Pinning and Trapping rules

We just traveled out of state for a competition, which is good because it helps us to see what other states are doing. We were the only out of state teams at the competition, which shouldn’t have really mattered. The day was rough but that isn’t the point. We were picked for second seed alliance and made it to semifinals until we were pinned for most of the match, with no pin count. After talking to the head refs they said that when you are pinned if there is an avenue for escape you are pinned, and that I had an avenue. I was being pinned in the corner of the field by the unprotected goal zone. I’m not sure why trapping is so different in states but this referee said he was trained by a ref at worlds and the Indy Sig event. I would just like a better answer for what trapping and pinning is, because I feel like the rule book does not go in depth enough and allows for referees to make small adjustments to the rule.


did u watch dis?

Yes I have. Do all the referees watch this? No. That’s why it needs to be more in depth in the rule book


Let’s have a look at the rule.

G15 No Trapping for more than 5 seconds. A Robot may not Trap an opposing Robot for more than five (5) seconds during the Driver Controlled Period. A Trap is officially over once the Trapping Robot has moved away and the Robots are separated by at least two (2) feet (approximately one (1) foam tile). After ending a Trap, a Robot may not Trap the same Robot again for a duration of five (5) seconds; if a Team does Trap the same Robot again, the count will resume from where it left off when the Trapping Robot initially backed off.
Minor violations of this rule that do not affect the Match will result in a warning. Match Affecting offenses will result in a Disqualification. Teams that receive multiple warnings may also receive a Disqualification at the Head Referee’s discretion.

The definition of trapping is (note Trapping and pinning are the same thing now and it was the same since TP

Trapping - A Robot is considered Trapped if an opposing Robot has restricted it into a small, confined area of the field, approximately the size of one foam field tile or less, and has not provided an avenue for escape. Trapping can be direct (e.g. pinning an opponent to a field wall) or indirect (e.g. preventing a Robot from escaping a corner of the field).

Now the ref said that there was an avenue of escape In the corner but I think mostly when this is talked about here you make it seem that the avenue of escape might cause you to have a G3 violation. Interesting this might not be perceived as forcing into a penalty you didn’t necessarily need to go back. However what seem like could be the case might be the point of

G3 Use common sense. When reading and applying the various rules in this document, please remember that common sense always applies in the VEX Robotics Competition.

As such a ruling might actually be contrary to what common sense might say about getting out of a trap.

I can try to elaborate to the best of my ability what exactly was happening when I was being trapped/pinned. I was stuck up against a wall, with a cube right behind my bot, I was very close to the unprotected zone, so probably had about half a tile or so to move. He said I could’ve backed up and escaped, but because of the cube I couldn’t back up. I’m guessing he thought the cube and the floor didn’t have enough friction to restrict my movement, but I had been wearing the motors down all match and therefore couldn’t. The whole problem is that there was not even a pin count that was started. Also, Isn’t there there a referee rule that says they should er on the side of the offensive robot?

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Lets have a bit more of a look there is inded

G13 Offensive Robots get the “benefit of the doubt”. In the case where referees are forced to make a judgment call regarding a destructive interaction between a defensive and offensive Robot, or an interaction which results in a questionable rules violation, the referees will err on the side of the offensive Robot.

The thing with that is that does not help you out and is not on your side but the cube not allowing you to back up does make it more complicated as now what your dealing with is a potential trap and a robot that cant move thus this would seem to match the criteria for a trap count to begin.

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I don’t believe that the friction from a singular cube is going to stop any robot. Regardless, If it stopped yours that isn’t the fault of the offensive bot


If I’m pushed up against a wall, and there is something called friction, between the wall and the robot, as well as a cube behind me, that through all my power, and a 4 motor base, would not move. The cube doesn’t matter. It’s that I was trapped and couldn’t move. That’s the point. Just trying to give background

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I can provide some more context to this competition’s reffing as I was there as well. This particular ref made some interesting calls regarding the trapping/pinning rule G15. There were several instances where others including me had a pin count started on them when we were pushing another robot from the side across the field. and several more where warnings were given to the robot trying to counter pushing. Throughout the day the ref was doing an ok job but there were plenty of calls which made it seem as though they were slightly uniformed on G15.


If you are pushed against a wall, that is trapping, so long as you attempt to escape. As a referee, I can watch a robot’s wheels and driver to quickly determine if they are attempting to escape, or if they are going about their business without regard to the defender. I feel that in my 4th year as a referee, these forum debates and clarifications, as well as the training videos, I know what to look for. It is often challenging for novice referees to make time sensitive calls like that correctly. I would recommend recording matches and confirming the missed call with another veteran player. Sometimes it is rough communicating with a ref during the match, and the mistake or oversight may have been on your part, but if you confirm that the refs are at fault, bring it up with the EP during the event, and then if you feel that they are not doing their due diligence, vote with your money, and recommend other teams to do so as well.


I did bring it up to the event partner, but he was also a head ref. Not sure if that’s legal but that’s how it was set up. I talked to everyone I could but they wouldn’t change their decisions. It’s so hard to just let a competition go because of poor referees. Both the head refs were blood related to another team as well so that’s really the only team they would vouch for.

I am an event partner that is also a head referee. Let me tell you that highly skilled unpaid referees are hard to come by. Additionally, I am much harder on my own teams because they should know better and it makes me look bad when they do not respect the rules. I would love to find ways to improve the driver-referee interactions via training videos, one-page rule reminders for drive teams, and some training on how referees should communicate productively. All I can say is work with your organization to find event partners that you like and helping them as much as possible. If a good event partner ran three competitions a year with tons of support from the community, it would be easier than running one with zero support.

It sucks feeling like you got unlucky or even worse when you are powerless to defend yourself, but that is part of any organization. Football has opinions about ACC, BIG10, SEC, etc refs being the worst. Also, FIFA exists, and they are basically a fire ant mound that hosts soccer tournaments. VEX currently does not have an avenue for the kind of justice you are looking for, and the best thing you can do is add that comp to your do-not-go list.

One last thing: it would be nice if the head referee was named on Robot Events.


just check the game manual. it explains everything in there.

Just keep in mind that this action is only illegal if it happens for more than 5 seconds.

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It happened for around 30 seconds on and off, but with no breaks in between. As in they’d pin for around two seconds, back up for one second, then push again for another two.

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