Outdoor Skating Survival Guide


1. Commuting to work on roller skates
2. A death defying experience resulting in ultimate smugness

If you are reading this thinking that I probably live a mile away from my work separated only by a lovely smooth cycle path….

Nope – my work is over 65 miles away from where I live! I don’t skate all 65 miles, and I don’t have to go in every day! But 2-3 times a week I skate to the train station, get the train, then skate to work and back again – overall it’s an 8 mile round trip. 8 miles of hilly, bumpy, gravelly skating a day!

And before you say it, no I am not a hardened street skater – I learnt to skate at roller derby practice on nice, smooth sports hall floors, where dust is a nuisance, inclines don’t exist, and the only traffic to contend with is your teammates.

I’m also not doing it to save the planet or my purse strings. Getting the train isn’t cheaper than driving, but it does allow me to work or nap (mostly nap) on the way. The main reason I do it is because it is fantastic exercise, additional training for derby, and makes me feel awesome!

Obviously the point of this blog is not just to tell you how awesome I feel, but rather to give you some tips and advice so you might also consider skating to work, university, your kid’s school, the supermarket…. wherever!

Trust me when I say that I have learnt most of this advice the hard way.

1. Firstly, don’t expect to look like this….


…..unless you work at Miami Beach and your boss doesn’t mind you wearing gym clothes and skates all day!

You will likely arrive at work a hot and sweaty mess, so be prepared! You will also trip and stumble a lot, mostly on invisible obstacles, so forget any preconceived ideas of looking graceful and dignified. I’m pretty sure I lost my dignity along with my toe-stop on one fateful journey home from work, much to the bemusement of several onlookers.

2. Know your route!
Like really know your route! Driving it is not sufficient – you need to know what the pavement is like, how smooth/flat/wide is it, how busy does it get? You may be good at dodging derby skaters at training, but dodging unaware pedestrians and vehicles while going downhill on bumpy concrete is a whole other ball game.

Basically, don’t do what I did! The first time I skated to work I was following Apple Maps on my iPhone (silly for multiple reasons, and FYI Google Maps is much more skater friendly). Anyway, my phone took me down a steep gravel bus lane leading to a duel carriageway, where I panicked, lost control, and had to choose between my phone and the flesh on my hip!

(I like my phone!) 


So, set aside time to practice the route, ideally with your derby pals (then you can make one of them try the scary-ass looking hill, and if they break themselves you can find another route – kidding!), and don’t try it for the first time when you only have 45 minutes to get to work for a 9.30 meeting with your boss (yeah I did that too!).

3. Don’t wear your fancy derby skates.

Need I say more?


But seriously, they will get trashed! And wheel changing is a meh (I only have one set of indoor wheels for this very reason)!

4. Wear comfy skates.

Your old derby skates that you upgraded because they blistered your feet will not suddenly feel like comfy slippers!

5. Rain!
It occasionally does this in England. To my surprise I actually quite enjoy skating in the rain, and have found I can still grip pretty well too. But please be careful.
Rain will also ruin your bearings if you don’t clean and dry them straight away. Unsurprisingly, I feel the same about bearing cleaning as I do wheel changing, resulting in me having to skate the grime and rust out of my bearings to get them moving again on several occasions (not recommended!).


6. Quick changes.
If like me, your journey will involve changing in and out of skates multiple times, you need to allow time to get your skates and pads on and off (another reason why Antiks are not ideal for commuting).
And try not to forget your shoes (yup, I’ve done that!)

7. Uphill.
When first starting out going uphill is your friend, a horrible, sweat-inducing friend, but a friend nonetheless because you are in control of your speed, unlike….

8. Downhill.
Even after 3 months of commu-skating, there is one downhill that still fills me with dread every time I lace up my boots! It is a long, steep, winding downhill on rough concrete that seems to stretch on for miles (note: it’s probably half a mile max).
One thing I learnt quickly when skating downhill and wanting to slow down – plowing is not your friend – no matter how good you are at plowing on the derby track. T-stopping is what it is all about! I’m now so good at T-stopping downhill, that I naturally start doing it in a wall while derby skating (I’m not sure if this is a good thing).

