Well actually, let’s talk about kit in general, the kind of kit you need just to get you rolling.
First up, you guessed it, skates. The most crucial thing about derby skates is that they are of the quad variety, no inlines here. You’ll see a wide range of quad skates on the internet and in skate shops, but not all are designed to withstand the rough and tumble of roller derby. Even skates marketed as ‘derby skates’ aren’t often as durable as you’re lead to believe.
From experience (both mine and the other Angels) a decent set of start-out skates are usually found in the £100-£140 price range. Many a derby player started out on Riedell R3s or Sure Grip GT-50s. There are a couple of cheaper derby skates out there, however, you aren’t able to easily upgrade them as your skills progress unlike the two mentioned above. The ability to tweak parts of your skate as your skating style develops makes these an investment that would last you well beyond fresh meat. Don’t forget to make sure you try them on! There’s no point spending all that money on a pair of skates that don’t fit properly.
So, you have wheels, you’re good to go right? Not quite. We need to protect that lovely body of yours with plenty of padding. Knees, elbows and wrists are the essential protective pads, but there’s nothing stopping you adding some padded shorts to protect your butt too (you’ll probably fall on it quite a lot to begin with). You can often find sets that have wrist, elbow and knee pads included. They’re great to start with, just make sure they have a decent amount of padding on them. Brands to look out for are Smiths, Triple 8 and Bullet. The elbow pads and wrist guards from these sets will last you pretty well, but you may find you want to upgrade your knee pads to something a little bulkier. Most of our Angels use Smith Scabs, TSG or 187 knee pads.
Brains. We like brains, especially when they’re intact. So you definitely need to get yourself a helmet. The key thing about helmets for roller derby, is they’re designed for multiple lesser impacts. As a skater your head takes a knock more than you think, often not enough to cause any damage, but without a good helmet those little knocks could very easily be a nasty concussion. There’s a huge range of helmets out there, look for skateboard or hockey helmets as opposed to bicycle helmets (they’re designed for single impact). Here at DCRA we like Triple 8 Brainsavers, TSG, and S1 Lifer helmets.
Finally, mouth guards. Roller Derby is a full contact sport, you can get bashed about quite a lot, and sometimes that does mean a hit or two to the face (totally not legal, but it does happen). With that in mind, we want to protect your teeth from any accidental knocks. You can pick up mouth guards from most sports shops, the cheaper ones can be quite bulky though and make it difficult to talk. Most of our skaters use Sisu mouth guards, you can still talk and drink with them easily. Far less saliva trails from taking them in and out too. Blergh.
Now that’s a lot of kit isn’t it?! There’s no need to rush out and buy it all straight away, we have protective gear you can borrow (except mouth guards, no one wants to share a mouth guard, that’s just nasty) and skates can be hired for £2 a session until you’re ready to buy your own. Plus we have a pretty sweet deal with our local skate shop, Skate Asylum. Get in touch with us and we’ll tell you just what it is.
If you have any questions about kit, just ask an Angel, they’ll be happy to share their knowledge.