What is Roller Derby?

Roller Derby is a full contact sport played on quad roller skates on a flat oval track, the aim of the game is to score points by having your points scoring player (jammer) pass the opposing team more times than their jammer passes your players. Each game, or ’bout’ is made up of two 30 minute halves, made up of 2 periods called ‘jams’. The blockers skate in a counter-clockwise direction in a pack formation, with the jammers starting just behind them. It’s the job of the jammer to speed through the pack. Blockers use full contact hits (or ‘blocks’) to try and stop them. On their initial pass through, neither jammer scores any points, although the first to break through the pack is awarded ‘lead jammer’ status. On their second pass through, the jammers score a point for each blocker they pass without committing any penalties. The jammers can then lap the pack as many times as possible in 2 minutes, or until the lead jammer calls off the jam by placing their hands on their hips. The team with the most points at the end of the bout wins.


There are 15 players per team, 5 of whom are on the oval-shaped track at any one time. Each team consists of a jammer, three blockers and a pivot.

  • The Jammer is the point scorer. They can be identified by the star on their helmet cover.
  • The Pivot is a blocker that is eligible to become a jammer under certain circumstances. They can be identified by the stripe on their helmet cover.
  • The Blockers make up the rest of the pack. It’s their job to help their jammer through the pack while simultaneously stopping the other team’s jammer.


While roller derby is a full contact sport, for our safety there are very specific rules about where players can be hit and which body parts can be used to hit other players with. These include: no elbows, no tripping, no back blocking (hitting another player in the back), no cutting track (going out of bounds to get in front of another player) and no fighting. One of the (up to) seven referees that run each game will call a penalty when they see violations of the rules.

Players who commit a penalty are sent to the ‘penalty box’ for thirty seconds, leaving their teams short a player: a particular risk when that player is a jammer – a situation usually called a ‘power jam’. Check out the WFTDA site for more detailed information on rules, but the best way to learn is to do!


Would you like to get involved in roller derby?

We run a rookie program specifically designed to get people like you playing and participating in roller derby – Click here to learn about starting out in roller derby with SDRD.

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