If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I want to/my friend wants to start roller derby, but she doesn’t know how to start,” I’d have enough to buy a milkshake.
Interested, but don’t know what to do?
Contact a local league and find out what their first steps are
There may be more than one local league – find out! One will probably be a better fit for your personality and goals. Some leagues have tryouts once a year, and others just let warm bodies walk on anytime. Whether or not you plan to try out right away, get this information ASAP. You might be “ready” to try out and find out you just missed your chance.
Figure out your gear
Do you need gear in order to try out, or can you borrow it? Can you borrow some to start? Good gear is expensive, and you don’t want to cheap out on your safety equipment. Your first skates don’t need to be top-of-the-line, but you’re probably looking at spending $300. Get someone who knows about gear to fit you, though you can buy skates online after you find out your size. Skate sizes are NOT the same as shoe sizes, and you want them to fit more snugly than you’d expect. Almost every derby skater I know has an early pair of skates that’s a size too big. Most of us upgrade after six months to a year.
But don’t freak out about your gear!
Calm down about your wheels. Try a lot of different things. Do wheel swaps. Do not get emotionally attached to one setup. Your wheels do not make you a good skater.
Skate lots, then skate more
Just spend time on your skates – at the rink, at any practices you can attend, outdoors (on separate outdoor wheels, please), in your house – whatever. Live in those damn things. Get cozy. Get blisters. Learn how to start and stop. Do squats. If you can do boot camps and learn actual roller derby skills, all the better!
Hang out with some skaters or wannabe skaters
Do you like hanging out with these chicks? You’re going to be doing it A LOT, so you better!
Learn about derby
Read the damn rules. All the way through, more than once. If you understand what cutting the track is, you’ll be a lot better off when you start practicing. Watch online. Go to games. Read the rules again.
Hate to break it to you, but your goal is to be an athlete. Do squats. Lots of squats. And lunges. Start lifting weights. I’m serious! You thought it was all tattoos and beer? Those aren’t required. Athleticism is. It’s okay – you can work up to it, but it’s going to be work.
Ta-da! You should be ready to try out.
How to start with the Rose City Rollers
First things first – it’s competitive. We have skaters on our Fresh Meat squad who could play for a travel team on a smaller league. People who make it through tryouts usually have:
- Experience in competitive skating, like speed skating, figure skating or hockey (especially hockey)
- Several months of skating with the Rose City Wreckers recreational league
- Bouting experience from playing in another league
- Incredible athletic skills and an annoying ablility to pick things up quickly (jerks)
Even transfers don’t always make it – that’s how competitive it is, and it’s just getting more so as time goes on. If you’ve never played derby before, look up the next Wreckers orientation and get signed up. Go to as many practices as possible. Go to bootcamps and Derby Daze. Learn to jam skate. Skate outside. At tryouts, you’ll need to start, stop, fall safely, and jump – those are skills you’ll learn at Wreckers, not tooling around the rink.
And, you know what? It’s not uncommon to spend a year training to get on Fresh Meat, a year ON Fresh Meat, and another year trying to get rostered with your team. The whole time, your friends will ask when they can come see you play. Then, once you actually do start playing, they’ll have other plans.
Playing roller derby is not all spotlights and glamour. In fact, it’s mostly sweat and dirt and giggling and emails. You’ll love it.
Except for the emails.
Oh, and buy my book. That’s a good place to start.