If you thought roller derby was just an excuse for women with anger issues to shoulder barge and cat fight on a skating rink, you’d be wrong! There’s a great degree of strategy involved. Full body contact is permitted, but dirty tactics like tripping and head-butting will see you penalised. In fact, it’s a very tactical sport and with it, there’s a mammoth manual the size of a small encyclopedia with the rules.
Roller Derby is divided into two minute bouts, referred to as jams, where five team member hit the rink with the goal of passing the pack as many times as possible. If you’re still unsure, watch Drew Barrymore’s movie ‘Whip it!’
Aside from oodles of confidence, you need to know how to skate. As with all new sports when you are starting out, initial outlay for all the gear can get expensive. However you may have to try out to join a team, so until you get selected, rent or borrow skates or pick up a second-hand pair. You want to get proper sneaker style speed skates. Old ex-rentals that look like ski-boots will make your more prone to ankle injuries.
You’ll also need a skate helmet. This is one area to avoid skimping on. Avoid bicycle helmets as these after often designed for one-crash-only and won’t stack up to the demands of roller derby. Helmets need to be a good fit, but not cut the circulation off to your brain. A helmet with air vents will help keep you cooler.
It’s likely you are going to end up face planting and falling over a lot as roller derby can be quite aggressive. Be prepared to go for a few spills. Good quality pads will protect your knees, elbows and wrists when you fall.
Like with any contact sport, it pays to protect those pearly whites. Mouthguards are fairly cheap, but you if you plan on taking roller derby to a professional level, you can get them custom made at any denture clinic.
And lastly, every roller derby girl needs a unique skate name—something punny like James Blonde, Sarah Slayin’ or Deadly Diana. There’s nothing quite like roller derby. You’ll make new friends with a eclectic bunch of people and get fit, while unleashing a whole lot of whoop on the rink.