Fresh meat? Rookie? New to roller derby?

So you've taken the plunge and joined a roller derby team - that's fantastic! You'll soon see why so many people love the sport. When you first join, it can be a bit daunting with all the different things you have to learn. What skates do I get? What do I need to do? How can I get move involved with my league? Hopefully you'll find some answers on this page...
On this page you will find information about:

- Useful groups to join
- Choosing a derby name and number
- Roles within roller derby
- Passing skills, 27/5 and fitness
Useful groups...
Whether you're a freshie or not, there are some groups online (mostly on facebook) that will prove invauable to you during your derby career. Here are just a few!

Roller Derby Compendium for Freshies Worldwide
Everything you could possible need. A great place to ask questions, learn new things about the sport, ask for help you need, meet new people and pick up tips for all aspects of roller derby.

UK Roller Derby Recycleables
You can buy all the things here. Second hand gear is great! It's well loved, cheaper and if you buy skates they are already worn in, so no blisters. Win-win.

UK Derby Dialogue
A good overall group for anything roller derby happening in the UK! A great way to find events happening near you.

Roller Derby Form check
This is a group where you can post videos of yourself skating and ask other members to check your skating form. Your form and stride as so important to get right to avoid injury and make you a better skater.

Choosing a name and number...

Choosing a name

Choosing a number

Choosing a roller derby name is often seen as a badge of honour, a reward for passing your minimum skills and taking part in your first bout, and becomming a fully fledged member of a league. Some leagues let you choose a name straight away, others will require you to pass skills and show a committment to the league before you go choosing a badass name all willy nilly. Roller derby requires committment, show you've got it and be rewarded with the sparkly name you always dreamed of!

Some people know immediately what they want their name to be, others take a while to decide and often ask for help when choosing a name. A great way to do this is to go onto the "roller derby compendium for freshies worldwide" Facebook group (what a mouthful) and tell everyone a bit about yourself and what you like. Usually there will be many replies with excellent ideas, and you just choose your fave.

If you really struggle, you can always try this fun "Pun Generator"! It mostly comes out with rubbish but you might find an absolute gem in there.

Some rules to consider for names:

- Don't choose the same name as a famous skater

- It's generally getting harder to have a unique name in the world these days, but try not to choose a name the same as someone you're likely to play against.

- Ask if your league requires it to be "family friendly". Roller derby is open to all ages these days, so "smack my bitch up bitch face tits mcGee" might not be an appropriate name to put on a shirt. Also, it wouldn't fit anyway. Think it through!

- You can check and see what other names are taken by looking on the two roller derby name registers online. The most accurate one is Derby Roll Call, so use that one. The Twoevils site has been defunct for years but it's worth a look out of interest!
Choosing a number can be just a hard as choosing a name. The number is probably more important though, as that's what really matters during gameplay. Here are some rules for numbers:

- Between 1 and 4 digits long
- Must be unique in your league
- Be mindful of retired numbers (e.g. #1 - look it up)

Roles within roller derby...

There are so many things you can do in roller derby. Most people join wanting to learn to skate or become a skater in the game itself, but if things don't go to plan or if you just fancy giving something else a try, there is so much available to you. Below are just SOME of the many valuable and incredible roles within our awesome sport. Without all of these hard working and dedicated people, roller derby wouldn't be able to happen. Next time you're scrimming, hug your referees and NSOs (after the game has finished, obviously!).
If there are any more you think should be in here, let us know!
The only people apart from the rostered players who can skate on the track during a game, are the referees (affectionately known as Zebras). They are the all knowing, all seeing eyes on the track, watching for penalties and counting the legal scores for the jammers. There are up to 7 referees on the track at a time, one for each jammer, and the rest spread between the inside and outside of the track.

Interested in becomming a ref? Check out Skew's blog:
You can see the NSO (non-skating officials) all over the place, looking after vital aspects of each roller derby game. NSO's are in charge of...

- operating the score boards
- tracking penalties
- timing the jams

...and so many other important things. NSO's are absolutely vital to any game and without them we couldn't play, so thank you NSOs!

Lots of leagues teach their newbies how to NSO while they are learning to skate.
Go team Zebra!
We <3 NSOs
Once you've watched a fair few games and you've had a go at skating yourself, you might fancy giving announcing a go. These guys are super skilled, know loads about the game and also how to keep a crowd pleased! Giving updates on the game, making it more interesting for the fans and also using their knowledge of the sport to keep newbies in the know, a passionate announcer is a must for any game.
You've skated for a while and you want to help with the coaching, or you've just started a league and you don't have a coach yet. How do you get involved?

There is no set way to do this. If you want to help out, ask your league, and if a coaching position is available they will help you out!

Coaches come from all backgrounds. Some have never skated before, others skate in a team and some are still doing fresh meat. If you've got the knack, you've got it!
The MC's of the roller derby world
It's called shouting
​with love

The bench crew are vital to gameplay, looking after the team on and off the track.

