View Full Version : ECC experimental rules
08-13-2010, 11:34 AM
I just wanted to let people know that the Emerald City Classic (http://www.emeraldcityclassic.com/) (ECC) this weekend in the Seattle area is experimenting with a few rule changes.
There will be four USAU certified observer crews at the tournament who will be implementing active up/down calls and active travel calls in the games they are observing. The plan is for each team at the tournament to all have at least one or two games with observers to experience what it's like having those calls be solely initiated by observers. This will be a great opportunity for a large number of club teams to provide feedback and gain perspective on these expanded observer roles--something that the college division has been experimenting with more extensively at this point.
Additionally, two other rule changes are being tested out in all the games of the weekend, regardless of whether observers are working the game or not. Those are shortening the endzones to 20 yards each and adding a new marker infraction call, "contact," which does not stop play but allows a thrower to gain a new stall count after being fouled before throwing. Shortened endzones would align USAU regulations with WFDF's field dimensions, enable an ultimate field to more easily fit on established football and soccer fields (and reduce injury risk on fields with permanently fixed goal posts), and give a slight advantage to the defense. In an e-mail to ECC teams, USAU Head Observer Greg Connelly explains the "contact" call as follows:
"If contact occurs between the thrower and marker that would constitute a foul under XVI.H.3.a but the thrower does not release the disc, "contact" may be called. Play does not stop and the marker resumes the stall count at "one". Other than resetting the stall count to "one" after the first instance, the "contact" call is treated as any other marking violation. The marker may contest the "contact" call by calling "violation", which stops play.
"All the regular calls ("disc space" "violation" etc) are still available to the thrower, and the marker should react appropriately. Continuation will be handled the same as other marking violation calls (so the thrower can not call "contact" and then attempt a 'free' throw). And the SRC feels that this is not a very invasive change, as players could simply elect not to use the call, even if teams vote to allow it to be tried out."
None of these rule changes will be in effect for the fall Club Series this year, but feedback from the players and teams in attendance at ECC will be helpful for evaluating these changes for potential future implementation. I'm excited to get the opportunity to play under these rules this weekend and look forward to hearing what others think about them as well.
08-13-2010, 12:55 PM
Awesome idea for the "contact" call. I can't wait to see how teams feel about it.
08-13-2010, 12:59 PM
I would absolutely love to see the active up/down and travels be called by the observers/refs in the future. I also think making 20 yard endzones would be great, as many fields used at tournaments are football or soccer fields. I like the challenge for offence too that way, as endzone strategy would be used a lot more. I can't wait to hear about some of your results. Will you be posting them on this thread after the tournament? It would be cool if you talked about it on the Ultimate Nation webcast too!
Kettnetic Thunder (http://kettneticthunder.com)
08-13-2010, 02:39 PM
WFDF has a "contact" infraction call (http://ultimaterules.co.cc/?page_id=1535#Infractions) that is similar to the one USAU is experimenting with this weekend, with one important difference. WFDF's version has the stall count drop by 2 the first time it is called and then drop to 0 on any subsequent calls during that particular thrower's possession, all without stopping play (unless the marker contested). Teams were encouraged to use this call at WUCC instead of calling a foul so that play would keep moving.
On paper, I prefer WFDF's version of this rule as opposed to an automatic drop to 0 with a "contact" call because I think it has less opportunity for abuse by throwers who may try and draw a foul if the count gets high. Early in the count, dropping 2 and dropping to 0 are essentially equivalent and could help discourage markers' illegal bumping early--a marking trend that has unfortunately been on the rise. Late in the count, the incentives change dramatically for the first "contact" infraction, potentially creating a tempting opportunity for rules abuse. USAU's current "disc space" rule in the 11th edition could also be used to drop the count if a marker is overly aggressive, but I don't think that call has caught on in the same way that illegal marking has. I suppose experimenting with a "contact" call that goes right to 0 is an attempt to find a way to balance out marker and thrower power in the rules.
