Roller Derby Quick Links – Skate Victoria Affiliates
The Victorian Roller Derby League follow the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) rules, and they can be found here: http://www.wftda.com. Roller Derby competitions are referred to as bouts. In a bout the two opposing teams of up to 14 skaters can have 5 skaters on the track per team at any one time. The Pack consists of each team’s Pivot, and three Blockers, followed by the Jammers, racing to score points. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Each bout is broken up into 20 to 30-minute blocks, which in turn consist of two minute “jams”. During a jam the Jammers on each team race to score points by lapping the other team on a track. The Jammer is the only player to score points. The three Blockers try to stop the opposing team’s Jammer from getting past the Pack, while also propelling their own Jammer forward. Tactically, Roller Derby is a fascinatingly complicated game. A player is at no time either playing a defensive OR offensive role – all players are both, at the same time. The team’s Pivot controls the speed of the pack, but she also keeps an eye on the Jammers, calls her team’s plays and acts as a Blocker.
At the start of a jam, the Pivots and Blockers gather in formation at the starting line. The referee blows a whistle, and they skate as a Pack while the Jammers hang back, waiting at the Jammer line. When the pack is 6 metres from the starting line, the referee blows the whistle again, and the Jammers start to sprint. The Jammers have to catch up to the pack, and work their way through to come out in front. No points are scored during the initial pass, but the first Jammer to break the pack without committing a foul becomes the Lead Jammer. A referee points out the Lead Jammer and follows her progress around the track. The Lead Jammer can “call the jam” and end it before the full two-minute period has elapsed by putting her hand on her hips. When the Lead Jammer calls the jam or the two-minute period ends, play stops and the officials calculate the score. Teams get one point for each opposing player the Jammer passes during each lap. Teams have 30 seconds to reform for the next jam.
Blockers use a series of ‘hits’ and ‘blocks’ as well as ‘whips’ and ‘pushes’ to propel their own Jammer forward, and impede the progress of the opposing Jammer and the other Blockers and Pivots. The game is full contact and skaters must undergo a lot of training to both give and receive the big hits that send skaters flying across the track.