How do I start a league? A checklist by WFTDA

Starting a roller derby league is like starting a small business. It will take time, hard work and perseverance, but the love of the sport has spurred many women and men to successfully pursue that dream. Before you start recruiting your own team, check if there is an existing league nearby (WFTDA Member Leagues). If you want to play roller derby, it's usually much easier to do it by joining an established league than by starting one from scratch. Many skaters commute at least a half-hour to their leagues' practices and this might be something your skaters will have to do regardless.

If you're striking out on your own, here are some key steps in the process:

  • Recruit skaters and officials. Post recruitment fliers in gyms, community centers, bars and other hot spots in your town. Use social networking or classified ads to spread the word. About 10-20 skaters and 1-3 refs will get you off to a good start.
  • Download the game rules from Check out the Rules Q&A for some frequently asked rules questions.
  • Do some basic research and education about gear standards.
  • Start skating! Most leagues start by skating at open skate sessions or doing other public skating as a group. If there is room, you can start working on basic skating skills—check out the WFTDA Minimum Skills Test for guidance.
  • Obtain private practice space. This is often the biggest hurdle that leagues face, but the beauty of flat-track roller derby is that it can be played anywhere, so don’t rule out parking lots, recreation centers, parks, or other underutilized spaces.
  • Select a business structure. Many leagues form non-profit corporations, but you’ll need to do some research to find what structure works best for you. Check your state’s Secretary of State website for help with this decision.
  • Create Bylaws and a policy manual. Talk to existing leagues and review derby forums for tips and ideas on governance structures. Some policies to consider:
    • Practice attendance
    • Leadership positions and terms
    • Code of conduct
    • Non-compete agreements
    • Probationary period for new skaters
    • Grievance and conflict resolution
    • Dues
    • Primary health insurance requirements
  • Arrange liability insurance for the league. Consider obtaining secondary/injury coverage for skaters. WFTDA offers both liability and medical injury policies to flat track roller derby leagues.
  • Start scrimmaging! Starting to play roller derby is the most important thing to getting your league under way.
  • Refs need training too! Make sure your refs have access to resources from the WFTDA.
  • Separate into teams and elect or identify captains.
  • Develop a logo, website, and merchandise.

Once your group has 14 or more skaters, skating at least two hours a week together, you are eligible to apply for WFTDA’s Apprentice Program. Designed to act as a “WFTDA 101” tutorial, the Apprentice Program works with accepted leagues to guide them through the processes and requirements necessary to becoming a full member.

For more information, please download Why Skate Flat Track Roller Derby? (PDF)

Have fun, keep trying, and turn left! Best of luck from the WFTDA.

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.