Every derby player is going to fall. That's part of the game. A good quality pair of roller derby padded shorts can take some of the sting out of repeated falls and prevent or minimize injury. You have enough tattoos without adding some big strawberries and bruises on your hips and thighs. The choice of derby padded shorts depends on personal preference.
What to Look for When Choosing Roller Derby Padded Shorts
Pad thickness can range from a quarter to half an inch. While thicker pads are going to provide more cushioning, they can also be a little bit bulkier. The question of pad thickness goes hand-in-hand with pad placement.
Each brand of padded shorts is a little different. Some shorts have a stack of narrow, oblong-shaped pads. Others have more square-shaped pads. All padded shorts are intended to allow you maximum range of movement while protecting against impact. When looking at the pad placement on a pair of derby padded shorts, think about how you fall. Do you consistently land on your hips? Do you like baseball slides? Superman slides? Think about what part of your body seems to bear the brunt of the impact when you fall. That's the area where you want the most padding. Most padded shorts focus on the padding the hips, but if you're partial to Superman slides, you may want look for a little padding on top of the thighs too. There are a number of derby-specific padded shorts on the market. These frequently have a dedicated tailbone protector or other increased tailbone protection as well as increased hip pads and butt pads.
More and more manufacturers are designing padded shorts specifically for roller derby. One of the features of derby-specific padded shorts is a higher cut so that the shorts are not visible under your skirt. Perhaps you don't care about maintaining the illusion that your hips, thighs, and rear end are impervious to falls. Or maybe you feel better protected and more confident or comfortable in padded shorts that hit mid-thigh. Padded shorts with a higher cut will, of necessity, protect a bit less of your thighs, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for most derby girls. Most of the shorts shown on our roller derby padded shorts page are derby specific. If you're interested in padded shorts that might hit a bit lower on your thigh, check out our skateboard padded shorts page too.
Remember that most standard skate/skateboard padded shorts are designed for guys. In other words, they're cut for a very narrow frame and often hit higher on the waist than most women care for. Be sure to see if a brand you like has a women's cut that offers a bit more room in the hips and thighs. Derby-specific padded shorts are also cut with a female profile in mind.
Should Your Derby Position Influence Your Choice of Padded Shorts?
Padded derby shorts are padded derby shorts, right? Well, yes and no. All of the variations in pad placement and thickness mean that there are some types and models of padded shorts that are more suited for one derby position than another. If you're a roller derby jammer, speed and agility are two of your best friends. You need to be able to slice and dice your way through the pack quickly, so bulk isn't what you're looking for. If you're a derby jammer or a pivot, you'll want to look for padded shorts on the lighter side.
If you're a derby blocker, you need equal parts power and awareness of where your teammates and the opposing team's players are. While your mind is constantly shifting, your body may take a beating. In the chaos of the pack, derby blockers are going to get bumped. A lot. Derby blockers typically prefer (dare we say require?) shorts with more advanced, beefier padding, like Crash Pads 2700 roller derby padded shorts
or Crash Pads CP Pro Women's Padded