NAH 2012 Rules: Highlights

North American Hardcourt (NAH) has come out with a draft (PDF here if you’d like to read) of the newest, baby-fresh rules for 2012. These rules aren’t set in stone (you can help give opinions/views to the committee through League of Bike Polo (ALL HAIL) here)

Overall and as expected, the rules of Polo are becoming more regimented and more granular. There are a few rules I’d like to discuss here just to get your opinions on: The mallet head is a maximum of 180mm (7”) in length. The inner diameter of any hole on the mallet head may not exceed 57mm (2.25”).

These two are new rules, and I think they are solid. I can ‘t  think of anyone having a mallet that is longer than 7 inches, but I could see getting pissed if someone playing goal had a 2 foot mallet head.

The other rule (about inner diameter) definitely helps clarify the cheater mallet question, does it not?

3.1.7 Jousting players hold their mallet on the side of their bike which a majority of players in the game have their mallet hand.

As a lefty, I can say this completely takes me out of jousting. If I’m holding my mallet on the side the “majority” of players have their mallet hand, then I’m kind of useless. I think it’s a fair rule, as lefties jousting right handers is a bad idea, but it hurts deep down. 

3.1.8 Jousting players maintain a straight line until a player makes contact with the ball.

This is another good addition. Basically it makes sure that the competition for joust is based off of speed and not this-is-Sparta madness.

3.1.9 Jousting players peel off to the side of their steering arm after the joust.

Well…I don’t know. Is it required that I peel off that direction? What if I want to keep going straight ahead (I don’t know why I’d want to, but what if I do?) I understand the basis of the rule, I suppose – making sure that the jousters don’t crash into each other – but is it required to go the direction of the steering arm only?

Being a lefty (despite that I’d not be jousting because I’d be as useful as a nipple on a nun), I’d have to peel into the other guy. Possession goes to the second to last team to touch the ball before the ball left play. These touches may include incidental deflections, rebounds, etc.

Good. So if Johnny shoots the ball, and Francine blocks it with her wheel and it shoots off of the court, the ball goes back to Johnny (since last contact was Francine’s wheelcover. A ball that is lodged in a player’s equipment is out of play. Possession goes to the team that did not have the ball lodged in their equipment.

This is something that Lancaster doesn’t currently do – so pay attention Lancastria! If the ball gets lodged in your wheel, it goes to the other team once you pick it out. Even if it’s your own silly fault for getting it there and not a shot you blocked. Any player having the mechanical problem has the option to call a timeout or “mechanical” only after their team takes possession of the ball. After fixing the mechanical problem, the ball is turned over to the other team and play will restart according to §3.3.

A new twist (I think). If you call a time when you have the ball to fix your chain, you give up the ball to the opposing team. That makes it a bit more precarious…but it does assure that nobody will just call time and fiddle with their bike to give their own team time to get set up, I suppose. Verbal heckling or abuse of a referee, goal judge, timekeeper, scorekeeper, or any other event organizer or official.

Lame. I get it, I get it, but lame. I think you should be allowed to call the ref names just as long as you still listen and do what they direct. Knocking or relocating an opponent’s dropped mallet in order to make it more difficult for them to recover it.

Sorry Horse (to be fair, he’d never do this in tourney play, but it makes him happy in pickup).

6.3 Bike-on-bike contact

6.3.1 A player who initiates bike-on-bike contact will be assessed a penalty ranging from ball turnover to major. Examples of penalized bike-on-bike contact can include: A player riding his or her bicycle in such a way that wheel-to-wheel or wheel-to-frame contact is initiated on an opponent. This includes t-boning an opponent while riding forwards OR backwards. Skidding to a stop while changing directions which results in wheel-towheel or wheel-to-bike contact on an opponent. This is commonly referred to as the “whale tail” or “dolphin slap”. Hopping on the bike and causing contact to an opponent’s bike with your chainstay, pedals, or any other part of your bike. Crossing behind an opponent perpendicular to the direction he or she is facing at a proximity near enough to force him or her to dab as a result of lateral force applied to the rear wheel with your foot and/or pedal.

6.3.2 Incidental bike-on-bike contact is contact that doesn’t affect play and is not dangerous. No penalty will be assessed for bike-on-bike contact deemed incidental.

Yes, this whole section is something to discuss. In the past the rule was simply like contact, but that has clearly not been granular enough to limit the amount of “well, he started it” or “watch the bike, watch the bike!!” arguments.

Each individual rule in this group I can stand behind. What worries me is the dandification of the sport. Just looking at this list, the only apparent no penalty bike on bike contact is “incidental.”

Again – I think each individual rule listed is not only acceptable, but freaking great. I’m just a bit concerned about the slope this rule set can lead to. Feel free to explain why I’m dumb for thinking that in the comments area. If, in the opinion of the referee, a player makes contact with the ball first and subsequently trips the opponent in so doing, no penalty will be assessed.

A nice clarification I think.

7.5.1 A mallet throwing penalty will be assessed when a player throws his or her mallet.

I’m sure this would never be a problem with the Lancaster United club.


8.3.1 A headbutting penalty will assessed when a player headbutts an opposing player.

I am very interested in the situation that caused this rule to be included.

Overall, the rest of the rules for the draft make sense or are self-explanatory. Remember that you (yes, you) need to give your input on the post started by the NAH about the new rules. Go there to see other’s concerns and voice your own. Polo is still a collective sport, so don’t dilly dally.

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  1. Zachary says:

    I helped write these rules, so i can chime in…

    the jousting question. being a lefty does not prohibit you from jousting, it just means you have to “cross over” to joust. likewise if two lefty’s wanna lefty-joust, that’s fine, go for it. interestingly, as the rule is written, if there’s at least 3 leftys on the court than a righty could be required to “cross over” if they want to joust (a nice turn of the tables i think).

    the “peeling” rule is a result of the committee not being able to agree on establishing “jousting lines” yet still acknowledging that that shit is dangerous. steering arm becomes relative if you’re a lefty crossing over, but the intent is obvious– you peel AWAY from the oncoming player, not INTO the player. why we still have to explain this shit to people in 2012 is beyond me, but since it still happens apparently we do.

    • Crusher says:

      Half of my “peeling” rule chutzpah was just me being silly, so don’t think I was just that dense. I am about alot of things, but not in this case.

      As far as jousting goes – of course two lefties can still joust away (something I think is kinda called for if you have lefties on both sides of the court). Again, I was venting my left handed complaining, and was mostly not serious at all. I think leftys generally shouldn’t joust unless it’s against another lefty, as I am hard pressed finding many instances when a lefty jousting a righty doesn’t end up with the lefty losing or both crash-test-dummying into eachother. Fun, but not productive.

      I was interested in how much more expansive the rules are this year than last – another sign of polo forming up, as a tea drinking socialite might say. In particular I was interested in the regulations around mallets.

      • Zachary says:

        hell yeah man i too am excited about the more expansive ruleset. we really did try to cover every possible situation while still addressing issues in a categorical way.

        now if we could just find referees who aren’t players…

        • Crusher says:

          I kinda feel like that’s a second stage – once enough of us break out knees and get too old (80?) to play anymore.

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