My biggest tip if you are uncertain, is to brake before you even hit the downhill, and even come to a complete stop. If you enter the hill at speed, you will only pick up more speed, and won’t be able to lift a foot to put on the brakes…

9. Tactical dismounts.
Otherwise known as ‘planned falling-over’. Again, leave the dignity at the door, if you feel like you are going too fast and losing control downhill, please just take a knee or two (onto knee pads of course and ideally a soft grassy landing). You may look like an idiot, but it is much better to be safe than sorry!

10. Square-shaped wheels.
Lots of t-stopping downhill on rough concrete will ruin your wheels. I currently have 3 round wheels, 3 cone-shaped wheels and 2 square wheels. This means they make a funny noise as I skate, and send vibrations through my feet! However, if I can skate fast on square wheels on uneven and hilly terrain – imagine what I can learn to do with my Rollerbones Turbos on a sports hall floor!

 11. Don’t leave your wrist guards at the train station!
Yes – I have done this too!

The moral of the story is – have a go, don’t worry about looking silly or doing something stupid, because I have already done it all!
Trust me – I have! But I survived, my fitness has improved, my derby has improved, and I feel awfully smug on the train journey home!

Me, during a particularly cold and wet skate home.


I would love to hear any funny outdoor skating stories and photos you have, if only just to know that it’s not just me that does stupid stuff! Bolty xx

SWAT’s Big (Bucks) adventure

What a weekend it’s been! On Sunday 6th July SWAT went to play Big Bucks High Rollers in Buckinghamshire. 20 minutes before the end of our 3 hour journey one of the cars in our convoy (insert Rubber Duck quote here if you are familiar!) broke down! We worked together as a team even before arriving at the venue or anywhere near the track.

A mad dash by the cars at the front ensued as they looped around the M4 back to the broken down vehicle, where refs and NSO’s gallantly gave up their seats for travel team skaters and their kit. Without their sacrifice we wouldn’t  have been able to play so a huge thank you to Adam ‘Fireman Slam’ Saunders and Jon ‘Halftone‘ Coyne, we are extremely grateful to our Knights in shining knee pads!

Once at the venue we lost another team member ‘Split Second who after being up all night with suspected Gall Stones struggled on to make the journey to the bout so that she wouldn’t let people down! This sign of true  grit and determination demonstrates just why she is our inspirational cover girl for our new Fresh Meat Intake. She was promptly told that although we appreciated her being there we would never let her play while in so much pain before even taking a hit from an opponent! She carried on from the side lines and did a fantastic job of bench managing. Now dosed up on codeine she’s back where she belongs, resting up at home!

We finally made it on to the track, where we fought a tough battle against the absolutely awesome might of the Big Bucks Girls. We cannot reveal the score for this one as it was a closed affair but both teams came away feeling incredibly proud of their efforts. S.W.A.T were in awe of the High Roller walls and we’ll be practicing those for sure at our next training session.

Big Bucks Vs SWAT

We have learnt a lot and will be hoping to put some of it into action at the SW:UK Gladiskaters Double Header Final where we will be facing Dorset Roller Girls and Cornwall Atlantic Breakers will take on Bristol Harbour Harlots B.

This is just one of the reasons why we love Roller Derby; everyone pulls together. Some people missed the bout altogether, sitting in a tow truck for hours to allow others to skate. Our opponents offered to give skaters lifts part of the way home to try and help out and some refused to stay in bed for their own health! There’s not many sports where you see this kind of spirit.

If you want to get involved head over to our event page for Fresh Meat details and grab yourself a pair of skates!! The derby community look forward to skating with you!

Fresh Meat Intake

Defeat your Nemesis: Positive Thinking in Roller Derby

The Roller Derby Nemesis – we’ve all got one! Here’s some tips to defeat yours!

