Derby 201

So you have the basics of roller derby down, but still have some questions about strategy and rules? The following Q&A addresses some of the most common queries from fans. If you have any additional questions, please drop us a line at

Q: Why did that blocker let the jammer go? Shouldn’t they keep chasing them?

A: Blockers are not allowed to engage jammers more than 20 feet in front of or behind the pack. The track has markers every 10 feet to provide visual cues of the distance between players.

Q: Why are some of the players skating so slowly? Shouldn’t they try to skate as fast as possible?

A: Usually when skaters slow down it is because they are trying to trap a member of the opposite team. The pack is defined as the largest group of blockers with at least 1 member of each team. If team A can effectively trap a blocker from team B and slow them down, it may mean that team B’s other blockers are forced to let team A’s jammer go at the front due to the above rule.

Q: Why is that one blocker just standing there looking at the jammer they just hit?

A: When a player goes off the track, they cannot re-enter the track in a better position than they left it. If a player from team A blocks a player from team B off the track, the team B player has to come in behind them. If the team A player stops, or even moves backwards, it seriously impedes the team B player. If the player blocked off the track is a jammer, this can be a major defensive advantage.

Q: Why did the jammer call the jam off? Shouldn’t they try to keep scoring?

A: The number one offensive priority is to score more points in each jam than the opponent. If a jammer can get 4 points and call it before the opposing jammer gets any, they have done their job. It is usually better to call the jam off and get a fresh line in than it is to go for more points and risk the other team scoring. Scoring a 4-0 jam is better than a 8-4 jam as the point differential is the same but your jammer is less worn.

Q: I saw the jammer get through the pack, why didn’t they get 4 points?

A: If a jammer does not pass an opposing player legally, they do not get a point for that player. The rules allow a jammer to fall back and try to re-pass the blocker to get the point, but often it is better to break free and either call off the jam or try to make it around to score again.

Q: What if everyone goes to the penalty box?

A: There is a limit on the number of players who can be in the penalty box at any one time. No more than 2 blockers and 1 jammer from each team can sit simultaneously. If a 3rd blocker from the same team is assessed a penalty, they will be instructed to keep skating until one of the previously penalized blockers stands to return to the jam, vacating their penalty box seat. If one jammer is in the box and the other jammer is also sent in, the first jammer is freed when the second jammer sits. The second jammer then has to serve the same amount of time the first jammer served before they were freed.