NAH Ruleset 2019

We are happy to announce a small update to the ruleset ahead of the 2019 NAHBPC. After gathering feedback from players and referees who participated in WHPBC 2017 and NAHBPC 2017/2018, the most common and serious topic of discussion was the lack of consistency with Referees, as well as mitigating the benefit of a “clean slate” after a game is over. We have seen teams commit multiple penalties near the end of the game to secure a win and then move onto the next knock-out stage with absolutely no repercussions.

It became a priority in 2019 to address the issue of penalty escalation and introduce a mechanism for punishing repeat offenders over the course of a tournament. We did not want to introduce this prior to qualifiers, as we felt the interpretation/implementation could be inconsistent and the overall tournament experience could be affected. We are confident that implementing this rule prior to NAHBPC 2019 will allow us to communicate it to all of the participants and Referees more effectively, allow the change to organically spread into regional tournaments, and most importantly: give us time to improve the rule for 2020 and beyond.

This rule update is the first of two planned updates — the next of which will come in 2020 — and has two basic parts:

We establish a systematic approach to penalty escalation so that Referees have clear guidance. No more guessing or half measures. Additionally, there is the possibility of “Fouling Out” which will result in a 1 game ban to be served by the player after the game in which they accumulate too many fouls.

To read this update, the updated ruleset is available at: https://nahbpa.gitbook.io/nah-ruleset-2019/ and the important new material is in Section 6: Penalty Format.

The referee can assess a Ball Turnover, Minor, Major at any time for any infraction, however these are the minimum requirements for assessing penalties for repeat offenders. After an individual player is assessed 2 Ball Turnovers for infractions, their next foul will result in a Minor (30 second, goal cancellation). After two Minors, the next one will result in a Major (90 second, no goal cancellation). On their 2nd Major (6 total penalties), the team will play the 90 seconds and the individual will have “Fouled Out” and be required to sit out of the game for 5 minutes, 10 minutes or the rest of the game. We are using the existing Personal Misconduct language to allow the referee to determine an appropriate amount of time that the player must leave the game. In addition to this time in which the player cannot enter, they will serve a 1 game ban in the game immediately following the game in which they received a Misconduct.

This last detail is hugely important to balance out the benefit of late-game penalties in knock out stages of tournaments. And after NAHBPC this year we will refine this and add another layer to address total penalties accumulated by an entire team.

Here is an example of the scoresheet we’ll be using at NAHBPC to track this, with X’s in the boxes where players have accumulated penalties. This demonstrates that it is possible to move from left to right in a linear way, or the Referee can escalate the penalties more quickly if they choose.

You may have questions:

  • How did we arrive at these numbers?
    We watched video, talked with referees, and ran a few potential scenarios through this system. This is our equivalent of “three strikes”, and the number may change, but right now 6 feels good.
  • What if we only have 4 players on our team and 2 of them “foul out”? Do we have to play a game with 2 players?
    We consider 3 players to be the minimum to play, so the player who fouled out first will sit out the first game and then the other player will serve their ban in the following game. This situation will be rare and the tournament organizer will discuss this with the captains of all teams involved as well as the Referees from all games.
  • What about the other escalation guidelines in various rules?
    You’re right, and we read through it and it all still applies. Most instances refer to automatic escalation and that will always be valid unless the player has already found themselves in foul trouble in which case this new rule will take precedence. If you have concerns, just ask an Organizer what to do when it happens.
  • Have you been working on anything else?
    Yep! We fixed 100 typos, adjusted some language about dabbing and round robin formats.

If you have questions or concerns prior to the event, please email joe@nahardcourt.com. If you have questions during NAHBPC 2019, please speak with Mark.

New NAH Rules Director

RULES Director announcement

Hi polo people,

I’m Joel Crandall based out of Asheville, North Carolina. I’ve been playing since 2012. Since then, I’ve helped officiate two World Championships, a handful of NAHBPC and regional qualifiers, as well as hosted a number of annual tournaments here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’ve been asked to step up as the new NAH Rules Director replacing Joe Rstom (Joe will continue to advise on rule development but play a less active role).

