A Doll or Not A Doll? That is the question

At our recent AGM one of the teams made a, lets call it an ‘observation’, that certain calls which were obviously dolls were not called. Now calling is, like any other refereeing, the most controversial part of any game. In Aunt Sally, ignoring foot faults, or extra tape on sticks, or handicaps or… well one of them.. anyone could do better than the person doing the job. Obviously, that goes without saying. IKR! Funny how there are always a lack of volunteers to do the job when the Captain asks though!

If you get your team in that situation of really dubious calling ideally the Captains should discuss it and if necessary change the caller. Keep it sporting. If all else fails walk away from the match and report it to the Committee. We don’t want to lose teams in the league but neither can we tolerate deliberate cheating and bringing the game into disrepute – that’s not good for any of us.

So back to dolls.

I was taught that if the doll goes up and backwards that it’s a doll. If it goes straight up it can’t be, I mean that’s just physics! – unless the stick lands on the top of the doll which would be a bit obvious. If a doll falls forward, again it can’t be a doll unless the stick has obviously hit it from behind – and I’ve seen quite a few of those where you think the stick has missed and then knock! – You know it’s good when you hear the wood.

For the avoidance of doubt it’s worth mentioning any stick that hits the ground first then the doll is not a doll. Any doll that is struck and lies down on the swivel is not a doll – similarly a doll that upends and stands upside down for a split second (yes I’ve seen that!). Any doll that falls off with a stick nowhere near is not a doll. Technically, any stick that hits something else (like an overhanging tree) and hits the doll is not a doll – but I think most would count that as a lucky shot!


The swivel pad SHOULD be smaller than the base of the doll – the doll should overhang all round by a small amount. This placement allows the doll to be hit without hitting the swivel if it’s a low shot but it had to be a solid direct movement of the doll. Again in my view if the doll has fallen and the swivel hasn’t moved then it must likely have been a good hit. There are of course some players (generally with heavier sticks thrown hard, usually round arm) that can smack the doll right on the end by the swivel pad and the doll will fly and the swivel will spin – this is a doll because it’s propelled with force off the swivel hitting that overhang – just mind your ankles for the stick rebound! 

I find it best to focus on the bottom front of the doll right on the swivel where most of the controversy might happen. It also helps if there’s a darker background than the doll so I tend to adjust my position as caller to suit. Let’s face it – obvious dolls are easy to count – other ones come with practice and experience. This is why sticking up is also a call learning opportunity and the caller can ask the sticker up for an opinion if unsure.

Very early on in my AuntSallyTV ‘career’ I recorded a couple of doll strikes so people could see the difference.  Check them out

On the actually calling again it needs to be repeated that it helps everyone (especially those filling in the scorecard/board) that the number of dolls is called out loud and the total repeated at the end of the players throw (assuming they missed with the last stick!). This leaves no room for error or controversy and the caller’s decision is final.

Don’t forget Registration Night is on the 11th March so get your Team and Competition forms off the homepage and sign on!

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