Having just had my first year anniversary of roller derby, I thought it’s high time I try to pass on my (eh hem) “wisdom”!!
Now I’m not one of the most confident skaters and I certainly wasn’t one of the fastest people to pass my minimum skills but I think there are some tips that I can bestow on any potential fresh meaters. I remember being so nervous before going to my first fresh meat session but here are some things that helped me get there.
1. Just go for it!!!
So you’ve found out roller derby exists! Amazing!! It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the U.K. at the moment. And it’s so easy to see why. It’s brilliant fun; you make some fantastic friends and become part of a really close team. It’s also a great way to lose some pounds and get toned up and you have this feeling of being generally awesome! If you don’t know anyone else who does it; who cares? Be brave. Most of your fellow newbies will be in the same boat and you’ll soon make friends. As soon as you join you will be taken under the wing of the team, and you will be supported every step of the way. We all remember the fresh meat fear, but it vanishes as soon as you get started.
2. Get chatting.
Talk to the team! Most teams have a contact page/social network page and will be easily contactable. They will be able to give you some indispensable advice before you even start skating. Even if they’re not advertising for a fresh meat intake at that time, get in touch anyway and find out when they are having a new intake, and what you can do in the meantime. You will get the feel of how supportive your team will be from talking to them already. I was given loads of advice on skates/pads etc which really gave me confidence before attending my first session. It’s also a good way to find out about lift shares to training sessions so you don’t have to turn up alone. If you can jump in a car with other skaters you will save petrol money and get to know people in the journey.
3. Have a little practice.
There will usually be some alternative skate sessions you can attend so you can give skating a try, or events such as roller discos which are becoming increasingly popular and S.W.A.T actually hosted one for Halloween, so keep your eyes peeled for more. These are great opportunities just to get a pair of skates on your feet. Roller discos will have skate and pads hire if you don’t have your own. You can always get outside if the weather is nice. Find somewhere with a smoothish surface that is quite flat and go for it. Take your trainers in your bag for if you get stuck. My first adult experience of skating was going along the quay in Exeter. I managed not to fall over and it gave me lots of confidence for my first fresh meat session. Exmouth sea front is also an ideal place for a skate.
When you start there are lots of choices to be made about equipment. S.W.A.T have a selection of skates and equipment that fresh meat can borrow until they get their own but my advice would be to get in contact and ask what is available. Try and get as much as you can yourself so you don’t miss out. You won’t be able to skate unless you have skates, a helmet, knee, elbow and wrist pads.
KNEES KNEES KNEES KNEES! One of the first things you will get taught is “how to fall correctly” For this you need good knee pads. Don’t scrimp on these. You will fall on your knees a lot! A good set of knee pads are imperative. 187’s or scabs are used by most of the girls at S.W.A.T but there are lots of good makes. In my experience, bigger the better! Also when I started I found the wheels that came with my skates were too slippy for me. The durometer (hardness) were 95a. I swapped to an 86a. (Higher the number, the harder the wheel). I found I had a lot more confidence with softer wheels because there is more grip, but everyone is different and you will find what suits you best.
5. Don’t worry.
Unless you’ve been skating recently, you will fall over the first time you put skates on your feet. I’m sorry to say but the memories of how easy it was when you were a kid are lying to you! It’s quite difficult to even stand up at first! But have it in good confidence that everyone was the same when they started! When I first got my skates I thought I’d have a nice gentle skate up my street to try them out. No no. I stepped out of my front door, flew straight on my ass and crawled back into the house in all my glory! But it’s all good fun. We enjoy laughing at each other when we fly on our asses. You will definitely get some bruises. Wear them with pride! Also don’t fret if you feel that people are progressing faster than you. Some girls may have had some more recent skating experience than you and may find some things easier. We all learn at our own pace and we all will find our own strengths. Just keep trying. No one expects any more from you but to try.
I hope this has given you a bit of confidence to go and give it a go. You won’t regret it. It’s so much fun, highly addictive and really rewarding!
Yam- E Dodger