So you’re new! That’s cool! Let’s talk about what you can do to get ready for your first roller derby practice or tryout or serious skating session, whatever form that may take. Whether you have a day or a month to get ready, there are a few things you need to do, and a few things it’s nice to be able to do.
This is a very very short and sweet list, because people and leagues and situations differ. Feel free to follow up with me and ask questions as needed.
Procure skates and stuff
You’ll need gear. Probably the whole shebang: Helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, mouth guard, wrist guard, and skates. But, maybe not! Maybe your league can provide skates because you practice at a rink, or maybe there are hand-me-down pads available to try out. Make sure, and then prepare as needed.
Pick out your first day of school outfit
Think of function over fashion, people. Wear something non-restricting, and not so loose that it might become a hazard to yourself or others if you fall down. Palazzo pants might be comfortable, but if your pant leg gets stuck in your wheel, that’s bad. Most people wear workout clothes. Running shorts or pants and a top will work fine for your purposes, as long as the pants aren’t too slippery. If you’re coming from work, do not, I repeat: DO NOT forget to pack socks.
Maybe leave the tutu at home this time. Photo by Jamie via flickr creative commons
Figure out when and where you’re supposed to go
Skating rinks are fairly easy to find, since they want people to go there and give them money. Warehouses that are converted to practice spaces, on the other hand, might be in a part of town you don’t usually frequent, might be unmarked, and who knows what the parking situation is. Budget plenty of time for traffic, parking, finding the place, maybe finding the right door or room once you get there… and then time to go to the bathroom, fill your water bottle, and put your gear on.
Formulate your practice day plan
Make sure you eat enough throughout the day of practice, but not too much right before. Drink plenty of water, and have a big water bottle that you can bring (full, if at all possible) to practice with you. Bring snacks for after, and a change of clothes if needed. Do you need to bring dues or paperwork to your first session? Get that ready to go ahead of time so you’re not stressing out about it.
It’s okay, it’s probably the first time for a lot of other people, too! And if not, they all were new once, too. Most leagues are more than excited to get new recruits. They do not expect you to pick things up right away, they don’t expect you to be cool or have an awesome playlist on your phone or to know which way your wrist guards are supposed to go on. They just expect you to do your best. They also probably hope that you’ll be willing to volunteer to clean the lost and found every month because everyone hates that job.
That’s what you should do in order to get ready for your first practice. Simple, right? Of course, if you have more time, you can get ready in other ways as well...
Go to the local rink and mix it up. Get comfortable on skates. You can’t exactly practice derby at open skate time, so practice side-stepping fallen children. Start and stop. Skate backwards. Couple skate. It’s fun!
Watch roller derby and learn how it works
There are plenty of people who go to their first practice before they ever watch a game. If that’s you, more power to you! Study up later. However, if you can go into your derby career with a solid base of knowledge, you’ll be ahead of the game. (Don’t literally get ahead of the game, though, because then you’re out of the engagement zone. See? There’s a lot to learn.)
Familiarize yourself with your league
Meet up with new leaguemates, and get together to skate or just hang out. If there’s a league forum or group (good luck with that), log in and wade through the issues of the day. Or just find the important stuff like policies and calendars. Or juicy stuff, I dunno, it happens sometimes. This will give you a better idea of what you’re in for in general: volunteer requirements, email load, etc.
YEAH WHOO OH YEAAAAH YOU GOT THIS!
What questions did you have before your first practice? What would have been helpful to know?
*Hey, the updated version of Roller Derby for Beginners just came back from the proofreader today. Now all I have to do is re-format the whole thing for printing. Again. *sob*