top of page

What is Roller Derby?

Start here!

Want to learn more?  Keep scrolling!

The Track

The Basics

Flat track roller derby is a full contact sport played on quad roller skates on a flat, oval track.


Gameplay moves in a counter-clockwise direction (also known as "derby direction").


Each game consists of two 30 minute halves that are further divided into as many 2 minute (or less) "jams" as possible.


The winner of the game is determined by the team who has scored the most points.


5 vs 5

Each team will field 4 Blockers and 1 Jammer, per jam. Offense and defense are played simultaneously.

The Pack

The "pack" is the largest group of in-bounds blockers from both teams.

All legal gameplay must be kept within the pack's "engagement zone" in order to be considered legal. This zone starts 20 feet in front of the pack and ends 20 feet behind the pack.

Legal Gameplay

  • Contact with the hips, thighs, butts, upper arms, shoulders, and sides

  • Skating "derby direction" (counter clockwise) when making contact with another player


Illegal Gameplay

  • Gaining position through use of:

    • ​Forearms or elbows

    • ​Cutting the track

    • Tripping or low blocking another player

  • Blocking or hitting:

    • With the head or to another player's head

    • To another player's back/spine

    • Outside of the engagement zone

    • After the jam-ending whistle

  • Multiplayer: Creating an unbreakable link of hands/arms that impedes a jammer's movement through the pack

  • Initiating contact while skating  in non-derby direction (clockwise) that impact's an opposing player's position on the track

  • Destroying the pack or failing to return to the pack when warned by a skating official

  • Skating out of bounds to avoid a block or hit from another player

  • Insubordination or rude conduct towards an official

  • Illegal passing of the helmet cover


Who Does What?

Jammers  (star helmet cover)

Jammers try to score points by passing the hips of the opposing team's blockers (1 Blocker = 1 point). Jammers also control the length of each jam by being the first to exit the pack and earning "Lead Jammer" status. Lead Jammers can end any jam early by tapping their hips with their hands.

Blockers  can do the following:

1. Defense - Block the opposing team's Jammer

2. Offense - Help their own Jammer score more points


​Pivots (striped helmet cover)

Pivots are a special type of blocker that can take over the position of Jammer during gameplay. Once per jam, Jammers are allowed to pass their star helmet cover to their Pivot. Once the Pivot puts on the jammer's star, they are now able to earn points for their team. The original Jammer then becomes a regular blocker. Each team can only have one Pivot on the track per jam. ​




Anatomy of a Jam

Initial Line Up

All players have 30 seconds between each jam to get in position and await the jam start whistle. Jammers line up on the track behind the Blockers. A non-skating official will verbally call out a 5-second warning prior to the jam start whistle being blown.

Jam Start and Initial Pass

Once the jam start whistle is blown, both Jammers enter the pack from behind for their initial pass and attempt to gain "Lead Jammer" status. A Jammer can become Lead by being the first to legally pass all blockers in the pack on their initial pass. No points are scored by either jammer on their initial pass. Jammers cannot score points until they start their 2nd trip through the pack.


Lead Jammer

Once Lead Jammer has been declared, they have the power to end the jam whenever they choose (typically to prevent the other team from scoring points). You will know who the Lead Jammer is because a skating official on the inside of the track will be pointing at them as they play. The Lead Jammer must touch her hips at least twice in order to end a jam early. Lead Jammers can lose their Lead status by being sent to the penalty box or by removing their helmet cover, If the Lead Jammer loses their Lead status, the jam will end after a full 2 minutes of gameplay.

2nd Pass and on...

The rest of the jam is all about earning points. To earn a point, a Jammer must pass her hips in front of the hips of an opposing blocker. Each opposing blocker is considered 1 point, so Jammers can earn up to 4 points per pass.


If a player is issued a penalty by an official, that player must exit the track and report to the penalty box. Most penalties are 30 seconds in length, but it is possible for players to earn multiple penalties at once (ex. Insubordination penalty). A Jammer may be released from the penalty box early if the other team's Jammer is also sent to the penalty box. If a player is issued 7 or more penalties, they are ejected from the game and cannot continue playing.

target zones.png
blocking zones.png

Still confused?
Come to one of our spectacular bouts and
we'll  show you what roller derby is all about!

Visit our Schedule to learn more about the next
Louisville Roller Derby game near you.

bottom of page