Monday, June 30, 2014

From Freshmeat to Team Mate: Level One Skills Begin

Last week, I explained one of the core skills needed for Roller Derby, the Derby Stance. For the first few practices I attended, we spent at least a few minutes working on learning proper derby stance form. Our freshmeat coach and the team's regular coach both suggested we all do tons of squats. I still do squats at random times every day...a favorite is while I'm waiting with my dogs in the backyard. I actually need to start doing them in regular sets, working to get as low as possible.
Squats are good for
POD players in one of this season's
games. Notice Macrum's great skating
Derby stance up front!
building your leg strength for skating, perfecting the form of your stance, and building strength in the tendons of your ankles and knees, which can help prevent injuries.

Aside from learning to stay low for balance while skating, I remember spending the first few practices learning to skate with all eight wheels on the floor and the basic derby stop, the t-stop. It sounds silly that we had to learn how to skate with all the wheels touching the floor, but we did! Aside from being able to skate forwards or backwards on all eight wheels, by learning how to use the edges of your skates - inside, outside, or a combination of the two - you can develop the skills to weave, turn, or slolam while skating.
This skater is using her edges to turn
 left on the track. From Decat#6

By putting pressure on the outside edge (two wheels) of your left skate and pressure on the inside edge of your right skate, you will find yourself leaning to the left and then your body naturally begins to turn in that direction.  If you reverse your edges, you turn right. By alternating between the two, you can go around turns and weave through cones (or later opponents!) without taking your feet off the floor.

It sounds simple enough, but using your edges is like riding a motorcycle. You have to lean into all your turns and trust that you won't just fall over. Veteran skaters make it look easy but it took me months to really get the general hang of it. Most people, including myself, are stronger leaning and turning to one side, too. However, over time and with the right equipment (good skates with well-adjusted trucks that allow your feet to maneuver without pulling your wheels off the floor), it becomes almost second nature.

When I started as Freshmeat, I did not have skates of my own. I borrowed the only pair of freshmeat skates that would fit me - some sneaker skates like the ones pictured here. They were free to use, which was great while I was figuring out if I could actually make a go at Roller Derby. What they weren't, was flexible (or light, honestly!).  Trying to find my edges was near impossible. I would lean and nothing happened. Switching to my own Derby quad skates weeks later made a huge difference.

It was the same with learning to do a t-stop, though in this case the heavy skates helped a little, I think. A t-stop is the first real stop you learn in derby. It's fairly simple. You transfer your weight to whichever leg you put in front. Then by dragging the other foot behind (making the shape of the letter "T") you cause friction with the track, which slows you to a stop. You have to be careful to drag with the outside edge of the back skate so that you don't hurt your ankle by accident. Check out this simple video explaining it nice and clearly!

Learning to do the t-stop originally in those sneaker skates meant that when I switched to my real skates that they felt like a breeze! I'll tell you guys all about picking out my own gear and skates soon, promise.

Until next time...
Nikki Tesla #134

No comments:

Post a Comment