Indianapolis Junior Roller Derby

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Roller Derby 101

Unleash the Derby Madness!

Welcome to the fast-paced world of roller derby, where wheels meet mayhem and attitude is everything. Get ready to strap on your skates and dive headfirst into the thrilling chaos that is roller derby!

Roller derby is not just a sport; it’s a full-blown spectacle that blends athleticism, strategy, and a whole lot of attitude. Picture this: skaters racing around an oval track, jostling for position, and delivering hits that’ll leave you breathless. It’s the ultimate adrenaline rush with a side of camaraderie and fierce competition.

GAME PLAY

Game play consists of a series of short scrimmages (bouts or jams) in which both teams designate a jammer (who wears a unique designation on the helmet; currently a star) and four blockers to skate counter-clockwise around a track. The jammer scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to hinder the opposing jammer while assisting their own jammer—in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneously.

During each jam, players skate counterclockwise on a circuit track. Points are scored only by a team’s jammer. After breaking through the pack and skating one lap to begin another “trip” through the pack, the jammer scores one point for passing any opposing blocker. The rules describe an “earned” pass; notably, the jammer must be in-bounds and upright. The jammer’s first earned pass scores a point for passing that blocker and a point for each opponent blocker not on the track (for instance, serving a penalty, or when the opposition did not field five players for the jam). If the jammer passes the entire pack, it is a four-point scoring trip, commonly called a “grand slam”.

STRATEGIES AND TACTICS

Offense and defense are played simultaneously, a volatile aspect that complicates strategy and tactics. For example, blockers may create a large hole for their jammer to pass through and score, but this same maneuver might also allow the opposing team’s jammer to score.

Strategies include the following:

  • Ending the jam: The lead jammer can “call off” or end the jam at any time, controlling the opposition’s ability to score points. The strategy for a jam is not to score a lot of points but to outscore the opposition. Often, the lead jammer scores as many points as possible on the first scoring trip, and then ends the jam before the opposing jammer can begin a scoring trip. If the jammer gets the lead but falls behind the opposing jammer, the coach may conclude that the team will be outscored and direct the jammer to call off the jam.
  • Passing the star: The jammer for a team may “pass the star” (may perform a “star pass”) to the pivot—that is, hand the helmet cover with the star to the pivot, which turns the pivot into the jammer. Passing the star does not nullify any earned pass of an opponent that the former jammer made, but passing the star forward never constitutes an earned pass. A jammer might pass the star because of fatigue, injury, or because the pivot is in a better position to score.
  • Penalty-killing: Captained by the pivot, blockers adapt their play to a penalty situation. For example, a short-handed team may try to make the pack skate faster to slow down scoring action until the team returns to full strength.

Tactics may include the following:

  • Walling up: Two or more blockers skate together to make it difficult for the opposing team (especially its jammer) to maneuver. They may skate side-by-side and use a “wide stance” to maximize the blockade, but must not link with or grasp each other, or otherwise form an impenetrable connection. The ability to suddenly form a wall denies the opposition time to respond. A wall can inhibit, slow down, and ultimately trap the opposing jammer. An effective wall may last for an entire jam.
  • Backwards bracing: in which one skater, forward of the wall, skates backward to sight the jammer and direct teammates forming the wall.
    • A skater may break off from the wall to actively challenge the opposing jammer, with a teammate replacing the skater in the wall.
    • If the opposing jammer tries to pass the wall on one side, players may abandon the other side to fortify the active side of the wall.

WHO'S ON THE TRACK

Jammer

See that star on the helmet? This is the jammer. Jammers are the only ones who can score points for their team. Watch to see which team’s jammer gets through the pack first, making that skater the "lead jammer" which can be a big strategic advantage.

Pivot

This is skater who has the stripe on their helmet. They control the speed of the pack and decides which plays the pack will run.​ The Pivot can also take over as Jammer if the Jammer hands their helmet cover to the Pivot. This is called a "Star Pass."

Blockers

These are the other three skaters that make up the pack. Blockers try to block the opposing team's Jammer, making it difficult if not impossible for them to score, while simultaneously creating holes in the opposing team's defense to allow their Jammer through.

Track

Have additional questions

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