I had a dream that I was asked to model at an event.

I maybe could have been molded into model material, say, 22 years ago or so, but in both the conscious and unconsciousness realm I am 38 years old and have aged about ten years in the past five. Dream self is very aware of this, but I jet off to *DREAM LOCATION* with a gorgeous dream friend wearing perfect red lipstick.

Several other stunning women with the same shade of red lipstick deplane at the same time. “Oh, they must be models, too.” They are.

We get to where we’re supposed to check in, and I’m feeling a little itchy. Certainly there was some mistake?

“Ah, yes,” says the woman sitting at the table. “We need YOU to talk on the radio.”

“That makes sense.”


We’re killing some time walking along the river before a concert. A woman shakes up a can of spray paint as we walk by, but I’ve seen a lot of people being sketchy in various ways in this park, so I’m neither moved or surprised.

As we’re walking back toward the concert venue, the can-shaker and a couple of friends are walking in the opposite direction wearing aggressively normal faces—three people trying to act super super normal. I make some small joke about how that’s fine by me, but wait, let’s see what they wrote first.

A new, hastily painted symbol of flag inside a circle is on the sidewalk near a bench.

I furrow my brow slightly, jokes put aside for a moment. “I think that’s antifa.”

“Isn’t that three arrows?”

Suddenly, I’m not sure.

We keep walking.





(It’s antifa.)

As the man walks out of the bakery, the lid pops off of his to-go cup of coffee.

He just stands there for a moment. Then: “That’s really hot coffee.”

The young man and women—who look like they could be brother and sister, but have been complaining about someone they work with for 15 minutes—quickly offer napkins. “Here, I’ll get more for you.”

“I usually have my service dog,” the man says, gathering himself. There’s a step down out of this bakery and then a small ramp, I know, having given up trying to get a stroller into the place a few years ago.

He thanks the young people, who chat with him politely for a minute or two.

He goes on his way.

Okay, so you want to play roller derby, or you’re thinking about it. If so, you probably want to learn how to rollerskate. That’s a lot on its own. Going to the rink and skating around in circles is indispensable training, but it’s not the only training you’ll need. Exercises for roller derby are in order.

Oh crap. You’re going to have to work out! Don’t worry, it’ll be kinda fun! Sometimes!

A little more flexibility wouldn't hurt, either. Photo by istolethetv via flickr.

A little more flexibility wouldn’t hurt, either. Photo by istolethetv via flickr.

Getting in roller derby shape means having the endurance to last through a grueling practice, the ability to jump, juke, fall and recover, and preventing weaknesses that might lead to (eep!) injury.

Here are a few exercises that I recommend for new skaters. For all exercises, start slow and build up. Consult a professional (doctor or trainer) if you have questions or health issues, then get started.


Get some cardio training in, especially if your major exercise the last few years has been Netflix and chill. Interval training, or interspersing higher intensity bursts with lower intensity training, can help you get ready for the rigors of this sport. Again: Start slow, and build up.

Building balance

Just standing on one foot every once in a while will help you work on your balance and ankle strength. One-footed lunges, squats, BOSU Ball or balance board work take things to the next level.

Work them gams

Squats will probably be a big part of your training regimen even after you start skating, as so much of your time will be spent in a squat position while you’re skating. This position “loads” power in your legs so you can explode out of it. Kabam! Just knocked your opponent into the stands. Sweet. But not all squats and bodies are created equal, and you don’t want to work one muscle group at the expense of others, so make sure to throw some lunges, calf raises, and other exercises in there too, okay?


Your legs will be doing a lot of hard work in derby, but your upper body isn’t just along for the ride. Is your top half a lazy freeloader? No! Drop and give me 30… seconds of plank. Then in a couple of weeks, gimme 45.  Etc.

Check ya neck

Do some gentle neck-strengthening exercises when you have the chance. Don’t worry. They’re easy. They’re really more like stretching with a purpose. A strong neck, some say, can help cut concussion risk.


That’s a start. Check out Roller Derby Athletics’ list of The Top Ten Exercises for Roller Derby Athletes, too.


Do have an exercise that makes you rave about the results? What do you wish you had done more of before starting roller derby?



We’re in the middle of D1 Playoffs here, people, and it’s time to check in.

How’re we all feeling? Holding up? Getting all the action you were hoping for? Disappointed that games aren’t as close as in D2 Playoffs? Fine with that as long as the Sunday games are interesting? Surprised that Philly is out? Surprised at any of the point spreads? Seeing any new strategies that you have to discuss? Loving all the star passes and stashes? In love with any new skaters?

You were in love with Freight Train before, right? Well, if you weren’t before…

Let’s chat in the comments!

(I’m also looking for more gifs, so help a sister out here.)

(It’s pretty cute when you hear your husband laughing at something he saw on Facebook, and it turns out to be this…)

Welcome once again to the Frisky Power Rankings, where I rank women’s flat track roller derby according to my whims/in-depth knowledge.

AHHH DIVISION ONE PLAYOFFS ARE COMING. Tucson is NEXT WEEK. I’ll be seeing Team United play for the first time! Will Bricktator play against BAD? Victoria plays more games! WHOA it’s all going to be awesome. THEN DALLAS ACK HELP so exciting.

