a comprehensive ruleset.

I saw some change of possession penalties in my games and others, and I dig that. It's a great start. Pete would go nuts on your inference of causality in saying that no penalties means that there was clean play, but I'll just politely disagree that the results are conclusive, especially with such a small sampling.

I did, however, hear a few referees express distaste for how they were treated, express gratefulness that they were done, and express zero desire to volunteer again. Pete would probably have a few words for me on this one, too, but I see that as plenty of reason for people to have pocketed their whistles and watched the clock.

Nick mentions somewhere down this thread that perhaps I'm fishing for an advantage in looking for more calls, and that's not what I'm getting at. I just think that a slightly lower tolerance for shenanigans would be good for the game. If the whistle came out just a little bit quicker for a season and a few more people got to watch their game from the box, perhaps we would get more players focusing on strategy and technique and less players seeing what they can get away with.

I think that a lot of progress has been made, and recognition should be shared with the organizational committees, brave referees, and players. I'm just ready for the growing pains to be over, and I don't think that the power has shifted far enough toward the referees, yet.

Good reply.

Then I'm going to call myself out as being a newb and having only played in two qualifiers total, perhaps not having too much experience makes me see this from the glass is full side. That and kudos to the heartland region for actually playing pretty clean polo.

I could have called an unsportsmanlike or two, but I'm louder, so fuck it, keep the game moving. Also, we were firm and set the tone early. 9am starts makes people get their shit together.

Again, I can only go on the games I reffed in NS.

i'm not suggesting all games were clean because there were no penalties, but I can say the games I reffed had no penalties because they were clean.

Gotcha. Thought for a moment that you were talking about Northsides as a whole. Apologies for the misunderstanding.

Watch Do's turn down video again: I saw none of that at Heartland. Almost zero crazy bullshit kill them all checks or really any behavior that would be deemed dangerous or out of control. I will attest that to two things : new rules and the fact that we (as a ref team) were very clear and kept our courts under control.

I feel like if all you want is more whisltles, you are looking for an unfair advAntage.

I would rewrite the high sticking rule so that it read "no defensive mallets above wheel height". this would discourage the reacharound from behind AND the reacharound from the front.

the reacharound from behind is typically executed with arm and even shoulder contact to the back and/or sides of the ball handler and often enough to mention it results in mallet to body and bike contact (reacher inadvertently "taps/slashes" an arm, wrist, hand, leg, ankle, foot, back, side, wheel, frame, seatpost, crank, pedal, etc...) so technically any contact no matter how brief between the reaching defender and the ball handler should be called. it could be called by any of four infractions...illegal check, arm extension, mallet to body or mallet to bike. I would change it to high sticking just so it discourages people from even attempting to "cleanly" "chop" each other.

reacharound from the front is over the front wheel and almost always results in mallet to bike, body to body and often mallet to body. the reacher extends their arm across the bike usually inadvertently contacting the steering arm with their extended arm and/or their body. the mallet typically hits brake cables, brake, bars, crank, pedal, headtube, wheel, arm, wrist, hand, leg, foot, etc...this could be called multiple penalties as well...arm extension, illegal body to body, mallet to body, mallet to bike as well as holding. make it a "high stick" if the mallet goes over the wheel and it discourages clotheslines and desperate slashing.

if you're having to reacharound then you clearly got outpositioned in the play...just accept you're beat in that moment and play smarter next time.

jason f-off wrote:

so technically any contact no matter how brief between the reaching defender and the ball handler should be called.

Not the case. If the contact is incidental, ie doesn't affect play, and is not dangerous, then there is no point in calling it, as there is no disadvantage to the ball carrier.

§10.1.1 – An extension penalty will be assessed when a player extends their arm and uses their elbow, forearm or hand to initiate contact with another player. Principle physical contact must be made with the shoulder when engaging with an opponent.

the reacharound...extended arm even grazes their butt and it's a penalty or should we add in that they need to graze the butt dangerously?

If you haven't reffed or refuse to ref, yet continue to bitch: fuck off. Step up and spend a day in ref shoes.

so player feedback after the game is now discouraged? no post game dialogue player to player or player to ref? does that seem like the best way to fine tune a ruleset?


if you know you're reffing with an agenda (per your "glory days" comment above I assume you're proud of your bias) then you should step back from the whistle. I don't think the rules committee spent all that time developing a ruleset so it could be ignored.


that outfit and whistle ain't shit without a ruleset to back it up and that ruleset ain't shit without a ref and a whistle to back it up.

calls can't be arbitrarily made based on someone's predilection for the rough and tumble or vice versa.

Player feed back in the form of you forever bitching and complaining helps no one.

Not everyone should be a ref comment is blatant laziness and self centered bullshit that is rampant in this stupid fucking game.

Watch some games from late in worlds last year and use your imagination as to when you would have blown the whistle. Pause the game video, then add anywhere from fifteen seconds to two minutes per call, which is about what it takes to adequately explain a call in game. Repeat for each call. That tournament would have never ended.

My point is that tournament organizers and refs have enough going on, making sure whining assholes like yourself are happy is a full time job and, quite frankly, it sucks. Until people like yourself actually help you have zero right, claim, or justification to offer anything in context to being a referee.

