11 Reasons You Should Try Roller Derby

Introducing the most badass sport in the world.

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If you haven't heard of roller derby, you NEED to hear about it right now.

It's a fast-paced full-contact sport in which two teams of five skaters compete to score points by overtaking each other on a flat track. Inevitably there are bruises, and the occasional broken bone, but the sport just gets more popular every year. And it's mostly organised and played by women.

The first UK team was established in 2006, and the number of players has increased every year ever since. We asked British roller derby skaters why people should take up their sport.

1. It’s an inclusive sport for people from all backgrounds.

Tiger Bay Brawlers/Simon Ayre / Via simonayre.com

While some other sports require you to look a certain way, roller derby is for all shapes and sizes. It also caters for a range of ages, and a number of adult leagues now have junior teams for under-18s.

“Most sports are more suited to a certain shape of woman – for example, in netball it's better to be tall. In roller derby there are roles for all body types, whether you're tall, short, fat, thin – there's a place for you on the team." – Robyn, Croydon Roller Derby

“It’s a great mother and daughter bonding experience. I skate with the Tiger Bay Brawler B team, and Baby Rhay skates for the Tiger Bay Cubs." – Rhayfen, Tiger Bay Brawlers

2. So almost anyone can do it.

Tiger Bay Brawlers/Simon Ayre / Via simonayre.com

Even if you've never skated before in your life you can join a team and learn the ropes.

“It's something anyone can take up at any point in life. Nobody did roller derby in PE at school so everyone is starting from scratch. It's all about the time and effort you're prepared to put in.” – Robyn

3. It’s incredibly good exercise.

Croydon Roller Derby/John Hesse

The sport is very physically demanding so it's an intense workout, and it's a lot more exciting than running.

“I was a lazy, sport-hating teenager. Now, at 33, I've never been fitter or stronger. You should see my guns. I can't imagine any sport other than roller derby doing that for me.” – Steph, Tiger Bay Brawlers

“It’s a great workout, and it’s so physical because you’re using every part of your body” – Lizzie, York Minxters

“It's made me want to be strong and fit. I didn't exercise much before I started because I was never really into my looks or health (which is terrible, I know), but now I run, lift weights and play other sports because I want to improve my roller derby game.” – Robyn

4. And a great stress reliever.

Liverpool Roller Birds/Joe Ehlen

As Nik from London Rollergirls said, "You can hit people and not be arrested for it" – but other skaters were keen to point out that this isn't the main aim...

"It’s a contact sport, so as a roller derby player you ‘block’ other skaters with your whole body. But it’s not violent, it’s just contact. Playing roller derby is very therapeutic and great for relieving stress." – Lula, Liverpool Roller Birds

5. It teaches you to be assertive.

thelondonrollergirls/Paul Delooze / Via Flickr: londonrollergirls

It is one of the few team sports where women can learn to be more assertive and aggressive in a way that can be useful off the track.

“There are't many sports when using your aggression is a positive thing for girls! It's way more skillful than just bashing your way through.” – Lizzie

“You can get out all your aggression and competitiveness on the track and shake hands after, which girls aren't really taught to do when they're young.” – Phoebe, Oxford Roller Derby

6. And you'll learn a lot about strategy.

This Girl Can/Liverpool Roller Birds / Via liverpoolrollerbirds.wordpress.com

Roller derby isn't just about knocking each other to the ground. Scoring points relies on each member of the team memorising different sequences of movement, or plays.

"There are countless plays in roller derby, and remembering what to do in any given situation can be the key between getting the last few points you need to win the bout, and going down in defeat." – Lula

7. It teaches you incredible teamwork skills.

Tiger Bay Brawlers/Simon Ayre / Via simonayre.com

Teams have to be incredibly in tune with each other if they want any chance of scoring points.

“I am strong because I want to be strong for my team. My team are my family – we support each other and are united under our goal to push ourselves to be the best we can be. We are there to get the best from each other, and we have all become powerful individuals from this, as well as a united, powerful team." – Pip, Tiger Bay Brawlers

“It's the other girls that make it great. Everyone is encouraging and supportive.” – Lizzie

8. And you’ll meet great people.

Liverpool Roller Birds/Sakura / Via Facebook: liverpoolrollerbirds

For many, the friendships they've developed are the best part of the sport.

"You get to meet absolutely incredible women, who not only push you to be a better person and player but also become your closest friends.” – Hannah, London Rollergirls

"I went from having no friends to being surrounded by some of the best humans to ever walk the earth. I have also met people that I may not have ordinarily been exposed to, learned more about myself than I thought possible, and get to hit people to the ground and have them tell me how awesome I am." – Sharon, London Rollergirls

9. It builds your confidence.

thelondonrollergirls/Paul Delooze / Via Flickr: londonrollergirls

Not much improves your confidence like learning a badass new skill.

“It opened my eyes to how strong and resourceful I can be and gave me the confidence to take these off track and into the real world" – Marion, London Rollergirls

“Picking up new skills every week gives you a real sense of achievement, and it's crazy how fast you learn everything. When you first start, your legs are all wobbly and your bum is covered in bruises, and you never imagine you'll be able to skate like the girls who play for the A team. But it only takes a few weeks before you're doing some of the cool things they're able to do.” – Robyn

10. And it’s great for body positivity, giving you a huge self-esteem boost.

Liverpool Roller Birds/Sakura / Via Facebook: sakuraphotogrrl

“I think derby is one of the few sports which you can EXCEL at regardless of your body type, and that means we're surrounded by people of all shapes and sizes who are awesome at derby, which is great for feeling comfortable in your skin and your self-esteem." – Aura, London Rollergirls

"I have always felt like my body shape was pretty unlovable, my weight was something to feel ashamed of and a clear outwards sign that I was 'lazy'. I started dieting when I was 14 and only stopped when I started to play derby and I started to believe myself that my body shape is fine. Now I feel like without my weight I would not be the player I am and I like being the player I am." – Touché Guevara, London Rollergirls

11. It can really change your life.

Tiger Bay Brawlers/Simon Ayre / Via simonayre.com

“Roller derby has made me a more powerful person. Since starting I've started I've been able to be more me; I've challenged my mental health issues, become comfortable with my identity as the clutzy, gay, anxious dork I am, and embraced the power that pushing myself as an athlete has given me. I fall over and I get back up – roller derby has given me that motivation.” – Pip

“It gives you very practical examples of how overcoming your fears makes you stronger and happier. Because it proves to you that you can change and better yourself all the time – even things you've always considered unchangeable character traits of yours can be tweaked, tamed, [and] fine-tuned so that you function better in a team.” – Marie, Oxford Roller Derby

How to get involved:

York Minxters/York Roller Derby / Via Facebook: yorkrollerderby

There are already a lot of leagues in the UK. You can find out where your nearest one is here.

If you don't want to skate, there are other ways to get involved. Leagues are always looking out for NSOs (non-skating officials), referees, and other helpers.

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