What the heck are roller derby assessments?

It may seem counter-intuitive, but roller derby leagues and associations take their skaters' safety very seriously. In fact, since the modern rebirth of roller derby in 2001, the rule set has changed significantly, and the game is less focused on high-speed hits than it once was. Nonetheless, it is super important that new skaters have a minimum level of derby skills before they are allowed to enter the fray. Trust us, it's for your own good. <3

There are two levels of minimum skills assessments. The first assessment requires the rookie to demonstrate basic skating skills. However, for many fresh meat out there, these skills are anything but basic. Passing first assessments is a major milestone for most, and it allows the skater to begin practicing contact with their teammates. The second assessment evaluates contact skills, and is often considered to be much easier than the first round. After a rookie has passed both rounds of assessments, they can start scrimmaging. Most teams require a new skater to scrimmage a few times before rostering on an official bout. 

Assessments may be done at set intervals throughout the season, but as a small league, we tend to do them on an ad-hoc basis.

There are numerous resources on assessments out there in the cyber ether, but here is a link to the official WFTDA documentation. You can also read a summary below:

First Assessments:

1.1 Derby stance and posture

1.2 Skating stride

1.3 Crossovers in both directions

1.4.1 Skates at least 27 laps around regulation track within five minutes.

1.4.2 Accelerates from a standstill to complete one lap within 13 seconds.

1.5.1 T-stop

1.5.2 Plow stop

1.6.1 One-foot glides

1.6.2 Propels self while keeping all eightwheels on the floor. Performs smooth, quick lateral cuts, crossing the track at least four times on each straightaway and at least three times on each track turn.

1.6.4 Backwards skating

2.1 Knee taps (tap one knee to the floor and then the other and continue skating)

2.2 Double knee slides (safely go from upright in motion to both knees on the floor and resume skating)

3.1 Standing and stepping from a standstill, maintaining control of wheels (not rolling)

3.1.1 Forward and backward.

3.1.2 Side to side in both directions.

3.1.3 Grapevine (first foot side steps, second foot steps across and in front of first foot, first foot side steps, second foot steps behind and crosses first foot) to both the right and left.

3.1.4 Shuffle (first foot side steps, second foot steps to meet first foot without crossing first foot, first foot immediately side steps in a hopping motion) to both the right and left.

3.1.5 Quick steps (both feet rapidly alternate in small steps, only one foot is on the ground at a time) in place and to the right and left.

3.1.6 Ability to balance on each foot from a stationary position at least 30 seconds.

3.2.1 Hops over an object at least 6 inches in height without touching the object or losing balance, while skating at a moderate pace.

3.2.3 Hops laterally at least 18 inches (45.5 centimeters) from a brisk forward speed.

3.3.1 Comfortably looks left, right, and behind quickly and unexpectedly while maintaining regular skating stride at a moderate pace.

3.4.1 Maneuvers through 10 cones, each no more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) apart (not to exceed 50 feet or 15 meters), placed through the straightaways and track turns, in less than 6 seconds

3.4.2 Weaves comfortably and briskly through a moderately moving pack of skaters without focusing on their own feet

3.5.1 Turns 180 degrees (clockwise, counter-clockwise, back>front, font>back) without breaking stride, maintaining a moderate pace

3.5.2 Turns 360 degrees without breaking stride, from a moderate pace.

Second Assessments:

4.1.1 Giving and receiving inside and outside arm whips.

4.1.2 Taking and providing hip, belt and clothing whips. 

4.2.1 Giving pushes

4.2.2 Receiving pushes

4.3.1 Adjusts to the variable speeds (decrease/increase) of a pace line while maintaining an arms-length distance from other skaters without falling, tripping, overtaking or running into another skater.

4.4 Weaving around moving obstacles

4.5 Avoiding unexpected obstacles

4.5.2 Demonstrates the ability to recover balance after bumping skates or locking wheels with another skater. 

5.1.1 Responds safely to repeated heavy blocks without flailing or grabbing other skaters.

5.1.2 Demonstrates the above in a pack situation, without causing an unnecessary hazard for pack skaters.

5.2.1 Performs contact with good posture and without loss of balance.

5.2.2 Demonstrates ability to lean and push on an opponent with legal blocking zones to legal target zones while moving at moderate pack speed.

5.2.3 Demonstrate ability to plow stop in a pack without tripping other skaters in the pack.

5.2.4 Demonstrate ability to use a plow stop to slow another skater.

5.3.1 Demonstrates the ability to perform repetitive hip and body checks delivered with legal blocking zones to legal target zones with moderate to heavy force while skating at a brisk pace.