  1. Gotham. They’ve been cruising along all year, crushing all teams in their wake, like usual. *drums on laptop with thumbs, blows airs up through bangs*
  2. London. Beat Rose City by a handy margin in London. Now, Rose might have been touristing it up a bit, but 129-193 is no small margin.
  3. Victoria. Will everyone be on to them now that they’ve studied the tape from Victoria’s last visit to the States? Will people ever get that “Victoria” is a proper noun and “Victorian” is an adjective? WE SHALL SOON SEE.
  4. Rose City Rollers. Hoping they’ll stomp everyone with their pegacorn hooves pretty soon. (Biased.)
  5. Denver. I have to give Denver the edge over Texas here, as they beat them in May. I have a tendency to underrate Denver, too, but they consistently make it happen.
  6. Texas. You’re great, and I can’t wait to watch you.
  7. Angel City. Just lost to Texas, beat out BAD, so let’s snuggle them up here between the two. Cozy!
  8. Bay Area Derby. But seriously, they only lost to Texas by 13.
  9. Philly. Close result against Denver, win over a surging Montreal. Not a bad August.
  10. Jacksonville. Daang, looking strong, looking strong.
  11. Arch Rival. Slide down a bit on loss to Jacksonville.
  12. Montreal. Just lost to Philly to 12. Don’t sleep.
  13. Minnesota. No games this month, I don’t know, so let’s just save the cut-and-paste (tough on the wrists after a while, geez) and leave them here.
  14. Sun State. Are they ready to surprise at playoffs this year, or do they need a year of seasoning? LIKE I SAID ABOUT THEIR FELLOW AUSTRALIANS.
  15. Team United. So much power, and I’ve never seen them play. What a world.
  16. Atlanta. A game against Texas is a pretty good warmup…
  17. Tampa. …so was a game against Arch Rival.
  18. Stockholm. Sometimes teams are ranked and it seems like they should have power but I have no clue. Let’s be honest here.
  19. Terminal City. Just beat Rat by one, but at home. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN.
  20. Rat City. I ask you.
  21. Rocky Mountain. They haven’t played since June. Yawn. That does it for your power!
  22. Dallas. Yeah, sure, why not?
  23. Nashville. Whoo, congrats! A win at D2 playoffs gives you power.
  24. Kansas City. Sames.
  25. Ice cream. Hey, we’re getting serious this time of year.
SO EXCITED. Photo by tailsandfur via flickr creative commons

SO EXCITED. Photo by tailsandfur via flickr creative commons


What do you think? Who has power?  Let us know in the comments. Dish freely, or send me anonymous tips at @littleanecdote so I feel cool. (It doesn’t hurt to ask.)

Roller derby gear bags can seem like a bit of an afterthought, especially after you’ve put so much time and money into getting your skates and pads together. A lot of people just find whatever will fit all of their stuff. When their first bag gives out, they have more time and experience to find something that works more efficiently.

I’ve gone through three or four duffel bags in my roller derby career. It’s just not something that I’ve wanted to spend money on, though I’ve cursed this decision as I’ve trudged my way through too many airports with my skates hitting me in the rump with each step. Maybe if I’d spent $100 on a bag in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to spend $20-30 three or four times. Learn from me, people.

Cat in a duffel bag hee hee

Open up that bag and let it air out! Photo by cornfusion via flickr creative commons

If you’re just going to carry your bag from car to practice space and back again, feel free to go cheap. If you’re planning to travel for derby, consider a rolling bag.

What do you use to carry your gear? What do you love about it? What do you dislike? What do you wish you had thought of before you bought a gear bag?

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

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...

Roller skate

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.




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*

You made it through tryouts. You made it through fresh meat. You finally made a roster. Now, time for glory, right?

It doesn’t always work that way.

I asked a few captains and coaches just how in the heck you’re supposed to get actual track time in a game.

Effy aka Reffy has coached children and grownups at Rose City. Hellslinger was a bench manager for some team called the Wheels of Justice? Never heard of them. Mona Mour managed the Boston Massacre for 3 seasons and now coaches and manages the Middle Georgia Derby Demons, a newer aspiring WFTDA league. (She’s also a YA author if you like buying books.)

They all gave me this sage advice, and then I edited their responses with the deft hand of someone who has warmed many a bench.

Be a team player.

Effy: Sometimes people end up being benchwarmers. It sucks but it happens. If you’re not being put out for a few jams, don’t take it personally, and definitely don’t become a black hole for the bench. Take that time to give your teammates high fives and tell them what they’re doing well on the track. If you’re one of the skaters being put out in every other jam, make sure you’re taking those high fives and being supportive of your teammates who are sitting. Coaches will definitely notice if you’re being positive and helping keep others out of a funk.

