Way to go! You’ve made the decision to play roller derby! That’s incredible; you’re are a strong, fearless person seeking new challenges in your life. Do you know how easy it is for people to say, “Yeah, that looks cool, but I could never do it,” or, “Wow, roller derby looks awesome, I should try that someday.” I hear this a lot, but only the brave few do something about it!
Now that you’re gearing up for Derby 101 (literally and figuratively), there are some things that are worth knowing.
The Lansing Derby Vixens are members of the Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association (WFTDA). WFTDA requires that while playing, we wear gear that will keep everyone safe. For 101s, we also require that you participate in full gear. This includes: a helmet, mouthguard, elbow pads, wrist guards, and knee pads. Oh, and skates, you might also need skates.
We keep a stash of used equipment at our practice venue for you to try, but after the first few weeks, the hope is that you’ll have all your own equipment. There are lots of places online and in real life where you can get equipment. Modern Skate and Surf in East Lansing and All aBOUT Derby sponsor us and are great resources for new gear. If you’re looking for used equipment, there are lots of online options, including the “Roller Derby Recyclables” and “Second Chance Skates” Facebook pages. If you already know someone in derby, they might know someone in your size that may have some used equipment you can borrow. If you don’t know anyone in derby, no sweat! You soon will, and second hand equipment will get you through 101s while you get a feel for what you like. Every skater is different, so don’t be afraid to ask everyone you see about what works for them.
101s currently start at the very beginning. Remaining upright is hard, propelling yourself forward is harder, and stopping…forget about it. These are all covered in the first week are worked on throughout the 101 class. However, having some of these skills prior to starting the 101 class definitely gives you a leg up, and if everyone already know the basics, that means more time can be spent on other other skills. LDV offers Roller Derby Boot Camps that take place the weeks before 101s start to help you begin your derby journey.
The goal of the 101 class is help you build your skating skills to pass the WFTDA Minimum Skills Test. This test is mandatory for all LDV skaters who wish to be eligible for a game roster. All of the skills that you will be tested on can be found on the WFTDA site.
I wanted to mention difficulty because it is definitely an important thing to know about when starting 101s. There will be things that are hard, there will be things that are easy. There will be things that are harder for you but not for the person next to you, and there will be things that are easier for you that are harder for the person next to you. We all bring a range of experiences and skills to the table. That is one of the things that makes roller derby so unique. Some of us played sports our whole lives. Some of us have never played another sport before. Some of us don’t care at all for other sports. But we all have different life experiences and different life paths that have brought us to roller derby. The important thing to remember is that it was hard at the start for all of us. Look at some of the best skaters out there and remember that they started exactly where you are about to start. We were all 101ers once!
Commitment makes a difference. Like with anything, what you put into this training is what you get out of it. If you only skate once a week at the 101 class, you will not see the same progression in your skills than if you skated four times per week. In order to get comfortable with the skills, you need to be comfortable on your skates. In order to be comfortable on your skates, you need to wear your skates. You need to develop an intimate relationship with your skates. It is recommended that you wear your skates around the house. I have a hard time endorsing this tip because I ended up flat on my back staring at my ceiling the first time I did it. The dog looked so disappointed in me. Another way to progress more quickly is to do off-skates workouts. General fitness and strength will help you get better at skating skills faster. At 101s, you’ll learn things you can do at home to increase your physical fitness. Homework is boring, but it will make you a better skater!
Okay, I think you’re ready! You’ve got your gear, you know what to expect, maybe you’ve already done a little bit of skating. So what are you waiting for? Lace ‘em up and we’ll see you on the track!