Roller Derby Advice!

New to roller derby?
Have a question about where to start, what to use or how to do something? We can help! Send us an ask or Submit or tag #derbydirection in your posts.

All answers about rules are defaulted to current WFTDA/MRDA rules, but I will answer about other rulesets.
Asker Anonymous Asks:
I'm interested in buying Crazy Nuts (skulls, crazy eight balls, bullets, etc.) for my skates but are they allowed during a bout?
derbydirection derbydirection Said:

yes they are, as long as they are fully on your skates and not going anywhere. You will probably be told to double check them in the equipment check, and I would keep an eye on them while skating on them.


And now its time to freak out because I know damn well that I can’t even do 25 in 5. I can do literally all the other skills but I can’t do that. I just don’t have the endurance. And my back and calves start cramping. I can scrimmage I can fall I can stop I can safely avoid downed skaters but I can’t do that stupid god damned 25 in 5 and if that is what keeps me from making a team I am going to lose my shit.

If you’re having cramping issues, try loosening your trucks a bit, and possibly changing out your cushions to something softer. It may help you a lot. Sometimes cramping in the feet and calves is caused by your skates not reacting to your feet because they’re too tight in the trucks and cushions.


Specifically someone willing to answer questions?

There is a pretty big derby community on here! Feel free to message me if you’d like 


I like starting derby controversy. Why Roller Derby Will Never be an NCAA Sport. Go read my article and tell me why im wrong (on the page)


So, derby side of tumblr, I need your help. I’m in the market for some new knee pads. My current ones are 187 fly’s with gaskets, and they’re really not good at doing their job. I have it pretty much narrowed down between the Triple Eight Pro and the 187 Pro Derby. I’m also looking at Deadbolts, but the site say’s they’re sold out, and I don’t want to wait too long, since I need good pads to continue skating. 

So, pros and cons? I haven’t found much about the Triple Eights, but what I have seen is good. I’ve heard more about the 187s, some good and some bad. There’s also a good difference in price between the two, and I’m wondering if it makes a difference. So, I would love to know your thoughts. 

You can never spend too much on knee pads.

Personally, I would not reccomend the Triple Eights. They are a down step from the 187’s. The 187 Pros are a good soild knee pad, as long as they fit properly. If you can try them on that would be best, but you can go for measurements as well. If they don’t fit you, they fall down a lot and don’t stay well on the knees.

I personally love my Scabs. And many girls on my team like the Deadbolts, they’re a decent pad.

Another version of the “Future of Roller Derby”

Photo by Tyler Shaw

Do not remove credit


okay question: i have these skates, but i dont really like the toe stops on them. i find them difficult to reach when standing and moving.

ive been looking at ones like gumball and snyder, and i like the look of that more rounded toe stop, but im not sure what would be best? does skating on rough surfaces affect what one i should consider?

Gumballs are a more rubbery toe stop, and if you’re using them on asphalt or something similar, they break down easily. They are a decent stop on most floors, sometimes a little more slide-y then others, and some people really like them. 

The Snyder ones did have an issue with falling apart (crumbling) under skaters, but apparently they improved their urethane. They come in a bunch of diameters so you can get lots of different sizes with them.

Personally, i suggest the Bionics or the Crazy Big Blocs to most skaters. The stops with a flat suface are easier to get on to and stay on to. Think about how the round Gumball has less area touching the ground then a flat surfaced one. I also find both to last way longer then Gumballs and are better one more surfaces.


can someone explain to me when you know to call off a jam if youre the lead jammer. Or why you do so?

Calling off the jam is a strategical thing based on point +/- in a jam. To win, you need to score more points then the other team. If a jam goes for a full two minutes, and each jammer gets through legally and passes every one on 3 scoring passes, yes each jammer has gotten 12 points, but essentially, the score is 0-0, as neither team got more points, so the differential is 0. As a jammer, it’s your job to understand when you have a better differential then the other jammer, and when calling it off stops the other jammer from making your differential smaller. 

