One of the great things about roller derby is that you learn to roller skate, and after that you can have a great time skating at the local roller skating rink. You also have a group of friends (your team mates) that you can skate with together. Rink skating is a little bit different from derby practice (in that you generally aren’t allowed to hit other skaters). But if you see more experienced derby skaters at a free skate, you’ll notice that they wear some gear.
Why is that?
In roller derby, skaters fall. A lot. Partly because derby skaters are pushing the envelope of what you can do. Turning toe stops? No problem. Jumping cones? Sure. Grabbing a rope and playing a game of tug of war on roller skates? Been there done that. These are all great activities that help skaters gain confidence, and we end up falling a lot.
You know what keeps us from getting hurt? Our pads. We wear a helmet, use a mouth guard, elbow pads, wrist pads and knee pads. And as a result of all of our practices and all of our falling, we learn to depend on them. And we instinctively learn how to fall on them and get right back up so that you can get back to the game.
If you fall the way that you’re used to falling in derby, but don’t have your pads on… well, you can get hurt.
Wearing all of our pads to a free skate is probably overkill. (But if you or your parents feel more comfortable or safer wearing safety gear, there is *nothing* wrong with that. Be safe and be comfortable).
Most derby skaters that I know wear the same gear for free skate: wrist guards and knee pads. As you are not making contact with anyone on the rink, you’re not expecting to fall, and you probably don’t need a helmet, mouth guard and elbow pads… but if you get off balance and take a spill, chances are pretty high that you’ll fall on your knees or your wrists.
Please skate smart. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.
And if you happen to be gearing up for a day at the roller rink, maybe you can wear a cool NHJRD t-shirt so people know how cool you are. Maybe you can convince some new team mates to give derby a try.