Archive for May, 2013

Roller Derby: The Evolution of Roller Skating To Contact Sports

Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Following is a guest article submitted by Daniel Stratton of the U.K., where skating is hugely popular in all its forms.

What it is and Where it Originated

Roller derby is now a popular contact sport with over 1,250 amateur leagues in various countries in the world. Basically, it’s played by two opposing teams that are composed of five members each. Both teams are placed in the same track and they must roller skate in the same direction. The object of the game is to score points by lapping any member of the opposing team and this is usually done by a jammer. The jammer or the scoring player is designated by the team and it’s commonly the strongest player in the group. Every team member must protect and assist their jammer while preventing the opposing jammer from scoring. This sport requires good planning in terms of offense and defense strategies.

Roller Derby collision shot

Action shot from the blog

The sport of roller derby can trace its origin in the 1930’s when roller-skating marathons are really popular among the masses. The evolution of roller derby can be credited to Damon Runyon and Leo Seltzer who made this game into a more competitive sport. Due to their efforts, the first professional roller derby was launched in the 1940’s and made its debut in 50 US cities. It was also watched by 5 million spectators – making it the most popular contact sport during that time. However, in the next few decades it became more of a sports entertainment that favours theatrical showmanship over athleticism. During those times, matches were scripted and winners were predetermined. Television shows like “Roller Games” and “Roller Jam” presented a theatrical variant of this sport.

The modern revival of roller derby started in 2000 and it paved the way for an all-female amateur league which began in Austin, Texas. In just a span of 6 years there were over 135 leagues all over the US, and in 2006 various leagues was formed in countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, New Zealand, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Dubai, Singapore and Egypt. Soon after these leagues were formed an International competition followed in 2007 and participated by several member countries.

Amateur leagues are self-organized and formed by roller derby enthusiasts. In fact, roller derby teams are made up of members from various walks of life like lawyers, nurses, housewives, students and government employees. The diversity of players accepted in these leagues has catapulted the popularity of this contact sport. Modern roller derby matches are commonly held in flat tracks, but several professional leagues prefer banked tracks because it’s more challenging and requires better team strategy.

Equipment and Aesthetics

Generally, roller derby players skate on quad or four-wheeled roller skates, and everyone participating in a roller derby match are required to wear high quality protective equipment which can now be bought via specialised online stores like These gears will include knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, mouth guards and most importantly a helmet. Optional gears may also be needed like hard case sports bra for female participants while protective cups are for male players. Most of these gears follow a set of colour patterns and design that is unique to the team.

When it comes to style and aesthetics, roller derby players are exceptionally creative. As a matter of fact, league players skate under a “derby name” or pseudonyms which are often related to the player’s characteristics. These names can be comparable to aliases which are normally given to boxers. So, derby names like “The Slayer” or “Steam Rollers” are common among league participants.

Future of Roller Derby

Although the revival of roller derby was initiated by an all-female league, some newer leagues have introduced co-ed games or all-male teams. Roller derby is a sport for anyone who knows how to skate and has the physical capacity to play the game. Furthermore, even if some social groups view roller derby as an adult-oriented entertainment, it still has the qualities that can draw the youth into the game. After all, it’s a very competitive sport that requires strategy, skills and cooperation among team members.

There is also a strong possibility that roller derby will be included in the 2020 Olympics under the roller sport category. As of today, the sport is expanding along with its loyal followers. The media has also devoted their efforts in covering several known matches. Also, watching roller derby bouts are no longer a problem these days due to live online streaming and footage that can easily be accessed through the Internet.

Overall, roller derby is here to stay and there will come a time that it can even rival other popular sports like MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).


Switching to Two Wheels

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

After 20 years as a formal publication and the voice of Get Rolling, the quarterly Get Rolling Orbit Inline Skating Newsletter is going into quiet retirement.

What does this mean?

  • There will be no more mailing list and no more email announcements.
  • People who follow Get Rolling with Liz Miller on Facebook or Sk8teacher on Twitter will continue to have access to my posts there.
  • Orbit archives prior to May 2010 (when I started using WordPress) will still be available on
  • With social media delivering my communications whenever I have something to say or share, the GetRolling home page will change less frequently, at least for now.

What’s next?

