Roller Derby

Women's Flat Track Roller Derby
Thanks to the Rat City Rollergirls for content!

What is Roller Derby and How is it Played?
First thing's first: roller derby is real.  The Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) governs the sport.  None of the skating is rehersed or scripted.  Roller derby is as real as the cuts, the bruises, and the broken bones that skaters risk in order to come out in the number one spot.

The best way to learn about roller derby is to watch roller derby.  Come out to support your local derby team and you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.  Derby fans are more than willing to explain the rules, talk strategy, and point out their favorite players over a beer.

About the Game
Each game of derby is called a “bout,” and is played between two teams.  Each team has five players in a lineup at one time on the track. Each lineup is made up of one pivot, three blockers, and a jammer. The pivot is recognized by her striped helmet cover, the jammer wears a helmet cover emblazoned with a star on each side, and the blockers have no helmet covers at all. Each WFTDA standard game is 60 minutes long, made of two 30-minute periods that are further broken down into two-minute jams.  Often roller derby leagues will play double headers (two separate games) at each of their bouting events.

The Pack
The pack is made of pivots and blockers. At the start of the jam, the pack lines up along the straightaway of the track - pivots and blockers in the front, with jammers positioned 20 feet behind. A referee or timekeeper will signal the start of the jam with a single whistle and the pack will start skating, a few seconds later, a double whistle will blow and the jammers will start sprinting through the pack. This is the jam.

The Jam
Each jam is a two-minute race to see which jammer can score the most points. The jammer earns a point for every member of the opposing team she passes legally. That may sound easy, but the opposing team is doing all they can to get their own jammer through the pack while stopping the other team’s jammer. Derby is a full-contact sport and skaters will use all legal (and sometimes not-so-legal) means at their disposal to get the job done, including hitting the opposing team with their shoulders and hips, pushing and pulling on members of their own team, and whiping their jammer through the pack.

Each jammer must make one complete pass through the pack before she can begin accumulating points. The first jammer to move through the pack legally becomes the lead jammer and as such has the power to call off the jam early - a strategic advantage that allows her to score points and then call off the jam before her opponent has the chance to score. If neither jammer passes through the pack legally, neither becomes lead jammer and the jam continues on for the entire two-minute period.

Through it all, the blockers are doing their thing – blocking. Blockers can hit members of the opposing team with their shoulders, hips, and torso. It’s illegal to use the forearms, hands, and head, and the use of elbows is strictly regulated. Skaters who block illegally, start fights, or otherwise break the rules face penalties which can include everything from time in the penalty box to a complete expulsion from the bout.

Official Rules
All WFTDA member teams play by the official Women’s Flat Track Derby Association rules, which you can download and read here.

Local Derby Teams

Bellingham Roller Betties, Bellingham, WA
Dockyard Derby Dames, Tacoma, WA
Emerald City Roller Girls, Eugene, OR
Jet City Rollergirls, Snohomish County, WA
Lava City Doller Dolls, Bend, OR
Lilac City Rollergirls, Spokane, WA
Oly Rollers, Olympia, WA
Puget Sound Outcast Derby (Men's League), Puget Sound, WA
Rat City Rollergirls, Seattle, WA
Rose City Rollers, Portland, OR
Seattle Derby Brats (Under 21 years old), Seattle, WA