bean dip photo

Teaching Derby as a Foreign Language

Roller Derby Jargon

When you first start your journey into the world of Roller Derby, after you've stared wide-eyed at the badasses on track looking fierce and resolved to become ONE OF THEM. OH YES. You (if you're me) go home and Google the hell outta everything. What becomes apparent within the first femtosecond online is that it's an entirely different language. Sure, I can get by in several different languages, pointing and gesturing also works in a pinch, but in the Derbyverse, that just ain't gonna cut it. And with that in mind, I have compiled an entirely non-comprehensive glossary of all the terms one would expect to find in and around the world of roller derby. So if you don't know your plow stop from your can opener, and you think a bean dip might be served at the after party, read on!

Skating 27 laps around the track in under 5 minutes (part of the minimum skills requirements).
Skating in a clockwise direction around the track.
A counter move to a drive where the targeted skater crouches and turns their back to the initiator, an illegal target zone.
The metal circly things inside wheels that make the wheels spin. They can be removed and cleaned (as if!) Often they make noises so you learn who your teamies are by their squeaks.
A non-skater in the area with skaters at a game. They tell the team what plays to use and use a LOT of hand signals.
Board of Directors. At OWG this is the Chair, Secretary, Finance Director, Game Director HR Director and Coaching Director. They are the steering committee for the team.
A game between two teams.. Each game is made of two thirty minute halves made up of individual jams.
Part of the pack, a positional player. There are four allowed per team in each jam.
To hit opposing skaters in order to stop the opposing team's jammer, or help your own through the pack.
Areas of the body that may be used to hit an opponent when performing a block.
A day-long course held by various leagues which offers specific coaching or training.
When a blocker skates to the edge of proximity to create a "bridge" and extend the pack an extra 10 feet, so that the jammer can be hit for another 20 feet. This part of the rules gets tricky.
The lead jammer can end a jam early by tapping their hips with their hands to signal to the referees. This is commonly spoken of as "calling it".
A block where the blocker is side by side with the target. The Blocker drops low and throws their shoulder into the target's chest area (preferable sternum) throwing them backwards. Satisfying but painful.
Championship-level games. Non-specific term. Mainly refers to the British Roller Derby Championships, which cover many female and male leagues in the UK.
The first game for a freshly mins-passed skater. Or a game specifically held for newly mins-passed skaters.
OWG-specific term for skaters who have mastered sufficient skating skills to be able to learn hitting and other contact skills on the track.
Skating in an oval is more efficient and faster if you cross one leg over the other to give you acceleration around a corner. CrossUNDER is a more accurate description of the movement!
The squishy things on trucks that act as suspension and help turn the skater body weight movement into skate direction. Basic skates have very hard cushions, softer cushions give more flexibility. Very cheap initial skate upgrade for a new skater.
When a player goes off the track, regardless of how, they may not gain any positional advantage on their return to the track (i.e. if they were behind you, they have to come back on behind you).
Roller Derby is played in an anticlockwise direction around an oval track.
The name derby players skate under. Often a pun or play on words. Not obligatory.
The ideal body position - bum low, back straight, popping a squat on skates. Makes a skater MUCH less likely to fall over. Will hurt the thighs to start with, but gets easier.
To stop when skating by performing a transition and putting your toe stop/s down as a brake. Also known as a tomahawk.
To use your momentum and your body to force an opposing player to go where you want (without hitting them).
When blockers get lower and push the sides of their bodies together to brace for impact from an opposing skater behind. Like when lifts doors close on you.
This references the hardness of your wheels.
When the pack catches up with and swallows the jammer after they have left the engagement zone. This force the jammer to fight through the pack again.
The edge of your wheels that can be used to redirect direction quickly. By balancing on edges, skaters can quickly redirect their motion.
The zone in which skaters may legally hit each other. The legal Engagement Zone extends from 20 feet behind the rearmost pack member to 20 feet in front of the foremost pack member. Jammers may engage each other outside of the Engagement Zone.
Falling with the arms and legs controlled, tucked in to the body, and not flailing.
When a skater gets 7 penalties in the course of a game, they have "fouled out" and are removed from play.
The term for a new skater.
Compression sleeves for your knees that fit comfortably under knee pads and provide extra padding.
A goat is a player held behind a wall of blockers with the effect of controlling the pack speed.
Using a legal part of your body to hit an opponent to move them where you want them to go. This can be with the hips, or shoulder.
A skater is in bounds as long as all parts of the skater's body and equipment that are in contact with the ground are within or on the track boundary.
The area in the centre of the track. This is where 4 of the 7 refs are, 4 NSOs and where the officials keep their snacks.
The first pass of the jammers through the pack; no points are awarded on this pass.
2 minute races between packs and jammers to score points.
The designated line on the track that the jammers must start on or behind. It is 30 feet behind the Pivot Line.
Point scorers for the pack. Each team is allowed one designated jammer per jam. Jammers are designated by stars on their helmet.
A drill which focuses on the first few seconds after the first whistle, centred around the jam line.
Juking is the act of feinting and dodging to try and send a blocker in one direction while you go the other.
When a skater uses their momentum to hop across the inside corner of the track.
