Help me put wheels on my feet. [Roller Derby]

ZeitgeistHeistZeitgeistHeist Registered User regular
I'm looking to get into roller derby as fresh meat in a year or so. Caveat: I can't rollerskate.

I figure I can spend the next year getting comfortable skating and picking up equipment before jumping into it. This seems like a reasonable time frame to feel okay with eight wheels strapped to my feet.

Any recommendations on what kinds of skates, or other equipment, a 120lb lady looking to skate outdoors for practice should look for?


  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    I know this isn't the advice or help you're looking for.
    But, considering the caveat in your first line, I have to ask. Why do you want to do this?

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    If you're skating outdoors, get inline skates. Inline skates handle bumps significantly better than quad skates, which is why you almost never see quads outdoors.

    My suggestion is the Rollerblade Twister 80 from their urban series of skates. This is the type of skate worn by advanced, non-racing skaters as their everyday, around town, skate. But beginners will have no problems learning on it, and it'll grow with them.

    For protective gear, I'd get a set that would fit right into a roller derby as your starting set, like Triple 8 RD wrist guards, Triple 8 Street knee pads, and the Triple 8 Brainsaver helmet, which has vent holes and a washable liner. All of these pads will be a bit more than necessary as a beginner, but you're better off buying decent gear once.

    As for skating, just go out and do it. Pull up videos to learn tips, but you need to get out and practice as often as possible. Try to practice something you're bad at every single time you skate, until you get decent at it, then practice something new. As a beginner, you're better off being decent at a lot of skills, rather than being great at one skill, which is why you always want to be practicing new skills.

    If I had to give you goals, they would be: learn how to stop without a heel brake, learn how to gain speed via crossovers, and learn how to transition between forwards & backwards skating at speed.

    hsu on
  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    see317 wrote: »
    I know this isn't the advice or help you're looking for.
    But, considering the caveat in your first line, I have to ask. Why do you want to do this?

    Because its a physical activity that looks fun and cool to her?

    I dunno, that just seems like a weird question

    Why would someone be interested in soccer, rock climbing, or hiking?

  • MadpoetMadpoet Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    I have a friend on the Rose City Wreckers, I'm passing your question on to her. But the little I know:
    If you're interested in derby, you can't use inlines. The techniques they use just flat out require quads. They are super-inclusive, so the skill bar to show up at a practice is really low. If you want to learn, they will teach you.
    You should totally do this, but be aware what you're getting into. My friend has to warn nurses in advance, or she gets asked lots of questions about why she is covered in bruises.

    Here's what she came back with:
    If her area has a 101 program she doesn't need any training. Otherwise, having general stability forwards with a good stop and a crossover is pretty key. Her wheels she uses for training outside may not be appropriate for the floor she'll skate on with derby so she may need a couple sets. Tell her whatever set of skates she buys she will probably need different wheels and better toe stops. Gumball toe stops are good to start with.

    Madpoet on
  • ShimshaiShimshai Flush with Success! Isle of EmeraldRegistered User regular
    @Arch I believe might have some advice here, in some of my chat lurking I think I recall his special lady being a Roller.

    Steam/Origin: Shimshai

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    @#pipe lay out some knowledge!

  • Skull2185Skull2185 Registered User regular
    see317 wrote: »
    I know this isn't the advice or help you're looking for.
    But, considering the caveat in your first line, I have to ask. Why do you want to do this?

    Because its a physical activity that looks fun and cool to her?

    I dunno, that just seems like a weird question

    Why would someone be interested in soccer, rock climbing, or hiking?

    Yeah, Roller Derby is badass. I could see why someone would want to get in on that.

    Looks like Madpoet came back with a good answer on the type of skates to get. As for learning how to skate, I would recommend just hitting up the local rink and keep at it until you don't fall on your butt anymore. Practicing, or learning how to skate in an outdoor environment might not be too helpful since the sport(AFAIK) is played indoors.

    Everyone has a price. Throw enough gold around and someone will risk disintegration.
  • ArchArch Neat-o, mosquito! Registered User regular
    The best advice I can give is "find a skating rink and just skate as often as possible."

    Most people who join fresh meat have never been on skates before, so you can definitely go in, well, fresh, but having experience is definitely better.

    You can also generally skate anywhere there is some flat concrete just for practice, but skating anywhere that's not in a rink will chew through your wheels. Just be ready to replace them.

    In terms of gear, I'd disagree with Hsu. If joining a derby team is your goal, dont get inlines. The motions and habits you develop using inlines are detrimental in some ways to quad skates. My wife was an inline only gal for a while, and she had to unlearn a lot of footwork, despite being good on wheels from her years of inline skating.

    Get pads and a helmet- you'll need them anyway for derby. Also a mouthguard.

    I dont know what good skate brands to get, but see if there's a shop in your area. Make sure you've got a toe stop, because again, derby needs those and its better to learn with them.

    Most of the really good derby girls I know are out skating on sidewalks or at rinks three, four times a week in addition to practice. My wife and I have gone to the skating rink three times in the past week so she can get back on the wagon after an ankle injury. The point here is the only way to get good is to do it.

    Also you might want to just contact the derby team in your area. Tell them you are interested in learning how to skate, but don't feel ready for fresh meat yet. In my experience you'll get direct feedback about your area, and some of them will probably pounce on you to teach you the ropes. Derby girls are generally pretty rad.

    Good luck and have fun!

  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    My friend is actually doing this right now as well.

