Roller Derby research/IRDL rules

From Offset
Jump to navigationJump to search

Roller Derby rules, c. 1970

The following is transcribed verbatim from Appendix B of Five Strides on the Banked Track (Deford, Frank; 1st. ed. published May 1971), pages 207 to 211.

The strange numbering of sections -- e.g., no letters on the first clauses, and a "Rule 7" but no other rule numbers -- as well as the redundant "Concluding a jam" section, are part of the original source material.

Official I.R.D.L. Rules of the Game

The game consists of two halves, each half has four alternating 12-minute periods of men and women.

A team is composed of five men and five women. Only five members of each team can be on the track at one time.

Game starts when the referee signals by blowing his whistle that the two teams are equally in position. This group is called the pack. In this pack are two Blockers (white helmets) and two Jammers (striped helmets), and a Pivot Man (black helmet).

A jam (scoring play) occurs when one or more jammers have pulled away from the pack. The jammers have 60 seconds to score. A jammer must wear a striped helmet. The blocker, who cannot score, wears a solid colored helmet. The pivot man can jam as long as he isn't the first jammer out of the pack. A jam can start:

  1. When the referee has signaled that both teams are in the pack.
  2. When the pivot man of each team is evenly together at the front of the pack.
  3. When all jammers are at the rear of the pack.
  4. When a pivot man from each team is on the track. The pivot skater cannot be more than 20 feet in front of the pack before the jam starts.

The clock and the jam actually start when one of the jammers has been able to pass the leading opposing blockers in the pack.

Helmets must be worn by the jammers to score, unless through some involuntary action the helmet is knocked off, then the referee has the right to decide on this point.

A jam will be considered at an end for any of the following reasons:

  1. The expiration of the 60-second time limit.
  2. At the conclusion of each 12-minute skating period.
  3. When the lead jammer places both hands on his or her hips.
  4. A jam may also be called off by the officials for any emergency.

A jammer receives one point for every member of the opposing team he or she passes, every time he or she laps the field within 60 seconds.

There are Penalties consisting of one and two minutes that may force a team to skate shorthanded.

Concluding a jam

A. A jam will be considered at an end for any of the following reasons:

  1. The expiration of the 60-second time limit.
  2. At the conclusion of each 12-minute skating period.
  3. By the leading jam skater placing both hands on his or her hips.

B. A jam may be called off by the official at any time for any emergency.


A. There will be two penalties, a major (two minutes) and a minor (1 minute).

B. A minor penalty will be one minute duration and will be called at the discretion of the referee for holding, illegal blocking, stalling, tripping, illegal use of the hands, and other minor fouls.

C. A major penalty will be two minutes duration, and will be called at the discretion of the referee for fighting and intentional roughness, deliberate and excessive insubordination, gross unsportsmanlike conduct, and railing.

D. A major penalty calling for expulsion from the game will be called at the discretion of the referee.

  1. If a player is ejected from the game his or her team receives a two minute penalty.

E. If a penalized skater does not leave the track immediately or interferes with the remainder of the field he or she will receive an additional one minute penalty.

F. If the skater's penalty time overlaps into the following skating period, any member of the opposite sex taking the track must serve out the balance of the penalty time.

G. No more than two players on any team can be in the penalty box at one time. If a third player or more is penalized, the player or players committing the penalty must leave the track and be replaced by a substitute. The penalized skater will begin serving his penalty time when one of the skaters in the penalty box returns to the track. At such time, the substitute will return to the bench.


A. If any player accumulates a total of eight (8) minutes in penalties during one game he or she is automatically ruled out of the game and his or her substitute will spend the time of the last penalty in the penalty box.


A. There can be no tie games. If at the end of the eighth period the score is tied, the game will go into overtime in the following manner:

  1. The women and men will alternate five-minute skating periods until a point is scored. The team scoring first point will be declared the winner.


A. Points are scored as follows:

  1. A jammer receives one point for every member of the opposing team he or she passes, every time he or she laps the field within 60 seconds.

B. If a blocker commits a foul on a jam skater, the jam skater will be awarded the point that he or she is attempting to score. If, in the opinion of an official, there is deliberate penalty against a jamming skater to prevent that skater from scoring, and this jam would determine the games' outcome, the official may award up to five points on the jam. The determining factor would be the score differential at the time of the jam. The injured team's score could not be raised higher than the fouling opponent.

C. A skater forced into the infield may not better the position he was in when he left the track.

D. A skater receiving a penalty becomes ineligible to either score or be scored on.

E. A fouled skater cannot be passed for a point unless he or she has had sufficient time to recover from the foul.

F. No jam can be considered a legal jam with more than five skaters on the track from each team.

G. A skater with skate trouble cannot be passed for a point.


On any disputed point that is not clearly spelled out in these rules, a consensus of the referees will have the final decision.

Special jams

Any jam starting on the 4th or 8th period with less than 60 seconds remaining will run until 60 seconds have elapsed or until called off.

Rule 7 - blocking

A. A player may block an opponent with any part of his or her body with the following exceptions:

  1. It is illegal to use any part of the arm below the elbow.
  2. It is illegal for a skater to block with his feet or trip an opponent.
  3. In using arms for blocking purposes, the arm must be Bent, not extended full length.
  4. It is illegal to block from the rear.

B. Elbows may be used in blocking, but not in the following manner:

  1. A skater is not permitted to use an elbow block above the shoulders.
  2. A skater is not permitted to use an elbow with an upward or downward motion.

C. In setting up a double block, it is illegal for the defensive skaters to grip hands or lock arms. Both blockers may receive a penalty at the discretion of the officials.

D. Other forms of illegal blocking may be called at the discretion of the officials.

E. No defensive skater will be permitted to drop back more than a distance of twenty (20) feet behind the pack to block a jammer. A two-minute (minor) penalty may be called by the official.

F. All skating must be in a counter-clockwise direction.


This is not in the rules, but is described in the book on pg. 20 as follows:

A regulation track is an oval that fits into a fifty-by-ninety-feet rectangular space. It is 310 feet in circumference, but sections may be easily removed from the straightaway, like leaves from a dining-room table, so that sometimes, on a compressed track, the best skaters can manage is three strides.

It's impossible to create a 310-foot circumference in a 50x90-foot space. Even if the turns were 90-degree angles following the outside edge of the space, the outer circumference would be only 280 feet. With perfect-circle halves for the turns, the circumference would be 237 feet.