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New NAH Rule Proposal - Obstruction & Crease Violation

I'm surprised this hasn't been posted here yet and I'm curious what people think about the proposed new rules that we (clubs) will be voting on next week, eek!! I've seen a number of discussions around Facebook but thought it might be useful to get a discussion going on here.

I do want to say that I very much appreciate all the hard work NAH does for this sport, and I do like the goals of these rules, I'm just still skeptical this is the best way to make that happen. I'm trying very hard not to just dislike these rules because they are new and OMG! CHANGE!!!, but it's hard!

I'll be back tomorrow with more thoughts, but what are your constructive critiques?

§8.7 – Obstruction

§8.7.1 - An obstruction penalty will be assessed when a player actively impedes the movement of an opposing player who is attempting to make a play on the ball.

§ – This movement, referred to as “screening” or “picking,” will be defined as blocking an opponent to gain access to the ball, blocking them from challenging the player in possession of the ball, or preventing them from free and open movement to gain a defensive position on the court.

§8.7.2 - If a “screen” is set that is stationary, momentary and safely an obstruction penalty will not be assessed, however, legal bodily contact as described in §10.3 is possible.

§8.8 – Crease Violation

§8.8.1 - O​nly one defensive player (the “Goalie”) is allowed to be within the crease prior to the ball/ball carrier for more than 3 seconds. If an additional defensive player or any offensive player is within the crease for more than 3 seconds prior to the ball/ball carrier, a minor penalty will be assessed on the first offense. Subsequent infractions will result in a major penalty.

§8​.8.1.1 - At the point the ball enters the crease, players can also enter the crease to make a fair play on the ball. When the ball exits the crease, all players except the “Goalie” are required to remove themselves within the 3 second time limit. Any player who remains within the crease and disrupts subsequent offensive plays, will be assessed a minor penalty on the first offense. Subsequent occurrences will result in a major penalty.

§8​.8.1.2 - Body, mallet, or bike contact initiated by any player who enters the crease is not allowed, unless it is a direct play on the ball/ball carrier.

§8​.8.1.3 - If a player uses their bike, body or mallet to prevent an opponent from exiting the crease within the 3 second time limit, a penalty will not assessed on the player in the crease.

§8​.8.1.4 - Any penalty that occurs to a player within the crease will automatically be assessed a minor penalty. Play will restart according to §​4​.2.3.

A great description with examples of the Obstruction rule can also be found here: http://www.nahardcourt.com/playtesting-proposed-rule-changes-obstruction/

I'm in favor.

Anyone with questions regarding these proposed rules please refer to THIS THREAD

For reference:


.....A minor penalty shall be assessed to any player who interferes with or impedes the progress of an opponent who is not in possession of the puck (see Glossary). This includes the following actions which shall be penalized under this rule: 1. Providing a protective screen and limiting the opportunity for an opposing player to apply pressure to a teammate in possession and control of the puck....


...An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if:
"Impeding the Progress of an Opponent". Generally, a player cannot use his body to impede another players movements, even if it is not deliberate. This can be called if a player is not within "playing distance" of the ball (i.e., 3 feet) and block's an opponent's movement or screens an opponent from the ball. However, if a player is within playing distance & able to play the ball (meaning not laying on the ground), the player can legally screen an opponent from the ball...

...Illegal Screens/Picks: A screen or pick is when an offensive player gets to a legal position on the court in the path of a defender for the purpose of slowing down the defender or making him change direction. An illegal screen/pick is when the defender does not get into a legal position. When picking a stationary opponent from the backside, you must give that player a step to stop and /or change direction since he cannot see you. If the opponent is moving, you must get to your position and give him enough distance to stop and/or change direction. The speed of the player will determine the distance. You cannot just jump in front of a player at the last second....

American "foot"ball:
...It is pass interference by either team when any player movement beyond the line of scrimmage significantly hinders the progress of an eligible player of such player’s opportunity to catch the ball....

...Illegal Offensive Screening
SECTION 5. a. No offensive player shall move into and make contact with a
defensive player with the purpose of blocking a defensive player from the man
he is playing, nor may the offensive player hold his crosse rigid or extend his
crosse rigid to impede the normal movements of the defensive man. If contact
is made between offensive and defensive players as a result of the offensive
player’s setting a screen, the offensive player must be motionless before the
contact occurs....

Are we seeing a trend??

roustem wrote:

For reference:


.....Not Played on a Bike....


...Not played on a bike...

...Not played on a bike....

American "foot"ball:
...Not played on a bike....

...Not played on a bike....

Are we seeing a trend??

I see what you're getting at.

