What is Roller Derby?

Swan City Derby at PACS 2016. Photo credit Peter Chan

What began as endurance races with collisions and hits for lead evolved into the legitimate sport we love today. Governed by the rule set of the WFTDA, Roller derby has grown since it’s inception in WA in 2008 to 13 leagues state wide and 89 across the country comprising women’s, men’s, junior and co-ed roller derby leagues.

Essentially, Roller derby is made up of two teams of 14 skaters on quad roller skates. Games are played in two 30 minute halves, and each half is comprised of two minute ‘jams’.  On the track, each team will have four blockers and one jammer at a time.  At the beginning of a Jam, the two jammers will line up behind the jammer line, the blockers ahead of it. A whistle sounds, and the jammers will rush to get through the opposing teams blockers. A team scores points when their jammer passes the hips of an opposition blocker.

The blockers try to stop the jammer passing; the jammer has to get past the blockers. You see where the fun comes in, right?

All players can legally block or hit with their shoulders, hips and booty to the opposition player’s sides, chest and thighs.  You better believe those eagle eyed referees see all, and illegal hits with find you in the penalty box. A good roller derby player will never set out to hurt someone, the goal is to play clean and strong. Any player can be either a blocker or jammer here at Swan City, and all players are equally important. Jammers score those points and fight those packs, Blockers prevent those opposing points being racked up and break their jammer free from behind solid walls. It is an absolute team sport.

The video below gives a good, quick breakdown of the game.

Watching game footage is a great way for aspiring and veteran skaters alike to see the skills, rules and strategy in action. Watch one of our favourites below from the 2015 WFTDA Champions, Victorian Roller Derby League vs. Gotham Girls Roller Derby. Search Youtube for more roller derby game goodness!