Q: What does a roller derby fan need to know about Roller Derby Coalition of Leagues (RDCL) to be sure we all know the basics?
A: Modern banked track roller derby is much different than the theatrical version of years past. Prior to the resurgence of roller derby in the early 2000’s, roller derby was scripted entertainment. It was not much different than the WWE; where anything goes. Today’s roller derby has rules and regulations, and is very much a legitimate sport. Banked track roller derby is governed by the RDCL (Roller Derby Coalition of Leagues). Here are some of the basic penalties of banked track roller derby from the current RDCL rule set (V3.1).
The first thing to know is what part of your body can legally be targeted (figure 1.1), and what part of your body you can legally block with (Figure 1.2).
Figure 1.1-Target Zone Diagram – Shaded areas on the body are legal targets for a block or hit.
Figure 1.2-Blocking Zone Diagram – Shaded areas on the body that can legally be used to initiate a block.
Diagrams Courtesy of Busta Armov
The target zones (figure 1.1) are the areas that a skater can legally target, meaning a skater can block or hit you in this area. This area is basically from the top of the knee pad up to the bottom of the neck, not including the area “between the bra straps” on the back.
The blocking zones (figure 1.2) are the areas that a skater can legally block with. This area is basically the entire torso from the top of the knee pad to the bottom of the neck, and excludes the arms from the top of the elbow pad down.
These blocking and target zones bring up some of the most common penalties. These penalties are Arms, Back Block, Above the Shoulders, and Low Block. “Arms” is called when a skater uses their arm, from the top of the elbow pad down, to slow or knock down an opponent. “Arms” is noted on the penalty tracker as “A”. “Back Block” is called when a skater hits an opponent from behind, “between the bra straps,” and causes the opponent to fall or lose their position. “Back Block” is noted on the penalty tracker as “B”. “Above the Shoulders” is when a skater makes contact to an opponent’s head or neck area. This penalty is called even if the contact was a slight touch. “Above the Shoulders” is noted on the penalty tracker as “AS”. “Low Block” is called when a skater blocks an opponent below the top of the knee pad and causes the opponent to fall or change their speed drastically. There are two exceptions, if you fall small and an opponent trips over you or if it occurs during your normal skating stride these are not “Low Block”. “Low Block” is noted on the penalty tracker as “L”. These are just a few rules, but are the most common.
When a skater is called for a penalty the penalized skater will remain on the track for the remainder of the jam. Once the jam is complete the penalized skater(s) must report to the penalty box and they are not eligible to skate in the next jam. An exception to this is when more than two blockers from the same team receive penalties in the same jam. In this instance, the first two blockers to receive penalties will sit in the box for the next jam, and the other blocker(s) is a “must skate”. A “must skate” is just as it sounds, the skater must skate the next jam and then report to the box the following jam. Each team will skate the jam short by the number of people in their penalty box.
These rules are meant for you to have a basic understanding of some of the common penalties. There are also a lot of other penalties, rules and best practices. The complete rules are far more in depth and are available online at www.therdcl.com.
Contributing Writers: The Dude
Photo: Tristan King