Trying to figure out a way to shed pounds and make friends in the new year? You may want to consider one of the fastest growing women’s sports: roller derby. Six derby leagues currently exist in and around the Houston area. South Side Roller Derby plays banked track, the kind of track seen in the movie “Whip It.” Houston Roller Derby , Northside Fury Roller Derby, Rocket City Roller Girls, Texas Professional Roller Derby, and the Cut n Shoot Cutthroats are flat track, which means they skate on a floor or track with painted or taped boundaries.
One thing both types of roller derby have in common is required safety gear. Every derby player is required to wear a mouth guard, helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards.
Knee pads are either flat or bulky in appearance. Since one of the first things a derby player learns is how to fall properly, skaters often choose the thicker knee pads. These provide more cushioning and prevent knee injuries. WFTDA.com, the website for the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, says skaters can expect to spend between $50 and $100 for quality knee pads.
If you’ve had knee problems in the past, you can also wear knee gaskets under the pads. Roller Derby Virginia Beach, an online skate shop, says gaskets can also help ease joint pain.
Helmets need to either be skate helmets or hockey helmets. Bicycle helmets aren’t designed for multiple impacts. Once they make contact with the ground, they need to be thrown away. Skate and hockey helmets are designed to sustain multiple hits with the floor and protect against concussions. Unless it’s an extremely hard hit, you’ll only need to replace your helmet once a year.
The helmet needs to fit snuggly around the head and low on the forehead without being too tight. It shouldn’t move forward or backward or side-to-side when you nod. Prices vary from as little as $30 to upwards of $50. WFTDA.com says as long as the helmet fits well and has been rated for safety standards, it’s good for roller derby.
Mouth guards will protect your pearly whites, but skaters need to choose one that also allows them to talk and drink water without being removed. Most sports stores carry options under $10 that are thick. Thinner mouth guards, such as the Protech Dent Mouth Guard, can be found at some area skate shops and on websites that specialize in roller derby equipment. Those usually run around $25. Dentists can also fit you for a mouth guard.
Most of the Houston area teams offer used gear for new skaters to try. Since this gear is in limited supply, it’s best not to rely on it long term. The sooner you get your own gear, the sooner you can skate anywhere.