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Ruleset Modifications and Additions for 2014

Below are links to threads for each rule modification or addition that I’d initially like for people to discuss for the 2014 ruleset. The goal here is to get a public discussion going and give everyone the opportunity to contribute. After some time for discussion, I’ll make a new thread with polls on each rule issue to see where the community opinion sits. Following this, we'll begin the work of modifying and finalizing the language of the ruleset. Finally, I'll post the updated ruleset and give even MORE time for people to sift through it for things forgotten. Six months from now, we’ll have a modified ruleset for the 2014 season.

I'd like to add that I don't know at this time how NAH representation will factor into this. But we have a lot of time to work this out and I will always keep this thread updated with everything I know about how the process will unfold. It would be my preference to just work on getting the new ruleset completed and then have the representative body vote to approve it on the whole, given the participation of the constituency here on the forums. But I only like that because it sounds easy. Anyway, we'll figure this out and make sure it's passed on through this thread.

Here is the ruleset in its current form.

If there is a discussion you’d like to have about a rule that isn’t present here, email me: rules@nahardcourt.com. I will create a new thread and add it to this list.

1) High Sticking
2) The Future of the Shot
3) Unsportsmanlike Conduct
4) Restructuring the Time Out
5) Court Requirements and Game Format
6) Restarting Play After Out-of-Bounds Ball
7) Where to Start the Joust
8) Double Goalie/Addition of a Crease
9) Restarting Play After a Goal
10) Ball Jointing

Keep it focused, please. Help each other. Compromise. Change your opinions. Work it out. Keep in mind that these additions and modifications are for the NAH tournaments for 2014. <3

Thanks. I was about the spend the rest of the summer outside...

Nice work Nick

Thanks Kruse for taking this on. It's about as thankless as becoming a ref at a tournament with a bunch of unruly players on the court. People should try to make this thankless task as painless as possible for him and the rest of the folks working on rules improvements.

For example: instead of just complaining about an opinion you disagree with, try proposing an improved version of whatever rule is being discussed. Quote the existing rule and propose an alternative, or perhaps an improvement to the existing wording.

Another example: buy your refs and rules committee people a beer next time you see them.

Please be mindful that the eastside qualifier did not use the most current ruleset. There are players here that will not have any gameplay experience with the current ruleset until after NA's. Please do not forget about us and move too far forward until we have our chance with these rules enforced. This is not a stab at the NAH, I am very satisfied with how the ruleset reads and I look forward to tournament experience with v3.3.

You have to go out of town to get inside jokes.

should't there be a rule saying that there are three players to a team?

also something against standing next to the boards in the middle of the court, where you have to tap, thus avoiding someone else tapping... I have never seen this used but if two people go tap, one might linger around a bit to delay the other player...

if i was reffing and i saw someone making the effort thats what counts. i feel a dab is to remove yourself from the play/advantage for a bit. holding someone up shouldn't be an issue. but really i think this should be addressed. i've been in games where players just ride to the tap out and don't actually tap and return to play. i've never been bothered too much, because they have took themselves out of play. but i've heard mention of it as being sort of lazy.

As far as process to wrap this up goes...

Internet polling or voting has really big downsides.

Perhaps the lead refs from the qualifiers, LA and BM could be asked to review/edit the next draft and reach a consensus before it becomes public. Those people are clearly trusted authorities, as much as that exists in bike polo. They've put in hours on the court with a whistle. It also provides for rep across NA.

I'll be happy to help with that process (organize materials, take notes, send emails, host conf calls) as needed.

Your suggestion is in some ways what has been happening for the last couple of years. This current attempt is to include the public with greater transparency as opposed to closed door solutions. While I would be happy to engage in rule discussions outside of the internet I would also like to see everyone who is interested in being involved have the chance to do that.

At risk of dwelling on the past, what are your thoughts on why we're having to go through this a few months after those rules were declared official for 2013?

For what it's worth, Jeff Boyd was the lead ref in Phoenix 2011 and 2012. I know he's smart and passionate and very reasonable. Dillman had the job in my region this year. If those guys endorse a set of rules I would feel confident they're good rules.

Getting everyone's opinion generates a lot of noise. The people who ref and officiate tournaments are the people who matter. To me at least.

