derby101

What is roller derby?

Flat track roller derby is a fast-paced contact team sport that requires speed, strategy, and athleticism. The flat track version of the sport evolved in 2001, and has quickly grown to encompass more than 400 leagues worldwide. This is in large part due to the ease of setting up a flat-track – it can be done on any flat surface that is suitable for skating, such as rinks, basketball courts, parking lots, and even airplane hangars. This greatly reduces the capital needed to start up a roller derby league, and allows small groups of people to get a fledgling league off the ground. The DIY spirit that drives the sport allows roller derby leagues to create their own unique identities and adapt their structures to reflect their local communities.

How the game is played

Roller derby is played by two teams of five members simultaneously skating counterclockwise on a circuit track. Each team designates a scoring player (the “jammer”); the other four members are “blockers.” One blocker can be designated as a “pivot”—a blocker allowed to become a jammer in the course of play. The jammer wears a helmet cover bearing two stars; the pivot wears a striped cover; the remaining members’ helmets are uncovered. The bout is played in two periods of 30 minutes. Point scoring occurs during “jams”: plays that last up to two minutes. During a jam, points are scored when a jammer on a scoring pass (every pass a jammer makes through the pack after the initial pass) laps members of the opposing team. Each team’s blockers use body contact, changing positions, and other tactics to assist its jammer to score while hindering the opposing team’s jammer. Certain types of blocks and other play are violations; referees call penalties and require violators to serve time in a penalty box

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