Press "Enter" to skip to content

What Is Roller Derby? A Complete Description

Let’s begin with the question, what is roller derby?

Roller derby is a roller skating contact sport played by two teams of fifteen members. Approximately 1,250 amateur leagues play roller derby, mostly in the United States.

The game is played out in a series of brief scrimmages called jams, in which each team designates a jammer (who wears a special star on their helmet) and four blockers to skate counterclockwise around a track. Lapping opponents’ team members allows the jammer to score points. In essence, the teams are playing both offense and defense at once as they work to obstruct the other jammer while supporting their own jammer.

Please keep reading for more detailed information about roller derby.

What Is Roller Derby?

Using quad roller skates, roller derby is a full-contact, high-intensity sport. Each game consists of two jams, or two-minute plays, that are separated by 30-minute periods.” The jammer must pass each opponent’s blocker upright and in-bounds in order to complete a legal lap. Each team starts with four skaters playing defense (referred to as “blockers”) and one player playing offense (referred to as “jammer”). The “lead jammer” is the first jammer to pass the pack of blockers (the “pack”) on their first lap. This jammer has the authority to break it before the two minutes are up. For each opposing blocker that a jammer passes after the first lap, they earn one point.

Skaters are not permitted to strike one another with their hands, heads, or feet. Skaters are also prohibited from striking people in the back, feet, or head. Performing frequently results in a fine. Penalties frequently occur without the need for a break in play. During play, players report to the penalty box for a 30-second penalty before continuing. Skaters are only allowed to accumulate 7 during the course of the contest before they are forced to leave. To ensure safety and fairness, skating officials and non-skating officials watch the game from both inside and outside the track.

Roller Derby History

As skating marathons during the Great Depression, roller derby got its start in the 1930s. Leo Seltzer, the event’s promoter, found that the competitions were more exciting when the skaters pushed and shoved one another to advance. He started to advertise these as a full-contact sport. In the 1970s, roller derby enjoyed a resurgence, and Saturday afternoon television programming was common. Most recently, the modern version of the sport was developed by a group of women in Austin, Texas, in the early 2000s. The modern, flat-track version of the game is currently played by over 500 leagues across 6 continents.

Although there have been many changes to roller derby, including different rules, banked vs. flat tracks, and staged fights–it has stayed true to its roots: it is played by fierce, passionate athletes who play for the love of the game.

The Object Of Roller Derby

Simple is the goal of roller derby. The goal of every team is to outscore the opposition in terms of points. If the offensive player from one team, referred to as the jammer, laps a player from the other team, that team receives a point. As a full-contact sport, the opposing team’s defensive players, known as blockers, can use physical force to prevent the jammer from passing them and to make room for their own jammer.

Scoring Of Roller Derby

In Roller Derby, scoring can only take place during “jams.” These take place during each half and can last up to two minutes, though the lead jammer has the option to end them sooner. When a team’s jammer passes opponents during the jam, that team scores points. The opposing team will employ a variety of strategies to try and stop this, including blocking and body contact. Each opponent on the opposing team that the jammer passes earns them a point.

Winning Roller Derby

The team with the most points at the conclusion of the game is declared the victor. Roller Derby games cannot tie, so the winner is decided in an overtime jam. The team with the most points at the conclusion of the overtime jam, without a lead jammer, is deemed the winner. A series of jams will take place until a winner is determined if the game is still tied.

What Kind Of Gear Is Required For Roller Derby?

The sports equipment for roller derby is the same as for any other sport. Players will not be permitted to use the track without them. Skates, helmets, and other safety equipment fall under this category.


Even though this isn’t exactly “equipment,” uniforms are very important in roller derby! The colors and logos of teams are frequently used. While some teams will pair their uniform shirts with shorts and thigh-high socks, other teams will wear them with leggings.


They use rollerblades in ice hockey. People skate on roller skates in roller derby. Quad skates are a requirement for the game. These are four-wheeled roller skates, with two in the front and two in the back. Fashion usually takes precedence over function when it comes to women’s roller skates.” Finding those who are durable is crucial. It’s critical to specifically look for roller derby skates when purchasing a pair rather than regular skates.

Players are only permitted to use quad roller skates, according to USA Roller Sports. This is to protect their security. The first benefit of quad skates is improved track balance. The player’s feet and ankles are also less stressed as a result. Finally, they offer more grip, which is critical for skating laps.

Skates come in various varieties, including inline skates for rollerblading. The middle of an inline skate has a single row of 2 to 5 wheels. However, only referees can wear inline skates. Referees still choose quad skates most of the time.

Protective Gear

Each and every skater is required to put on a helmet, knee, and elbow pads. They ought to be the appropriate size. If not, the skater will risk getting hurt because these accessories won’t be secure. In case of a mistaken fall, wrist guards are crucial to protect the wrists. Skaters need mouthguards just like football players do. For added protection, some skaters also put on hard-case sports bras. Protective cups are also worn by men.

What Is Roller Derby A Complete Description
What Is Roller Derby? A Complete Description

How Is Roller Derby Conducted?

Now that the history has been covered, let’s learn about roller derby’s rules and gameplay. Let’s examine the fundamental terms for gameplay, the members of a team, the officials, and the general strategy and tactics used in the game to make things simpler.

In roller derby, each team can have up to 15 players. However, during a “jam,” only five of them are allowed to be on the field.” A jam is what each round is called in roller derby. Normally, it lasts for two minutes. A full game is divided into two intervals of 30 minutes.

