Roller derby is a battle on an oval track between two teams, each composed of five players: one pivot, three blockers, and one jammer. (Check out the diagram above!)
Play is divided into two-minute periods, called jams. At the start of a jam, players arrange themselves in formation: pivots are generally at the front, and jammers must start behind the pack, at the jammer line. When the ref blows the whistle, the pack begins to move. At the second whistle, the jammers start their race and the fun really begins!
The first jammer to get through the pack without committing any fouls becomes the lead jammer. The lead jammer can call off the jam at any time by putting her hands on her hips. If neither jammer makes it through without incurring a penalty, there is no lead jammer and the teams play the full two minutes. Once the lead jammer has been established, the jammers’ only goal is to score points!
One point is scored for every opponent a jammer passes. This is easier said than done, since opposing blockers and pivots are trying to slow down the jammers using any legal means. Players may block or check using their shoulders, upper arms, hips, or upper legs. Tripping, punching, and shoving are illegal and can lead to penalties. Four minor penalties add up to one major penalty, which will result in the offending player being sent to the penalty box or Sin Bin.
Confused?! It’ll make more sense after you’ve watched a few jams!
Here are a couple of videos to help you get the gist of it: