So… You think you have what it takes to be a derby chick?
Attitude… check Athleticism… check Dedication… check
General Skate Know-how…. check Gear… eh… what?!?!
YEP, You heard me right! GEAR! Derby can be your best friend or worst nightmare, and it all hangs on what gear you get. Trust me.
So, what gear do you need? Glad you asked. I’ll outline basic gear, what worked for me and what others have said works for them. I’ll tell you what not to waste your money on, and what to splurge on.
Basic Gear Includes:
First off…learning how to derby involves a lot of falls (at first). These are intentional controlled falls as well as ooops.. lost my balance falls. When you are skating on cement or other hard surfaces falls HURT! So, naturally we wear pads to keep injuries to a minimum.
When you are first starting out, not sure of your dedication level, or not sure you can even stand on skates… ask the league you are thinking of joining if they have loaner pads. Sure, they may stink or have worn out elastic… but by far this is a better choice than buying crummy pads.
The important thing to look for in wrist guards is the hard plastic plate that supports the wrist towards the palm of your hand. This plastic plate comes curved or straight. I prefer curved. A lot of derby controlled falls involve sliding on your wrist guards, such as the baseball slide. If you don’t want rink rash on your arms or fingers, get the right wrist guards and learn to use them so that the contact point is the hard plate area. Accidental falls happen too. When you are first learning to skate in a derby setting, your brain thinks you should catch yourself with your hands. Though its an instinct, it will get you seriously hurt, but until your head gets the memo, wrist guards will help you keep your little bones in tact.
I don’t have a lot to say about elbow pads. I’ve noticed that the tighter the ‘elastic sock’ is, the better. When falling and making impact with the elbow, you want the pad to stay in place and absorb the hit. I’ve found that the 187’s do an excellent job of staying put and feeling like a cushion when impacting. The main difference between the 187’s and the pro-tec or eight ball, is the nice snug fit even after heavy use.
Knee pads I have a lot to say about. Eight Ball… don’t bother. They only have two elastic bands to keep them in place. This is not only inadequate, but actually completely ineffective when actually falling. They slide out of place and then… ouch. The Pro-Tec knee pads are alright. They have a sock type styling so you need to slide them on over your foot and up your leg. This is a bit inconvenient and also does not allow for any customizing in how it fits you best. I found that they did slide out of the way a little when falling as well. They are a good option if you have little stick legs and weigh nothing. (anyone!?) My super favs are the 187’s. These pads are created and marketed to the extreme skateboarder who uses cement swimming pools or half pipes and needs that super cushion when wiping out. Naturally, they are GREAT for derby! At first, I was a little intimidated by the size of them. Can I even do cross overs with these elephants on my knees? After my first big fall on an already injured knee (thanks to eight ball stupid pads), and feeling…
NOTHING, I made them work for me. I had to adjust my skating a little bit, admittedly, but it is WAY worth it! These suckers are like strapping on pillows to your legs. They have an adjustable sock (velcro) that helps you get the fit you need for your shape of leg and is easy to take off without having to remove your skates first. The pro version of the 187’s has replaceable knee caps. They are held on by velcro, that I’ve heard can fail. I’ve seen a lot of girls get some funky colored duck tape and secure them to keep that from happening to them. I’ve not had an issue yet. Seriously, if you want to have more time on the track and less time on ice, get the 187’s, you will thank me later.
Mouth Guards can be found just about anywhere. From Walmart to sporting goods stores, they are all about the same. They come in couple different kinds and sizes. If you are a girl and have a small mouth, most of us, right!? Get the youth sized mouth guards. They will keep your gag factor down and actually be easy to stick in your ‘special place’ while not scrimmaging. I prefer the clear youth sized $1 mouth guard found in the sporting department at wally world. It was very simple to form fit, and very comfortable. Mouth guards come with instructions, mostly you stick them in boiling water for a few seconds then stick them in your mouth and bite down. Just like that you have a custom fit. I have an over bite so the larger mouth guards that form the top and bottom just don’t work for me (Thanks Mom and Dad for not getting me braces!). One issue that a lot of derby girls have with mouth guards is not being able to breath well enough while the guard is in place. That is probably a sign that you have a guard that is too big for your mouth.
Helmets are great for keeping your noggin from cracking open and for all your rad stickers! Ok, noggin… stickers.. maybe the noggin is a tad more important. I’ve not shopped around too much, b/c pretty much any good helmet that fits right will do the job. Be certain when buying a helmet that it fits snug on your head. It should not wiggle from side to side or back to front. Adjust the chin strap to your personal comfort level. Helmets come in so many colors and fits these days, its just crazy! I personally opted for a white pro-tec helmet made for wake boarding (on water). I found that I liked the fit, ventilation, and look of this helmet over some others. Skateboarders usually have the typical derby helmet choice, though I’ve seen some pretty diverse choices. One thing, cuz I’m a little anal, is that I ALWAYS use a bandanna or head wrap under my helmet. I just don’t like to
think about my helmet being a sweaty and gross without a real tangible way of washing it regularly. So I bought up some of my fav colors of cheapo bandannas and then upgraded to some head wraps made for motorcyclists. The advantage to the head wraps, is that they usually come in way cooler designs and also have a terry cloth liner on the inner border of the wrap. This helps absorb your sweat (eeewww!) and keeps the wrap in place while taking hits. Not many girls do this, but I think its a little more sanitary, true?
Skates… coming soon.