Rules of Roller Derby | How it is Played?

Over the years we have seen many new sports emerging in different regions of the world, perhaps the weather conditions of a particular region make them ideal for some game while some kind of games seem practically impossible there.

And climate is not the only reason, some countries have the tendency to take more interest in physically tough and athletic games regardless of the fact how dangerous they can be, and this results in the development of all sorts of new games one after another.

Rules of Roller Derby

One of such games is Roller derby, a game played on skates on a flat or banked track. The game is quite popular in America for it is an action packed game with full contact allowed and players get the chance to show their strength level and stamina. Injuries can happen, which is why some countries may not approve it but nevertheless, it is now popular in some other countries as well, and looked after by national federation in each of them.

Object of Playing Roller Derby

In Roller derby, the object is pretty simple: score more points than your opponent. There are jammers and blockers. A jammer’s job is to lap a member of the opposing team. While the opposing team’s members block the jammer. A jammer gets a point every time he successfully goes past the blocker of another team.

How to Play?

Roller Derby involves skating throughout the game as it is mandatory for every participant to wear skates and perform his job by skating expertly on the track . A jammer is the key player in Roller Derby because he is supposed to get past the blockers of other teams and score points for his side. The more blockers you get past, the more points you score.

Before you start playing Roller Derby, you need to learn about penalties, disqualifications, legal ways to block your opponent and much more. So, make sure, you read everything till the end to be able to play Roller Derby like professionals.

General Rules of Roller Derby

  • Team announce 14 players for a game but only 5 can play on the field during a game. Substitute can only come in when a player is injured.
  • Jammers wait for the whistle to blow, they have stars on their helmets.
  • At the start of the play, the blockers from both teams form a pack and skate around the track. Once they pass the starting line, a whistle is blown by the referee and jammers from both teams start skating.
  • Blockers from both teams try to go pass as many blockers as they can.
  • They get one point for passing one blocker.
  • Blockers can stop them by pushing them, grabbing them, however, they can’t hit them to prevent them from running.
  • Each jam goes on for two minutes at most.
  • If a certain jammer breaks through first between the blockers and is ahead of his counterpart in laps he is now the lead jammer.
  • Lead jammers enjoy the unique privilege of ending the jam early. To end the lap jam early, the lead jammer taps his/her hips to call it the end of the jam.
  • You can be penalised for tripping your opponent, blocking him above the shoulder or charging him from the rear.
  • You can’t tackle the jammer from behind, if you want to block the jammer, you can only block him/her from the front.
  • At the end of the match, the team with the highest number of points is declared winner.
  • Penalised players have to spend 30 seconds off the track, sitting in the penalty box.
  • If the jammer is penalised, then the opposite team jammer gets 30 seconds to score as many points as he can while his counterpart is sitting in the penalty box.

Time Duration of a Game

15 jams take place during one half of the game and each jam consists of 2 minutes. Each Roller derby game consists of two halves, each of 30 minutes.

The total duration of the game is 60 minutes. For rest, players get 30 seconds break between each jam.

In the end, the team with the most number of points wins the game. There are no draws, in case of equal number of points at the end of the last jam, another jam takes place and if the game is still drawn until the end of that jam, another jam is taken. This goes on until at the end of a jam until one team gets the lead.

Roller Derby Playing Field

The Roller Derby games are played on a banked or flat track, where the track is raised at an angle.

Roller Derby Equipment

Players use quad roller skates to skate on the track while for protection, they can wear helmets, gum shields, knee and elbow pads and wrist guards. There are no specific dimensions for these because the heavier and bigger players choose to wear, the more difficult it will get for them to move around.

Roles of Players

Roller derby may look like a casual game with unnecessary use of force but it can only be won if the right player is chosen for a particular role. Here are the roles assigned to each player participating in the game:

Jammer: There is always one jammer who’s job is to score points for his team. They are usually the quickest who can dodge pass the opponent due to their agility.

Blockers: Out of 5 players, 4 of them are blockers. Their job is to block the jammer of opposition. One of them is known as pivot who is the captain of the team and shouts instructions to everyone.


Up to four referees skate around the track to ensure that blockers are blocking jammers within the rules of the game and punishing any player who deliberately injures his opponent or violates
any rule of the game.

Governing Body

There is no one governing body. Countries where it is popular have their own governing bodies which govern the laws of the game in their respective countries. Moreover, they also take every possible step to promote the game by organizing more Roller Derby tournaments in their respective countries.