About Roller Derby

Roller Derby history

Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction (counter-clockwise) around a track. Game play consists of a series of short match ups (jams) in which both teams designate a jammer (with the star on their helmet) who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to hinder the opposing jammer while assisting their own jammer—in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneously. Roller derby is played by approximately 1,250 amateur leagues worldwide, nearly half of them outside the United States. There are 12 Dutch leagues.

The sport of roller derby was first conceived in the 1930s, and was played on a banked track and was popular in the United States until it fizzled out in the 1970s.

The sport also owes a lot to the Black American skate culture that propelled the popularity of quad skates continuously through the decades, developing subcultures of skatebowls and skatedance resisting mainstream skate culture that was pushing quads out of the sport and segregating these spaces.

In the early 2000s, modern women’s roller derby got its start in Austin, Texas. Starting with the Texas Rollergirls, flat track roller derby leagues began forming as businesses run by the athletes themselves. The flat track version of the sport spread like wildfire in subsequent years, as the ability to mark track boundaries on a skating rink floor or other venues, rather than building and storing a large banked track, made it possible to play the game just about anywhere. Today, several hundred leagues exist all over the world.

While the original version of the sport eventually became more of a spectacle with fights and other staged theatrics, today’s roller derby is a legitimate sport played by true athletes.

Check out this video from WFTDA to visualise how the sport is played!


The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) is the international governing body for the sport of womxn’s flat track roller derby and a membership organization for leagues to collaborate and network. The WFTDA sets standards for rules, seasons, and safety, and determines guidelines for the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues. With more than 400 affiliated members worldwide, WFTDA is the largest roller derby organization in the world.

The governing philosophy of the WFTDA is “by the skaters, for the skaters.” Skaters are primary owners, managers, and/or operators of each member league and of the association itself. Operational tasks include setting standards for rules, seasons, and safety, and determining guidelines for the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues. The WFTDA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and is governed by a seven-member, volunteer Board of Directors.

Amsterdam Roller Derby is proud to have two league members pushing their dedication to the sport by volunteering on the Board of Directors.

Links to sister leagues in The Netherlands

Derby links