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Recently we have had a lot of questions from skaters wondering if Derby Fest is for them. Those who skate in regional areas or who are new to the sport often wonder if they will be out of their depth in the swirling ocean of derby awesomeness that an event like Derby Fest attracts.

Coaches from overseas and international bouting skaters preparing for their season can be intimidating not only to first timers who have never set wheels outside the line markings of their home track, but to everyone. We get it! Self-assessment is very hard to do, that’s why we have put together a list of the things to help decide whether or not the event is a good fit for you.

Inevitably, between now and January you will make improvements. If you are fresh meat now, you might be bouting by then. If you can’t yet stop, you will likely nail that skill very soon and be looking for your next challenge. Pull out the goals pyramid you made (or head to our recent post to find out why you should have one), and realistically consider where you will be in January.

Those who have been coming every year since the event kicked off often comment that Derby Fest is a vital part of their season, giving them a bucket of skills to work on over the year, motivating them, and keeping them connected to the wider community. Most importantly: Will the skater you are in six months be having serious FOMO if you’re at home when the happy snaps start circulating?

You don’t need to be bouting to attend. You don’t even need to have passed all of your minimum skills.

The questions we get asked most often is ‘what constitutes a beginner?’ and ‘I’m not on a team, can I still come?’ The answer is yes and very much YES. At the beginning of your derby journey you are a sponge, soaking up all the new information that comes your way. Unlike crusty veterans like myself who have picked up a slew of bad habits, you are ready to be molded, so why not set your foundations with the best coaches in the world.

We don’t really care if you can do 27 laps in 5, there are specialised skills and form classes to help you improve on those harder to reach minimum skills. If you answer yes to the following four questions (or you’re pretty sure you can by January), then you can attend.

Can you stop?
Can you comfortably skate forwards and backwards?
Can you receive some contact from skaters of a similar skill level?
Are you insured for contact?

Contrary to what some seem to think, we are not going to throw you in a one on two blocking drill with Bicepsual and Bianca Sciaretta. You will be able to choose what skill level to participate in, how much you want to skate, and can stop at any time if you are uncomfortable.

Our coaches were beginners once too and they comment that beginner classes are some of their favourites to teach; because it is there they see the vastest improvements in the shortest time. For more info on the skill levels of classes check out the website.

You don’t have to skate for 8+ hours a day for three days straight.

Sometimes people think that in order to get their money’s worth they will need to skate around the clock. While you certainly can skate for 24 hours over the weekend, with classes tailored to each skill level, it is worth noting we have no interest in destroying your body for the season ahead.

Derby Fest has plenty of useful off skates activities to compliment your on skates training. In the knowledge room you can learn about the mental game, nutrition, league management, NSO’ing, benching and a whole list of other wonderful skills. There is also yoga, fun activities like Slip and Slide and tie-dye, and plenty of space to catch up with skaters from other places who you might only see once a year. Yes, there is lots of skating, but you don’t need to count your successes in blisters.

So you’re already the best skater at your league/on your team/in your region…

Don’t be embarrassed. Many skaters are aware when they reach the top of the pool. You will notice because you’re getting natural grand slams more often than Bonnie Thunders and the MVP prizes can no longer fit on your bookshelf. Even if that’s not quite you, you likely have an inkling if you are no longer being challenged.

Perhaps the only people who benefit more than beginners at Derby Fest are these skaters. Sometimes we forget the joy of taking a big hit off the track, recycling all the way back and really having to push our way through. Being challenged can be a lot more fun than scoring 100 points. Or as a blocker, really synergising as a four wall and locking down a jammer can be better than Christmas. It can be the difference between getting bored and giving up derby, to pushing yourself to try out for representative teams.

If you spend a lot of your time helping other skaters to bring your team up, that’s amazing, but Derby Fest is all about you. Test your skills against those from other places, learn from those who can push you, and play challenge bouts out of your comfort zone. We have had skaters from Armidale shine in teams along side Hydra winning skaters. Derby Fest is about capitalising on the opportunities you don’t get every day and helping you to achieve the next level, even when you didn’t know there was one.

Hopefully these pointers have helped you decide whether it is time to take the plunge and buy your ticket. Remember to get in before first release tickets run out, save $25 and earn rewards points for your league!