Roller Derby 101: Gameplay
The GameRoller Derby is a unique sport in that both offense and defense are played at the same time. Two teams of 14 players compete in plays called “Jams” that can last up to two minutes. The Jam is a race where Jammers can score points by passing opposing players. Teams each field 5 players on the track during each Jam - 4 Blockers and one Jammer, who is the point scorer for the team. Both teams are able to earn points during the Jam. Teams rotate in new players in between each Jam.
Jammers wear stars on their helmet and score the points for their team by passing blockers as they speed around the track and lap the pack. Both Jammers can score simultaneously, earning points for each opposing blocker they lap.
The Pivot is a Blocker who wears a striped helmet cover. The Jammer can “pass the star” helmet cover to the Pivot who then becomes the active Jammer and takes over scoring points for the team in the Jam.
Blockers play both defense and offense at the same time. The Blockers try to stop the opposing Jammer from getting through the pack of Blockers and scoring points while also clearing the way for their Jammer to get through the Pack.
The JamJam start
The Jam starts with a single whistle blast and the players begin skating around the track. Blockers immediately engage and try to prevent the opposing player from passing through the pack while also trying to clear a path for their own Jammer.
First Pass and Lead Jammer
No points are scored during the Jammer’s first pass through the Pack. The first Jammer to break out of the Pack on the first pass is the “Lead Jammer” for the remainder of the Jam. Being Lead Jammer is a great advantage because it allows the Jammer to strategically end the Jam before two minutes elapse by placing her hands on her hips.
After the initial pass, a Jammer scores one point for each opposing Blocker she passes legally and in bounds each time she passes through the pack. The Blockers try to prevent the opposing Jammer from passing by both positioning themselves in front of her and by actively hitting her. After the Jammer completes a pass, the Jam Referee will hold up the number of points scored.
Calling Off the Jam
The end of the Jam is signaled by four short whistle blasts after two minutes elapse if the Lead Jammer has not called the Jam off sooner. The Lead Jammer will often strategically end the Jam before two minutes elapse to prevent the opposing team from scoring points.
Teams get 30 second breaks between Jams to adjust players and positions before a new Jam begins and they do it all over again!