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Health Benefits of Roller Derby

You’ve seen our website, you’ve watched some roller derby on youtube and you’re following us on Instagram. Maybe you’ve seen us training, or out and about at a Leicester event. Now you’ve finally decided you want to come join us… but you’ve got one burning question:

Is Roller Derby good for me?

The simple answer is of course HELL YES, but let’s stop and break down all the amazing benefits of roller derby in a nice bit of detail- and debunk a few common myths along the way!

Fitness:

Benefit One: Roller Derby burns through those calories

The latest research in sports science shows that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective way to burn body fat. Well guess what – roller derby is the ultimate HIIT sport! A game consists of short, intense two-minute periods of play (called ‘jams’), followed by a short rest while another line-up takes to the track. If a sport was ever designed to burn fat, it’s this one!

Myth Debunked: “Roller Derby is a brutal sport. You need to be super fit and super strong, and even then you’ll be covered in bruises”

We’ve heard it all before.. “That roller derby, its really violent. Someone breaks a bone every game and the girls love a good fight. Don’t you want to take up something a bit safer?” (Thanks Dad.)

Let’s get one thing straight, roller derby is a contact sport, but real injuries are rare. Our league is built on a foundation of great coaches, who’s job it is to make sure that every skater has the right level of experience before they can join the team. A new skater has to pass through their ‘Minimum Skill Requirements’ before they can play- which is four levels of training aimed at getting the body and mind ready for the game. This makes sure that every person on track knows how to play safely, which limits the number of injuries.

And as for ‘fighting’, the closest we get to a brawl is shoulder-shoving our way through the pack to give out hugs after an amazing game. After all, we’re one big roller derby family!

Benefit Two: Roller Derby increases muscle strength

Needless to say roller derby is great for building strength in your legs – skating motion works your glutes, quadriceps, adductors (inner thigh), abductors (outer thigh) and calves. But the strength benefits go way beyond your lower body; we skate differently to a recreational skater, using a position called the ‘Derby stance’ (skating low with bent knees and chest upright). This stance is essential for stability and effective blocking, and will significantly strengthen your whole core, in particular your abdominals and lower back.

Skills:

Myth Debunked: “I saw ‘Whip It’… I’ll never be able to skate on that sloped track thing!”

You’re thinking about the wrong continent my friend! A ‘banked’ track (i.e one with a slope or incline) is typically found across the Atlantic in the US and Canada, and is quickly coming a thing of the past. Roller Derby is constantly evolving and has come a long way since ‘Whip It’. Here in the UK, we use a flat track and we are governed by the ‘Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’ (WFTDA), and we both train and play on lovely smooth wooden floors.  If you’ve ever been to a Roller Disco, think along those lines.

Benefit Three: Roller Derby improves Mobility

Modern lifestyles have seen an increase in the amount of people with tight hip flexors. This is a regular occurrence in people who work in offices or sit for long periods of time.  Not only does this restrict your mobility but can lead to lower back pain and other issues. Several roller derby skills are mastered by loosening those tight hip flexors and opening the hips. This not only makes you a better athlete but improves your quality of life.

Myth Debunked: “You have to be pretty good at skating to get into a Roller Derby league.”

You can start training with any skating ability, even if the last skates you wore were the Fisher-Price ones that strapped over your shoes. Roller Derby requires a different style of skating, so skaters with little experience often pick up these new skills a little quicker than regular skaters who need to change their habits and their centre of gravity.

Benefit Four: Roller Derby improves confidence

Our league prides itself on the support and love we have for each other- and we make sure that we push each other to be the best. You will be able to see how well you’re doing every time you pass a skill, every time you level up, and eventually every time you score a point against another team. We reward and celebrate those who keep going, no matter how hard the journey is. Push hard enough, and you might win our coveted ‘Jackal of the Month’ award.

Mental Strength:

Benefit Five: Roller Derby relieves stress

We all know what it’s like to leave work and want to scream, or feel like we never get a moment of piece at home. RDL is our sanctuary; and it’s a place for us to de-stress. Roller derby is definitely not as relaxing as something like yoga, but practicing skills and focusing on game tactics helps us to clear our minds and forget the daily stresses of our lives.  We got to training, skate our hearts out, and go home tired and happy. This is because exercise increases brain serotonin function in humans- which is amplified when you’ve had a great training session, aced your skills and run through some high-octane derby drills.

Myth Debunked: “Roller Derby is so hard to understand!”

The funniest part of people finding out about what we do is the questions they ask about the game. ‘Does it involve a Ball?’ is a personal favourite.

It’s true, there a lot of rules to roller derby, but once you’ve been to a few practices, you’ll start to get the hang of it. New skaters play ‘shoe derby’- i.e. the same game without skates. This helps everyone learn the rules and try the skills and formations without having to worry about keeping their balance on skates. When they’re ready, our coaches slowly incorporate more and more derby drills into practices so by the time our rookies have passed all their minimum skill requirements, they know every rule inside and out.

Benefit Six: Roller Derby Skaters are part of one big family

Roller derby isn’t just a sport, it’s a community of diverse, open-minded, supportive individuals. If you want to meet interesting new people then look no further. At Roller Derby Leicester we organise all sorts of social activities. Whether it’s long walks, meals out, gaming or roller discos, we offer plenty of ways to enjoy yourself amongst your new friends.

To try roller derby with Roller Derby Leicester, sign up for one of our Sunday morning beginners’ sessions. Just email enquiries@rollerderbyleicester.co.uk or drop us a message on our Facebook page. Your first session is completely free (including kit hire), and £5 thereafter.