Derby 101 with Mal Adjusted
Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby is played by two teams on roller skates, on an oval track. As it is a full contact sport skaters wear helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and mouth guards.
A regulation Roller Derby game, or Bout, consists of two 30 minute halves, each of which is then broken up into smaller increments of up to two minutes in length called “Jams”.
Before a Jam commences each team puts up to five players on the track. Four of these are known as Blockers and they start behind their own starting line as a group. This group, which consists of all eight blockers (four from each team) is known as the “Pack”. Throughout the Jam the pack has to skate in a group. At the front of the pack one blocker from each team, called a Pivot, controls the speed of the pack. The pivot is identified by a single stripe on their helmet cover.
Behind the Pack is a second starting line, where the Jammers start. Each team can has one Jammer on the track and they are the point scorers in Roller derby. The Jammer is easily identified by a big star on their helmet cover.
Jams start on a whistle blast from the Jam Timer. On this signal the blockers start skating around the track in a counter clockwise direction. When the last of the blockers crosses their start line, two short whistle blasts signal the Jammers to go.
The Jammers have to catch up to the pack and make their way through it. Opposing blockers try to stop them while their team mates try to help them through. No points are scored during this initial through the pack. This first pass is to determine who is the ‘Lead Jammer’. The Lead Jammer is the player who legally makes
their way through the pack first and this is indicated by a referee pointing at the Lead Jammer with the other arm held straight up. The Lead Jammer can call off a Jam at any time, signalling the referee by repeatedly putting her hands on her hips. If the Lead Jammer doesn’t do this, a Jam will automatically end after two minutes.
The points are scored on the second and subsequent passes through the pack. A Jammer will score one point for each opposing blocker that she passes legally.
That is the basics of the game. Welcome to the pure, distilled awesomeness that is Roller Derby.