Roller Derby is a very popular team sport.

It is available in the United States of America and in a variety of countries around the globe.

The sport is full contact and is exciting for spectators and competitors alike.

There are many governing bodies for the sport, but the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association is the most important. It oversees over 400 leagues and represents the fact that the game is dominated by women’s teams.

The game is increasingly popular with men, so another governing body, The Mens Roller Derby Association, was created to oversee this aspect of the sport. There are many national governing bodies in different countries too.

What Is Roller Derby?

Roller Derby has a simple goal.

Each team tries to score more points than their opponent.

Points can be awarded when the offensive team player laps an opposing team(known as the jammer).

Blockers are the defensive players on the opposing team who can use physical force to stop a jammer from passing them. And also help clear the way for their jammer.

Players And Equipment

Each team can have up to 14 players.

However, five players are allowed at once. Four of these are called blockers, and one is a jammer.

Each team has a single jammer, who is the only one allowed to score. They are identified by the star on their helmet.

One of the four blockers is the pivot. The pivot is a leader or captain of the pack and makes defensive play calls.

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All players use quad roller skates instead of inline skates.

Quad skates have a shorter wheelbase, which reduces the chance of each skater slipping on another’s wheels.

Because of the competitive nature of the sport, they are generally more stable and easier to control.

Mouthguards, elbow and knee pads, wrist protectors, and helmets are all required equipment for players.

Protective gear for specific genders may be worn, including protective sports bras (for women) and a groin protector (for men).


Roller Derby only allows you to score during jams. They can be called off by the lead jammer at any time.

When a jammer from a team laps members of an opposing team, points are awarded.

The opposing team may use various tactics, such as blocking or body contact, to stop this from happening. The jammer receives one point for every member of the other team that they lap.

How To Win The Game

The match ends with the team that has scored the most points being declared the winner.

Roller Derby matches cannot end in a tie, so an overtime jam is used to determine the winner.

The overtime jam does not have a lead jammer. The team with more points at the end is declared the winner.

If the match is still tied after the overtime jam, subsequent jams will be held until a winner is determined.

Roller Derby: The Basic Rules

As I mentioned, the team is made up of 14 teammates. However, only five of them are typically on the track at once.

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The game features a jammer and four blocking players to keep the jammer from chasing down the opposing team. As mentioned, the pivot is also a blocker.

This game matches typically last thirty minutes. There are two jam periods, which last two minutes each.

You can play the game on a circular track. These tracks can be either flat or banked (raised). The basic rules of both tracks are the same, so don’t worry. 

I will list out detailed rules for flat and banked tracks later below.

Each jam begins simultaneously as the team’s blockers skate in one pack on the track.

After the pack has passed its starting line, the last member must be at least thirty feet away. The whistle will sound, and then the jammers will begin to skate.

Each jammer must skate as fast and efficiently as possible to get through the pack. Once they have done that, they are ready to score a point.

To gain points for their team, jammers can lap the pack of other teams.

Blockers can physically deter the other team’s jammer from preventing them from running their pack.

The blockers are not allowed to do any of these penalties:

  • Trips
  • Blocking the player above the shoulder, blocking the player when they are out of bounds, and blocking with your arm below the elbow
  • Charging at the rear

The winner of each game is determined at the end. If there are two tied teams, they will have to go overtime to break the tie.

Flat Track Rules

Flat track rules work in much the same way as above but are played differently according to WFTDA. It is a great organization that helps organize most roller derby teams worldwide.

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They play for thirty seconds instead of two minutes.

The WFTDA has compiled a list of body parts you should not use when playing roller derby:

  • Heads
  • Elbows
  • Forearms
  • Hands
  • Knees
  • Lower legs
  • Feet
  • Skaters could also avoid contact with other skaters:
  • Heads
  • Backs
  • Knees
  • Lower legs
  • Feet

Every penalty a skater takes earns them thirty seconds in each penalty box.

Banked Track Rules

It’s the same as a flat track, but it is played differently. Banked tracks are slightly higher than the ground and have space where skaters can rest before the game or for penalties.

Southside Roller Derby states that these game periods are divided into four sections and last fifteen minutes instead of thirty. The jams take sixty seconds instead of two minutes.

These are just a few of the rules that could lead to a skater getting a penalty:

  • Above the shoulders
  • Arms
  • Back blocking
  • Low blocking
  • Stopping
  • Directional blocking
  • Blocking out of bounds
  • Assisting out of bounds
  • Failure to reform
  • Skating out of play
  • Assisting out of play
  • Skating out of bounds
  • Cutting the track
  • Illegal blocks
  • Illegal procedures
  • Delay of game
  • Unsporting conduct insubordination
  • Fighting


Did you enjoy my article Roller Derby Rules for Beginner & Pro? Did you discover anything new?

I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any other questions, please let me know in the comment below 🙂


My name is Patricia Toh. I was born in the southen of China but I live in Hawaii. I work as a translator. I love skating. But in the future, I’d like to try yoga too."

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