Roller Derby is an American-invented, predominately female, full-contact sport. Derby is played on quad skates – no rollerblades here! As well as quads, players wear padded protection to minimise the impact of bumps, bangs and falls.
A whole game of Derby is known as a bout. A bout is made up of several two-minute sessions, each called a jam. It’s played on an oval track and there are five players on each team. The object of the game is for certain players – called jammers – to lap members of the opposing team – known as blockers – to score points.
For the duration of the jam, blockers try to stop the opposing team’s jammer from getting through the pack, whilst at the same time trying to help their own jammer get through the pack. So not only is technical skill required, but also tactical skill.
Whilst there are a few leagues in the US who play on banked tracks, the majority of the leagues, and definitely all UK leagues, play on a flat track.
For a far more eloquent, more comprehensive explanation of Flat Track Roller Derby, please check out the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association website.
Going to your first bout and not sure what to look for?
Read this article, ‘How do I get the most out of watching a derby bout live?‘, courtesy of Three-Day Bender of the Boston Derby Dames, featured on the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association website.