Bonnie D. Stroir’s Agility for Roller Derby DVD review

Bonnie D. Stroir’s Agility for Roller Derby DVD review

Okay. First confession. I watched this first time round whilst eating cake with a fellow freshmeatling, with a slight hangover.

Second confession: we’d already spent maybe four hours watching derby on YouTube. So it’s possible that we’re slightly obsessive. But you probably already get that, or you’d be reading intellectual literature during your lunch break, and not another blog about derby. Right?

There’s no point denying it. We have a massive derby crush on Bonnie. What’s great about this DVD (or download) is that she doesn’t mind getting things wrong, and in fact there’s quite a few moments where she messes up a bit, but says that’s all part of learning.

The fast footed moves she’s pushing for us to work on are those that have sneaked into the new WFTDA minimum skills. She gets you working on grapevine, cone drills which are lovely to look at but incredibly tricky to do in your kitchen (we tried) and jumping. Lots and lots of jumping.

Our coaches at Liverpool Roller Birds are constantly reminding us it’s all about core strength and balance. All over Merseyside, there are wannabe derby girls brushing their teeth each morning whilst standing on one leg. I was on the tube in London on the way to a very posh literary meeting with my eyes closed, balancing on one foot, trying to absorb the movement of the train without falling over. It didn’t end well. Yes, I did almost end up sitting on the lap of an unsuspecting commuter. (Oops.)

As self confessed nerdy newbies, we thought it was great. Bonnie explains everything in detail and if you’re into the geeky technical stuff it’s great because she talks though lots of that. Her drills for off skates are great and can be done anytime. It’s about getting used to jumping from side to side and back and forth, which as Bonnie points out we don’t really do as adults.

On skates, there are loads of drills which are great for working on alone, and as inspiration for training sessions – not just for us new girls, either. There are advanced drills which look really terrifying challenging.

Most of all Bonnie’s positivity and  attitude is what makes it a fab buy: “Where you are is a great place to start from. Keep reaching for those goals.” Ooh, the derby crush rages on.


the new WFTDA minimum skills

The new 2013 WFTDA minimum skills have been announced to much panic from Fresh Meat all around the world. Don’t panic, though, we’ve got them covered. 

Here is an exhaustive list of teh skillz which are required to pass minimums. 

1. Tapdancing on skates. Five minutes to a song of your choice. All eight wheels must be off the floor at all times. 

2. Skating backwards whilst juggling three giraffes, maintaining form and balance. Crossovers must be demonstrated. 

3. Cartwheeling across the straight in three even movements without stopping or crying and pushing off evenly with each ear, coming to a stop directly in the centre of her head.

4. Jumping, on both hands at least seven times. Jumping on left hand and right hand around each apex.

5. Demonstrate weaving in between a pace line of skaters whilst holding a tray of beers. 

6. Skater assumes derby stance – low to the ground with legs bent, chest wide, back straight, head on backwards, fashionable shade of lipstick and/or eye shadow, arms in the dying swan position. Skater alternates between smooth and even arm movements and the Funky Chicken. Forwards and backwards and upside down.

7. Skater must demonstrate effective use of Facebook and or Twitter as a medium to complain about/celebrate all derby related activity to a largely disinterested and or confused audience. 

8. Skater can bake a decent chocolate brownie with enough portions to feed all team mates and trainers, including examiners who shall receive larger portions.

9. Skater must demonstrate ability to take heavy blocks to the ego following terrible scrimmage. Use of effective recovery techniques such as gin or beer. This should be demonstrated both solo and in a pack situation.

10. Demonstrate use of a plow stop to stop another skater without breaking ankles or creating skittle effect. 

11. Skater demonstrates ability to switch between all positions quickly and smoothly and without stumbling including: helicopter arms, ungainly giraffe, Bambi on ice, drunken monkey and spitting llama*.

12. Skater demonstrates ability to knit stripey derby socks whilst skating backwards round corners on one leg. With one hand.

13. Demonstrate effective three point turn. Turning the skater around on the track using three toes only, without stopping, and without causing an obstruction to other toes.

14. Skater maintains balance on one skate, without additional push, at a speed equivalent to a chartered jet plane. Must transition from one foot to another without decreasing speed, although clown nose is optional.

15. Skater must create a puddle of piss at the top apex on falling, no smaller than a 10 cent coin and no larger than a wok.

*Spitting llama is an advanced position and for minimum skills it is only expected that a skater can perform this manoeuvre in one direction although both directions score extra points.


Composed by the Liverpool Roller Birds Hatchlings and compiled by me (shameless plug…you can buy my book here – please do, I’m saving up for a set of new skates!)



Dovisit my other blog here for more nonsense

derby love

I’m not going to start at the beginning.

There’s going to come a point when this love affair ends, because I know it’s impossible to sustain this level of passion. Right now my fellow hatchlings and I are at the heady can’t-eat-can’t-sleep infatuation phase of our relationship with roller derby. It can do no wrong. From the moment my secondhand skates arrived, packed up with a little note signed “derby love” I was hooked. I woke up in the middle of the night at the weekend, rolled over, grabbed my phone and looked up “how to do backwards crossovers” on YouTube. My partner didn’t even stir. Nor does he bat an eyelid when I hurtle out the door at 8am on a Saturday for the 60 mile round trip I drive to the draughty village hall, where I happily submit to 120 minutes of derby-based torture.

derby girls

Every second sentence I say contains the words skate, wheels, or minimums. I spend hours every week thinking about our training sessions. We come home to ignored pets, bemused children, and neglected partners, then conduct the modern version of the post-game team hot tub – debriefing via Facebook on our phones in the bath.

It’s not that I want it to end: I wish I’d found derby when I was ten years younger. My thirty year old self could have done with an infusion of the guts and humour and bravery that characterises every team member I’ve met. But knowing there’s a time limit, that the intense emotional and physical demands that the sport requires can’t be sustained indefinitely, gives me an extra edge. I might be twice the age of some of the girls on our team but I’m going to bloody well skate hard and turn left and catch them if it kills me. And chasing the amazing derby butts is incentive in itself: nobody’s invented booty shorts emblazoned with “You want a bum like this? Skate harder” but it’s only a matter of time.

So for now I’m going to treasure every stiff-legged morning, every extra second I add to my (frankly hopeless) planking record, every bruise and crashing fall and moment of hysterical laughter with my team mates. I’ve never been a team player. I hated PE at school. But this passionate affair with roller derby is the stuff 80 year old reminiscences are made of.

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