Roller Derby Positions & Rules

Whether you are just getting started in roller derby, or interested in how the sport works, the first thing that you need to know is how the game is played.

Knowing about all of the rules and positions of the game will help you sort out what you should be doing and what the game should look like while you are learning how to be a great player.

Positions

To start out, let’s take a look at all of the roller derby positions so you might be able to identify which position you would like to strive for.

  • Pivot: The pivot is a blocker. The pivot wears a helmet that has a stripe on it so you can identify one from afar. This player normally starts at the starting line and acts as the leader of the team. The pivot is typically in front of the pack, so is also the last line of defence against the jammer on the other team.

  • Blocker: The other blocks do not have any indication on their helmets, unlike the pivot. There are three blockers who act as both the defence and offense. The blockers are just a grouping together, they are not identified in individual positions.

  • Jammer: Finally, the jammer is the player with a star on the helmet. The jammer lines up at the second starting line, behind the pivot. Where the pivot starts with the first whistle, the jammer starts with the second whistle.

    The jammer is meant to pass up all of the other team’s blockers and get ahead of the team as fast as possible. If the jammer is one of the first two jammers to get away from the pack without penalties, she can stop the jam by putting her hands on her hips.

Game Play

Object of the Game

The object of the game with roller derby is to score more points that the competition. A team receives points when an offensive player, the jammer, laps a member of the other team. They have to avoid blockers who will use physical force to prevent the jammer from passing and allowing their own jammer to get by in the process.

Players

Every roller derby team is made up of no more than 14 members, but there are five players in a game at any given time. These are the three blockers, the pivot, and the jammer.

Skates

Roller derby is played with quad skates, or four-wheeled, traditional roller skates. Inline skates, where the wheels are all in one row, are not used because they are easier to fall on. The quad wheels are easier to control, which can help you escape a jammer when you need to.

Protective Gear

Roller derby is completely a contact sport, so there is a good chance that you might be injured along the way. To prevent injuries, you will need to wear mouth guards, knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, and a helmet. All of this equipment should help with bruises and other injuries.

Scoring Points

A team can only score points in roller derby during a jam. The jams happen throughout each half and will last for two minutes, but the jammer in front can call them when she chooses. The blockers will try to prevent the opposing jammer from making it up to the front to prevent the jammer from scoring and to keep the other team’s jammer in the back. Blockers will often slam into the jammers trying to pass them. A jammer can score one point for each opposing team member that they lap.

How To Win

A team wins the game by having the most points at the end of the game. Roller derby games do not end in a tie. If there is a tie when the two 30 minute periods are up, there will be a tiebreaking jam done in overtime to determine a winner. If a tie still happens after a jam, there will be continual jams until the tie is finally broken. A game is never allowed to end in a tie, but must be played until there is a clear winner.

Rules

As with any sport, there are rules that you have to play in roller derby. We are going to list them out for you below.

  • A team can have up to 14 players, but only 5 players can be on the track at a time. They need to include the pivot, the jammer, and 3 blockers.

  • Roller derby matches are played over the course of two 30-minute periods.

  • Roller derby has to be played on an oval track.

  • At the beginning of a match, the blockers from both teams will skate once around the track together. After they pass the starting line and the last member of the blocks is 30 feet from the starting line, the two jammers will enter the track and begin to skate.

  • Jammers have to skate as fast as they can and fight their way through the pack.

  • Once through the pack, jammers can score on every opposing blocker that is passed.

  • Blockers can use force to stop the opposing jammer from passing them while making way for their team’s jammer.

  • A jam lasts two minutes.

  • At the end of the game, whichever team has the most points wins.

  • When a tie occurs, jams will occur until the tie is broken.

Penalties

A player can receive penalties for inappropriate conduct. This includes:

  • Tripping other players
  • Blocking a player from out of bounds
  • Blocking with the lower part of the arm
  • Blocking above the shoulder
  • Charging from the rear
  • Cutting the track
  • Skating out of bounds
  • Blocking with the head

When a skater has been given a penalty, she must leave the track immediately and go sit in the penalty box. Players have to sit for 30 seconds of jam time for each penalty given to them. They must stand for the last 10 seconds of the penalty.

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