Category Archives: Practical Know-How is Practical Power

How to Waste Money on Roller Derby

Feeling cashy lately? Want to waste money on roller derby? It’s super easy to do! Follow these tips, and you’ll be clearing out your checking account in no time.

Buy skates without getting fitted or consulting a professional

Skates are in men’s sizes, and they’re not supposed to fit like shoes, but go ahead and make your best guess as to what size to get and what brand will suit you. They’ll probably be close(ish) to sorta fitting!

Buy crappy gear, especially knee pads

Your pads will slip repeatedly, and you will replace them. Boom. There goes $35. You’re welcome.

Convince your team to get several new uniforms every year

Obviously, you need a new uniform every year. Why not get a few colors? And matching helmets? And matching socks? And get special shirts made up. How about special shirts made up for a second-half outfit change EVERY BOUT? (All joking aside, you probably do need/REALLY WANT a lot of this stuff, so prioritize, people.)

Buy a t-shirt from every league you come across

Precious memories, sitting in a drawer. Weird how you can go through so many clothes in a week, yet you can barely make a dent in that derby t-shirt stash.

Drink only bottled water

Or, buy a really fancy water bottle and neglect to wash it weeks at a time until it’s so disgusting it can’t be saved.

Don’t clean your stuff, ever

Just buy new bearings and wheels and skates and wrist guards when you reach the end of your rope.

Take as many supplements as possible with minimal research

Did someone suggest some important-sounding supplement, even though you just met them? Better run out and buy it in bulk. That goes for protein powder, too. You’ll find out later if you hate it or if it makes you break out in hives. Wanna go out for a smoothie? Have you tried Guarana? What are electrolytes? I don’t know, but they’re completely awesome!

Don’t put your name on your stuff

Do not mark your skate tool with your name, but do leave it at your bench during scrimmage. Keep chatting it up after practice – you probably got both wrist guards in your bag.

Buy as many new wheels as possible, but do not try them beforehand

Your buddy likes the newest and shiniest thing, so you probably will, too. You’ve been meaning to get another pair that will work well for concrete, because you have two sets you use that you like OKAY but aren’t perfect. Keep chasing that dragon. Never sell or trade.

Don’t show up to practice

People pay for gym memberships and never go. Paying roller derby dues cost the same, if not less, and it makes for a better conversation starter at parties.

Don’t do any planning for your derby trip

Just go with the flow! You’ll be with your buddies, so it’ll all work out.


How do you blow your roller derby budget?


Frisky loves Frisky Sour

Frisky Sour wrote Roller Derby for Beginners.

This post first appeared on little anecdote but I tried to make it better.

When Fresh Meat Gets Stale: Four Years of Lessons Learned

I started skating fresh meat in 2012, just before a big rules change. Back then we had minors and the baseball slide was considered a perfectly safe and valid way to fall, and Gumballs were a new and shiny invention: they were absolutely tiny and had domes.

I had, after some thought, decided to learn to skate, and to play roller derby, so that January, I went along to practice with my first league. A short couple of months later, I promptly overstretched my left hamstring, to the point it all but tore, and couldn’t walk for three weeks or skate for nearly three months. A couple of months after that, I fell off my toe stops doing a stepping drill, and partially dislocated my right kneecap, on a dodgy kneepad that pushed up and under, compounding the fall. (Get good kneepads kids, you’ve only got one set of knees!)

That September, I moved house, city, and subsequently, leagues. That was the first time I saw my group go on to graduate without me.

4 years, 3 house moves, and 2 league moves later, and I’ve completely perfected the art of waving a cheery, and heartfelt, goodbye to my fresh meat friends as they pass out of the course, pass probation, or become B and A Team skaters whilst I cycle back around to learning to fall and stop safely, again.

It’s disheartening, but it’s also okay, so I’ve put together the following 10 Top Tips to help you get over the pain, and make the grade yourself!

1. It’s OK to Feel Sad/Angry/Conflicted/Absolutely Anything You Like
You can be happy for your friends whilst still being sad for yourself, but it will feel weird. It’s especially hard if your league is like my second league, where you had to pass a pre-minimum skills assessment to see if you could join the rec league and learn to scrim, and only two of you don’t pass. Trying to be pleased for everyone and simultaneously quite wanting to lock yourself in the toilets and cry because you didn’t pass is hard.

