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Friday, January 26, 2018

Rule Changes - Player/Referee Interactions

Rules were made to be broken, no, what???

The USAPA announced last week the availability of the 2018 USAPA\IFP Official Tournament Rulebook. The rulebook contains some significant changes that we have been and will discuss over the next several weeks. We will continue today with rules regarding interaction with a referee. The first is a repeat from Rule Changes - Serve due to its relevance to both topics.

Service Motion

For the first time, the rules have defined the defined the service motion and, specifically when the service motion starts. From the definition section (Section 3):
Service Motion – Begins when the player’s arm moves to initiate the swing backward or forward to contact the ball.

Why should we care about this, though? It matters in refereed matches where the referee announces the score. The first two rules of The Serve section (Section 4) state:
4.A.1. The entire score must be called before the server begins his or her service motion. 
4.A.2. The service motion begins with the server’s arm movement initiating the swing, backward or forward, to contact the ball.
The prior version simply stated (in 4.I) "Serving before the score is called shall result in a fault, and loss of serve". This was often interpreted as allowing the player to begin his service motion while the score was being long as contact with the ball came after the complete score announcement. I covered this in Rules Clarification - When to Serve in a Refereed Match. 

The revision makes clear that the service motion cannot start until the score announcement is complete or the server will be faulted.

10-Second Rule

The rulebook has been revised to hold only the server responsible for starting the rally within 10 seconds of the referee announcing the score. This changes the responsibility from both the server and receiver. The penalty for the first violation has also changed from a technical warning to a fault. The previous rule stated:
4.J. The 10-Second Rule. The “10-second rule” applies to both server and receiver, each of whom is allowed up to 10 seconds after the score is called to serve or be ready to receive. It is the server’s responsibility to look and be certain that the receiver is ready to receive serve. 
4.J.1. After one technical warning has been issued by the referee, further delays on the part of the server or the receiver exceeding 10 seconds shall result in a technical foul and a point awarded against the offender.
The new rule states:
4.E. The 10-Second Rule. Once the referee determines the receiver is in position and ready or should be in position and ready and the score has been called, the server is allowed 10 seconds to serve the ball. 
4.E.1. If the server exceeds 10 seconds to serve, a fault will be declared.

The new rules make clear that the server must serve the ball within 10 seconds of the score being announced or be faulted.

Player Positioning

The revised rules have clarified the information that a referee can provide to a team with regard to their positioning. The previous rules implied that a team could ask a referee if they were on the right side of the court. From Section 5 of the old rulebook:
IFP Comments:In tournament play, unless asked, the referee shall not correct player positions until a service sequence fault has occurred by a serving or receiving team.
I wrote about the old rules in Rules Clarification - Player Positioning and Serve: Player's Perspective.

The new rulebook states:
4.B.8. Prior to the start of the service motion, to determine the correct server and correct service court, the serving team may ask the referee the score and “Am I the correct server?” Players may not ask if they are in the correct position. 
4.B.9. Prior to the start of the service motion, to determine the correct receiver and his or her position, the receiving team may ask the referee to confirm the score. Players may not ask if they are in the correct position. 
4.B.10. The referee will not correct players’ positions. When an incorrect player serves or receives, or a player serves from an incorrect position, the referee will immediately stop play and identify the fault.
This rule change puts the onus on the players to know their proper positions. It might help to read Rules Clarification - Player Positioning. Pay particular attention to the section regarding crossing over in mid-game. I have found this is where many mistakes are made.

The new rules make clear that player positioning guidance cannot be provided by a referee. 

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