By day I am Elle… On the track, I transform into a derby girl.

If my alter-ego were a superhero, Attack-O-Belle would use her hyperactivity to defeat her foes one transition at a time. She would wear a sparkly cape and nothing, not even a hip block or shoulder check would be able to budge her core of ultimate strength. There would however, be one skill standing in her way, her one true nemesis… the 27/5.

Sound familiar? You’re certainly not alone. Most of us have faced at least one skill that seemed, for a very long time, to be impossible to conquer. It could be knee drops, plough stops or transitions. Or maybe you’ve passed minimum skills but can’t seem to get your mind around some of the tactics.

What if the problem isn’t physical and instead it’s your head that needs a bit more time and attention?



Start using the word YET.
Every single time you say “I can’t do it” make a conscious effort to add the word ‘yet’ onto the end. This immediately turns a negative and self-doubting moment into a promise to the future. You acknowledge that you’re not there, but you certainly aren’t going to give up until you can do it 10 times over! Start saying it to your teammates, too. Say it for them until they begin to say it for themselves!

2. Stop comparing yourself to those around you.
No matter who you train with, there will always be people who can do something better than you! Imagine how boring it would be to go to training and have no areas to improve in, or to be the best at EVERYTHING. Where would you go from there? If you find yourself watching in awe (and maybe jealousy) at some of your team-mates skills then use this as a learning opportunity. Ask them how they are doing it and learn from the best! I bet someone in your league will be watching your skills in awe too, you just don’t realise it!

3. Celebrate yours (and others) victories.
If someone else gets 27/5 and you’re still stuck on 19… try your best to be genuinely happy for them, their victory does not reflect on you in any way or take away from how well you’ve done. This is a team sport, and a team mentality is crucial to be the best. We all have different backgrounds, some of SWAT have been skating since birth (… Dot Slash) and others, like myself, are newer to wheels! No matter what stage you are at in your derby career, always appreciate how far you’ve come and your progression- big or small!

4. Excuses- save your breath!
It’s simple- in a sport such as Derby, you will be pushed to your limits, whether that’s jamming at lightning speed or holding back the jammer as a strong wall, and making excuses is wasting valuable air/breath! There’s a difference between having a genuine reason not to go to practice/not doing a drill/not pushing yourself and making excuses. Only you will know the difference. While this is a team sport, you have to be motivated as an individual, because no-one else can do that job for you. Defeatist attitudes need not apply!

5. Get out of your head!
This was a big one for me to overcome. I am a worrier, an over-thinker and I had to conquer this on the track! The 27/5 was my last skill to pass and it became a much bigger deal than it ever needed to be… it really did become a nemesis. I was getting 26 ½ time after time, when what it came down to was leaving my over-thinking behind. Eventually last week, in a calm and constructive frame of mind, I nailed it. Only 10 days later our team did a warm-up of 100 laps, which I completed in 19 minutes, meaning I was at 27/5 pace throughout. Had my crossovers drastically improved? Nope. When focusing on 100 laps, 27 became a tiny deal. Shrink those worries down and focus on the bigger picture.

So, what it comes down to is a big dose of positivity and keeping a positive mental attitude. I personally do derby because I love it, and I hope that’s the same for you too- it will be tough, but it should still be enjoyable. We always hear the words ‘Be your own hero’, but make sure that you’re not being your own Nemesis at the same time.

Bout Planning – Top Tips from the South West

The SW:UK 2014 Roller Derby season is well under way and the bout planners are in action mode!

It takes a lot of time and planning to pull everything together for a full day of Derby fun so S.W.A.T skater and Bout Co-ordinator Queena Hearts, caught up with a few of the other teams in the South West to compile a list of their top tips for organising an exciting day for everyone.

This is probably the most important tip and it was something we all agreed on! Just remember, at the end of the day all you REALLY need is rope, tape, skaters and officials.

