What’s Roller Derby?

San Diego Roller Derby is a WFTDA (Womens Flat Track Derby Association) league member. The game has definitely changed from the game that your grandparents and parents used to watch every Saturday morning, and in our league it’s change so much so that we actually play on a flat track (think hockey rink). The modern game of roller derby is a woman dominated sport that made its come back in Austin, TX back in 2000. Now with over 500 teams in the United States alone, woman’s flat track and banked track roller derby is back. Teams as far away as New Zealand participate in the modern game of roller derby.


1. Are there rules?

Yes! This sport is like chess on skates. Basic rules are no elbows, no punching (as we’re asked that question THE MOST frequently). The WFTDA rules of flat track roller derby can be found here!

2. Is there any part of roller derby that is fake?

While there are still a few teams that play with choreographed plays, majority of teams in the nation play by strict guidelines/rules developed by the WFTDA. This IS a real sport; the blood, sweat, bumps & bruises are 100% real. We pour our hearts into proper training and adhering to the rules and regulations of WFTDA to ensure that we are safe and our opposing league members are, also. Nothing is fake. Nothing is planned out before hand. The point’s total and the winner of every bout is unknown until the final whistle blows.

3. How is the game played?

Roller derby is an aggressive, full contact race between the two teams. Each matchup is either called a “Game” or “Bout”. The game is played in timed jams (equivalent to “downs” in football). The 4 blockers are there as obstacles for the opposing jammer but also assist their own jammer through the pack. The race occurs between the jammers as the race against time and against the opposing jammer. Each “jam” last 2 minutes or until the “lead jammer” calls off the jam by placing both hands on her hips. Unlike most sports, offense and defense are played simultaneously by both teams. The bout lasts 60 minutes, and team with the most total points accrued at the end of the game, wins.

4. What if I’ve never skated before/haven’t skated since I was a child?

No worries! We train all skaters from Baby Giraffes to Bout-Ready. Practice consists of everything from fundamental skating to roller derby scrimmages. No one advances to the next level of practice until they have passed specific skill sets. You will never have to do something that you are not ready for and we will help you progress your skills and confidence so you will be ready to scrimmage when the time comes.

5. Do you really have to practice for roller derby?

Practice is THE most important aspect of the game. It teaches you the strategy, skill, and safety of the game. You have to not only know all of the rules and regulations of roller derby, but it requires physical conditioning. Roller derby teams generally practice year-round with the traditional bouting season from February-October. Many members also hit the gym on non practice days to ensure strength and endurance is up to par to help prevent injuries.

6. Where can I get gear for roller derby?

The minimum gear is helmet, kneepads, elbow pads, wrist guards, mouth guard and most importantly, QUAD SKATES!!! We have some “Loaner Gear” you can borrow at each practice, but only while supplies last and they must be returned at the end of practice. For shopping, we highly recommend going to Sin City Skates. Gear can be costly, so we recommend trying out the sport prior to making an investment in gear. The owners at Sin City are retired derby girls and are extremely knowledgeable about gear and can get you suited correctly. Gear can also be found online at various roller derby or skateboarding stores.

7. What sort of volunteers do you need?

Not everyone has the desire or dedication necessary to train hard to be a roller derby player which is perfect because we will need a lot of volunteers to be successful. For a bout to actually happen we will need officials/non-skating officials, announcers, merchandisers, ticket sellers, set up/break down crew, etc. Roller derby takes a lot of outside help to make it a success. If interested in volunteering please message us on our facebook page, you can click here to be sent there directly.

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