Officiate With Us
Roller derby is a fast-paced sport that needs a lot of eyes on the action on-track to make sure scores are correct, penalties are served and the game runs to time. It needs an entire team, in fact, and they are known as Non-Skating Officials or NSOs. They’re an essential part of our league and many of our officials are multi-skilled, taking on reffing and skating with teams as well.
NSOing is a challenge for those who like watching roller derby and it allows you to see the game from a completely different perspective. You learn the ins and outs of the rules, see clever tactics playout and usually get to watch the action up-close. It can be a part of your toolkit as a skater or ref, but for many, it’s a whole world to explore in and of itself.
Like all sports, scores and stats matter to the game you’re watching, but these also contribute to the data that makes up UK, European and World rankings, which is pretty amazing. And let’s not forget, you become part of a community of officials that travel the country making roller derby happen.
What does being an NSO involve?
Becoming a fully skilled NSO can take as much time as a skater learning to pass minimum skills, but you’ll get to be involved in the game from day one. Each position you learn links to the next, and over time you amass a web of knowledge that covers the entire game.
Here are the positions you can learn, with their abbreviations because we love efficiency:
Jam Timer (JT) – This person times the game and makes sure the game is paused for timeouts and official reviews. This is the person that gets to yell “five seconds!” and blow the starting whistle.
Penalty Tracker (PT) – If anyone does anything against the rules, this person makes sure there’s a record of exactly what it was.
Penalty Box Timers (PBT) – There are always two people doing this in a game, one for each team. They make sure that every player that gets a penalty sits their 30 seconds in the penalty box.
Penalty Box Manager (PBM) – This person helps time players and keeps everything running smoothly when the bin gets busy. They can also give out penalties if a player does something they shouldn’t in or near the penalty box.
Scorekeeper (SK) – There are two people in this position per game, working as one half of a ref/skater duo. The ref holds up fingers to indicate points, and the scorekeeper records them.
Scoreboard Operator (SO) – Using a fancy program and some knowhow, the SO makes sure everyone, including other officials, can see scores, game time and a bunch of other important numbers on the projected scoreboard.
Lineup Tracker (LT) – There are two LTs, one for each team, making sure there’s a record of who is on track in what player position throughout the game.
There are some additional roles to the ones above but they tend to be optional and use skills already covered elsewhere.
Do I have to pay to NSO?
No. People who choose to specialise as NSOs never have to pay subs with NWRD. The only reason you would is if you were also a skater with us. Unfortunately, NSOing doesn’t cancel out the need for you to pay subs if you also play for a team. The only exception is if you are an NSO who also refs, as refs don’t pay subs either.
Can I NSO and do other things within the league?
Of course. Many of our league members are multiskilled when it comes to roller derby and it can help you as a player or referee if you also NSO. It also means that each team supports the others by offering their skills when they’re not on skates. However, you don’t have to do anything other than NSO if that’s your passion.
Is it hard to NSO?
Some roles are harder to learn than others as they might require more rules knowledge, technical skill or multitasking than others, but it is possible for you to learn all the roles over time. We’ll make sure that you get the help you need to learn all the NSO positions you want, and don’t worry about making mistakes – we all need time to practice and you’ll get that time too.
Can I get certified as an NSO with you?
Yes, we are working on helping our NSOs become certified with several governing bodies in the next year. We can also help you put together a Game CV which is a record of all your NSO experience that can help you apply for prestigious games throughout the UK and even the world.
Do I have to be good with numbers?
For some roles, you will need to be reasonable with numbers, but all they require is adding up – if you struggle, you can use a calculator because being an NSO isn’t a test of your mental maths.
Why is there so much paperwork?
The paperwork gets used on gameday to backup things like how many penalties were sat, how many points were scored and a number of other important things. After the game, all the paperwork that gets filled out gets entered into a system to calculate game statistics. These can be as broad as a team moving up or down a league table to as specific as which blocker was the best at helping their jammer score on track. So, filling in your boxes helps some nifty maths that give teams and officials great insights.
What do all the columns mean?
When you first see some paperwork, it looks pretty intimidating, but the information needed in each box is quite simple. When you start learning a role, someone will show you how to fill out the boxes or let you shadow them so you can learn. You’ll make mistakes on your paperwork a lot to start with, but don’t worry, you’re with us to learn and you’ll be a whizz in no time.
Will I need a stopwatch?
We have all the equipment you need to perform your role as an NSO, so you don’t need to buy a stopwatch.
Will I need a whistle?
If you are jam timing you might want to invest in your own whistle as sharing something that touches other people’s mouths isn’t great, even if they are washed after every session. If you do decide to buy a whistle, get a Fox 40 as this is the standard for roller derby officials.