WHAT IS ROLLER DERBY?
The easiest way to learn is to come see a bout in person. Our announcers will give you a quick run down before the first bout starts, but here a few quick tips.
The game of roller derby is relatively simple. Each team has a designated scorer (aka the “jammer”) who earns a point every time she laps an opposing player. It’s sort of a combination of speed skating and Red Rover, except we use hip checks instead of holding hands (the idea is you don’t let the other jammer pass you).
Jammer: Scores all the points! (Has a star on her helmet and is the only player who can score points.)
Blocker: Simultaneously plays offense and defense. She blocks the other jammer, and clears the path for her own jammer.
Pivot: Head blocker. (Has a stripe on her helmet and calls the plays.)
The Pack: The largest group of skaters within 10 feet of one another.
● Each two-minute play is called a “jam.”
● Teams have 30 seconds between each jam to field a new line-up.
● There are two halves in a bout. Each half is 30 minutes long and has an unlimited number of jams.
● Teams are allowed to substitute players between jams, except for players stuck in the penalty box.
● Penalties earn a skater 1 minute in the box, which may mean sitting in the box for more than one jame.
● 7 trips to the box results in expulsion.
● Each team has 3 time outs.
SET UP & SCORING
● Each team has 4 blockers and 1 jammer on the track at a time.
● The first jammer to clear the pack becomes the “lead jammer.” She does not earn points for her first lap, or “initial pass”, but points start accruing on her second time around, or “scoring pass.”
● “Lead jammer” status is indicated by the referee pointing at her and holding up his other hand shaped in the letter “L”.
● “Lead jammer” status allows her to end the jam before 2 minutes is up if she so chooses. (This way she can call off a jam after she has scored points, but before the opposing jammer can score.)
● Hits to the back, the head, or the knees.
● Blocking with you hands, arms, elbows.
● Tripping, kicking, blocking with your feet.
● “Out of play”: Blocking 20 feet in front of or 20 feet behind the pack.
● “Clock-wise blocking”: Hitting a player while moving the wrong direction.
● “Cutting the track”: You cannot go in bounds in front of anyone if you get hit out.
● Blocking from out-of-bounds.
● “Illegal procedures”: false starts and fielding too many blockers are examples.
● Hits to the shoulder and thighs.
● Hits using your shoulder, hips, butt, and side.
TYPES OF BLOCKING
Frontal Block: Positional blocking by staying in front of a skater to slow her down.
Hip Check: Using your hips to knock someone down or out-of-bounds.
Shoulder Check: Using your shoulders to knock someone down or out-of-bounds.
Pop Tart: A shoulder check to an opponent’s sternum.
Leaning Out: Escorting an opponent out-of-bounds by leaning on them.
Bout: The game made of two 30 minute halves.
Jam: 2 minute period.
Jammer: Player scoring points.
Panty: The name given to the jammer and pivot helmet covers.
Grand Slam: Lapping the opposing jammer and pack resulting in a 5-point gain.
Jumping the Apex: Jumping the apex of the track to pass an opposing blocker at the turn.
Power Jam: When there is only one jammer on the track.
It’s a lot to take in. Don’t be shy. You can ask your neighbor or any of the skaters carrying around “ASK ME” signs. We love to talk derby. Just focus on the hits, watch the jammers (they usually are on the receiving end of most hits), and build a beer-a-mid or two.
You can also see a complete list of rules at www.wftda.com/rules