What is Roller Derby?
Roller derby is a full-contact sport, played on quad roller skates on an oval track, in which two teams of five players aim to get their designated player, the jammer, past as many of the opposition blockers, as many times as possible. After their initial pass through the pack of blockers, a jammer will score one point each time they pass a member of the opposing team. With the jammers skating as fast as possible to complete laps before the end of the two-minute jam, it’s up to the blockers on each team to switch between offence and defence quickly, aiding their jammer through the opposing blockers, and hindering the opposing jammer for as long as possible.
Hits have to fall within the type of contact defined within the rules, but that leaves plenty of scope for huge impacts, with shoulders and hips both legal weapons, and no speed limit on how fast you can engage an opponent.
A game is played over two 30-minute periods. The game ends after the period clock runs out, and the team with the most points wins.
Penalties (for infractions such as hitting to the back or head, tripping, using elbows or forearms, cutting the track, and so on) earn skaters a thirty-second sit in the penalty box, which for a blocker is bad, but for a jammer is worse, as the opposition have the opportunity to score several points in their absence, with the full assistance of their team. Seven trips to the box is game over for that skater, unless they’re really bad (punching, intentional tripping and reckless contact are all examples) in which case they’ll be heading to the locker room instantly, subject to the decision of the head ref, who is one of the seven on-skates officials handing out the points and the penalties. The rest of the officiating crew are the non-skating officials (NSOs) who accurately track the information the refs give them.