Hopefully players will actually remember to use the experimental "contact" call this weekend so that teams will have an opportunity to provide meaningful feedback on it. Riot had a difficult time remembering "contact" was an option instead of calling "foul" when we played at WUCC and it takes time for new calls to be adopted.
The Observer Committee will be collecting feedback from the tournament on the experimental rules, and I would certainly support them publicizing those results in this forum.
08-13-2010, 03:15 PM
I am decidedly in favor of this "contact" call and am very surprised that it existed at WUCC and I had not previously heard of it. Obviously, this is very similar to "disc space" calls when the marker bumps at 3, but I honestly think that has not caught on because "disc space" is a weird 2 word phase that is hard to think about and hard to say in the heat of the moment.
I don't think abuse at high counts will be a problem, or at least any more of a problem. If a thrower is gonna draw a foul at 8 and the mark has not adjusted to prevent fouling the thrower, it doesn't really matter if the call is "foul" or "contact"; a stoppage of play and a fresh count might even be better for the offense when they have started to scramble for a dump. As it stand as "always back to 0", there is less thinking involved for both thrower and marker which is a good thing. The problem with the other marking violations is the amount of thinking they require from both players.
08-16-2010, 04:54 AM
So, how did the contact rule go over with the players?
08-17-2010, 01:08 PM
Here are some notes on the experimental rules from various online postings by open players.
A Ring player, Josh Mullen, posted this about the experimental rules on his blog (http://mittechultimate.blogspot.com/2010/08/ecc-wrap-up.html):
Contact: this is pretty much awesome. Disc space was so awkward to say while you have a million things to do on the field at the same time, and it seemed very arbitrary to call and even to prove or disprove since it deals with planes of moving appendages. Contact simply is, if someone touches you while marking, you say contact, and they go down to 0. It is everything disc space wasn't.
20 yard endzones: This isn't really a big deal because it normally only is at tourneys that you have a truly regulation sized field. I wish though that they would have made the playing field proper be 80 yards instead of just chopping off 10 to the endzones and keeping it 70.
Travel, Up-Down, In-Out: Awesome. No ticky-tack bullshit travel calls, no disputes and stupid reenactments of where people perceive their feet to be at the time of a catch. It almost felt like a real sport out there. The games with observers go so much faster than without.
Ironside's Adam Simon mentioned the experimental rules briefly in his tournament wrap-up (http://ironsideultimate.blogspot.com/2010/08/ecc-write-up.html):
Game 2 gives us our first look at squirrly, breakmark, plink-o Rhino. Also our first look at the trial refzerver with active travel calls and "contact" replacing "foul." Interesting. Not sure it will become the way we do things, but I like taking incessant travel calls away from an opponent willing to stoop that level. Rhino played with tremendous class, and I doubt it would have been an issue in this game, but I can see the utility of doing things this way.
Mike Payne of Revolver also started a discussion about the 20 yard endzones (http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=113110322071684&topic=64) in his Facebook page campaigning for a USAU board spot. He mentioned the shorter endzones "had a pretty big impact on the games we played."
Riot only played one game with observers at the tournament (in our showcase against Brute Squad) and I liked the active travel and up/down calls made by the observers. They called a couple travel calls that might not have been called otherwise, but the instances were definitely travels, so it was nice to have the decision separated from whether the throw involved was damaging to the D. I also felt like some players (who have been notorious for traveling) noticeable made an effort not to travel in this game, which was a great outcome. There was one Riot low release pass that I think some Brute players thought was down that the observer didn't call, but he responded during play that it was still in her hand when it touched the grass. I'm betting he felt he had to justify the no call since this was the first time either team had played with active up/down calls, but I think in general the observers shouldn't have to explain "no calls" during active play.
Given that most women's games I've played in or watched have very few travel calls to begin with, I do wonder if having observers make active travel calls will prevent people from paying attention to travels in all their games, allowing throwers to "get away" with advantage gaining travels in un-observed games. In general, I don't like the idea of playing with observers eventually affecting being able to compete without observers, and there's a potential for the active travel calls to make a difference that way. Active up/down and in/out don't seem to affect players ability to call those accurately in non-observed games because they involve things that players naturally watch (i.e. the disc and the line). Then again, maybe if some players don't get to practice making ticky-tack or imaginary travel calls in observed games, non-observed games would benefit by have fewer illegitimate travel calls made too.
