Competition Rules

In the upcoming sections we will cover rules directly from our rulebook. The rulebook currently features over 50 pages of rules and policies that have been expertly developed through community feedback and precisely written to provide the most clarity for athletes and coaches. For the purpose of this training we will cover most of the important rules. However, we recommend reading the rulebook at least once to cover any material not mentioned throughout this training. Additionally, the rulebook is constantly evolving and improving therefore we recommend staying up to date on changes by subscribing to our mailing lists and social media channels.

As we move through our different rule sections we will try our best to summarize the content found in each section and focus on the content we believe is most important. At times we may slow down and provide additional explanation for our more complex or less intuitive rules. We have a lot to cover here so let’s dive in!

At this point you should be familiar with the different recognized formats for ninja competitions. In this section we will general rules that are applicable to all competition formats.

General & Formats

We will not be covering the first two sections in this training. They are primarily there to clarify that section of the rulebook applies to all competition formats then summarizes each of the recognized formats for competitions.

Rules Walkthrough

Before every competition, the ref delivers the rules to the athletes and their coaches. During the rules the ref will clarify details such as: which obstacles are in play for the competition.

  • Which obstacles, platforms and surfaces are in play
  • If there is a time limit
  • Any additional competition rules or clarification.

In Play

At competitions refs will determine what obstacles athletes, platforms or surfaces the athletes are allowed to use. Any object the athlete is allowed to use is considered in play.

Out of Bounds

Anything not stated as in play by the ref during the rules walkthrough will automatically be considered out of bounds. Coming in contact with anything out of bounds while attempting an obstacle will result in a failed attempt on the current obstacle.

It’s important to know some facilities will conduct their rules walkthrough in person while other facilities may choose to create a rules video that they make publicly available. In the event, rules take place in person its important to note, athletes, coaches or parents must refrain from touching any obstacle or surface in the course. Doing so may result in a disqualification of the athlete(s).

Rule Breakdown

“If an athlete, parent, or coach touches an obstacle, the referee may choose to disqualify that parent’s or coach’s athlete(s) if they feel they have gained an unfair advantage by touching the obstacle”

Outside of the ninja community this may seem like a strange rule. Most sports allow athletes the chance to warm up on the net, field or goal before a competition. Ninja competitions are unique and one of the primary challenges of ninja is the athletes ability to adapt their skills and complete a new unique obstacle on their first attempt. Touching an obstacle or surface may be all an athlete needs to gain a significant advantage. This is why ninja competitions don’t allow athletes, parents or coaches the opportunity to feel out obstacles prior to the competition.

Regardless of if the rules are conducted online or in person, the rules walkthrough for a single competition wave can be no longer than 35 minutes. During this time each obstacle much be demonstrated for the athletes. In the event the competition has multiple waves of the same competitive division, the obstacles must be demonstrated the same across all waves. This ensures the same opportunity for all athletes. Finally, it is the athletes and coaches responsibility to understand the rules and verify any questions prior to competing.

Starting and Stopping an Athletes Run

Ninja competitions feature timed events. Whether it’s a course run or a skills run there will always be an element of timing with ninja competitions. In order to ensure fair competitions the ref will give a consistent starting signal for all athletes in a competitive wave. This consistent start noise or visual que will indicate it’s time for the athlete to compete!

Example: If a referee starts athletes with a “3,2,1 GO!”, they must continue to say “3,2,1 GO!” throughout that wave

False starts can happen at ninja competitions. When an athlete attempts an obstacle prior to the official start signal it is considered a false start. When false starts happen the athlete is stopped and brought back to the start platform to be given a new start signal. Athletes will be disqualify on their third attempt if they false start.

Buzzers are a big part of ninja competitions. The end of the course is always indicated by a buzzer! Athletes typically hit the buzzer to clear the final obstacle in a course or skill!

Buzzers may seem simple. However, there are a few important rules to be aware of that could be the difference between moving on in the competition or an early disqualification.

First, it is the athlete’s responsibility to engage the buzzer. The athlete will not receive credit for clearing a course or skill if the athlete makes contact with the buzzer but the buzzer does no register before the time expires. The athlete must make sure the contact they make with the buzzer is sufficient the register.

Second, given the buzzer is always the final obstacle, the ref may clarify if an athlete is allowed to overshoot or step off the final landing platform while attempting to engage the buzzer. If the ref does not clarify during the rules it is assumed the athlete can overshoot or step off the platform while attempting to engage the buzzer.

Incident Handling

Injuries, obstacle breaks, and course malfunctions are all an unfortunate part of the sport and can happen at any time. This section covers how the ref should handle these situations from a competition perspective. The section does not cover an Emergency action plan to ensure proper medical assessment and treatment if needed. We expect each competition to draw up their own EAP specific to the needs and resources of their competition.


In the event an athlete is injured while competing and must leave the competition floor their attempt will be over and the athlete will not be given the opportunity to return to the course. Additionally, Event Coordinator is required to complete an incident report for for all injuries that take place their their event.

Obstacle Breaks & Course Malfunctions

Athletes are provided the opportunity to rerun when an obstacle breaks or course malfunction directly impacts their attempt. In the event the athlete is impacted by either scenario, the ref will immediately stop the athlete and award them the opportunity to start their attempt again.

When a rerun is awarded the athlete awarded the rerun has ability to choose if they are able to run again immediately or if they need the opportunity to rest. If the athlete chooses to rest, the athlete must return to the course within a reasonable amount of time as determined by the competition host.


  • Obstacle not being reset
  • Spectators in path of athlete
  • Obstacle not functioning properly
  • Timer Malfunction
  • Auditory interference

Certified Coaches

Only certified coaches are allowed on the floor. Coaches must complete background checks, abuse prevention training and yearly recertifications. Additionally, these must remain in good standing with the league’s code of conduct in order to participate as a coach.

Competitions may limit the number of coaches allowed per athlete. Any restrictions would be determined by the individual organization.

Currently, athletes are allowed 2 coaches at Championship level competitions. Both coaches must be certified and one of the coaches must have their Level 2 Coaching Certification with the World Ninja League.

Video Review

Ninja competitions use video review to help determine close call situations from the competition floor. The current course ref, certified coaches and athletes in the approved age divisions may request a video review to evaluate a close call from the competition.

Video reviews must be submitted via the official video review request form. The form must be provided by the organization hosting the competition. Requests can be submitted no later then 15 mins after the end of the athlete’s competitive wave. There can only be one submission per athlete per event. Review submissions are processed on a first come, first serve bases. Any review not processed 2 hours after the end of the competitive wave will be resolved to the call made on the competition floor.

All reviews are final once a resolution has been delivered. No additional review requests may be made.


This concludes this section of our training. We covered a lot of material in this section. At this point you should be familiar with the following topics:

  • The process for conducting rules at competitions.
  • The procedures for handling injuries, obstacle breaks or course malfunctions.
  • The requirements for Certified Coaches.
  • How video reviews are submitted and processed.