The Game

What is Roller Derby?

A roller derby match is composed of two teams with four players each: three ‘blockers’ a ‘pivot’ and a ‘jammer’. All players skate counter-clockwise, and the each team’s jammer starts behind the other players. Points are scored when a jammer breaks through the pack of teams, races ahead to rejoin the back of the pack, and then attempts to jam through once again, scoring a point for each opponent passed. The jammer has 2 minutes to score. The game consists of two halves, and each half is composed of two 30-minute periods. Variations can be made in time periods, ex. two 20-minute periods, etc.

The Rules

For the official rules, click here:

Each roller derby game, or bout, is made up of two 30-minute periods with each period consisting of a series of jams up to 2-minutes in length. At the start of a jam, each team designates a pivot, three blockers, and one jammer to line up on the track. The pivot has a large stripe on her helmet; the jammer is designated by a star on each side of her helmet cover.

One whistle starts the pack (the pivot and her blockers) skating clockwise around the track. Once the last blocker crosses the start line, the referee gives two short whistle blasts and the jammers speed up to and make their way through the pack.

The first jammer to fight her way through the pack legally is declared lead jammer and can call off the jam anytime she would like to. If both jammers have skated illegally through the pack, no lead jammer is called and the jam will be played until two minutes has passed.

On their second pass through the pack, the jammers start accumulating points for their team - one for every opposing blocker they pass. Skaters may use their shoulders, torso, hips, and butt to block or hit other skaters. If the jammer laps the opposing jammer, it is called a grand slam, and that jammer can lap the pack as often as she can in two minutes, or until the jam is called off by the lead jammer. She will signal the ref by tapping both hands on her hips to call off the jam.

Once the jam has been called off, the teams have 30 seconds to line up five more skaters for the next jam.

There are referees designated for pack, each jammer, one head ref, and several scorekeepers insuring that game play is safe, and scores are accurate. Minor and major penalties do exist and could result in players being kept off the track for one minute, or called out of the game entirely depending on the severity and frequency of her penalties on another player. Penalties are called for illegal contact like pushing, tripping, grabbing, hits to the back of the body and contact with the forearms. If the illegal action is minor and does not result in a noticeable impact on the other skater, a minor penalty will be called, upon the forth minor a player commits one short whistle is blown and she is sent to the penalty box for one minute. If the illegal action results in a noticeable impact on scoring, game play or safety, a major will be called with one short whistle and a trip to the penalty box for one minute. Minor penalties are cumulative during the bout and are not wiped clean at the end of the period while major penalties reset at the beginning of each period. During each period skaters are allowed 16 trips to the box before it is considered excessive and they are removed for the reminder of the period.

Dirty Derby (Don'ts)

  • Pushing from behind
  • Out-of-bounds blocking
  • Using Hands (grabbing, touching or holding with hands or forearms)
  • Blocking without at least one foot on the floor
  • Blocking when on ground
  • Blocking someone who is down
  • Tripping or falling on purpose to block
  • "Clothesline"
  • Elbows (jabbing, swinging etc…)
  • Blocking with the head
  • FIGHTING!!!!