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NAH Rules 2013 Feedback

While it's nice to see a new ruleset, I think it now has a lot of loopholes and grey areas, and important things have been removed.

I appreciate a lot of work has gone into it, but I wouldn't be able to recommend this ruleset to tournament organisers, or as a reference to new players, as it currently stands.

I'd also find it hard to ref to this current ruleset, due to the loopholes, and lack of clarifications of certain things.

I'd really like this ruleset, which some additions, to become a world standard that we call play to this summer.

I'll list all the ones I can think of so far:

1) Bicycles. No mention of what sort of bicycles are allowed. Therefore this would allow recumbents, trikes, etc...

2) Game Format, Joust. No mention of how the ref is to start the game. "3,2,1 polo" or "3,2,1 whistle" or "ready, ready, whistle" etc. Not having this can lead to inconsistant starts, and therefore an unfair situation for players. I think it should define "ready, ready, whistle" as the standard.

3) Game Format, Joust. No mention of how a player is to joust. So they don't have to maintain a straight line to the ball, they don't have to share a common mallet side, don't have to peel off to a certain side. Not having this could lead to safety issues, as it allows left on right jousts, and other undesirable situations.

4) Gameplay, Goals. No definition of what shuffles, tosses, or wrist shots are. These should be included as footnotes, otherwise new players won't know what they are, and could lead to unfair situations.

5) Gameplay, Goals. Who gets the ball after a goal? Might seem obvious, but it should be defined.

6) Gameplay, Tap in. No definition of what a tap in is. This should be included as a footnote.

7) Gameplay, Penalities. No definition of how "Incidental or situational infractions will result in a forfeiture of ball possession to the innocent team" will be implemented. I know the process when play is stopped is mentioned above, but I think mentioning a reset would clarify this.

8) Gameplay, Penalties, High-Sticking "A High Stick infraction will be called anytime a mallet is lifted over shoulder level". Really? At every single occurrence? Is that the really the intended effect? Even when there is no safety issue (for example a player on they own, with no players around, batting down a high pass). I'd like to see this clarified, if the NAH wants this called every time (IMO potentially ruining the game, for no reason), or if it's just going to be ignored (it was at Eastsides). If it's just going to be ignored, it shouldn't be in the ruleset.

9) Gameplay, Penalties, High-Sticking "Competitors will not be penalized if contact is made during their normal swinging motion". Clarification needed. Is this an exception to the High Stick rule, so if it's a swing, high sticking is ok? Or does this just mean that contact, when swinging below the shoulder, is fine, but no above?

10) Gameplay, Penalties. No mention of what contact is allowed. Only that non-like contact isn't. So for example is headbutting allowed? Is kicking allowed? Are forearms allowed? Are shoulders allowed? Are checks to the back allowed. Not having this produces lots of grey areas, and dangerous situations.

11) Gameplay, Penalties. No mention of delayed penalties. Does this mean the NAH is now not allowed referees to delay a call, while they see if the fouled team can keep possesion? I think this would be a real step backwards, delayed penalties have become part of good ref's calls.

12) Gameplay. Penalties. No mention of horizontal surfaces. Is it ok for players in goal to hold the goal? Is it ok to hold the boards? Is it ok to put feet on top of their mallet, etc...

13) Gameplay. Penalties. No mention of whether it's ok to carry a ball, by the use of gravity. Egg-and-spoon, etc. This has been banned in other rulesets.

14) Gameplay. Penalties. Toppling penalty is not included. So is it now ok to take down another player, when you are going down?

15) Gameplay. Delay of game. No definition of what a delay of game is. Is it ok to hit the ball out of court on purpose? Is it ok to trap the ball against the boards, to stop other teams getting to it? Is it ok to pickup the ball?

16) Gameplay. No mention if a game can be postponed, if a player is seriously injured, etc. This is very useful for organisers.

17) Facilities. Where should the tap in location be? Again obvious, but should be defined.

I'm sure more will come to me, and others may have some.

Nailed it. It's too short, not specific enough. Why you don't work off the draft we had before is beyond me.

The set clearly states that "offensive redirection of the ball off of equipment will not count as a goal". So like, if it hits my wheel but I don't "flick" my wheel and then it goes in, the goal doesn't count? Since when?

It also states that backing up into an opponent's "path" is illegal. It doesn't define a path, nor had our sport ever had one.

Defining goalie contact without defining a goalie or a crease...