I swear by my diary and so does Clawley, who skates with North Devon Team The Devon Clotted Screamers. This doesn’t just apply to bout planning but to the skaters and training team too. Set yourself deadlines, and if you delegate a job make sure that person also has a deadline!

Derby girls can never have enough “big ass to do lists” (Madame Warfare) to keep you organised; nobody’s brain can hold all the information for a bout so make useful reminders. Clawley said:

“It helps to focus you on what needs to be done and means you don’t miss obvious things that can be overlooked.”


There’s so much to do for a bout, Madame Warfare from Cornwall Roller Derby suggests:

“Keeping ahead of as many deadlines as possible as it’s important not to procrastinate.”

Everyone I spoke to said the same as Bristol Roller Derby skater Tequila Jammer:

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you won’t lose respect!”

This also applies to asking for advice, there are other people that have organised bouts for your team and in your area, they will have learnt from experience so ask them for tips! 
Your teammates may also have suggestions, they would probably love to be involved and it will bring the whole team closer together. You may not be comfortable asking for help but I agreed with ClaireBear from GrinnBarum when she said:

“Never refuse help, it relieves stress”

As much as I want to be, I am not Wonder Woman. I know I can’t do everything, so it’s important to share the jobs out; for my own and everyone else’s sanity.  Tequila Jammer says she has a great bunch of people she can rely on…

“Your people are your best asset and it makes it all much easier.”

Our coaches tell us to communicate more on the track and we should be doing the same off the track! This was one of ClaireBear’s tips:

“Ensure everyone who is involved within the bout is in the loop of the organising” 

And make sure you don’t forget to update them regularly!

Clawley recommends:

“Talk to the person with the money – they will let you know if the event is doable”

Madame Warfare also suggests:

“Keep on top of ticket sales if not using an automatic ticket system; if you go too long without doing it then it gets confusing.”

Don’t forget income is equally important as spendings.

If you know people who can do something better than you, then call in the favours, perhaps in exchange for a ticket to your event or give them a shout out on your Facebook or Twitter pages. The great thing about roller derby is that your teammates come from all walks of life and will most likely have connections somewhere for what you need!

Unexpected things can happen so it’s important to have back up plans. Madame Warfare said:

“Have back up content for bout programs if advertisers pull out or don’t get artwork to you in time, such as word searches, skater profiles etc.”

Be prepared to change the plan on the day or fill time if a serious injury occurs.

Planning a bout isn’t easy but…

“It would be a lot more difficult if we didn’t have all the great volunteers being so damned good and seamless at what they do” states Tequila Jammer, 
”so make sure to show your gratitude to your helpers.”

12. Our final tip
comes from ClaireBear because she summed it up so much better than I could:

“Stay focused. Be bossy, not overly but firm. Delegate. Smile.”


And now it’s time to listen to my own advice, I have a Final to plan!


Many thanks to all the SW:UK Roller Derby bout planners for their contributions;

Tequila Jammer – Bristol Roller Derby

Madame Warfare – Cornwall Roller Derby

Clawley – Devon Clotted Screamers

ClaireBear - Grin ’N’ Barum.

Love n shoves, Queeny.

For more information about the upcoming bouts in the South West UK Season head over to our facebook page and click ‘like’: www.facebook.com/SWATRollerDerby


Grin n BarumCornwall Roller Derby Devon Clotted Screamers









Bristol Roller DerbySWAT


How many calories could you burn playing Roller Derby?

Roller Derby is great fun but also a fantastic way of keeping fit! Ever wondered how many calories you could burn during training or at a bout?

Over the last few months SWAT skater Vampira has been monitoring her heart rate at training with a nifty gadget supplied by her employers, Big Wave Media. Big Wave specialize in marketing for sports centres across the UK and being in the Sports and Fitness industry they decided to encourage their staff to get fit by supplying them with MYZONE Belts.