I absolutely agree that those people matter and am frequently one of the refs at the tournaments I attend. However, the system that Nick Kruse is implementing provides opportunity for the refs and officials to be involved and express their opinion while also extending that opportunity to the greater community and with greater transparency. Sure it is a head ache sifting through all of the internet chatter and some of it is most likely useless towards the discussion of the rules or the further development of the rules. However, I still believe that greater inclusion is an important and achievable goal at this stage in the growth of bike polo. It may not be in the future, at which point private discussions amongst dedicated refs, elected officials, or paid staff may be the more appropriate means. At this point in time I still believe that we can include more of the community in the process if they are so inclined to take part.

polojoel wrote:

At risk of dwelling on the past, what are your thoughts on why we're having to go through this a few months after those rules were declared official for 2013?

All I am doing here is allocating a proper time frame for the evolution of the ruleset on a year to year basis, so that there is time for conscientious evaluation by all who are compelled to help. Since taking over this aspect of the organization, I have many people come to me with ideas and discussions about the progression of the ruleset. It is not efficient to proceed with these conversations in a closed format with each person who seeks to have one, thus "why we're having to go through this".

In what aspect of life is it a bad thing to start early and be thorough? There is nothing wrong with doing so considering that a quality ruleset was not on time in 2013. These threads are not indicative of any problem. I know what I'm doing here. The document I created for the 2013 season with the immense help of people on this forum was a vast improvement. And the one for 2014 will be even better. To make that the case, I'm going to handle the process and the time frame how I see fit. And it's not going to be another committee and another set of conference calls that can never get scheduled properly or another long chain of telephone. Don't know if you know this but we've been there already. I'm in charge of this and the outlet for contribution is here on this forum.

Who decided that you would take over this project? Was there a vote by elected officials?

pete wrote:

Who decided that you would take over this project? Was there a vote by elected officials?

The NAH Board, and Yes.

Were there any other candidates or was it pretty much "Kruse wants to do it, let's take a vote"? And I imagine it's not a far cry to assume that whatever he comes up with will be approved by NAH. Is he pretty much being given free reign? Is there a committee that will do anything other than vote to ratify? Does NAH genuinely believe that the threads on this forum help this process progress? I hope whoever puts the polls together understands a bit about voting about how to best gauge preferences and it's not just a 'ABCDE choose one' poll.

I wish I was given this opportunity rather than being asked to participate in the conference calls (that Kruse mocked above) to edit my ruleset. This is the third or fourth time I've smashed my lantern and realized I've arrived too soon in bike polo.

pete wrote:

it's not just a 'ABCDE choose one' poll.

It's actually probably going to be simpler: Yes/No.

I agree those calls we did as the rules committee in Spring 2012 shouldn't be mocked, although i'm not sure that's what Kruse was talking about when he was referencing conference calls above. The draft we produced
directly fed into the Kruse's v3.3 from May, which is a vast improvement on the temporary April 2013 ruleset, and a pretty decent iteration on what was enforced in 2012, too.

After we released the draft for public input last May, we got a mix of useful and useless feedback--just like Kruse is getting this year to his seven or eight much more specific questions. Unfortunately, I believe your response in 2012 to some of the feedback did more to reduce the quality of the discussion than anything else.. go back and read those threads if you're feeling bored. You're smart with the analytics Pete, but your politics are often weak when others don't have the same approach as you, and we lost a lot of momentum and legitimacy from that.

Good organizers know how to draw out the good stuff, and ignore the noise. Ideally (i think i agree with you) there should be a committee. Last year, we didn't have too much of an issue scheduling our calls or making them productive. But if NAH can't get that together right now, i think Kruse is one of the best possible options for moving this forward. Kruse was the one who stepped up in April, took some of the useful feedback from our 2012 draft, and got us a decent ruleset for 2013, even if we disagree with a handful of the major items that the NAH board members voted on. And Kruse might be "biased" on a couple issues, but find me a player who understands the game at the highest level who doesn't have a strong opinion on at least one of these controversies.

Ultimately, the success of this will depend on how the debates get summarized into proposals. I think any proposal should include a reference to main pros and cons of rule changes, which i think should be presented clearly so that people can lobby their NAH reps accordingly, well in advance of an actual vote.

No matter what the process is, we'll still end up with some people just complaining instead of doing something constructive, and they'll probably use a public internet forum to do that, just like you are now.

No doubt you guys are a major part of where we are at. I relied heavily on the structure of the previous draft for 2013 and that work is obviously not what I was referring to. I only found myself stepping into this because it needed better direction at the beginning of last season and it needed it quickly.

This ruleset is going to be really nice and this game is going to remain really fun. Whether we say you can't lift your mallet above your shoulders or not, whether everything counts as a shot or not, whether we start on the boards or on the goal line... It's going to be FUN. My goal is only a ruleset that is cohesive and language that accounts for the scenarios we find ourselves in on the court in order to make reffing easier and more consistent. To resist that because of principle alone is not helping us to get quality work done.

you should be a political speech writer.

