Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Play Coed Derby

Being that we are slowly approaching Valentine's Day, I decided to ask my friend Poison to write a blog entry about how to approach playing a coed derby game successfully.  Poison is the coach for the Carolina Wrecking Balls based in Columbia, SC.   I coach a guy's team, but I have never played in a coed bout; this weekend will be my first, and I wanted to know how to make it an awesome experience!


1) Remember that coed bouts are purely for fun! It's safe to say that most of the players have established leagues that are their primary derby focus. Have fun roughing it up with friends you don't normally get to play with - frenemies, refs, coaches, players, mentors, crushes... and make it a learning experience!

2) Be competitive, but keep things in perspective.  Bragging rights are about the only thing at stake.

3) Don't be a jerk.  Coed bouts often have very new players and a variety of sizes. Use control and don't obliterate someone unnecessarily just because you can. Realize that newer players are probably going to be all arms and legs, even experienced players may get sloppy in all the excitement. It's derby. Let it go.

4) Don't be sexist.

Girls - you agreed to play a coed bout. Men are going to hit you! They may even hit you hard! Don't assume they are being jerks just because they are men. When another female player high or low blocks you or really cleans your clock do you automatically assume they did it on purpose to be a jerk? Do men deserve to be held to a different standard or punished more harshly because they hit a woman who agreed to play coed derby? No. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Play hard, don't be a bitch, play clean and be respectful. Don't whine about being treated as an equal or even a threat.

Guys - you also agreed to play a coed bout. Some players think you should "hold back" on women. I think that's crap. Don't insult me by playing down to me because I'm a female. I have advantages you don't. (There is more than one guy out there taller and heavier than me who has crumbled like a paper bag with a perfectly played hip swipe to the thigh). And there are women of all sizes, including some who hit harder than men. Bring it on. But refer to rules 1, 2, and 3. Use this chance to work on positional blocking and hip checks. Try new things. I've heard some guys say they will only hit a girl as hard as she hits him. Fair enough. Play hard, don't be a dick, play clean and be respectful. Treat the women as equals.

5) Let the refs do their jobs! There seem to be a lot of knights in shining armor in coed derby, although I can't find that position in any of the rule sets. Hockey has enforcers, not derby. Just because a man lays a hard hit on a woman does not mean it was an illegal hit. If it was illegal it probably wasn't intentional. If it was intentional it is still NO different than if a female had done it. Let the officials handle the situation! That's what they're around for! It's not your job "as a man" to go off rescuing or defending us. If you respond in an aggressive manner, or worse escalate the violence, you just look like an ass. You embarrass yourself, your coed team, your primary league, and derby as a whole. And that notion that the men have to defend us womenfolk just smacks of sexism. Would you show your ass if it was a girl on girl incident? Probably not. Keep yourself together. If you can't handle that, don't play coed derby.

Photos by Phil Lackey.
****COUPLES! If you can't handle seeing your significant other be hit by players of the opposite sex, don't play coed derby!

6) Leave it on the track. Make nice. Show good sportsmanship. If you can't be nice in the high five line, don't get in it. If you can't be polite at the after party, avoid whomever you need to or just don't come. Always remember that you are an ambassador for your league and for derby and behave accordingly.

I love playing coed derby. I've learned so much from playing with and against men. I feel a million times more in tune with my "Balls" as a coach because I've gotten to play with them. I think everyone should try coed at least once!


  1. I've been playing co-ed at invitationals and mixed scrimmages for a few years now, and the skill level of the men has grown exponentially. Their center of gravity is different, and they move a bit differently, but I think the experience has made me a better overall derby athlete.

    One of the biggest challenges in the past have been the rules differences between WFTDA and MADE/OSDA/etc. but the newest iteration of the WFTDA rules (especially the one whistle start) has helped bridge the strategy gap.

    See you on Saturday!

  2. Dudes: I hope you are wearing a cup. Survey: Are you all wearing protection on your junk? One of the reasons I have reservations about playing co-ed is not that dudes will hit me harder, but that I have reason to avoid booty-blocking or thigh-swiping dudes who are letting the deli dangle. The reverse? Not wearing and (sports)bra. *awkward* Thought or am I (somehow, in this one instance) being a Puritan?

  3. a* and Thoughts* -raw and unedited!-

  4. "I've heard some guys say they will only hit a girl as hard as she hits him." I think that's a great rule of thumb for recreational bouts in general -coed or not! I played with rec league for while where there were players of ALL different skill levels. Being fresh meat, I really benefited by being able to play with more advanced players who didn't just knock me on my butt every time I stepped on the track.

    1. I try not to kill newbies; I think it's douchey when experienced skaters do that.

  5. Excellent article. A couple of other things for the guys that come to mind:

    1) Keep a towel on the bench. We sweat. It's a fact of nature. And while we dont think twice about it when skating with each other, some girls dont like being "slimed". :)

    2) This kind of goes along with #1. Deodorant. Use it. Your teammates will love you for it.

    Derby on my friends.

    1. Girls sweat too. I'm just as gross as any boy.

  6. One point that I want to make: I'm about 170 pounds. Me laying a less aggressive hit or only using positional blocking on a 110 pound female jammer is not 'playing down' it's simply not being a douche.

    In our area we call it the extra co-ed rule the 'no douche-bag rule'. A guy sending a chick flying is douche-baggy looking. Even if the lady outweighs the gentleman. Is that view sexist? In the most fundamental sense, yes. However, I don't think co-ed would happen as often as it does if it weren't for the no d-bag rule. With co-ed and the whole 'equal-rights-equal-fights' thing it's hard to get black and white (scrimmage pun) it's been easier for me to just be practical rather than political.

    Regarding cups and crotch protection: A sweep, c-cut, lap dance or whatever is not likely going to damage a dude's junk. The only reason I'm on the fence and considering wearing a cup is the fear of someone losing control and kicking me as they're trying to put their head under their feet.

  7. I have my first co-ed scrimmage at the end of May, and this has really helped put things in perspective for me! Great job as always Q! Men skate differently, and with less reservations...I think we could all learn a thing or two from Mens Derby and I'm SO excited to finally be able to participate in a mixed scrimmage :)