Each week they set a challenge to see who can do the most exercise and earn the most MYZONE Effort Points (MEPs) (Points are calculated for every minute of physical activity a user spends in 5 effort zones based on personal maximum heart rate. In a nutshell, the higher the intensity, the higher the number of MEPs earned.)

Nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get you running around the office instead of sending an email!

So how has Vamps been getting on compared to her colleagues?!

Training on average 3 times per week Vampy wore her belt for the first time during one of Violentinas sessions:

It was a tough cardio session involving lots of HIIT workouts and drills, I couldn’t wait to upload my results at work the day after training as I knew I’d worked hard.

MyZone results

When I saw the stats I couldn’t believe it! My heart rate peaked at 193bpm and I burnt 1597 calories in 2 hours! It set me up well in the leaderboard with 466 MEP’s compared to 200-300 earnt by my colleagues!

I’m quite geeky and looking at the activity graph I could see the times where I’d really pushed it during jamming – there were lots of red spikes! I made sure I put myself up for jamming more each session to keep the points up.
Its paid off in other ways, as I was put in to jam for the very first time at the Silence of the Slams bout against Grin N Barum on the opener of the new SW:UK Roller Derby league.

Vampira Jamming

I was really interested to see how many points I could get during a proper bout so under my boutfit I wore my trusty belt! Wearing it for the warm up and the bout the results are in. 632 MEPs and 2185 calories! I knew those Grin N Barum girls had given me a run for my money.

Vampy MyZone results


As you can see, not only is Derby a great way to spend your Saturday afternoons, it’s also a great form of exercise to build strength, stamina and physical fitness and next time you attempt that pesky 27/5, if you don’t quite make it at least you can guarantee, if you put your all into it, you just smashed a shed load of calories.

So even without a MYZONE belt, remember to constantly push yourself harder than your previous training session and you’ll be seeing the results on and off the track in no time!

10 tips from a Rookie Roller Derby Referee

Hi. I’m Dee Tension, a Roller Derby Referee with the South West Angels of Terror.

My story.
Dee Tension rookie refereeI joined SWAT in April 2012 aged 42, my only aim was to learn to be safe on 8 wheels whilst skating with my son, but Roller Derby had an impact on me straight away. The skills to be a Roller Girl didn’t come easily but eventually, having passed the minimum skills, I made it onto the SWAT B Team. I was ecstatic! Sadly, being an older skater came with its problems. For me, it was my knees (which aren’t as supple as they used to be). With constant pain, enhanced when I fall then stand, I had to make a serious decision- do I stop skating or find an alternative? I’m sure others within SWAT will be able to tell you of the hard time I had making the decision to go to the other side.

Late in 2013 I made the journey to the world of Stripes, Zebras, Whistles and Haribo and haven’t looked back. Initially it seemed daunting; there’s a  lot to learn; written rules, hand signals and various penalties too and I will always be learning them.

The role of Roller Derby Referee is very  male dominated, there aren’t many female Refs, would I fit in? I needn’t have worried. The Ref crew I work with have become like a family to me and are more than willing to help with my progression and confidence as I continue with my journey.

Now, what makes a good Ref?

My Top Ten Tips.

