Roller Derby Rules – How To Play Roller Derby?

Roller derby is a fast-paced contact sport played wearing roller skates. Being so fast-paced, it can look chaotic from a spectator’s perspective if they don’t know roller derby rules.

So, in this article, we are going to find out how to play roller derby so you can understand what you’re looking at next time you attend a bout.

That’s right, roller derby games are called bouts. And these bouts have the most amazing names like Night of the Rolling Dead or Knocktoberfest.

Teams also have outlandish names like Cruisin’ n’ Bruisin’ and Skaterina Skulls. Individual players hide behind clever names like Dollface Smasher and Hit and Run.

There are more than 1,200 amateur leagues worldwide hailing from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Brazil, and Australia.

Object Of Roller Derby

The object of Roller Derby is simple. Each team has a skater (the jammer) who must lap as many of the opposing skaters as possible. Every time the jammer succeeds, the team gets a point.

The jammer is the only team member that can score points.

Roller Derby Rules 2023

The rest of the team has two jobs: to use force to clear the way for their jammer to score, and to stop the other team’s jammer from scoring.

The object is for each team’s jammer to lap as many opposing skaters as they can and score for their team. The team with the most points at the end of the bout wins.

The Bouts

Each bout consists of two 30-minute halves. Each bout is made up of two-minute jams. Scoring happens during these two-minute jams. The teams skate as many jams as they can within this 30 minutes of the bout as possible.

At the end of the two halves, the team with the most points wins.

Playing The Game

A jam is played by five skaters in each team, the jammer and four blockers. Together they are called the Pack. The jammer is identified by a helmet cover with a star on it.

At the beginning of each bout, the two Hammers stand behind the Pack. They must get through the opposing team’s blockers and skate around the track. They score a point each time they lap an opposing Blocker.

How To Play Roller Derby

The two teams of blockers try to clear the way for their jammer and simultaneously try to stop the opposing team’s jammer.

This makes for an extremely exciting combat, which can result in serious injuries because team members are allowed to use their body to stop the opposing team.

The Rules Of The Game

Roller derby teams can have up to 14 players, but only 5 participate in a jam at any one time: that is the jammer and four blockers.

  • Only the jammer can score points.
  • Each team has five skaters: one jammer and four blocker.
  • Bouts are played in two periods of 30 minutes each.
  • Each jam lasts for up to two minutes.
  • Between each jam, 30 seconds is allowed for teams to line up for the next jam.
  • Teams can substitute players between jams, except for players who are in the penalty box.
  • Roller Derby is played on a track that is oval.
  • The pivot is the leading blocker who acts as the captain of the team. The pivot is identified by stripes on her helmet.
  • The four blockers must try to stop the opposing team’s jammer from passing them and scoring.

How To Play Roller Derby

How Roller Derby Bouts Are Played

  1. At the start of a roller derby match, the blockers from each opposing team skate as one single pack around the track.
  2. Once the round is done, blockers from both side line up next to each other a distance away from the starting line. The jammers are further back.
  3. The game starts when the whistle is blown.
  4. The two jammers form each team begin to skate.
  5. Their aim is to fight their way through the opposing team’s pack.
  6. Their pack helps them by clearing the way for them and blocking the opposing team.
  7. The first jammer that gets through is called the “lead jammer”.
  8. A jammer loses lead jammer status if they have to go to the penalty box during the jam.
  9. Each jammer races around the track trying to overtake members of the opposing team.
  10. Each time they succeed, their team scores a point.
  11. The lead jammer can put her hands on her hips when she wants to stop the jam early. This tactic is used to stop the other team from scoring points.
  12. Blockers can use physical force to prevent the opposition jammer passing them and scoring.
  13. Jammer referees hold up fingers at the end of each lap to indicate points just earned.


Penalties are common in roller derby bouts. Since blockers and pivots do everything in their power to stop the opposing team’s jammer, things can get rough.

Team members are allowed to put someone from the other team out of the way.

Roller Derby

They have to do this within the rules of the game, which dictates that they can only push from the side, not the bake or the front and they can only use their shoulders, the top part of their arms, their hips, or the top part of their legs to get an enemy out of the way.

Players who break the rules are sent to the penalty box for thirty seconds.

The following actions will result in a penalty:

  • Blocking with forearms, hands, elbows, or a helmet
  • Punching a player from behind
  • Tripping, kicking, or blocking with feet or legs
  • Preventing or delaying the formation of a pack
  • Charging from the rear
  • Blocking a skater in the back or head
  • Blocking a skater’s forearm from the point of the elbow to the fingertips
  • Blocking legs, from below mid-thigh to the wheels of the skate
  • Blocking by forming an impenetrable wall
  • Blocking while out of bounds, or blocking a skater who is out of bounds
  • Leaving the track to get around other skaters
  • Illegal procedures: false starts, too many skaters on the track


At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins. Roller derby games are not allowed to end in a tie.

If the score is tied at the conclusion of the hour, an overtime jam takes place. Jams are repeated until one team has more points than the other team and is declared the winner.

The chest is usually the number one target zone in roller derby. Other areas that are allowed are the hands, hips, abdomen and front/sides of the player’s legs.

The neck, back, and leg below the thigh are illegal target zones and can result in a penalty.

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