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Roller derby may seem like an extreme race on wheels but, as with any sport, the reality is much more complex. Today’s roller derby is making a powerful grassroots comeback from its origin as a pro-wrestling-style, choreographed event.


Now, this unique sport gives athletes the chance to play both offense and defense simultaneously, dishing out bruises and athleticism with every lap. Behind every colorful name is a skater who has learned speed, agility, endurance, teamwork, and heart.

The players

There are 15 players per team, and each team fields five players on the oval-shaped track at one time. These players are a jammer and four blockers, one of whom is called the pivot.

  • The jammer is the point scorer. This skater can be identified by the star on their helmet cover.

  • The pivot is a blocker with the special ability to become the jammer. This skater can be identified by the stripe on their helmet cover.

  • The blockers make up the rest of the pack. It’s their job to help their jammer through the pack while simultaneously stopping the other team’s jammer.


Each game consists of two 30-minute halves. Each half is made up of 2-minute units called jams. The blockers skate in a counter-clockwise direction in a pack formation, with the jammers starting just behind them. It’s the job of the jammers to speed through the pack. Blockers use full contact hits to try and stop them. On the jammers' initial pass through, no points are awarded, but the first to break through the pack is designated lead jammer. On their second pass through, the jammers can then score a point for each opposing blocker they pass. The jammers can then lap the pack as many times as possible in 2 minutes, or until the lead jammer calls off the jam by tapping their hips. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

rules and penalties

While roller derby is a full contact sport, there are very specific rules about where players can be hit and which body parts can be used to hit other players. For example, no elbowing, no tripping, no hitting another player in the back, no going out of bounds to get in front of another player, and no fighting. Referees will call penalties for these violations. Players who commit a penalty are sent to the penalty box for 30 seconds.


Our game is played under the rule set of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.  The current rule set is available on the WFTDA website and includes case examples to aid in interpretation.

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