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How to Play Roller Derby

Learn the rules and regulations of this exciting, fast-paced sport.


  • : Roller derby carries a risk of injury so always wear the appropriate protective gear.
  • Step 1: Have the proper equipment Have the proper equipment. Players must wear quad roller skates; inline and other skates are not allowed. Mandatory protective gear includes wrist and mouth guards, elbow and knee pads, and helmets.
  • TIP: Optional protective gear includes padded shorts; chin, nose, and shin guards; knee and ankle support; a turtle-shell bra; and a tailbone protector.
  • Step 2: Pick teams Divide players into two teams. Each team can have up to 14 players on its roster, but only five can be on the track at any one time: three blockers, one pivot, and one jammer. The blockers and the pivot form a skating pack whose job it is to prevent the other team's jammer from getting past them.
  • Step 3: Line up Have players line up on the track, facing counterclockwise, and form a pack: The pivots line up on the pivot line, the jammers line up behind them on the jammer line, and the remaining blockers line up between the pivots and the jammer line.
  • TIP: Pivots wear helmet covers with stripes, and jammers' covers have two stars. Blockers have no helmet covers. All team members wear the same base color helmet.
  • Step 4: Start skating If you are a pivot or a blocker, begin skating when the referee blows their whistle. When the last player passes the pivot line, the referee whistles twice, and the jammers join in. Thus begins the two-minute countdown known as a "jam."
  • Step 5: Begin to jam If you are a jammer, try to pass the pack; after passing the first time, you'll earn one point each time you legally pass an opposing team's blocker or pivot. If you are a pivot or blocker, try to help your jammer pass the pack while trying to block your rivals' jammer. Stay within 20 feet of the pack; otherwise, you are not allowed to assist or block the jammers until you slow down or speed up to rejoin them. .
  • Step 6: Be the lead jammer Try to be the first jammer to pass the pack; if you do, you'll be the "lead jammer," and can end the jam before the two minutes are up to prevent the other team from scoring. Signal your intention by putting your hands on your hips repeatedly.
  • Step 7: Don't get penalized Don't get penalized: You may block the other team's jammer using any body part above your mid-thigh with the exception of your forearms, elbows, hands, and head. Players who break the rules can be sent to the penalty box for one minute.
  • TIP: Jammers who foul opposing blockers while passing them can be penalized.
  • Step 8: Pass the star After a lead jammer is established, they may pass the jammer position over to the pivot by handing them their helmet cover. Only the position of jammer -- not the status of lead jammer -- can be passed on.
  • TIP: Each team is allowed three one-minute timeouts per game, which may only be taken between jams. Referees may declare a timeout at any time.
  • Step 9: Play for an hour At the end of each jam, players re-form the pack and begin a new jam. Play for two 30-minute periods, or less commonly, for three 20-minute periods. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the hour wins.
  • FACT: Roller derby grew out of a month-long skating event designed to drum up business at the Chicago Coliseum in 1935.

You Will Need

  • Quad roller skates
  • Protective gear
  • Track
  • 10 to 28 players
  • Referees
  • Additional protective gear (optional)

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