Statements & Clarifications
Statements and clarifications on The Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby from the WFTDA Rules Committee to be incorporated in future updates.
In 2019, the WFTDA Rules Committee released a public statement regarding illegal holding penalties. The statement read as follows:
The Rules Committee Theory Panel has been monitoring a potential issue over the last two years and feels the time has come to make a public statement providing direction.
The Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby detail a number of ways to legally and illegally block. The Rules cannot exhaustively catalog all possible forms of contact, and there will remain gray areas. However, the absence of a specific prohibition does not implicitly make an action legal. The action must be evaluated in the spirit of the sport and in line with other similar actions.
Legal forms of blocking do not include grasping or holding an opponent even if the contact is made using legal blocking and/or target zones. This illegal hold can take several forms including intentionally trapping an opponent's arm, or as has been observed in some recent play, encircling an opponent's leg. The latter of which is a dangerous and unfair tactic. A skater must be able to disengage from a one-on-one block without breaking an opponent's hold.
It is within the Referees' discretion to penalize these illegal holds as Unsporting Conduct.
Rules Theory has been made aware of a new blocking tactic which has become popular recently. This move involves the initiator trapping the target's shoulder between their upper arm and chest. The initiator then presses down on top of the target's shoulder to complete the block.
While legal blocking and target zones are used in the tactic, the 2019 Rules Committee statement applies to this action. Trapping a target's shoulder using the upper arm can be considered an illegal hold and would therefore be an Unsporting Conduct penalty. Referees have discretion to penalize for this move.
Additionally, if the initiator exerts downward force to the top of the target's shoulder, then the initiator of the block should be expelled due to the danger of injuring the target skater. Dropping ones body weight down onto an opponent is dangerous and is a significant physical threat to the opponent.
Discussion: Rules Statement on Illegal Holding (Updated)