In the upcoming 2019 season, I plan to work alongside NAH and EHBPC leadership to draft a Rules Development System. This will clarify the process of implementing new rules and making amendments to existing rules. My goal is to have this system functioning by the 2019 World Championship in Cordoba, Argentina in September, however, no major changes will be tested for the 2019 season, as Qualifiers have already accepted the existing ruleset.

This Rules Development System will be the funnel which will help eventually create an International Bike Polo Ruleset in three languages: English, Spanish and French. I have ideas I will be sharing with the committee being formed to oversee this system, but my ears will always be at the club level.

I plan on being easily accessible in a professional setting while in this position. It’s exciting to participate in the bike polo community from a new perspective and I will do my best to serve the sport effectively.

 

Please feel free to contact me by email at joel@nahardcourt.com. 

Cheers, Ya’ll.
Joel

joel crandell

Big Monday

The 2018 NAHBPC is done, and another season of North American bike polo is complete. We would not be here without the hard work of many people. First, a thank you to this year’s host of NAs, Milwaukee Bike Polo. They worked hard to provide a great space for this year’s event, and their work resulted in a reinvestment to bike polo infrastructure that will surely strengthen the region and help players for years and years to come. We should also be thankful to the ten hosts of the regional qualifiers who helped make this year’s qualification series. It is a lot of work to coordinate regionally and provide an accessible tournament for all those who are eager to compete for the North American Championship title.

I’d like to personally thank Mark Aseltine, who was not physically at the NAHBPC, but was quietly supervising remotely from out west. Mark designed the entire tournament, qualification system, and documentation for the event. Will Robbins helped make sure the event had scheduled refs and helped track all the volunteers for that labor. Joe Rstom helped with on-site event management when I was not there and also helped provide some tech support for the live stream that was setup by David Barthod. I’m very glad to have a quality video record of some amazing matches from this year’s event. I’m sure that this model for live streaming will become more and more popular in the future, and the NAH encourages events to try and budget for this kind of media coverage. If your event is interested in doing this, reach out to us for more information about costs, supplies, and how to host on the official NAH YouTube channel.

At the closing ceremony, I announced that I was done with being President of the NAH. While I am stepping down from that role, I plan to remain in support of the NAH in two other roles. I will continue to support the NAH as Treasurer and as Governor. The latter title is not a functional position in the NAH, but rather it means that I am the point of contact for the U.S. Government for the NAH in managing and maintaining our 501(c)3 non-profit status as an organization. With the help of Meghan Shoop earlier this year, the NAH created a roadmap document for clubs who are interested in formal incorporation and establishing themselves as their own 501(c)3 non-profit. If this interests your club, please do not be shy about asking questions or seeking advice.

My former teammate Greg Russo calls the melancholy Monday after a bike polo tournament “Big Monday,” and last monday was one of the biggest I’ve had in a long time. Although I have stepped down from the role of President, I have a few outstanding agenda items. For the benefit of the community, I’ll outline what work remains to be completed.

1) NAH Census

The need for good data on the status of bike polo has been asked for of the NAH for a few years. This data could be useful to future NAH leadership rebalancing regions, providing targeted support, and reviewing existing policies. The NAH has created a census form. This form is not like previous surveys that the NAH or others have produced. The census was designed to be a repeatable questionnaire to help track the health and development of bike polo at the club level. What makes this questionnaire different is that only one entry if filled out per club. It is not a form for individual players.

The census will be administered through the NAH’s Regional Reps and local club leaders. The census will open soon and we hope to collect all responses by the end of December. Regional Reps will be given early access to the form in the near future. The result summary will be made public and raw data will be made available to all Regional Reps.

2) 2019 Survey of Players

Forms forms and more forms, but this survey is for all players who attended the 2018 NAHBPC and the NAH Regional Qualifiers. This information will be provided to the NAH’s new leadership to help inform their decisions on the design, format, and schedule of the 2019 NAH Qualifying Series and how players will qualify and be certified for the 2019 WHBPC in Córdoba, Argentina.

This form will be sent to all team captains from the 2018 NAH season starting with the captains from the NAHBPC and later the captains from the Regional Qualifiers. Captains will be responsible for dissemination of the link to all members of their team roster.

