What is Roller Derby?

Roller derby is a full contact sport played by two teams of five players roller skating counter-clockwise around a track. Game play consists of a series of 2 minute “Jams” in which both teams designate a jammer. There are two 30 minute halves to a Roller Derby Bout and each Jam can last up to 2 minutes unless the lead jammer calls it off to collect up their points and prevent the other team from scoring more.


There are two types of Roller Derby, Banked Track and Flat Track. I only shoot Flat Track, this is the most popular form of the game and I don’t think there are any banked tracks in the UK.

Jammers are the players who score points, a point will be scored for every opposing player they pass on the track. Usually, blockers on the opposing team create a three person wall to try and stop them passing and there will be a forth player focused on offensive play. You often see this player trying to clear a path for their Jammer or chasing an opposing Jammer to try and knock them out of the track.

Roller Derby Jammer and Referee B&W Kodak TMAX 6400iso Bout Against Cancer
Bout Against Cancer | Shot on Kodak TMAX at 6400 ISO | Developed in Ilford Microphen

The game, being a contact sport, can get brutal but there are a lot of rules in place to ensure the game is as safe as possible, saying this, I have seen my fair share of injuries; concussion, sprained ankles, split lips, severe winding.

With lots of rules and lots of players and generally a lot going on per 2 minute Jam, there are also a lot of referees; you have one for each of the jammers, then there will be a few more in the middle and outside of the track to keep an eye out for illegal hits and players stepping out of track, refs will also ensure the that blocking and hitting takes place within the engagement zone, which extends forward and backward 20 ft (6.10m) from the foremost and rearmost Pack Skaters.

Roller Derby Referees B&W Kodak TMAX 6400iso
Seven’s Tournament | Shot on Kodak TMAX at 6400 ISO | Developed in Ilford Microphen

If a player does something to incur a penalty they will have to spend some time in the penalty box and this is where you will find Non Skating Officials, you can also find NSOs in other areas of the game around the track counting points for each team and ensuring timings are correct during game play.

Roller Derby penalty box B&W Kodak TMAX 6400iso Bout Against Cancer
Bout Against Cancer | Shot on Kodak TMAX at 6400 ISO | Developed in Ilford Microphen

These are the basics of a Flat Track Roller Derby game, I suggest going along to your next local game because it is a really cool sport. If you want more details in regards to game play and rules go check out the official WFTDA site because they have all the up to date rules and information there.

If you live in the UK, I will be posting all the upcoming Champs games I’ll be shooting here so come by, check out some Roller Derby and say hi!

Thanks for reading and for updates you can follow my blog via WordPress or sign up via email. 
You can also find me in the following places:
Film IG: @sisboombah
Roller Derby IG: @fillingthetime 
Twitter: @sisboombah
Facebook: @fillingthetime

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