From the Stands: The New WFTDA Rule Set (March 1, 2014)

Roller derby is an ever evolving sport. When you have a rule book that’s 74 pages long, there are going to be things that need to be modified/revised over time. Especially when the skaters can propose and vote on the rule changes. The official list of rule changes can be found on the WFTDA site, and Frisky Sour has a breakdown of some of the changes.

This new rule set doesn’t become mandatory until April 1st, but teams can start playing under these rules now. I was able to watch two bouts and a scrimmage under these new rules this weekend. Here’s how I felt, as a spectator, about the changes.

Offical Review

The old rule said you only got one official review per half. Period. This has been changed to be if you win your official review, you don’t lose it. It makes sense, and I’m pretty sure this is how other sports handle similar situations. As a spectator I was afraid that this would cause more official reviews, which are boring. But I didn’t see that this weekend. Hopefully we’ll continue to see this going forward.

Multiplayer Blocks

Still waiting on this one. The wording is odd. It says you have a multiplayer block if it “prevents said opponent from passing between said teammates.” Which isn’t a wall made to stop your opponent from passing between you and your teammate? I agree with Frisky Sour on this, the point is no clotheslining. There has to be a better way to word this. This is one I’m expecting to be tricky as seasons go on.

30 Second Penalties

This is the big one, and I absolutely love it. This rule was made to cut back on “slow derby,” when the skaters stop skating and move to the outside of the track, during power jams. It’s not fun to watch, and it’s not fun to play. Now, instead of a skater getting a full minute in the box, they get thirty seconds. There’s hardly time to lineout at all. This made every bout this weekend seem to be faster and more exciting. Plus, because you don’t see 40 point power jams anymore, the score differential isn’t as high. I love watching derby with the shorter Penalties

Those are the major changes as a spectator, as far as I can tell. There were several other changes that will effect gameplay and strategy, but I don’t think it’ll be a thing you’ll notice directly on the track. Have you seen any bouts with the new ruleset yet? What do you think so far?

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