Hell on Wheels - Roller Girls

Published: 05 January, 2012 - Featured in Skin Deep 207, January, 2012

With Tattoo Freeze right upon us, we’re looking forward to some more carnage from the Roller Derby we host each year. To help us all look forward to girls getting rough with each other, we proudly present a fantastic photo shoot we knocked up recently with Strasbourg’s Hell’s Ass Derby Girls… bring it!

Rules & History

Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Gameplay consists of a series of short matchups (‘jams’) in which both teams designate a scoring player (the ‘jammer’) who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer — in effect playing both offense and defence simultaneously. Roller derby is played by more than 1,000 amateur leagues across every inhabited continent.

While the sport has its origins in the banked-track roller skating marathons of the 1930s, professional roller derby quickly became popular; in 1940 more than five million spectators watched bouts in 50 US cities. In the ensuing decades, however, it predominantly became a form of sports entertainment where the theatrical elements overshadowed the athleticism. This gratuitous showmanship largely ended with the sport’s contemporary grassroots revival in the first decade of the 21st century. Although some sports entertainment qualities, such as player pseudonyms and colourful uniforms were retained, scripted bouts with predetermined winners were abandoned.


A motion administered by one player to help another player (usually the jammer) gain advantage. An assist can include pushing, pulling, redirecting, or whipping another skater.


A skater whose job is to stop or block the other team’s jammer from passing while also enabling her own team’s jammer to score. Typically, there are four blockers per team on the track, including the pivot. The remaining blocker positions are often referred to by number: two, three, and four, usually with the pivot at the front and the four at the back.


One roller derby ‘game’ or ‘match’, which lasts 60 minutes and, per WFTDA 4.0, is divided into two 30-minute periods.

Fresh Meat

New recruits…

Hip Whip

A form of assist in which a player (usually the jammer) grabs her teammate’s hips to swing herself forward.


When a skater makes forceful contact with another skater.

Hot Lap

Used in drills or practice – a lap skated as quickly as possible, either until the original starting point or until the skater catches up with the pack or pace line she departed.


A two-minute period during which the action happens. The jam may last less than two minutes if the lead jammer decides to call off the jam. There may be any number of jams in a bout.


The skater on the track who can score points. The jammer is identifiable by the star on her helmet. The jammer starts each jam behind the pack. After she has lapped the pack once (known as a nonscoring pass), she is eligible to score points for each subsequent skater she laps.


A nonskating official. The NSO helps with various referee duties during the outs, including penalty tracking, timing the penalty box, keeping track of points, and collecting data for later statistical analysis.


The mass of blockers from both teams skating around the track together. Each jammer’s goal is to get through or around the pack.


The symbol on a helmet panty that indicates the jammer.

Source : Silicon valley rollergirls’ blog


Text: Hell's Ass Derby Girls, Strasbourg; Photography: P-Mod