IRI Ball denial and G31

Right or wrong I started a new thread for this. I have noticed that many teams used a ball denial strategy that involved not returning balls to the playing field and allowing balls to accumulate in the coral. G31 should penalize this, however I have not seen it enforced. The refs are too focused on the field to pay attention to it. This will continue to be a viable strategy unless The IRI powers would decide to add two officials to monitor the coral and inbounder play. So with all the supper shooters does this affect the game play for IRI? Can’t score if your ball starved. This is not a rule change , just a decision to enforce current rules. What do you think.

Although I’m not familiar with the exact strategy you’re describing, I assume the alliances in question are withholding more than the allotted 6 balls?

I believe the strategy is not enacted the way you are thinking it, though I could be wrong.

You are thinking of the “Ball Starvation” strategy in which balls are not returned immediately to the field to keep them away from the opponents. The way this strategy is enacted, however, is not through leaving the balls in the corral (which is a violation of G31). It is done by each inbounder picking up their 2 balls out of the corral, but not returning them to the field immediately. As long as the number of balls being held in the alliance station does not exceed 6, there is no rule violation.

For reference:

Rule G31
Only Inbounders may contact Basketballs; each Inbounder may hold a maximum of two Basketballs. During Teleop, Inbounders must remove Basketballs from the Corral immediately upon arrival. All Basketballs in the Alliance Station must be held by Inbounders once removed from the Corral.
Violation: Foul

Whether intentional or unintentional, I saw what the OP is describing numerous times at events. With 5 referees on the field (4 + 1 head ref), there was no one to monitor the driver stations specifically. The corrals are not visible from the field side of the wall either, making enforcement next to impossible for 1 person who is watching a quadrant of the field.


This is not a viable strategy, this is willingly breaking the rules. Why not just show up with a 140 lb robot since they aren’t being weighed?

It it fairly obvious when people leave balls in the corral. Sometimes its hard to notice one ball, but when balls are being purposefully left, the refs tend to notice an influx of balls being scored with minimal being returned. However an extra official behind each alliance station would solve all problems.

No, he’s talking about willfully breaking G31 by leaving balls in the corral without getting caught. (Some teams do it by holding over 6 in their hands, but this is more obvious.)

It happens. In fact, it’s happened a lot. I’ve seen it (webcast and live) missed probably 3x times than it’s called. It can be very difficult to spot. Drives me utterly crazy both while coaching and while reffing. **

An alliance can legally maintain control of 17 balls in pursuit of a starvation strategy - 6 in the hands of in-bounders, 9 in the possession of robots, and two left on their alliance bridge. A perfectly legitimate strategy and one that we considered. This does suggest however that you will be outscored in the process of collecting these balls (6 unreturned.) The intent would be to rally with these balls when it is too late for your opponent to answer. Requires well timed and reliable inbounding of the 6 balls, quick and reliable acquisition by robots, and quick shooting with no or very few missed shots. Obviously a strategy only for an alliance with great confidence in their ability. Winning autonomous would improve one’s position to attempt it.

Honestly I think that ball starvation would be a stupid strategy at IRI. I think this because of the Finals in GTR west. If you watch 2056’s and 1114’s human players feed balls across the field as soon as they are in there hands. In IRI I think that the robots have a better chance of scoring the balls than the himan players in the last 30 seconds. So there is no point in keeping those 6 balls, to just throw and hope for a basket or two. Just feed them to your robot and you will get more points.

The strategy is not to keep the balls for human player shots. The strategy is to gain control of most of the balls (hoarding), then score with them (with robots) late in the match when it is too late for your opponent to score with them again. Not promoting it as wise, just explaining the concept. Again it would take great confidence, execution, and timing.

G31 offenses usually have to be pretty blatant to be caught (though brief/minor infractions typically wouldn’t influence the outcome of a match anyway). I can only think of one match this year where G31 was actually called, despite seeing violations on a handful of occasions. But without penalties being announced, it’s entirely possible there were other occasions it was called and I didn’t realize it was called.

FWIW, the one instance it was being called was a clear intentional violation where the alliance never returned a single ball to the field.

When we changed to more of a defensive strategy at championship part of our strategy was to be in the way of the lane that most inbounders took to put balls onto their side of the field. Our strategy would be to stay on the offensive side of the field for a short period at the start of the match, before crossing over to the defensive zone, and try to cause the inbounded balls to get stopped by our bot and stay on our side of the field for our partners. Quite a few times I saw an inbounder with more than 2 balls in their hands waiting for us to get out of the way.

This is the most common way I saw it violated. Often times inbounders stopped/wouldn’t even start taking balls out of the corral until the robot was clear, and sometimes the one holding extra balls handed them back. (Note they may not have realized everyone else also had 2.) Tracking penalties makes it pretty clear it’s often not called–and definitely not at one per ball.