I’m a strong believer that you feel what you feel. If you would feel like you’re moping to go home, lock yourself in your room and cry, then maybe it’s best to make yourself go to the pub with everyone, but if you really can’t bear putting on your brave face and going to celebrate? Well, you don’t owe anyone anything, take yourself home, indulge in some self-care, have a bath, eat some chocolate, have a cry. This feeling will pass, I promise.

2. Celebrate What You Can Do
So you haven’t passed a specific skill, maybe (like me) you can’t transition to save your life? (No really, 4 years and learning, please, please tell me the secret!) But, maybe you’re the fastest plough (Editor’s note: Or plow, in ‘merica) stopper in your group–that’s pretty cool! Well done you! Remind yourself constantly that just because you can’t do one thing doesn’t mean you’re not great at other things. Similarly, when you master a skill, or just improve on something, however small, have your own personal cheerleading party in your head. So what if it’s taken you a bit longer than everyone else. You just skated the diamond and didn’t slide out! Go you!

3. Try Not to Compare Yourself to Others
Easier said than done, believe me, I know. Girls I was learning to skate with two years ago are now A-Team captains of other leagues, and here’s me, still a rookie. But on the other hand, in those four years I finished a degree and got married to my wonderful wife, so even if I’d had their skill, it still doesn’t mean I’d be an A-Team captain. I just wouldn’t have had the time to dedicate to my team, and that’s okay.

As a side note, if you do find your brain sliding into comparing yourself to others, try to do it positively, e.g., “What skills do I need to learn to be the next Bonnie Thunders?” as opposed to, “Oh Bonnie is sooooo amazing and I’ll never be that good”. It’s all about how you think about it.

4. Have a Think What Else You Can Do to Learn
It’s not just about skating as much as you can (although that helps!); think about what else you can do. Going to open skates helps, as does skating in your local park. The more time you can spend getting used to your wheels the better! I used to do the hoovering on skates at one point.

For me, learning to ref the game has made the biggest impact. I know the rules far better than I did before, and trying to track the game whilst rolling has improved my on-skates skills.

NSOing is also always going to be helpful. You’ll get a feel for the rules, how long everything takes, and you can watch for strategy at the same time, so long as you keep an eye on the score/time if that’s your job!

Sometimes fresh meat starts getting old! How do you keep going after it seems like everyone moves on without you? | vegetarianPDX

Photo by Alison Ankwell

5. Remember You Can Still Learn Derby Inside Out
Everyone should know how to do basic skate maintainable themselves, but equally every league can benefit from a kit wizard. You might not be the hottest on skates, but learn about durometer or how to mount plates and you will be looked upon as a veritable God[ess], especially if you get really good at it. Familiarising yourself with the anatomy of your skates helps too, and you’ll have the added advantage of being able to save money on replacement kit.

Personally, I’m a massive gear nerd. I think it helps because I know everything I could want to know about how my kit works and how I can use that to my advantage.

6. Challenge Yourself
You’ll hear this time and time again, because it’s true, Never Ever stop challenging yourself. If you’re finding yourself going back to practicing stops and falls safely? Perfect them! You can always learn to stop faster or recover from a fall more quickly. If you can do knee falls, try to just knee tap. Already good at ploughing? Plough faster or on one foot. Even the A-team have to practice these skills sometimes; it’s practice that makes you improve.

7. Ask For Help
Maybe there’s one skill that you’re really struggling with. I’ve found asking politely will always get you some tips. Especially if you’re at an open skate and someone isn’t too busy, they can show you how. Or why not swap skills with someone? Maybe you can jump and hop really well whilst they’re way better at transitioning. Show each other your skills and tips. Bonus: you’ll get the combined warm and fuzzy glow of helping someone, and the ego boost of being good at something!

