Thursday, July 10, 2014

Officials' Review: The Inaugural Post

Welcome to Officials’ Review, POD’s bimonthly column covering general rules discussion and Skating and Non-Skating Officials training. Our goal is to start conversations among skaters, fans, and our fellow officials about how how we can all help make derby happen.

For our inaugural post, we are going to start with the basics, the Ref and NSO positions.

Roller Derby’s Skating Officials, or Referees, can easily be identified on the track by their black and white striped shirts and their bizarre hand signals (more on those another time). During a game, their main responsibility is to assign Penalties for illegal and unsafe actions.

On the Inside

  • The Rear Inside Pack Ref defines the pack and determines when skaters are Out of Play, which affects blocking and scoring.
  • The two Jammer Refs each focus on one Jammer, reporting points scored to their Score Keeper.
  • The Front Inside Pack Ref helps to define the pack and assess when skaters are Out of Play.

On the Outside

  • There are three Outside Pack Refs who rotate around the track watching for Penalties and being the Jammer Refs’ extra sets of eyes for points.

Unlike the Refs, Non Skating Officials, or NSOs, are a bit harder to pick out of the crowd, but that’s kind of the idea. Depending on the game NSOs can be found wearing bright pink (WFTDA) or blue (MRDA). POD’s NSOs wear all black for added stealth. The NSOs are responsible for keeping the official Time and Stats of the game, all while hopefully having little impact on the game itself or the fans’ viewing experience.

On the Inside

  • The Jam Timer signals the start start and end of the jams, as well as maintaining the time for the period and timeouts.
  • The Penalty Wrangler relays penalties, called by the Refs, to the Penalty Tracker.
  • The Penalty Tracker keeps the official record of the penalties, relays them to the Inside Whiteboard Official, and notifies the Refs when a skater is close to Fouling Out of the game.
  • The Inside Whiteboard Official maintains a record of penalties, which should be visible to the teams, and helps to keep track of skaters’ trips to the Penalty Box.

On the Outside

  • The Penalty Box Manager times and releases the Jammers, maintains a cue if all penalty box seats are taken, and oversees communication between the Penalty Box and other officials.
  • Two Penalty Box Timers time and release the Pivots and Blockers, while keeping a record of all skaters’ trips to the Penalty Box.
  • The two Lineup Trackers document the skaters participating in each jam, and keep track of when skaters enter/exit the Penalty Box.
  • There are two Scorekeepers, each paired with a Jammer Ref. They keep a record and running total of points, which they relay to the Scoreboard Operator.
  • The Scoreboard Operator updates the scoreboard (usually a program running on a computer) with points from the Scorekeepers and adjustments to the period time from the Jam Timer.

These descriptions just highlight the basic functions of the Ref and NSO positions. In our upcoming posts we will dig deeper into what the officials do and we’ll nerd out on rules! We’re going to try to give a variety of perspectives, as well, from NSOs’ to Refs’ to Skaters’ takes on different aspects of everything behind the scenes that makes derby actually work.

If you are fan of zebra print and/or clipboards and want to get involved in the derby world e-mail us at:

See you next time!

Duck N. Shover - POD’s Head of Officials & Interleague Liaison

-Nikki Tesla #134

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