The lowdown on the Cape Town Rollergirls

As you guys know, I joined the Cape Town Rollergirls 20-weeks ago, and since then I feel like a part of me has changed, grown and flourished.

For those of you who live in Cape Town and have heard about the Cape Town Rollergirls but have not joined because you don’t know what to expect, I am going to give you the lowdown on everything you need to know in this article.

I am going to talk about what we do to warm up, how you can get your feet into a pair of skates, and how we spend our practices each week. All of these points will give you an idea of why I am so excited – and hopefully convince you to come and watch a bout, if not sign up!

Warm up

It’s really important to warm up – regardless of what exercise you are doing – to ensure you minimise the risk of injury. Plus, once warmed up, you perform better, too.

To warm up, a couple of our coaches take us through a number of drills and exercises to get us pumped up and warm every inch of our body before we put on our skates. A couple examples of the activities we do, include:

  • Jogging around the track
  • Knee highs
  • Grapevine
  • Squats
  • Duck walks
  • Wall sits
  • Plank
  • Sit ups
  • Push ups
  • Sprints
  • Walking sqauts

Sometimes we warm up on skates, which tends to be more challenging when you’re just starting out. Some on-skate warm up activities we do, include:

  • Plank
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups
  • A number of leg stretches
  • balancing on one leg
  • rolling our ankles


When it comes to skating, you start out as Fresh Meat, which is the first level of skating. In Fresh Meat class, you learn all the basics of skating and generally get comfortable in your skates to prepare you for the next level: Rookies.

For the first 10 weeks, I was terrible. I did not fall a lot, but it took a very long time for me to trust myself and figure out how to put one skate in front of the other, balance and catch on to the many skills we needed to learn.

In all honesty, I thought because we were skating on 4 wheels the whole process would be easier, but I couldn’t have been any more wrong.

After our first lesson, I woke up feeling tired and very sore, with sore muscles I did not even know I had in both my legs and stomach.

What do you learn?

Throughout your time in Fresh Meat, you learn how to and are assessed on these aspects after your 10-weeks are over:

  • Stride
  • Derby stance
  • Balance
  • One-foot glide
  • Crossovers
  • Skating backwards
  • Stepping/walking forwards
  • Stepping/walking backwards
  • Sticky skating (coke bottles)
  • T-stops
  • Plough stops
  • 25 laps in 5 minutes
  • Lateral cuts
  • Shuffle side-to-side
  • Quick step side-to-side
  • One foot stationary balance (both feet) for 30 seconds each
  • Grapevine
  • Knee taps (singular, both knees)
  • Baseball slide
  • Falling small
  • Two-knee slide

However, if you do not feel ready – like I did – you can either give the test your best shot and see what happens, or choose to skip it and stay on another 10 weeks.

I chose to stay on another 10-weeks, just because I did not feel ready and had horrible exam/assessment anxiety.

Staying on for another 10-weeks really did make a difference for me. It made me feel better – as we had a smaller group that made classes less hectic – and I felt a lot more confident in my skates.

20-weeks was the best length of time for me, but we are all different. My only advice to you would be to go at your own pace and do not compete with anyone. You need to look after your wants and needs and – as much as roller derby is a team sport when it comes to bouts – when you start off it’s all about you, how you feel and your confidence.

The girls and guys at Cape Town Rollergirls are amazing, and will give you the encouragement, guidance and help you need, when you need it. This helps so much and it makes you feel welcome and part of the team, confident and strong, and it makes you want to do better.

Once you pass your assessment, you join Rookies, and then there are more skills added to your list! But I will fill you in on all of that once I get there.

The gear

To start off with, you have the option to rent gear from Cape Town Rollergirls’ gear cupboard. They have gear in all sizes and you can rent helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and, of course, skates.

There is a limited amount, however, but it’s a great way to get going in the beginning. Roller derby gear is expensive, and renting gives you the opportunity to buy one piece of gear at a time – instead of having to buy everything all at once.

Equally, renting gears gives you the opportunity to test out roller derby and make sure it’s the right sport for you before you spend an arm and a leg on gear.

I rented gear out for two months before I found a pair of second hand skated on Gumtree – but there is also a dedicated Facebook page called SA Roller Derby Recyclables, where you can find second-hand gear to purchase at good prices – and bought the rest of my gear from Mel’s Skate Shop.

You can read all about my gear in my dedicated roller derby gear post, here. And check out the gear that Mel sells, here.

Seeing what it’s all about

Cape Town Rollergirls holds a number of events throughout the year which give you and the rest of the public a chance to see what it’s all about.

Some of these events include:

  • Open nights: Come and watch us warm up, do some drills, play a demo bout and – at the end – you can try on some skates yourself with the help from experienced Cape Town Rollergirls.
  • Friday Night Derby: Every year during the first half of the year, there are a number of fun bouts held once a month. These fun bouts are themed – with 2017’s bouts including Super Mario and Prom Night – where teams go head-to-head for a bit of fun and practice.
  • Roller disco: Once or twice a year there is a roller disco where you can put on your skates and bogey on down to some amazing tunes with your friends and the Cape Town Rollergirls.
  • Mother City Mayhem Home Tournaments: This is when things get serious! Cape Town Rollergirls’ three teams – the Scrim Reapers, the Rev’ettes and the Storm Riders – take part in three bouts to compete for the coveted trophy.

What’s more, there is a café serving up delicious burgers and a bar with cold beers and other goodies.

How to sign up

If this all sounds like an epic journey that you want to join, great! The next roller derby intake is on the 11 July!

You can find more information on the Cape Town Rollergirls’ website and on their Facebook page and get in touch so they can send you the relevant forms and let you know when the next intake is. Equally, you can leave me a comment down below.

I really, really hope to see you there!

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