Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rules Regarding the State of the Disc, PreStall and Delay of Game

There is some confusion and disagreement at practice about what the 11th Edition Rules of Ultimate actually say about when you can stall and when you can't. I'd like to clarify.

The first place to start is the State of the Disc (II.R). The disc, at all times during the game, is one of these:
  • 1. A disc is in play when play may proceed without the defense's acknowledgment. An in-bounds disc on the playing field is in play. The disc is subject to a turnover. To put the disc into play at a particular spot on the field means to establish a pivot at that spot.
  • 2. A disc is live when players are allowed to move and the disc is subject to a turnover, but the thrower cannot make a legal pass (e.g., walking the disc to the spot where it is to be put into play). For a live disc to be put into play, the thrower must establish a pivot at the appropriate spot on the field, touch the disc to the ground, and put it into play.
  • 3. A disc is dead when play has stopped and can continue only with a check. The disc is not subject to a turnover.

Am in play disc is when the disc comes to a rest on the playing field after a turnover or during active play.

A live disc is when the thrower is walking it to a spot to put it in play. After a Bricked Pull or after a out-of-bounds huck are two examples. A less obvious example is when a receiver catches a pass and his momentum carries him out-of-bounds: he must bring the disc back to the sideline to put it into play and thus he must touch the live disc to the ground before throwing. This is called a "ground-tap"; it is not a "check".

Finally, a dead disc is after any stoppage of play. If the rule book says "and play stops", then the disc is dead. Picks, fouls, injuries, travels, violations - these calls stop play and require a check to restart play.

So now onto stalling and delaying. Most of the relevant rules are contained within XIII.The Thrower.
XIII.A.3 says that if the disc comes to rest on the field, the offense has 10 seconds to put it into play (because there is no walking with the disc involved, this is an in play disc). Without Observers, the defender must count the 10-second "prestall" (they may choose not to). In an Observed game, Orange ALWAYS counts the prestall with a horizontal chop of the forearm. After ten seconds elapse, a defensive player within three meters of the disc may announce disc in, and then initiate and continue the stall count.
XIII.A.4 says that if he disc comes to rest someplace other than the field (out of bounds or in the endzone) the prestall is 20 seconds. A defender within 3 meters of where the disc is supposed to be put into play may start the stall count.

XIII.A.5 talks about delay of game. It references XIX.B which says: "It is the responsibility of all players to avoid any delay when starting, restarting, or continuing play. This includes standing over the disc or taking more time than reasonably necessary to put the disc into play." I see this as another unfortunate instance where subjective wording invades the rule book. What amount of time is reasonably necessary to put the disc into play? XIII.A.5 says that if a defender finds the offense to be unnecessarily delaying putting the disc into play, he may announce a Delay of Game warning by saying "delay of game" give 2 seconds, and then start and continue the stall count regardless of the actions of the offense.

Delay of game normally happens on a dead disc after a pick, foul, or travel call. Sometimes, after the down field players have returned to their positions, the thrower will spend lots of time calling a complicated play and/or communicating with his receivers and sideline. The classless and foolish thing to do in this instance is for the mark to reach around the thrower to try to check the disc held behind the thrower's back - an ugly, mini wrestling match born from the lack of rules knowledge. The informed defender issues a 2 second "delay of game" warning and then says "disc in".

My personal thoughts: like I said, I really don't like the subjective wording in the delay of game rules. Even the more objective clause in XIX.B ("...standing over the disc") is faulty: what is "standing over the disc"? 1 foot, 2 feet 5 feet away? Is there really a difference? In contrast, I really like how the prestall is well defined. The only real reason for the existence of this loose wording is that it takes a variable amount of time for cutters to reset their positions after a violation call. I say fuck it, put some objective time limits on ALL intervals in the game besides active play.

As a matter of principle, I think teams should always do the prestall in practice - its gonna happen at every game that matters this season.

Let me know if you have questions about these or if there are other rules you'd like me to try to clarify.


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