I’ve split this Rules with Skew edition in two. The first part can be found here, and it’s a must read before you tackle this one. The examples in this post build on what was started there. (Plus it’s got the bit about ceding cuts.)
This part finishes the rest of the examples, as well as providing some notes of communications around gaining position, some officials’ training notes and some further reading links, if you want an even deeper dive.
On to five more ways you can land yourself a cutting penalty…remembering all the examples presume the offending skater has not subsequently ceded their illegally gained position.
6) Cutting two (or more!) teammates
There are few penalties so unfortunate as getting one for only cutting on your own teammates. Just cutting one isn’t penalty worthy, but cutting two or more upright and in bounds members of your own team will land you a 30-second stint in the box. How can this happen? For a few examples, how about:
- Accidentally putting a toestop/wheel out while going around your teammates’ wall
- Coming back in bounds in front of two or more teammates who have skated clockwise behind you, for example when they are intending to recycle the *other* jammer
- Returning to track from a penalty in front of multiple in play teammates (see example 9!)
- Being hit out by an opponent who goes down…and returning in bounds having passed them…but also your teammates
That last one is really easy to accidentally do on the apex, or in circumstances where a block propels a skater forward as well as out. As an example, see the image below. Orange blocker 3 has hit blue jammer out of bounds on the inside, but has also touched out of bounds themselves, meaning they can no longer draw the cut. Blue jammer scrambles to their feet and returns to the track, before continuing to skate around the turn. The problem? At the moment they returned upright and fully in bounds, they were ahead of blue blockers 1 and 2, and they were behind them before they went out of bounds. Blue jammer has cut on those two teammates.
Top tip – don’t just look out for opposition skaters when you’re hit out, look for teammates, too! And to those teammates – beware accidentally drawing cuts on your own players or forcing them to recycle a long way back…
Not a cut penalty when: only one of the teammates passed while out of bounds is upright and in bounds (the others being down/out at the moment of re-entry), any teammates were already behind the skater when the skater was hit out
7) The delayed cut (ie. get the pass and the point, but…)
Some cuts occur a longer time after the original hit than you might think. Imagine you’re hit forward but remain in bounds, off balance. Eventually – okay, it’s probably only happening over a couple of seconds, but it feels a lot longer – you stumble and touch out of bounds. But before then you’ve already passed the opponent who hit you, plus another – that’s those two points in the bag! You still need to re-enter behind the opponent who hit you out, just like example 1, to avoid a cut penalty.
The important takeaway here is you can score on an opponent and then proceed to cut them – the two aren’t mutually exclusive. This happens more often than you think – think about all the times a jammer is declared lead jammer then immediately goes out of bounds. If the point was legally obtained (e.g. you passed the skater while you were upright and in bounds) that cannot be taken away from you. It’s a similar principle to apex jumps, where you can land the jump on a single foot and score…but still get a cut if you make a mess of the landing.
Who can draw the cut if you wobble and take a while to go out? Anyone still in front of you at the moment you go out of bounds, plus the initiator of the block that was deemed to have put you out, waaaaay back there…
In the example below let’s suppose blue blocker 2 has initiated a block on the orange jammer. As they try to regain balance, gliding on one skate, orange jammer’s hips pass the hips of blue pivot and blue blocker 1 before that jammer goes out of bounds, just ahead of blue blocker 1. If the jammer re-enters the track immediately, they will have cut blue blocker 2. If the orange jammer decides to recycle back, the only blocker that can draw the cut is blue 2, as the jammer was ahead of the other blue blockers at the moment they went out of bounds. In this case, only the initiator of the block has the ability to draw the cut.
Officials – particularly outside pack referees – please note that jammer referees will be very interested on whom the jammer earned a pass before they got hit out of bounds at the end of a jam, or if they go to the box for a cut in the middle of a scoring trip and don’t get a chance to re-pass those skaters.
Not a cut penalty when: you’ve re-established control after the block, and you accidentally touch out of bounds as a separate unrelated action, all the usual reasons from previous examples why something wouldn’t be a cut.
8) “No earned pass” on the person who blocked you out…but you cut their teammate standing directly level with them
If the skater blocking you out goes down or out of bounds (or gets penalised!), you can re-enter in front of them without penalty, assuming nobody else is nearby. This is called a “no earned pass” (this used to be called “no pass no penalty”, abbreviated to “NP/NP” and some will still use this term) but that doesn’t mean other players can be disregarded.