Nothing about leaning on goals, no toppling, no explanation of a delayed penalty, no definition of arm extension... I'm at a loss really. Why not just build off of the draft.

What we needed was MORE specification and MORE technical writing, not less.


9) Gameplay, Penalties, High-Sticking "Competitors will not be penalized if contact is made during their normal swinging motion". Clarification needed. Is this an exception to the High Stick rule, so if it's a swing, high sticking is ok? Or does this just mean that contact, when swinging below the shoulder, is fine, but no above?

To clarify this point, yes it was intended for shots on the ball to be exempt. Much like in hockey. A big slapper is fine, but a mallet above the shoulder to play an airborne ball is not.

Yep, all good points too.

Offensive rebounds should count, IMO. As long as you aren't adding momentum. But I can see this maybe being easier to ref.

Yes, I didn't notice the path/backing up rule. That's a very dangerous precedent. In my mind that's a t-bone by the player riding into them, not the player backing up. Can the NAH clarify if they are proceeding down a route towards "right-of-way" rules.

Yep, no definition of a goalie, another grey area there.

Ok, so the clarification is good. But the rule makes little sense to me. So we are ok with one of the most dangerous situations in our sport. I've seen someone had their sight affected, by a swing from a shot. But we aren't ok with a much less dangerous situation, trying to play an airbourne ball?

Now I think if you allow contact on the swing, you have to also make facecages mandatory (unpopular, I'm sure), or at least make it clear in the rule they are recommended, and anyone without one is doing so at their own risk.

I can't x2 the original poster's entry. But I'd x2 yours, John.

And shaft shots? For reals?

Thanks Christian.

Actually I'm ok with shaft shots, as I don't think it suffers from the same problem shuffles has, in that it allows lame goals. An intended shaft shot takes skill.

But i imagine lots of people won't be.

John H wrote:

Thanks Christian.

Actually I'm ok with shaft shots, as I don't think it suffers from the same problem shuffles has, in that it allows lame goals. An intended shaft shot takes skill.

But i imagine lots of people won't be.

but an accidental one doesn't. and i'll wager dollars to donuts that theyre the more common results. rewarding accidents not skills.

I would like to see the rules give official judgement on how to play out spots for each qualifier. As in, this year the Midwest and Cascadia both get 9 spots for North Americans. Using Podium, we will get 4 teams tied for 9th. I would like NAH to put it into the official rules on how to play it out, unlike last year where it was different at every tournament.


This will happen for many of the spots.

Eastside's was 7 spots reserved. Double elim bracket results in a tie at 7. Those teams that tie had to play a final round with time limit.

For the 4 way tie, i would say run a single elim bracket. But, again this is a clarification that should be made for certain.

The Bureaucrat in me wants concise ruleset that outlines every angle of the game, even if what a shuffle is seems obvious... it should be defined to remove any grey areas.(Using shuffle as an example of course)

My cup runeth over with blood and not wine

whoa, just noticed the right of way rule. that has some serious implications for the game. is it also illegal to ride forward into someone's path? and please explain the difference if that is the intention. you guys had a really well written rule set a couple years ago but you dumbed it down before you approved it. the trend continues I suppose.

I think the backing up thing is one of the biggest holes. "Path" is not defined, nor are the constraints of this rule.

If someone is 15 feet away and angling to try to take the wall line, is it a foul for me to back my wheel up to the wall and close that off? How about 10 feet away? 5 feet away? ...

I agree with "reverse t-bone" being a penalty, but when you start talking about taking away paths... that needs a lot of clarification.

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014

aftermarket accessories? so if my custom built polo bike features a 5 hole guard built in...

Yeah I don't get the after market thing either. I had v brake posts welded onto my bike, so is it illegal now?

Also, I don't get this whole hopping excessive thing. I see people hopping all the time ex: Charlie in COMO hopped all weekend in Battle for midwest Bench minor 2 and I thought it was impressive, not dangerous. And if they mention hopping, then what about an endo 180? No mention of that in the rules... I guess you can only use that method and/or turning to turn around, but if you hop too much you get penalized?

Totally agree with a rule set that is super detailed (like the old ones) thus reducing all the gray area that this rule set contains. It is too vague and appears hastily written...

The hopping thing is only intended to limit hopping into another player's bike. It's in the bike-on-bike contact section.

You can hop as much as you want, but you can't hop your pedals into my spokes.

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014

Good god, as if the rules are not causing enough of an uproar, but to limit hopping.... NAH would have a mutiny on their hands.

