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 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.

Ruleset v4.5 Unanimously Approved for 2015

This page is a companion to the newly published ruleset for 2015. V4.5 can be found here:

Over the winter the rules committee has been drafting rules, discussing ideas for the future and play-testing early versions of rules. In January a call was put out for clubs to play-test a version of the crease rule, and Boston and Portland both responded with excellent feedback. In addition to that, we utilized this ruleset in two non-NAH events: Fixcraft’s PHBP Momentum event, and Toronto’s GLWC. We used these opportunities to gather real-life feedback from the players who are pushing these rules to their limit. We are confident that we have successfully built upon the foundation of last years comprehensive ruleset in such a way that work can be focused on specific rules efforts such as these. We no longer need to overhaul an entire document and can pour our minds into heavy topics such as the crease and obstruction. We will continue to gather feedback and improve the language of the entire ruleset.

The voting was open to the regions for the period of 7 days and after some lengthy discussion the vote came back unanimously in favor of enacting this ruleset for the 2015. We gave the voting options of: Affirmative. Affirmative with Comments. Negative with Comments. Abstain.

Votes in:

Cascadia: Affirmative
Eastside: Affirmative
Heartland: Affirmative
Great Lakes: Affirmative with comments
Great Plains: Affirmative
Mexico: Affirmative
Northside: Affirmative
South East: Affirmative
South Central: Abstained
South West: Affirmative with comments

For transparency, here are what the various regions responded with for feedback from club representatives:

South West Feedback:
minor penalty too harsh – delayed turnover instead,
size of crease too big, also prefer a half circle shape
doesn’t like the no contact against the goalie rule
how will the 3 seconds be counted?

Needs fleshing out a bit and more precise language before people can get on board completely
Should be contingent on having more than one ref per court
Worries about subjectivity of refs and how that will affect differences in calls from game to game

Interfering with another player’s mallet when off-ball should be penalized similar to the way off-ball body contact is. Slashing could be called but it’s too limiting an infraction.

Great Lakes Feedback:
Perhaps add some more clarity that it’s extended offensive off-ball screens that are elimated. A fair amount of people assumed that while on defense you couldn’t screen someone from receiving a pass. This really just boils down to players not understanding the rule.
I would highly recommend adding an appendix (I realize it makes it longer) that describes the type of play that is illegal. I think eventually it could be eliminated but right now it’s just not natural enough for players to understand. When I’ve explained to people what are the type of plays that are now illegal they’ve almost all agreed that it’s ok. Some additional clarity with a list of a few examples would go a long way.
Consider adding an off ball ref for semi-final and final matches. I realize that we already run short on quality refs but if we’re talking about qualifiers, NAs and World’s we can hope that this would be possible. Usually at this point we’ve moved to one court which would make it easier.

We will continue to refine the ruleset and there will be an update this week and potentially more updates before or during the qualifier season as more play-testing is done. As always, plase contact if you have constructive input!

Below is some additional clarification on the obstruction rule and some various scenarios that have been brought to our attention over the past months. Thanks to Mr Do for the video used to make the clips.

NAH Ruleset V4.5 – Obstruction Rule

  • §8.7.1 – An obstruction penalty will be assessed when a player actively impedes the movement of an opposing player who is attempting to make a play on the ball.
    § – This movement, referred to as “screening” or “picking,” will be defined as blocking an opponent to gain access to the ball, blocking them from challenging the player in possession of the ball, or preventing them from free and open movement to gain a defensive position on the court.
    §8.7.2 – If a “screen” is set that is stationary, momentary and in a safe manner an obstruction penalty will not be assessed, however, legal bodily contact as described in §10.3 is possible.


We’ve taken clips of games from last year to provide examples of what is legal, what isn’t and some calls which are on the border to best understand that the line is very fine and will only grow more clear over time. There was no such rule when these games were played, so we aren’t suggesting any of these plays were illegal at the time.


Legal – Eddy (in red) has the opportunity to screen harder but holds back. This is an example of an equally effective block without impeding movement.


Legal – Henri (in blue) nearly screens out Daren (in black). He occupied the space early enough to allow the T-Bone to be avoided. Daren accelerated into the screen. This is a great example of being in the way, rather than getting in the way.


Legal – Joey (in black) has the ball, therefore Luca (in gray) had the right to stop short on him.


Legal – David (in red) pivot turns, plants his rear tire and inadvertently causes a screen while moving into position to defend or make a play on the ball carrier. David was merely playing the ball without intention to screen.


Legal – All of the players involved are continuing their movement in order to avoid any active impeding of movement.


Illegal – Eddy (in red) uses his brakes to ‘screen’ Luca (in gray) from making a play on the ball/ball carrier. This is an example of when it’s illegal to prevent a player of moving towards an open ball. If Eddy choses to move towards the ball himself, and uses a screen only to give himself space, then it can be done legally.


Illegal – Prolonged impeding of movement by Sean, but it’s also in the crease.


Illegal – Obstruction on Will (in gray) but not Polo (second screener in gray). Polo just happens to be in the way while Will put himself in the way by using his brakes.