So, calling it off should be done when the other jammer is entering the pack behind you and has scored less points, or if they’re about to pass the lead jammer (if she’s gotten stuck or fallen or been hit out of bounds). It can be used to tire a jammer out, if you’re playing with her during the lap, or simply to stop the momentum of a jammer who’s better then you and get her off the track. Some people like to play a “hit it and quit it” style, where they get their points, and then call the jam off right away, while others like to make the jams longer.


Oh god I’m a student man this is scary.

Anyone know a super secret place I can get cheap skates?

All my love if you do.

Sadly, derby can be an expensive sport to start out. 

I started on cheap cheap skates, and had to upgrade right away, and cost more in the long run. So even if all you can afford are R3’s or Sure Grip Rebels or Boxers, then start there. Going cheaper isn’t really a good idea.

A great option is buying used. Check out Roller Derby Recyclables on Facebook, or some shops (FastGirl Skates and Derby Supply come to mind) sell used gear on their sites. Used gear is a great way to get better quality skates for a decent price, or cheap skates at a better price (I’ve seen Rebels go for under 100). You just have to wait and ook for your sizes

My arm is almost back to a point where i can type for long times without hating it. So this weekend I want to finish my gear posts, and at least one more part about The Best Skate Ever.
You should send me derby related questions so i have things to talk about instead of just talking to myself.

it took me all night to write that post because of my arm, so you should all like it. 

I really want to finish my longer series posts, but my hand hurts from typing that all up. 

Send me things I can answer in 200 words or less haha

I'm new to coaching and training for my current league and I'm wondering what makes an effective training session for you? What pumps you up to come to practice? What training style do you have? Just all the training!
derbydirection derbydirection Said:

I coach Fresh meat and other newbie skaters, so if you’re coaching more advanced skaters, you may not get a lot from my way! I focus on breaking everything down as small as possible, Even if something is basic to explain, I find being able to break down every skill into three or four steps makes it easier to explain. When becoming a coach, I really focused on making sure I could do every skill well enough that I can teach it. 

For practices, I run my training under a specific time line- Every practice is exactly the same set up, and makes it easy for skaters to know what’s going to happen and how we’re going to move forward. I like that because it makes easy for people to jump into skills and for me to direct practice and keep moving.

I have each practice scheduled in advance, with an general plan for a few practice outline.  Usually we do a direct focus on one or two skills for about three practices, so that everyone can make it to at least one practice about a skill. I also start every practice out with the same warm up, and then at least one type of “conditioning” drill. Sometimes 27/5, sometimes 100/20, sometimes short sprint drills. We get creative. We always do conditioning on skates, as we pay for space we can skate on, and what’s the point in not skating it?

When I lead a practice, I break it down into a few steps. My steps are learning a skill, learning a skill in a drill, building/mastering a skill in a drill, and then trying the skill in scrimmage.

Learning A Skill: This starts with a quick sit down and explain the skill. I’ve been teaching backwards bracing, so we started by doing a quick review of legal bracing forwards in truck/trailer, and then we talked about the differences in a backwards brace. We then did backwards skating, groups of two with one player working on turning around, and then groups of three or four with players turning around and moving into position. No focus on doing anything else but doing the skill in the most basic.

Learning A Skill In A Drill: This is a group type drill. Something more then just simply executing the skill. I taught plow stops to fresh meat today, and for this step, we did timed plow stops in a specific area, that I moved around on the the track. We also did a drill where a skater needed to plow stop in front of another player, released at about ten feet apart of each other, getting ready to learn positional blocking with them next week. This drill is usually a basic drill, although sometimes if people are getting it quick, then I move it along.

Then I take a water break. This is the middle of my practice, and we do a quick verbal check up of how people are feeling, any questions, or comments or things people aren’t understanding. Sometimes the drill is hard for a lot of people, and so we’ll do it again in the next set up, sometimes we’ll stop and go back a few steps if there’s something people can’t do that’s stopping them from moving forward. 

Building/Mastering A Skill: This is a more advanced drill. Most of the time it turns into team drills or add a jammer or whatever it is to advance the first drill. Sometimes it’s a different drill completely. Again as an example, when we were working on jammer skills, we added to our wall, made our blockers active, and then added another team and jammer to the drill. These tend to look very similar to a full on scrimmage, and they are full contact drills. 

