Category: Rules Corner

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).


Welcome to RMRG’s Rules Corner. Here we will discuss roller derby rules outlined by the Woman’s Flat Track Derby Association WFTDA). WFTDA is the international governing body of woman’s flat track roller derby.

Today we discus Skater Positions: Descriptions of skater positions is covered on

WFTDA Rules: “For each Jam, a team must field one Jammer, and at most four Blockers. One of these Blockers may be designated as the Pivot Blocker. The Pivot…is denoted as the Skater in possession of the Pivot helmet cover (a.k.a. the Stripe) at the Jam-Starting Whistle. The Pivot wearing the Stripe with the stripe showing has several additional abilities that other Blockers do not.”

One additional ability is the Pivot has the ability to become their own team’s jammer. This is called “The Star Pass.” Let’s discuss the Star Pass by outlining what could happen at a game, Team Red vs. Team Black. If the Team Red Jammer is having trouble making it through Team Black’s Blockers, then the Red Team Jammer may take off the Jammer helmet panty (a.k.a. the Star) and pass it to the Pivot. Once the Pivot gets within arms length distance to grab the Star, the Jammer can choose to take the Star off and either hand it to the Pivot, or fake a pass to the Pivot while maneuvering around Team Black’s blockers to successfully escape the pack.