WFDF Announces New Ruleset: Fouls, Picks, Mixed Division See Substantive Changes

What do you think of the new rules?

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The World Flying Disc Federation has announced a new set of rules, effective immediately, for international competition and most competition outside of North America.

The rules have not undergone major changes in this 2017 update, although there are some updates that could have a substantial impact on game play. WFDF has released a full set of rules, tracked changes, and a summary (plus a new appendix and tracked changes).

Many of the alterations are designed to better conform with USA Ultimate’s 11th Edition rules, which govern play in North America. WFDF and USAU have been working in recent years to align their rulesets more closely. That could suggest that some of the WFDF rule changes will foreshadow the 12th edition rules that are expected from USA Ultimate sometime this year.

There are too many rule changes to list them all here (see the summary for a complete list), but here are a few of the most noteworthy changes and their possible impact on the game (relevant changes are in bold).

  • Receiving fouls (on either the defense or the offense) apply “before, while, or directly after either player makes a play on the disc.” WFDF already deviates from USAU rules in that there is no mention of incidental contact with reference to a receiving foul.1 Interpretation, then, becomes crucial for this rule, as it suggests that contact created entirely after the play is a foul, regardless of whether the play itself was affected.
  • “If a defensive player is guarding one offensive player and they are prevented from moving towards/with that player by another player, that defensive player may call ‘Pick’. However it is not a pick if both the player being guarded and the obstructing player are making a play on the disc.” It is unclear whether the clarification of “one” offensive player is meant to block players from calling picks in zone defenses or switches or simply to stop players from trying to guard a space and call picks. The addition of the second sentence is eliminating a loophole in which players could call a pick on another player attacking a disc and, in doing so, getting between them and their mark.
  • During any stoppage opposing players may agree to slightly adjust their locations to avoid potential picks.” This does not allow for total freedom of movement during stoppages, as featured in the American Ultimate Disc League, but does soften the “freeze” rule.
  • Prior to making the ‘Pick’ call, the defender may delay the call up to two (2) seconds to determine if the obstruction will affect the play.” The reason given for this change (and many others) is to “remove unnecessary stoppages and delays.” This rule should encourage the defense to consider whether a pick call is actually necessary before making the call and allow for retroactive application.
  • Non-players may now provide advice on any call, not just in/out and up/down calls.
  • The Mixed Division format changes that were being considered have been approved. Ratio Rule A (“prescribed ratio”) will be used at the 2017 World Games. Ratio Rule B (“end zone decides”) will be used at all other WFDF events in 2017 and 2018, unless there is a 16-month notice given for the usage of Ratio Rule A at a particular event.

  1. USAU’s receiving foul XVI.H.b.1 states “Some amount of incidental contact before, during, or immediately after the attempt often is unavoidable and is not a foul.” 

  1. Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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