I'm Barack Obama and you're the tea party member who hates me because I'm black.

i don't follow... explain it like i'm five.

aaaand i don't dislike you, there's a lot of stuff you write that i agree with and i have no problem saying that when that happens. part of being a critically thinking human is not automatically rubber-stamping an idea just because it comes from a certain source. it takes a lot, but i like to think that most times i can disassociate the messenger from the message and judge an idea on how i perceive its merits.

we may disagree on 60% of things, but if you have an idea that i agree with i'm not the type of person to hide it because i think it'll weaken some platform i've married myself to.

Ha, I'm just joking - I'm just not that funny. I know we're square dude.

Just looked through the threads, I didn't find anything particularly discussion-stifling in my posts... not sure what you're talking about there, I'd love an example if you recall any. On the other hand, I don't find some of Kruse's comments on wrist shots (yes, that's what almost everyone calls them) to be particularly productive.

Also, sometimes it's not so simple of a choice between doing something constructive and complaining. Sometimes complaining is constructive. Sometimes you can't do anything constructive at all.

It's just funny (and sort of sad) to see the exact same discussions occurring a year later and nothing terribly new being said. Hopefully things will start changing now that everyone has had enough time to talk about it.

kev wrote:

doing something constructive

This is why Kruse is heading this up.

The rest of this post is great too. x2


No matter what the process is, we'll still end up with some people just complaining instead of doing something constructive, and they'll probably use a public internet forum to do that, just like you are now.

Do you really subscribe to the notion that if you haven't "done anything," you have no say? That's an honest question.


edit: i believe i misread what you were saying. i don't need an answer, but my original type should stay.


Then why do you go into detail like that?

I was thinking about getting so representative meaningful information. Why not have participants at the worlds in Florida full out a survey monkey form about rules and possible rule changes.

This would get representation from around the world, responses from the players who travel and are competitive, and a manageable amount of data.

Just a thought Nick.

Great idea. Only let the top-tier people in the system who can afford to travel and have been playing long enough have a say.

What could possibly go wrong?

llIIlllIIIllIlIIllIllIIlIllllIIlIlI wrote:

Great idea.

Yeah, it actually is a fantastic idea.

...if you don't pay attention to any aspect of history, ever.

Do beer league hockey players make decisions for the NHL? Or should the people who spend the most time on the interwebs dictate the changes in the game?

Practice up, save your pennies, make sacrifices and attend the tournaments. Earn people's respect of your opinion.

Does the NHL only let the top players make the ultimate decisions that run the league?

Or only let the players who attend the final game of The Cup dictate how the game's played?

This reference to the NHL is not helping either of you since the NHL does it neither of those ways.

I think we can both poll people on the internet and poll people who go to Worlds and we don't have to give more weight to one than the other. I think both would be important and helpful. Okay?

that was my point and where my GRRREAAAT UMBRAGE came in. *only* letting certain people in a system have a say leads to a system that's beneficial for, generally speaking, only those certain people.

What do you guys think about trying to define our own terms for the coming ruleset? I feel like we take a lot of terminology from hockey and I sort of feel that it's detrimental to not define our own terms. It seems like it kind of grants illegitimacy to what we are trying to do, which is to encourage a unique, skillful and athletic game to proliferate. I think that if we don't maintain unique identity, it grants the impression that we're not serious about this being a real, actual thing.

For example, we call our tool a mallet almost all the time but the rule in the ruleset is written "high sticking". Why do we call it a stick when it's not a stick any other time, it's a mallet? I feel like we did it because it was already a penalty in hockey... but I don't feel like that's a good thing to do.

Here are the things I'd like to redefine so long as people agree with me:

High Sticking
Minor Penalty
Major Penalty
Power Play

That is all.

I think it is important to define terms used within the ruleset at the beginning of the document.

For example, the term "dab" isn't defined until section 6.1 and the use of "round end" in section 4.1.1 is very ambiguous.

A question (to the worlds organisers, the rules people, and the players going to Florida), do you think there is any time in the schedule at the Worlds, to have experimental rules pickup sessions?

The reason I ask is, that I think it would be a good exercise, to try out some things suggested for 2014 rules. And I think the worlds is the best place to, as the majority of the people in this process will be there, and it will have a wide range of players, not just from NA, to try them out, and give their opinion.

I believe there will be separate pickup courts? Or maybe a court available on non tournament days? Can we make one of them, for some periods of time, a pickup court for people to try out the new rules? Not all day, just for a few hours.

