I missed roller derby a lot during lockdown. Going from skating with an awesome group of people twice a week to staying home for months on end sucked, and I was ridiculously happy when practise started up again.
That said, getting back into exercising indoors with other people took some getting used to. With Covid still making its presence felt, everyone who makes Bath Roller Derby happen has worked on making sure we can keep doing the sport we love while staying as safe as we reasonably can.
If you’re thinking about returning to skating or joining our learn to skate programme, here are some of the things that we’re doing.
Ventilating our hall
We practise in a school sports hall. We wait outside until the previous session has finished and everyone’s gone, then keep the doors propped open to let the air in. The cold breeze is usually fairly welcome, especially at scrim.
Keeping track of numbers
When we started practising again back in May, we kept sessions to a maximum of twelve people and asked everyone to sign up in advance. This helped us keep attendance and make sure we knew who had been in close contact in the event someone tested positive for Covid.
As Covid rules have lifted we no longer have the same limits - but we’re ready to adjust if anything changes in the future. And we always keep attendance anyway.
Kit and hand hygiene
One thing I didn’t miss so much was the familiar aroma of sweaty pads. While the risk of getting Covid from surfaces and clothing is lower than we all thought back in the first lockdown, we’re still recommending that skaters clean their kit more regularly than in the past. (Do it for your nose, if not your immune system).
And while at practise, try not to take your mouthguard out until you’ve had a chance to clean your hands.
Getting back to contact slowly
We were able to start up practise before the lifting of all Covid restrictions in July 2021. But we still kept up social distancing and worked on individual skating drills and fitness for the first couple of months. We have slowly got back into doing contact drills and have now scrimmed a few times.
The coaches are great at checking in with whether people feel comfortable with different types of contact. You’re always free to work on other skills if you don’t want to do a contact drill, and can message the coaches if you have any worries.
Under all the bruises, derby’s a pretty caring environment. We love our sport and trust that everyone wants to make sure we can keep playing it without infecting people. So, while we don’t need to see proof that skaters are doing regular lateral flow tests, it’s a good idea if you can.
Stay home if you’re unwell
This one goes without saying really. If you’re coughing and sneezing, take the night off. Even if it’s just a cold, it’s best kept to yourself.
Be aware of your own level of comfort, and share any concerns
We keep up to date with government and NHS guidelines about Covid, and will make changes if it’s recommended. But ultimately, derby is a contact sport and will never be completely risk free. Everyone who comes to practise weighs up what they’re happy doing, and we understand that feelings can change. As always, if you have any worries, your teammates and coaches are here to listen.
I don’t think any of us want to take another 12+ month break from derby. So despite lots of things about the world not quite feeling the same as before Covid, I hope more and more people will feel happy to skate again.
See you on track!
Written by J for Jendetta
Part of Bath Roller Derby since 2018.
All the historic goings on of Bath Roller Derby!