  1. Read the Rules 
    This is your bread and butter. Study hard and learn them, don’t be afraid to ask when you don’t understand.
  2. Watch as many bouts as you can 
    If you can’t get to bouts there’s plenty on YouTube/the WFTDA website. You’ll soon find that instead of watching the game you’re focused on the Refs!
  3. Find yourself a good mentor
    I’m lucky, not only do I have the wonderful TeeHee with SWAT but many others too. Check out HorseRolfer Damage and Morris Maniac.  A good Ref will bend over backwards to help a baby zeeb into the world. Love them all.
  4. Talk to yourself constantly about what you see whilst officiating 
    You may feel stupid and it’s taken me a while to get used to it but believe me it does focus your mind and eyes.
  5. Be prepared to make mistakes 
    We’re not all perfect after all. Don’t allow the skaters to influence a decision, if you didn’t see a penalty how can you call it?
  6. Learn to skate! 
    It may sound daft but you need skate without looking where you’re going, your eyes are focused on the skaters and there can be obstacles in the way. Be prepared to jump over a skater that’s just been hit out!
  7. Read the Rules… 
    Have I said that already?
  8. Watch the experts 
    If you’re not confident officiating a game consider shadowing a Ref during a closed bout or even NSO for a while. This will help the rule reading fit into place.
  9. Use forums available 
    UK Refs, Female Refs on Facebook, YouTube, and Zebra Huddle.  I find these incredibly useful.
  10. This is the most important tip and I will say just one word – Haribo.
    No Roller Derby game is complete with out the obligatory pack of Haribo. This is a Zebra’s staple diet!!

I still get the odd pang of missing playing and hitting the other girls but in time I’ll make a better Ref than I did Roller Girl. I’ve now played 4 closed bouts and am looking forward to my SW:UK debut this April, a series of open bouts between South West Derby Teams.

Right now my life couldn’t be better!

Transitioning from Fresh Meat to Advanced Training in Roller Derby

Becoming a Roller Derby Butterfly!

It’s been six months since I joined the Roller Derby world. Having passed most of my minimum skills, I now find myself in the limbo between Fresh Meat and Advanced.  Everyone experiences the weird in-between stage at some point, so here’s a few tips to help you along the way:

  1.  Expect to be pushed, not protected.
    This is probably the stage in your derby career that you will feel the biggest shift, all of a sudden you’ll slowly stop hearing “be careful of the freshies” and “don’t hit them too hard” and the emphasis will be on treating you like just another member of the team. Don’t panic- you haven’t lost your freshie identity, but now you’re one of the big girls (and we know you can take it!!). Your coaches may remove a layer of the sugar coatings, but it really is a case of tough love- don’t take it personally, instead see it as a compliment, they are trying to push you to be the best player out there.
  2. Be ready to go from a checklist mentality to a team mentality.
    By now you will have probably crossed off most of your minimum skills, it’s just about putting them into action. One of the most overwhelming things is being thrown into the world of team tactics and quite frankly feeling a bit frazzled! You may go home and shed a few tears, but believe me when I say that everyone goes through this. We all experience bad sessions and unfortunately this transition stage is like a magnet for confusion. Don’t give up! By continuing to go to training, it will all become clear in time. Remember, you are now part of the team and they need you there, even if you don’t feel valuable, your input may help someone else understand it too.
  3. Ask questions!
    You may have heard this a million times in school, but there really is no such thing as a stupid question. Don’t understand what bridging is? You’re probably not the only one, by having the confidence to ask you’ll end up helping out your fellow freshies too (and giving a nice reminder to all those advanced skaters!). By being actively involved and taking in as much information as possible, your coaches and team-mates will respect you more because ultimately it will make you a more valuable player in the future!
  4. Don’t be ashamed if you make a mistake.
    Mistakes are how you learn, plain and simple! Everyone makes mistakes, even the advanced skaters! It’s useful to set yourself mini goals along the way, keep your eyes peeled for a future blog post from us all about not giving up!
  5. Watch archived games.
    The more you immerse yourself in this sport, the quicker you’ll pick it up. The WFTDA have a youtube full of free archived games to watch* and by seeing some of the best teams in the world, your own team tactics might begin to make a bit more sense! The announcers give a pretty decent run-down of exactly what’s going on, and if you’re really keen (guilty as charged) you can rewind and watch those amazing hits over and over again!
  6. Get involved!
    Use any opportunity to be a part of this wonderful new team. If there’s a bout or a scrimmage, don’t get discouraged just because you can’t skate- why not NSO or help out the referees? Keep your eyes peeled for fundraisers or events you can help out with, and don’t doubt the amazing impression this gives off to your teammates. It shows determination and enthusiasm, both extremely valuable attributes- it’s not all about skating ability, your personality will help you along the way so make sure you use it!

