A bout consists of two thirty-minute periods made up of a series of plays or “jams.” Each team may field a roster of up to 14 skaters but can send no more than five on the track for each jam. They play one of three positions: Blocker (there are three), pivot (marked by a stripe on her helmet) or jammer (*marked by a star on her helmet).
Each jam starts with a whistle. The first jammer to skate through the pack earns the title of “lead jammer” giving her the advantage of calling off the jam whenever she wants by placing her hands on her hips and waving them up and down.
Both jammers work to lap the pack a second time to start accumulating points. Each opposing player they pass legally and in bounds is worth one point, including the opposing jammer. When the lead jammer calls off the jam — or when the maximum time of two minutes have passed — the jam stops and the officials calculate the scores.
Jammers do not get points for passes in which they commit a penalty. The most common penalties in derby are back blocking, going out of bounds to cut the track, blocking too far from the pack (out of play), elbowing (chicken-winging), tripping (low blocking) and clothes-lining (multi-player blocking). Infractions result in a penalty only if there is an impact on game play, for example, an opponent is caused to fall. Penalties result in a skater spending one minute or more in the penalty box.
Want to see the complete rules for yourself? Visit the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s rules page.
Still have questions? Visit WFTDA’s Frequently Asked Questions page.