1. Roller derby
Roller derby is a fast-paced team sport played on quad roller skates. It requires speed, strategy and athleticism. It’s tough but it's for all shapes, ages and backgrounds. And it’s the fastest growing female sport in Europe.
As a nod to its history and alternative culture some skaters have skate names such as Kiki Kapow and Barbarism. As the sport develops and the skaters progress there’s a growing emphasis on athleticism and many skaters choose to skate under their real names.
In the past it’s been female-driven but now men and juniors play the sport too. The UK is one of the leading places in the world for Roller Derby. The London Rollergirls are currently one of the best teams in the world and the female England roller derby team took a silver medal in the 2014 Roller Derby World Cup.
2. Where did roller derby come from?
Roller derby dates back to the 1930s when sports and entertainments promoter, Leo Seltzer, invented Transcontinental Roller Derby. At that time it was a skating marathon played on a banked track by men and women couples. The skaters speeded continuously for hours on wheels made of wood.
Boom and bust days
Over time the sport evolved from a marathon into a team sport with a points system. Originally no contact was allowed but the fans cheered when it happened so it was built into the game. Leo’s son, Jerry Seltzer, took over the business in the late 1950s. At its peak it was seen on over 110 TV stations in the US and Canada. But the economic crisis of 1972 caused Jerry to shut down the business in 1973.
Reinvention and revival
There were some short-lived attempts to revive it in the 1980s and 1990s. It wasn’t until the early 2000s, however, that it really took off again. A group of visionary women from Austin, Texas merged rules from the original game and hockey and added new ones.
Roller derby leagues
The Texas Rollergirls founded the first flat-track roller derby league and set the wheels in motion for how the sport is played and managed internationally today. The first league was founded in the UK in 2006. Since then, its popularity has boomed.
3. The basic rules of roller derby
With 80 wheels racing around the track, bodies hitting the floor and seven referees, how can you tell what is going on? Bette Noir, founder of the London Rollergirls, the UK's first roller derby league, explains the rules.
4. What role would suit you in roller derby?
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5. Could you play roller derby?
Find out from below if you have what it takes to play roller derby.