In roller derby, jammers are the players who score points by passing opponents. But blockers do much of the dirty work and also get to deliver the big hits and crunching blocks that fans love to see. Roller derby is very much a contact sport and players use all types of blocks to knock down their opponents and clear a path for their jammers to score big tallies during a jam.
Legal Blocking Zones and Targets
Blockers are only allowed to target certain areas of an opponent when making a block including the arms and hands, chest, front and side torso, hips and the leg above the mid-thigh. Blockers are not to make contact with the head, back or lower leg of an opponent. The parts of the body that the blocker uses are also restricted to the upper arm, torso, hips and rear and the upper to mid-thigh. A block is illegal if it is made with the elbows, forearms, hands or head.
The act of positioning blocking does not involve making contact with your opponent. Instead, it involves forcing an opposing player to lose their momentum or take evasive action by moving in front of them on the track and slowing down. A positional block can help to slow down an opposing team’s jammer so that your teammate can more easily hit them with a crunching block. Positional blocking may also be unintentional if you aren’t aware that a player – either an opponent or your teammate – is skating behind you. Getting into a wide plough stance can keep opponents from passing you and might draw a foul on them for blocking.
Also known as J-blocks, shoulder blocks are one of the most powerful blocks in roller derby. They involve hitting an opponent’s chest with your shoulder. It’s done by getting skating in front of an opposing player, crouching and then uncoiling with an upward trajectory into the other skater’s chest. The power in a shoulder block comes from the coiling and uncoiling of your body as you crouch and exploding toward your opponent rather than from swinging your upper body.
As in ice hockey, hip checks occur when you skate alongside an opposing player and bump into her hips or mid-thigh with your hips. Hitting an opposing player on the inside part of the leg farthest away from you is an effective technique to knock her off-balance.
A C-block is delivered when you are skating parallel to your opponent. You initiate a C-block by getting just ahead of your opponent and then turning your skates quickly toward her while driving your shoulder or upper arm into her chest. This is called a C-block because the pattern of skating used resembles the letter “C.”
- Roller Derby Disorder: Fishnet Burnns – A Guide to Effective Blocking
- Roller Derby Dictionary: The Dictionary
- Roller Derby UK: Roller Derby Tips – Positional Blocking
- World Flat Track Derby Association: WFTDA Rules May 26, 2010 – Section 5 – Blocking
- Silicon Valley Roller Girls Roller Derby Blog: Roller Derby – A Glossary
Richard Manfredi has more than a decade of professional writing experience, both in the media and at a corporate level. Since 2003, he has worked in the public relations industry, creating and executing campaigns for technology and entertainment companies. Manfredi is also a journalist who has worked for the "Orange County Register," as well as several online publications.