What’s got 8 wheels, a gum shield, and a witty pseudonym?
A Roller Derby athlete!
Yep, I did Roller Derby.
I’ve decided to try one new sporty thing every month. Partly to stop my training from getting stale, partly to meet new folk, and partly for the LOL factor.
Because we all know I’m no good with:
– falling down (or prospect thereof)
– jumping/moving both feet off the ground at the same time
– any form of agility
September’s A New Sport Every Month was pretty funny (…mostly for the instructors…)
What Is Roller Derby?
Just about the further thing from my comfort zone that you can imagine.
No But Really, What IS Roller Derby?
Roller Derby is a contact team sport on roller skates. Two teams of five players skate counter-clockwise around a track, during “jams” (point-scoring bouts) that last up to 2 minutes.
One of each team’s five players is the “jammer” who can score points. The other four are “blockers” – defensive/offensive players whose role is to block the other team’s jammer, and to protect their own jammer so she can lap the other team to score.
Two things really appealed to me about Roller Derby.
1) It originated as a female-only sport, and men’s teams are a much more recent thing. Roller Derby is closely tied up with themes of feminism and body positivity and, at entry level, it’s an amazingly encouraging, empowering sport for women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels.
2) The names. I mean, come on. At my trial session I met Demi Lition, Hellen Degenerate, and Brute 66. In teams around the world, you’ll find Brazilian Whacks, Tess of the Derbywheels, and Nancy Raygun.
Roller Derby has been around since the 1940s, but fell off the radar until recent years. It’s enjoying a massive surge in interest now, so when I realised we have a local team, I signed up for the Open Day.
I didn’t get to actually play (that would have been asking way too much of my first hour on skates!) But I learned some of the basic skills: how to fall (various ways!), stop, speed up, and turn. We got to watch the Rec League in training, and then saw the main competitive team practising.
I asked Demi Lition, Founder of Kent Roller Girls, to tell you more. about Roller Derby.
Who is Roller Derby suitable for?
Pretty much everyone. You don’t need any experience or fitness level to start, and there’s no particular shape or size of person it suits best. You just need to be prepared to fall over a lot!
What does basic, entry-level Roller Derby consist of?
Most teams run a variation of beginners sessions. These can be a course over a set number of weeks, or continual drop-in sessions. My team – Kent Roller Girls – runs a recreational league. Skaters can join at any time with any level of experience, and we will teach you everything you need to know. You can take as long as you want/need to learn the skills, before getting to the level of playing games. Our rec league needs absolutely no experience whatsoever to join! Just the willingness to learn something completely new
Can you do Roller Derby as exercise/training and never compete (if you want)?
You can indeed! Recreational teams are great for this. There’s no pressure on skaters to compete, and you can focus on the fun side of the sport and of skating. There’s a place for everyone in the sport.
What does Roller Derby do for a body?
Roller Derby is all about the bum and thighs! (Nic: I concur! I “do legs” twice a week but the day after trying Roller Derby, my adductors, abductors, and glutes were sore!) You spend the majority of your skating time in a stance known as “Derby stance” – a slight squat position – which you definitely feel when you start skating! You build a lot of power in your legs to get yourself around that track. And as you make your way towards actually competing you need to be able to skate at a certain speed for a length of time which really helps with improving cardio.
Roller Derby has done more for my body confidence than anything else ever has. And a lot of people will say the same. It’s a sport for everyone, no matter what body shape, and we’re all as valuable to the team as each other. We all have our strengths based on our sizes and we all learn how to use them to our advantage. I’ve gone from hiding in baggy shirts and tracksuit bottoms, to wearing shorts in front of crowds of people. I hadn’t worn shorts in public for 15 years!
Thanks, Demi! :)
Do you do Roller Derby? I’d love to hear about it!
Thanks to Kent Roller Girls for the open day 🙂
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.