For so long we couldn’t, but now we can: A Roller Derby Beginners’ Journey

It’s new intake time over at Nottingham Roller Derby and we’re 4 weeks in to our 16 week beginners course! This intake have been marvelling and embarrassing us in equal measure as they pick up things at lightning speed. It’s made a lot of us nostalgic about our own journeys and so we thought we’d share some stories about things we really struggled with at the start.


Photo: Martyn Boston

“27/5. It was the last thing I had to tick off and it took me ages – I passed my second to last skill in April and didn’t pass laps until that October. It was a struggle, and there were tears on multiple occasions as I got so frustrated with myself that I considered quitting. Even after I passed (through sheer force of will more than skill), I still found it difficult for months.

Now I can easily hit the full 27 laps every time and I don’t feel like I have to push to my absolute limit to do it – it’s still hard work but it’s a steadier, stronger stride that gets me there now rather than trying to go flat out and exhausting myself three minutes in.

The thing that really helped me was working on my fitness and endurance outside of training – taking up running taught me how to pace myself, breathe steadily and finish strong and weight training has helped me get more power from my legs.”

– Fran Solo, NRG B team Vice-Captain


Photo: Martyn Boston

“I think I speak for many of us when I say transitions. Just could not get my head around them. Then I broke my ankle whilst practicing them to seal the deal. After that I was terrified of contact and being surrounded by other skaters really freaked me out for a while. The thing that got me past that was patience and determination; I watched the A team play and knew I would have to conquer those fears to get where I wanted to be. Having great coaches (I owe a huge debt to The Ruth Hurts) that were kind and patient and willing to listen, but also to push and encourage me when I needed, was what got me through. That and the satisfaction of playing my first cherry popper and being told by Deezus that she dreaded seeing me in a lineup!”

– Greek Frightening, NRG A team Captain and winner of NRD Best Takedown award 2016


Photo – Matthew Anderson

“I also struggled with transitions, I’d get so frustrated and mixed up doing them. Dellar and Cherry Revenge spent hours trying to break them down for me. I’m not sure when it clicked but now they’re not a worry at all. We’ve drilled them so often that they’re now natural. In fact it often seems to be the case that the speed that skills are mastered is not indicative of what is achieved later on; frequently those who struggle and take longer to learn come out the end as much stronger derby players”

– Circle Jerk, SSB Skater


Photo: Martyn Boston




“Plow stops… like, seriously, I hated these! (I still kind of do…). I guess I just couldn’t get my head around the usefulness of this stop when I could T-stop. It was something that evaded me for a long time and frustrated me! I guess I just kept trying and even now I’ll often be practising them in warm up with the help of Fran Solo pushing me to not give up.

I guess my advice is keep pushing yourself and have awesome teammates that help push you too.”

– Anne Arky, NRG B team skater


Photo: Martyn Boston. Ecstatic smile: Ruby/NRGB

“For me, the struggle was worst mentally. I constantly compared myself to other skaters and berated myself for not being better, stronger or more naturally talented. I’d never been an inherently sporty person before starting Roller Derby, and it showed as it took longer for me to master things – me being me, I constantly compared myself to the top skaters and conveniently glossed over the fact that I was at the same level as a lot of my other teammates. It took a long time but I eventually realized that I was okay with not chasing the superlatives; I was never going to feel happy pushing myself to go to the gym every day or go running or embarking on any other kind of intense fitness regime to get to the top. Roller Derby is my hobby and as such, I’m a lot happier since realizing that I don’t have to be number one (or even two, three or four) – especially as I now have other health issues to contend with. I will continue to do my best and give it everything I can, but now my best is always going to be good enough!

My advice is adapted from an old derby cliché: Skate Hard, or skate gently. Push yourself when you can, take a break when you need to… do whatever you are able to; just keep going forward at a speed that works for you.”

– Ruby Doomsday, NRG B team skater and Beginners’ Apprentice Coach


Photo: Martyn Boston

“Side surfing. I used to just spin in circles but I worked and stretched off-skates and worked and stretched some more until I could. Being an ex-dancer, it was a bit of an annoyance as I used to be able to have my feet in that position so easily! Repetition is key until it becomes muscle memory. It’s true of all Roller Derby skills.”

– Coco, A team skater and SSB Coach


Photo: Martyn Boston





“The truth is, it’s always hard conquering new skills no matter what your experience level is. My advice is to try and keep that sense of determination that comes with minimum skills as long as you can”.

– Shock N Awedrey, A team skater





Photo: Photos by Marie



In the words of Beater Parker, who has just played his first game with the Super Smash Brollers in Gothenburg, Sweden:

“We all have so far to go, but if you are reading this, don’t forget how far you have come; I get taught something every week by those around me. And I, in turn, become better. You are not the only ones who feel frustrated, trust me…I’m having my little strops in my head more often than you would think. To all the beginners in every league – every time you fall over, you have just learnt something new. Every time you pick yourself up it’s because you were being brave and trying to learn something different… keep falling, but, more importantly, keep getting back up.”

A re-iterated welcome to all our newbies; we can’t wait to have you with us on the track!