Scrimmage A Drill: This is the obvious, we end in a scrimmage. We do a quick verbal reminder of what we’ve been working on, and try to get players to focus on what we’ve been doing and execute it in a jam. If things tend to get lost, we’ll stop during the scrimmage and just remember what the focus was. Two weeks ago, our skill was hip punches for jammers. Our jammers were really having issues with this skill in a scrimmage, so we kept having to stop and bring our focus back to what we were trying to do. I usually do about ten minutes of focused scrimmage, where players are actively trying to use the skills, and then we scrimmage full on for the end of practice.

Again, I do lead beginner practices, so when I do advanced skills i have a slightly different method in regards to the beginning of the practices. I have found that breaking things down into an outline that we use for every skill has really made a difference in our skaters growing, but it can make advanced skaters roll their eyes. It’s a hard line to walk.

Now about getting pumped up for practice, I find that if people know things are going to happen. If people don’t think we’re going to actually have an active practice, they don’t want to come. I like to stay positive about what we’re doing at next practice, and how well we’re moving forward. With beginner skaters, they tend to want to learn things, and getting stuck at one point ,where it’s not hard or interesting. I like to have an answer about what we’re doing next practice. Personally, I know if I am enjoying being around my team and being on skates, then I want to come to practice. If I’m not having fun- if a skill is below my skills, or too hard, or we’ve done the same thing for way too long, then I don’t want to go. 

My team has a very “open” training style. We have one A team coach, an on skates ref turned coach. We have four A Team skaters who coach our B team and freshmeat, and we trade off who is coaching. We all have different styles, but we all revolve around the same skills, and find that some skaters learn better from different people. We also always allow an A team skater to teach or explain things to a B team or Freshmeat skater- we’ll never stop someone from explaining a skill to someone who asks or anything. 

I have my very first bout on Saturday is there any advice you can give?
derbydirection derbydirection Said:

Yay first bouts! I love celebrating newbies firsts bouts! Yay for you!

I give the same advice to everyone at their first bouts.

First, remember that you do know how to play this game. The first game can be very overwhelming and can feel like OMG THERES SO MUCH GOING ON AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO! It’s very easy to get caught up in playing against other people for the first time. When that happens, take a deep breath, and remember that you passed minimum skills, you know the rules, you’re playing for a reason, so try not to get in your own head.

Take a nice relaxing night the night before, get a good sleep, eat healthy (and food you know how your stomach will react to!), and drink lots of water.  Try to get the venue early if possible, have a relaxing day leading up to the bout. 

When you’re on the track for the first time, make it your goal to hit someone as soon as the whistle goes. Whether your jamming or blocking, just get that first hit out of the way. Even if you get laid on your ass, you’re good to go and wont be afraid of hitting people after.

Enjoy yourself! You’re playing this game because it’s fun, right? So make sure you have fun!  And good luck! I’m sure you’ll do great =)



are quad skates easier than inline? i got inline thinking i’d go from hard to easy, but shit, they’re difficult. i know i’ll need quad skates later anyway, but are they any simpler?

Quads are way easier. Balance is easier, and you need less ankle strength to hold yourself up. 

Asker khaaaaaan Asks:
my skates are getting too small and i've had people tell me that you can just attatch the plate to another pair of shoes! would you recommend this? c:
derbydirection derbydirection Said:

Yes this can for sure be done! Plates are great for that, you can buy one plate and skate on it for years if you wish. If you’ve never mounted a plate before though, check out youtube videos, or your nearest skate shop/gear nerd on your team for advice and tips. It’s simple, yet can be intimidating to do yourself. To remove your plate, remove all the insoles and stuff in your skate boot, and you should see four flat headed screws or nuts. Simply undo those, and your boot will pop off. 

You will need to look at your plate size though, as if your skate didn’t fit you in the first place, getting a bigger boot may end up putting you inadvertently on a sport or short forward mount, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but is something some skaters don’t like, and may take some getting used to!

But yes, it’s a very easy to do switch over!