What is Roller Derby?

Roller derby first began in Chicago, USA in 1935. Originally an endurance race, roller derby’s popularity grew during the 1940s right through to the 1970s, gaining a reputation for being rough and aggressive Players and teams also developed famously intense rivalries. By the 80s, theatrical elements were devised similar to professional wrestling, and eventually, the public interest waned. Although roller derby retains some sports entertainment qualities such as player pseudonyms and colorful uniforms, it has abandoned scripted bouts with predetermined winners.


Classic roller derby never completely disappeared. A few teams remained active after the sport’s decline, and some leagues formed to keep the traditional co-ed format alive. A recent, sudden explosion in roller derby’s popularity has centered on new flat-track leagues. The first of these leagues formed in Austin, Texas in the early 2000s. Modern roller derby is an international sport, mostly played by amateurs. Most teams are all-female teams, but there is a growing number of male, unisex, and junior roller derby teams.

As of 2019, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) had 468 full member leagues and 46 apprentice leagues and the Roller Derby Coalition of Leagues (RDCL) supporting women's banked track roller derby had eight full member leagues