Get Inspired: How to get into Roller Derby

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Roller derby: Skate fast, hit hard
Fast Answers
Why get into Roller Derby?It's a full-contact team sport which demands skill, teamwork and mental agility.
Who is it for?It's an inclusive sport and ideal for anyone looking for a furious, full contact and fun sport.
Is there a cheap option?Lots of clubs offer low-cost sessions with equipment hire for beginners .
What if I want a proper workout?It gives a good cardiovascular and full body workout and targets your core muscles, gluteus, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles.
What if I can't skate?Most clubs will teach you how to skate.
Can I take it to another level?Clubs across the UK offer recreational, national and international level leagues.
Can men play?There are a growing number of men's Roller Derby leagues in the UK.
Can children play Roller Derby?There are junior Roller Derby clubs which offer a version of Roller Derby modified for children and young people.
How else can I get involved?Teams rely on an army of officials and volunteers to put games on.

Roller Derby is a contact team sport played on quad roller skates. It is known for being inclusive so no matter your size, shape or ability you can play roller derby. There are more than 100 grass-roots clubs in the UK that have recreational and competitive leagues.

There are an increasing amount of men's Roller Derby leagues and there are a growing number of junior clubs which offer a modified version of the sport. For more information, the UK Roller Derby Association is a good place to start.

Roller Derby

Roller Derby is Europe's fastest growing female sport. It is played on a flat oval track by two teams. There are a handful of Roller Derby leagues in the USA that play banked track, as seen in the film Whip It, but in the UK and the rest of the world only flat track is played.

In line with the sport's governing philosophy, 'by the skaters, for the skater', each league relies on members to fulfil the management roles to keep the leagues going. But the operational standards for rules, season, and safety are governed by The Women's Flat Track Derby Association who have a wealth of information about the activity.

Roller Derby Skaters

legs and skates of a group of roller derby skaters

Leagues have robust training plans for skaters at all levels. Can't skate? Don't worry, most clubs will teach you. All skaters must learn to skate and pass their Minimum Skills Requirements before they can play in a scrimmage or competitively. These test for ability and understanding of the rules.

There are different skater positions in Roller Derby; jammer, who is the point scorer; blocker, who blocks the opposing jammer, and the pivot, who is one of the four blockers from each team who has the ability to become the point scorer during a jam. You must be over 18 years old to play Roller Derby. Find our local league via UKRDA.

Men's Roller Derby

men's game of roller derby in play

Also known as Merby, the men's version has the same game play as the women's game. Men's derby is slowly growing. There are some teams in the UK that have mixed male and female teams. The UKRDA has information about teams around the country.

Junior Roller Derby

This is still in its infancy but there are a handful of leagues, probably no more than 10 in the UK. They play mixed gender, and there are levels of game play that start with absolutely no contact up to more impact. The levels are age and ability dependent. If you'd like to find a junior league contact UKRDA.

Roller Derby Officials

group of roller derby referees talking

Non-skating Officials (NSOs): NSOs have been called the unsung heroes of roller derby. They do all the jobs that allow the bout to take place and play a vital role in the game such as keeping track of the score, time and penalties. There are usually between 12 and 15 NSOs at any derby game.

They do not wear skates but can be found at the track side and inside the track. If you would like to find out more, the Wftda has a comprehensive section on officiating. There is also a Facebook group for NSO's and referees.

Referees: Also referred to as 'team zebra', Roller Derby leagues rely on a team of referees to keep the game fair, consistent and safe.

Referees roller skate so that they can keep up with the action. There are seven referees needed to officiate a game. Referees can be affiliated to a league or independent, and as skaters do the referees can aim to officiate at the various levels of Roller Derby often travelling to tournaments and games outside their league.

Trainee referees are trained by league affiliate referees or can attend referee boot camps. Referees are required to wear the guideline striped uniform and act in a professional manner. Wftda has a comprehensive section on officiating and there is also a Facebook group for NSO's and referees.

Coaching and volunteering

Whether you have played in the past or have a keen interest in the sport, teams are always looking for competent coaches who are interested in developing talent.

If you are interested in coaching contact UKRDA to find out ways to get involved. Roller Derby leagues rely on an army of volunteers to so if you want to get involved contact your local league to offer your services. They'll be happy to hear from you.

What's Your Roller Derby Name?

Use the graphic below to find out your roller derby name.

Will you be 'Icy Wrecking Ball,' 'Captain Vixen' or someone completely different? Try it out now!

What's your Roller Derby name?

What's next?

1. Contact the UK Roller Derby Association to find a club near you.

2. Share your story and inspire others!

Are you inspired to try Roller Derby? Or maybe you are an expert already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the activity by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired, visiting us on Facebook or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.