    I would recommend searching for teams in your city first and see if they have a training program, as that's what she's going through.

    The way its working for her is that she takes training classes and there's certain tests she has to take (Stopping, speed, backward skating, etc) before she can move on to the next step, until she completes them all and then is drafted into a team.

    Its very time consuming and expensive, as it was mentioned above, you need specific type of skates and pads.

    She's loving it, but its definitely doesn't seem like a hobby you can just jump into, which is probably for the best. You wouldn't want to try to do this with people who don't know what they're doing.

  • #pipe#pipe Cocky Stride, Musky odours Pope of Chili TownRegistered User regular
    edited August 2016
    I am a house team head coach and B team assistant coach for the Terminal City Rollergirls in Vancouver, BC. I've been coaching Fresh Meat for 3 years. I feel like I can help a little :)

    Do you have a dedicated derby storefront in your area? Even one that's a short roadtrip away?
    You'll likely start on skates that have a lot of soft padding to go easier on your feet and fit OK without the need to be super responsive, but as you get better, your gear is going to need to become more and more personalized, to fit your body exactly to stay effective while being low profile. If you can actually GO INTO a store and try things on, you're going to get gear that's better for you.

    So that being said, don't be afraid to start cheap and nasty*.
    There's a good chance you'll start with Sure Grip skates. We like to call them Fresh Meat Specials.
    They're fine. The fake leather exterior won't hold up to much abuse and the thick, soft padding will probably give you wicked monkey feet (when you try to grip your skates with your toes. It is tiring and painful and something everyone goes through) They'll probably last your first season and you'll be so excited to upgrade when they die. You're light enough that you'll never need anything other than vinyl plates so that's good.

    If you've got some money to spend, Reidell have a couple of good entry level models
    Real leather means more durable and less soft padding means it's harder to get a good fit, but the skates are much more responsive.

    and I've heard good things about the new BONT entry level Quad Star model.
    These are heat moldable and made out of beautiful soft kangaroo leather. I skate on the level up from these, the Bont Carbon Hybrids and they are insanely comfortable.

    You're going to want to reinforce the toe of your skates, especially if you're skating outside. That leather will wear through in no time. You can cover it in a few layers of tape, you can buy specially designed toe covers (also called Snouts)
    Or you can do what I do and get an old bike tire on there like this

    My local brick and mortar store, Rollergirl, has a killer online store and sells "Fresh Meat Packages" which include skates and all the gear you need to get started. I wouldn't be surprised if your local store (if you have one) has similar deals. They buy the gear for these sets in larger quantities so they often have a pretty good price. It's probably a good idea to get two sets of wheels - a softer set for outdoor skating and a harder set for skating at a rink. There is such a thing as Hybrid wheels, but at 120 pounds, you're going to need some help from your rubber stopping effectively. Don't worry if it takes some time figuring out the wheels for you. As mentioned above, upgrading your toestops is probably a good idea. Gumballs are wonderful and big and inexpensive.
    *DO NOT SKIMP ON A HELMET. Never skimp on a helmet. My wife just recovered from an 8 month concussion. Avoid them at all costs. Get a good, rated hard foam helmet and wear it. If you fall and bash your head, you might need to replace your helmet. Get in the habit of replacing your helmet every 2 years at the ABSOLUTE MOST.

    Depending on your area, your local league may have a low commitment training program set up for absolute beginners. If they do, I strongly recommend going there asap. You might feel a little intimidated - don't. A huge percentage of women who play derby have never played competitive sport and these programs are set up specifically to teach people who've never strapped on skates how to start without learning bad habits. My league had a program called Raw Meat which was designed for skaters to slowly build the skills and confidence needed to excell through the official Fresh Meat program.

    If you don't have one of these programs, I suggest grabbing the official WFTDA Basic Skills Requirements. These are the skating guidelines that your fresh meat program will be based around and a list of everything you'll be learning until scrimmage training. Getting familiar with this list will ensure there are no surprises and will give you a headstart on EVERYTHING.

    So with this list, you can go to youtube and find videos training you on every single thing listed. You'll get guided training from coaches and skaters so you can practice in your own time without learning bad habits. Take your smart phone to your practice space, watch a video, then go out and practice it for 15 minutes. Don't just gear up and skate leisurely and call it practice. Target your training!
    I recommend Urrk'n Martin from Rocky Mountain's channel

    Pipsquish also has a handful of great videos for those initial skating skills

    Finally, start training your endurance now. Minimum skills requires 27 laps in 5 minutes, it's usually one of the most intimidating things to get through in fresh meat. If you have an outdoor track or course or circuit you can you get a lot of time on, track your laps or distance or times and push yourself to slowly improve.

    Get involved in your local league NOW. Go to games, go to fundraisers, volunteer, get to know everyone. I cannot stress enough how much of a leg up you'll have in a league if you show how keen you are. More specifically, offer to become a non-skating official! It's fun and a GREAT way to learn the game. Officials are always happy to have help and they'll train you up good.

    Start watching derby NOW. the Women's Flat Track Derby Association has a really good youtube channel where they archive full games. Watching high level derby and listening to commentary will give you serious insight into the game and something to strive for. Also the Div 1 playoffs are starting really soon. If there's a tournament near you GO TO IT. Sit close. Take it all in. EMBRACE THE STINK.

    Derby is great. I'm super excited for you to be getting into it and I love helping people get into it. If you have any specific practice questions you can PM me any time.

    #pipe on
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