I'm happy to ref some of that time, and I imagine others might be, if they aren't playing at the time.

Then we can have wrist-shot hour, 2-second BJ hour, etc...

If it's not possible, or people don't have any interest, that's cool, just an idea.

I think a straw poll at Worlds is good. But what it's sounding like is that NAH needs a National conference where polo rules are practiced in person and meetings are held on the court to explore the real situations in a non-internet sort of way. Lots of pick-up, demo, and challenge matches. A place to debut new products, etc.

Polo conference should happen maybe every other year, and locks rules down for those two years. It would be a lot of fun, and a great way for players, companies, and event organizers to coordinate efforts. More than rules too...

e.g. - Having a session to draft NAH .pdf that explains the sport for parks & rec city officials. The sort of thing that can help us develop a national infrastructure.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

Urban Editor wrote:

NAH needs a National conference where polo rules are practiced in person and meetings are held on the court to explore the real situations in a non-internet sort of way. Lots of pick-up, demo, and challenge matches. A place to debut new products, etc.

Polo conference should happen maybe every other year, and locks rules down for those two years. It would be a lot of fun, and a great way for players, companies, and event organizers to coordinate efforts. More than rules too...

e.g. - Having a session to draft NAH .pdf that explains the sport for parks & rec city officials. The sort of thing that can help us develop a national infrastructure.

All great ideas, all in the works. A ref training weekend, an annual NAH Rules session (though every two years might be better, to allow the new rule or rule amendment to prove itself, one way or the other), and a how-to guide for clubs approaching and working with municipalities and parks departments.

In addition, we're working on a how-to tournament guide and and looking into creating a new club starter kit - rules, equipment, etc.

Get some questions to clarify.
All the rules disscussion we have since years now help and make the game go forward. But i think we often missing the point about how to apply the rules we are talking about.
In example, we have a 30 second penalty, but did we really toought how to enforce it? wich clock use? how and where the players should stay out of play? how to enforce it when we just have one ref availble without assistant etc.?
This is one of the thing i often think of when i ref, how Im i gonna handle such a penalty alone on my chair, with one clock and no specific door but a big one i a corner. I'm pretty sure lot of ref in the past didn't give 30's because of material issues. For me we have to find some other penalty, easier to handle, between a simple ball turnover (even delayed) and a 30 second (almost never applied).
I started a specific thread in the past about it:
But i think there is probably more room to think about all the reff process and penalty enforcement.

We had a question about delayed calls come up at our tourney this weekend. The offensive Team had the advantage and was trying to score. The Ball bounced of a wheel, then one offensive and one defensive player went to get the ball which was rolling towards the boards and it wasn't sure who was in posession for a few seconds. The ref then made the delayed call and in the same moment the offensive player played a pass to his teammate who then scored directly. The goal wasn't rewarded, because the whistle was blown before. The offensive Team got posession, but lost the ball before they could score again.

I think the call shouldn't have been made that quickly and the goal should have counted. What is your perspective on this rule? When to make the delayed call? I think the ref should have waited a little longer until the situation had cleared completely and the defensive team had gained clear posession.

Yeah, I've seen this situation a few times.

The rules say:

If the team not in possession of the ball commits an infraction of the rules, the referee delays signaling
the stoppage of play to issue a penalty until the team to be penalized gains possession of the ball.

It really depends how that is interpreted. Just a touch? Actively controlling the ball for a few seconds?

Personally, I prefer to wait as long as possible with the delayed call, I've had situations where there was a touch, but I still didn't call it, instead waited for the team to get the ball, and start attacking.

You can always call the penalty later, but once the whistle is blown, there is no turning back.

yeah, blocking a shot with a wheel does not equal possession.

i think it's enough to say that possession equals an intentional mallet touch to the ball by the team being called for the penalty.

I will note that possession needs to be defined in an early portion of the ruleset.

I'm of the opinion it should be something like:

"A team is considered to have possession when a player of that team solely maintains control of the ball."

I think sometimes a mallet touch is not enough to demonstrate possession. I think the above wording or something close is a solid definition. With uniformity in reffing qualification (or something) it becomes rather definitive.

NHL keeps it pretty simple: "When the team to be penalized gains control of the puck". In practice, this means that blocked shots and redirections don't count as possession. But just jabbing at a loose puck, even just once, does.

But wouldn't one touch off your wheel be equal to a jab from your mallet? Especially in a shot on goal situation where the goalie actively blocks with the wheel?

Or an air shot / pass off your frame? Same situation as off the wheel. Or a helmet? Same. Last team who touches it before it goes out loses possession.