Lanes are imaginary lines that split the track into 4 different ovals. Establishing lanes helps blockers to communicate where the jammer is and where they want to be.
Status awarded to the first jammer to complete their initial pass of the pack without any penalties awarded, and without having gone out of bounds before reaching the pack. It gives the tactical advantage of being able to "call off" the jam.
A non-skater in the area with skaters at a game. Tells players who is going out each jam, keeps hold of the panties. Often has a clipboard.
The basic skating and contact skills that a skater must perform competently and consistently to be "passed" and therefore allowed to safely play in games. The skills are set out by the WFTDA and assessed by the coaching team.
When blockers are spread out and not skating together in a group.
Skaters who have passed their minimum skills assessment and can play for OWG and other, mixed-skater teams. Can be identified by their non-white tops, and tape-covered STINKY pads.
OWG-Specific, newer skaters or skaters returning from injury participate in training but do not do contact (hitting) drills. They are still learning skating skills and often work together in a separate group. Can be identified by their white tops and non-stinky pads.
Non Skating Official. These assist the referees, time the game, track the scores and penalties and time the players serving penalties. They are given superpowers by Haribo and cake.
Normally refers to the marker numbers written on a skater's arm to identify them to the refs and NSOs in a game. The also wear numbers on the back of their shirts.
Skates - Designated time after Sunday practice to do cross training/rules/team building exercises.
A practice drill where skaters are in a line and keep a steady pace.
Where the "action of derby" takes place. The pack is defined as the largest number of skaters from BOTH TEAMS on the track.
Skaters are required to wear protective gear: helmet, elbow and knee pads, wrist guards and a mouthguard.
The vile smell from unwashed protective gear. Often caused by leaving your kit in your kit bag between practices.
The fabric helmet covers worn by the pivot (with the stripe) and the jammer (with the star) which allow those players to be easily identified during each jam.
The punishment meted out for infringement of the game rules and results in 30s in the penalty box. There are MANY types of penalty.
The area where skaters must serve time for committing fouls.
OWG NSOs (see TeamPigeon).
The skater in the pack who wears the stripe on their helmet.
The line behind which all blockers must start. It is 30 feet in front of the jam line.
The plastic/metal part of the skate which is bolted to the boot and holds the trucks and axles and wheels.
The most commonly used method of stopping in roller derby.
Blocking without contact, positioning yourself in front of an opposing skater to impede their movement on the track.
The opposing jammer is not present on the track (out of bounds, penalty box, etc) The team that has their jammer present is on a power jam, having the ability to score points without the opposing team also scoring points.
Any skater who has not yet passed their Minimum Skills requirements.
Skating backwards (see Anti-Derby) to make an out of bounds player return to the track behind you. Tiring and dastardly, this tactic is common, especially on a jammer.
A practice of gameplay or "friendly" non-ranking game between teams. Normally abbreviated to scrim.
A shoulder check from behind to the outside of the shoulder of an opponent made with the upper arm/shoulder.
Common slogan outlining the basics of being a Roller Derby player.
A handheld tool for basic skate maintenance.
A vinyl or leather cover that goes over the toe of a skate that protects the boot and the floor from scuffs and abrasions.
The star panty can be taken off the jammer's head ONLY by the jammer themselves, and passed to the pivot, who then becomes the jammer.
When the jammer removes their panty in order to camouflage themselves from the opposing blockers and thereby get through the pack more easily.
Skating with all 8 wheels on the floor, gaining momentum from driving your feet in and out with your thighs and bum. Also called lemons and skull crushers.
Monthly subscription payment to be part of the league.
Areas of the body on an opponent that a skater may hit when performing a block. Hitting areas other than these are illegal and may result in a penalty.
OWG's NSO crew, dressed in grey, who officiate at OWG and other roller derby events all over the UK.
The hardware on the front skate designed to act as a brake.
The act of being calm, professional and impartial as an official while a Roller Derby game is happening.
The act of turning 180 degrees whilst skating. Primarily done in 3 ways: stepping, pivoting or jumping.
The metal part of a skate which hold the axles and is the pivot point which transfers the skater's weight into directional movement.
A braking method in which one foot is placed behind the other skate and turned perpendicularly, and the wheels of the back skate are dragged.
the UK Roller Derby Association, the National Association for Roller Derby in the UK.
A group of blockers who form a barrier on the track to stop/impede the opposing jammer getting past. Walls can be: flat (skaters side by side across the track), cube (skaters in a circle which rolls to block the jammer), truck and trailer (one blocker behind, holding the hips of the blocker in front and using their hips/bum to get in the way of the jammer), Fat controller/brace (one skater skates backwards in front of a flat wall and directs the others/braces them with their arms).
The plastic things that define a skate, 4 per skate. There are MANY types and brands of wheel. This is a lengthy, lengthy topic.
Skaters sometimes find a teammate who they connect with and they look out for each other and support each other and become derby "wives".
Sometimes you may not win the game, but you can still win the after-party.
OWG non-skating assistants at the New Skater intake, to advise and assist the skaters and the coaching team.
Women's Flat Track Derby Association. The largest governing body of roller derby.
A referee. There are 7 per game, some on the infield, some around the outside of the track. They ensure we can play the game safely.They like cake, beer and hugs.