That said, kayak polo (while not played on bikes, it has many of the same maneuverability issues bike polo does) also has an interference rule

Soccer doesn't have hands.

Football doesn't have Lacrosse sticks.

Basketball doesn't have a goalie.

There are vast differences between all of these sports, just as much as bike polo differs from them, yet this one GIANT similarity.

The similarities between a coasting bike polo player and a gliding hockey player are undeniable. It's not about the bike, it's about body position. if someone is a half bike length ahead of me, i can usually brake and get behind them. if i'm a half bike length ahead, i can cut them off.

That said, i'm not sure how i feel about the obstruction rule as is, mainly because it's hard to call.

I agree. While I appreciate and applaud progress made in the reffing department, I think the obstruction needs to be sidelined until we have the capacity to enforce it.

As usual, I'm feelin' good about it. And players should just stop cheating.

"The rules are meant to be broken" -anon BBP player

"...but only by me and my team".

"I like my stats this year. CHEATING RULES!"- BBP prophet

well I've always felt.... bikes are too easy to screen with. they are huge, and get in the way on ACCIDENT many times. hell, heavy screening isn't even a play style, it's too damn easy. we're all fast, we all ride bikes. in fact, it's an easy option that actually impedes creative ways to break down a defense and score a goal. that's what everyone wants to see isn't it? goals being scored in ways they didn't imagine possible? the obstruction rule impeding peoples' play style and creativity just doesn't cut it for me because our bike size + court size + 6 people on court at a time is already a recipe for a traffic jam. take offense to that, ignore it, whatever you like. winning sports should not be easy, and screening on a bike is easy. so I enjoy the obstruction rule. I also attended the PHBP tourney, and the refs did a really good job with the rule. it's really easy to spot a violation even before it happens guys. it ain't rocket surgery.

We playtested the crease rule at the Frost, Thaw, and GLWC and I am 100% pro-crease. I'm not sure the size is big enough and I'm not sure it will be called perfectly, but folks quickly picked up on what the rule was intended to discourage and I saw a lot less double-goalie and goalie hacking which is a big plus.

Obstruction is tricky. I think we need an obstruction rule (as demonstrated by all the off-ball screens at Worlds this year), but I'm not sure we have enough player buy-in to make it an effective rule. Part of this comes from the fact that a lot of people aren't familiar with obstruction/interference rules from other sports and don't have a gut feeling for the rule. Examples like Marc provided are useful, but we'll need more playtesters and more folks seeking clarification if we want to see obstruction successfully implemented.

TL;DR - Play/throw tournaments that use the new rules to get a feel for them. The crease is easily understood and ready for prime-time. Obstruction might need some more time for most players/refs to really understand what it's about

It is possible to test these rules during pick up if there is enough buy-in. Last spring in East Van we implemented the new rules during a weekly team night, which gave both tournament players and refs a chance to get accustomed to them. We're interested in doing this again so we are hoping that the rules are approved soon to give us as much time as possible to adjust.

(Insofar as I can speak for my club, but we had a thread going about it and there was no dissent to this plan.)


Keep them both!


is good.

e-z reffing, improved game play, more fun pick-up, finesse, passing, ball movement, parity.

woweee. yay.

We made a survey about crease in Europe, I will post results for EHPA in few days.
Answers for or against crease :

You want a Crease or not ?
No crease : 8
Crease : 48

But players who give their opinion about obstruction were mainly against it.
They find it too hard to ref
They like the actual game with active screening plays
They don't want rules to favorise a style of play

Few are for it:
They want it to clarify the T-bones situation where a player just goes in front of another at the last second
They think it gonna make the game better

Wow those survey answers are full of leading language.

They were open text answers that i summarize as best as i can.

This is what I'm wondering. Both of these rules were developed to create more open, skillful, athletic team play that requires the skills everyone has been working on for years and years. They essentially do the same thing: Prevent what is generally regarded as undesirable, unattractive, unskillful, unequal play.

This rule does not prevent smart, strategic, skillful screening. It prevents marking up on a player and riding them to the boards. Or riding in super fast to set a huge block so your teammate can just walk it to the net.

I think Europe should give it a try.

I get the rule and I think most of euro players get it. They are just too used to play with these moves and they think that's not undesirable and unskillful strategies.

As the crease that people didn't want first and then like, we have to give a try for sure. Talking about it without trying it is mostly useless.

Yes, ultimately people should try it. We did, in two tournaments, and it produced much cleaner more open polo, where quick passing teams would win.

I honestly feel that people need to PROVE why the combination of a brake lever and persistent focus on marking is skillful. I know this is my subjective opinion, but grabbing a fistful of brakes in front of someone, or just putting your body in the way is the lowest common denominator of teamwork in bike polo.

