From Queen of the Rink, here are seven tips for roller derby "Fresh Meat," aka rookie players. Censored by me, because derby girls tend toward the foul mouthed. :)
1. Take off that garter-belt-tutu-thing and pay your f----- dues. Lay track, keep score, haul water, stamp hands. There will be a time for semi-nudity and obnoxious self-promotion. And that time is after you’ve actually proven yourself on the track. Teams don’t draft rollergirls. Teams draft roller derby players.
2. You don’t always get drafted right away. Even if you do everything right, maybe you’re just not what a team needs. Maybe a team needs a jammer and you are clearly a blocker. Maybe you just need more time. Don’t throw a diva fit and don’t disappear. Ask if can help with reffing or NSO duties or whatever. Keep practicing and keep driving yourself. You can be awesome! But it doesn’t happen overnight.
3. Watch the game. Watch as many bouts online, on TV, or in person as you can. Have the rules on hand so you can check to see and familiarize yourself with all the penalties and procedures. Watch with a vet and ask questions about everything. If you get a penalty during practice or scrimmage, ask the ref about it afterward. You don’t sound stupid. It’s a very complicated game. Most the players I know (including myself) say the average amount of time it takes to really understand what you’re doing on the track is one year. One. Year. Of being on a team. Ask and listen all the time.
4. Wax on, wax off. Does a drill seem easy to you? Then you are being a lazy, sloppy, no count, time wasting, dumb b----. The best skaters in the game do hundreds of laps and basics til they puke. Get lower, engage your core, add a power option. If anything is comfortable or easy you are not making the most of the drill.
5. Learn the difference between hurt and injured. Injured means you can’t skate. Broken bone, torn ligament, concussion, loss of limb. Don’t ever skate if your doctor tells you not to or if you are only 75% healed. Tell your coach and captains if there is anything wrong with you before hitting the track. That said, DERBY F----- HURTS. You don’t get to stop or skip practice because you are “hurt.” Being sore, having a bruise the size of a skillet, a little sniffle, or a black eye are not excuses to stay home. Nobody wants to draft a player who is always too “hurt” to be there for her team.
6. Perfect your stops. You do not need a drill or a lot of space to work on stops. Whenever you have a few seconds alone work on stopping as quickly and as low as possible. T-stop with your left and your right skate, plow stop, hockey stop, backwards toe stop. Dragging a toe is an invitation for an opposing blocker to floor you and probably snap your ankle. Don’t ever, ever do it.
7. Derby skating is not session skating. There is never a time for coasting during roller derby. At any given time you should be actively speeding up or slowing down. Read that sentence again- it was a derby epiphany for me. When you are skating fast there is never a need for gliding. Speed does not come from wheels rolling; it comes from pushing off the edge of your wheel. Crossovers, duck walks, juking, choppy, running steps. Get it?