There are more blockers on the track during a jam than any other position. Learn what role the blocker plays for the team and how to spot a blocker when watching a bout.
A roller derby team is only as good as its blockers. There are 5 players from each team on the track; 1 pivot, 3 blockers and 1 jammer. There are no special helmet covers or markings for the blockers.
The blockers line up behind the pivot, 2 from each team alternated in a line and then the remaining blocker stands next to their opponent in the back of the pack. This position is appropriately called rear blocker.
The referee blows one whistle and the pack takes off. The jammers wait until the second whistle is blown. The referee needs to wait until the rear blockers cross the pivot line before starting the jammers.
What Does a Blocker Do?
Blockers are strong defenders. They need to prevent the opposing jammer from passing them and scoring. Blockers also play offense. They are trying to make room for their jammer to skate through the pack. They can push into the other team's blockers making a spot for their jammer to squeeze through.
Legal moves include direct physical contact of shoulders and hips, arms and elbows must stay stationary at all times. The punching and grabbing seen in roller derby bouts of the past are no longer allowed. Although, these illegal moves do occur and that is why there are referees who skate around the track with the teams to watch for foul play. In the WFTDA handbook, there are pages of illegal moves that will cause a penalty. A blocker must know how to successfully block without racking up the penalties.
A effective move blockers use involves them working together; they line up tightly, creating a wall that is difficult for the opposing jammer to get through. Giving the jammer no where to go they are able to stop her point scoring ability.
At the same time, blockers must help their own jammer advance through the pack. Jammers can push their own blockers into the opponent, or be pushed by their own blocker. After making a space for the jammer, a blocker can whip them through.
Characteristics of a Blocker
Blockers are the need to play both defense and offense simultaneously. These are the skaters that can create a wall and are not afraid of extreme hitting action. They need to be able to recover quickly from any hit and jump back into play immediately.
Blockers must know the rules as to what constitutes a legal block and what the rules are regarding being knocked out of bounds.
A blocker, like the other positions in derby, needs to have a strong core and center of balance. The harder it is to knock a blocker over or out of bounds the better. Strong players who can create a formidable wall with their teammates are desired. Team work and the ability to think both offensively and defensively at all times is of utmost importance.
WFTDA Rule Book