Also I have question about some crease situation (I played and reffed last 2 tournaments with a 3 second crease rulle who looks like the NAH draft one):
-What happens if there is a player from each team (plus the goalie) into the crease for more than three second?
-Isn't the "ball into the crease" shouldn't affect the 3 second rule? i mean it's really hard to ref, because you start to countdown, then the ball goes in, then out etc... Also it provide still shitty clusterfuck play. Why not saying that's 3 seconde regardless the ball is in or not?

Otherwise you could have strange situations where players have to leave the ball in the crease, because they've been in it too long.

It's quite simple really. If the ball is in the crease anyone can be in it. Otherwise it's 3 seconds.

In the two player situation, if for arguments sake, both enter the crease at the same time, and stay there for more than 3 seconds, they both get a penalty at the same time (which is dealt with elsewhere in the rules).

Realistically one of the penalties would trigger first, in most cases.

I said that because it was the main issue i saw while reffing this. You have to see who enter the crease first, start countdown, see if there is any foul from any team, then when the ball goes in stop counting down, then if the ball goes out restart countdown. It fucked my brain too much.
Maybe that yes, if your team missed to score whitin 3 seconds then you have to let the ball to the goal keeper.

not saying that's impossible to ref, but this ball in the crease aera make a lot of things to see to think of during few seconds. Definitely not simple as it looks.

The crease rule has been good the last two tournaments we played with it. Stops people from fucking with the goalie and gives players a nice outline to set their defensive position. Goal refs have been sharp on the 3 seconds (and with the added responsibility, started to actually call fouls/advantages)

Obstruction rule sounds pretty far fetched to me. Like people think there is something that we need to desperately change within the game when there are other matters that need to be addressed, such as an advantage timer.


Well, when we discussed it with the players of the PHPB, who are most of the top NA players, they felt it was more of a priority than a crease. Different opinions on what's needed I guess.

Certainly no-one had raised an advantage timer as being important to us.

The infinite advantage definitely needs to go!


How will doing so help the game?

How would you see it working?

(I genuinely want your feedback)

There's the potential situation of a team winning and getting an advantage and keeping the ball for the entire game. It can be used as a method of time wasting. 20-30 seconds is better?


solution="shot clock" ala basketball?

What you describe is definitely a possibility, but why would the final outcome of the game be any different with a shot clock if the team that commits the foul can't get a touch on the ball for the rest of the game?

Obvious time-wasting should be discouraged (and is in §7.1 – Delay of game), but I don't think a shot clock is the answer here since it adds a significant time management burden to the ref/timekeeper

Spotting various fouls: too hard for refs!!

Starting a timer on a delayed penalty and communicating that to players while still watching for subsequent infractions: No problem!


A nice rule I'm in favour of is a back court rule similar to basketball. Once a team has advantage, they cannot ride or pass the ball backwards over halfway. If they do, their advantage is forfeit. This addresses the above problems, while also stimulating aggressive polo, and crucially: It's easy to ref and understand for players.

Yeah, I was actually just discussing this option. If we see this being an issue, it's maybe something that could be added in the future.

couldn't be backcourt based on half but maybe the back 3rd...that would be three rules from basketball by the way...backcourt and 3 in the key and moving picks! I like it.

why couldn't it be?

NAH REGULATION COURTS ARE SMALL ENOUGH AS IT IS...if you're trying to steer the game toward a more pass heavy, skill based game then confining the offense to what effectively is a third of the court (since the goal line is x amount of feet in front of the wall) is counterproductive. the smaller the area for passing the more effective a screen/pick play becomes.

Well, that's a matter of opinion. It would need to be carefully tested.

But I'd rather not require organisers to paint yet another line (except on hockey courts that have blue lines), for a situation that happens a few times a game, and often not at all, unless there is a very good reason to.

Remember we just got rid of screens to a large extent.

ye, back court rule is a good idea to cut back on the resets and dumps back to goalie. This would also get defenses out of their goals now that they dont have to chase the ball around the full court. Half-court should be plenty. Simple rules are better.

Also i'm glad I never have to ref, paid or not all of these changes are making it pretty impossible. Obstruction rule would scare me away forever.


If you've never had to do it, how can you say it's impossible?

Cos he is always in the final womp womp womp

(FTR, I have been reffed by Luca. He was well good)

Ayy who let the euros in?

So when are the EUROs going to make their own ruleset? After all, the crease rule was written to solve the problem they started. Call Me Daddy more like Call Me Double Goalie

oooooh this thread is getting good

I'm gunna fire up the micro wave and cook me up some popping corn!

