ROLLER DERBY 101:
- Bout: The match/game. Composed of 2 teams competing to score points.
- Jam: An individual session of play. May last up to 2 minutes. At the start of each jam, Jammers line up behind the other players on the track and attempt to make an initial pass through the Pack once the whistle blows in order to begin scoring.
- Jammer: A point-scoring player. Designated by a star on the helmet. Each team fields one Jammer per jam. A point is scored each time a Jammer passes the hips of an opposing Blocker, on the Jammer’s second time through the Pack.
- Lead Jammer: The designation for the first Jammer who makes it through the Pack without incurring any penalties. This status allows the player to end the jam before two minutes is up, for strategic reasons.
- Blocker: An offensive and/or defensive player. Each team fields up to four Blockers per jam (provided there are no Blockers sitting out for incurred penalties). Blockers form the Pack.
- Pivot: The lead Blocker, designated by a stripe on the helmet. A Jammer may pass their own helmet cover to their Pivot, who may then become the Jammer. (This is called “Passing the Star.”) However, Pivot-turned-Jammers can never be awarded Lead Jammer status.
- Pack: The largest group of in bounds Blockers skating or standing in proximity and containing members from both teams.
- Assist: Helping a teammate by giving a push or whip (propelling someone forward by transferring one’s own momentum).
- Track: The demarcated playing area for roller derby. Points are scored in the counter-clockwise direction, in-bounds.
- Penalties: Elbowing, use of forearms, tripping, contact above the shoulders, blocking to a player’s back, skating or blocking out of play or out of bounds, and illegally bettering one’s relative position on the track—and the offending player must sit out for up to 30 seconds.
HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED:
A Roller Derby Bout is played in two 30 minute periods broken into Jams. In each Jam the two teams put 5 players on the track: 1 Jammer, 3 Blockers, and 1 Pivot. At the beginning of the Jam the Blockers and Pivots line up together and form what is known as the Pack. The Jammers start behind the Pack. At the whistle signaling the start of the jam, everyone begins skating. The goal of the Pack is to prevent the opposing team’s Jammer from navigating through the pack while assisting their own Jammer. The goal of the Jammer is to break through the pack in order to score points for their team.
After a Jammer has successfully broken through the Pack the first time (the initial pass), they skate around the track to catch up with the pack and break through again. All passes after the first are scoring passes. The first Jammer to pass through the pack cleanly is awarded “Lead Jammer” status. This Jammer may call off the Jam at any point. Lead Jammer status is retained for the entirety of the Jam. If neither Jammer is able to pass through cleanly, there is no Lead Jammer and the Jam will be played for a full 2 minutes. Points are scored for each opposing player the Jammer passes after the initial pass.
A Jammer only receives one point per opponent in a pass no matter how many times they might pass that opponent during the pass. Points accumulate in this fashion for the duration of the Jam. Players are allowed to check members of the opposing team using their shoulders and hips into the front and side of their target. Pushing, tripping, blocking from behind, and hitting with any part of the arm from the elbow down are all illegal and may result in Penalties. If a Penalty is assessed on a given player, that player will be sent off the track for 30 seconds. Players can be removed immediately for major offenses such as fighting or gross misconduct or other actions which have a major effect on the game. At the end of the second period, the team with the most points is declared the winner. Skaters from the victorious team are required to perform several victory laps during which they will pump their fists in the air and/or blow kisses to the cheering crowd. After beating the daylights out of each other, it’s customary for players to slap hands with everyone on opposing team including the fans.