We’ll cover everything you need to know about playing (or refereeing) this fast-paced, full contact sport during the course. But if you want to get off to a flying start, here are some things to think about before then.
1. Watch some roller derby!
Totally new to the game or mostly know it from watching Whip It? (No shade - that’s how plenty of us got the derby bug!).
Whip It is a good time - but isn’t a good representation of how derby is actually played today. To see how it’s done by the pro’s, check out these games:
Next step away from Whip It: Rose City vs Gotham (2019)
Aspirational: London Roller Derby vs Rainy City (2022)
Inspirational: Junior Roller Derby Back on Track Showcase (2022)
Word of warning, high level games look brutal! But don’t let that put you off getting started. Remember that those are super experienced athletes playing in world-class leagues.
Bath is currently a smaller league made up of a mix of more experienced and newer skaters. We make sure we have a welcoming, fun atmosphere where we can all learn and improve together. That said, even at our level, derby is still a full contact sport. We do everything we can to make sure people can play safely, but like any contact sport there’s always a risk of injury.
2. Get some kit
We have some limited kit available to borrow, provided by our current skaters. We’ll send out a survey before the course where you can register your interest in this.
Lots of people may find it easier to use their own kit from the start. If you joined the lockdown roller skating boom, outdoor or park skates are fine for getting to grips with most derby skating skills, if you don’t want to buy derby skates just yet.
And, as derby is a contact sport, you need protective gear, including:
3. Where to buy kit
If you want to invest in something derby specific, we strongly recommend buying from skater-owned shops because they know more about derby! Great options include:
Bridgend Cycle Centre (Bridgend)
Momma Trucker’s (Exeter)
Double Threat Skates (London)
For second hand gear, join the UK Roller Derby Recyclables Facebook Group - there’s a regular rotation of kit for sale, and usually lots of beginner derby skates like Riedell R3s and Suregrip GT50s.
If you’re looking for cheaper protective gear, the sets they sell in sport or skate shops or from websites like Skate Hut and Skate UK should be fine.
4. Practice skating
If you can get in some skating practice before the course starts, then great!
Bath Roller Disco - Bath Pavilions, adult sessions are 7pm-9pm Mondays and Wednesday
BUMP Roller Disco - Bristol, Redcliffe Wharf. Daily skating sessions.
Find an event near where you live - we’ve heard the roller discos in Melksham and at the Cheese & Grain in Frome are good.
Get used to the feeling of standing and moving on quad skates, and how to stop safely. The first five minutes of this video show how to do one of our faves, the plow stop.
5. Work on fitness and flexibility
We’re aware that society has a pretty narrow idea of what health and fitness means. If you’ve found other sports or exercise off-putting because of superficial ideas of what ‘success’ looks like, then you’ll hopefully find derby very different. There is a role for bodies of all shapes and sizes, which is one of the reasons we love this sport so much.
When you start, skating really pushes your legs, core and lower back muscles, so anything you can do to improve strength and flexibility here is great! Regular squats, lunges and calf raises will all help reduce aches and pains. As will yoga stretches such as cat/cow and downward dog.
6. Practical details
How often can you train?
Derby is very much a DIY sport. From the coaches and referees to the committee, we put our own time into making Bath Roller Derby happen. This includes running dedicated beginners courses to grow our league and share our awesome sport with more people.
While we don’t have strict attendance requirements (apart from when training for public games), sessions are the most fun and useful when we know people can and will come to training regularly. Likewise, we notice a big difference in skaters who have attended most/all of the Learn Roller Derby sessions, versus those who dip in and out.
Here’s our main league training schedule, to help you understand the time commitment. As a guide, our more experienced skaters come to both sessions most weeks.
While you're on our beginner programme, you'll only come to Thursday sessions.
8pm-10pm - main league training
7.30-9pm Learn Roller Derby (19th Jan-13th April).
8pm-9pm main league training.
9pm-10pm scrimmage practice game.
How much will it cost?
We want to keep Bath Roller Derby as affordable as we can. Our Learn Roller Derby course is £5 a session.
Once you join the main league, you still pay £5 a session, up to a monthly maximum of £30.
All the historic goings on of Bath Roller Derby!