Roller Derby: Mastering Those Skills (Or Not)

So Weeks Four and Five of fresh meat are done. I’m coming to the tail end of my first fresh meat course. I have a perma-bruise on my right thigh that I keep swearing at because while it is there and sore, it will not go purple and gnarly. For some perverse reason I want a battle wound to show off!

Week Four of fresh meat training followed the same idea as before: practice the skills you’ve learned over the last three weeks and then we’ll chuck a new one at you. This one is turning backwards. I can see how this could be crucial in a bout (if you get turned around you need to know how to do it safely then turn yourself back around to joing the pack) but it never makes it any easier! The trick is to turn your body and head then your feet. Initially we did it by extending our arm and moving our hand around and following that. This has to be a stepping motion apparently, not the fluid movement of an artistic skater. It was quite a fun skill to learn. Black and White, Roller Derby, Old School

I had a slight regression with my 17 laps in five minutes in week four, doing half a lap less (14.5) than last time. However my derby stance had improved, which I took as a positive from it.

As well as our Sunday session, two other keen fresh meat and I met up at the track on the next Wednesday as well to have a blast. They are both former figure skaters so they were zooming around the track, skating backwards and crossing over with ease. It wasn’t the most dedicated training session (a fairly extensive discussion about the TV show I Shouldn’t Be Alive took place at one stage) but it was a good blast out and chance to practice. I’m STILL working on the crossovers so that took up the vast majority of my time. I then swapped skates with another girl and spent the next 30 minutes trying to get used to them. A lot lighter and faster than the skates I was used to, they slightly terrified me. However I found striding and sticky skating a lot easier in them.

Week Five was recap week. We went over everything we had learned. I was wearing the faster skates and I found I was just too uncomfortable in them to master any skills. I found I have a real knack for single knee and 180 single knee falls but need to work on my double knee falls. Crossovers were just too scary in these new skates. I was really lucky that  the coaches all spent one-on-one time with me, even if it did mean I’d get a little confused when one coach would suggest something, blast off then another one would come around! Again we did the 17 laps in five minutes. The coaches were yelling at me to try the crossovers. I said, “Not in these skates,” and in the end we negotiated that I would try to do one each corner. I fell in the last 20 seconds, which meant I only did 15.5 laps. We then did sticky skating but my body (already screaming at me from a big gym session the day before and the Deep Heat on my back that was burning due to the sweat dripping off me) said, “That’s enough.”

One of the coaches kindly took three of us down to the other track for some more one on one. She helped me with my cross-overs again but due to my body screaming at me, we gave it a rest fairly quickly. We then had a discussion about skates and wheels which was incredibly helpful. I got the chance to try on a pair of the skates I’ve been looking at buying (Sure-Grip Rebel Fugitives, if anyone is interested!) which was exactly what I needed. It did seem to confirm the coaches’ statements that I will find it much easier when I have a decent pair of skates.

These bad boys are going to be mine some time soon.

At the end of the session as I put away my gear, I went up to the league member who is coordinating fresh meat at the moment and said that I’ll be putting my name down for the next fresh meat course (which starts in two weeks!). At this point in time, I’m not likely to pass the assessment. As I’ve talked about before, I find being crap at something really frustrating. However I’m now the only remaining fresh meat who has never skated before. If I compare myself to the remaining  girls, well obviously I’m not as skilled and it might just take me a bit longer. I’ve  just got to recognise that this is not a failure but a chance to learn and improve.

Anyway, next week is the assessment! Let’s see how close I can get to passing!


By Cesy

Cesy grew up in a sheep farm in New Zealand. Accordingly some of her views are a bit strange.

7 replies on “Roller Derby: Mastering Those Skills (Or Not)”

Sometimes we have to stop comparing ourselves to everyone who is better at something and start comparing ourselves to everyone else for a little perspective – better yet, compare yourself to yourself a month ago. This is true for so many things for me. I ignore my own progress because I’m not perfect yet.

Good luck! And even if you don’t pass the assessment, extra practice on the basics will definitely help improve your form and you’ll definitely be prepared to take on the next level.

Last year, I started taking tap dance classes, and after my first session (14 weeks), my teacher told me I could probably move up to intermediate. There weren’t any intermediate classes available right away, bit I wanted to keep practicing, so I just enrolled in a short beginning session again. I got more practice to work on the basics, and my form improved over all, which was great! That said, if you don’t “make it” this time, you won’t be a failure, and you may really ends up appreciating more time practicing the basics.

Still, good luck!! :)

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