An Online Guide to Roller Derby

An Online Guide to Roller Derby

Roller derby is an American sport that dates back to the 1930s. With 14 members each, two teams skate around a track against each other in an attempt to help their teammate score while blocking the opposing team. Although it is a notoriously brutal sport, players must stick to safety guidelines and wear protective equipment. Read on to find out more information about the history and details of roller derby in America.

History

Roller derby was created by Leo Seltzer in the 1930s. Originally designed to capitalize on the popularity of speed-skating, Seltzer's traveling Transcontinental Roller Derby became the foundation of today's sport. Roller derby kept its popularity into the 1970s, and then enthusiasm for the sport waned. It benefited from a grass-roots revival in the early 2000s, and today there are more than 1,250 registered women's derby teams worldwide.

Game Play

Matches are played in two half-hour intervals, and points are scored during two-minute "jams." During each jam, five players from each team skate with five members from the opposing team around a track. Each team designates a "jammer" who tries to score points while opposing team members attempt to block her. Each jammer is assisted by her team members, or "blockers," as she attempts to score points. One blocker can be named the "pivot," who can become a jammer during game play.

Scoring

First, each jammer must make one lap around the track to determine the leader. After that, teams may begin scoring. Points are scored when a jammer laps players of the opposing team, with one point awarded for each team member they pass. Blockers can only use certain types of plays to assist their jammer and stop the other team from scoring. The head, hands, feet, and elbows cannot be used in blocking, and players must be careful not to contact above the shoulders, below the thigh, or from behind.

Equipment

Roller derby players use four-wheeled roller skates known as "quads." They wear protective gear like helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and mouth guards. Individual teams make up the rules regarding extra gear; most teams also allow a protective cup for men and a special hard sports bra for women.

Training

Training for roller derby consists of hours of skating practice as well as plenty of off-track training. Cross-training is a great way for players to increase their agility, endurance, and strength to help them elevate their game. Cardio is excellent for building stamina, and most derby players find that working out four to five times a week (either by running or some other aerobic activity) is the perfect amount to keep them in shape. Interval training, switching from low to high intensity during a workout, is also a great way to keep from getting bored with your routine. Combining strength training and cardio is the best way to get quick, satisfying results. Having strong core muscles is especially important in roller derby because a strong core helps with balance. Here are a few core exercises perfect for derby players:

  • Wall sits
  • Squats
  • Leg presses
  • Calf raises
  • Lunges
  • Planks

Yoga is also a wonderful activity for derby players. Not only is it good to relax and stretch after a match, but it also helps build strength, balance, and coordination.

Fun Facts

  • The jammer wears a helmet with stars, while the pivot wears stripes.
  • Derby players have fun nicknames that are usually puns, such as "Tara Armov" and "Nancy Drew-Blood." Although there are a few nicknames on record in the old days, this seems to be a relatively new (2000s) trend.
  • The names of bouts are also clever. Some examples are "Beat My Valentine" and "Cirque Du Slay."
  • Roller-derby enthusiasts are trying to bring the sport to the 2020 Olympics.

Resources

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