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Buckle up for Roller Derby’s thrill ride!

It’s more than a sport; it’s a turbo-charged clash on wheels where knowing the lingo is key.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, mastering these 30 terms will elevate your game.

Ready to conquer the rink with words as fierce as your moves? Let’s roll!

Must-Know Roller Derby Terms, Phrases and Slang:

  1. Blocker
  2. Bout
  3. Derby stance
  4. Elbowing
  5. Jam
  6. Jammer
  7. Lead jammer
  8. Pack
  9. Pivot
  10. Power jam
  11. Quad skates
  12. Rink rash
  13. Scrimmage
  14. Whip
  15. Bout committee
  16. Derby name
  17. Fresh meat
  18. Grand slam
  19. Helmet panty
  20. Knockdown
  21. Major penalty
  22. Minor penalty
  23. Passing star
  24. Penalty box
  25. Recycling
  26. Skater number
  27. Track cut
  28. Wall
  29. Wheel lock
  30. Yield

#1 Blocker

In Roller Derby, blockers are the team members whose primary role is to impede the opposing jammer’s progress and assist their jammer. These skaters use body positioning and strategy to control the pack and play both offense and defense.

#2 Bout

A bout is a Roller Derby match consisting of two 30-minute periods, where teams compete to score points by lapping opponents. It is the main event in Roller Derby, showcasing the athleticism and strategy of the sport.

#3 Derby Stance

The derby stance is a low, agile posture that skaters adopt during play. This stance improves stability and readiness, allowing skaters to react quickly to the dynamic movements of the game.

#4 Elbowing

Elbowing occurs when a player uses their elbow to hit or block an opponent, which is illegal in Roller Derby. It’s considered a penalty and can result in the offending skater being sent to the penalty box.

#5 Jam

A jam is a two-minute interval during which the game is in active play. In this period, jammers race to score points by lapping opposing skaters, while blockers work to hinder their progress.

#6 Jammer

The jammer is the skater who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. Identifiable by a star on their helmet, jammers are agile and fast, often the focal point of the spectator’s attention.

#7 Lead Jammer

The lead jammer is the first jammer (the player eligible to score points) to legally pass all blockers (defensive/opposing players) in their initial pass without committing any penalties. Being the lead jammer is advantageous as it gives the player the strategic ability to call off the jam (stop the scoring play) at any time, controlling the pace and timing of the game.

#8 Pack

The pack in roller derby consists of the group of blockers from both teams skating in proximity on the track. The pack’s speed and position are crucial as jammers must pass through this group to score points. Blockers within the pack work to hinder the opposing jammer’s progress while helping their own jammer through.

#9 Pivot

The Pivot is a skater capable of becoming the Jammer, indicated by a stripe on the helmet. This switch can strategically change the tide of the game, as Pivots assume the scoring role by receiving the star from the Jammer.

#10 Power Jam

A Power Jam occurs when only one team’s Jammer is on the track due to the opposing Jammer serving a penalty. It’s a prime opportunity for the team to score multiple points without opposition from a rival Jammer.

#11 Quad Skates

Quad skates are the traditional roller skates used in roller derby, featuring two wheels on each side providing stability. Required gear for all players, they’re essential for maneuvering and speed during a bout.

#12 Rink Rash

Rink rash refers to the scrapes and abrasions skaters get from falling and sliding on the track. It’s a common and often badge-of-honor reminder of the rough-and-tumble nature of derby play.

#13 Scrimmage

A scrimmage is an informal practice match where teams can experiment with strategies and skills in a game setting. It’s an essential part of training and preparing for official bouts without the high stakes.

#14 Whip

A whip is a move where a skater propels a teammate forward by giving them a push or pulling them by the hand or clothes. It’s a tactical way to gain speed or help Jammers break through the pack.

#15 Bout Committee

The bout committee is responsible for organizing and overseeing a roller derby bout. This includes logistics like scheduling, securing a venue, arranging officials and volunteers, ensuring safety protocols are followed, and managing public relations and promotions for the event.

#16 Derby Name

Each roller derby player typically adopts a unique and often playful or intimidating derby name. These names often reflect the player’s personality, playing style, or personal interests and are used during bouts and in roller derby communities, adding to the sport’s culture and camaraderie.

#17 Fresh Meat

A term affectionately used for new or inexperienced skaters who are just starting in roller derby. It’s a rite of passage as these “rookies” learn the ropes and work hard to become seasoned skaters.

#18 Grand Slam

Achieved when a jammer laps the opposing team’s jammer on the track and earns an additional scoring pass, which can significantly boost their team’s points during a bout. It showcases superior skating and strategic gameplay.

#19 Helmet Panty

A fabric cover with the team’s colors and symbols that slips over a skater’s helmet to distinguish their role as a pivot or jammer. It’s essential for quick identification during the fast-paced action of a bout.

#20 Knockdown

Occurs when a skater loses balance and falls to the track due to contact or a strategic move by an opponent. It’s a common occurrence and can affect the momentum of the game.

#21 Major Penalty

A serious infraction of the rules that results in a skater being sent to the penalty box for a minute. Major penalties can jeopardize a team’s strategy and give the opposition a significant advantage.

#22 Minor Penalty

A less severe rule violation that does not immediately send a skater to the penalty box. Accumulating four minor penalties, however, results in the equivalent of a major penalty, prompting time in the penalty box.

#23 Passing Star

“Passing the star” refers to the act of transferring the star helmet cover from the jammer to the pivot (a blocker who may become the jammer). This strategic move can change the scoring responsibilities to the pivot, allowing a team to adapt to the dynamics of the game, such as when the original jammer is fatigued or trapped in the pack.

#24 Penalty Box

An area off the track where roller derby players must sit for a set period during a bout as punishment for incurring penalties. It’s where skaters take a time-out to reflect on rule infractions.

#25 Recycling

A defensive strategy in roller derby wherein a blocker who has been passed by the jammer skates quickly backward to re-enter the pack ahead of the same jammer, forcing them to re-pass more blockers and slowing their scoring run.

#26 Skater Number

A unique number assigned to each roller derby player, typically displayed on their uniform, which helps officials, teammates, and fans identify them during a bout. It’s like each skater’s personal call sign.

#27 Track Cut

A penalty given to a skater who exits the track boundary and illegally re-enters in front of other skaters they were not ahead of before leaving the track. This move can temporarily send a skater to the penalty box.

#28 Wall

A defensive formation created by blockers standing side-by-side in a row to impede the opposing jammer’s progress through the pack. It’s a quintessential strategy of team defense in roller derby.

#29 Wheel Lock

An accidental or intentional situation where the wheels from two roller derby skates interlock or come into contact, usually resulting in a fall or loss of momentum. It’s a mishap that can quickly change the dynamic of the game.

#30 Yield

In roller derby, to yield means to re-enter the track behind players who were previously ahead of a skater when they went out of bounds or fell. This rule prevents skaters from gaining an advantage from track exits or falls, ensuring fair play continues throughout the jam.


What are some Roller Derby terms for beginners?

“Blocker,” “Jam,” and “Pack” are some Roller Derby terms beginners should start with. These are fundamental to understanding the roles and game dynamics during a bout.

What are some funny Roller Derby terms?

“Fresh meat” and “Helmet panty” are some funny Roller Derby terms. They add a touch of humor, referring to new players and the helmet cover for jammers or pivots, respectively.

What is a famous Roller Derby phrase?

“Hit like a girl,” is a famous Roller Derby phrase that embodies the sport’s tough, empowering spirit and challenges gender stereotypes associated with strength and athleticism.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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