Before we move on to the techniques of deliberately impeding your defender, we’d better be very sure we’ve got a thorough understanding of the rules. How much can you impede her? If there’s contact, who has fouled whom?
Of course, this isn’t likely to be the world’s most exciting blog post – but it’s written so that when you read the other stuff on boxing out, we don’t have to have a long debate about the rules… 😉
From the WFDF Rules:
12.7. When a player is making a play on the disc, an opposing player may not move to intentionally impede that player’s movements, unless they are also making a play on the disc.
12.8. Every player is entitled to occupy any position on the field not occupied by any opposing player, provided that they do not initiate contact in taking such a position.
12.9. All players must attempt to avoid contact with other players, and there is no situation where a player may justify initiating contact. “Making a play for the disc” is not a valid excuse for initiating contact with other players.
And from the official interpretations document:
12.2 Player positioning (12.7)
What: Player A, who is making a play on the disc, is allowed to slow down and to impede an opponent’s movement to make a play on the disc. However Player A must not
move in a way that the opponent could not reasonably avoid them – this is a Blocking foul (17.8).
Some incidental contact may occur in these circumstances but incidental contact is
not a foul.
[N.B the USAU 11th Edition rules are broadly similar, although expressed slightly differently in places. This article is long enough without covering both…]
So, first things first. From 12.7, you can’t impede someone else unless you’re making a play on the disc. You can’t just get in the way, intending to watch the disc hit the ground or get caught by someone else. But that’s not going to be an issue if you’re boxing out on offence (and there are no other players involved) – making a play on the disc is what it’s all about, so you’re always OK by that rule.
Note that there’s no specification about how soon you’ll be catching the disc. There’s nothing to stop you running in front of your defender when you’re still 20 yds away, as long as you’re running in such a way that it will assist you in making that play on the disc – and keeping the defender out of the way will definitely assist you making the catch. Section 12.2 in the interpretations document makes very clear that you are allowed to impede your defender in order to make a play on the disc, and – in doing so – also makes clear that ‘making a play on the disc’ does not just apply to the dive/stretch/catch, but to the running-to-the-disc also.
Just to be sure, I also emailed someone on the WFDF rules committee to confirm that point. As far as I can tell, everything you do to make the catch more likely, once the disc is in the air, effectively counts as making a play on the disc – and thus, as long as you don’t cause contact, you can go where you want. And if indeed you start impeding your defender before the disc is even in the air, then rule 12.8 would apply – neither of you is yet making a play on the disc, and so you can still go where you want.
Basically, if you can get to any given space first, your defender is probably obliged to try and avoid you, regardless of how much she’d like to be in that space in order to make a bid. If there’s a large difference in current speed between you and your defender, then you might be fouling her by stepping in her way – she can’t avoid contact with you – but if you’re travelling at anything like the same rate it and you have position, you can pretty much go where you like.
A word on the ‘I was running in a straight line!’ argument that is often heard. If the player (usually the offence) who has position – i.e. who will reach a given space first – is running in a straight line, then another player (usually the defender) is obliged to avoid them. It’s easy to predict where that offence player is going to be, so you’ve no right to dive into that same space and make contact, even if you take off way in advance of the actual collision. You could see where they were running to, and it’s your duty to avoid the collision.
But note that the reverse isn’t true. A person who is out of position (let’s call them the defender, on the assumption that they’re usually the one behind) who runs in a straight line is not always entitled to make the same argument. If the offence player is able to get in the way of your straight-line run, early enough that you could avoid her if you tried, then you are obliged to avoid her. It doesn’t matter that she veered and you ran straight – it’s your duty, as the player who will arrive at the crucial space later, to avoid crashing into her. As long as she establishes her new position early enough that you could avoid her, then she’s perfectly entitled to do so and you must avoid her.
That’ll do for now. Next time we look at boxing out, we’ll look at how to impede your defender. In case anyone wants yet more, here’s some further detailed scenarios from that Official Interpretations document:
12.5 Player positioning when the disc is in the air (12.6 – 12.9)
What Player A is chasing after the disc and slows down to ensure they can remain between Player B and the disc. Player B runs into the back of Player A and they both trip over.
Result Player B has fouled Player A.
Why Player A is allowed to slow down to make a play on the disc. Player B could have reasonably avoided Player A and is therefore initiating contact.
What Player A is chasing after the disc and stops suddenly and runs immediately backwards into their approaching defender. Player B runs into the back of Player A.
Result Player A has fouled Player B.
Why Player B could not avoid reasonably have avoided Player A, therefore Player A has initiated contact.
What Player A is chasing after the disc and slows down and moves from side to side to prevent Player B from getting around them and making a play at the disc. Player B runs into the back of Player A. Player A catches the disc.
Result Player B has fouled Player A. Player A has possession so does not need to make a call, or should call “play on” if they had made a call.
Why Player A is allowed to slow down and to impede a player’s movement to make a play on the disc. Player B could have reasonably avoided Player A and is therefore initiating contact.
Extra Impeding a player’s movement is different from initiating contact. Some incidental contact may occur in these circumstances but incidental contact is
not a foul.