How to Start a Roller Derby League
A Checklist by WFTDA
Starting a roller derby league is like starting a small business. It will take time, hard work and perseverance, but the love of the sport has spurred many people around the world to successfully pursue that dream. Before you start recruiting your own team, check if there is an existing league nearby (WFTDA Member Leagues). If you want to play roller derby, it’s usually much easier to do it by joining an established league than by starting one from scratch. However, if you don’t have a within driving distance, you might consider starting a new league in your town.
If you’re striking out on your own, here are some key steps in the process:
- Recruit skaters and officials. Post recruitment fliers in gyms, community centers, bars and other hot spots in your town. Use social networking or classified ads to spread the word. About 10-20 skaters and 1-3 refs will get you off to a good start.
- Download the The Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby and Officiating Resources.
- Consult the WFTDA Risk Management Guidelines for information on required safety gear and other requirements.
- Start skating! Most leagues start by skating at open skate sessions or doing other public skating as a group. If there is room, you can start working on basic skating skills. See WFTDA’s “This is Roller Derby” Beginner Curriculum and supplemental resources for guidance for new participants entering the sport of flat track roller derby.
- Obtain private practice space. This is often the biggest hurdle that leagues face, but the beauty of flat-track roller derby is that it can be played anywhere, so don’t rule out parking lots, recreation centers, parks, or other underutilized spaces.
- Select a business structure. Many leagues form non-profit corporations, but you’ll need to do some research to find what structure works best for you. Check your state’s Secretary of State website for help with this decision.
- Create Bylaws and a policy manual. Talk to existing leagues and review derby forums for tips and ideas on governance structures. Some policies to consider:
- Practice attendance
- Leadership positions and terms
- Code of conduct
- Non-compete agreements
- Probationary period for new skaters
- Grievance and conflict resolution
- Primary health insurance requirements
- Depending on your location, you may need to arrange insurance for your league and skaters that provides liability and supplemental injury coverage for roller derby activities. WFTDA Insurance offers both liability and medical injury policies to flat track roller derby leagues in North America. Refer to the requirements and regulations in your country.
- Start scrimmaging! Starting to play roller derby is the most important thing to getting your league under way.
- Officials are essential! Make sure to recruit and train both skating and non-skating officials as part of your league.
- Separate into teams and elect or identify captains.
- Develop a logo and create social media accounts to start spreading the word about your new league.
- Apply for WFTDA Membership (or the derby organization that best fits your league).
Visit the WFTDA Online Community to access more resources and discussion groups for roller derby leagues.