Rules with Skew (3) – of course you can score on downed blockers!

Misunderstanding: If a jammer skates past a blocker who is downed or has been hit out of bounds, they don’t score their point.

Demystified: Assuming the jammer is upright and in bounds, they do score. If the jammer themselves is down or out of bounds, that’s where you may then have a problem.

I hear this misunderstanding from trainee officials/players and more experienced players alike, so I’m pretty darn sure there are plenty of others, sitting in silence, holding onto some serious confusion about scoring in roller derby.

They’d be forgiven – roller derby scoring is nuanced and has a substantial amount of weirdness to get your head around (hence discussion about how we could simplify it). The resource links at the end of this post include Adam Smasher’s fab infographic on the sheer number of ways you can score a point in roller derby. (There are probably more than you think!)

This blog focuses on just two areas of scoring:

  1. When a jammer does/doesn’t score in situations that involve them going down.
  2. What is a “not on the track point” and what is not, and what makes the two different.

Scoring basics

The simplest way to score a point in roller derby is when the jammer’s hips pass the hips of an opposing blocker during a scoring trip, while that jammer is both upright and in bounds. Although the points themselves will not be signalled by the officials until the end of the scoring trip, this moment is when the point itself is scored. The rules referring to this can be found right here (for passes) and here (for points).

Remember – blockers are still scored on in this way even if that blocker themselves has been knocked down or out of bounds. If a jammer didn’t score on downed blockers when passing them – what would be the incentive for their own blockers to knock the opposition down/out?

A jammer falling past someone scores, and a jammer sliding past someone while already down doesn’t…

A jammer who is still in contact with the floor and falling but isn’t yet down is still considered upright, so they can still score. It’s a little more complex if they’re airborne. The consequence of this is that even if a jammer eventually goes down (or out) as a result of being propelled forward by a block/assist, they still score any points on skaters they pass before they do go down/out.

Conversely, if the jammer goes down, and “hips pass hips” while they’re on their knees, it’ll be a “no earned pass”. As long as the jammer hasn’t deliberately taken a knee (ie. through trying to avoid being blocked) or maintains a downed position when they could legally and safely recover, no penalty is to be issued, either.

But this doesn’t mean players can skate clockwise behind a downed jammer to conserve their point…

Sorry – skating clockwise behind a downed-but-in-bounds jammer won’t prevent them from scoring upon you. In fact, you’ll instantly give up your position and therefore your point (C2.2.2B, remembering passes equal points!). On more than one occasion I’ve watched several blockers attempt to “recycle” a skater a teammate has hit down but not out of bounds, skating clockwise past them and giving up each of their points in turn, before the jammer gets up and runs away. You don’t want to lose your point and position so easily.

“Not on the track” vs. not being on the track

The name of “not on the track” points (NOTT points) is confusing. You would reasonably expect them to be what they say on the tin – ie. a skater who isn’t physically in bounds on the track. But they’re not. A skater who is counted as a NOTT point could be physically on the track itself, and a skater who’s not in bounds is more than likely *not* a NOTT point. (And there’s too much “not” in that sentence for it not to be confusing!) So let’s try it this way:

Examples of skaters who would be classed as not on the track points:

  • skaters who are sat in the penalty box
  • skaters who are returning from the penalty box
  • skaters who have returned to the track from the penalty box after and behind the jammer (and who do not get ahead of the jammer before that jammer scores)
  • skaters who have removed themselves from play due to injury or to fix an equipment malfunction
  • skaters who never made it into the jam because they didn’t make it on track in time
  • skaters who have fouled out and aren’t returning to the jam
  • skaters who have committed a penalty but are still in the process of having the penalty assessed and leaving the track

What do these skaters have in common? They’re all not really considered part of active gameplay or to deny them being a NOTT point would prevent the jammer from being able to earn their point.

Examples of skaters who are “regular”, not-NOTT points:

  • a skater who is upright, on track, minding their own business
  • a skater hit out of bounds, then passed by an upright, in bounds jammer
  • a skater who is down, then passed by an upright in bounds jammer
  • a skater who returns from the penalty box onto the track far behind the engagement zone, and is then passed by the jammer
  • the last blocker on the track from their team who is told by officials to remain on the track, but has been issued a penalty (that they will serve later)
  • a skater returned from the penalty box behind the jammer, but who has got back ahead of the jammer before that jammer earned a pass on anyone else

When do we credit not on the track points?

The most useful visualisation of NOTT points is having them attached to the hip of the first opposition blocker the jammer earns a pass on. This means that if two NOTT points are up for grabs (e.g. one skater sat in the penalty box, another who’s just left) the jammer earns three points in one go – just for passing a single skater.

If the jammer has already scored a point in that scoring trip, and a skater they’ve yet to score on turns into a NOTT point (e.g. through committing a penalty), the jammer will be awarded that point immediately…most of the time. They don’t have to pass an additional blocker to do so. However, if they have removed their star or been penalised themselves, the jammer claims the points once they are wearing the star and/or have returned to the track legally.

In the rare situation where the jammer has no opportunity to earn a pass in the normal way to score those NOTT points, the rules state they can be credited the NOTT points. An example can be found in the casebook – C3.3.D.

And, no, we’ve not touched on jammers scoring on jammers because…

The interchange between jammer lap points and scoring a NOTT on the jammer deserves its own post, but it has also been covered ridiculously well by Smasher of Rules Colored Glasses. It’s this infographic/thought exercise I’ve used for my own trainees with great success, and if you’re feeling a little more confident about NOTT points, you should definitely check it out. The link’s at the bottom of the post.

Skew’s training ideas:

  1. I really like idea of thinking about “who is yet to be scored upon” in any given scoring trip, once more than one blocker has been scored on. It means you only need to think about two blocker numbers, plus the jammer, most of the time. Try thinking about this during drills where the jammer can be imagined to be on a scoring trip, and developing strategies for clearly identifying which blockers have/haven’t been passed. (more here – exercise 6)
  2. When it comes to precise scoring, positioning is key, which means good acceleration to keep with your jammer, speed control to slow down with your jammer and dynamic movements with your upper body when needed to lean and see everything you need to. You probably know if you always come into the pack far behind your jammer, are always chasing to keep up with them as they leave, or feel you have to slow down extra early to stop as quickly as they do. Identify which areas you need to work on, and work at applying them, practising in the infield area. Finding a skater buddy who wants to practice acceleration and stops during warm up or freeskate time can be mutually beneficial – you can partner up on this and position your self as if you are their jammer referee.
  3. What if you aren’t a jammer referee but you are a pack referee? Make sure you are proactively feeding information about NOTT points. Was the other jammer penalised before the JR’s jammer completed that scoring trip? Let the JR know. Was your whistle-less penalty call at the end of the jam for an action that occurred prior to its end? That skater is a NOTT point – let the JR know. If a skater is not returning to play because they’ve removed themselves from the jam, or been removed – let them know. It may be the jammer scored on these skaters already, or the JR has clocked what’s going on, but if they didn’t, you’re potentially supplying that referee with some incredibly useful information.

Further reading and resources:

How to score a point in roller derby/Jammer Lap Points explained – Rules Colored Glasses

Jammer referee positioning – Ref-Ed

WFTDA casebook on scoring – C3.2.B, C3.2.D, C3.3.C, C3.3.E, C3.3.F and more all relate to today’s blog

3 thoughts on “Rules with Skew (3) – of course you can score on downed blockers!

  1. For the scoring while falling bit, isn’t that only true if the jammers skates are on the ground? If you pass someone while airborne I thought the status of that pass can only be determined by what hits the ground first (skate = pass, knee = no pass for instance.)

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