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A little history of Roller Derby

This article is one of the articles written for the first edition of the Zine "Turbo Gadin" which you can find in paper version on the store's website!

This first edition being sold out in paper version, we decided to share this article with you in digital version to continue to keep it alive :)


3 roller derby players from the 1920s race

Photo source: Chicago Tribune

Roller derby has existed since 1920 in the United States in the form of endurance track races. At the time, it was the first sport open to men and women.

In the 2000s, the first Roller Derby league was created by Texans: the association was then called “Bad Girl Good Woman Productions”.

The players do everything themselves and advocate Do it Yourself: they coach themselves, organize their matches, do their own advertising...

"By the skaters, for the skaters"


Roller Derby is then played either on an inclined track or on a flat track.
In 2004, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) was created and made it possible to unify the rules of the game and more easily export this sport around the world.

In the summer of 2009, the first French league was created in Bordeaux by Bullet Zébuth (still a player and coach of the Roller Derby Bordeaux Club).

Six months later, a new league was created in Toulouse and it was decisive for French roller derby: the two teams joined forces to translate the rules, search for equipment, organize meetings...
Then follow Paris, Pau, Brest… It’s the beginning of Roller Derby in France!
3 roller derby players have fallen and one last player standing passes them

Photo source: Chicago Tribune


But then... What is Roller Derby?


It is a team contact and speed sport, played on an oval track.

→ A match is divided into 2x30 minutes, each period is divided into “Jam” of a maximum duration of 2 minutes.
→ A team is made up of a maximum of 14 players, but only 5 are aligned per jam per team: 4 blockers + 1 jammer (marked by a star on his helmet).
roller derby field
The role of jammers is to overtake opposing blockers. The role of the blockers is to not let the opposing jammer pass.
For each blocker passed by the jammer, the team scores 1 point. The team that scores the most points in total wins the match.

All around the track, there are the officials (or referees), they wear a black and white striped jersey. They are there to check that the rules are respected (stay within the limits of the track, do not give illegal impacts, etc.), they indicate the start and end of the jam, and count the number of points scored by the jammers.
Roller derby referee observing roller derby players
Not all shots are permitted in the Derby: for example, it is forbidden to use your head, arms or legs to block the passage or create an impact. It is also forbidden to impact a player behind the back.

Players are trained to play together, to skate surrounded by other people, to make effective impacts without causing injury (in theory), to fall without hurting themselves and without disturbing others (in theory), to accelerate and brake quickly, change direction as quickly as possible…

It's a sport that requires endurance and agility but we are all capable of playing it! Some players started without ever having put on skates in their life: training sessions are designed to learn the basics of skating and derby before playing matches against opposing teams.

If you want to get started, check out the club initiation sessions!
In Bordeaux, there are 2 clubs: the Roller Derby Bordeaux Club which trains in Darwin, and the SAM Roller Derby which trains in Mérignac.

The choice is yours :)



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