Roller Derby Rules
Confused about watching roller derby?
We've got you covered.
For a full, in depth, technical description of the rules, see the WFTDA Rules website.
For a beginners explanation, Here is our derby rules in "civilian" terms.
We hope this help you to better understand and enjoy your roller derby experience. if you have more questions about game play, please feel free to ask one of our SRDL members at the next bout you attend, we love to talk derby!
First things first:
roller derby is a contact sport that is played on roller skates (not roller blades).
a roller derby game is called a "Bout".
Each bout is made up of 30 minute halves that are broken down into separate "Jams".
A jam can last a maximum of 2 minutes, but are sometimes shorter.
Flat track roller derby is played on a oval shaped track.
(as per diagram, the skating track is defined by the blue outline.)
On the track there is a "Jam Line" and a "pivot Line".
The curved part of the track is referred to as the "apex" and the outside of the track is surrounded by a "ref lane" for the skating officials.
The bout starts with each team having a jammer, a pivot, and three blockers on the track.
Both jammers start before the jam line.
All blockers and pivots start between the jam line and the pivot line.
No contact is allowed before the jam starts.
A single whistle signals the beginning of the jam and allows all skaters to begin playing.
Once the jam has begun, the jammer's goal is to pass through the group of blockers.
- The group of blockers is called "the pack". The blockers in the pack must stay within 10 feet of each other or penalties will be given out.
Once the jam has begun, the blocker's goal is to stop the opposing team's jammer from passing through the pack, and also to help their own jammer pass through.
Game Play and Scoring:
Once the jam has started and the skaters are in play, all contact play must be in "derby direction", which is counter clockwise. If a skater hits another skater in non-derby direction, they will get a penalty.
The jammers both fight to get through the pack after the whistle has blown while the blockers try to stop them. The first jammer to get their hips passed every blocker on the track (including their own) is rewarded the title of "lead jammer" for that jam. Lead jammer is announced by two quick whistles and the jammer's referee pointing at that them.
The non lead jammer's referee will not be pointing.
The lead jammer has the authority to call off (end) the jam at any time by tapping their hands to their hips twice.
Once a jammer has passed through the pack the first time, they are able to start earning points. The jammer skates around the track and re-enters the pack of blockers again and they get one point from each blocker they pass with their hips, every time they go around (a maximum of four points for each pass).
If a blocker is in the penalty box, the opposing jammer earns that blockers point as soon as the pass by another of that blockers team.
after each pass the jammer makes, their jam ref will display their points earned by holding up fingers on their hand.
Each team is permitted a certain number of time outs and "official reviews". Official reviews are use to challenge a call made (or not made) by a ref.
Roller derby has many rules designed to keep the players safe and the game entertaining.
Penalties are recognized by 1 whistle followed by the ref calling out the color, number, and penalty to the skater.
Penalties are 30 seconds each.
The penalty timer does not start until the skater is sitting down in the penalty box.
If the lead jammer goes to the penalty box, they lose their title of lead jammer and no longer have the right to call the jam off, which results in the jam lasting the full two minutes.
If a skater is in the penalty box when the jam ends, they remain in the penalty box, their time is paused and will restart with the new jam, where they will enter the track with the new jam when their penalty time is up. This causes their team to start the jam short of skaters.
Two jammers can not be in the penalty box at the same time. In the case of a jammer going to the box while the opposing jammer is already serving a penalty, the first jammer is released as soon as the second jammer sits in the box, then the second jammer only serves for as long as the first jammer did.
in the case that a skater receives two penalties at once (the second being an insubordination) the skater will sit for 1 minute.
Some penalties are considered egregious. An egregious penalty is handed out when it is determined that the skater was playing in a dangerous manner. (full speed hit to the spine of another skater, unnecessarily violent hit, etc.). egregious hits result in the skater being removed from the remainder of the game.
Each skater is permitted 6 penalties during a bout, once they receive their 7th penalty they are removed from the remainder of the game.
Cut Track - When a skater is knocked out of bounds by another skater, the out skater must re-enter the track behind every skater that was infront of them when they were knocked out. If the skater who knocked them out also goes out of bounds or falls down, the knocked out skater can enter in front of them.
If the out skater enters in front of another skater, causing them the gain position while off the track, they receive a cut track penalty.
*Skaters are only considered in play if they are "upright and inbounds".*
Skaters have "legal blocking zones", blocking with parts on the body that are not in the legal zone (pink in the diagram) is considered illegal.
Forearm - Skaters are not permitted to gain advantage by contacting an apposing skater with their arm any place below the top of the elbow. (this includes pushing off with their hands)
Back Block - Skaters are not permitted to make forceful contact with an apposing skater in the spinal area, stretching from between the shoulders down to the tailbone.
High Block - Skaters are not permitted to hit another skater above the shoulders.
Low Block/Leg Block - Skaters are not permitted to hit another skater below the top of the knee.
Multi-player - Skaters are not permitted to grip in order to create a stronger hold. If another skater challenges this grip and they do not release immediately, they will receive a penalty.
Directional - Skaters are not permitted to hit another skater while moving in non-derby direction.
Stop Block - Skaters are permitted to engage a hit on another skater while the engaging skater's feet are not moving.
Out Of Play - Skaters must stay within 20 feet of the pack, they are not permitted to engage outside of this range,.
Failure To Reform - When the pack of blockers is split too far apart, a ref will give a "no pack" warning, at which point all blockers must stop actively blocking, the front blockers must stop moving forward, and the back blockers must sprint forward to reform the pack. If this is not done, players receive failure to reform penalties.