Roller derby is a contact team sport with a combination of racing, collisions and wrestling elements. Roller derby originated in 1930 in the USA and has been gaining popularity all over the world ever since. Despite of its intense pace and aggressive style, roller derby is a predominantly female sport discipline. Initially roller derby was inspired by punk culture and still preserves punk aesthetics including loud outfits with fishnets, pre-ripped garments, dyed hair, tattoos and heavy make-up. With the passage of time roller derby has been gradually transforming into a traditional sport losing its theatrical elements. Nevertheless, the combination of intense action, emotional charge and tough-looking female players still make roller derby a powerful spectator sport.
Rules of roller derby
Sportwise, roller derby has incorporated various elements of hockey and American football. It is played on an oval-shaped flat roller rink by two teams comprised of five players. Each team consists of a jammer with a star-mark on her helmet and four blockers (collectively called “a pack”). Starting out from the back of her pack a jammer has to make her way through her pack, overtake it and race further around the rink in order to pass the pack again from the back. In doing so, a jammer gets one point for each rival player passed on the way. The opposing team blockers try to stop the jammer from passing them and clear the way for their own jammer. This is done by using various blocking moves. One derby game (a bout) lasts for 1 hour divided into 2 half-hour sessions which are further divided into an undefined number of jams (2-minute action periods).
Roller derby equipment
Roller derby is a kind of sport where the correct choice of equipment can hardly be overestimated. The main distinctive feature of roller derby is that it is played in quad skates (classic skates with two pairs of wheels located in two rows). The quad skates used for roller derby are purposely reinforced to withstand extremely intensive use and allow for good acceleration and maneuverability in the course of a bout. Professional derby skates are not cheap though correspond to high demands of advanced derby players. Typically, derby skates feature low-cut boots for freedom of movements and increased velocity. The boots are usually made from high-quality leather with comfortable heat-moldable padding to ensure snug fit for the perfect control. The plate material also matters when it comes to serious levels of expertise. Dedicated derby skaters tend to choose aluminum alloy or magnesium plates in pursuit of lightness. The derby skate wheels feature high-grade bearings for better acceleration. The wheel hardness and width normally varies according to the weight, type of a skating surface and personal preferences of the skater. Advanced derby players lean toward harder and narrower wheels for increased responsivity highly valued in roller derby. Toe stops used in derby skates have a wide footprint and are made from durable materials with the view to extend their service life.
Apart from skates, roller derby requires a complete set of protective equipment. A helmet, knee and elbow pads, wrist protectors and a mouth guard protect roller derby players from serious injuries. Subject to extremely intensive use derby protective gear is made from durable and light polymer materials featuring ergonomic design in order to be imperceptible throughout the game.
Roller Derby World Cup
Despite of many decades of its previous existence, the official roller derby association WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) was founded only in 2006. The same year official rules of roller derby were established. The first roller derby World Cup took place in 2011 in Toronto, Canada marking the start of yearly roller derby championships organized by the WFTDA. Presently, there are over 400 professional roller derby leagues all over the world. However, the leadership positions in roller derby championships have been unfailingly held by its motherland – the USA.