Ray Cornell

Today we’ll review the types of hinders that can cause a rally to stop immediately: the replay hinder and the penalty hinder. In officiated match play, the referee determines which type is called. In self-officiated games, the players should agree on which call is appropriate. But making the determination is not always easy because the difference is often subjective.

Several years ago, the term “penalty” replaced “avoidable” in the rules, since intent is not necessarily a factor in making the proper determination. So when a penalty hinder is called, the offending player is “penalized” by losing the rally. A replay hinder simply triggers a replay.

The governing rules are detailed in 3.14 (replay) and 3.15 (penalty), along with self-officiating standards in Sections D.4 and D.5. Without a referee, rule D.4 generally states that “only the person going for the shot can stop play by calling a hinder, and must do so immediately and not wait to see how good the resulting shot was.” The offensive player should then declare the hinder type and – if both sides cannot agree that a penalty hinder occurred – rule D.5 states that the rally should be replayed. It also indicates that when pointed out, most players will show good sportsmanship and, at least, not repeat the infraction (or presumably offer the penalty call if it does re-occur). This is where a clear understanding of the rules (or having a copy on hand) can be very beneficial.

In most cases, a replay hinder situation could, potentially, be a penalty hinder. It depends on the nature of the infraction, how it
affected the shot (whether made or not attempted), and the perspective of the players and/or referee. For example, “backswing hinder” and” stroke interference” have varying degrees … “ball hits opponent” and “moving into the ball” have  different circumstances …“body contact” and “pushing” have differing circumstances and degrees. All aspects of the infraction must be evaluated in order to determine whether the call is a replay or a penalty.

A penalty hinder does not require that the offensive player “be in a set in position and going for a kill shot with an opponent in front of them” (as is often claimed). Although it can present a penalty hinder scenario, “being in a set in position” is not stated
in the rules.

There are seven situations that describe a replay hinder, and nine that describe a penalty hinder.

Replay Hinders: Court hinder … Ball hits opponent … Body contact … Screen ball … Backswing hinder … Safety holdup … Other interference

Penalty Hinders: Failure to move … Stroke interference … Blocking … Moving into the ball … Pushing … Intentional distractions … View obstruction … Wetting the ball … Failure to move

This argument is usually made in the context of the “failure to move” penalty hinder, which states: “A player does not move
sufficiently to allow an opponent a shot straight to the front wall as well as a cross-court shot which is a shot directly to the front wall at an angle that would cause the ball to rebound directly to the rear corner farthest from the player hitting the ball.”

The offensive player could be set for a kill shot, but also hitting the ball waist high, overhead, or on the run. The key
considerations are the positions of the players on the court and their relation to each other when the shot is attempted.

In conclusion, the hinder call is largely subjective and requires a good understanding of the rules. It also should be used primarily as a means of ensuring fair play and safety so that no one impedes safe play or creates an undue advantage over the opponent. Recreational players may agree to call only the most obvious or intentional penalty hinders, and that’s okay among friends
with that understanding. Just be aware that your “style of play” may result in a different outcome than you’re used to when you’re in a more formal competitive situation like a tournament, challenge ladder, or league.

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