My cup runeth over with blood and not wine

All wheels must remain on the ground at all times! For safety reasons...

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014

Won't somebody think of the children!!!

My cup runeth over with blood and not wine

I don't see any rules about elbows. Can I break someone's ribs at the qualifier?

Who pulled these rules together specifically? Was there a steering group?

Some of the decisions made seem arbitrary and there are obvious holes?!

What's the reasoning? This ruleset definitely seems like a step backwards compared with the v2 draft (which was used for the Worlds last year, LO2012, AHBPC2013, etc, without many issues)?

Also: why adopt a T&Cs paragraphing structure (which is deliberately designed to be difficult to read/digest)?!

Pretty disappointed all round to be honest and wouldn't feel comfortable reffing this ruleset as-is.

It would appear to be the NAH rules committee, see here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1dIg00XF2r7IcqLfXQb8hyDPZ6QgjwRApbYrjzlT...

Who's responsible for throwing all the old terminology/structure out of the window though?

The v2 draft group/process/rules made much more sense in my opinion.

With this latest re-write it's like the NAH is trying to make the rules hard to follow!


While I'm trying to remain positive and constructive, this new ruleset seems a real step backwards.

I'd be interested in some comment from the NAH, and the rules committee, on this thread.

The forum is not an official channel for communication in the eyes of NAH, as I am assuming from this comment made by the secretary in the Eastside Qualifier thread. No guarantees that anyone will join the debate, but Eric Kremin is pretty good about getting involved on here usually. He is the rules czar these days.

  • IMG_20130418_104825.JPG

So, how can one officially communicate with the NAH, as someone who wants to ref to the ruleset, and wants clarifications, in a public manner, so other refs can see the answers?

I do not know if there is a way to do it publicly, but I sure wish that there was one. Not everything should be an open forum, but I do prefer to keep things out from behind closed doors from time to time.

I've already fired off an email to rules@ and ref@ too.

"The forum is not an official communication channel for communication in the eyes of the NAH"...this made me laugh, you know there's a dedicated NAH area on here, right?

Kev talked last year about officially phasing out the NAH section. The FACT is that this isn't an official forum for NAH communication. Lomax is 100% correct. The communications committee and any of the other members post here at their own discretion, and are not obligated to.

Eric Kremin headed the rules committee. He invited me and some others to get together and hash out improvements to the rule set. We used the v2 draft version of the rules found here: http://leagueofbikepolo.com/sites/leagueofbikepolo.com/files/NAH-rules-v...

There were lengthy discussions working through a lot of issues, including toppling, grabbing onto the goal, specifics of arm extension, time outs, mechanicals, trapping, and a whole lot more stuff. It was my impression that we were going to be improving on the existing set.

At the end, I said that I would love to be a part of the technical writing involved in the additions. There were others in the group that showed keen ability in wording and attention to detail.

I was told that the "approved ruleset" was written by Zach Roberts from Louisville, who was not a part of any of the discussions that were had in the group that was put together by Kremin. So how could he have the specifics of what we discussed? We talked about some really good shit.

The writing that was done was very good. I feel like a lot of the issues are about what's *not* there as opposed to what is.

Saying that "deflections off of offensive equipment don't count as goals" is not good technical writing. Because some deflections do count, and some don't. Stating that players have a path without defining it is not good technical writing. Stating that there is a goalie without defining them is not good writing.

Not to mention I think that some things from the v2 draft need to be re-written to be better understood. A ruleset should be so specific that someone who has never seen or played the game would be able to recreate it perfectly.


What do you think was good about the writing?

"Should any elimination round game result in a tie, at the end of regulation time, there will be a rejoust. The winner will be determined by golden goal."

What's wrong with just saying "First team to score, wins." instead of "The winner will be determined by golden goal." ?
Just seems wise to use simple self explanitory language rather than introduce terms which may need definition.

Also seems wise to limit the use of words which allow/require interpretation. Referees should ideally not have to interpret or judge intent of a player, etc.

What was the impetus for writing and adopting a new ruleset? What was wrong with the old one?

Now for specific comments:

On the joust: there is nothing about lefties, exit paths, or even attempting for the ball. This legalizes an easy way to intentionally set up dangerous crashes (not going for the ball and attempting to block the other jouster right in front of the ball). Lefties could joust head on with a righty or someone could come across your line at high speed by going left of the ball rather than right. This rule legalizes intentional creating of dangerous crashes and fails to make illegal unintentional dangerous crashes (someone jousting a lefty for the first time, for example).

