Roller Derby FAQs

What do I need to play roller derby?

EQUIPMENT

Like any sport, there is gear that you will need in order to participate in roller derby safely. There are a lot of brands and styles to choose from so ask around and try on other people’s gear to see what size you need. We do have gear that can be borrowed until you are able to purchase your own.  Skates can be rented for $3. 

Unless you have a rich uncle footing the bill, shop around for prices. Some vendors have discounted package deals for new skaters if you buy everything at once. This can be a good deal, but check each of the elements in the package because sometimes substitutions aren’t allowed.

WFTDA Required Equipment

Helmet

⋆ Look for a quality skateboarding helmet (not a bicycle helmet). It should fit snugly, have a solid, hard outer shell and have a soft foam insert.

⋆ Estimated price: $20-40

Mouth guard

⋆ Keeps your teeth where they belong – in your head. Any “boil and bite” athletic mouth guard will work but remember that you’ll need to be able to yell to your teammates while wearing it. If you choose one with a strap to attach to your helmet, be sure to get a safety strap that will release under stress. You can also have a custom guard made by a dentist.

⋆ Estimated price: boil and bite $1 -$5; custom $50 -150

Elbow pads

⋆ You’ll spend more time banging on these than you might think. Choose skateboard style elbow pads that have a sleeve, not cheap ones with a couple of straps.

⋆ Estimated price: $25 -50

Kneepads

⋆ Go for larger, skateboard-style knee pads, not the tiny, kiddie, outdoor knee pads. The smaller pads simply aren’t built to take the abuse of derby. Avoid knee injuries and get good gear.

⋆ Estimated price: $30 -$170

Wrist guards

⋆ They protect your wrists. Check for a solid, plastic sheath on the underside.

⋆ Estimated price: $20 -25

Skates

⋆ Roller derby uses quad skates (not inline skates or art skates). The boot is low at the ankle for added movement, has a low heel, and a long wheelbase. Lighter skates are usually better because they allow you to skate with less effort. Skates are available in both leather and synthetic materials. Skaters most commonly choose leather skates because over time they will mold to your feet for a comfortable fit. Vegan skaters choose synthetic skates and some new skaters may also purchase them because they are less expensive. Used skates are available if you don’t want to invest in new ones, but remember that they will be formed to the feet of their previous owner and may never mold to fit you just right.

⋆ Skates come in men’s sizes so you’ll need to convert your size to get a proper fit.

⋆ Estimated price: $100 and up

Wheels (8)

⋆ You need wheels because you’ll be standing still without them. For our surfaces, purchase a set of indoor wheels. These are hard wheels made for speed. If you order them online, check whether they come in packages of 4 or 8 to be sure you get the correct number of wheels. It’s going to take a while for you to find what you like and there is no substitute for strapping them on your feet and taking a few laps.

⋆ Estimated price: $30 -250

Bearings (16)

⋆ They come in packages of 8 or 16 so be sure you get a total of 16 when you order (2 per wheel). Again, you’ll want bearings made for indoor surfaces. They will be numbered 7, or 9.  The higher the number, the faster the bearing (and usually the higher the price). Bearings come in 7mm and 8mm so check your skates to see which size you need. You can also purchase high-end ceramic bearings but these are overkill for most skaters.

⋆ Estimated price: $30, Ceramic bearings $100-$150