Roller Derby Glossary



ASSIST- a motion administered by one player to help another player (usually the jammer) gain advantage. Can include pushing, pulling, redirecting, or whipping another skater.

BACK BLOCK– A penalty that is incurred when a player makes contact with an opponent’s back, which is an illedgal target zone

BLOCKER– A skater whose job is to stop or block the other team’s jammer from passing which also enabling her own team’s jammer to score. Typically, there are four blockers per team on 

BLOCKER–a skater whose job is to stop or block the other team’s jammer from passing while also enabling her own team’s jammer to score. Typically, there are four blockers per team on the track, including the pivot. The remaining blocker positions are often referred to by number: two, three, and four, usually with the pivot at the front and the four at the back.

CALLING OFF THE JAM–the power of the lead jammer, who can end a jam at any time by tapping her hands against her hips. This strategy can help prevent the other team’s jammer from scoring points if the lead jammer loses the advantage.

CUTTING THE TRACK–a penalty wherein a skater goes out of bounds, passes an in-bounds skater, and re-enters the track in front of that skater. This is a minor penalty, but if a) the skater cuts multiple players, or b) the skater she cuts is the foremost member of the pack, then it is a major penalty.

FALSE TRACK–a minor penalty that occurs when a player crosses the designated starting line before the appropriate whistle is blown–that is, if a blocker crosses the pivot line before the first jam whistle is blown, or if a jammer crosses the jammer line before the second jam whistle is blown. This penalty can escalate to a major if the skater does not yield her advantage.

FRESH MEAT–new recruits.

GRAND SLAM–when a jammer succeeds in lapping the opposing team’s jammer.

HIP CHECK–a bump delivered using the hips while skating immediately next to the target.

HIP WHIP–a form of assist in which a player (usually the jammer) grabs her teammate’s hips to swing herself forward.

ILLEGAL PROCEDURE–a catchall term that refers to a penalty in which a procedural rule is broken and the offending team has an advantage without interfering with the other team’s play. Examples include false starts, having too many skaters on the track, or removing required safety gear.

JAM–a two-minute period during which the action happens. The jam may last less than two minutes if the lead jammer decides to call off the jam. There may be any number of jams in a bout.

JAMMER–the skater on the track who can score points. The jammer is identifiable by the star on her helmet. The jammer starts each jam behind the pack. After she has lapped the pack once (known as a nonscoring pass), she is eligible to score points for each subsequent skater she laps.

JAMMER LINE–a starting line on the track, located behind the pivot line, from which the jammers depart on the referee’s second whistle. Jammers may touch, but not cross, the line. If a jammer crosses the jammer line before the second whistle, it is designated a false start.

LEAD JAMMER–the first jammer to emerge from the pack cleanly (that is, without incurring a penalty) is designated by the referee as the lead jammer. She now has the advantage of being able to call off the jam if she wishes.

MAJOR–a major penalty. According to WFTDA, this is “a foul has that has a measurable physical force or effect which causes harm or adversely affects the game. Assessed if the infraction has extensive impact on safety or game play.” Examples include tripping another skater or hitting a skater when she is down on the ground. One major will get a skater sent to the penalty box for at least one minute.

NONSCORING PASS–the jammer‘s first pass through the pack. During this pass, the jammer is eligible to obtain lead jammer status, but she does not score any points.

PACK–the mass of blockers from both teams skating around the track together. Each jammer’s goal is to get through or around the pack.

PANTY–a stretchy helmet cover that is used to designate the jammer (with a star) or a pivot (with a stripe).

PASSING THE STAR–a strategic play in which the jammer removes her helmet cover (the star) and gives it to the pivot, enabling the pivot to become the new jammer and thus score points.

PENALTY–a rule-breaking offense observed and called by a referee.

PENALTY BOX–when skaters accumulate four minor penalites or one major, they must skate off the rink and spend time waiting here (1 minute per infraction) until they can return to play. The penalty box has 3 seats for each team, one of which is designated for the jammer. Thus, the most players than can be in the box at once from any one team is two blockers and one jammer.

PIVOT (1)– the blocker who stays to the front of the pack and regulates pack speed. The pivot also has the unique ability to, via a panty-swap, exchange places with the jammer. The pivot can be identified by the stripe on her helmet.

PIVOT LINE–the starting line for the pack that is in front of the jammer line. Only the pivot is permitted to start on the pivot line; all other blockers must be lined up behind her hips. The pack may cross the pivot line once referee blows the first whistle to signal the start of the jam. If any skater crosses the line before the whistle, it is designated a false start.

POSITIONAL BLOCKING–using the body to obstruct another skater’s path rather than forcefully hitting her.

POWER JAM–a situation wherein one team’s jammer has been sent to the penalty box, and thus only the team with a jammer on the track can score.

RECYCLING–when a set of two or more blockers rotate in a circular motion, sending one blocker after another to issue continuous hits to an opponent. This is also known as a waterfall.

RINK RASH–a burn injury that occurs when flesh is dragged against a rink surface. Ouch!

SCORING PASS–any pass through the pack after the jammer‘s first pass (the nonscoring pass). At this time the jammer racks up points for each opponent she passes.

T-STOP–a technique for slowing down or stopping in which one skate is dropped behind the other skate and turned perpendicularly, and the wheels of the back skate are dragged.

TAKING A KNEE–if a skater is seriously injured on the track and the jam is called, it is common practice for skaters to drop to one knee while the injured skater is treated.

TRIPPING–a major penalty in which one skater makes contact with another skater–intentional or not–in the no-contact zone below the knee, causing that skater to lose her balance and fall.

TWENTY (20) FEET–a referee call when a skater is out of the twenty-foot range of the pack and thus out of play. Blockers may not hit or assist and must immediately yield to opposing jammers upon reaching this point whether or not the call has been  made by the ref. If they do not, they may earn an out of play penalty.

WALL–when two or more blockers skate side-by-side to create a multi- player block to contain another team’s player(s).

WFTDA–Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. This is a regulatory body that organizes leagues and establishes rules and rankings. SVRG plays by WFTDA rules and aspires to become a WFTDA-certified league.

WHIP–an assist technique wherein one skater uses another skater’s momentum to propel herself. For example, a jammer may grab a blocker’s arm, and the blocker will use her power and momentum to pull the jammer forward.

ZEBRA–nickname for a referee

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