The NAH Ruleset V3.3: A Review

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I finally had a chance to sit down and read over the newest incarnation of the NAH bike polo rule set, and just to be clear—I want you to imagine me doing so while wearing a fine smoking jacket and with a snifter of brandy in my hand. Let it happen…just let it happen my babies.

Speaking in generalities, I can say that this ruleset didn’t have many surprises in it. We still play on bikes, we still wear helmets, etc. What I did notice, however, was an emphasis on the importance of referees. There is some language that could be deemed ambiguous in the new rule set, but you’ll find—almost always—a passage immediately after indicating that it comes down to the court referee to decide what the rule is and the action to be taken. I enjoyed this, as it gives the refs a bit more importance in the sport and also makes for a more organic game. A document can’t tell what the situation was when making a call, but a person can, and it seems like the V3.3 ruleset takes that into account.

There are a few points I want to touch on and discuss:

Still language about carbon fiber shafts: who is using carbon fiber shafts? I’m serious – get in contact with me. I’ve never seen it.

Mallet Head must be plastic: I didn’t notice this language before, but I’m noticing it now. Not a big deal as everyone is using some sort of plastic head, but I thought it interesting that it was spelled out in this version of the rules (again, maybe it was before, but I don’t remember seeing it).

Majority handedness does the joust. If there is an equal number, coin is flipped to see whether lefties or righties joust: This is bullshit. Listen: if there is an equal number of left handed and right handed players playing, just give it to the lefties. For God’s sake we don’t have that opportunity often!

NAH Ruleset3.2.3.1: When the ball leaves the area of play, possession is forfeited by the team which last touched the ball. This includes deflections of a player’s body or bike : I don’t like this rule, as it doesn’t really punish the person responsible for the ball going out. Let’s say I’m a goalie and I do a great job at blocking the ball with my wheel cover, resulting in the ball shooting off of the court (this is more likely to happen with a mallet block, but stay focused): it doesn’t matter how well I did, because as soon as that ball goes out, it goes back to the team that was shooting on me.

The lesson? Just shoot as hard and as often as you can on goal,  because if it deflects off of the poor bugger, you’ll get it back.

Goal is awarded when entire ball crosses goal line: This is something we don’t necessarily do at Lancaster Polo (if a part of the ball crosses we call it a goal). I don’t know how other clubs play, but this is comforting to me.

Toppling: It’s just a funny way to say it, but it’s when you purposefully knock people down while you yourself are going down. Toppling. Toppling toppling toppling.

Slashing: Again, I think this needs to be more accurately defined past “in an aggressive manner.” If I’m smiling and laughing, is that aggressive? I think clearer language on what is good and what is bad mallet to mallet contact would be a good addition.


And those are my thoughts. Make sure you click on the link below to read the rules yourself, and pop over to the NAH main page to find the contacts for making your own suggestions and observations on the rules.

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  1. john from dc says:

    This is the ruleset we’ve been using for team night, and seems to be the best one so far. A couple little things we do differently:

    – These rules say the ref should acknowledge all dabs. Aint nobody got time for that. Tap out if you dab, or it’s a delay of game.

    – At every reset (including after goals) the ref is supposed to make sure both teams are ready before resuming play. We’ve always said that as soon as you’re back on your half, the other team can bring the ball up. This keeps the game moving and discourages dicking around after a goal.

    – We don’t reset for overtime, when time runs out the next goal wins.

    These are all small changes, made mostly to keep things moving on a weeknight. No substantial changes are needed because these rules are pretty comprehensive and well written, I think.

    Having refs at team night has helped everyone understand the rules better. The practice also makes us more confident making calls and that the calls we make are correct. We’re still not there yet, but it’s getting better.

    • Crusher says:

      You bring up a really great point, John: if people want to “create” players that are comfortable reffing, they’ve got to practice as well. Doing so during pickup is a great way to go about it.

  2. brian -bwin- says:

    I play goal quite a bit and agree with the deflection rule. It’s not the shooters fault that the goalie/defender deflected it out of play. By deflecting the ball out of play we’re denying them a chance at controlling the rebound for another shot. If the shot’s too hard to make a controlled block and redirection of the ball then kudos to the shooter. Unintentional deflections/out of bounds could be settled with a faceoff closest to where the ball goes out of play which might offer a better solution. If I ever get to organizing the Delaware play day we’ll try it out. cheers :) b

    • Crusher says:

      Agreed, but it’s not exactly the goalie’s fault it happened, either (in that they weren’t purposefully aiming to have the ball go out). I’d be interested with a faceoff, though that would fundamentally change the game dynamic.

      And I hope you do get Delaware sorted out – we’d love to come out and have some fun times.

  3. Federico says:

    Can someone explain what 3.1.9 is saying? thanks!

    • Crusher says:

      Sure: basically, it’s making sure that two people don’t run into each other on the joust. If both players stay on the left side of the person they are jousting, they will avoid collision (likewise, if they are left handed and stay on the right hand side of the person they are jousting, they avoid collision).

      so you keep your mallet between yourself and the other jousting player, and you’re fine.

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