Derby 101


  • Bout: The match/game. Composed of 2 teams competing to score points.
  • Jam: An individual session of play. May last up to 2 minutes.
  • Jammer: The point-scoring player. Designated by a star on the helmet. Each team fields one Jammer per jam.
  • Blocker: An offensive and/or defensive player. Each team fields up to four Blockers per jam (provided there are no Blockers sitting out for incurred penalties).
  • Pivot: A special kind of Blocker, designated by a stripe on the helmet. A Jammer may pass their own helmet cover to their Pivot, who may then become the Jammer. (This is called “Passing the Star.”) However, Pivot-turned-Jammers can never be awarded Lead Jammer status.
  • Pack: The largest group of in-bounds Blockers skating or standing in proximity and containing members from both teams.
  • Penalties include elbowing, use of forearms, tripping, contact above the shoulders, blocking to a player’s back, skating or blocking out of play or out of bounds, and illegally bettering one’s relative position on the track—and the offending player must sit out for up to 30 seconds. Safety first!

How the game is played:

Anatomy of a Jam

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  • A roller derby bout is played in two 30 minute periods broken into jams.
  • A jam may last up to 2 minutes.
  • In each jam the two teams each put 5 players on the track: 1 Jammer, 3 Blockers, and 1 Pivot.
  • At the beginning of the jam the Blockers and Pivots line up together and form what is known as the pack.
  • The Jammers start from a position behind the pack.
  • At the whistle signaling the start of the jam, everyone begins skating.
  • The goal of the Blockers is to prevent the opposing team’s Jammer from navigating through the pack while assisting their own Jammer.
  • The goal of the Jammer is to break through the pack in order to score points for their team.
  • After a Jammer has successfully broken through the pack the first time (on their initial pass), they skate around the track to catch up with the pack and break through again. All passes after the first are scoring passes.
  • The first Jammer to pass through the pack cleanly is awarded "Lead Jammer" status, which allows them to call off the jam at any point before 2 minutes are up, for strategic reasons. Lead Jammer status is retained for the entirety of the jam and cannot be transferred or lost, unless the Lead Jammer then accrues a penalty, in which case neither Jammer may then obtain (or re-gain) Lead Jammer status for that jam.
  • If neither Jammer is able to pass through cleanly, there is no Lead Jammer and the jam will be played for a full 2 minutes.
  • Points are scored for each opposing player the Jammer passes after the initial pass. A Jammer only receives one point per opponent in any given scoring pass no matter how many times they might pass that opponent during the scoring pass. Points accumulate in this fashion for the duration of the jam.
  • Players are allowed to check members of the opposing team using their shoulders and hips into the front and side of their target. Pushing, tripping, blocking from behind, and hitting with any part of the arm from the elbow down are all illegal and may result in penalties.
  • If a penalty is assessed on a given player, that player will be sent off the track for 30 seconds. Penalties carry over between jams/periods. Players can be removed immediately for major offenses such as fighting or gross misconduct or other actions which have a major effect on the game.
  • Any player who serves seven penalties is ejected from the game.
  • At the end of the second period, the team with the most points is declared the winner.
  • The final jam does not end when the game clock runs out. It must come to its natural conclusion, either when it is called off or when the jam clock runs out.

Dirty Dozen congratulates the New York Shock Exchange on their April 2010 Win
After beating the daylights out of each other, it’s customary for players to shake hands.