Illegal – Obstruction on Henri (in blue), he rides to the front of the net and stops directly in front of the Mosquito’s player. This is also potentially inside of the crease.


Illegal – Obstruction, LML (in turquoise tanktop) cut off line from behind the net while braking hard causing a dab. LML needs to continue rolling forward.


Illegal – Obstruction and Tail Whip on Forrest (in turquoise), this could potentially be a Minor penalty if it results in a shot on net.


Illegal – Obstruction, Polo (in gray) stops short, with eyes off ball and on Joey (in black) which results in a breakaway. Polo has to let Joey attempt to make a play on the ball carrier.


Illegal – First Eddy (in red) interferes, at which point Polo (in gray) protests for a call. Then Eddy Obstructs Polo by cutting his line and stopping short. This results in a 1-on-1 situation with the goalie which means this obstruction could be considered a Minor penalty.


The factor’s at play here are the duration of the screen and intensity of braking, but essentially Polo (in gray) is preventing a player without the ball from getting up court into a position. This is illegal, but since it has little effect on the play a referee could let it go with a warning.


This is a clear obstruction on Polo (in gray) as he accelerates into a position to deliberately force physical contact with the player in red. If he were already in the position to block, it’s legal, but since he had to move deliberately and held the screen, it’s Obstruction. Moreover, it results in a shot on net that wasn’t fairly won..

Playtesting proposed rule changes – Obstruction

With a number of the most experienced NAH approved refs, and players from around North America attending the Great Lakes Winter Classic in Toronto this weekend, we are using it as a chance to playtest the proposed new Obstruction and Crease rules.

Thanks to Joe and Mark for their hard work in drafting this, and to the players of the PHPB for their input, and testing it. Thanks to Mr Do for the video used to make the clips.

Obstruction Rule Latest Draft

  • §8.7.1 – An obstruction penalty will be assessed when a player utilizes a ‘screen’ to actively impede the movement of an opposing player who is not in possession of the ball in a manner deemed by the referee to be prolonged or dangerous.
  • § – ‘Screening’ will be defined as blocking an opponent to gain access to the ball, blocking them from challenging the player in possession of the ball, or preventing them from free and open movement to gain a position on the court. This includes, but is not limited to, the following types of movement:
    • Significant change in direction or speed of the players bike.
    • Acceleration/deceleration of the players bike.
    • Changing directions while moving forward, or moving backwards.
    • Lifting and turning of the players front or back wheel.
    • Lateral movement by leaning or hopping.
  • §8.7.2 – If a ‘screen’ is set that is stationary or momentary and in such a way that legal bodily contact as described in §10 is possible, an obstruction penalty will not be assessed.


We’ve taken clips of games from last year to provide examples of what is legal and what isn’t. There was no such rule when these games were played, so we aren’t suggesting any of these plays were illegal at the time.


Legal – Eddy has the opportunity to screen harder but holds back. This is an example of an equally effective block without impeding movement.


Legal – Henri nearly screens out Daren. He occupied the space early enough to allow the T-Bone to be avoided. Daren accelerated into the screen.


Legal – Joey has the ball, therefore Luca had the right to stop short on him.


Legal – David pivot turns, plants his rear tire and inadvertently causes a screen. David was merely playing the ball without intention to screen.


Illegal – Eddy drew the contact from Luca with the sudden change of direction.


Illegal – Prolonged impeding of movement by Sean


Illegal – Obstruction on Will but not Polo. Polo just happens to be in the way while Will put himself in the way.

2015 Season and Beyond

NAH Qualifying Series

As in previous years, teams will qualify for the NAHBPC through regional qualifiers.

The regional reps must provide the list of qualified teams, and one wild card team to the NAH ( by Monday August 3rd 2015.


The following changes will be made from last year.

Regions will have full control over their qualifier. This includes:

  • Dates: (as long as it’s before August 3rd).
  • Format: This may be the format of the tournament itself, but can also include multiple tournaments, a qualifying series, or a geographical split into sub-regions, for example. For any guidance, please see for suggested formats, or contact
  • Rules: Any deviations from the NAH rules must be approved by the rules committee, but changes are likely to be rejected only on the basis of safety. For example Eastside may choose to use wrist shots, which would be fine. But making t-bones legal would not.
  • Budget: Regions can decide on registration fees, how they are collected, and how that money is budgeted. Paying referees was a success in 2014, and it is suggested that regions budget for this.
  • Registration: We recommend using Podium for registration, and opening it at least 6 weeks before the tournament. We require registration details to be posted on LOBP, and sent to at least two weeks in advance, so that everyone has a fair chance to register. Out-of-region players must be able to register, but regions may have an in-region only period of up to 1 week.

As a change from last year players may now play in multiple qualifiers. This creates a few different scenarios:

  • If a player qualifies with two different teams, they must choose which team to register and play with in the NAHBPC, they cannot play with both.
  • Teams must register for the NAHBPC as ⅔ of lineup they qualified with. If this is not possible, then they will lose their qualifying slot. Teams playing with an already qualified player, or a player they know will try to qualify with another team, must plan for this.
  • If a ⅔ qualified team plays in another qualifier, it will be assumed they qualified from the first qualifier, and their final position in later qualifiers will be ignored, unless they notify the NAH, and tournament organisers in advance. For example if the Means had been able to play ESQ as well as MXQ last year, and qualified, unless they had notified the NAH and ESQ organisers in advance, they would be considered to have qualified through the MXQ slots.