Bench Coach
The bench coach can usually be seen watching the game like a hawk, ocasionally shouting at the skaters (instructions, not insults!) and waving their arms frantically to provide guidance. Bristol Roller Derby have an excellent guide on Bench Management!

Lineup Manager
Also on the bench during gameplay is the lineup manager, who looks after which skaters will go on during which jam. Without the bench lineup the game way just fall into unorganised chaos!

If you've read the "how to start a league" page you'll see just how much we value a good strong committee behind any league. Behind every roller derby league you'll find a hard working, dedicated, passionate group of people who keep the club going no matter what. If you love your team and you've got some spare time, why not ask about joining the committee? You might not think you have any skills but if you see the work they are doing and think you can lend a hand, you should. Without hard working people in the background, all the leagues in the world wouldn't be able to operate.
Bench crew
The Bench crew
know all

Without whom, we would not work

Passing your minimum skills, 27/5 and fitness resources...

Nail those skills and get fit trying...

You'll soon learn that passing your minimum skills is the goldmine of roller derby. The minimum skills set out by the WFTDA are standard for most leagues, but everyone works towards them slightly differently. All fresh meat / beginners programmes will be different wherever you go. The most important thing to remember is not to compare yourself to others, and use this training as your own journey, not a race.

Here we've gathered up some links to useful training guides and some excellent videos. Watch as many as you can, by different people, to get a broad view of how everyone executes a skill. Everyone learns differently and one person's way of doing something might not work for you, whereas another method might be just right!

WFTDA resources

The WFTDA have a tonne of really valuable resources to help you towards passing your minimum skills. Take a look at the actual skills list below and also the handy assessment companion, which gives you some really helpful information if you can't quite nail a skill. It looks at some common errors and how to correct them.  Or, why not check out the WFTDA online Education series? There are some great videos which demonstrate how you should be executing skills.

Remember though, your best advice will come from the experienced skaters and coaches in your league, so don't be afraid to ask.

Download the minimum skills requirements here

Download the minimum skills assessment companion here

Top tips for getting through fresh meat

You don't have to go far to get some great tips for surviving fresh meat. If you've had a look at the "useful groups" section on this page yet, you might already know how amazing "Roller Derby Compendium for Freshies Worldwide" is as a resource (even thought it's a mouthful!). Here are some top tips from people within that group who have started, are about to start or have completed their fresh meat journey.

Jaded Lilin’ #13  - RadLeak Rollers, Alberta Canada

#9 Bille - Dock City Rollers, Gothenburg

Speed Rita #924 - Minneapolis, Minnesota

"Don’t be critical of yourself or compare yourself to other skaters. Everyone develops skills at different times.
There’s always going to be one skill that gets you down more than any other. It makes success that much sweeter.
Listen to your trainers. Be present at practice. If something isn’t working for you don’t be afraid to try a different way."

"BEND YOUR KNEES. You can always get lower than you think. PUSH YOURSELF
Always do drills just outside of your comfort zone. HAVE FUN. If you’re not enjoying derby, don’t do it."

"There is no time frame on when you need these skills done. You'll know when you are ready. Get low. The skills will be easier when you have derby stance mastered. Fall down 10 times, get up 11 times. It's totally ok to fall."

K.D.D - Savannah, Georgia, USA

Wookiee Tango Foxtrot #176 - USA

"Everyone has a unique derby journey.
some skills that are easy for you are hard for others. Always ask someone doing something “cool” to show you how they do it. Let your light shine."

"Listen to the critique of your assessors. They want to see you succeed. Constructive criticism is a good thing. Even the most seasoned skaters have something they need to work on.
Bonus advice: Have fun."

Zomboy #94 - USA

"Drink plenty of water before and after the test. Make sure your skates get checked out two weeks before you test. Do your 27/5 First! Skip the drumroll and get the biggest part of the test out of the way while you can."


Fizzy Lifting Drink #2 - UK

"No one is going to do derby for you. So kick your ass (but have fun). And skate outside of practice as much as you can. Practice weak and strong sides at the same time, ramps and skateparks help a lot (the basic tricks).
Take videos of yourself as much as you can. sometimes, we think we are doing it, but then you rewatch the video and nope, it's just in your head."
"1. Falling is not a failure. Falling is the journey to mastery of manipulating your body on wheels.

2. Watch derby live in person as much as possible.

3. Being relaxed in skates is more important than being low."

S(hit) Maj-Britt, #69 - Dock City Rollers, Gothenburg Sweden

"1. Dare. Dare yourself to jump just one inch higher, skate faster, fall more than you think you can. If you land the skill, You’re gonna feel badass. If you fail, try again.