On goals: what is a strike? Is it contact with the mallet? That's what it seems like in context. If that's the case, then the ruleset expressly contradicts itself by saying "if last offensive touch = round end, then goal" while also saying "doesn't matter if off round end, if redirection, then not goal". You'd have to clarify what a strike is in a way that includes redirections off of equipment.

On lodged balls: imagine that on a joust, a player rides up, wins the joust, takes a shot and hits it clear out of the court without hitting someone on the other team. According to the lodged ball rule as it stands now, nobody would get the ball because there is no "second to last team to touch the ball". Only one team has touched the ball thus far. So what should be done there? It's completely unclear.

On tapping in: What constitutes a tap-in? Can I do it with my fist if I've dropped my mallet? What about my foot?

On penalties: what is a 'situational infraction'? I have no idea what that means. What is a balljoint? It's totally opaque. I'm also unhappy to see that both checking the back and headbutting are both legal. Not safe plays. And a minor point that made me laugh a bit... the use of the word innocent. As if committing a penalty, even if by accident, means that you're guilty. Harsh! Who does the sentencing? Does NAH have an offshore detention camp? Also, the word incidental is using in the exact opposite way it should be in the non-like contact section. The contact that should be illegal is non-incidental, that is to say, contact that had a major part in the consequences of the play. Incidental contact is contact that doesn't change the outcome. For example: if my front wheel slightly brushes your back wheel when we're both away from the ball. Nobody dabs, nobody slows down, nobody gets an advantage. That's incidental contact.

On facilities: you could have an NAH legal court with the goalmouths touching on center court and encompassing the ball. The court would be the right dimensions and the goals would be at least 6 feet from the back boards.

All-in-all, this is a huge step backwards, like others have said and others will say.

Some more great points there.

pete wrote:

On lodged balls: imagine that on a joust, a player rides up, wins the joust, takes a shot and hits it clear out of the court without hitting someone on the other team. According to the lodged ball rule as it stands now, nobody would get the ball because there is no "second to last team to touch the ball". Only one team has touched the ball thus far. So what should be done there? It's completely unclear.

I don't see where the confusion is. In that case, the ball is awarded to whichever team last possessed the ball in the previous game on the court.

If this happens in the first game of a tournament, polo is cancelled.

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014

Is it possible that the new set is to be incorporated with the old set?

What are the reasons to do that?

The conciseness of this rule set certainly makes it seem more like a corollary or update to an existing ruleset, rather than a comprehensive ruleset in its own right.

If this is just taken as an update to the previous ruleset, it seems more comprehensive.

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014

Thank you.

If you add the new rules to the version two rules it makes more sense.

Also, some of you fuckers are ruthless. The people making rules, decisions, and running this operation aren't paid. Us, this whole game is an experiment that we all participate in.

Take it easy Brah, its fucking polo and not the end of the world.

This assumes that the "fuckers" in question have not invested equal amounts of time into the rules/bike polo.

This discussion is valid and sometimes people disagree, no biggie.

"Fuckers" was meant in jest.

Rules will always change, freaking out doesn't change them. Again, this read as an adjacent document to the version two rules that wasn't named properly.

Just wait until there is a true world wide governing body and you have to pay them to play by their rules, especially the ones you don't like. We aren't far off from having a manual similar to the NHL.


We are a million miles from that!

Nobody is freaking out.

We are trying to offer constructive feedback. Both of us have spent time building rulesets, and reffing games (Jono probably more than me).

I would not be willing to ref to this ruleset, in it's current state. and I wouldn't be that happy playing to it either.

That means at least one ref less, come October.

I would also like to see a clear statement on cranking a slapshot from just before half after a stoppage in play. It's pretty easy to score a goal this way and the rules are a bit ambiguous.

Eg. "For all stoppages of play blah blah blah time will resume when the team in possession of the ball crosses into their offensive half.
>>The team in possession of the ball may not score a goal until at least one of their players have crossed into their offensive half at the moment that the ball is shot. If a goal is scored in this manner, it will be disallowed and a turnover will result.<<"

even as an advocate for a short and concise ruleset, i though there was an error in the PDF when i got it and it was only four pages.

Being that the NAH is probably not going to issue a new ruleset now that the first qualifier has already happened, I think they can probably do a lot of good by adding in footnotes. That said, I really wish that the rules had numbers. It's nice to be able to reference a numbered-subordered rule, and have others be able to find the exact lines I'm talking about (and vice versa).

