Are you interested in roller derby but have no idea what goes on during a bout? Fear not, here's a short guide to roller derby basics.
Two teams face off on an oval shaped track. Each team has 15 skaters and 5 from each team – 1 jammer, 3 blockers and 1 pivot - are on track at any time. Off-track, there are 2 types of officials running the bout: skating referees who wear the stripes and follow the action, and Non Skating Officials (NSOs) who cover everything from scorekeeping to manning the penalty box.
Each bout is made up of 2 x 30-minute periods split into short bursts of action called jams, which last up to 2 minutes.
When the whistle blows to signify the start of a jam, the jammers (recognisable by the star on their helmet) compete to complete an initial pass by getting through the pack (i.e. the blockers and pivots) and completing a lap of the track. The first jammer out of the pack becomes Lead Jammer. This has a tactical edge by giving them the power to end a jam early.
The aim of the game is to score the most points. A jammer can score 1 point for each member of the opposing team they pass on each lap after the initial pass.
If a jammer can’t get out of the pack, they can pass the star to the pivot, recognisable by the stripe on their helmet. This Star Pass maneouvre makes the Pivot that team’s point scorer for that jam, although they can’t become Lead Jammer. The original jammer then becomes a blocker for the rest of that jam.
Jammers have to be speedy and agile (or just plain strong) to get through the pack, and the blockers equally have to stay on their toes and work as a team to slow the opposing jammer down while helping their jammer score points.
Skaters also have to try and avoid gaining penalties. A penalty will get you 30 seconds in the penalty box; you will also lose lead jammer status if you gain a penalty while lead jammer. Penalties can be given for illegal manoeuvres (e.g. cutting the track) or illegal contact (e.g. forearms or blocking with the head).