The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) develops and publishes the rules of Flat Track Roller Derby in Française, Español, and Deutche. Please visit the entire 2019 Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby.
This month we will discuss the direction of gameplay penalty, which is outlined in the WFTDA rules section 4 “Penalties.” Specifically, rule 4.1.3 “Other Illegal contact,” which states “Initiating a block is legal when a skater is moving counter-clockwise, in play, upright, and in bounds during a jam using legal contact zones…accordingly, skaters cannot initiate a block while down, out of bounds, out of play, airborne, stopped, or skating clockwise.”
When a referee calls a direction of gameplay penalty, the referee will blow one whistle tweet and speak in a loud clear voice stating: 1. team color, 2. skater number, and 3. what the penalty is. Here is the hand-signal for the direction of gameplay penalty.
We hope to make rules discussions less dry by offering skater essays on their personal learning experiences with the rules of derby. Our skater Bad JewJew (# 81) will cover skating clockwise vs. counter-clockwise in her discussion below.
Ah, the directional penalty. It seems like a straight forward, no confusion type of rule: skate derby direction (counter-clockwise on the track). The truth is, the rule can be a bit more complicated to new derby skaters in practice. Skaters must fight the instinct to drive the opposing skater/jammer backwards while skating inside the track.
A helpful visualization for me is I imagine a 360 degree circle around my body. In the circle, there is a line positioned where my skates are on the track (diameter of the circle). The 180 degrees in front of me is a legal hit and block zone. The 180 degrees behind me is a NO HIT zone, which means I cannot engage, block, hit or assist in this NO HIT zone. The illustration below shows the hit zones (in green) and the no hit zones (in red).
A skater is permitted to stop and/or skate clockwise on the track, but If a skater does skate in non-derby direction, that skater must be careful not engage an opposing skater moving in derby direction on the track.
Hopefully, gaining a better understanding of the how the directional penalties work will ideally help you have fewer of them called on you. At least, that is my hope for myself!