From the perspective of a field official, this is difficult to spot because it’s not (as most people seem to be picturing it) an obvious, long-term issue of no or few balls returning to the field. Even a short time at the start of teleop can be a big deal though, because those extra balls end up making it to the other side. (I’ve seen webcasts with effective point swings of 12-18, sometimes enough to change match winner.) Plus, without the penalties or balls returned, the blocking robot has basically wasted that portion of the game.

(Please note that I’m not saying this will likely happen at IRI.)

An alliance can maintain control of all 18 balls. What is to stop you from putting additional balls on your alliance bridge? :]

The more you put on there, the more likely the opposition will tend your bridge and accept the penalty to break up your strategy.

OK, not much discussion. Maybe allot of people are hoping I’ll shut up and this issue will evaporate and they can go on with their very effective strategy. My problem is as a mentor what do I tell my team. Do I work with our in-bounder to implement this strategy? Do I take the high road and instruct them to follow the rules to the letter even if it puts us in a disadvantaged position. Siri and jblay have hinted at the strategy. It goes deeper. I watched several matches have the out come changed by one alliance use this strategy and the other follow the rules and loose. It does change the game.
Now that that has been brought up I’ll discuss another in-bounder rule violation that has become common. Most teams have treated the line in front of the in-bounder station as a line of death. How ever it does not take much of a line infraction to greatly increase the power and accuracy of an in bounder shot. I’ve noticed that as the season has progressed, in-bounders have more and more taken advantage of this and it has become quite common. So do I teach my in-bounder to start behind the line and take a step forward across the line and then rock back behind the line? Other teams do it or again do I take the high road? This one can only be caught by having a ref behind the wall. Try it some time to see how much of an advantage it is.
These 2 problems are because First over looked the number and placement of refs. Having 2 refs at the in-bounder station enforcing in-bounder play would take the game back to First’s original intent. Ignoring it is the same as saying we don’t care and condones these strategies.
What I don’t want to happen is this burden placed on the current refs. Their plate is full with the field play. I don’t want them taking their eyes off the field to worry about the in-bounder issue.
So IRI is coming up. How will the game be played?
I know this is a touchy subject, but I feel it needs to be brought out. Feel free to agree or disagree. Just my opinion.

I think knowingly violating rules to gain an advantage is something we have all been taught (through FIRST and through life) to be unethical.


I think we need to look at the intent of the rule to decide strategies. Breaking a rule on purpose is not always a bad thing, however breaking a rule with the intent of not geting caught is. Rules/pentalties are in place not to see them as an evil to avoid at all costs, but as a tradeoff. Example, last year if there was a tube we needed in the opponents lane and time was running out, go get it and take the -3 points and finish your logo. I personally will not employ a strategy with the intent of breaking the rules without getting caught and I hope others don’t. If I’m beaten by this, at least I can hold my head high and know I played my best with the rules I was given.

I have always taken the high road and made a great effort to maintain the ethical integrity of my business. I have been rewarded by a loyal customer base. Why do they hire me as opposed to many other companies. Because they feel they can “TRUST” my company to solve their problems fairly and ethically. Many of my competitors have no problem employing deceptive business and marketing practices. I continue to follow the high road. As a small company I consider it a competitive advantage and a survival strategy. How ever many large companies push the envelope of ethics and legality ever day. A large legal department is critical for them. Microsoft comes to mind. You can win by cheating intelligently. So how do we play the game at IRI?

So, here’s my take.

I’ve taken a stance previously in that breaking the rules during the match (as long as it doesn’t damage your opponents robot, is overly aggressive, etc.) is okay. It can provide a strategic advantage that can be just as much a part of the game as any other. In 2011, it was taking tubes from the opponent’s lane. I advocated that strategy because it wasn’t aggressive, and it was blatant and obvious. So there is one take on it.

On this particular strategy, I’d have to take an opposite stance on this matter. Yes, it’s an applicable strategy, and yes, it’s not overaggressive or damaging. But the problem I have with it is you’re attempting to take advantage of a staffing issue. You’re not blatantly breaking the rules in the game, you’re trying to sneak a rule violation by the referees. And THAT I don’t think is really fair, not just to the other teams, but to the referees who volunteered their time to learn these rules and are trying to enforce them to the best of their abilities. Imagine you were a referee. How would you feel if you found out teams have been blatantly breaking the rules just because they knew/thought you couldn’t see it? I know I’d feel very disrespected and disappointed in the conduct of those team. But maybe that’s just me.

In short, yeah, you may be able to get away with this strategy. But is it really a competitive advantage worth teaching your students that it’s okay to cheat as long as you don’t get caught?

Just my thoughts.