My cup runeth over with blood and not wine

Yup what I was getting at was that the crease helps with the double goalie, love it!


Love the rules moving this way. NAHBPC is doing fantastic with this progression and I applaud Joe, Kruze, John, and all others involved in this newest iteration. Seriously fantastic job keeping the playing field level.

In 2013 when they implemented a ruleset, this was a clear gap in the coverage that some teams seemed to hone in on: off ball screens and double goalie coverage. Implementation of these rules is proof that you can win games doing these things but watching two teams do these same exact things is not exciting. I don't know how the europeans are not seeing this but we're making it loud and clear here.

I think with the addition of these rules, we can start looking at how to make sure refs catch everything in the game properly.

One question: Obstruction results in a immediate stoppage and turnover on the first call? How will we distinguish obstruction from t-boning as well?

Can somebody explain to me the idea behind the 3 seconds?

So the way it is written it is possible within the 3 seconds to quickly put a double goalie on a coming oponent who is obviously going to make an effort on the goal. Is this situation something the people who wrote the rule want to happen? Or in other words do we want to ban only permanent double goalies or do we want to ban double goalies period?

If the 3 seconds are only there to allow people crossing through the crease when it shortens their path to where they want to go then I'd rather write it this way. And when the ball goes out people should just get "a
reasonable amount of time to withdraw from the crease" (as in §

Generally what should be desired is movement in front of the goal. I like 3 seconds because it allows for a defender to put themselves in front of the shot at any time or position that they find themselves in. The crease needs to be big enough to prevent a stationary double goalie, but that crease space can't reasonably be denied to all defenders except the goalie at all times, because moving to place yourself in front of a shot is a fair defensive play, even if you so happen to find the area of the crease where you need to be to do that, given your current position on the court. The point is just to get out of there afterwards.

If a defender is, say, coming from behind their own net/goal line, and there is a shot coming from the point, or somewhere out in space, the defender should be able to position themselves to be between the shooter and the goal. They shouldn't have to completely concede a shooting lane to the shooter because they aren't allowed anywhere inside of the crease unless the ball is already there.

3 Seconds allows for a player to time their roll in, slow their pace, potentially help to block a shot and then keep moving. Just prevent the stationary set up. If you stop inside the crease, you pretty much have to immediately start moving again to exit within a reasonable approximation of 3 seconds. The defender is still allowed their full range of movement on the court in order to make a defensive play, with movement being the operative word.

The offensive will always be allowed a fair look at the goalie should they move the ball and time their offensive play properly and creatively.

Ok this explanation makes a lot of sense, especially if the crease is large in size, I agree.

Now what about offenders, they can also go into the crease for 3 seconds, if I understand correctly, even before the ball enters. So of course they cannot do can openers, mallet hooking or any bullshit on the goaly. But they could take the goalie's sight or just distract her/him, before/while the ball carrier is coming. Is that something, that is wanted?

I would personally consider this fair play and a potential element of a well-timed and skillful offense. But I also wouldn't think that this is a particularly powerful asset as an offensive player. I don't have a problem with it as a strategy that anyone else may want to employ, though.

I think energy could be spent more effectively on offense, and so such a strategy wouldn't worry me in terms of creating imbalance in the game. To me, its most likely fine to leave it as is.

I don't think it's a big deal either. I just want to understand your thinking behind the 3 seconds. I think your answers make a lot of sense. What crease size are you thinking about if you say "big enough"?

I think if we found that became a good strategy, we could look at it again. But right now, I don't think it's a good play compared to getting into a good passing position outside the crease (which seems to be how people are reacting to it).

Can openers, mallet hacking and such "bullshit" are still more than doable with 3 seconds. Especially if it leads to a goal scored (no need to count with getting out of the zone). Even if it leads to a ball turn over, these strategies may still be a good trade off.
Also, though it requires more skill to pull them off, as our skill level increases they may become the norm again and the rule quickly outdated.
All in all, more play testing must occur before we can draw conclusions on this.

§8​.8.1.2 - Body, mallet, or bike contact initiated by any player who enters the crease is not allowed, unless it is a direct play on the ball/ball carrier.

There is not much "bullshit" left, that you can do as an offensive team except taking the goalies sight for a second. Can openers are only possible without the obstruction rule, to my understanding...

django wrote:

There is not much "bullshit" left, that you can do as an offensive team except taking the goalies sight for a second. Can openers are only possible without the obstruction rule, to my understanding...

And this why the rules go hand in hand.

django wrote:

§8​.8.1.2 - Body, mallet, or bike contact initiated by any player who enters the crease is not allowed, unless it is a direct play on the ball/ball carrier.

