What is Roller Derby?

Modern day roller derby is a full contact sport which is usually played on a flat, oval surface (flat track) with quad roller skates requiring speed, athleticism, and strategy. It is predominantly a women’s sport but men’s, co-ed and junior leagues are starting to pop up as well. SORDA is associated with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and follows their current rule set found at www.wftda.com/rules.

There are 7-8 referees required for a game (also known as a bout) and they control the game, enforce these rules and hand out penalties. Currently, 4 minor penalties or 1 major penalty earn you 1 minute in the penalty box. Study and learn the rules. Teams that know the rules really well, have a definite advantage. There is also a written test as part of the Benchmarks (see Benchmarks section). They can be quite complex so start checking out those rules and if you have any questions just ask! Roller derby is unique in that teams play both offensively and defensively at the same time in attempting to assist their own team gain points while preventing the opposing team from scoring.

Here’s a REAL brief overview of the current WFTDA rules:

  • There are two teams each with 14 players. 5 skaters from each team are on the track battling against one another in a jam, which last up to 2 minutes. The whole bout itself is two halves that are 30 minutes each.
  • There are three different positions on the track – The Jammer, the Pivot, and 3 Blockers. the jammer is identified by a helmet cover (panty) with a star on it and is the only player who can score points. The pivot is a blocker who directs their team on the track using strategy and game tactics. They wear a striped helmet cover. Blockers each have a position and role on the track. Not only are they vital to assisting their own jammer through the pack through various means but also preventing the opposing jammer from passing and therefore scoring points.
  • At the beginning of each jam the Pivot and the Blockers usually line up on the Pivot line and form what is known as ‘the pack’. Be warned that they are sometimes rabid. The jammers from each team line up on the Jammer line, which is 30 feet behind the Pivot line. The jam begins with one whistle from the Ref – the pack starts to move forward. Once all skaters are past the Pivot line, a double whistle signals the start of the Jammers. The goal of the jammer is the be the first the get through the pack legally and claim ‘Lead Jammer’ status. As the lead jammer, you can control the length of the jam and call it off at whatever time is most advantageous to your team. As the jammers pass through the pack for second time, they will gain points for every member of the opposing team that they pass.




Watch Penticton Roller Derby in action…