WFTDA archives (website): www.wftda.tv/archives/

WFTDA archives (Youtube): www.youtube.com/TheWFTDA/









By Attack-O-Belle and Queena Hearts.

SWAT’s 5 February Fitness Tips

The February frost (or should it be floods?) have arrived… long gone is the New Year’s determination to be more active and squeeze into those smaller than small hot pants. And we all know that the January 1st mantra of ‘no more chocolate’ probably didn’t make it past the first week, let alone into the next month. Well, with the following 5 tips there’s no reason why you can’t get those resolutions back on track (well, maybe not the chocolate ban…) and even improve your derby while you’re at it!   

  1. Do it because you love it.
    You’re more likely to stick at something you enjoy doing and you’ll be a happier (and therefore healthier) human because of it. Some people love a group training session, while others prefer hitting the track solo. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what exercise you’re doing, as long as it gets your heartbeat racing and builds a sweat (and no… I’m not talking about watching your derby crush and fangirling yourself into a fluster!!)
  2. Menial tasks are training opportunities!
    Get out of the lift and meet your new best friend- the stairs. Now, take them two at a time; not only will this strengthen and tone your legs but also means you are doing lunges on an incline- perfect for mastering those knee taps! Brushing your teeth? Squat at the same time! Brilliant for that blocker behind and I’ve been told it makes you brush more vigorously, so if you see any sparkly smiles behind those mouth guards, now you know why!
  3. Be a planker.
    Core strength makes all the difference between being a good player and a great one. Whether it’s having the strength to stay standing after a huge hit or the balance to twist your body in all directions … you need to get your core rock hard.
    One of the drills that we find most core-inspiring is the plank pyramid:
    15 second plank, 15 seconds rest.
    30 second plank, 30 seconds rest.
    45 second plank, 45 seconds rest.
    1 minute plank, 1 minute rest.
    45 second plank, 45 seconds rest.
    30 seconds plank, 30 seconds rest.
    15 seconds plank, 15 seconds rest.
    It may hurt to laugh the next day, but you’ll be the one giggling on the track when you’re unmovable thanks to all those planks!
  4. Get fit for free without even leaving the house!
    YouTube is an amazing resource for fitness and it doesn’t cost a thing. Whether you’re trying to find out how to execute the perfect squat or a workout to get your heart racing, you can have your own personal trainer at the click of a button! There are plenty of channels dedicated to fitness and you don’t have to worry about how you look from the safety of your own front room (just make sure you close the curtains!)
  5. If at first you don’t succeed… SPEAK up… Don’t GIVE up!!
    If your ploughs lack the ‘stop’ or you haven’t yet mastered the crossover, it’s okay to ask for advice. In roller derby, you join a team but you gain a family and believe it or not… even the best skaters started somewhere! By showing determination and a willingness to learn you’ll have the team on your side with none of the guilt of giving up. Maybe some skills take longer to ‘click’ but with guidance and advice from your fellow roller-folks one day you’ll be ploughing with the best of ‘em!

I LOVE DEEEEEERBY! Fresh Meat to S.W.A.T Travel Team by Mrs Kripling

So, I was asked to write this blog as one of the newest members of the travel team and a normal person, awkward, anyone who knows me will tell you I’m far from normal! Although stereotypically I suppose I am, I’m a single, working mum of two boys. I run my own business as a cake designer around the school runs, cleaning, standing on lego etc.!

Derby came to me in a dream, and then that morning on Facebook (via a friend) was a picture of our very own Vampira. I got straight on google and found S.W.A.T Roller Derby. I emailed all 7 addresses desperate to know more. Bolty instantly replied and recommended that as the current fresh meat hadn’t started I join the local gents team. ‘The League of Extraordinary Rollergents is coached by a S.W.A.T member so it would give me a feel for it. I knew I’d love it!

