USARS Minimum Skills Requirements

There’s no minimum skillset needed in order to join us for practice. If you can stand on skates (even if you’re a bit wobbly) then you can begin learning the skills necessary for derby.

However, if you’re looking to join a league down the road, below are the skills you will need to prove before you can skate in a sanctioned game. I’d recommend printing out minimum skills form and tracking your progress at practice.

Correct Posture and Balance Points (Derby Position)
A. Player stands with bent knees. Feet should be shoulder width apart with head and chest up.
(Analogy: as if sitting on a chair.) Arms should be held close to the body with no hands or
elbows resting on knees.
B. A player in the correct posture and balance points (derby position), should be able to rotate
the head and shoulders to see in a total of 360 degrees, adjusting quickly without losing
C. Player begins to roll, at whatever speed ability allows. Players should balance on each foot
rolling forward, and when rolling backward on two feet. Balance should be centered while
performing the correct posture and balance points.

Falls and Slides
A. Single knee slides, both left and right knee.

  1. While rolling, lower down onto one knee and slide to a stop while keeping upper body in
    control, without hands touching the floor at any time. Player should stay in a tucked-in
  2. “Touch and go”, short knee slide followed by a quick recovery within 3 seconds.

B. Double knee slide to a stop.

  1. While rolling, lower down onto one knee, then the other knee and slide to a stop while
    keeping the body under control, and without sitting back on the skates.
  2. “Slide and go”, short double knee fall followed by a quick recovery within 3 seconds.

C. Baseball slide.

  1. While rolling, lower the body down, tucking one leg under the other onto the floor, rolling onto one side with the free leg in the air staying straight.
  2. Player should be able to recover from this position within 3 seconds.

D. 180 degree knee slide, both left and right knee.

  1. While rolling, perform a single knee slide, then turn the body and knee 180 degrees before coming to a complete stop.
  2. Upper body should remain under control, without the hands touching the floor at any
  3. Player should be able to recover from this position within 3 seconds.

E. All 4’s slide.

  1. While rolling, perform a double knee slide, then lower the upper body, placing weight on
    one elbow and then the other elbow, while extending the body full length and ending in a
    laying position on the floor. Player should be able to slide on knees to elbows in a fluid
  2. Player should be able to recover from this position within 3 seconds.

A. Basic “T” stop.

  1. Lift one foot, angling the toes outward and away from the body, so that the foot is
    perpendicular to the skating foot.
  2. Lower the perpendicular foot on the floor about a foot behind the weight-bearing foot, so that all 4 wheels are making contact with the floor.
  3. Drag the foot until coming to a complete stop.

B. Plow stop.

  1. Use one foot to slide out at about a 45 degree angle to the skating foot, and then add the second foot to the slide to come to a complete stop.
  2. While stopping, apply pressure on the heel of the skates and keep the upper body in

A. While standing without rolling, the player will demonstrate comfort with the body’s balance
points by stepping sideways in both directions, and forward, and backward.
B. Mohawk turn (two foot turn).

  1. Rolling in a forward direction with both feet parallel, a player will take one foot and, by opening the hips, will place that foot heel-to-heel with the other foot. (Analogy: like
    opening up a book.)
  2. Once heel-to-heel, the player will then lift the front foot and close the hips while placing that foot parallel to the back foot, and will end up facing backward. (Analogy: like closing a book.)

A. Skating in a counter clockwise and clockwise direction, a player will crossover by picking up
one foot and crossing in front of the other, using both skates to push.
B. The player should perform crossovers smoothly, showing control while skating into, around,
and out of corners.
C. Upper body should not be twisting back and forth, and able to show strong balance points.

Speed and Endurance
A. Complete 9 laps in 90 seconds (USARS regulation track)
B. Complete 27 laps in 5 minutes (USARS regulation track)

Hopping and Jumping
A. Jump over a 3” tall object while rolling forward, and be able to land on both feet
B. Hop from one foot to the other and back again, several times, while rolling forward.

Maneuverability and Agility
A. Maneuver through cones, placed 4-5 feet apart around the derby track, at a brisk speed.
B. Move quickly, from the inside circumference of the track, to the outside border of the track,
and back again, using a combination of slides, strides, and crossovers.
C. Demonstrate control of the upper body and edging with the inside and the outside wheel.

Derby Basics

Roller derby is a contact team sport played on roller skates. (How rad is that??)

Two teams of five skaters each, consisting of one Jammer and four Blockers (actually, one Pivot and three Blockers – the Pivot is a special type of Blocker) line up on an oval track. The blockers form the pack and line up behind the pivot line (the “start line”). The jammers from each team line up behind the pack. At the whistle, the action starts and the jammers try to get through the pack, while the blockers try to prevent the opposing jammer from getting through, while trying to assist their own jammer in doing so. A jammer who breaks free of the pack gains Scorer status, and then gains a point for their team for each member of the oppose team that they pass.

The best way to learn the rules of the game is to watch! There are tons of derby bouts up on YouTube that are free to watch – in general the WFTDA championship games have the highest production quality and are therefore the easiest to start with, to watch and understand what’s going on. This tournament is broadcast by ESPN3 and has commentary and multiple camera angles so you can get a feel for what’s happening. Attending a local derby bout is also a good way to learn – but in person it is often easy to get overwhelemed or distracted since there is a lot happening!

Knee falls

Falling small is important for many reasons and we need to repeat this until skaters can naturally “tuck” into a small position when they feel themselves begin to fall.

Skaters should slowly lower themselves to the ground from a solid stance while rolling to gently placing one knee beneath them just prior to the other knee following. Many new skaters tend to JUMP onto both knees which is an injury waiting to happen.

Derby stance

First off, why is there a “derby stance”? You need 3 things to skate well on the track, speed, stability, and agility the derby stance helps with all 3.

To get into the derby stance, squat down with your feet and knees shoulder width apart, balancing your weight between your feet. Bend your knees to a 90 degree angle, with your knees directly above your skates. Hold your back straight with your chest up and your shoulders back. If you can see yourself in portrait, your toes, knees, and shoulders should all line up vertically.

The goal is to have a strong stance from the waist down and from the waist up to be fluid and relaxed. You should be able to easily turn your heads and shoulders independently from your lower body. Remember to stay low, your legs will work to help you absorb any hits and provide the strength to push and shove back.