As the Diamond State Roller Girls nears the second month of the off-season, several new skaters are tossing away their fears and learning just what it takes to be a roller derby athlete.

It has officially been one year since I decided to enter the terrifying world of roller derby. With no real skating experience, aside from the occasional birthday party or roll around the block, I considered myself a goner. I was convinced these girls, all bigger, faster and stronger, would annihilate me.


And believe me, they did. But I learned quickly the key is to get back up. Again. And again.  And then again.


My experience is not much different than a lot of the women that play this sport. Many of us were looking for something that would challenge us physically and mentally, would empower us and on any given night would provide an outlet to relieve our day-to-day stresses.


We’re everyday women with careers, kids, significant others and often demanding lives. And each week, we make the commitment to be on that track, giving everything we’ve got for two hours before bedtime.


As the Diamond State Roller Girls nears the second month of the off-season, several new skaters are tossing away their fears and learning just what it takes to be a roller derby athlete.


Many flat-track leagues, and there are now hundreds throughout the world, refer to their new skaters as fresh meat, but DSRG does things a bit different. Instead of pieces of ground chuck, we liken our skaters to fried potatoes. Skater tots to be precise (We like to play on words in roller derby, if you haven’t already noticed).


After what is usually three months of painful and exhausting basic training (learning how to properly skate, fall, stop and block) those “tots” that pass their basic skills evaluation and a rules test advance to the roster and are eligible to bout.


But it’s not easy. It comes with blisters, bruises, what seems like gallons of sweat and sometimes even a few tears.


The road to becoming a rostered skater is brutal, but well-worth it.


 


Here are some tips for those who have recently joined or are thinking of joining a roller derby league:


 


Read up The more research you do the better. As roller derby has reemerged in the past decade, a grassroots community has popped up online, making it simple to find helpful resources about all things derby-related. Whether it’s YouTube, Facebook, blogs, online magazines or league web sites, you can find tips on cross-training, skate maintenance, demos, etc. Here are a few to get you started:


Women's Flat Track Roller Derby Association


Derby News Network


Promise of Derby


Blood & Thunder Magazine


 


Keep those skates on Ask any veteran skater and they’ll tell you the best way to get comfortable in your skates is to wear them … all the time. Walk around the house in them, vacuum in them, do the dishes while wearing them. The more time you spend in your skates outside of practice, the better they’ll treat you when it's time to hit the track. This also includes skating. Skate as much as possible outside of practice (but warning: Invest in outdoor wheels if you plan to skate outdoors, as the gravel or concrete can damage your indoor wheels).


Cross-train To be effective in roller derby, a skater can’t simply rely on practice for their weekly workout routine. Whether it’s at the gym or in the comfort of your own home, work on strengthening your core muscles as they play a key role when it comes to balance and derby stance. Plyometrics, which are spurts of fast, powerful movements, including a combination of lunges, crunches, planks, etc., are also commonly recommended.


Stay focused It’s easy to get discouraged when starting any new sport or activity. In my first few months, I constantly compared myself to other skaters who were clearly accelerating faster than I was. It of course brought me down to the point where I almost gave up. But I kept at it and I’m still improving to this day. Find your own pace and concentrate on improving every day. Know your limits, but push them. You’ll be surprised to learn what you’re capable of when you practice hard enough.