Banked Track vs Flat Track Roller Derby

Posted on November 3, 2011 by


I saw my first banked track roller derby game in San Diego in September.


At the time, the most striking difference I noticed was the referee hand signals. I pissed myself laughing over one that involved the refs standing there and continuously swiping a flat hand across their head from back to front.

Recently, I read an article about the differences between flat track roller derby and banked track roller derby and realised there was a lot I had missed. For starters, apparently the jams were only 60 seconds long (not sure how I missed that fairly important fact!).


Secondly, if a skater incurs a major penalty, she skates on and does her time during the next jam. WindyMan points out that this means jammers will go hell for leather to get through the pack as the penalties they incur will not affect their lead jammer status (in flat track, if a jammer incurs a minor penalty on the way through the pack she can’t be lead jammer; if she incurs a major, she’s sent off).

Intrigued, I decided to investigate this more. I found another site that informed me that in banked track derby, whichever jammer is in front is the lead jammer so each time a jammer overtakes the other jammer, she becomes lead jammer (in flat track derby the jammer to get out the pack first is the lead jammer; she retains this status even if the other jammer then overtakes her).


Auntie Social reckons the lead jammer rule and the penalty-during-the-next-jam rule make banked track derby the superior game as they make it easier for the audience to understand and they “just make sense”. She goes on to say that banked track roller derby is the future.

It’s an interesting point really. I mean, some might say that banked track roller derby is the past. Sure, it’s faster and more violent than flat track derby. But it literally came before flat track derby. It could be argued that flat track is the next stage of derby evolution – from spectacle and violence to a true sport with sophisticated strategy. What do you think?

Posted in: LimboLand