Q: How much time will it take?
Practice, scrimmages and bouts take a considerable time commitment. Practices are held several times a week for 2 hours each. Consider 2 of the practices mandatory while training (veteran skaters too!) and we recommend spending much more time on your skates than that.
It may sound intimidating at first but you've got 20+ girlfriends making the commitment with you :) You'll quickly realize how much fun skating is and want to do even more!
Q: What if I'm really little? Don't you have to be big and burly to play roller derby?
Nope. Our skaters have ranged from 4'10" - 6'5" and come in all sizes.
Q: What if I'm really big? Don't you have to be athletic and in shape to play roller derby?
Nope. Our skaters have ranged from 4'10" - 6'5" and come in all sizes. Not to mention that training for and playing roller derby will probably get you in the best shape of your life!
Q: What if I haven't been on skates since Junior High? Don't I have to be a great skater to even attempt roller derby?
You don't need to be a super star or even know how to skate! If you just have a willingness to work and push yourself; we will teach you everything you need to know to be a super star! Skating isn’t about talent, it’s more about effort. The more effort you put in, the more you get back.
Q: Is roller derby dangerous?
Like any contact sport, participants in modern roller derby may experience physical injury. Bumps, bruises, and scrapes are fairly universal, and many derby girls look on them as badges of honor. More serious injuries can include broken limbs and tailbones, separated shoulders, and ligament tears, particularly in the knees.
To minimize these risks, skaters practice injury-avoidance techniques like falling correctly, and work on strength and conditioning to ensure they're in good enough shape to take the beating. A typical roller derby practice session consists of less than 50% scrimmage activity, and focuses more on basic skills, strength, endurance, and safety.
Derby skaters also wear a protective equipment to prevent serious injury. Modern derby rulesets (and insurance providers) require skaters to wear helmets, mouth guards, elbow pads, wrist guards, and knee pads. Some skaters elect to wear additional protection, such as tailbone protectors or padded shorts.
At practice we work to hone our basic skills and team work; However you must be cleared by coaching to make any contact, to keep you and those around you safe.
Q: Why do the skaters use funny, fake names?
Modern derby skaters customarily adopt an alias, or "derby name." Initially meant to complement the over-the-top spectacle envisioned by the Austin revival's progenitors, the names have stuck even as modern roller derby quickly evolved toward pure competitive sport.
Why? It keeps the whimsy in the activity. It's a way of not taking oneself too seriously, even while taking the sport seriously. In a nutshell: it's fun! Really, if you have to ask, you probably aren't going to get it.
Q: Is the action real? I thought roller derby was fake, kinda like pro wrestling.
The short answer: Not any more. Unlike the derby of the 70s or pro wrestling of today, modern roller derby is a completely legitimate, competitive sport.
The long answer: From its invention in the 1930s up through the 1950s and later, classic roller derby was a basically legit and very popular sport. Through the 60s and into the 70s, theatricality and predetermined outcomes became more prevalent. By its demise in 1973, classic roller derby had fully embraced the pro wrestling philosophy of spectacle over sport, and most people today retain a vague memory of the sport in that state.
When roller derby was reinvented in Austin, Texas, starting in 2001, those same recollections of the old spectacle and fakery definitely informed the derby girls' original intent. As they trained up, though, they came to discover that the best way to make a knockdown look convincing was to actually knock the other skater down, and before long they'd dropped the choreography entirely in favor of real contact with consistent and enforced rules.
Q: I keep hearing local roller derby outfits being referred to as "leagues." What's the difference between a "league" and a "team"?
Like many elements of modern roller derby, the "local league" structure is something of an accident of history. When modern roller derby was reinvented in Austin starting in 2001, the organizers never imagined it would spread beyond their decidedly quirky home town, so they built a league structure with four teams to compete against each other. A couple years later, as derby spread to Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles and beyond, the idea of robust intercity competition still seemed far-fetched, so each local organization formed 3-5 teams, with the term "league" reserved for the overall local business structure.
By 2005, modern roller derby had taken hold in over two dozen cities. While each of these early leagues primarily conducted bouts locally between its member teams, the drive toward intercity (or "interleague") competition was irresistible. Local leagues formed "all star" or "travel" teams, composed of top skaters from each of the league's component teams, to represent them in competition around the country.
Today, a few dozen of the best-established leagues still maintain the 3-5 local teams and 1 all star/travel team model. However, The vast majority of local "leagues" consist of only one or two teams. These "leagues" have either just an all star team playing teams from other cities or an A team/B team league model sending their A team all stars to another city along with their B team (typically made up of rookies) to learn against players of similar skill level.
Q: I thought roller derby was played on a banked track. Where'd it go?
If you've just seen your first roller derby bout, or watched videos of modern roller derby online, you may have been surprised to see the sport played on a flat floor surface, rather than the traditional banked track of classic roller derby. While a handful of local leagues use banked tracks (as portrayed in the film Whip It), over 98% of the 400+ leagues playing modern roller derby around the world skate on flat surfaces.
The viability of roller derby without a banked track was discovered almost by accident, during the reinvention of the sport in Austin in 2001-2003. To raise funds and stir interest, the first skaters organized exhibition bouts in a skating rink, with an oval track taped out onto the floor.
Much to everyone's surprise, they discovered that roller derby actually works just fine on a flat track. While the speeds are lower, the hard hits remain, and the lack of an outer rail means a solid hip check to the outside can send a skater sliding all the way to the edge of the audience. Not even basketball provides quite this level of audience proximity to a spectator sport.
Contrast a flat track, which can be set up with a tape measure and about a hundred bucks of nylon rope and tape. Practice time in a skating rink might cost $50-200 per hour, substantially less than warehouse rental. As more people in more locations set out to start playing derby, these practical matters led many to forego the traditional banked track in favor of flat track's flexibility.
Q: How old is Roller Derby?
The term roller derby dates at least as far back as 1922, when the Chicago Tribune used it to describe multi-day, flat-track roller skating races, similar to banked-track marathons reported on by The New York Times in 1885 (a six-day race) and 1914 (a 24-hour championship), among others.