Beginners’ Course: Coming 2017!

We’re happy to announce that we have started the preparations for our annual BEGINNERS’ COURSE, which will run for 14 weeks on Saturday mornings, starting in January 2017. For more info and to ask any questions, check out the facebook event page here.

Can’t wait until next year for your derby fix? Not sure if roller derby is for you? We’re running a TASTER SESSION on Sun December 4th, to give you a chance to learn a little more about the sport and try out some basic skate skills. Details for the taster session can be found here.

Please complete our Beginners’ Form and we will send you updates and vital pre-course information about how to sign up for this brilliant opportunity to take up roller derby!

We look forward to hearing from you!

PLEASE NOTE: if you attended the taster session on 19th November and have not heard from us yet but would like to, please email us at so that we can keep in touch, as some of the email addresses we received aren’t working!

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Beginners’ Course: everything you need to know

Tempted to join our new intake of beginners this January, but still have a few questions? Here’s a little more info, and some words of wisdom from some of last year’s newbies!

What is roller derby?

Get used to answering this question.

It’s fun, it’s fast, and it might just be the best decision you make this year.

What is the Beginners’ Course?

12 weeks of awesome skatey funtimes. We’ll teach you everything you need to know, and along the way – we hope – why this thing is going to make you love being sweaty and exhausted with your teamies on a regular basis.

At your first session we’ll get you kitted up – not just with skates but also a helmet and elbow, knee and wrist pads.  Skaters with experience will try out different ways to stop, but a lot of people use this session just to gain familiarity with being on wheels. We’ll also teach you different ways to fall safely in this session.

Do I need to be able to skate?

Nope! If you can, great, and the coaches will give you the appropriate level of challenge to get you learning derby skills, not just skate skills. But the majority of people who start this course are totally new. It’s completely fine to be Bambi at the start.


How fit do I need to be?

However fit you are right now. Again, it’s great if you come in from a team sports background, or already do situps on the regular. But this course is for beginners and everyone is welcome, whatever your shape, size, age (18+), or fitness level. All we ask is that you show up ready to give it a try and have fun.

Should I buy skates or a ‘roller derby starter kit’ before I arrive?

Not unless you know the sport, and have people advising you already. If you have skates already we can talk about whether they suit roller derby. (Note: we skate on quads, not inlines.) We’ll lend you all the gear you need, and it’s fine to do the whole course using our borrowed equipment (£20 deposit to take it home), but before the end you should be thinking about buying kit – and we’ll give you plenty of advice. You’ll need to buy a mouthguard around halfway through the course, but you don’t need one at the start.

Who trains us?

This is a co-ed course, run by Oxford Men’s Roller Derby in association with Oxford Roller Derby. Everyone skates and learns together. Your coaches will be a mix of OMRD and ORD skaters with tons of experience – so you’re in good hands.


Who else will be there?  

Me! I’m Susie Wan Kenobi, I’m the Beginners’ Rep for ORD, and I’ll be around to answer questions, do a little paperwork, and make sure you get everything you want out of the course. You’ll also meet more A and B Team skaters and rookies from last year who come along to help out too, and some of our brilliant Refs and Non-Skating Officials.

What support do you provide for people with disabilities?  

Some of our skaters have physical and/or mental impairments. We are an inclusive sport and will always try to adapt our coaching and training to acknowledge that. Please contact us directly so we can best support you.

Still wondering if it’s for you?

I asked some of ORD’s 2015 new skaters a few questions: Jacqui, Steph (Rockesy Horror), and Nina (Greased Lightninz).

What brought you to Roller Derby? 

J – Returned to roller derby after having a baby .
S – ‘Whip It’ man!! Honestly as an adult I’ve struggled to find a way to keep fit (and like doing it). I loved playing sports and skating as a kid so derby looked like the logical solution for me.
N – I vaguely remember seeing people skating in ORD gear in Cowley Road Carnival a few years ago and I had been intermittently checking the website since because I thought I’d love to learn to skate. On one occasion the site was advertising that the next fresh meat intake was in 3 days so took it as a kick up the arse to try it out and haven’t looked back since.

What was your first Fresh Meat session like?

J – Relaxed, crowded and a little bit trying not to knock anyone over or fall into anyone. Not sure everyone knew what roller derby was and that showed when the numbers dwindled over the weeks but it was good.
S – I came in on the 4th session for ORD as i didn’t know about it when it started. I was a bit nervous and timid but I soon felt at ease as every one was a beginner in some way so we were all in it together. I found talking to as many people as I could…about anything, made me feel inclusive as it can be a very intimidating environment.
N – Scary! Putting wheels on your feet for the first time feels super weird, but I was so busy trying to stay upright I had no time to pay attention to what anyone else was doing and it was also really fun to be finally giving it a go.

