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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
- Follow the current NAH ruleset (2017 coming soon)
- Qualified teams should take ⅗ of that team to NAHBPC or else their spot shall be forfeited to the following team.
- Regional reps are responsible for delivering names of successful teams to the NAH Tournament Director (date TBD pending NAHBPC).
- Regional reps are required to make very clear to the region how teams will qualify for the NAHBPC.
- 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.
- 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.
- Regions are responsible for collecting their own registration fees.