I respectfully disagree on a two points.

I think everyone who thinks they can ref should try but some will not have or develop the confidence to continue doing it. I just hope that players like myself wont cut a new ref down before that confidence is made.

I like the chat after the game. Having more refs per court will help as one chats on the calls and the other lines up the next game. If it gets too long I just say hey its time for the next game, we'll try to do this later.

Winston Salem NC Bike Polo

Fair enough, but to have more refs you need people to step up and think more about the game than themselves.

If you can cut a ref down, you should be able to stand up there and do as a good of a job as the person you are cutting down, if not better. How will you know this? By stepping up to be a ref.

I'm all for a complete and open communication, a brief pre game meeting and then an ongoing conversation as the game goes. It doesn't have to be much, just enough to let the players know that you, as the referee, are paying attention to whats going on around the ball.

The following is address to no one in particular:


This is a community game, so be part of the community and help.

I never said dialogue during or directly after the game. I meant now on this forum where you're still telling players to shut up.

once again...NOT EVERYONE SHOULD BE A REF. just as there are players that don't play very well there are refs that don't ref very well.

I never said I have never reffed...I said I don't ref because I'm self aware enough to understand that I would not use ref's discretion in the manner it's intended. I would "ruin" everyone's fun because I would call things others think are trivial. ignoring the small fouls leads to the large fouls.

Going back on feedbacks: False starts

I noticed that for false starts, if you have an assistant, that's way easier to ask him to watch one side while your watching the other than to ask goal judge to do the start. You are right next to him, and you can have a direct answer about the start. If let goal judge to the job, you will have to watch both side very quickly and that's shitty.
I would make that a new official way to call false starts.

uolmo .Clement. wrote:

Going back on feedbacks: False starts

I noticed that for false starts, if you have an assistant, that's way easier to ask him to watch one side while your watching the other than to ask goal judge to do the start. You are right next to him, and you can have a direct answer about the start. If let goal judge to the job, you will have to watch both side very quickly and that's shitty.
I would make that a new official way to call false starts.

Yeah I agree.

I fully agree on this. As a goal judge I once witnessed a false start and the ref did not pay any attention to my raised arm/waiving, so there was not call. As a ref/assistant I always made sure that me and the assistant/ref would watch opposite sides so we don't miss it. That worked perfectly and I think it would make sense mentioning it in the rules.

I don't know if this question has been raised in other rules threads, but it came up a couple of times at pick-up over here.
following situation:
offensive Player A has the ball and is circling the goal.
defensive Player B is trying to reach for the ball going beside him and shifts player As mallet in a way, that it ends up under player As frontwheel and he goes down.

I think this happens quite often and I'm not sure if this can be called under dangerous play or even jamming because it is the offensive players own mallet that brings him down.

any opinions on this?

yeah this is pretty common, but i don't think it could ever be penalized, since player A who has malleted themself probably had an opportunity to avoid it.

it is a loophole for foulplay though, isn't it? I mean if I wanted to, I could practice bringing down my opponents like this on purpose and would never be penalized.

If we see it happening regularly, then I'm sure it will get added to the rules.

yeah i agree. David, we'll be watching you.

it's funny that since you posted this, this happened to me twice, once where dirks took himself out while we had mallets hooked, and once where i took myself out with mallets hooked with ngaihon. neither were deliberate, and in both cases the downed players had a way out.

haha! I'll be watching you guys on the NAHBPC webcast and see if anyone stole my new tactics ;)

I don't know that this is new. I think making someone "trip on their own dick," is pretty common. It's just common enough that it has plausible deniability on intent.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

We had one issue at EHBPC which I think should be discussed here. Both courts had a net behind ONE goal to protect the area with the bar and official tent and stuffs from getting shot at. However the opposite site of the courts did NOT have a net. So a high shot could on one side of the court go out of play and on the other it couldn't, therefore making it unequal. As refs we weren't aware of this inequality until of course during a game one ball hit the net, the play wasn't stopped and eventually a goal happened. As I never stopped the game and let the goal count there was a major dispute about it by the team who got scored on. It was only then that we became aware of this situation. The ruleset did not help me out as "ball out of play" is not defined better. I think there needs to be a clear definition in terms of courts with nets.

Points that need to be included in the rules:
- If the court has only one net/fence or if nets/fences cover unequal spaces, the net/fence should be out of bounds.
- If the nets/fences are equal it should be in/out (that we can discuss).

This happened at ESQ as well. Both sides should be out but it was not clearly communicated among all refs so it was called unevenly.

In my opinion, above the boards should be out all the way around for NAH competitions.


Not if it drops back into play.

My mistake, I meant over/past/whatever the boards, not simply above. Obviously I don't mean that a scoop pass that goes above the height of the boards should be out, but something that goes over the boards and contacts something else (fence, spectator, ref stand, whatever) should be out unless those items are written into the rules.

40" is the minimum in the rules, but if it is uneven on different sides of the court, that should always be out.

Maybe there should also be a maximum height allowable as well?

Ya prob.

I remember north americans in mke the fence on the north/east side of court A was called dead ball, since south/west sides didn't have a fence. But if there is symmetry, like the one hockey rink in MPLS this weekend, I say play on.