C Mindy Cherry Photography

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you started?

J – That it hurts, it’s the best pain, it’s sweaty but the best kind of sweaty. 
S – The same thing I’m still working on now…to let go and TRY! It doesn’t matter if it looks/sounds crazy… just have to try. If you fail, who cares, try try again. The only way to really learn this sport is to do. I still struggle with my own mental blocks (fall fright, timidness etc.) But I try not to over analyse it and just do it.
N – I wish I’d joined sooner! Imagine all the years of Derby if I had started skating as a teen…

What’s your favourite thing about ORD?

J – It seems to be a real team from the A to B to Rookies and newbies to the boys, everyone is welcome and helpful.
S – I like that its well organised and there are plenty of people (at all different levels across the league) willing to help and include you.
N – The people 🙂 even people you’re intimidated by because of their skills on skates are so encouraging and I love the inclusive spirit of Derby.

Anything else you think Beginners might want to know?

J – You will smell, but the smell of Derby is like no other smell and Derby is like no sport you will ever try. If you don’t love roller derby you don’t like life. No other sport is as inclusive or accepting. It’s a bit like starting at a new school, there’s these amazing skaters who it feels are intimidating but actually are super nice and helpful. If you fall down, which you will, get up and keep going – even the best fall.
S – Try on skates before you buy!!! Even if you don’t plan on spending a lot, the fit of your boot is important so get fitted properly in several brands/models.
And don’t worry about how confusing the rules are…it takes time to learn it all and put it to use!
Oh and HAVE FUN!!

N – Just give it a go! You won’t regret trying.

OK, I’m sold! Where do I sign up?

No need to sign up, you can just show up on the night – but please head to the Facebook event page and say hello.

beginners course


Course begins Weds 27th January 2016 – 7:45 -9:45pm, Matthew Arnold School, Arnold’s Way, Botley OX2 9JE


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First Bout Thoughts

Oxford Roller Derby’s B team have just completed our first season, with 3 bouts under our belt. Here, Zoomintroll gives her thoughts on our first Bout in July. Zoomintroll started roller derby when she took part in our beginners’ course last January. You can sign up here for info on our next beginners’ course.  

I’d heard about Roller Derby from a couple of friends (Maths Destruction and Graceless Kelly), but never really thought about it involving me until Kelly said “there’s a beginners’ course coming up, you should do it.”  She was right.  Roller Derby is wonderful.  It filled holes in my life I didn’t know were there.

Not long after I passed the minimum skills I played in Oxford Roller Derby B Team’s first ever bout (which was actually a bout and a half) in the Milton Keynes B-Sides mini tournament in July 2015.  We were a new team; so new we’d never actually all been at training at the same time.  So new several of us had passed our minimum skills just days earlier.  We were the plucky underdogs.  Could we defy the odds and win glory?

Spoiler: we came last.

The first bout was twenty minutes.  It was terrifying rolling on to the track for the first time, and I spent a lot of the time feeling like I had no idea what was going on.  I fell over a lot, I messed up, I failed to block the jammer, I made a thousand mistakes, and I got hit in painful ways. A lot.

But it was also incredible.

We lost, but it was a close loss: 73 to Severn Roller Torrent, 67 to us.  We weren’t surprised – it was our first bout as a team!  And still, when we got knocked over, we got back up again.  We would not roll over and let the other team win without a fight.  We still lost, of course.  But we didn’t feel discouraged.

The second bout was a full-length match against Wirral Whipiteres Roller Derby’s Tiger Lillies.  The first ten minutes were awful.  We were very quickly 60 points down with nothing in return, but then our Bench Manager, French Revolution, took a time out and gave us a pep talk.  I can’t remember what she said, but whatever it was, it worked.  Our walls seemed to hold for a bit longer and our jammers managed to get out and score points.  It felt less like we were totally outmatched.  We still lost by a lot (228 – 112), but the second half was much more evenly matched.  It turns out that my team’s response to a horrible, discouraging beginning is that we come back stronger and more committed to doing the absolute best that we can.  Even when I re-watch the footage and cringe at the way I stand like a lemon looking lost while the jammer sprints past me, I’m proud that I can go out there and be part of this marvellous thing.

Photo credit: Mindy Cherry Photography

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