2012: Advent Roller Derby: Glossary

by on December 4, 2012

In my spare time, I help to run a website called Rollin’ News, which is dedicated to UK & Ireland roller derby. We’re a one-stop-shop for the sport on these fair isles, so it would seem remiss of me to not attempt Advent Knowledge on this subject! What this won’t be is Skating 101 because I have only spent about 2 hours on quads. I am not a rollergirl, I’m just a fan (and sometimes a photographer, and sometimes an NSO). I also would never presume to be the final word on roller derby, but I’m willing to take questions and give answers to the best of my knowledge.

Before we properly get started, I thought it’d be a good idea to provide a glossary of terms that you could refer back to if I ever say something that makes you think, “Wait, what?” Most of the definitions have been provided by the Roller Derby Dictionary, with additions by me, and there are many more that I’ve left out! Head over to the Dictionary if you want to see them all. We’ll cover most of these things in more detail in later posts too.

Blocker Blockers are the positional players that form the pack. The Pivot Blocker is one of the four Blockers per team allowed in each jam.

Bout A bout or game is composed of sixty (60) minutes of play divided into two periods of thirty (30) minutes played between two teams.

Boutfit The uniform of the skater.

Derby Wife A derby wife is another skater who has your back.  They are the person who sticks up for you on and off track, and will support you throughout your derby career.

Fresh Meat A new skater that has not completed minimum skills. I really dislike this term, but a lot of people use it still.

Hit Any form of check or contact blocking manoeuvre.

Jam Jams are two (2) minute races between teams to score points.

Jam Line The Jam line is the line on the track where the jammers start. The Jammers must be on or behind this line when the jam starts or they will pick up a false start penalty.  The jam line is situated 30 feet behind the pivot line.

Jammer Jammers are the point scorers for their teams. Each team is permitted one Jammer per jam. The Jammers are identified by stars on their helmet cover.

Jeerleader The roller derby equivalent of a cheerleader in other sports. Same deal – Team colours, Pom poms but way more attitude.

Lap A complete pass through the pack; this may require more than one trip around the track.

Lead Jammer The Lead Jammer is the first Jammer to pass the foremost in-play Blocker legally and in bounds, having already passed all other Blockers legally and in bounds.

Major Penalty A foul that has a measurable physical force or effect which causes harm or adversely affects the game. Assessed if the infraction has extensive impact on safety or game play.

Merby Mens Roller Derby. This term is being phased out generally.

Minor Penalty A foul that has a measurable physical force or effect but does not cause harm or adversely affect the game. Assessed if the infraction has limited impact on safety or game play. Minors have been removed from the next WFTDA ruleset, which becomes active on January 1 2013.

MRDA Mens Roller Derby Association.  Formerly MDC or Mens Derby Coalition. Often pronounced ‘Murder’.

Newbie See Fresh Meat.

Not Lead A Jammer without Lead Jammer Status. Can still score points (which many newbies don’t realise).

NSO Non Skating Official.  NSOs assist the referees by recording the score, recording and timing the penalties, timing the jams and updating the scoreboards.

Pack The pack is defined by the largest group of Blockers, skating in proximity, containing members from both teams. The Jammers are independent of this definition.

Pass To pass is to move in front of an opposing skater by positioning your hips in front of hers. A pass begins with the Jammer behind the pack and ends when the Jammer has cleared the pack by twenty feet. To begin the next pass, the Jammer must fully lap the pack and catch up to the back of the pack.

Penalty The punishment meted out for infringement of the game rules.

Penalty Box The area where skaters must serve time for committing fouls.  The Penalty box comprises of 6 chairs (3 per team) and is demarcated by a Point of No Return 10 foot from the edge of the chairs. Skaters must enter the penalty box in a counter-clockwise direction.

Pivot Blocker with a front to back stripe on the helmet

Pivot Line The pivot line is the line that all blockers must start behind. The pivot line is situated 30 feet in front of the jam line and at the top of the straight before turn 1.

Powerjam When the opposing jammer is not on track the team with the jammer is referred to as having a powerjam. It is named so as their jammer has the opportunity to score points without the opposing team also scoring.

Quads Quad skates. These are skates which have 4 wheels, one mounted in each corner of the skate.  These are the only style of skate allowed to be worn by players. Referees are allowed to wear inline skates, but most don’t.

Referee One of at least seven officials who skate and call penalties simultaneously. Often called zebras, due to their black and white striped shirts.

Ref Lane The 10 foot safety zone around the outside of the track.  This is where the Outside Pack Refs skate their normal line.  Skaters also use the ref lane to skate to the penalty box.

Rollergirl Generic name for a skater in Roller Derby. Sometimes applied to male skaters too, or swapped for rollerboy.

Scrimmage A practice of gameplay.

Skate Fast, Turn Left Common slogan outlining the basics of being a Roller Derby Player.

Skate Name Most skaters opt to take a pseudonym for their on track alter ego.  Often these are puns or parodies of celebrity names mixed with a violent or ghoulish nature.  Examples of skate names are Suzy Hotrod, Bonnie Thunders, Juicy Lucy.

Skateout The introduction of the teams to the crowd.  Some skateouts are simple with the team skating in a pack and as their name is called by the announcer they give a wave. Some are super elaborate and involve glow sticks, flags, custom costumes and laser light shows. Normally accompanied by the team’s chosen theme song.

Suicide Seats The section of seats closest to the track.  Normally on the floor, these are the best place to see the action but also the most likely place to end up with a referee or rollergirl in your lap.

Track The oval shaped course that the skaters try to stay on.

Turns 1, 2, 3, 4 Naming convention for the corners on the track. Turn 1 is the first corner after the pivot line and then they follow on in a counter clockwise direction from there with turn 4 being the last corner before the Jam line.

Wall 2 or more players skating shoulder to shoulder to impede opposing skaters.

WFTDA The Womens Flat Track Derby Association. Often Pronounced ‘Woof-tuh-duh’ but I notice that a lot of UK people call it ‘Woof-duh’.

Zebra A referee.

Zeeb See Zebra

Sorry there’s so many! I took most of them out (there were 24 pages before, this is more like two and a half). I promise the next post will be more bite-sized!

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