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Old Sun Apr 24, 2016, 11:11pm
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Restoring Derailed Communication

I've been a lurker in multiple sports as a fan of sports/officiating/rules -- and appreciate the education/entertainment. This is the only sport I can claim anything close to first-hand experience -- even if most of the time as R1/R2 comes after being conscripted as a part of coaching duties. In this case, however, I was just acting as coach but am trying genuinely to think it through from all perspectives. I hope it's still useful and welcome.

USAV Ruleset, low level u14; Certified R1, player R2 w/ 2 player line judges

Rally ends with ball bounding into serving team's free-zone/bench so that coach, server, bench, etc. are initially watching/catching a ball they saw as clearly out and acting accordingly. R1 has called ball in (with or without help) in that same interval. Team is confused (if they even see the signal). Coach catches tail end of signals and briefly tries to confirm, from this position at the end-line, the call while simultaneously returning the ball, triggering a prearranged double substitution with his bench behind him, and informing the R1 the players are on their way (unofficial sub sign as a courtesy, knowing it isn't binding). The players are seated on the bench 15 feet behind attack line (and u14s) so even knowing the plan, that trek takes time, and may take a beat longer than it should here, but happens quickly. Ball meanwhile travels to the new server. R1 is beckoning as both players arrive yet no one waives them off either. Coach looks up from shepherding players into the substitution process to see ball being put in play -- two-thirds of the players are trying to play to the whistle but the rally is taking place with two interlopers in the sub zone and that quickly is a fatal distraction. R1 adjudicates the abandoned rally ignoring the extra players; speaks to the u14 captain, saying they weren't in the zone before he was ready to play, and then allows the substitutions.

No problem with the R1 in general -- he made sure to follow-up at next intermission; wasn't overly officious. Matches were run very efficiently, if on the quick side for the skill and age level, which may be reflected here.

Obviously, ideally, the crew and participants all see the play the same, the subs move quickly, the R2 deals with the sideline, the coach preps his players better, etc. Even still, once derailed, what should be happening here?

Seem like a few nebulous issues come together for me here:
Some confusion for me here is that the USAV rules allow coaches to bypass captains yet those same players act as R2. So, the chain of communications seems peculiar. The rules allow the adult coach to bypass the captain to talk to the officials . . . but he/she should speak to the minor R2? yell across the court? or mime politely as I did (apparently less successfully than usual)?

USAV, generically speaking, seems particularly concerned about governing pace of play, so continually slowing down to suit a confused, weaker, or less seasoned team would be to give an advantage (and certainly would help this particular team). Yet, clearly officials are charged with finding some impartial standard of guaranteeing both teams meet some standard of preparedness (or opportunity for preparedness?) for each rally. What is that? A time out would be a severe remedy and still require beating a quick whistle. Is there another remedy the team should employ (that is not abusing another legitimate means of interrupting/delaying the match)? In what sense is its the R1's job (at any level) to guarantee comprehension of a situation and "ready to play" (12.3) before moving on?

Even if by rule late and improper, should the rally have been allowed to start at all with the (attempted) subs in transit?

This ruleset only allows a sub request (barring injury) by a player entering the zone, yet in some facilities keeps the players a very long distance from the zone. I would think the younger players would get some consideration when properly moving without delay.

Finally, most surprisingly, I can find where the rules give a team the right to request a rules basis for a ruling OR to modify a request to a changed ruling, but I missed any indication of how to simply request repetition or clarification of a call (I hope I just am missing it in my scan!). Assuming such a procedure is proper (if rare at a higher levels with two officials properly signally and large groups of attentive participants), should such a request formally or informally slow the next rally for any appropriate requests?

The result was unfortunate, but it more just left me feeling very uneasy as to my rules knowledge -- more holes than I would like. I would feel equally ill-at-ease if I as R1 had whistled for a serve at u14 level with a team confused and subs actively (and without delay) headed for the zone that I didn't waive off. [I worked as R2 with this R1 later in the day and we waived off a sub attempt (13th) and, living up to its name, delayed slightly.] Any help with how to get such a situation quickly back on the rails as R1 or coach? Are there rules provisions I'm missing?
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Old Thu Apr 28, 2016, 12:26pm
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Unfortunately, there are no provisions in the rules to avoid this situation. In my experience, the chief referee's emphasize time management and keep the match moving, but this R1 seems to be ignorant of the situation based on your description. The R1 should scan the benches for possible time-out and substitution attempts as well as the court for other issues such as a player tying a shoe or a ball entering the court.

I would discuss your experience with this R1 with the chief referee. Explain your experience with the substitution. Don't complain about the line call as there may have been several reasons that it was ruled in favor of the other team. It is possible that this R1 is inexperienced and needs some guidance on properly scanning the court and benches, and the chief referee is proper channel to provide the feedback.
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Old Sat Apr 30, 2016, 04:58pm
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Thanks. That does clarify the proper remedy to an R1 with a quick whistle that's not letting a team get ready to play. As to this case, as I mentioned, the official in question sought me out between sets and specifically asked for what I thought happened. Whether it was to improve or just to manage a coach, he has the info and enough maturity/experience to do what he will with it.

The answer, also, by implication, confirms that in USAV that these bench players (R7 and R8?) really are just rogue bench players in this case. Just based on the rule book (without the various interpretive documents) I could not find a category (sub, improper sub, etc.) for them . . . and it sounds like that was for good cause as they just aren't anything yet.

Between having two-person crews and being able to request subs, perhaps I was simply spoiled previously (NFHS) and this made that clear (and I may prefer some of those trappings).

As you say, there are lots of reasons the call could go against us, although I was honest with him in what we saw and letting him know it wasn't a big deal or a personal indictment. I think this was a short day -- only 5 or 6 matches on the stand -- with crews that are more liability than help. What made this play stick in my mind -- a week later -- is that by going extremely easy on him in the moment (immediate acceptance and certainly no fit, no eye roll, no dropping the ball in disgust, etc.) I actually cost my team another point. Now, I am not seriously regretting not behaving like a child, I am still just trying to critically assess whether in trying to behave in a sporting and respectful fashion I was less forceful or assertive than I should have been in making sure my players were protected from outside distraction -- especially these young ones (older ones should know better). Obviously, if there was a rule provision, that would have been an easy, sporting way to protect my team, but I'm guessing until I can train a captain to step up there (or have an active R2), that I can't interject myself into that situation.
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