Beware of only thinking about the initiator. You can still cut any skater lurking right alongside them, even if it’s your own teammates (see example 6). In the example below, orange blocker 3 has hit blue jammer to the infield, but subsequently goes down. Blue jammer sees this, and re-enters the track ahead of them. This is a no-earned pass on orange blocker 3. However, the jammer has also passed the upright, in bounds orange blocker 2. Unless blue jammer realises this and cedes, they’ll get a penalty for cutting orange blocker 2.
Not a cut penalty when: the non-initiator is already behind the skater when they go out of bounds, all skaters concerned are out of play past the front or rear of the engagement zone.
9) An illegal re-entry when returning to track
When returning from the penalty box, or having left the track temporarily to fix up some equipment or similar, officials view the situation like a potential cut where every blocker in play has superior position to you.
Illegal re-entry penalties now use the same hand signal as cuts, but have their own verbal cue – “illegal re-entry”.
The most common illegal re-entries arise when:
- the skater completely forgets about their own teammates and re-enters in front of their own wall
- an opposition blocker skates clockwise and forces the illegal re-entry
- skaters are fooled by what relative position looks like on the apex due to the directional change, and accidentally enter ahead of a skater
- the skater re-enters, but an opposition blocker returned from the box first and is in play, physically behind them on track, before the re-entry
But, for those looking to avoid a penalty, you can re-enter in front of the following, without swiftly returning to the box:
- either/both jammers (jammers are irrelevant to where you can legally re-enter after a penalty)
- skaters who are down, out of play at the rear or out of bounds
- a maximum of one upright in bounds blocker from your own team
- someone being issued or has just been issued a penalty
Re-enter in front of anyone else and you’ll likely need to cede to avoid a penalty.
Remember, like in example 4, the moment of re-entry in bounds is crucial – skaters may suddenly return upright/in bounds. Blockers may throw their hips back at the last moment in a bid to catch you out!
10) Cutting in a no pack
Just because no pack is called doesn’t make you immune from cutting. Although skaters can get “out of play block” illegal contact penalties for engaging in a no pack, and all skaters are considered out of play (see the definition in the glossary) they still maintain their relative positions. Cutting rules are unaffected.
Not a cut penalty when: You are hit out *during* a no pack, and the only player you gain position on is the penalised skater. If the skater hasn’t yet been called on the penalty, but you think they will be and choose to re-enter, you’re taking a chance on whether officials deemed the hit to have been initiated before the pack reformed and was truly illegal. (This is risky.)
Cuts and communications
As with any official hand signal, the penalty hand signal for “cut” can be found here. It looks like making a big X with your arms, which is useful as that’s the penalty code for gaining position penalties (cut and illegal re-entry). It also looks like a big pair of scissors, if that helps you to remember “cut”! Sometimes this cue is modified for better visibility, and held higher up, rather than across the chest. The important thing is not to hold your arms across your face, either to obstruct your own vision, or muffle the verbal cue!
There’s no formal signal for “no cut”. Officials are not bound to tell you, even if you ask if you’ve cut or if you need to cede. Some may communicate to each other via nods that they had eyes on what happened and see nothing warranting a penalty. I personally find nods useful, but some officials don’t support this practice.
“No earned pass” is signalled when a skater has passed a downed/out of bounds/out of play skater while out of bounds and has returned in bounds again. Crucially, one hand is held still while the other draws a semicircle around it. Officials should do this to be easily seen by officials the other side of the track, and use a controlled movement. If you move both hands frantically and look like you’re about to take off every time you signal it, practice it at home and build that calm. (“No earned pass” can be used in other circumstances too – can you and your crew list what they are?)
Officials’ training notes:
1) This great one from @FNZebra on Twitter.
2) Cutting the track is a great penalty type to build into collaborative drills with skaters/coaches. They want to practice smart re-entry without penalty, or trying to draw clever cuts on the opposition, while you practice spotting penalties, judging ceding and appropriately signalling “no earned pass”, as well as tracking passes and keeping score. The smarter the skaters you train with get with respect to cuts, the smarter you have to be as an official to keep up with them…which means you’ll be ready for anything.
3) Discussion point: How can you quickly communicate to other officials which skaters have superior position and could feasibly draw a cut, particularly if there’s a long recycle through the pack?
The WFTDA rules statement on ceding, if you didn’t read it already! (This time hosted by Ref-Ed.com)