3) New NAH Leadership

Perhaps most obvious is the need to fill any vacant positions in the NAH and reorganize as needed. In addition to myself, Joe Rstom and Will Robbins will also be stepping down from their roles in the NAH as Rules Director and NAH Head Ref respectively.

The NAH will provide descriptions for the roles and responsibilities on our website in the next week. If you are interested in filling any of these roles, you should start thinking about your experience and qualifications. Once we have collected information about interested nominees, the NAH will publish short profiles of each person online. More information about the selection process will be published in the near future.

This is not Goodbye!

As I look back on the times I’ve spent with the NAH, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together and with groups like WTF-FRST. I’m proud of the last two years of development and the kinds of changes we’ve seen new rules and the squad format. Change can be uncomfortable and sometimes letting go is hard, but I have full confidence in our community. I know that whoever steps up will do great things.

Lastly, some unsolicited advice from me, leadership is not merely having opinions and it’s not measured solely in what people like (although trying to make people happy should always be at the front of one’s mind in a service position). You will make hard choices, and you will face criticisms, but worse is existing in a state where nobody is let down because nobody expects anything from you. Criticism means that people agree that you’re in a position of responsibility and one of consequence. I’ve tried to take criticism and constructively focus it into my decisions over the last few years, and I hope that my legacy will read charitably of my judgment, candor, and optimism for what we can be. Last year I asked that we all make bike polo special for someone else, and I want everyone who made it special for me to know that I’m forever in their debt. Thank you for letting me have the honor of your service, and I look forward to seeing you all on the court, wherever it may be next.

If you have questions about the Census, email Alias Tagami at alias@nahardcourt.com.

If you have questions about the Player Survey, email Joe Rstom at joe@nahardcourt.com and Jenny Spencer at jenny@nahardcourt.com.

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: https://nahbpa.gitbooks.io/nah-ruleset-2017/content/

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 joe@nahardcourt.com 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: https://www.gitbook.com/book/nahbpa/nah-ruleset-2017/activity

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.

Conclusion

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 joe@nahardcourt.com 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

Cheers,

Joe Rstom

Introduction to Squad

Welcome to the 2017 NAH Tournament series. As you all know by now the NAHBPC and WHBPC will be carried out in squad format. Most of you have either played in this format, watched it, or know the general premise of it. For those who do not, we would like to take a few minutes to give a general outline of the game play in relation to 3v3.

If you’ve played bike polo before, most of this is going to look real familiar. There are a couple of things to get used to (like substitution rules and longer games with straight time clocks), but fear not, you got this. For the nitty gritty of game play, it is a good idea to read over the NAH 4.5 Ruleset Appendix C: Squad Rules and keep your eyes peeled for the NAH 2017 ruleset drop (coming soon!), but here is the general outline.

How a squad game works

The name “squad” is a bit vague, but all you need to know is that in 2017 it will be played with a 5 player team. 3 players are on the court at once, and they can substitute players on and off as needed throughout the duration of the game. Players can substitute on and off during live play (provided they don’t influence play while there are 4 players on the court), or after a stoppage (after a goal, or when the ball leaves play). The general rule of thumb here is, if you are coming onto the court from the bench, you can’t be involved in the play until your teammate is off the court (both players involved in the change must be within 10’ of the gate during the change).

Length of a squad game

5v5 games are longer than the standard 3v3 tournament game—running anywhere from 30-60 minutes as opposed to 12 or 15 minute games. This adds a new facet of energy management as well as dynamic line options to an already tactical game. Usually squad games run as ‘straight time’, i.e. the clock does not stop after goals or other stoppages in play (excluding timeouts or injuries) until the last 2 minutes of a game. Team timeouts, and injuries that stop play, should still stop the clock. For the purposes of gameplay, this means that after a stoppage (a goal or any other whistle), the team with possession of the ball cannot cross half until the defensive team has crossed back into their half and signaled they are ready to play, or until 15 seconds have elapsed (whichever happens first). Functionally this means that teams have time after a goal to substitute and get set, but not endless time, as after 15 seconds the offensive team can cross even if the defensive team is not set. This rule also applies to the defensive team as well, as they can begin attacking the ball carrier after 15 seconds. Referees should count down the last 5 seconds after a stoppage in play to warn both teams. Alternately, the referee may ask both teams if they are ready and then signal the game ‘live’ again. When there are 2 minutes left in the game, the game clock will stop on the whistle. The same 15 seconds of safety rule still applies, and the game clock should resume after the 15 seconds are up or when play is ‘live’ (whichever occurs first).

