What Equipment Do You Need for Roller Derby?

Roller derby is a fast-paced and physically demanding sport that requires the right equipment to ensure safety and performance. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or just starting out, having the proper gear is crucial. In this article, we will explore the essential equipment needed for roller derby and provide helpful tips to guide you in making the right choices.

Safety Gear for Roller Derby

When participating in roller derby, safety should be your top priority. There are several key pieces of safety gear that every skater should have:


Your helmet is perhaps the most critical piece of protective gear. It should be snug and secure, with no movement when properly fastened. Look for helmets specifically designed for roller derby, as they offer additional protection and better impact absorption.

When selecting a helmet, consider the different features available. Some helmets have adjustable straps and padding, allowing you to customize the fit for maximum comfort and safety. Others may have ventilation systems to keep you cool during intense bouts. Additionally, helmets with a high-density foam liner provide superior shock absorption, reducing the risk of head injuries.

Remember, it’s essential to regularly inspect your helmet for any signs of wear and tear. Replace it if you notice cracks, dents, or other damage that may compromise its effectiveness.


Mouthguards are essential for protecting your teeth and minimizing potential injuries to your jaw. They should fit securely and comfortably, providing excellent coverage for your upper and lower teeth. It is recommended to replace your mouthguard regularly to ensure optimal protection.

When choosing a mouthguard, there are different types available, such as pre-formed and boil-and-bite options. Pre-formed mouthguards are ready to use, but they may not offer a perfect fit. Boil-and-bite mouthguards, on the other hand, can be molded to your teeth for a more customized fit.

Consider the thickness of the mouthguard as well. Thicker mouthguards provide more cushioning and protection, but they may also affect your speech and breathing. Finding the right balance between comfort and safety is crucial.

Knee Pads

Knee pads are vital for preventing knee injuries during falls and collisions. Choose knee pads with a hard exterior shell and comfortable interior padding. The pads should fit securely around your knees, and the straps should be adjustable for a customized fit.

When shopping for knee pads, take into account the level of impact protection they offer. Some knee pads have multi-layered foam padding or gel inserts that absorb shock and distribute the force of impact. Look for knee pads with reinforced stitching and durable materials that can withstand the demands of roller derby.

Additionally, consider the design and shape of the knee pads. Some models have an ergonomic design that allows for a greater range of motion and flexibility. Others may have extra padding on the sides for added protection against lateral impacts.

Elbow Pads

Elbow pads protect your elbows from impact and abrasions. Like knee pads, they should have a durable outer shell and ample cushioning inside. Make sure the elbow pads provide a full range of motion while offering a secure fit.

When choosing elbow pads, consider the level of comfort they provide. Look for pads with moisture-wicking materials and breathable mesh panels to keep you cool and dry during intense roller derby sessions. Adjustable straps are also important to ensure a snug fit that stays in place even during vigorous movements.

Additionally, some elbow pads have extra features such as articulated designs or reinforced caps for added protection. These features can enhance your overall safety and performance on the track.

Wrist Guards

Wrist guards are crucial for preventing wrist fractures and other injuries when you fall. Look for wrist guards with sturdy splints and adjustable straps. Proper sizing is crucial to ensure a snug fit that offers optimum protection.

When selecting wrist guards, consider the level of support they provide. Look for guards with rigid splints that stabilize your wrists and prevent excessive bending or twisting during impacts. Some wrist guards also have additional padding on the palms and back of the hand to absorb shock and reduce the risk of injuries.

Furthermore, wrist guards with moisture-wicking materials and ventilation channels can help keep your hands dry and comfortable, reducing the chances of discomfort or skin irritation during prolonged use.

By investing in high-quality safety gear and ensuring proper fit and maintenance, you can significantly reduce the risk of injuries while enjoying the thrilling sport of roller derby. Remember, safety should always come first!

Skates for Roller Derby

Choosing the right roller derby skates is essential for both comfort and performance on the track. Here’s what you should consider when deciding:

Roller derby is a fast-paced, contact sport that requires skaters to have the right equipment to excel. One of the most important pieces of equipment is a good pair of roller derby skates. These skates not only provide the necessary support and stability but also allow skaters to maneuver quickly and efficiently.

Choosing the Right Roller Derby Skates

When selecting roller derby skates, prioritize a snug fit that provides ankle support and stability. Opt for boots made specifically for roller derby, as they offer greater durability and maneuverability compared to recreational or artistic skates.

Roller derby boots are designed to withstand the rigors of the sport. They are made with durable materials that can handle the constant impact and abrasion that occurs during gameplay. Additionally, these boots often have reinforced ankle support, which is crucial for preventing injuries and maintaining stability.

Different Types of Roller Derby Skates

There are two main types of roller derby skates: low-top and high-top. Low-top skates provide greater agility and a lower center of gravity, making them popular among experienced skaters. These skates allow for quick movements and tight turns, which are essential in roller derby. Skaters who prefer speed and maneuverability often opt for low-top skates.

