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Grabbing the Barrier Infraction

Grabbing the Barrier hand signal

Grabbing the Barrier hand signal

Grabbing the barrier wall to gain an advantage

Frequency of Infringement: Moderate (highly dependent on barrier design)

Refereeing Difficulty: Easy

What the Rules say:
Under Infringements:
"Grabbing or holding the barrier to gain an advantage."

Under Signals:
"Signal is an open-fingered hand palm down, with fingers curved and moving back and forth in pulling motion. Signal is mimicking the grabbing of the top of an invisible barrier and shaking it."

In the penalty guide:
First Infringement, Accidental: Individual Caution
First Infringement, Deliberate: 1 minute
Second Infringement, Accidental: Individual Caution or 1 minute
Second Infringement, Deliberate: 2 minutes
Third and all subsequent Infringements: 2 minutes

When you should call it: When a player grabs the barrier wall with a closed hand and uses it to gain an significant advantage over his or her opponent. This most commonly occurs when the puck is contested along the barrier wall and a player who is fighting to possess or advance the puck grabs the barrier wall with his/her free hand to pull his/her body forward or prevent being pushed backwards by the opponent.

When you should NOT call it: When a player touches or pushes against the barrier wall (or any other surface in the playing area) without grabbing it (i.e. closing his/her hand around any part of the surface). Players will frequently use an open hand to 'push off' from a wall or the pool bottom. This does NOT constitute an infringement under this rule.

When a player grabs the barrier wall but does not gain significant advantage over his/her opponent as a result. Absent-minded or incidental grabbing of the barrier wall by players not directly involved in a battle for the puck should generally be ignored by the referees.

What else you should know: Although the rules don't specifically state this, it is generally considered bad form to grab any other part of the playing surface and use it for leverage or propulsion. This includes goal trays, pool drains and vents, ladders, gutters, lane ropes, etc. If you are unsure about whether to penalize players for such activities, consult the tournament's chief referee.

Related rules: Players extending their arms to the barrier wall (whether grabbing it or not) may be committing obstruction infringements in certain situations, particularly when the puck is contested along the wall. See the Obstruction module for more information.