What Is The Sport Of Roller Derby?

roller derby

What Is Roller Derby?

Roller derby is a fast-paced, strategic game that requires teamwork, agility, and endurance. Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five players roller skating in the same direction around a track. The objective is to score points by lapping members of the opposing team.

Roller derby is a full-contact sport, and players are allowed to use their bodies to block and impede the opposing team’s progress. However, strict rules govern contact, and players can be penalized for dangerous or excessive contact.


Flat-track roller derby is played on a flat surface like a basketball court or track. The game is split into two halves, each consisting of two 30-minute periods. During each period, teams skate around the track in the same direction, trying to score points by passing opposing team members.

Points are scored when a member of the offensive team passes a member of the defensive team. Each team has four skaters on the track at a time: three blockers and one jammer. The jammer is the only player who can score points.

The blockers skating in front of the jammer try to stop her from getting through while the blockers behind her try to clear a path so she can advance. Jammers earn points for every opponent they pass; if they manage to pass all four opponents, they earn a “grand slam” and an additional point.

Origins Of Roller Derby

Roller derby is a sport that has its origins in the United States. It was created in the early 20th century and emerged as a popular sport in the 1930s. Roller derby became known for its aggressive style of play, and its popularity dwindled in the late 20th century. However, it has recently experienced a resurgence, with new leagues forming across the country.

The history of roller derby is closely tied to the history of skating. Roller skating was invented in the early 19th century and quickly became popular. Skating rinks began to appear in cities across America, and people began to hold competitions and races on skates.

In the early 1900s, a new type of skating called “rink racing” emerged. This skating style involved racing around an oval track, quickly becoming popular. It was born out of this new style of skating, and the first formal roller derby competition was held in Chicago in 1935.

Roller derby quickly gained popularity, and by the 1940s, there were professional leagues across the country. The sport reached its peak in the 1950s when it was featured on television and in movies. However, its popularity began to decline in the 1960s as other sports gained popularity.

What Equipment Do I Need For Roller Derby?

If you want to play roller derby, you’ll need some essential equipment. Firstly, you’ll need a good pair of quad skates. This is a necessary piece of equipment, and it’s worth investing in a good quality pair that will last you a long time. You’ll also need knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet to protect yourself from injury.

Clothing-wise, you’ll need loose-fitting clothes that you can move around easily in. Leggings or track pants are ideal, and you might want to invest in a pair of Roller Derby specific shorts with extra padding. Many derby girls also like to wear tutus or skirts over their leggings for a bit of extra style on the track!

You’ll also need to ensure you have the right socks – they should be tall enough to protect your shins from getting scraped by your skates but not so thick that they’re uncomfortable. Finally, you’ll need a water bottle to keep yourself hydrated during practice and games.

Skills To Be Successful

Ability To Skate Proficiently: This means maintaining your balance and controlling your speed while skating around the track. You also must be able to maneuver quickly and accurately and block and tackle other skaters.

Strategy: You need to think ahead and make split-second decisions to outwit your opponents. It is also important to be aware of the entire track at all times to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise.

Endurance: The ability to skate hard for an extended period is essential for both offense and defense. You will likely come out on top if you maintain your speed and power throughout the game.

Rules To Follow

  • Each team must consist of four blockers and one jammer. Jammers score points by lapping members of the opposing team. Blockers help their jammer score by clearing a path through the pack and preventing other team members from passing them.
  • The game is played in two 30-minute halves. Each half is divided into two-minute jams. Jams can be called off at any time by either team’s captain.
  • Players must maintain shoulder-to-shoulder contact with their team members at all times. This rule is known as “pack cohesion” and helps prevent injuries.
  • No players are allowed to leave the track during a jam. If a player does leave the track, they must immediately re-enter at the point where they exited.
  • Players are not allowed to deliberately block another player with their head or use their elbows or knees to strike another player. Doing so will result in a penalty.

Safety Tips

While it is relatively safe when played according to the rules, some risks are still involved. Here are some safety tips to help you stay safe while playing roller derby:

Wear proper safety gear: Includes a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards. Mouthguards are also strongly recommended.

Know The Rules Of The Game & Play Fair: It is a contact sport, so players will inevitably get bumped around a bit. However, excessive roughness is not tolerated and can result in penalties.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings: Pay attention to where other players are at all times and try to avoid collisions.

If You Do Fall, Get Up As Quickly As Possible: This will help avoid being stepped on or run over by another skater.

What Lead To The Decline Of Roller Derby?

Rise of Other Sports: In the sport’s early days, few competing forms of entertainment existed, so roller derby enjoyed a large audience. However, as other sports gained popularity, they began to take away from roller derby’s fan base. Football, basketball, and baseball became more popular in the latter half of the 20th century, and roller derby’s popularity waned as they did.

Changes In Societal Attitudes: In the early days of the sport, it was seen as a relatively harmless form of entertainment. However, by the 1970s, it had acquired a reputation for being violent and crude. This change in perception likely discouraged many potential fans from trying roller derby.

Financial Difficulties: Professional roller derby leagues require significant investment, and as the sport lost popularity, it became increasingly difficult to find investors willing to invest the necessary funds. Leagues could not pay their athletes without adequate funding, making it challenging to attract and retain top talent.

Where Can I Participate In Roller Derby?

Many leagues offer roller derby games. Some of these leagues are professional, while others are amateur. Professional leagues typically have more stringent rules and regulations than amateur leagues.

Some popular places to play roller derby include Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Many leagues play roller derby in other countries, such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.