8. Remember Everything Happens For a Reason
Have you ever felt nervous doing a drill for the first time? Or a bit frustrated trying to master a skill? Now imagine those feelings trying to play a game above your level, or indeed playing for the first time at all. Although it might not feel like it at the time, the people passing or failing you in assessments DO have your best interests at heart, not just theirs. Not only is there a possibility of you getting hurt if you’re trying to do something you’re not ready for, but there’s always a danger that you might take someone down with you.

9. Socialise
Just because the girl you started fresh meat with is now skating on a different team to you, doesn’t mean you can’t still hang out together. Socialising is a big part of the sport. Squirrelling yourself away from the fun is just a way to make yourself stop enjoying and start resenting derby. At least, that’s what I’ve found. You don’t have to go to the pub every week, or after every game, but try and go along when it’s fun.

10. Just keep trying!
You can only keep practicing, and trying. And who knows, maybe along the way you’ll learn something you might not otherwise have known. I still live in hope that I might one day pass my minimum skills, and on that day I shall be very proud of myself. And I’m quite sure that, one day, you will too.


Sometimes fresh meat gets a little stale. Tips for beginning skaters who end up beginning over and over | vegetarianPDXby Misha Anker, aka Juke Special

Misha Anker/Juke Special is a trainee ref for the London Roller Girls Rec League. She has been skating since 2012 and is sure she’ll master transitions any day now. She lives in London with her wife and two cats.



How to Start Roller Derby

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I’ve always wanted to play roller derby, but I don’t know how to start,” I’d have enough to buy a milkshake. Wanna learn how to start roller derby? Step one: OWN IT. Go to the rink. Instagram your feet with skates and write a heartfelt caption about how you’re gonna start living your dreams.

Now you HAVE to start.

Okay, but AFTER that…

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 take a month to two to 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. Waaaay too many derby skaters I know have an early pair of skates that’s a size too big. (Me, for example.) Most of us upgrade later to more expensive skates later, once we figure out our preferences.

But don’t freak out about your gear!

Take a deep breath and calm down about your wheels. Yes, there are a lot to choose from, but there’s no one “right” choice, I promise. Let yourself make an informed, but not-perfect choice to start. Try a lot of different things. Do wheel swaps. Do not get emotionally attached to one wheel setup. Your relationship with your wheels will blossom and fade as time goes by. Sunrise, sunset.

How to Start Roller Derby | Roller Derby for Beginners

Photo by motox810 via flickr

Skate lots, then skate more.

Just spend time on your skates –- at the skating rink if possible, 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. Turn around in place. Do squats. (Yes, in your skates.) If you can do some 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 people? You’re going to be doing it A LOT, so you better! If they have a training program, start as soon as possible. Ask if there’s a certain time that skaters go to the skating rink. If it’s going to be a while before you can try out, you can even find a volunteer job. If you’re going to try out soon, don’t get ahead of yourself. Once you join a league, there will be plenty of opportunity to volunteer. [Insert side eye from every current or retired roller derby skater EVER, all like, yeah, YA THINK?]

Learn about derby.

Watch games online. Read the rules. Go to games in person. Read the rules again.


Hate to break it to you, but you’ve just decided to be an athlete. Start breaking it to your body slowly, with professional guidance by a doctor or trainer as needed. Run, ride a bike, swim, lift weights, do yoga. Any fitness you can squeak out now will pay off tenfold in your early derby career. But you know what? If you’re starting out as a couch potato, don’t be put off. Try a couch to 5K. Do a dance class once a week. Something is better than nothing when it comes to conditioning.

Learn how to take care of your gear.

There are a bunch of parts to your skates — learn what they are and how they work. If you’re lucky, you have a skate shop nearby and a friendly person to walk you through any questions you might have as they pop up. If not, there’s always the internet. Clean your damn bearings.

Learn to take care of yourself.

You need your body for the rest of your life, so don’t wear it out immediately. More training is not always better. Give yourself mental and physical breaks. Read up about helmets and concussions. Forgive yourself for not learning new skills as quickly as you thought you would. Roller derby is fun, but it’s hard.

Ta-da! You should be ready to try out.

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.


by Frisky Sour

Frisky Sour wrote Roller Derby for Beginners, the much-longer answer to this question.

This post first appeared on little anecdote but I tried to make it better.