Pivot, blocker and jammer: learn how to spot these roller derby positions, what they mean and specifically what a pivot does.
Roller derby teams designate a pivot who will line up in the front of the pack. She is identified with a striped helmet cover. A team consists of 5 players: 1 pivot, 3 blockers and 1 jammer. One pivot from each team will stand on the pivot line up front and then the 2 blockers from each team, then the remaining blockers. The jammers start 20 feet behind the pack.
Once the whistle blows, the pack takes off. The jammers wait until the second whistle blow. The referee will start the jammers once the rear of the pack reaches the pivot line.
What does a Pivot Do?
The pivot sets the pace for the pack. She needs to be aware of all that is going on behind her at all times, especially where the opposing team's jammer is in the pack. The pivot is the last line of defense. When the opposing team jammer gets to her, she will try to knock her out of bounds or impede her progress in some way, while at the same time continuing to control the speed of the pack and watching for her jammer to come through.
The pivot can make the decision to speed up her blockers. This can make it harder for the other team's jammer to catch up before the clock runs out. She can also choose to slow the pack down in order for her jammer to catch up.
A pivot can also reach back and whip her jammer through as well as offer a strong push from behind so that her jammer can really gain momentum.
Pivots need to have eyes in the back of their head, an owl like neck and ability to multitask. Seriously, the pivot is an important position that requires someone with an excellent grasp of the rules of derby. She needs to understand all the inner workings of how her team can score a point and the ability to speed up and slow down the pack in order to facilitate her jammer.
A pivot is a leadership position. She is not only in charge of the speed of the pack, but since she is the last defender, has the pressure of keeping the jammer from crossing in front of her.
The pivot needs to stay focused and not speed up in order to keep the jammer from passing without the full consent from her blockers. Once the pivot is 20 feet ahead of the pack, she is called out of bounds.
Pivots, like all positions in derby, need to have a strong core. The ability to whip a jammer while skating and keeping pace requires extreme balance and control.
Passing the Star
The pivot has a unique role in that she can also become the jammer in the middle of a jam. Her jammer can pass her helmet cover to her own pivot as a strategic move.
A tired jammer can pass the star to the pivot and allow her to carry on as the point scoring skater for the remainder of the two minute jam. It is important to remember that a lead jammer cannot take advantage of this rule. Lead jammers do have the power to call the jam off if necessary or if it makes sense strategically.