Blocking Violation?

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This incident happened during our game this week and we're hoping to get some clarification from the pros! :)

The offense had the disc at about midfield and there were two guys (O1 and O2) near the end zone with their defenders D1 and D2). O1 makes a deep cut towards for the flick side of the end zone and beats D1. D2, seeing this and anticipating a huck to O1, switches off O2 and tries to go intercept the disc (which is now in the air). During this O2 also runs towards the disc and ends up cutting off D2 and boxing him out. D2 had to slow down in order to prevent himself from colliding into O2 and end up not being able to make a bid for the disc. O1 easily catches the disc because D2 was boxed out, but D2 feels that he could have reached the disc had he not been boxed out.

Is this a legit play or a blocking violation under XVI. H. c) (2)?


XVI.H.3.c.(1) is the rule I would look to for determining the legality of the play

"When the disc is in the air a player may not move in a manner solely to prevent an opponent from taking an unoccupied path to the disc and any resulting non-incidental contact is a foul on the blocking player which is treated like a receiving foul"

I bolded the key word there which is solely. Boxing out is legal as long as you are making a play on the disc. However, if you're boxing out to open space for a teammate, a blocking foul should be called.  

In your example, we'd need more info, and probably video, to determine the legality of O2's box out. 

Colin is right. Whether it is a blocking foul depends completely on whether O2 in this case is attempting to catch the disc or has set him/herself in that position to prevent the defense from being able to get to the disc. If the latter, it is a blocking foul, if the former then it is not. It is difficult to know what the player's intention is, but if O2 in this case actually runs towards the disc and looks like s/he is trying to get there to catch it then that might be a clue in determining whether it is a blocking foul.

VUL Rules coordinator

nep By nep

I've also been told that setting yourself up to make a play on a second effort i.e. if O1 misses or bobbles the disc -- that is a legitimate and legal decision. You can't be faulted for not making a play on the first possible opportunity, so long as you are acting in good faith on the second play and that you are legitimately where you are at that moment in order to make a second play on the disc and not just to run interference.

I'd agree with that. Positioning for a second effort, or in a place further down the flight path for possible second effort sounds to me like something more than just 'solely' boxing out. 

Dan By Dan

"When the disc is in the air a player may not move in a manner solely to prevent an opponent from taking an unoccupied path to the disc and any resulting non-incidental contact is a foul on the blocking player which is treated like a receiving foul"

As a follow up question, I've bolded some wording that seems to suggest that its only a foul if there is actual contact? So if the player getting blocked either stops in time or manages to go around the blocker without contact (either way giving up his chance for a play on the disc) can a foul still be called?

Correct; physical contact is a requisite for a blocking foul call (or general fouls, for that matter).  There is no such thing as a blocking violation.

I disagree, physical contact is not a requisite. The rule states that any contact is automatically a foul on the blocking player, not that contact is required. 

I like to think safety first. If I am running full out and someone gets in my path (lets assume to block me not to play on the disc), I should be able to call this foul without having to get into any contact.


Coregen- Initially I was in agreement with you that you don't have to make contact for blocking to be called, but on a re-reading of the rules, it isn't so clear. However, it appears somewhat analogous to the long-time hypothetical debate over the principle of verticality, where the wording is such that a taller player could hold an arm directly over a shorter one and the shorter player would indeed have to initiate contact to be able to call a foul. (I say hypothetical because I don't know if anyone every really stood there with arms over a shorter player to prevent a jump.)

For blocking, I might argue that in the rule there is a prohibition on moving solely to obstruct a player, therefore any such obstruction (contact or not) would be an infraction. However, because the only appearance of the restriction on blocking appears under the heading of a foul, it seems to be that it only comes into play if there is contact. I wonder if that was intentional, or if it was an accident and the SRC is planning changes, as it would seem to run counter to the intent of contact-avoidance to require a player to initiate contact to be able to call an opponent for doing something they're not supposed to. Alternately, I wonder if the placement under the "foul" heading is misleading?

I'm sorry, folks, but this isn't a matter of opinion, and there is no room for argument here.  A blocking foul, like ALL FOULS, requires contact to be called.  This is defined in section II.E, and it is not an accident.


You can theoretically call a *violation* of rule XVI.H.3.c.1 on the suspicion that a player is moving with the sole intention of blocking your path to an airborne disc (although the argument is somewhat tenuous).

However, aside from the difficulty that you cannot read a player's mind, if no contact ever takes place, and you have not been manifestly thus inconvenienced, then you would be hard-pressed to argue that the outcome of a play would be different or that you have been in any way infringed upon.  Thus, under the Continuation Rule, (XVI.C.3), the making of the call is quite frivolous.

In ultimate, the theoretical breaking of a rule is not what matters -- the test is whether it has an effect.