The Track

It is an indoor sport called roller derby. The magic takes place on a roller rink, as you might have guessed. But not all skating rinks are suitable. Roller rinks must abide by the rules established by the WFTDA for official games.

The track’s dimensions and boundary markings must be accurate. This will assist skaters in staying within the lines. The pivot and jammer lines ought to be simple for skaters to see. They can monitor the start and finish points of the laps in this manner. Additionally, the track needs to be level and spotless.


Officiants are another component of the game in addition to the players. There are two groups: referees and non-skating officials (NSOs).

Four referees typically skate inside the track. They are the pack referee, two jammer referees, and the head referee. Jammer referees monitor their assigned team’s jammers and award them with their points. Meanwhile, pack referees watch the rest of the team. When appropriate, they declare penalties. The head referee supervises everything. When expulsions are required, he makes the final decision.

These are NSOs who contribute to the game in other areas besides the track. This includes penalty trackers, timers, and scoreboard operators.

In addition, a medical team or professional is usually on-site. As a contact sport, injuries can happen. As a result, having a first aid provider on hand is crucial.


Of the five players on the field, there is the jammer. You’ll see that each team will have a player who dons a helmet cover that features a star on it. This person serves as the team’s jammer. Only the jammer is capable of scoring in this game. They accomplish this by lapping players on the opposing team. Each opponent the jammer passes by results in a point being awarded.

The rest of the team are blockers. To stop the opposing jammer from making laps is the blockers’ objective. They must assist in clearing the way for their own jammer as they do this. Blockers function as both offensive and defensive players in this way. A group of blockers is called the pack.

Among the four blockers, one also acts as the team’s pivot. The pivot wears a striped helmet cover, while the jammer dons a helmet cover with a star on it. A pivot is a blocker who has the potential to switch to the jammer position. This can only happen during a “star pass,” in which the first jammer transfers their helmet cover to their pivot.

Read about: How To Turn On A Skateboard

What Are The Roller Derby Tactics And Strategies?

A roller derby match is entertaining to watch because of the various strategies used by each team. To win, a lot of planning is required. One situation where planning is necessary is allocating roles within your team. Here are some foundational terms that are used during strategy to help you better understand the gameplay:


Juking is when a jammer fools the opponent by skating to one side. To be able to do this, jammers must be quick on their skates and think quickly.


Goat-herding is a strategy in which blockers target the opponent’s blocker rather than their jammer. Blockers will circle an enemy blocker before slowing down. The blocker is compelled to split off from the rest of their team as a result.


When a jammer deviates from the intended path and enters the rink again, recycling occurs. A jammer can only re-enter the track behind the skater who knocked them off when they are bumped off the track.

Star Pass

The pivot receives the jammer’s helmet cover during the star pass. “A team’s score can be made or broken by how well they pass the star. Teams frequently select their best player to serve as their pivot. Because the opposing team’s blockers will make the star pass challenging, it requires both agility and strength.

Call Off

When the jammer “calls off” the jam, that is when it occurs. To prevent the opponent from accumulating more points, they declare the round over. They can stop the jam at any time, but only the lead jammer has the ability to do so. The jam can be broken as long as the jammer outscores the opposing team in points.

Walling Up

A strategy to stop the jammer of the opposing team is walling up. In order to create a “wall” that makes passing very challenging, blockers will skate parallel to one another. To take down the wall, the adversary’s team will have to attack. If not, the jammer will need to locate a gap to squeeze through.

Read about: How To Stop With Ice Skates For Beginners?

What Are The Regulations For Roller Derby?

Of course, when strategizing, players can’t forget about the game’s rules. Otherwise, players will spend time in the “penalty box.”

Skaters who receive penalties are required to spend 30 seconds in the penalty box. However, they serve the final 10 seconds while standing. Then, as soon as possible, they can get back on track. What specific behaviors might put them there in the first place?

Prohibited Contact Zones

Players cannot block opponents with their heads, forearms, or legs even though it is a full-body contact sport. This includes using their elbows, hands, or feet. To push their opponents, they have to rely on their hips. A skater can only strike their opponent’s hips, too. Penalties apply to any other location.

No Vulgar / Offensive Language

Professionalism is also crucial in this situation. Some referees are tolerant and permit profanity. In amateur leagues, this is especially true. A skater is not allowed to use foul language toward officials or other players.

Penalties For Disrupt The Game’s Flow

A game-interrupting example would be leaving the track in the middle of it. Skaters who do so will be fined by the referees inside the rink. The only exception is when a jammer or pivot needs to recover an off-limits helmet cover. A skater would receive penalty time in any other circumstance.


What is roller derby in the end?

Scoring points is one of roller derby’s relatively straightforward goals. At the conclusion of a game, the team with the most points (the “bout”) wins! The goal of the “jammer,” a point-scoring skater for each team, is to pass as many opponents as possible. The remaining skaters, or “blockers,” simultaneously work on offense and defense to stop the opposing jammer and make room for their own jammer.

Roller derby is a sport that requires a combination of teamwork, communication, strength, speed, control, and agility to play well.

Do you now comprehend what roller derby is? Please leave a comment if you experience any difficulties with roller derby. I’ll get right to it and answer your query. Please bookmark and subscribe if you enjoyed the article.

I sincerely appreciate you reading.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.