Roller derby: What I’ve learnt

Photo credit: Roller Derby On Film

Roller derby: the sport you’ve heard about but you’re not quite sure whats actually going on. Maybe you’ve seen a game. Maybe you’ve seen many. Maybe you have no idea what the hell I’m on about.

A quick run down:

Roller derby is a contact sport played with quad skates on an oval track. It’s a point based game where skaters move in a counter-clockwise direction. The Jammer (pictured above) scores points by lapping the track while the opposing blockers try to stop them. Each game is called a Bout and split into two thirty minute halves. Each half is broken down to two minute Jams. There are seven referees and a whole book of rules. And that’s before the action begins!

Here are a few things I learned other than skating skills and rules of gameplay:

  1. Hydration is key. If you don’t drink enough water before training or playing a game, you will spend the whole session in a daze feeling like you’ve blindly walked onto a dual carriage way. Hydrate and focus.
  2. Eat at an appropriate time before training. Eating just before is never a good idea. If you didn’t have a clue about nutrition before, you’ll learn a bunch of things on how to fuel your body.
  3. Bananas are food of the gods. Even if you’re not a fan, they’re great. Chow down and get on.
  4. Stretching isn’t something only fussy people do - it actually helps. Suck it up and look after yourself.
  5. People spend too much time fussing over the technicalities of their kit: wheels, plates, boot, stoppers. If everything works as it should, just use it. Expensive skates, hybrid wheels and plates all come later.

One thing I was told when I first started skating was “If you can skate in those skates or on those wheels, you can skate in anything”. Yes, it takes time to adjust but if you spend your first year umming and arrhing about “THE BEST SET UP”, you’re just procrastinating. Just skate, fancy things come later.

6. No matter how safe you think you are with all that protective gear, falls still hurt and boo boos still happen. Even the most unimaginable ouchies.

7. Names - Who are you? Once you adopt a derby name and strap on a helmet, you essentially aquire a new identity. Take the helmet off, try attach a name to a face and you’ll have a hard time. Try using their real name or add them on Facebook and you’ll spend too much time trying to remember they actually have a birth name. Wait, your name’s not “….”.

8. You learn to accept who you are, your capabilites, body shape and evolve into a badass athelete.

9. Fishnets are badass no matter what environment you’re in! The derby world is constantly evolving. What was once a sport known for short skirts, fishnets and home made bout tops, has now grown into matching, professional uniforms. However, even though the uniforms match, the colourful leggings are still there. I personally used to wear fishnets shorts underneath my other shorts. I believe even in a team sport, invidivduality is still important. Don’t get lost among the masses! Be who you want to be.

Photo credit: Roller Derby On Film

So, do you play Derby? Who’s your local team? Let me know!

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