What is Roller Derby?


When I posted in February about my

new skates

, a comment from


made me realise that I hadn't got around to writing a post to introduce Roller Derby properly. I've posted about the sport sporadically during my blog's lifetime, but never with focus on the rules, gameplay or terminology - despite having no reason not to. So what better time to talk about the sport than before the year is up! As Roller Derby is forever adapting and growing I'll leave the complex stuff to the


, and stick to the basics for this one.

Roller Derby is a full contact sport played on roller skates and on a


track. Sorry,

Whip It

fans - a lot has changed since the film's release! There's hitting, hip checks and sometimes full on body slams. Without a mouth guard, helmet, or elbow, wrist and knee pads, play is not permitted; not that you would gladly risk getting on track without them anyway. That being said, these hits aren't just a free-for-all. There are legal zones on your body you can use to hit and block with - which are wonderfully demonstrated by

these diagrams

from the WFTDA. To put it simply, you can use your chest, shoulders, upper arms and sides to block, and you can hit with your torso, upper arms, sides and booty. Therefore you would be penalised if you purposely hit into the back, legs or head of an opposing Blocker or if you use your head, elbows, forearms or legs to block a Jammer. Punching and kicking is also not allowed!


A line of blockers awaiting contact from the opposing Jammer.

In a game (bout, scrimmage or scrim) there are never more than five players on track from each team at any one time. These teams of five are compromised of three Blockers, one Pivot and a Jammer. The groups of Blockers and Pivots stand together, often in a line of some sort, one team behind the other. A game is made up of a series of two minute "Jams" and the aim of the game is to score as many points as possible to come out on top. Jammers are the point scorers. They start off behind the pack, but when the whistle blows they want to break through the wall of opposing Blockers and Pivot - passing as many hips as possible (1 hip = 1 point) - as many times as they can during the two minute jam. The Pivots are marked by wearing a panty over their helmet with a line on, and the Jammers a star. If a Jammer is in trouble, they are permitted to pass their star panty to the Pivot for them to take over the Jammer role.

The Jammer to break through first becomes Lead Jammer and they begin to score points on their next passing through the pack. They have the ability to call off the Jam by ferociously tapping their hips, in order to avoid the rival Jammer surpassing them, gaining points or becoming Lead Jammer. Staying true to their title, the Blockers' job is to block the opposing Jammer from getting past them, by using various wall formations amongst other techniques, and hitting. The Pivots work with the Blockers to stop and catch the Jammer, acting as the pack's eyes and ears through verbally relaying the whereabouts of the Jammer, to stop them from gaining any points. Other points to note: before a big game starts there is a skate out (where each player is introduced alongside their team, as their team's song blasts out), everyone skates counter-clockwise, and at the end of the game all of the spectators run down to the edge of the track to give/receive high fives.


And White 0208 takes Lead Jammer! This is indicated by the pointing Ref.

Roller Derby is predominately a woman's sport that has taken America by storm. As the sport continues to grow in popularity over more recent years, there are also many mens and mixed gender teams popping up across the globe now too. I am part of a co-ed league, which is awesome as I get to play the sport with a group of women and men. What I personally love about Derby is just how inclusive it is. As long you're over 18, you are welcome -

Everyone is welcome.

 Another huge plus for me is the lack of pressure surrounding being a certain weight, shape or fitness level to play. In fact, the more varied the team the better! Roller Derby has immensely improved my body confidence. Before I started playing, the thought of leaving the house in leggings and a T-shirt made me feel desperately uncomfortable. Now I am proud to put on my battle gear and join my friends on track every Wednesday. If this post has got you riled up to find your local team, I'd suggest doing a Google search for the closest league to where you are or checking out those listed on



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