Friday, February 28, 2014

Penalty code & verbal cue cheat sheet

[Updated May 19, 2015 to make the formatting more consistent and align with the January 2015 ruleset and its associated officiating documents.]

After a referee calls a penalty during a roller derby bout, the penalty is recorded by a penalty tracker, and then (typically) written on a publicly visible whiteboard (see my quick guide to all the roller derby officiating positions if you don't know what those terms mean).

Since writing down the full names of each penalty would be cumbersome, each penalty has a single-letter code associated with it.  Penalty trackers, penalty wranglers, whiteboard staff, all referees, and penalty-box NSOs should ideally be familiar with these codes, so they can quickly write down or interpret written penalty information.  The penalty codes can be found in the WFTDA Statistics package's penalty tracker paperwork.

In addition to a penalty code, each penalty in the WFTDA ruleset has a verbal cue associated with it; referees are required to use the appropriate verbal cue when calling the penalty.  To see the list of verbal cues, head to the WFTDA Officiating page (or just to the verbal cues document itself).  Complicating matters, many penalty classes (e.g., direction of game play) have multiple verbal cues but are recorded as a single penalty code ("C", in the case of all four direction of game play verbal cues).

So, it's helpful to have a cheat sheet that lists all of the verbal cues along with their penalty codes.  I made one for myself a while ago and taped it to all my clipboards; it's probably one of my most frequently requested documents.  So, here it is:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Basic equipment you'll need as a skating roller derby official

In my previous post I discussed the basic equipment needed by all roller derby officials, including both skating and non-skating officials.  Skating officials are their own special little bundle of joy; in this post I'll go over the basics of their equipment needs.

Tip: Unlike non-skating officials, who can get away with borrowing much of their equipment early on, skating officials ("referees") must have their own gear from day one; very few leagues have loaner gear.  Plan to buy quad roller skates, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, a helmet, and a mouthguard for your very first day of skate practice.  You'll need a whistle as soon as you can skate safely on the track around skaters (i.e., when you can start practicing reffing itself).  You can almost certainly hold off on the striped jersey, though, as it'll likely be months of training before you're ready to put that on (unless you're already a derby skater).

Skating insurance? You may need to purchase skating insurance to participate in training with your league; contact your league's head referee or officials coordinator to find out more.

Skating gear

At a minimum, you'll need quad roller skates, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmet, and a mouthguard.  Okay, technically you can ref while wearing inline skates, but virtually nobody does (and people will make fun of you).

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What day is today?

The Ninth Doctor, captioned with "It's Bout Day!  Fantastic!"
Made on

It's the first home bout of the 2014 season at SCRD!  And it's fully staffed with officials!

And no, you never forget your first doctor.  Eccleston for the win :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Quick Guide to ALL the Roller Derby Officiating Positions

[Updated May 19, 2015 to reflect the January 2015 WFTDA ruleset and officiating standard practices, and the March 2015 track layout guide. Oh yeah, and to fix all some of my mistakes and add in a few new ones.]

A fully staffed WFTDA flat-track roller derby game requires at least 18 volunteer officials to run, and that’s not counting track crew and announcers.  Each one of these people plays a core part in ensuring that safe, fair gameplay occurs.  This document will summarize each of the officiating positions.  

Pro tip: Every league does things a little differently; treat this guide as just a rough start.  Unless something is actually violating the rules, plan to roll with whatever the host league / host ref crew prefers.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Basic equipment all roller derby officials should have

Starting your journey as a roller derby official?  Wondering what gear you need to get started as a skating referee or non-skating official?  You've come to the right place!

While many officials crews (including my own) have loaner pieces of non-skating equipment at practice (so go, even if you don't have any gear!), it’s useful for every member of the crew to have as much of their own equipment as they can.  The “gear box” doesn’t always make it to practice, you can’t guarantee that other folks will be at any given practice (or will have their spare equipment to loan you), and if you start traveling to other leagues (and you will start traveling, 'cause it's awesome), you'll have no idea if those leagues will have loaner gear or not.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Obligatory first post

I'm the head referee of South Coast Roller Derby, and I'm also a professor of biology at Orange Coast College.  The two of these combine to cause me to addictively create training documents, share them, and run small ref clinics at my home league.  I'm nowhere near experienced enough to really be doing all this, but hey, I enjoy it :)

Take everything I say with a giant grain of salt.  I'm just a new head ref in a small league who wants to help out; that's all!

I also do photography, but it's taken a back seat to derby.  And I love to cook.  Yay me.

[Update: South Coast Roller Derby merged with SoCal Derby in May 2014, at which point I became a member of SoCal Derby's officiating crew.  In September 2014 I transferred to Angel City Derby Girls, joining their officiating crew (Parks and REFreation).]