It’s Not Just Chaos and Mayhem You Know!
What is roller derby? The answer is deceptively simple: an extreme race on eight wheels. But the reality is much more complex. Far from the pro wrestling-style drama of days of yore, today’s roller derby is a completely unchoreographed sport that’s making a powerful grassroots comeback. It’s a unique chance for athletes to play both offense and defense simultaneously, dishing out bruises and unabashed athleticism with every lap. Every colorful name and unique costume covers a woman who has learned to exhibit speed, agility, endurance, teamwork, and heart. And every Denver Roller Doll is both a skater, a community servant and an entrepreneur.
Here’s a quick and dirty guide to the game of roller derby:
The Bout: The big game. Every bout consists of two thirty-minute periods and is packed full of chaotic fun.
The Jam: Each period is split up into “jams,” which can last up to two minutes. Only five players from each team may be on the track at a time. After lining up on the track, one pivot and three blockers from each team take off in a “pack” at the head ref’s single whistle. A jammer from each team lines up 33 ft behind the pivots and blasts off at the sound of the second whistle.
The Score: Scoring begins when the jammers pass the pack for the second time, accruing one point per opposing team member passed legally. Blockers play offense and defense simultaneously, blocking the opposing jammer while helping their own jammer score.
Lead Jammer: The first jammer to legally pass the pack is declared lead jammer. The lead jammer may call of the jam at any time by placing her hands on her hips.
The Players: It can be confusing to pick out players from the fast-moving pack. Here’s a who’s who: Each team’s pivot wears a striped helmet cover. The leader of the pack, the pivot sets the pack’s pace, rallies her team…and just might take on the jammer’s star. Blockers assist their jammer and defend against the opposing jammer with hip-checks, hard hits and agile moves. And no bout would be complete without jammers. The only point-scorers in roller derby, these lightning-fast skaters sport stars on their helmets.
No-Nos – Skaters may not:
Block with elbows, forearms, hands or head
Engage a skater more than 20 feet in front of or behind the pack
Intentionally trip another skater
Hit, push or block from behind
Hold, grab, scratch, clothesline or display other unsportswomanlike conduct
Totally Legal – Skaters may:
Hit from the side
Use the arm above the elbow to block
Apply torso or hip checks
Whip or push a teammate
For more information on the WFTDA rules used by the Denver Roller Dolls, visit www.wftda.com/official-rules/.