Official rules surrounding substitutions and game clocks can be found in the 2015 Ruleset – Appendix A – Tournament and Game and Format, but will be rolled into the new NAH 2017 ruleset for this season—to be voted upon prior to the qualifying season in April.

How and why should a region run a squad qualifier

In terms of scheduling a tournament, one of the advantages of squad is that it allows for much more streamlined (and accurate) game time scheduling. Because the games run as straight time, tournament organizers can schedule their games with a high degree of confidence. For players, this means an end to the need to be ready to play on 10 minutes notice for hours at a time. Longer games give on-deck teams much more advance notice to be prepared to play at their allotted time, and the 5 player team means no game needs to wait until everyone arrives to the court before beginning. Because squad tournaments involve fewer teams (even if the same number of players participate as in past years), organizers may choose to schedule all their games for the seeding portion of the tournament in advance as a round robin or group play. Traditional swiss rounds ranking also works with squad format.

Court infrastructure specifics

If your courts have more than one door onto the playing surface, each team can be assigned a specific door to change through. If the doors are not equally situated (i.e. one door has a significant tactical advantage over the other), organizers can stipulate that teams change ‘benches’ at the halfway point in the game. If the court has only one usable entrance, several options are available. At the organizer’s discretion, they may determine that both teams can reasonably share the access point in such a way that no team gains an advantage over the other (i.e. blocks opposition substitutions). Alternately, they may determine that this is not possible and only allow substitutions on stoppages of play. Organizers should consider all possible changes in advance of the tournament (both tactical and due to mechanical/injury) when making this determination.

How to practice/scrimmage and assemble teams long-term

Our vision for 5v5 moving forward is that you will find teams of 6 or even 7 people that can travel, and then you would stick with these players over the long term. Instead of having a team identity that is centered around 3 players, you will have a team identity related to a city, state, other identifying factors. If you travel with 6 people, you can dress 5 players each game, and the 6th player can act as a captain to call out line changes and keep track of stats and act as an objective play-caller. 6 people on a team also gives you the option to practice against your own teammates, in a non-competitive way to promote teamwork and skill building. You can try different lines and different strategies outside of the casual “pick-up” environment. You can also travel to other cities within your region for scrimmages with this team and continue to keep your roster fluid. This ensures there is a mechanism to include newer players amongst your club’s “top players”. Further, as 3v3 tournaments continue to thrive across North America, you can send any grouping of three to each event, even two teams at one event with a group of 6.

NAH recommended path of action

As in the past the NAH is giving the regions full control over their Qualifier. With that said we would like to give regions and their Representative a guide to follow. This guide will act as a baseline to work from and any changes from this guide should be agreed upon by the region’s members and clearly stated and shared with everyone in the region. Further, dates, locations, registration information and any deviations from this guide must be sent to mark@nahardcourt.com a minimum of 8 weeks before the Qualifier so that we can publish this information to the NAH website. The guidelines are as follows:

Hosting a squad format qualifier

  1. Follow the current NAH ruleset (2017 coming soon)
  2. Qualified teams should take ⅗ of that team to NAHBPC or else their spot shall be forfeited to the following team.
  3. Regional reps are responsible for delivering names of successful teams to the NAH Tournament Director (date TBD pending NAHBPC).
  4. Regional reps are required to make very clear to the region how teams will qualify for the NAHBPC.
  5. Qualifiers must be open to outside regional players, but Regions have the option of making restrictions on this by making the first two weeks “in region only registration” followed by registration being open to all regions.
  6. An “in region team” is a team that has at least ⅗ players from within the region, and “out of region” team is one that has a minimum of ⅗ players from out of region.
  7. Regions are responsible for collecting their own registration fees.