Friday, February 28, 2014

Penalty code & verbal cue cheat sheet

[Updated May 19, 2015 to make the formatting more consistent and align with the January 2015 ruleset and its associated officiating documents.]

After a referee calls a penalty during a roller derby bout, the penalty is recorded by a penalty tracker, and then (typically) written on a publicly visible whiteboard (see my quick guide to all the roller derby officiating positions if you don't know what those terms mean).

Since writing down the full names of each penalty would be cumbersome, each penalty has a single-letter code associated with it.  Penalty trackers, penalty wranglers, whiteboard staff, all referees, and penalty-box NSOs should ideally be familiar with these codes, so they can quickly write down or interpret written penalty information.  The penalty codes can be found in the WFTDA Statistics package's penalty tracker paperwork.

In addition to a penalty code, each penalty in the WFTDA ruleset has a verbal cue associated with it; referees are required to use the appropriate verbal cue when calling the penalty.  To see the list of verbal cues, head to the WFTDA Officiating page (or just to the verbal cues document itself).  Complicating matters, many penalty classes (e.g., direction of game play) have multiple verbal cues but are recorded as a single penalty code ("C", in the case of all four direction of game play verbal cues).

So, it's helpful to have a cheat sheet that lists all of the verbal cues along with their penalty codes.  I made one for myself a while ago and taped it to all my clipboards; it's probably one of my most frequently requested documents.  So, here it is:

Three-column version of my penalty code & verbal cue cheat sheet.  Download the PDF for easy printing.

PDF Version: Penalty code & verbal cue cheat sheet (good for printing and taping to your arm or clipboard)

And here's a web-readable version; the penalty code is listed first, followed by the official verbal cue in quotes:

A – “High block” (blocking to the head)
B – “Back block”
E – “Elbows”
F – “Forearms”
G – “Misconduct”
G – “Gross misconduct
H – “Blocking with the head
L – “Low block”
M – “Multi-player block”
N – “Insubordination”
S – “Skating out of bounds”
X – “Cutting” the track
Z – “Delay of game”

C - Direction of Game Play
“Stopped block”
“Clockwise block”
“Stopped assist”
“Clockwise assist”

OOut of Bounds
“Out of bounds block”
“Out of bounds assist”

P - Out of Play
“Failure to return”
“Failure to reform”
“Illegal return”
“Out of play block”
“Out of play assist”
“Destroying the pack”

I - Illegal Procedures
“Failure to yield”
“Illegal positioning”
“Penalty box violation”
“Equipment violation”
“Too many skaters”
“Uniform violation”
“Illegal call-off”
“Star pass violation”
“Illegal re-entry”
“Bench staff violation”

All bold = always an expulsion


  1. WOW! YU ARE AMAZING! May we cite you?

    1. Happy to be of assistance :) As with my other work, as long your use is non-commercial and you cite me, feel free to use it!

    2. All bold = always an expulsion - What does this refer to?

    3. Rebeka: It's referring to gross misconducts, which are always expulsions.