? Illegal in-cutting defense

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#1

Hi all,

 

I was guarding a cutter one point. During his in-cuts, I would try to stick with him as much as possible and kind of keep my left arm/hand up in front of him as I ran with him in (forcing flick, so I'm on his left side).

In my view, I was just trying to play hard defense. My arm was in front of his body as he cut in, although he could, and did, easily keep running.

So, in essence: my arm was not pushing this cutter, grabbing his jersey, or swinging against him. I just kept it in front of and up against him to help me get the best position while staying close (alongside) to my man.

Is having the arm in front of the player as you run alongside him, keeping up with him ..illegal territory? Can somebody weigh in here?  I can totally understand if I couldn't keep up and he ran right into my arm, that it'll be a foul.

 

Hi Simon,

This is an interesting question. The way you have described the situation suggests to me (VUL rules coordinator) that holding your arm out in front of the cutter in an attempt to discourage the thrower from making that pass is fine but there are many nuances to this.

It's critically important that your arm does not prevent the cutter from taking that line. From the USAU rules book " Each player is entitled to occupy any position on the field not occupied by an opposing player, unless specifically overridden elsewhere, provided that no personal contact is caused in taking such a position." Good defense means that you prevent the cutter from getting to where they want to go but you have to be "occupying" that space first for it not to be a foul. This typically results in a lot of players using their arms to armbar a cutter to prevent them from getting open. This is a foul.

As such, you can have your arm in front of a cutter to discourage the thrower from making that pass but if the cutter runs into your arm and your arm is preventing them from otherwise occupying a space that they are entitled to it's a foul on you.

I can imagine that this caused from friction during the game because the VUL strives for non-contact. By having your arm in front the cutter you are likely discouraging them from cutting into the space beyond your arm because they consider running through your arm to be them initiating contact. This would be incredibly frustrating because they are having to adjust their cutting and maybe are not running as hard as they can because they don't want to initiate contact with your arm.

Realistically I think you are within rules with your intentions but your opponent does not know that you are going to move your arm if they are getting beyond you and they don't want to run through your arm. If you are fast enough to be right next to your check then you shouldn't need to have your arms out so I would recommend that you stop doing this because I think it's unnecessary and is going to cause problems when your opponents don't want to initiate contact.

Bobo

From my perspective, I see nothing explicitly preventing this action (i.e: "keeping your hand in front of him") in the quoted section and other relevant section on "blocking fouls":

"XVII. Positioning  A. Each player is entitled to occupy any position on the field not occupied by an opposing player, unless specifically overridden elsewhere, provided that no personal contact is caused in taking such a position."

"Blocking Fouls(XVI.H.3.b). (2) A player may not take a position that is unavoidable by a moving opponent when time, distance, and line of sight are considered. Non-incidental contact resulting from taking such a position is a foul on the blocking player."

With all due respect, I do not agree with Bobo that either of these sections asserts:"It's critically important that your arm does not prevent the cutter from taking that line".  I just don't see it.  In fact getting your body to an obstructing yet avoidable position is 70-80% of playing good proactive, shut-down D.  The question is whether or not your arms are part of your body.  While some sections of the rules seem distinguish arms from body - correct me if I'm wrong - I don't see them being distinguished here.  In this case your hands and arms are part of your body.

So, IMO, if you *keep* your hand there, I think it is technically legal.  If you thrust it out in a way that it is unavoidable (and thus contact results): it's a foul. 

Of course, any two players may never agree on what is "avoidable".  This might be reason enough to avoid this style of play in situations when it may become contentious.

YMMV.

$0.02

Hi Sandy,

Getting your body in front of the opposing player is how you play good defense but I completely disagree with your interpretation of the rule about body. Technically yes, your arms and hands are part of your body but in practice they are treated completely differently. Case in point, if a thrower calls a foul because on the throw they hit the mark's arm it's commonly accepted that that's likely a foul because the mark's arm was more than likely moving. However, if contact is made with the chest/head of the mark (and the mark is legally positioned) then it's less likely to be considered a foul because those body parts are more stationary so if there is contact on the through the torso is likely to have been there first.

XVI.H.3.a.(4) Any contact initiated by a thrower with the body (excluding arms and legs extended from the midline of the body) of a legally positioned (XIV.B.3) marker is a foul on the thrower.

My statement that it's important to not prevent the cutter from getting to a space using your arms is because in practice there is a differentiation between torso and arms when it comes to considering space to be occupied. If you are allowed to have your arm in front of the cutter and can flex your arm muscles to prevent your check from running fowards why then can you not just sandwich the cutter between both your arms and prevent them from going anywhere because they would be running through your "body". This becomes absurd. I can encircle someone in my arms and then they can't move anywhere because they would be initiating contact with my arms which would be a foul on them. 

You may be technically right but precedent and the common interpretation of the rule goes against what you have stated. You can have your hand out to discourage a throw but preventing someone from getting to a spot using your arms and not torso positioning is considered a foul. Hence why I added the point about not arm barring a cutter to stop them going somewhere.

Bobo

Hey Bobo, I can see your point on arm straddling and I can certainly respect your desire for fair play.  I can also see a number of other reasons why allowing the use of hands and arms could be contentious.  In addition, I personally don't believe that distinguishing the hands/arms as different from "the body" while defending would detract from the game.  On the other hand we seem to agree that the rules, as written, don't explicitly make that distinction.  The question for me is: why is that?

Perhaps the USAU rules committee were content to leave it to some "precedent" and/or a notion of a "common interpretation", but this seems a bit dubious to me.  IMO, the fact that the rules committee have continued to avoid making any such distinction wrt blocking - while not only asserting, but also refining the distinction in the section on marking - says they see this restriction (wrt: blocking) as either excessive or otherwise problematic.

Of course, if the VUL believes this distinction to be important, they are free to explicitly add it to the league addendum to the rules.

Hi Bobo, in regards to your comment on the situation if " a thrower calls a foul because on the throw they hit the mark's arm it's commonly accepted that that's likely a foul because the mark's arm was more than likely moving. However, if contact is made with the chest/head of the mark (and the mark is legally positioned) then it's less likely to be considered a foul because those body parts are more stationary so if there is contact on the through the torso is likely to have been there first'

As a person playing mark (force flick) on the handler, what is the call on a contact situation where the handler attempts to throw backhand, causing the mark to shift (lunge with one feet still firmly planted) but still moving in the same plane as where both his feet were originally planted (therefore not lunging into the handler) and having his arms still outstretched, but not swinging up or down in swinging motion.  

In essence, the arms are still static but remain outstretched, but the entire body shifts over.  I have seen instances where the handler will call a foul when their backhand follow through hits the marker's arm.  I feel that it encourages the handler to cover up a missed throw by initiating contact with the mark and calling foul.  

 

If the markers arms are moving (including the case when they are static with relation to the body but the mark is leaning over) and there is contact, it is a foul on the marker. There are some specific cases where the marker will not be at fault, say if they are legally positioned (no disc space violation) and the thrower has really stepped into the mark's space in order to initiate contact then the mark has a case. However, in general for it not to be a foul on the mark when there is contact with mark's arms, the mark has to be almost stationary.

I think it is important to note that some times players will try to draw contact to get the 'and 1' on the throw. If the mark is in an illegal marking position (effectively cheating) then it's less frowned upon to take this advantage because the mark is removing some of your throwing options by fouling. When the mark is legally positioned, fishing for fouls is considered poor spirit as you are trying to gain an advantage with the rules as opposed to through one's play. Does that help answer your question? These are very good questions by the way as these situations come up a lot of are frequently the cause of tension in games.

Bobo