There is not much "bullshit" left, that you can do as an offensive team except taking the goalies sight for a second. Can openers are only possible without the obstruction rule, to my understanding...

How does

§8.7.2 - If a “screen” is set that is stationary, momentary and safely an obstruction penalty will not be assessed, however, legal bodily contact as described in §10.3 is possible.

not apply to a bottle opener?

Ok, I think I get what you mean...

I can imagine a play where the ball carrier circles around the goal and another offender puts himself next to the goalie in a stationary way to open the backdoor. The other player circles around and can put the ball in the net. If he fails to do so he can at least put the ball into the crease which resets the time for the other player to leave.

So if you make sure that the ball at least goes in the crease this play can be done without hardly ever risking the minor penalty for creae infraction.

If you have to roll in in front of the goalie, then you aren't stationary, and assuming you stay there, it's not momentary either.

The only situations where a can-opener would be legal is if

1) there is no-one in goal (so you'd be stationary by the time any defensive player arrives). But then only for less than 3 seconds, unless the ball is in the crease. And if you are at the goal, with the ball in the crease, and no goalie, you are probably just going to score anyway.

2) The goalie has the ball, in which case you are screening the player in possession. But that's not really a classic can-opener then.


this brings me back to when the ruleset forced us to tap out at half court instead of riding in a circle after foot down. I hated that idea and refused to acknowledge it was a better system.

most of the controversy over the interference rule being hard to interpret or too difficult to ref isn't a good reason not try it imo. it's still just bike polo, we've been watching screens shoved down eachothers throats for the last 6 years. we have the ability to make in depth training videos that demonstrate what is legal and what is not. anyone that understands the flow of traffic on the court is going to be able to identify a violation of this obstruction rule pretty easily. also, the rule still allows you to place a block.

The tap out will be 10 years old this October. http://articles.philly.com/2005-10-21/entertainment/25442352_1_bicycle-p...

"No feet on the ground: If a foot infraction occurs, the player must ride to the side of the playing area and ring a bell in order to continue playing."

Thanks Corey!

Agree with Dusty. this rule should be enforceable as the crease and delayed are even if people first think they were too hard to call.

I still have some question, about the samples (thanks god for this material) provided by NAH. The last sequence shows 2 screen situation from CMD, the first from will is legit, and the second from Paul isn't, but honnestly i don't see why. Will try to make a block and miss the point by choosing the wrong side in a way, he didn't block the path of the defensive player. Polo make a move to get in the path and even engage a small contact with this defensive player. He's clearly preventing defensive player to go back on defense by getting in his way: here in the last video
Last video:

Why a ref should call on will and not on polo in this case?

We have acknowledged that we need to play test these rules and slowly we will be able to "feel" what is right and wrong.

I think here, at first it looks like Will is moving to a place to get a pass and help his teammate. when his teammate changes direction he stops to move to a new location. For a moment it may be obstruction but not very serious.

the obstruction rule could make teams (beavers, cmd and every copycat of their godawfully boring style) that have relied heavily on screening as their sole offensive strategy merely transition more to their go-to defensive strategy...stacking in the crease and finally retreating to double goalie/triple goalie.

I like the spirit of the obstruction rule and the spirit of the crease rule BUT the "3 in the key" aspect I feel will in the end fall woefully short of it's intended goal and in conjunction with an obstruction rule actually contribute to the development of an even stackheavier game..."momentary" stacking or not.

picture this: a double goalie on the edge of the crease waiting for any offensive strike to commit to double goalie for three seconds "in the key", blocks shot, returns to edge to reset to reenter at next offensive strike.

crease size will be crucial even with an inviolable crease but even moreso with a "3 in the key" allowance on stacking. I don't think players forced to camp out on the edge of the crease as double/triple goalies can win as long as the crease is big enough to make that an untenable defensive position. allowing them into the crease for 3 seconds just opens the door for stacking...albeit "momentary" BUT a shot is "momentary"...therefore momentary stacking should be just as effective as a shotblocking tool as permastacking is now.

IMO obstruction + crease will lead to an evolution of double/triple goalie that capitalizes on the 3 second rule. scrap the "3 in the key" and go with an inviolable crease.

Shouldn't crease size be relative to court size?

valid question but goal size, crease size and behind the goal dimensions should be universal. I think we should have one size court but that's impossible so in lieu of that we should at least have universal dimensions on the goal and crease.

I’m for an obstruction rule, I’m not, however for this rule as written.