  • Last year I retired from active teaching but I still continue to support the Skate Instructors Association (SkateIA)
  • I will continue assessing and supporting inline brake technologies that I believe deserve a place in the market.
  • I will continue to add blog posts whenever I have something to say, but likely my articles will be more about fitness, biking and adventurous vacations.
  • Similar to when I started skating in 1982, I am now pursuing mastery on my new road bike. I have a performance bike and try to maintain a “performance body,” but I am years behind in bike handling experience and confidence, with 2/3 of my expected lifespan already gone. My keys to  road biking success are not so different from when I was learning to skate. Incremental improvements come from:
    • the positive feedback of minor improvements every time I ride
    • the desire to not look like a geek and to keep up with biking buddies
    • many quality hours on the bike and muscle memory drilling (practice, practice, practice!)

I’d love it if you want to continue following the next 20 years of my active lifestyle  through Facebook or Twitter. If not, it’s been spectacular and wonderful having all of you in my life!

45684_511439348903022_1552890913_nLiz Miller
Author of Get Rolling and Advanced Inline Skating
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Announcing the New DXS Disk Brake Website

Sunday, May 19th, 2013


The motto just above Alex Bellehumeur’s email contact information says:

Will it so & so it Will

Anybody who thinks a few years of delay is going to discourage this accomplished inventor is wrong. The About the Inventor page on his new web site clarifies further, “…he has a passion for solving product-related challenges, currently holding 12 patents, with 3 more pending.”

Three potential licensees have tested the youth and adult prototypes and expressed interest, but none has signed a formal licensing agreement yet. It’s hard for me to imagine why not one has put this sport- and life-saving innovation into production yet. I still strongly believe the DXS disk brake technology is the best inline braking solution to a serious problem. Brake inventors approach me every year with new ideas (the latest of which I have yet to test). But the test results I experienced on the DXS compelled me to call it “My Dream Brake.”

Please explore the slick new website at where you’ll find photos, a video, testimonials and more of the latest information about the DXS. Then fill in the Contact Us form to share your thoughts. Anybody who does that will automatically receive a 10% discount when the skates go on sale.

Pursuing Mastery

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Some experts believe it takes ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in any particular area. That means if you average ten hours of skating a week (assuming other time commitments to family and a job), achieving world-class skills would take about 20 years. The studies showed it wasn’t innate talent that brought success to the now-famous people, it was lots and lots of hours doing something they were passionate about.

Whether or not you’re aiming to become a world-class skater, it is smart to tailor your hours of practice to achieve improvements sooner rather than later. Below I share tips that have helped my students over the years, and that continue to help me when I’m learning something new (always).

Click to access lessons

Quality Practice Time

  • Skate at every opportunity, three times a week at a minimum; otherwise progress is slow and may even regress.
  • Build your skating skills in the most beneficial sequence, starting with foundational moves. (See right.)
  • Once you learn the proper mechanics of a move, do repetitive drilling to build intuitive muscle memory.
  • If a group of skaters in your area meets regularly to roll around town, join them whenever you can.
  • Skate with more advanced partners to get tips and and try their moves.
  • Skating agility is just as important as efficient, powerful forward motion. Spend plenty of practice time working on drills that focus on balance, turning skills, flexibility and quick responses.
  • Find ways to measure your progress. For example, track distance skated, completion time, and improvements related to your repeated drilling.

Dealing with Fear

Those skaters who look so fearless whizzing down a long, steep slope or doing gravity-defying tricks have encountered and dealt with many, many situations over the years. They look confident and coordinated because years of experience has taught them what tools work and when to use them.

Without that depth of experience, new or dicey situations will make most adult learners tense if not outright terrified. Tenseness and fear create a physical tightness that may result in real danger because it can change our center of gravity and limit our range of motion and flexibility.

Here are some tips to reduce the fearfulness and build more confidence:

  • Spend lots of time practicing your skills (see above)!
  • Learn and obey the Rules of the Road. You’ll see experts disobey, but save those shortcuts for later when you have the skills to deal with the situations they present.
  • Repeatedly replay in your head your favorite “good save” when you did something right to avoid a big crash or mistake.
  • When tenseness is freezing you up, slow and deepen your breathing and tell yourself, “Pretend I’m relaxed!” This may melt some of that tension away and make you safer.
  • One less thing to worry about: keep your gear in great shape by performing regular maintenance.