The Basics of Flat Track Roller Derby

  • Video produced for the WFTDA by Paul D. Piche with photography by Derek Lange.

  • The Positions
    JAMMER:

    Tears through the pack and scores points by passing members of the opposing team. She wears the helmet with a star.

    BLOCKER:

    Tries to stop the jammer and makes life difficult for the opposing team’s blockers. There can be up to four blockers on the track for each jam.

    PIVOT:

    The head blocker wears the helmet with a stripe. She will often command the pack and is the only blocker who can receive a “star pass” to take the place of the jammer in the middle of a jam.

The Gameplay

The jam begins with the jammers behind the line and the blockers in front of it. When the whistle blows, the jammers blast off and fight their way through the pack. The first jammer to pass all of the opposing team’s blockers becomes lead jammer.

After making their initial pass, each jammer receives one point for each member of the opposing team that they pass. Each jam lasts up to two minutes, or until the lead jammer calls it off by tapping their hips.

You’ll often see the lead jammer call off the jam as the opposing jammer is nearing the pack, right before the opposing jammer has a chance to score any points.

Penalties

Penalties can occur for a number of reasons, but some of the most common are:
Illegal blocking – using an illegal body part to hit (elbows, forearms) or hitting another player illegally (middle of the back, clotheslining, above the neck, or below the knees)
Cutting the track – Passing an opposing player while out of bounds
Multiplayer blocks – Creating an impenetrable wall
When a penalty is issued, the offending player must leave the track and skate clockwise to the penalty box. Once seated in the box, the 30-second penalty begins. After 20 seconds, the offending player will stand, wait the remaining 10 seconds, then re-enter gameplay.

For the comprehensive official WFTDA rules visit www.WFTDA.com and click on Official Rules.