All over Facebook I’ve been seeing discussion about this rule, and NAH peeps explaining that the rule was meant to be vague to give the ref discretion. If a rule is up to a ref's discretion then it’s not really a rule. Part of the point of a rule set is to give players a way to agree on how they will play the game, how they will play and engage each other, how they will treat each other and how they will hold each other accountable. This rule doesn’t do that. I have no idea after reading this rule how I should and can engage in screening either on or off ball. I understand that being more detailed also means a longer rule set, but frankly I’d pick clarity over vague words.

Rules need to be observable. We need to know what we’re looking for, how will we know an "obstruction" when we see it? What does prolonged mean? What does “safe” mean? Is it “prolonged” if a screener controls a player's front wheel and direction of movement for more than 3 seconds? Is an “unsafe” screen stopping so suddenly (“shortstopping”) that a player behind has no time to prevent a t-bone or hitting the screeners back wheel, even though the player is attempting to not hit the screener and visible breaking as hard as they can, or maybe they didn't even have time to break? As in the screener isn't giving another player enough stopping distance? Also, I'm guessing, although it’s not clear, that this is only for off ball screening? If a player has possession of the ball, then what?

A lot of interpretation work has already been done by the NAH and by the many experienced players and refs who are using it and think its great, the problem is, that interpretation is not captured in this version of the rule, all I keep getting from anyone is, "we've been testing these for months! We've talked to a lot of experienced players! Everyone likes it, once they understand it, trust us!" Okay, but that doesn't help me understand what the hell this rule is and how it should be called and how I, my club, and my region should use it.

If the NAH is in a hurry to get this rule out for this season’s play, and they just can’t wait, I’d be cool with passing it if they acknowledge the fact that it needs a lot of rewriting for clarity and specificity.

I thought the videos on the NAH site, http://www.nahardcourt.com/playtesting-proposed-rule-changes-obstruction/, explained it quite well to me.

I thought it was quite clearly communicated that the rule doesn't apply when the screened player is carrying the ball:

§ – This movement, referred to as “screening” or “picking,” will be defined as blocking an opponent to gain access to the ball, blocking them from challenging the player in possession of the ball, or preventing them from free and open movement to gain a defensive position on the court.

(edit: this is in response to Jenny's post.)

I guess my question is then, are we allowed to set more "active" screens for players in possession, including things like shortstopping, and other more "unsafe" screens (which would be considered an obstruction if off ball)?

From a screening point of view you can do whatever you want to the player in possession, in this ruleset.

I'm really offended that you think "I'm just trying to get the rule out in time". I wrote this 15 months ago. Kruse shot it down because he didn't think people were ready. It's been refined, debated, discussed and rewritten plenty of times since then.

There is a general level of understanding of "traffic flow" as dustin said that is required to fully comprehend this rule. It's going to have to be something that becomes part of the education of new players, to the point they won't even second guess it the way veteran players do.

You don't see 8 year old soccer/hockey/lacrosse players stopping dead in front of an opponent to let their teammate pass. It's something inherent to the way the sport is played and taught, which is why it's only mentioned minimally and vaguely in rulesets.

dude don't be offended. if someone tells you it needs more clarity, it's usually not their fault, and i don't think the implication is that NAH is trying to pull a fast one.

Personally, i don't think that this rule was a huge success at GLWC, there were a few weird calls with it, by some of the best refs in the world (Will and Bruce). it probably still needs work... and maybe passing it in its unclear state is better than not passing it, as it will have the season to mature (or get thrown out after 2015).

Maybe if you guys made the court smaller it would be easier to call? Like, what if instead of 110 feet, you made it 40 feet, and then whenever someone pedaled or tried to move, you could call it and it would definitely be a good call??

haha. yeah.

I'm sorry I offended you and I can understand it probably feels frustrating having some inexperienced player attack all your hard work. I think part of my frustration is coming from feeling like I'm completely out of the loop, I don't understand what the goals are that NAH is working towards in regards to bike polo, how they understand the rule set, etc. and I'd like to understand. And I obviously have my own opinions about what I like about and want in a rule set, etc.

I think discussions like these are really useful because what might seem completely obvious to some people, especially people who've been more involved in the process, might be completely confusing and unclear to others, and these kinds of hashing outs, (and yes, grumbling! ;) ) help people, like me, start to get a better picture of what's going on and also get's us all thinking.

don't ever feel sorry for what you said to him. he's the human version of that africa sally struthers ad, he just complains that nobody take him seriously in this rap game.

Yes, you are. A player in possession of the ball is fair game. Getting in their way is part of your job as a defensive player, and offensive players in possession of the ball have the responsibility of having their head up with the knowledge that they are going to be challenged.

I understand what you are saying about the need for clarity. It just gets really intense when you start thinking about writing a ruleset that is 150 pages long with a 35 page index. The interference rule for the NHL has 1250 words, alone. The NAH hopes to try to clear things up in different ways, like with the presented videos, etc..

What the NAH is after with these rules is to produce the best quality of polo at the North American Championship as possible. I think the idea is that the rules and concepts that are put forth and summarized in the ruleset are disseminated throughout the regions and clubs by those who understand them better, to those who understand them less. It isn't ultimately important that they're adhered to 100% at every regional qualifier, and that is evident by the fact that the NAH has given flexibility in the ruleset this year to each tournament's organizers.

What is important, is that the game slowly progresses, and players try to focus on the core concepts that define game play.

Are you intentionally trying to get in and STAY IN someone's way? If the answer is yes, do they have the ball? If the answer is no, then you're probably in the wrong. If you yell to your teammate, "I got your screen!", you're probably in the wrong. This is the core of the rule.

The intricacies of it can be better understood over time. Locally, your interpretation is mildly flexible. And if there are ever any questions, it is super easy to give the scenario, draw a diagram in Ms-Paint, and ask for clarification. That's kind of how the polo community has learned a ton of rules that are now widely understood even though they're not spelled out in 1200 words.

I would personally take the time to answer any questions that you had about understanding the rule, and consider any criticisms. I truly don't believe it will take long to get everyone on the same page. The community is small enough where we can all learn this stuff from each other. And if it doesn't jive with you or the people you play with, then you don't have to play by it. But on a national competitive level, we want the best polo possible and I definitely believe this is how we get there.

thread closed.

Nick, this is the best explanation ever, thanks, very helpful :)

Stop it!

Love you Nick Kruse!


You cut it out before I cut that bun off the top of your head!

Is the crease even being voted on? I apologize for my ignorance but I haven't yet seen a copy of whats being voted on. It'd be cool to take some of the pressure off the regional reps by posting the amended document somewhere where us laymans could at least check it out in its entirety.

You can find a changelog via this link: http://mergely.com/JGzhRxNq/

And a clean copy of the new proposed rule set here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7kv3mwXjLYXb05qeEtZUkdCeHFCd1RObWJiZFV...

And yes, the crease is being voted on.


Thanks god you guys fixed the spacing issue after §, that was driving me nuts.

You asked to see the changes.

We've played the obstruction rule at pick-up for the last few weeks and while I was initially very skeptical, I think it leads to a massive improvement in how much fun the game is to play.

Instead of the best player on a team getting the ball and moving up the court without opposition, because his team mates are screening, that player has to have some seriously fancy ball skills to move forward, or they can pass. It turns the game into a proper team sport with sick passes galore!

Not only do they have to pass, but the quicker they do it the better, because if the opposition is marking their players (like happens when defending in every other team sport) then the passes will be shut down quickly.

Also, I have found myself actually getting puffed, because instead of just riding about getting in everyone's way, I have to push myself around the court to get into the space, so I can be in a good spot to receive a pass.

While it is still confusing for me, and I often find myself in a totally useless position on the court (which in the past would have been a great position, because I could move into a screen), I have seen so much more great play from everyone in Melbourne. It has also seen really great teams who are made up of less experienced players coming out with a win when they are facing a team with one really great individual player.

I reckon this rule will truly mark the end of people trying to make runs for glory up the side of the court.

It's been surprisingly easy for everyone to get the hang of. You can straight up tell when you are doing the wrong thing, and so can everyone else on the court. It will give the assistant ref something to actually look out for when they are monitoring off-ball play. Besides, if the person with the ball is moving up the court unopposed and unchased, that will generally only be because the defense is being screened.

I think it will only be difficult to ref initially, when people are still wrapping their heads around the changed style of play.

As for the crease rule, I have never really played a tourney where that was implemented well, so I will let other more educated people comment on it.

Well maybe the next thread on here, if this rule set passes, can be where we share how we're playing and interpreting the rule. It would be interesting and useful to see how different clubs/players are thinking about it and executing it so we don't develop our own "style" of the rule in a vacuum, it might even help the rule move forward for a next revision, etc.

If my understanding of the rule is correct, I think the word OR should be added to 8.7.2 - If a “screen” is set that is stationary OR momentary, and safe, an obstruction penalty will not be assessed

Also I think 3 seconds in the crease will create a lot of marginal calls. Slightly longer, say 5 seconds, would still prevent double goalie whilst giving enough time for people to get into and out of the crease to make a play without the '3 seconds ref' complaints that are going to start being made.

last point, I dont think you can have the crease without obstruction. Forcing defenders out, and letting attackers screen them, is only going to increase the efficiency of double pick plays.

