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Roller Derby Glossary


The players

Blocker–a skater who tries to stop the other team’s jammer from passing while also helping her own team’s jammer to score. Typically, there are four blockers per team on the track, including the pivot. 


Jammer–the skater on the track who can score points. The jammer is identified by the star on her helmet. The jammer starts each jam behind the pack. After she has lapped the pack once, she is eligible to score points for each skater whose hips she passes.


Lead jammer–the first jammer to get through the pack without getting any penalties becomes the lead jammer. She now has the advantage of being able tocall off the jam if she wishes.


Pack–the group of blockers skating around the track together. Each jammer’s goal is to get through or around the pack.


Pivot–  The pivot is identified by the stripe on her helmet and typically determines the strategy used by the blockers on her team. The pivot has the ability to swap places with the jammer via a panty pass. 


The game

Bout–one game or match.  A bout lasts 60 minutes and is divided into two 30 minute periods.


Calling off the jam–the lead jammer can end a jam at any time by tapping her hands against her hips. This strategy is usually used to prevent the other team's jammer from scoring points.


Jam–a two-minute period during which the action happens. The jam may last less than two minutes if the lead jammer call off the jam. 


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.


Scoring pass–any pass through the pack after the jammer‘s first pass. At this time, the jammer racks up points for each opponent she passes.



Back block–A penalty incurred when a player makes contact with an opponent’s back, which is an illegal target zone.


Cutting the track– A penalty incurred when a skater goes out of bounds, passes an in-bounds skater, and re-enters the track in front of that skater. 


Elbows - A penalty incurred when the elbow is used to jab, hook, or hit an opponent, and forces the receiving opposing skater off balance, forward, and/or sideways and causes the opposing skater to lose relative position.


Low Block - A penalty incurred when contact is initiated below the legal target zone (below the knees) and causes the opponent to stumble or fall.


Multi-Player Blocking - A penalty incurred when teammates prevent an opponent from passing them by grasping, linking, or forming an impenetrable wall. 


Other Terms

Assist–a motion administered by one player to help a teammate (usually the jammer) gain advantage. An assist includes pushing, pulling, redirecting, or whipping another skater.


Blocking zone–a part of the body with which it is permissible to hit another skater. Blocking must be done to a legal target zone. Legal blocking zones include the arms from the shoulder to above the elbow; the torso; the hips; the butt; and the mid- and upper thigh. Illegal blocking zones include elbows; forearms; hands; head; and any part of the leg below the mid-thigh.


Falling small–trying to keep your body as small as possible when hitting the ground to prevent other skaters from tripping over you. If you do not fall small, you may incur a Low Blocking penalty by tripping another player.


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 grabs her teammate’s hips to swing herself forward.


NSO–a nonskating official. The NSO helps with various referee duties during the bouts, including penalty tracking, timing the penalty box, and keeping track of points.


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


Panty Pass-when the jammer takes off her helmet cover and passes it to her team's pivot.  The pivot becomes the new jammer and gains the ability to score points.  Also called "passing the star".


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


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


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.


Target zone–an area of the body which may be hit. Legal target zones include hands, arms, chest, abdomen, sides, hips, and the front and sides of the legs to the mid-thigh. Illegal target zones include the head, neck, back, butt, back of the thighs, and any part of the leg below mid-thigh.


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


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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