League of Extraordinary Rollergents

I donned my skates for the first time since I was 11, nervously watching in awe of the others. The first thing I remember is how friendly everyone was! Completely welcoming, everyone is there purely for the love of derby, something that I have witnessed at every session, scrim and bout since. I trained with the guys for nearly 7 months when I heard Fresh Meat was starting but due to my commitment and skill level I was asked to join S.W.A.T early, I got in my car and actually screamed with joy, I grinned so much I looked like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, now a regular look for me!

Fresh MeatMrs Kripling Jamme

Once I joined S.W.A.T my fitness levels were really put to the test. After having two kids and never taking part in regular exercise, I hate the gym, I don’t like getting cold and I can’t run due to asthma (and the fact that I just don’t like it!) I was over the moon to find not only a form of exercise that just felt like I was having fun but a team sport as well! I’ve always enjoyed being part of a team and the comradery of roller derby is something truly unique. You instantly gain a ton of friends and soon enough find yourself part of the derby family.

The night I passed my minimum skill was one of my greatest achievements yet, not just in derby but in life. My fitness has been pushed to the test as well as my determination, I wanted nothing more than to be a fully fledged roller girl. My final skill to tick off was the 27/5, a test of endurance and fitness (I genuinely thought I would never pass due to my asthma), when I passed, if I could have breathed, I would have cried.

Kripling & Flash Bo Dash

I have an addictive personality and used to spend every free minute obsessed with work/cake. I have now added, to an already cramped life style, derby. While I thought it would not be possible to have any more commitments in my life, it turns out, if you want something enough you WILL make it happen, and you’ll enjoy it even more!

I spent weeks obsessing over my derby name – as EVERYONE does! I lost hours researching the best wheel set-ups, learning new tactics and laughing at the latest team social pictures on facebook!

This year I have made the travel team (another amazing feat in my life and derby career) and we have the South West Championships coming up alongside many other bouts and Scrims. Having never played in a public bout I’m quite sure I will be pooping my beautifully shiny, purple custom bout pants to begin with but I know the atmosphere at a bout is something to be reckoned with.

Team WorkKripling

You have fans of all ages (babies to biddies), from all over, with their home made banners cheering on the skaters and enjoying the MCs amusing comments and then rushing up to high-five all the players and refs (a great touch which you don’t get in many sports).

This truly will be a proud moment, getting to skate out with the team around me, supporting me as they have every single step of the way.

So what have I learnt about derby so far?

  1. It’s addictive! Get used to it, accept it.
    You’ll spend hours deciding what colour to get your new bout pants trimmed with let alone the craving you get for training or when you, heaven forbid, miss a session!
  2. You just need determination.
    As simple as that. If you want it bad enough, you WILL get there.
  3. Shape and size does NOT matter!
    I have seen skaters from a size 4 – 24, each with their own talents. Me personally, I’m small but mighty (like Persil!). I may be tiny but I’ll still hit with all I’ve got – sleepless nights and snotty customers all result in a nice build up of tension just waiting to be released!
  4. You will stink!
    Unwashed pads and sweaty girls stuck in a car together (usually my 7 seater!) results in something you have never smelt before. Even the most glamorous looking roller girls go home stinking of witches pee – or something equally evil!
  5. You will get fit!
    Even if it kills you getting there, it will happen. Fitness isn’t always about being ‘ripped’, sometimes its just about being able to run up the stairs and not get out of breath when you hear the bath is about to over flow as one of your kids has set it going!

Personally I now have delts, traps and even abs again! (I had to research what these new found muscles were that I now owned by the way)

So that’s me, Charlotte, Mumma, The Cake Lady and Mrs Kripling – A derby loving, fancy dress obsessed, party going, cake fanatic who plays Mum, Business owner and Roller chick…and I couldn’t be happier!

Mrs Kripling

5 Reasons to love Roller Derby

5 tips for preparing for fresh meat

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.

 4. Equipment!

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