Trust in roller derby

Posted on June 19, 2014 by


This week, Rogue N Josh introduced us to the roller derby pyramid. It represents the vital elements of team work. The basic element is trust.

Roller Derby Pyramid

“It’s easy to see on the playing field or court when teammates don’t trust each other. Instead of staying in position, they are moving all over trying to do too much because they don’t think their teammate will. This causes teams to play in erratic patterns and will hurt them overall. Teammates need to trust each other, which will allow them to play as one instead of as many.” (source)

My secret gut reaction to the pyramid was the same as one quietly vocalised by someone else: how can I trust the teammates that I know cannot hold their position?


Everyone knows trust is earnt, right? Does this mean that if a teammate is not so agile, not so confident, she should be excluded from bouts? Everyone can think of one teammate who consistently watches opposition jammers (or even blockers) sail past. The solution seems simple: drop her from the line up until she improves.

But what if we take another stand. What if we decide to have faith, to trust that player?

There have been countless times in my life where people who are important to me have had more faith in my abilities than I would ever have myself. My family and close friends have always expressed such confidence in me. And you know what, half the time I think I end up achieving because of that. Not because of any intrinsic ability but because they believe in me so I give it a red hot go for them.

What if your lack of trust in your teammate is holding her back? She sees you darting in to “save the day”; she sees you being a “one-man wall”. Every time you do that, she internalises two things:

  1. She’s not worthy of doing it herself
  2. You’ll do it anyway

You have a responsibility to “Elevate your teammates. If you aren’t making your teammates better; you’re making them worse. Players need to raise the level of their teammates through their enthusiasm, encouragement and hard work…Challenge your teammates. Competition amongst teammates is invaluable. … Not challenging your teammates during practice is selfish. Competition should bring out the best in everyone.” (source)

You need to be brave to implement this. The first few times you ask her to hold the inside line, for example, she’s going to let the jammer through. That’s ok. Remind her, “You need to hug the line more tightly. Let’s focus on that for the rest of the scrimmage” and then put her back on the inside line. Stay with her and brace her when the heat turns up (you’ll have to trust everyone else to hold the outside line – ALL the trust). Your steadfast faith in her will build her confidence and she’ll step up.


If you’re reading this thinking “shit, I think I’m the weak link”, trust a teammate with that. Pick someone who has the skill you want, Facebook her and ask for guidance. Ask if she’ll work with you for a month on whichever skill it is you’d like to be recognised for (inside line is a great starting point as it requires a little less agility and endurance. Alternatives could be the outside line, the communicator or the truck to everyone else’s trailer). At the end of the month, review your progress then celebrate your success or, if that’s a bit premature, sign up for another month or select another helper.

We spend so much time at derby obsessing over the perfect strategy. That one magic move that’s going to win the game for us. Maybe it’s time to dial it back and work on the basics. Can you say you trust each and every one of your teammates?

Posted in: LimboLand