Roller Derby

Roller derby as we know and love today originated in the USA in 2001, and arrived in the UK in 2006. The forerunners in Scotland were Glasgow Roller Derby and Auld Reekie Roller Girls and who bounded onto the scene in 2007 and 2008 respectively. With new leagues starting up every few months, roller derby is one of the fastest growing sports around.

It is a full-contact sport played on quad roller skates, by players skating around an elliptical track. The game consists of a series of two-minute countdown jams.

Roller Derby track

At the start of each jam, each team sends five players onto the track: one jammer (point scorer), three blockers (defensive/offensive players) and one pivot (last line of defense and lead blocker). The players are identified by their helmet covers – a stripe for the pivots and two stars for the jammers. The pivots and blockers form a pack at the start line and the two jammers take up positions behind the line. All skaters start on the referee’s whistle. The jammers’ aim is to make it through the pack of skaters and skate a full lap to enter the pack again. Once they re-enter the pack, they score a point for each opposing skater they pass legally.

Now for the fun bit: the skaters in the pack are doing their utmost to stop the opposing jammer passing them and scoring points, while at the same time trying to help their own jammer to pass opposing players. They do this by landing heavy shoulder or hip checks on opposing players, shoving them out of the way or knocking them to the ground. Any part of the front of a skater’s body between shoulder and mid-thigh is a target zone, and any part of the body between shoulder and mid-thigh (excluding hands, elbows, and forearms) is legal to hit with. Illegal hits result in time served in the penalty box, legal hits often result in skaters flying off the track and landing in the crowd!

The game is fast and furious and full of adrenaline – once you see it you’ll be hooked.