Knt wrote:

last point, I dont think you can have the crease without obstruction. Forcing defenders out, and letting attackers screen them, is only going to increase the efficiency of double pick plays.

You've got it!

We played with "Stationary & Momentary vs Stationary or Momentary". This is where I might need to add some clarification because of the perception of what a block is. In my mind, if the block IS stationary, it needs to be momentary. In a situation where Player A1 has the ball, rides toward the defender B1, then drops the ball to player A2, and continues moving, they can "block" the defender by simply continuing to roll forward, without speeding up or slowing down or turning on front of the defender and it's not obstruction. So this is where OR would make sense. But I also feel it can't be defined as a screen, because it's just circumstantial. The player strategically found themselves in the way and continued moving to get OUT of the way. This means it wouldn't even be considered a screen, although it has the same effect.

I do like OR better though, for folks who want to nitpick it to this degree.

As for the 3-5 second crease. Upon enforcement I'm going to be pretty lenient with the calls in certain situations. If a player has one wheel out, or isn't disrupting a play and is attempting to roll out of the crease in a natural way, I wouldn't call it. If a player is trying to push the limits of this rule and is using it to a clear advantage, I'd enforce it strictly. This, to me, is just like anything else. Sometimes it needs to be strict and sometimes it doesn't need to be strict. Referee discretion is important here, just like with every other rule.

Yes. No-one is expected to actually count 3 seconds (just like the 2 seconds on the ball joint). It's a tool to allow refs to punish players who obviously abuse it.

For what it's worth our club went down to Minneapolis and participated in the 5v5 tourney there. Complete with crease and obstruction rules. No one in our club had ever played with those rules and few had bothered to read them. This seemed to be commonplace for most teams there.

Joe explained the new rules, everyone grumbled about it, asked 100 questions and then we played.

The crease rule was enforced and adhered to almost instantly. There was very opportunistic double goalie action when big shots were coming in (a good thing) but by and large the gameplay was faster and cleaner. No hopping frenzies in front of the goalie, no dumb slashes, can openers (looking at you Wil!) and pass heavy shooting strategies seemed to (finally) be the preferred strategy.

The obstruction rule was not as clearly enforced. Some refs got it some didnt. I saw it getting called about 50% of the time. Some refs adopted a "let them play" thing and it was all fair and fine. Honestly after a while, you give up on the whole hard picking hopping into people because it seems (at least to me) less effective now. That's the best way to get rid of types of play. Make it less effective. Double goalie is unbelievably effective sans-crease why WOULDNT you do it?? Now it just seems kind of silly to play 2 goalies with no score cap and longer games. The whole "score 3 quick ones turtle 90% of the game" just doesn't really work in this format, and I believe players will abandon this (previously effective strategy) in favour of plays that are more effective. NAH isn't reinventing polo, it's discouraging plays that people don't like, and coaxing a more pass heavy, fast, skillful game out of the ruleset.

I really think people just need to try it. Verbalizing the obstruction rule is getting everyone up in arms. I understand the need to have it clearly defined, but realistically, it didn't dramatically effect the game. It made the game cleaner, faster and safer. No more intentional tbones on unsuspecting or vulnerable (ie mid-shot) players was a big plus.

Thanks Minneapolis, and to Joe for the great tourney. Playing with the old ruleset back home seems strange now.


Thanks Zach!


All you nay sayers shut up and lets test this for 2015/16 and then debate it.

My example in this debate is the ball jointing rule, it's wording and reffing has gotten better over time. Just give these rules a chance and see how they change the game.

Just for the record, I voted yes, for this very same reason, even after all my nay saying ;p

Ruleset v4.5 passes for the 2015 season. There will be a post outlining the vote and comments that came with it as well as next steps. Expect updates!

Oh la la. Looking forward to the update. After trailing this rule down here in Tasmania we certainly like the difference it makes to the style of play.

Edit: Update - http://www.nahardcourt.com/ruleset-v4-5-for-the-2015-season/

When are you considered to be in the stationary position for a pick? Tripod? Or just stopped? If I missed it in here then sorry. But I think some of the videos don't work because of the crease rule( more than the one pointed out)

The videos are just to show what would now be called as obstruction. As it wasn't played with a crease rule, it's not part of the focus of these videos.

Yes, often the crease would come into play before obstruction even matters. But we couldn't be too picky about where we found examples of the rule.

Has 8.7 Obstruction super-seeded 10.9 Trapping?

No. Rule 8.7 is a bike handeling penalty and can be commited without any contact. Rule 8.9 is a bodily contact penalty and is assessed when a player physically holds another player using their body.