Roller derby glossary: D

Getting to grips with roller derby vocabulary, one letter at a time.

Defence (or defense to our American friends) 

The primary job of the blockers, i.e. stopping the opposing jammer from getting past. You may even see the jammer doing defence as ‘fifth blocker’, on occasion. Check out some great examples of defence gif-ified over on You Should Be Watching More Roller Derby Footage. Also, here’s a neat article on defence strategy during a power jam.

Designated Alternate

From the WFTDA rule set:

“The Captain selects an additional person to act in their stead; this person is the Designated Alternate. The Designated Alternate may be a teammate, coach, or manager. They must be one of the 16 individuals described in Section 1.2.4. A team may only have one Designated Alternate.”


A designated alternate…

  • can signal  for a timeout
  • can conference with the Hed Referee during an Official Review
  • must visibly display an “A” on their clothing, uniform, or arm


‘Down’ has a specific meaning within the context of roller derby. From the WFTDA rule set:

“Skaters are considered down if they have fallen, been knocked to the ground, have either or both knees on the ground, or have both hands on the ground. After going down or falling, a Skater is considered down until the Skater is standing, stepping, and/or skating. Stationary standing Skaters are not considered down, nor are Skaters who are falling but have not yet met the above criteria.”


Downed Skaters…

  • cannot undertake a legal star pass
  • cannot engage, or be engaged
  • returning to the track are subject to Low Blocking penalties even on the first instance, even if the downed Skater has fallen small
  • may legally be assisted by a Skater who is stopped or counter-clockwise stepping/skating

Image credit: kinfung man, Flickr CC

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