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Roller Skates 101

Glossary of Skating

Glossary of Skating

Here you will find all the roller skate terminology and vocabulary!

Our list of roller skating and roller derby terms is always growing. If there is a skate term you have heard and want to know the meaning, tell us... We will add it to the list!


ABEC - Annular Bearing Engineers Committee

Abec Rating - This is the tolerance rating system for the bearing, this is to describe the level of stress resistance of the bushing. A lower number mean the bearing is looser, the higher the rating or number the tighter the bearing.

Apex Jump – Roller Derby term for when a skater jumps on the inside of the track from one point of the apex to the other, usually in an effort to avoid or get around opposing blockers positioned there.

Axle - The part of a skate that the bearings fit onto.


Back-Blocking – Roller Derby term referring to illegal blocking to the back that sometimes results in skater losing control and falling.

Banked Track – this is a track that is commonly used for roller derby it is at a slant and has an oval shape, this is what most people think of when they think of old school roller derby.

Bearings – Modern day bearings have balls inside a casing – these are then placed inside the wheels – one on each side, this allows the wheels to turn.

Blocker – Roller Derby term for a skater in the pack that is not a pivot or jammer, there are four blockers per team allowed on the track at a time.

Blocking – Roller Derby term for movement on the derby track that is to impede opposing skaters, does not have to be a “hit” or body contact, can be simply skating in their way thus impeding their movement from their desired direction.

Blocking zones – Roller Derby term for areas of the body that are legal to use to make contact with an opponent when performing a block, use of non-legal areas can result in penalties.

Bout – Roller Derby term for games. You play in a bout, you skate a bout instead of saying play a game or skate in a game.


Contact Zones – Roller Derby term for areas of the body that are legal to us to give or receive a hit, use of non-legal areas can result in penalties.

Counter-Block – A movement or motion that is used toward an oncoming block by the skater that is receiving the block that is used to counteract the block. It must still be done with legal contact/blocking zones of the body, and held to the same rules as blocking. Moving away from the block is not considered counter-blocking.


Downed skater – Roller Derby term for a skater that has fallen.

Durometer – The measurement of the hardness of a urethane wheel.


Elephant Wrench - Skate tool that Adjust truck locknut, wheel locknut, truck bolt and change non-adjustable toe stops. 


Fall Small – Roller Derby term falling with legs and arms pulled in and tucked as much as possible, this is taught to new skaters because flailing when they fall is common. This can result in penalties if you trip an opposing skater – falling small can prevent that.

Fresh Meat – Roller Derby term for a new to derby skater, they can be advanced in skating skills, but if you are new to the sport you are “fresh meat” then you move to rookie, then you are just a derby skater.

Footwork – this is used in all forms of skating to describe movement of the feet ideal in that form of skating.


Grip – common term for how hard or soft a wheel, softer wheels offer more “grip”, where harder wheels have more slide.


Helmet Panty – Also just referred to as panty or helmet cover – Roller Derby term for cover that is placed on helmet of jammer and pivot. The pivot’s panty has one stripe along the center of a contrasting color. The jammer’s panty will be of the same contrasting color combination but with a star on each side.


Inline skate – This style of skate has all wheels in a row aka in a line, thus the name.


Jam – Roller Derby term for time that skaters are in play, maximum two minutes at a time, but can be shorter if called off.

Jam Skating - Jam skating is a hybrid mix of dance, gymnastics and skating all performed on quad roller skates. Many compare it to breakdancing but on skates. 


 Kingping - The kingpin angle on roller skate plates directly affect the performance of the skate and how tight you’re able to turn


Lead Jammer – Roller Derby term for the first of the two jammers to legally pass through the entire pack. This is the only skater that can call the jam off before the two minutes are up.

Low Block – Roller Derby term for contact with an opposing team member that is initiated with or targets the other skaters feet or legs that causes the recipient to fall or stumble


Mount – the action of connecting the boots to the plates is referred to as mounting the skates.

MRDA – Abbreviation for Men’s Roller Derby Association – which is the international governing body of men’s flat track roller derby.


No Impact / No Penalty – Roller Derby term for an act that does not get called for a penalty that could, because it does not harm or adversely affect the game or has a limited impact on the game.

No Pack – Roller Derby term when there is not a pack on the track because the skaters are not skating within proximity to each other.


Out of Bounds – Roller Derby term for being outside of the track boundary. This can be to the inside center or the outside of the track.

Out of Play – Roller Derby term for a blocker that is more than twenty feet from the pack or is out of bounds or down. A Jammer is out of play when they are out of bounds or down.


Pack – Roller Derby term for the largest group of blockers containing members from both teams, jammers are not considered part of the pack.

Pivot or Pivot Blocker – Roller Derby term for blocker that wears the panty on her head with a stripe. He or she typically directs the members of the pack on her team, and is the only skater that the jammer can pass the jammer panty to during playing of the jam.

Plate – Part of roller skate that attaches to the bottom of the boot and connects the wheels with the rest of the skate.


Quad – term for skate that has four wheels – two in front two in back, forming a square shape sort of with one wheel in each corner.


Roller Derby – a sport originally created in the style of endurance races on skates, that has morphed into a very different sport today. There are many versions, some that are played on banked tracks, some on flat tracks, some are staged and some are real sports.

Rollerblades – many times people will use this term when they mean inline skates, Rollerblade is a brand name but many do not realize that. Like saying Nike when you mean shoes.


Snow Plow Stop – Roller Derby term for a stop where you bring your feet wide and then pigeon toe back in while digging in with heels to come to a full stop.

Suicide Stop – Roller Derby term for stop where you turn around to skate backwards and then up onto your toe stops to stop quickly.


Team Zebra – Roller Derby term to refer to the group of referees. They are undefeated.

Transition – Roller Derby term for turning from skating forwards to backwards and/or backwards to forwards.

Trucks – The part of a skate that is the axle and is connects the wheels with the plate of the skate.




WFTDA – Abbreviation for Women’s Flat Track Derby Association – which is the international governing body for the sport of women’s flat track roller derby.




Zebra – Roller Derby term for referees.