On the joust, do you have to play the ball to the left as well as peel away to the left?

I have seen players peel left and push the ball right under the opposition charger's front wheel causing big crashes. The wording is slightly unclear.

Can anyone clear this up?

"§4.1.8 – Jousting players maintain a straight line until a player makes contact with the ball. §4.1.9 – On a right–handed joust, players will joust to the left of the opponent. On a left–handed joust, players will joust to the right of the opponent.

Does "joust to the right" mean bike and ball go right?

Bike only. Put the ball wherever you like.

have you had situations where a Team rejected a certain ref and did not want to start the game? I have witnessed this twice in a week now and don't know if there is anything about it in the rules.

Then they get dq'd or forfeit the game.

that's what i thought. it's not in the rules though is it?

It has happened in every major tournament I've been to. Here is the procedure:

- Team can request 1 referee change, for a legitimate reason (organizers discretion)
- The organizers choose a new referee and the opposite team approves it.

I don't think there is anything in the rules about it, but it should probably be in there somewhere. It's up to the organizers really.

I still think this should be changed. The ability to request an alternate referee is fine but I still think that it should be tournament organizers discretion. However, what I have seen is the team essentially vetoing a ref and the tournament organizers having the discretion to choose a new ref. This doesn't make sense to me. Especially in the case of NAH tournaments where all refs are certified and paid to be there.

Changing it on the request of a team should only be if the ref is drunk or something like that. Otherwise, allowing this just diminishes the authority we've been trying to push for recently. It's a backwards step in my opinion by valuing them beneath the player.


why were they requesting a ref change? was it because the ref was too lax? too strict? potentially biased towards a team?

one team was requesting a ref change, because they've had several disagreements with this ref in the past. Reffing at this tourney was quite solid overall i'd say.

next tourney, the other team did not want a western european (especially german ref) because they said they've had bad experiences with them reffing their games. Reffing at this tourney was pretty much non-existent up to this point, so it was a big problem overall.
So none of the requests were because of the ref being drunk or whatsoever.

Requesting a new ref because of call disagreement should not be tolerated. There are refs in every sport players hate because of the way they call the game, do they get to veto them? No.

See who's reffing, know their tendencies and what they usually call or don't call and adjust your came accordingly.

Not sure how things work there, but I would announce before the tournament that there will be zero ref changing, unless someone needs a break, or in the event of a......

This reeks of chickenshitism, stand your ground (no guns).

I agree in principle that yeah, requesting a ref change is bullshit.

In practice, i think it's a good thing to keep for now. I think it's relevant that roustem's not suggesting it gets retired quite yet, and he sees it happen at every tournament.

As a step towards that, perhaps some kind of ref evaluation procedure could be added? Right now, ref reputation is anecdotal, and there might be a way to speed that up by gathering broader feedback, not just from people close to the NAH reffing committee. Like a quick survey sent to players at NAH events asking for refs to be evaluated based on a few different criteria. Maybe even anonymous?

If we go down that path, the evaluation should be done by a refs committee, other refs or by an appointed position.

In most sports the refs association do their own valuations, or sit down together and critique each others games. If you open it up to the players then you'll get a replication of what happens during a game which can often be a personal judgement or heated responses. As there are still some players that haven't bothered reading the rules, getting their feedback may be disruptive to any precise criteria.

I also agree that this is a good thing to keep, for now anyways. It's important to remember where we're at here. We're still far from most "sports" and player feedback is still important. At NA's we didn't exactly request a ref change, but we did request that Will from Saskatoon take over at a certain point because he was very consistent and confident all weekend. New refs are popping up at every tournament and that's great, but seeing who is reffing and knowing their tendencies is pretty difficult if you've never seen the person reffing your game before, let alone watched them ref a game. The reffing at NA's overall was a huge step forward, but I still think players should have the option to appeal for a different ref if they so choose (and the other team agrees).

X2 to Kev's idea on some type of feedback system.

Requesting a ref that you think is doing a great job is very different than requesting a ref to be changed because you don't like their reffing.

Also, yes feedback is a good idea.

who refs the refs? (total watchmen moment)
Refs need to be able to give each other feedback (in private) and support each other in the learning process. I found myself listening to some more intelligent refs at NAs and making good calls based on their feedback.

also, refs shouldn't be left at the court to do their job for more than 2 hours, give them a break between a game or two after 4-8 games. it'll keep everyone fresh. the alternative/secondary ref idea is great for this, keep the refs paired up, and if one of them needs to go out for a gatorade or something, the other can cover, and do the same immediately after the first ref returns.