The Rookie Guide to Learning Roller Derby Rules

So you watch a film with a certain name, or watch your friends get broken at a game and think; ‘Hey! That looks awesome!’  Next thing, you find yourself stumbling through the doors of a hallowed sports hall to learn to play roller derby; AND IT IS AMAZING!

Then someone walks/skates/slides up to you, looking all ‘friendly like’, and tells you have to learn the following:

  • Skating (OK that goes with the territory)
  • Blocking (What’s that again? We get to pitch each other off skates, nice!)
  • Team Tactics (No problem, right?)
  • THE RULES (Yea…… What?!? *Stunned silence * What rules?!? OK. How hard could it be?)

As I write this blog I am rapidly approaching my first attempt at Minimum Skills and that involves the dreaded Rules Test.

Having spoken to a number of my fellow ‘Fresh Meat’ members – and indeed a number of the coaches and players – I can say that nothing seems to elicit a nervous laugh like the mention of The Rules.

You find people saying things like, “Yeah I have been reading them – but there are so many” and “It makes sense now I have done it in the class”. If you are a person like me who learns by doing, not reading, then staring at the rules set can make it feel even more daunting.

There is – as the saying goes – light at the end of the tunnel, or in this case a way through the wall!

There are several ways to help you learn the rules:

Printing or downloading the rules set and reading 63 pages
Page. By. Page.



Learn by doing
Some people try learning the rules by going over, and over, and over them on track; in conjunction with skate drills and words of wisdom from the coaches and refs alike.



Going along to various seminars held by the NSO/ref teams helps



Use an App like Roller Derby Test O’Matic
There are many available apps on the internet, some better than others, some highly questionable!

I, for one, have been using the much vaunted Roller Derby Test O’Matic (Lite) App which has proved to be very handy!

The app gives you a question, then multiple-choice answers which I find also reinforces the skills learned in practice too.

I find myself going over and over these all the time: walking to town, on the bus, sat on the ‘throne’, almost any opportunity I can get – and have found that it is slowly sinking in.


Having the rulebook to hand
This is working well for me too. It means I can cross reference the rules when I do get something wrong.  I’ve made my version tabbed (if you are fancy and have a tablet you could bookmark these) which makes it easier to find what I am after to read, revise and try again.


I think the rules set is something I will always be reading and revising, to be honest, as I have come to realise that it will help me when and if I decide/get offered the opportunity to manage the bench, captain one of the teams, or even become a referee! Aim high, he said.


Over the course of writing this article I have now taken my first rules test and, ahem, failed

…but all is not lost!

Having spoken to members of the league, including the coaches, I have found that very few people pass first time (they said) and this has given me hope of passing it on my second try, especially as I was not far off the pass mark!

I think that’s roller derby in a nutshell. You fall down, you get up, put your mouthguard in, adjust your pads and go for it again, and again, till you make it – and pass!

I intend to, so why not you?

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