Roller derby is a full contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. 

Game play consists of a series of short matchups (jams) in which both teams designate a scoring player (the jammer) who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer —in effect playing both offense and defense simultaneously. Roller derby is played by more than 1,200 amateur leagues on every inhabited continent.

Roller Derby Explained

While the sport has its origins in the roller skating dance marathons of the 1930s, roller derby later evolved into a race between two teams, five members each. As the game evolved in the early 40′s, it included more body contact and had more similarities to American football. In the ensuing decades, however, it predominantly became a form of sports entertainment where the theatrical elements overshadowed the athleticism. This gratuitous showmanship largely ended with the sport’s contemporary grassroots revival in the first decade of the 21st century.

Today’s roller derby was revived in 2000, becoming a very competetive, full-contact sport where both the athletic spirit was developped, and the sports-camaredery evolved into sisterhood. Most modern leagues share a strong DIY-ethic which uniquely combines athleticism and elements from punk, camp and third-wave feminist aesthetics.

It is an international sport dominated by all-female amateur teams, in addition to a growing number of male, co-ed, and junior roller derby teams.

Contemporary roller derby has a basic set of rules, with variations reflecting the interests of a governing body’s member leagues. Every Belgian league plays by the rules of WFTDA, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association,which coordinates and sets the rules that govern sanctioned interleague competition among its members. WFTDA also publishes rankings and organizes annual championship tournaments for its members in good standing. While not directly affiliated, many independent leagues around the world have adopted the WFTDA rules and standards either completely or as a foundation for their own rules.