Flat track roller derby is a fast-paced contact team sport that requires speed, strategy, and athleticism. Games, or ‘bouts’ feature un-staged physical contact played according to a strict set of rules. At the 123rd International Olympic Committee session, it was announced that roller derby was among eight sports under consideration for addition to the 2020 Olympic Games.
The DIY spirit that drives the sport allows roller derby leagues to create their own unique identities and adapt their structures to reflect their local communities.
A roller derby bout consists of two teams who field five roller skaters on the track. A team wins by scoring the most points in the duration of the bout. The rules of roller derby are set by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). See a short video that sums it up!
Four blockers per team per jam, including the pivot
Block the other team’s jammer and assists their own jammer
Blockers from both teams comprise the pack
One bout consists of two periods of 30 minutes each. A period is comprised of short, successive intervals called jams. Each jam can last up to two minutes. At the beginning of the jam, one whistle blows to release the pack. Next, a double-whistle blows to release the two jammers.
Both teams can score points during the same jam. A point is scored each time a jammer passes a blocker from the opposing team. In each jam, one jammer can earn Lead Jammer status by being the first jammer to break through the pack on her initial pass. When Lead Jammer is awarded, the jam referee will tweet the whistle and point to the Lead Jammer. The Lead Jammer has the special ability to call off the jam at any time by putting her hands on her hips.
So roller derby is all about throwing elbows and tripping and clotheslining, right? Wrong! Modern roller derby is not what you remember from the 70’s television show. Some hits are legal. Some are not! Skaters can earn thirty seconds in the penalty box for hitting with their forearms or heads, tripping other skaters, hitting other skaters’ backs, or cutting the track to pass other skaters.
Roller derby has one of the highest official-to-player ratios in modern sports. Roller derby requires both referees on skates and non-skating officials to track scores, penalties, game timing and to keep the game running smoothly. Common Referee Signals Infographic
Does everyone have to wear quad roller skates?
Yes – all skaters and referees wear quad roller skates, as well as full safety equipment, including knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmets, and mouth guards. Quad skates allow for better lateral movement which is essential in roller derby.
Are there ever fights?
Like most contact sports, fighting is discouraged. Any fighting could lead to expulsion from the game and disciplinary action from the league. Roller derby is the kind of sport where you can dish out legal punishment to your arch nemesis on the track, and buy her a beer later off the track.
Why don’t you skate on a banked track?
Banked tracks in modern roller derby, as popularized by the derby revival in Austin, Texas, are very expensive for today’s skater-owned, skater-operated leagues. Flat track is a much more accessible and popular choice for derby leagues nationwide.
New year, new round of new skater profiles!
Everybody say Hi to Nell Hath No Fury!
Name: Nell Hath No Fury – My real-life name is Nellie, and I am, like, ridiculously good-natured, so I thought it was a funny choice. Number: Haven’t decided on one yet. Leaning towards either 19 (because everything is 19), or 213 (my birthday) When I started: September 2015 How I found CVRD: I’d been thinking about checking out roller derby for several years, but didn’t actually do anything about it until this past year after moving to Montpelier. I wanted to meet people and try something new, so googled “Roller Derby Montpelier Vermont,” and found CVRD. Haven’t looked back since! What I like best about Roller Derby so far: I love pushing myself, and my fitness, to new levels. This is such a challenging and rewarding sport, and I love that about it. I also love the amazing, supportive women I skate with. They have never once made me feel like an idiot for taking forever learning T-stops, or falling down a million times. They just applaud you for falling the right way, and work with you to get you up and moving again. Derby Hero: Scald Eagle with Rose City Rollers. She is an amazon on skates. I love her fierceness, control, and skill. Best advice from a seasoned skater: If you’re not falling, you’re not pushing yourself. Get up & keep skating. (seriously, Best Advice, and so important to remember as fresh meat!!)