Did you know there is a hierarchy to how all penalties should be called? Did you know there are 13 different penalties that can be given as illegal procedures, all of which have a separate, unique verbal cue? Did you know that aside from 1 exception, all Delay of Game majors are assessed to a team’s captain? Do you know the protocol for having a skater remain in the box if she is on her 7th penalty or has committed a Misconduct that requires further review? Are you aware of the importance of a No Pass/No Point signal to the score of any game? Furthermore, are you aware of the intricacies of point scoring, when exactly points are counted, why they may not be counted, and so on and so forth?
As if officiating isn’t already super easy (Haaahhhhhhh…), there is a LOT more that happens behind the scenes that many of you may not be aware of. To start things off as simple as possible, today I’d like to go over some standardized practices for officials that will hopefully help baby zebras, skaters, fans, and announcers improve their understanding of the game! So, if you’re officiating somewhere this weekend or even going to watch a bout and you’d like to know what’s up, take a moment to expand your knowledge of all the little stuff that matters much more than you may think!
What It REALLY Was: The Hierarchy of Calls
While watching a game, have you ever wondered why an official called somebody for a High Block when the girl clearly hit the opposing skater with her hand (let’s say accidentally)? HELLO! Forearms!? Amiright!? Actually, there exists a universal, standardized hierarchy for all calls that referees around the world who officiate under the WFTDA rule set SHOULD be following. This hierarchy of calls is ranked in terms of severity, and should dictate exactly what penalties are given in any situation. That hierarchy is as follows:
- Gross Misconduct/Misconduct
- Blocking to the Head
- Position on the Track (Out of Play, Out of Bounds, Direction of Game Play)
- Illegal Target Zone (Back Block, Low Block)
- Illegal Blocking Zone (Blocking With the Head, Forearms, Elbows)
- All other non ‐ contact penalties (such as Cutting, Skating Out of Bounds, Illegal Procedures, Insubordination)
So, in the event of the aforementioned wrist to head incident: Blocking to the Head > Illegal Blocking Zone (Forearms). So that ref made the correct, standardized call! Let’s consider at some more!
Okay, so what if Red 444 commits a Major Back Block on Blue 555… with her Head!? Is it a Back Block, or a Blocking with the Head? Check your hierarchy!
- Illegal TARGET Zone (Back) > Illegal Blocking Zone (Head)
- So the call is: *Tweet* Red 444, Back Block, Major!
Alright, now what if Blue 909 is chasing Red Jammer 25 feet in front of the pack and she trips her? Major Low Block? Check your hierarchy!
- Position on the Track (Out of Play) > Illegal Target Zone (Feet/Legs)
- So the call is: *Tweet* Blue 909, Out of Play Block, Major!
Breaking Habits: Blanket Calls
Did you know not every Illegal Procedure is actually called an Illegal Procedure? “Illegal Procedure” is what many refer to as a blanket call. If I blow my whistle at poor Red 343 and send her off for an Illegal Procedure Major, what does that tell her? Nothing. It tells her she did something vaguely bad that she has every right to be very confused by. Now, what if I blew my whistle at Red 343 and yelled “False Start, Major!” WHILE simultaneously making the Illegal Procedure hand signal? What does that tell her? Ahhhh, she and everybody near enough to hear knows EXACTLY why she is going to the box now. Blanket calls are a bad habit that should be avoided the best that you can.
*Tweet* Blue 111, Failure to Reform (with “Out of Play” hand signal), Major
*Tweet* Red 222, Failure to Return (with “Out of Play” hand signal), Major
*Tweet* Blue 333, Illegal Re-entry (with “Illegal Procedure” Hand signal), Major
*Tweet* Red 444, False Start (with “Illegal Procedure” hand signal), Major
*Tweet* Blue 555, Destroying the Pack (with “Out of Play” hand signal), Major
*Tweet* Red 666, Stopped Assist (with “Direction of Gameplay”, hand signal), Major
*Tweet* Blue 777, Star Pass Violation (with “Illegal Procedure” hand signal), Major
Believe it or not, there are a lot of them, check out the complete list of WFTDA Derby Cues to learn more.
We Can’t see You: Signal High!
Even if you don’t feel the most confident right now, take this time early on in your career to develop good practices! The Penalty Trackers, players, inside track officials, fans, and announcers can’t see what penalty you are given if you are signalling it down by your chest or stomach. Hold that sign up around your shoulder, or higher!
EXTRA CREDIT BONUS: Did you know that referees do not have to give ANY warnings before they issue a penalty, EXCEPT for Out of Play Majors?
184.108.40.206 – A warning does not have to be issued in order for a penalty to be given. The exception to this is Out of Play Penalties for failure to reform and failure to return, before which warnings must be given. (See Section 6.10.6, Section 6.10.7, Section 6.10.12, Section 6.10.13, and Section 6.10.16 for exceptions.)