The 20 yard endzones did not affect our team as we had been practicing with that size of endzones since May in preparation for WUCC. During the course of the weekend, I noticed a few more deep passes go out the back than might have happened otherwise, but it doesn't seem like a tough adjustment for teams to make over time. Adding the "contact" rule was a bit more of an adjustment. Riot had actually practiced using the call at our pre-ECC weekday practice to test it out, and so a few of our players remembered to call it during the course of the tournament. However, not all the markers that had it called against them were ready to respond by dropping the count appropriately. I would attribute that to the relatively last minute announcement of the experimental rules, but it can easily take awhile for new calls to be effectively implemented.
08-17-2010, 02:00 PM
There was one Riot low release pass that I think some Brute players thought was down that the observer didn't call, but he responded during play that it was still in her hand when it touched the grass. I'm betting he felt he had to justify the no call since this was the first time either team had played with active up/down calls, but I think in general the observers shouldn't have to explain "no calls" during active play. I was the observer in Riot's game with Brute Squad where there was some question as to whether the low release throw was down. I did give a quick blurb to the sidelines (~"no, it was still in her hand") just to give some explanation. As a rabid sports fan myself, I hate it when the ref never gives an explanation as to what happened (think FIFA's handling of the botched disallowed US goal). As an observer, if I hear question as to what happened and I can give a **quick** explanation that doesn't interfere with my duties, I'll do it, regardless of if there are new rules or roles or involved (though it won't be a discussion). If there isn't time, I'll come back to it between points if asked. I also do it so people know I am actually paying attention to what's going on out there like I'm supposed to be doing :) I certainly didn't feel obligated to do so, it's just the right thing to do.
I thought the experimental stuff went pretty well. Contact wasn't used as often as it should be. It was funny hearing throwers swear after calling a foul when they realized they should have used contact instead. I'm still not a fan of active up/downs. I like an instant referral system for that one as getting screened at the last second is not uncommon (though not common). Active travels has pluses and minuses, with the biggest minus is defense not being able to let some calls go that might help them, but I think the improved flow (fewer stoppages on really bad travel calls) and better spirit (annoyed with the observer instead of the opponent) outweigh the negatives. The real question is what is the standard and getting everyone on the same page.
I was VERY bummed to see no active observer restarts in the experimentation. Game flow can be greatly improved by this with more prompt restarts and fewer false starts. I'd say ~10 times I stood there after a call was resolved and the players called plays and defenses for 20+ seconds. Not good for spectators.
08-17-2010, 03:33 PM
The thing about WFDF rules is that they have unpacked the disc space call into “wrapping,” “straddle,” “disc space” (with a few variations from the 11th edition), and "contact." More to remember, but if you’re the marker, then at least you know what you’re being called for. And some may find it easier to remember each distinct element, rather than the whirlwind of imaginary lines and points and distances that constitute “disc space” violations under the 11th edition.
Under USA Ultimate rules, if you hear “disc space,” you need to have pretty good awareness of your position and the rules to understand it. Similarly, you need to understand the rules reasonably well to call “disc space.” It is not a surprise that "disc space" is rarely called. Some people also claim it is difficult to say, but I suspect the complexity is the real reason it is rarely used, given how advantageous it is to call it.
Some people have speculated (here or on RSD) that the "contact" call would be confusing or subject to abuse. I'm not convinced. Whenever you would call "foul" but don't want to stop play (and are not making a throw), you call "contact." If the call is contested, play stops and it is just like a contested foul - no potential for abuse. If it is uncontested, then the marker just starts the stall count over again at 1. No subtractions, no correcting infractions before stalling again, just start the count over. Simple. True that it is one extra thing to remember, but it is one very simple extra thing to remember.