A shorter ruleset is good, and instead of more rules, having more notes for refs and organizers, is IMHO a good goal to have.

RE: Joust
I have yet to hear an equitable solution to lefty-righty jousts. Having the team with the lefty switch seems unfair if the lefty is the fastest. Moreover, it would do nothing in a scenario where a team was all lefties. I have two suggestions:

1 - Half-court joust - Player from each team meets at half court at the tap-in location and race to the ball at the center. This joust accommodates any configuration of left or right handed players, and guarantees a safe exit lane. This can even be done right v right. Just have both players go to opposite tap-in locations and joust to the center. The end effect is that the safe lane is always towards your own defensive side, and neither player is disadvantaged by which hand they play with.

2 - Face offs.

I don't know if people really care about the joust. It's more of a ceremonial part of the game IMO.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

I, for one, don't understand the desire to have a short ruleset. Hardcourt bike polo is an extremely complicated game that is evolving very, very quickly. If there are new issues to address, the ruleset should get longer and it seems like we keep on finding new issues to address. For comparison, look at the ruleset of any major sport... it's enormous and has very technical language. Why shouldn't we want our ruleset to be similar?

It seems that you suggest (correct me if I'm wrong here) the answer to this question is that having a longer, more complex ruleset makes it such that organizing and reffing are harder and we don't want that. If you didn't mean to present this answer, I've heard it from others in the past. I think this answer presents a false dilemma. It's not like either the ruleset is simple or reffing is hard. We can (and should, in my opinion) have a complex ruleset but also recognize that we need resources that help folks understand it and be comfortable interpreting it as a ref. I think it was Zach H (of ATX and hardcourtbikepolo.org) who was trying to compile video examples of each infraction. I think this is the right approach. I also wrote a short quiz on the NAH v2 ruleset that dealt with some of the issues being discussed here.

However, simplifying the ruleset is not an instant solution to the reffing problem. No matter what the ruleset is, we still need players to respect the refs and we need refs to be decisive and alert. A simpler ruleset won't achieve these goals. Training them and providing monetary assistance as an incentive will help to achieve these goals. Charge us more for qualifiers so we can pay the damn refs already.

My apologies. I should restate myself. I should not have said "short" but rather, I think that the good goal is to be concise. The rules should be as long as they need to be to clearly define infractions, but at one point clarity is lost if rule become overly verbose.

With everything you write about refs, compensation, and training, I agree 100%.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

I see what you mean, It should be concise without having block text paragraphs for each rule.

My cup runeth over with blood and not wine

no jousting in the valley!

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Yes please!

I honestly don't buy the "we aren't paid" bit. I respect the time people spend (and have spent) to make things happen (I personally have done the same), but most great and worthy causes are done unpaid. Just look at all of the great open source software out there.

The issue is that the current system doesn't support contribution from a vast and wide network of smart, talented, and willing participants.

It is a concentrated hierarchy and it is full of bottlenecks.

remember when menace was around to tell us how to do it. and sort of predicted these messes?

oh, don't worry... he still around, laying back in the cut, laughin.

The Dwight Eisenhower of Bike Polo?

My cup runeth over with blood and not wine

I worked with menace on the NAH rules committee last year, and i think we worked really well as a group, real consensus-like, drafting the "v2" rules that sorta got used for EHBPC and WHBPC last year. We had a half dozen conference calls and lots of google doc editing back and forth.

Ultimately, i think menace helped undermine his own efforts with his internet banter after the draft got released. I like the candy-eating motherfucker, but some people don't know how to be constructive online*. in other words, i don't think he's exempt from this mess (and neither am i) ...

*EDIT: unless they're giving relationship advice.

If I'd been given a vote on a rule set, it would have been:
General Gameplay Rules
>Teams of 3.
>15 minute games
>First to 5 goals, wins.
>To start, each team waits at their end and joust for the ball at center court after a countdown.
>A goal can only be scored by hitting it with the end of the mallet.
>If you put your foot down, you must tap in at centre before re-entering play.
>After scoring a team must return to their half and wait for an opposition player or ball to pass half way.

Safety Rules
>Like contact allowed: mallet on mallet, bike on bike and body on body. No ramming, pushing or grabbing.
>Keep your mallet down, watch your backswing.
>No malleting (mallet tripping tyres) or mallets in spokes
>No throwing mallets

All the rest are just excuses for people to get their panties all twisted up.