Mona: On the bench, cheer for your teammates. Shake off your foibles. Be agreeable. Smiling helps. And do not do not DO NOT question your manager about your playing time. Asking when you can go in, whining loudly to your benchmate about how long you’ve been sitting, or simply giving puppy dog eyes to your manager is the fastest way to wind up warming the bench for even longer. You are one of 14 skaters on a bench. Your needs are being balanced with everyone else’s, and you may not be able to see the big picture, but trust your manager knows it. That’s her job. If you have a question about playing time, ask about it later … and I don’t mean immediately after the game. Do it at a neutral time without being confrontational about it. Open it up as “what are some things I can do to get more playing time?” instead of “Why aren’t I getting to play?!”

Hells: Don’t take it personally [if you’re not getting time]. Especially at high level gameplay, remember it’s not about you. It’s about your TEAM. Trust in your coaches and your teammates. You are there for the team and to be the best teammate you can be and to win. Sometimes winning means you aren’t on the track at that time, but your team couldn’t have gotten there without you. Be calm and supportive on the bench. Bench presence goes a long way!

Communicate on the track. Talk to your buddies, your jammer, yourself, never stop! Calm communication keeps your teammates calm.

cat on a bench

Well, at least LOOK excited if you want to play. Photo by Tambako the Jaguar via flickr creative commons.

Play Clean.

Mona: Skaters racking up penalties get benched. Period. Work on learning the rules and learning how to play within them. If you’re starting to rotate into the box, it’s better to dial back the aggression and play clean than to do things that might (probably) get you sent to the box.

Hells: Box trips will get you benched. Don’t blame penalties on the refs or teammates. Instead, learn from the each game and scrimmage and figure out how to limit your penalties.

Play more than one position & be flexible

Mona: Be a utility player. Skaters who are up for anything get more playing time. Don’t be the “I can’t jam if XYZ is out there” or “I only want to block with that skater and refuse to block with that skater.” If you’re willing to jam, block, pivot, go it alone in an extreme penalty situation, or play with anyone on the team, you’re likely to get more playing time.

Hells: Be able to pivot. If you can relief jam and block you may get more play time. But: a good pivot needs to also be someone who can stay on the track. Passing the star is a strategic move and the pivot doesn’t need to save the day. They do need to be smart and aware of their own jammers.

All blockers should be flexible on the track. Be able to play anywhere in your walls. The more flexibility you have on the track and in your walls the better you’ll be with anyone on the track. This will make you a better and more well-rounded player. Be able to work with any one of your teammates on the track. The more people on your team you can work with on the track the better. If you can be put in any line, the better odds you have of being put on a roster and being put on the track.

Make eye contact.

Effy: Make eye contact. Don’t be a creep and stare at me the whole time, but when I’m looking at my options of people to put in the next line up, looking at your coach, letting them know that you’re aware of what’s going on and that you’re ready is incredibly important.



THANK YOU Effy, Mona, and Hells. You are a credit to your sport.

Whaddaya think? How have you gotten more playing time for your team? What questions and frustrations do you have about being benched?


Something weird happened to me at practice that got me thinking about self-talk and the ways we sabotage ourselves.

It was a simple line drill, toward the end of practice. One line’s the jammer, one line’s the blocker, etc. But my first thought was, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this.”

Really, brain? You have jammed in front of 5000 people. You did so poorly, but you survived it, at least.

“No, you’re going to biff it and look stupid.”

anxious pupster

Aw, little friend, don’t be that way! You’re fantastic! Photo by bullcitydogs via flickr creative commons

This is exactly the type of conversation my brain’s been enjoying with itself since… childhood, probably, but definitely for my entire roller derby career.

Other things I like to tell myself: If I jam, I could mess it up for the whole team; If I make a mistake I’ll look like a fraud and everyone will say I had no business writing a book about roller derby; I don’t know if you have the endurance anymore; If this jam goes past one minute there’s no way I’m going to survive; If I get put out in a jam against so-and-so I’m definitely toast. Etc., etc., into infinity.

And endurance? I used to dread going every week. HATED it. “This is going to be terrible, ugh, I hate endurance, this is going to suck.”

This is what we call negative self-talk. And it doesn’t help.

I was really good at being a positive skater on the bench, except when it came to myself. You know what? You’re part of your team, too. You need to pump yourself up as much as you pump up the rest of your teammates.


I’d like to tell my past self that endurance made a stronger skater. Hey, past self! You were even good at it! Remember that time the coach made you start ten feet behind everyone else? Or when someone yelled at you to “use those long legs, gurl!” and you did and you passed everyone? There were so many moments of victory that you buried under memories of a few minutes of discomfort or stress.

Sound familiar?

Being human means being a work in progress. Don’t be too hard on yourself, for your skating or for your mental processes that influence it.


Additional reading and food for thought:

Scarlene gave us great advice for mental toughness that I need to remember all the time.

This isn’t much wishy-washy feelsy stuff: “If athletes are engaging in negative self-talk, their affective experience may be one of frustration, anger, or extreme anxiety. These emotional states challenge breathing, increase muscle tension, and create a loss of concentration and focus, resulting in lower performance.

A million times yes: “Focus on the task at hand rather than the outcome.

Yes, that means at practice or on the way there, if need be: “Self talk should be practiced ahead of time (outside of competition”


What do you do to defeat negative self-talk? Or, better, to promote positive self-talk? 

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