On the other hand, high-top skates offer more ankle support, making them ideal for beginners or skaters with weak ankles. These skates provide extra stability and can help prevent ankle injuries. Skaters who are new to roller derby or have a history of ankle issues may find high-top skates to be more comfortable and supportive.

Proper Fit and Sizing for Roller Derby Skates

Ensuring that your roller derby skates fit properly is crucial for your comfort and performance. The boots should fit snugly without being too tight, and your toes should have enough room to wiggle. It’s essential to try on several brands and styles to find the perfect fit for your feet.

When trying on roller derby skates, pay attention to how they feel around your ankles. The boots should provide enough support to keep your ankles stable during gameplay. Additionally, consider the width and arch support of the skates. Everyone’s feet are different, so finding a pair of skates that accommodate your specific foot shape is important.

Remember, roller derby skates are an investment in your performance and safety on the track. Take the time to research different brands and styles, and don’t hesitate to seek advice from experienced skaters or professionals in the roller derby community. With the right skates, you’ll be ready to roll and dominate the track!

Clothing and Protective Gear

In addition to safety gear, there are other clothing items and protective gear that can enhance your roller derby experience:

Choosing the Right Clothing for Roller Derby

When it comes to clothing, opting for the right attire can make a significant difference in your roller derby performance. It’s essential to choose lightweight and breathable materials that allow for flexibility and freedom of movement. Many experienced roller derby skaters prefer tight-fitting clothing to minimize the risk of getting caught on equipment or other skaters.

Not only should your clothing be functional, but it can also be an opportunity to express your personal style. Many roller derby leagues have their own team uniforms or color schemes, allowing skaters to showcase their team spirit. Some skaters even customize their clothing with patches, pins, or unique designs to stand out on the track.

Importance of Compression Gear in Roller Derby

When it comes to maximizing your performance and minimizing the risk of injuries, considering compression gear is a smart choice. Compression gear is designed to improve blood circulation and reduce muscle fatigue, allowing you to skate longer and recover faster between bouts. Compression sleeves, in particular, can provide additional support to your joints, reducing the risk of strains or sprains.

Furthermore, compression gear can also help with temperature regulation. Roller derby bouts can be intense and physically demanding, causing your body to heat up. Compression clothing with moisture-wicking properties can help keep you cool and comfortable throughout the game.

Additional Protective Gear for Roller Derby (e.g., shin guards, tailbone protectors)

While safety gear like helmets and pads are crucial, depending on your personal preference and the intensity of your roller derby sessions, you may want to consider additional protective gear. Shin guards, for example, can provide an extra layer of defense against accidental kicks or impacts to the lower legs. They are particularly useful when blocking or engaging in defensive maneuvers.

Another area of vulnerability during roller derby is the tailbone. Falling or taking hits can put immense pressure on this area, leading to painful injuries. Tailbone protectors, such as padded shorts or specialized inserts, can provide cushioning and absorb impact, reducing the risk of tailbone bruises or fractures.

It’s important to note that while additional protective gear can offer enhanced safety, it’s always crucial to follow the rules and regulations set by your roller derby league. Some leagues may have specific requirements or restrictions on the type of gear allowed, so be sure to familiarize yourself with their guidelines.

Remember, roller derby is a physically demanding sport that requires a combination of skill, strategy, and proper gear. By investing in the right clothing and protective gear, you can enhance your performance, reduce the risk of injuries, and fully enjoy the exhilarating world of roller derby.

Roller Derby Wheels and Bearings

Choosing the right wheels and maintaining the bearings of your roller derby skates can significantly impact your performance on the track. Here’s what you need to know:

Understanding Roller Derby Wheel Durometer

Roller derby wheels come in different durometers, which refer to the hardness of the wheel. Softer wheels, indicated by a lower durometer rating, provide more grip and are suitable for slippery surfaces. Harder wheels, with a higher durometer rating, offer better speed and maneuverability on smooth surfaces.

Different Types of Roller Derby Wheels

There are several types of roller derby wheels available, including hybrid, speed, and jam wheels. Hybrid wheels are versatile and suitable for various surfaces, while speed wheels offer maximum speed but require more control. Jam wheels provide excellent agility and quick acceleration, making them a popular choice for jamming players.

Importance of Properly Maintained Bearings in Roller Derby

Bearings allow your wheels to spin smoothly and efficiently. Regular cleaning and lubrication are essential to maintain optimal performance. Additionally, ensure that your bearings match the wheel size and axle width of your skates to prevent any compatibility issues.

In conclusion, roller derby requires specific equipment to ensure both safety and performance. By investing in high-quality gear, including safety gear, skates, clothing, and wheels, you can enjoy the sport while minimizing the risk of injuries. Remember to prioritize proper fit, comfort, and durability when selecting your roller derby equipment, and regularly maintain and replace items as needed. Stay safe, have fun, and enjoy the exhilarating world of roller derby!