Ruleset Update for the 2017 Season

Posted by on Apr 14, 2017 in NAH, Rules
Ruleset Update for the 2017 Season

I am happy to present the 2017 NAH Ruleset for the 2017 Qualifying Season, NAHBPC and WHBPC. This ruleset is the most significant update since 2014 when NAH introduced version 4.3. Once again, this version ushers in a new delivery format and naming convention as well as a new process for collaborating and play-testing rules. I will first outline a short list of the most relevant changes, then I explain how it will be implemented and updated moving forward, and lastly I will explain how you can contribute to future efforts.

A PDF is available, but you can read the Ruleset on any device here:

The 2017 Ruleset includes the following significant changes:

1. Delayed Penalties
Instead of an advantage being played out endlessly, the Referee will blow the whistle and assess the penalty at the point the team in possession of the ball carries it from the offensive half to the space in their defensive half behind their goal line. This is simply to prevent unnecessarily long delayed penalties and give the team who was penalized 50% of the court and a relief of pressure to make line changes and regain the advantage that was lost due to the penalty. We are going to test this in qualifiers, and make adjustments as needed before the NAHBPC.

2. High Sticking
– You still aren’t allowed to swing your mallet above your shoulders. You also aren’t allowed raise your hand above your shoulders. Additionally, if the Referee deems your back-hand, follow-through or scoop pass to be excessively dangerous they can give you a high-sticking penalty. However, if you are further than 10 feet away from an opponent you can raise your mallet straight into the air, or raise your hand straight into the air, to knock the ball down directly below the point you make contact with it. Passes are not allowed above the shoulders in this situation. We are going to test this in qualifiers, and make adjustments as needed before the NAHBPC.

3. Squad Rules / Tournament Rules
These used to be in the appendices, now they are integrated. Additionally, we have identified a transition area around the entrances of the court for substitutions and mechanics for penalizing illegal substitutions. Changes were made throughout the ruleset to accommodate this, from Timeouts to Penalty enforcement.

4. Interference and Obstruction moved into “Technical Penalties”
The penalties overlapped and were so similar, they are now in one rule and simply identified as “bike” vs “body” interference. There is also a mallet interference penalty to prevent off-ball mallet play which would include the goalie.

5. Crease Violation moved into “Technical Penalties”
Originally we had written that it was an automatic Minor Penalty. This has been updated to be assessed in relation to where the ball is on the court when the penalty occurs.

6. Rotor Guards, Handlebar Width
For safety, we’ve required rotor guards for NAH tournaments (do whatever you’d like in local pickup) and a maximum width of handlebars at 12″ (305mm) from the center of the stem, or 24″ (610mm) total. This is to prevent a player from using their bars to draw fouls or create unsafe close-quarters situations.

7. “Bike Contact”
Instead of 7 different rules we now have 1 for all bike contact, with definitions with each for reference, including a new “Pedal Contact” penalty.

8. Possession, Shooting, Scooping
We’ve added clarification surrounding ball possession, shooting and scooping to reflect more accurately how the game is being played and how players are interacting with the ball and one another on the court. We are going to test this in qualifiers, and make adjustments as needed before the NAHBPC.

9. Clarity and Efficiency
Throughout the ruleset we removed unnecessary language, added it where it was needed and did a complete overhaul of where rules were situated and how they were referenced. This is where the majority of the changes were made and you can look at the change log for actual progress

New Format & Version

We began developing the Ruleset on a new platform called Gitbooks that was created specifically for technical documents that require collaboration and version history. With this transition, we decided to end the numbering system (this would have been version 5), and instead move to a year-based numbering system and PDFs will have their date at the end (e.g. NAH_Ruleset_2017_v41317.pdf). This year you’ll have 2017, next year you’ll have 2018. It makes sense right? Additionally, there is a changelog of every single edit that is made, but the notable changes are always made by creating what is called a “branch” or “change request”. Anyone with editing access can create a new “branch” and after they have finalized their update, I can “merge” the change into the master document. There is also the ability to “fork” the ruleset to create your own. This will be useful for Europe, Australasia, and South America to move freely and  continue innovating or clarifying rules for how the game is played in their local championship series. Lastly, these “change requests” can be commented on by anyone for the author to gather feedback. Please email if you’d like to learn more about contributing via comments, branches or forks. Major updates/change requests always have an update number marked in parentheses (i.e. #46, #45, etc.) and minor updates are simply logged by the section that was last edited. You can see the full list of incremental changes here:

Implementation Plan

The 2017 Ruleset is to be used in all Regional Qualifying Tournaments. Exceptions can be made, but must be communicated to the Tournament Director, Mark, for approval. Minor updates will be made prior to the NAHBPC, but entire rules will only be added or removed if something deemed completely necessary. Following the NAHBPC, we will coordinate with other organizing bodies throughout the world to update the Ruleset for the 2017 WHBPC in Lexington. Again, we hope there will be no major changes made to the ruleset unless absolutely necessary. After the WHBPC concludes we will go back into a rule development phase through November – February to develop new rules and continue refining this process. At this point we will invite contributors to propose significant rule changes and there will be public discussion and voting by regional reps or club reps as necessary.


I hope you are as excited about this update as we are and we hope you read it thoroughly. The new technology we are using should facilitate well-documented progression in the ruleset and we are hoping to combine it with a new communications system to facilitate discussion. Please email me at with any actionable feedback or concern, or if you find any typos/errors. This is a work in progress, as always, but I feel this Ruleset is a significant step forward in helping the world bike polo community play a more exciting, competitive, safe and fun game.

Download the PDF
Contribute to the Ruleset


Joe Rstom