About Roller Derby

Ohio Roller Girls tripple header against Burning River Roller Girls (Cleveland, OH) and the Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls (Bloomington, IN)

What is roller derby?

Flat track roller derby is a fast-paced contact team sport that requires speed, strategy, and athleticism. The flat track version of the sport evolved in 2001, and has quickly grown to encompass more than 400 leagues worldwide.

The rapid growth of the sport is in large part due to the ease of setting up a flat track–it can be done on any flat surface that is suitable for skating, such as skating rinks, basketball courts, parking lots, and even airplane hangars. This greatly reduces the capital needed to start up a roller derby league, and allows small groups of people to get a fledgling league off the ground. 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.

How are points scored?

The skaters wearing a helmet cover with a star on it are the jammers. After making it through the pack of blockers once, the jammer begins scoring points for each opposing blocker she passes legally and in bounds. She can also score points on opponents who are in the penalty box and can get a fifth point if she laps the opposing jammer. Blockers are trying to stop the opposing team’s jammer while helping their own jammer get through.

What are the players' positions?

A team’s full lineup for a jam will consist of one Pivot, three Blockers and one Jammer. Each team may field up to five players for each jam.

  • Pivot – The pivot blocker wears a helmet cover with a stripe on it. She generally starts at the first starting line and serves as the leader of her teammates playing in that jam. As most teams play the pivot position at the front of the pack, she is also often the last line of defense to stop the opposing jammer from escaping the pack.
  • Blocker – The other three blockers do not wear helmet covers. All blockers may all play offense and defense at any given time and frequently switch between offensive and defensive tasks. The rules do not differentiate the remaining three blocking positions from one another. However most roller derby teams choose to assign names and focus areas to the blocking positions for strategic purposes.
  • Jammer – The jammer wears a helmet cover with a star on it. She lines up at the second starting line and begins play at the second start whistle. The jammer’s goal is to pass opposing blockers and emerge from the pack as quickly as possible. If she is the first of the two jammers to escape the pack without committing any penalties, she gains the strategic advantage of being able to stop the jam at any time by placing her hands on her hips. Once a jammer laps the pack, she begins scoring one point for every opposing blocker she passes legally. She can continue to lap the pack for additional scoring passes for the duration of the jam.

Why don't Jammers score on the first pass?

The first pass is used to establish “lead jammer.” Lead jammer the first jammer to make it through the pack by passing her opponents legally and in bounds. The lead jammer gains the strategic power to end the two-minute jam early. The lead jammer is not always the first jammer out, and it is possible to have no lead jammer if both commit a foul while trying to clear the pack. If there is no lead, the jam lasts the full two minutes.

Roller Derby Basics (video by Hammer City Roller Girls)

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2013 Ohio Roller Girls // Photos by Dorn Byg, Earl Sod, Joe Mac, & Candace Moser-Stafford // All Rights Reserved