Ever wondered why there are so many zebras at roller derby bouts? It is sometimes said that derby may be one of the most challenging sports in the world to referee. The “ball” is a moving human being, traveling through an engagement zone that is, itself, moving; oh – and you’re moving, too, ref!

There are typically five to seven skating refs at a derby bout, plus several “Non-Skating Officials” or NSOs, such as penalty box timers, jam timers, and penalty wranglers; and don’t forget about the statisticians keeping tabs on skaters’ every move!


Are YOU ready for the challenge? NHRD is always looking for men and women to join our officiating crew. Our talented group of referees with more than 12 years of combined experience will teach you everything you need to know to get started!

Referee and NSO Requirements

  • You must be 18 or older
  • You must have health insurance and WFTDA insurance ($60 a year)
  • You must sign a waiver that says when you get hurt you won’t sue us into oblivion
  • You must be able to attend at least 75% of our scrimmages and events.
  • You will need quad skates, a helmet, mouth guard, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards (Required for skating refs, optional for NSOs).

Check out our current team of refs and NSOs here.

Think you’ve got the right attitude?

Contact our Head Official at to get more information about becoming a referee or NSO! Don’t want to wait to get started until you’ve had a chance to meet us? Read the rules! Look below for a list of resources to feed your inner rules nerd! Can’t skate? Start with us as an NSO and we’ll help you get there!

Rules Information

As a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), NHRD plays by their official rule set. WFTDA rules resources can be found here:

“There is so much to say about the advantages of being an NSO before you try out! I know for me it was a huge help to be able to skate with the refs (amazing ones at that) and learn what to look for which in turn taught me what to try not to do on the track. In addition to that, it also helped me learn strategies, like why a player will choose to poodle. My decision to NSO last year was made when I decided I’d prefer to be involved then sit around bummed out I didn’t make the cut.”
Bobbi Gore, Nightmares on Elm Street, Queen City Cherry Bombs

You definitely don’t go unnoticed as an NSO… you are actually part of the league! You get to attend practices, NSO/volunteer at bouts, and go to after parties. Other than advancing in my skills, the best thing about becoming an NSO was meeting everyone on NHRD. Everyone on this league has been extremely supportive and just fun to be around. I cannot wait to continue on my journey to become a derby girl!
Game Ovaries, Seabrook Meltdowns, Skate Free or Die All-Stars

Officiating Positions

Referee Positions

Head Ref (1):
Supervises the officiating.
Jam Ref (2):
Watches each jammer exclusively. Scorekeepers.
Inside Pack Ref (1-2):
Watches the main pack of blockers and pivots from the inside of the track.
Outside Pack Ref (2-3):
Watches the main pack of blockers and pivots from the outside of the track.

Non-Skating Officials

Head NSO (1):
Certifies stats results for submission to the WFTDA for ranking.
Jam Timer (1):
Keeps 2 minute jam times and 30 second break times. Blows jam start whistle.
Penalty Box Timers (2-3):
Keeps track of penalty times and notifies skaters when they can leave the box.
Penalty Tracker(1):
Works closely with the Inside Whiteboard NSO to record the penalty type and when it happened.
Receives points per lap from the Jam Refs, keeps track of who is Lead Jammer, and records how each jam ends.
Scoreboard Operator (1):
Runs the electronic scoreboard for the public.
Inside Whiteboard (1):
Notes all penalties on a board visible to the referees and skaters.
Lineup Tracker (2):
Records which skater is in each position each jam for computation of play time.