2. Falls may hurt at times, train your body to still try new things, even though You’re scared of hitting the floor. My most valuable skill is learning How to fall, and get back up. Try overexhaggerating your falls to see How your body reacts to different ways of falling. (I tend to get hits and roll away like a meatball to keep momentum while jamming).

3. Have fun, get to know your weaknesses and struggles, and help your mates with theirs if You’re struggling with different things. Skills come to people in different moments, sometimes you need to watch videos, get help from other skaters or trainers to really get the ”aha”-moment."

Thugsy malone #701 - Richter city NZ

Nerdy Little Secret, #42 - Tucson Roller Derby

That girl flying around passing laps first time probably wishes she could plow as strong as you, that girl dancing around on toestops probably wishes she didn't get knocked down so easily. The girl nailing transitions may struggle with weaving. We all have different strengths and skills, that's what makes derby ace. Its your journey no one elses, enjoy every second of it."

"Don't be intimidated by everything you have to learn. At every practice, pick one thing (plow stops, using your edges, weight transfers) and pay special attention to it. Small goals are your friend!
Get a little palm-size notebook and make it your "book of wins." At the end of every skate session, write at least one thing you did a good job at that day. Even if it's "met up with a bunch of strangers and didn't chicken out!" Then on rough days, you can look back and see all the reasons you have to be proud of yourself."

MaliRue Barbie #59 - South Korea

"Gear is important. But so are you. Take care ofyourself and listen to your body if something doesnt feel right.
Look around you, you might not be the best and you might be struggling. But youre doing 100% better than the people at home skipping practice"

Nailing 27/5

Most of us found ourselves struglling to nail that one skill, the skill which is most skaters nightmare, 27/5! Yes, I feel ya! Most people pass all ther skills and takes them years to pass their endurance hellhole. It is disheartening and discouraging and makes you want to quit everything and go home. Well don't! A lot of skaters go through what you are and they will support you, especially on facebook groups and your team.
Three pieces of advice from me, patience, consistency, persistency.

Wise words by Hoolia...

Roller Derby is perhaps one of the most accepting sports that anyone can take part in. No matter how tall, small, big or short you are, derby has proven that all body shapes are welcome. Your body shape should never make you ever wonder if you are cut for Derby. One thing though has to be said, that sometimes it requires some extra work aside from derby to get perhaps that explosive power that you might be after or finally acing the 27/5 that you are dreading every week. I am no nutritionist or in fact fitness instructor, I do however like working hard and I do believe that working on your fitness in your free time will improve the results that you are after. 
In this section of our Derby directory I will mention a few websites you could visit and read upon what other coaches have to say about on and off-skating training. Some of the websites even have very specific workouts for skills that you might want to work on. It might be the killer quads that you are after or indeed the massive glutes that will help with your deadly hits. Just remember there is always different ways to improve your skating. I believe every sport is a constant learning curve and the learning should never stop.
Hoolia 2122 - Border City Roller Derby

  1. Patience
    It takes the patience of a mother with ten teenagers at the same time (my idea of patience) to nail 27/5. Don't give up and give yourself some slack. You are doing great. You are only human!
  2. Consistency
    Nail your crossovers and your diamond skating on the track and be consistent with them. I promise you it .will improve your 27/5. Below I will attach some links on how to get low and how to up your strenght for your crossovers. Consistency is the key to master your laps
  3. Persistency
    Never give up. Keep at it and you will see results. After all it needs the fire you have within you! If you get angry , use that to your advantage and make it your fuel that will drive you to your success...BUT never give up.
A little secret about 27/5:

Thankfully, at no point during a game will someone shout "GO" expecting you to do your laps and prove your worth, however 27/5 was set as a standard by WTFDA for minimum skills , and in my opinion is an endurance and general fitness awareness of one's self! A lot of people will disagree with me on this and that's fine. Some leagues don't even have 27/5 as part of their club's minimum skills requirement. But I have to disagree. The laps are a determination test. no shortcuts! It will improve posture, endurance, mental ability and crossovers by the time you are finished with them. It is all a mental and physical game.

Fitness is the key... here are some websites for you.

Roller Derby Athletics:
Roller Derby Athletics is a fantastic page to follow for exercises,
especially off-skate training to improve anything roller derby related including your laps.

Youtube is a fantastic source for derby training videos, on skating, off skating and even at the gym. Make the best use of it!

Treblemaker 909:
Good fitness exrcises and advice for training!

I enjoy watching drills and videos on Instagram as I follow lots of teams on the platform.
They provide an inspiration to coaching evenings for me and there is always something new to teach and try out!
Aftert all not everyone learns the same way.

Here is a bit of advice from Pivotstar and what they think is important for roller derby training.

Fitness is the key to Roller Derby. If you put time and effort into it you will have your results. Always go that extra mile and you will be amazed on your improvement. If there are any other platforms that you use for your fitness, we would love to know and add them to our list!