MSR (Minimum Skills Requirement) Open Discussion

RE: What are your successful approaches to introducing contact?

  • 1.  RE: What are your successful approaches to introducing contact?

    Posted 09-18-2020 05:42
    Thank you everyone for your input.

    This work package is now finished and I uploaded the presentation and video recording on this topic in the library.
    Next to successful Roller Derby league examples, it is also about how other sports introduce contact and recovery, and it's super interesting.

    Catherine Beat-Her Bonez / Katharina Bohnert
    WFTDA Education Senior Programs Manager
    Bear City Roller Derby

  • 2.  RE: What are your successful approaches to introducing contact?

    Posted 09-16-2020 22:37
    My league uses a tiered system broken up into different skill levels (link to our skills levels, based on what we consider measurable/easy to evaluate skills from both the existing MSRs and from our own experience preference of base skills in a home team skater). All new (to the league) skaters, who leadership has no prior knowledge of ability, must enter our new skater training program. It's typically on a "class" basis and, during non-pandemic times, is run about 4x a year for about 12ish weeks. We train skills across level 1-3, depending on a skater's existing ability and time period in the program, in a progressive/built on the covered skills of the previous week format. At any point, lead trainers can move up a skater between levels as necessary and after a consensus among participating trainers. Level 4 on the previously linked skills sheet is what we consider to be a "veteran" skater or a set of skills that someone considering trying out for travel team should reasonably be able to accomplish (but not required).

    Halfway through the program, we have a built in "mini-assessment" to run through all included skills on our home team/scrimmage readiness assessment. At the end of the program, a formal scrimmage readiness assessment is performed (not every single skill is tested, mostly for time constraints at our practice facility and the time it takes to run through everything). I think the biggest change from these linked documents is our new "endurance" laps requirement is 2 minutes long, and.. maybe 10 laps? (I can't remember right now but I think the lap time equivalent is equal to the old 25 in 5 and not the lap time/speed for 27 in 5).

    New skaters cannot participate in scrimmage until they pass the formal assessment at the end of the program. We also typically require a skater to have participated long enough to not obtain levels 1-3 all within a single program (like our Spring 2019 "class"). This ensures newbies have been around long enough to absorb and study rules of gameplay and not be a complete hazard on the track due to lack of play awareness since our scrimmages are open to any skater on the league who has passed assessments, ie home team and travel team skaters are on the track playing at normal speed.

    Skaters in our program are required to participate in NSO positions during game day and are also strongly recommended to attend a rules study session prior to league scrimmages, then assist/run the penalty box and/or time keep during scrimmage. This is meant to ensure they have dedicated time to study rules, observe gameplay, etc. The rules portion is conducted by our referees/NSOs.

    Arya Snark
    Dallas Derby Devils

  • 3.  RE: What are your successful approaches to introducing contact?

    Posted 09-02-2020 06:02

    Golden City Rollers uses a 3 level approach to teaching new skaters their basic skating skills, contact, and (ultimately) the rules and strategies of Roller Derby. These 3 levels are based on the skills and requirements of the current MSR programme but break the test down into manageable chunks that also help us (as coaches and examiners) to discern a new skater's readiness to move on to more difficult skills. These levels are: Level 1, Level 2, and Rookies.
    In terms of the 27 laps in 5 mins requirement, we use a ramped approach to this. We look for skaters to achieve at least 22 in 5 by the end of Level 2; 25 in 5 by the end of Rookies; and 27 in 5 before Chartered gameplay.

    Level 1 (Basic Skating Skills):
    This is the first level in our training programme where new skaters learn basic skating skills (stops, knee slides and safe falls, strides, crossovers, transitions, etc) which essentially covers sections 1 to 3 of the WFTDA MSRs. We also focus heavily on effective balance and weight shifting and accompany our Level 1 programme with an off-skates fitness programme that helps build strength, stability, and endurance.
    At the end of this programme, Level 1 skaters do an exam to test their confidence and ability (based on sections 1 to 3 of the current MSRs). Should they comfortably pass all necessary skills (barring 27 in 5), they move on to Level 2.

    Level 2 (Basic Contact Skills):
    In our Level 2 programme, we teach skaters the basics of skating safely in close proximity to others (packwork, "falling small", avoiding downed skaters, etc); using others' assistance (whips, pushes, and pulls); and effective basic contact skills (tracking, leans, hits, etc) and the corresponding rules and penalties involved in contact. This level covers skills in sections 4 and 5 of the WFTDA MSRs. There is also an accompanying off-skates fitness programme which continues to focus on strength, endurance, and recovery.
    At the end of this programme, Level 2 skaters do an exam to test their confidence and ability (based on sections 4 and 5 of the current MSRs). Should they comfortably pass all necessary skills (including 22 laps in 5 mins), they move on to our Rookie programme.

    Rookie Programme (Derby 101):
    Our Rookie programme aims to teach skaters the basics of Roller Derby (rules, positions, and strategies) and, ultimately, assist in bridging the skill gap between MSRs and full gameplay. We focus on walling and packwork; effective blocking and jamming; and offence and other strategies. We also try to match each lesson with a corresponding rules section, so that we can visually explain the rules of Roller Derby to help our skaters better absorb them. Our Rookie skaters also join our A-Level skaters in off-skates fitness sessions.
    We slowly introduce more and more scrimmage time as the Rookie programme progresses with it culminating in a full-length Rookie Graduation Bout at the end of the programme. This bout marks the graduation of our Rookie skaters into full A-level status.

    Each of these levels run for approximately 12 weeks long. This can seem like an extensive amount of time but, between limited availability of practice times and the desire to give each skill the necessary time and care it takes to effectively learn it, this is what we believe is the best timeframe to train safe and confident skaters. It should also be mentioned that South Africa does not have a big skating culture in general which means that a large majority of new members have either never skated before or have not put on skates since they were a child.

    After having adapted our training programme into these 3 distinct levels, we noticed a significant decrease in injuries to newer skaters. This adaptation also affords us the ability to focus on individual skater needs more effectively and ensure that skaters who are not ready for contact yet are not rushed into it.
    We are still working on improving our Rookie programme to better help these skaters acclimatise to the chaos of scrimmages and gameplay but we are also hindered by smaller numbers which makes sessions on packwork and strategy more difficult to teach thoroughly. 

    Aimée Plank
    Golden City Rollers

  • 4.  RE: What are your successful approaches to introducing contact?

    Posted 08-24-2020 10:53
    I investigate in my league and I come back to you

    Callipyge Von Cha
    Skater rep
    Lutece Destroyeuses, Paris.Fr

  • 5.  What are your successful approaches to introducing contact?

    Posted 08-18-2020 18:15


    As a part of the work on the MSRs, our task team is looking at existing successful approaches to introducing contact.

    This is a call to share, if you haven't already, any best practices that you have developed in your league. We'd also love to hear about other leagues you know of that have a great beginners training program so we can reach out to them.

    The questions below should give you a sense of what we're looking for. Feel free to add anything else you think is important, and we'll follow up if there's something we'd like to hear more about!

    • When and how do you start introducing contact skills to new skaters?
    • What does the progression look like from new skater to participating in full contact roller derby?
    • What skills and abilities do you focus on to prepare skaters for contact?

    If you have an approach that you feel has been successful and want to share, or a suggestion for who we should talk to, comment here or email

    Thank you!


    Mari Hemmer (Hammer)
    Ann Arbor Roller Derby