Qualifying Slots

Qualifying slots will be allocated to each region as follows:

20 teams, 2 from each region.

24 teams, based on the top 24 in 2014, where each team earns a slot for the region it qualified in. This produces the following totals:

  • Cascadia: 11
  • South West: 5
  • Eastside: 4
  • Great Lakes: 4
  • Heartland: 4
  • South East: 4
  • Great Plains: 3
  • Mexico: 3
  • Northside: 3
  • South Central: 3

In addition the champions (Beaver Boys), are already qualified for the NAHBPC (minimum 2/3 of the same lineup), and do not need to qualify. If they choose to attempt to qualify, then the region they attempt to qualify in will get an extra slot. If they do not attempt to qualify, nor register for the NAHBPC, their slot will not be allocated to a region.

The final 3 slots, plus any unclaimed slots will be allocated to the wildcard tournament.



The NAHBPC will take place in Lexington, KY, from Thursday 17th – Sunday 20th September 2015.

Thursday will be a 30 team wildcard. This will consist of 6-7 rounds of Swiss, followed by a small double elim, for the qualifying slots. For example, for 3 slots, the top 8 teams will go to the elimination.

After the wildcard is done, early evening, the courts will be open until late for pickup and practice.

Wildcard registration will open on the first Monday after the last regional qualifier. Each region will get one slot, two slots will be given to Lexington, for their volunteers, and a slot will be given to the Ladies Army 2015 winners. In the event the Ladies Army winners have already qualified, or can’t attend, the slot can go to another team of the Ladies Army organisers choosing. We would suggest the next highest ranked team, who are not qualified, but can attend.

The remaining slots, including any unclaimed from the above, will be first-come-first-served. Any team of 3 players may register for the wildcard, they do not need to have played in a qualifier.

Friday will be 48 teams in equally seeded AM and PM groups, where teams will play 5 games each.

Saturday morning will be the top 18 teams (9 from each group), playing 4 games.

Saturday afternoon will be the remaining 30 teams (15 from each group), playing 5 games.

Sunday will be a double elim for 28 teams (the top 18 group, and the best 10 teams from the remaining 30).

The format may change, due to weather, or other unavoidable scenarios.


NAH Bench 2015

This year the NAH Bench is provisionally scheduled for November, hopefully in Guadalajara, Mexico. As yet, nothing is confirmed. In the event that does not work out, we will look for another warm location for the same dates, or postpone it to spring 2016.

We are changing the qualifying system for the 2015 NAH Bench. Rather than base it on performance in 3vs3, the overwhelming feedback has been that clubs want to qualify in their own regions. Some regions already have existing bench championships (such as ESBI), we hope those regions will use it for NAH qualifying. Like with 3vs3, regions will have full control over format, rules, team/squad size, budget, registration, etc.

Regional Bench qualifiers may include clubs from outside the region, or multiple teams per club. Teams must be club based, but regions will have the flexibility to decide how those teams are formed, and who may play for them. Regional reps must provide a qualified club, willing to travel, and a reserve list, to the NAH, by Monday 14th September. If no qualifier is possible, then they should determine another way to decide on a club that wants to go to the Championships.

The Bench championships will consist of 12 club based teams. One slot will be given to each region, with one additional slot going to the champions (Portland), and the host club. In the event a region cannot, or chooses not to send a club, regions will get a second team in the following order, based on finishing position in the 2014 NAH Bench, and 2014 NAHBPC finishing position, for the 3 regions that did not send a team. This process will continue to 3rd teams, 4th teams, etc, if required. The regions who already have 2 teams (Cascadia and the host region), will be skipped in the first round of re-allocations.

  • Cascadia
  • Great Lakes
  • Eastside
  • Heartland
  • South Central
  • Northside
  • South East
  • South West
  • Great Plains
  • Mexico



The 7th WHBPC will take place in Timaru, NZ, in the week of 3rd-7th February 2016.

As yet, no allocations or format have been announced. The NAH will use the NAHBPC results to allocate slots.



With the growth of the squad format (5 player squads), and no worlds to qualify for, based on the feedback from many tournaments of that format in the coming season, we will give serious consideration to use this format for the NAHBPC 2016. This means 2015 may be the last year traditional 3vs3 is used at the highest level of competition in this continent.



The NAH would like to bid for the WHPBC 8, with an aim to host it in late summer 2017. We ask interested regions to look for 3-4 court locations, and get back to us with a proposal by the end of 2015..

German translation of NAH Ruleset

Thanks to Graz Bike Polo, in Austria, who have translated the NAH rules into German.

The original English ruleset is the only one applicable to NAH tournaments (we hope to change this sooner rather than later, at least for Spanish and French), this may be very useful for those whose first language is German, and would like to use our ruleset.