Category: Rules Corner

Rules Corner: Direction of Game Play Penalties

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) develops and publishes the rules of Flat Track Roller Derby in Française, Español, and Deutche. Please visit the entire 2019 Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby.

This month we will discuss the direction of gameplay penalty, which is outlined in the WFTDA rules section 4 “Penalties.” Specifically, rule 4.1.3 “Other Illegal contact,” which states “Initiating a block is legal when a skater is moving counter-clockwise, in play, upright, and in bounds during a jam using legal contact zones…accordingly, skaters cannot initiate a block while down, out of bounds, out of play, airborne, stopped, or skating clockwise.”

When a referee calls a direction of gameplay penalty, the referee will blow one whistle tweet and speak in a loud clear voice stating: 1. team color, 2. skater number, and 3. what the penalty is. Here is the hand-signal for the direction of gameplay penalty.

We hope to make rules discussions less dry by offering skater essays on their personal learning experiences with the rules of derby. Our skater Bad JewJew (# 81) will cover skating clockwise vs. counter-clockwise in her discussion below.

Ah, the directional penalty. It seems like a straight forward, no confusion type of rule: skate derby direction (counter-clockwise on the track). The truth is, the rule can be a bit more complicated to new derby skaters in practice. Skaters must fight the instinct to drive the opposing skater/jammer backwards while skating inside the track.

A helpful visualization for me is I imagine a 360 degree circle around my body. In the circle, there is a line positioned where my skates are on the track (diameter of the circle). The 180 degrees in front of me is a legal hit and block zone. The 180 degrees behind me is a NO HIT zone, which means I cannot engage, block, hit or assist in this NO HIT zone. The illustration below shows the hit zones (in green) and the no hit zones (in red).

A skater is permitted to stop and/or skate clockwise on the track, but If a skater does skate in non-derby direction, that skater must be careful not engage an opposing skater moving in derby direction on the track.

Hopefully, gaining a better understanding of the how the directional penalties work will ideally help you have fewer of them called on you. At least, that is my hope for myself!

Rules Corner: Blocking Zones

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) develops and publishes the rules of Flat Track Roller Derby in Française, Español, and Deutche. Please visit the entire 2019 Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby.

This month we will discuss impact with an illegal blocking zone, which are outlined in the WFTDA rules section 4.1.2.

The illegal blocking zones on a skater include: 1. head (top of head down to the collarbone), 2. Forearm (from the point of the elbow to the fingertips), 3. Legs (from below mid-thigh to the wheels of the skate.

If a skater makes contact with another skater using a forearm or parts of the legs, the referee will need to assess if the contact was sufficient impact to warrant a penalty. Sufficient impact is defined as contact that puts an opponent skater significantly off balance, or significantly alters their trajectory or speed. Because safety is important in roller derby, if the referee sees forceful contact initiated with the head or neck, intentional use of the head or neck to positionally block, the referee will issue a penalty regardless of impact. Same with a skater forcefully jabbing with elbows or strikes with the knees.

If the contact was sufficient to warrant a penalty, the referee will blow one whistle tweet and speak in a loud clear voice stating: 1. team color, 2. skater number, 3. what the penalty is. Examples of penalties and the ref hand signals:

Head Block (H)

Forearm (F)

Leg Block (E)

Next month we will review cutting the track, multiplayer block, and illegal contact.

Rules Corner: Contact Penalties

This month we will discuss contact penalties, which are outlined in the WFTDA rules section 4.1. The illegal target zones include a skaters back of the body, head, and below mid-thigh of the legs.

If a skater makes contact with another skaters illegal target zone, a referee will blow one whistle tweet and speak in a loud clear voice stating: 1. team color, 2. skater number, 3. what the penalty is.

Examples of penalties and the ref hand signals:

Back Block (B)

High Block (A)

Low Block (L)

There are times when a skater hits an illegal target zone of another skater and does not receive a penalty. According to Rule 4.1.1, “A skater suddenly presenting an illegal target zone to an opponent, giving that opponent no reasonable opportunity to avoid illegal contact, is considered to be initiating with that target zone.” Situation on the track: Red Team blocker skates into an opposing blocker (Black Team). Black Team blocker is moving on the track in the legal direction. Red Team blocker is skating backwards, but flips around at the last second. The Black Team blocker is unable to stop in time, and slams into the Red Team blockers back. This would normally be a back block, but since the Red Team Blocker presented the illegal target zone just before impact, the back block penalty would not be given.

Images of referee hand signals are available online through WFTDA Officiating Cues, Codes, and Signals (Updated December 2018).