08-17-2010, 04:16 PM
My thoughts on the experiments, generally and based on observing at ECC:
Short End Zones (20 yards). The reasons I have heard are: 1) Increase available field sites and improve safety at those sites, 2) challenge the offense and improve the O/D balance in the sport, 3) align with the international standard. I don't really buy any of these reasons. If the concern were safety and available field sites, the field dimension change would be to make the field narrower (35 or 37 yards) so that two fields could safely fit on a soccer field. This would double the safe capacity of every soccer complex with individual soccer fields and would also shift the O/D balance more.
I'd like to see some numbers on how dramatically shortening the fields impacts site availability. I can certainly be convinced otherwise, but I think those in favor of shortening the fields should produce some data before expecting people to buy in. I'll help start it out - a polo field is 300 x 160 yards, so having 110 yard fields allows two extra fields to run lengthwise end-to-end, with a 10-yard buffer between the adjacent back end zone lines. And numbers on polo clubs in the country are easy to find. Anyone have info on the number of fixed-goalpost 120-yard soccer/football fields out there? Or 110-yard moveable goal soccer fields? And how do these sites relate to potential tournament sites? Or are they just showcase fields?
Playing on short fields at Worlds and at an experimental event I hosted was less enjoyable than playing on full-size fields. A few more hucks and pulls out the back, plus a little more cramped end zone offense. Haven't played it yet in heavy wind. So I'd like to at least see some numbers to see if the benefit is worth the cost. Also, the O/D balance is only really problematic at the very highest levels without wind. I don't think we should change the field dimensions for the whole sport just to cater to the occasional needs of 0.5% of the sport.
Active Travels Feedback I received from some teams was that they objected to having the flow of the game interrupted by travel calls (on even large movements of the pivot) that they would let slide on D. Of course, this is perhaps counterbalanced by the fewer interruptions from ticky-tack, questionable travel calls made by biased opponents. Sort of depends on who you're playing against. I think players generally like the benefit of not having opponents calling travels and all the hassle that goes along with that. But I think most players would prefer that every single travel not be called. So what's a good standard? We don't want a pair of rules-weenies in orange stopping play all the time when players don't want it. But we do want travels getting called reliably and consistently, not just at the whim of whatever two observers you happen to get. If I got to set a standard, I'd like to give discretion and encouragement to observers not to call movements under 2 inches. This would create a margin for error and increase the reliability of travel calls (avoid having hucks called back improperly because the observer didn't quite get the timing of the release right). Of course, you'd still want to call a travel on the thrower who gradually slides away from the marker in <2" increments.
From an observer standpoint, making active travels in a 2-observer system requires compromises. The positioning to accurately see travels is different than the positioning to accurately see marking fouls. I have hundreds of video clips to back up this statement, plus the handful of active travel tournaments I've observed and the many other tournaments I have observed. You can get by if the players are calling the travels, but it's much harder if it's on the observer to call everything. It also can pull the observer out of position to see calls on the far sideline. Something's got to give. The more illegal the mark, the less likely a travel will get called. That's alright. But the compromises aren't always so favorable. With a 4 observer system, or even a third observer watching the thrower, travels are much easier to call reliably and comprehensively.
Contact. As I said, I really like the contact call. It wasn't used much, but it didn't cause any problems in the 5-10 times I heard it used. It also seemed as though the players universally embraced the benefits of the call (berating themselves and teammates for not using it more instead of "foul").
Active Up/Down. I think players can often agree on up/down. It doesn't come up all that often. It's not a huge deal either way, but I think immediate referral on up/down gives maximum benefits and reliability. Chances of both observers being obstructed is fairly significant -- observer is far more likely to have a good view of an in/out call, assuming clear sidelines.
I agree with Mitch that active observer restarts are a good idea. I think they got experimented with briefly and the players and observers didn't adjust quickly enough, so the players gave bad feedback. I supported the idea then and I continue to support it. Now the players are more familiar with observers and are somewhat more familiar with checking the disc in properly and waiting for people to be ready. Having the observers check the disc in avoids confusion (starting play before everyone's ready), speeds things up, and deters monkey-business with the check (quick-check by defense, or delaying and play-calling by offense).
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