Damn… time flies when you’re having fun.
I guess I should call this my Season 1 Final Exam, since it’s Champs week:
Yep – after this week, I’ll be pretty much done with my first season. Kinda crazy. I still feel new, but I figured this would be a great time for self-reflection and self-evaluation and all that.
I’ve only seen myself skate on video a couple of times, so a lot of this is just my own perception of how I’m doing. Which could be skewed, of course, but whatevs… it’s my blog I do what I want.
This is gonna be long, but right now I’m gonna sit down and spill on how I’m doing on EVERYTHING, from basics to gameplay.
Stance: It took me a while to actually get low while playing derby. After a lot of wall-sitting, squats and lunges I think I have finally started reminding myself to get in derby stance and keep my arms in and chest up. At least by now, I can feel when my ass is in the air and my head is tipping forward.
Stride: So I love roller skating, but now I begrudgingly understand that skating for derby is a bit different. When I’m at open skate, I love to take those nice, long strides. Now I realize that there’s a time for those types of longer strides, but even more times where you have to be constantly moving your feet (especially around the turns, which unfortunately is when I love to take the slower long strides the most). I’m starting to enjoy picking up my feet – it feels like running on skates and I get a lot more power if I’m trying to hit someone.
Stops: I barely ever T-stop but when I do I always make that weird rubber-on-rink sound with my wheels, and I dig that. I’ve learned that that sound is a good thing. My plow stops have gotten SO MUCH BETTER, because one of my teammates taught me to turn my knees in with my toes. This makes it a lot easier to use my inner thighs, and it also brings me one step closer to being more explosive and sudden with my stops. I’m def still not all the way there yet, though. I’ve also gotten better at running out of my plows.
I see a whisper of a hockey stop, but I need to work on that a lot more if I ever wanna actually do one. A lot of it is fear – you have to have a little bit of speed to do it right, and it’s kinda scary to stop immediately after going fast.
Falls: This shit is automatic by now. I fall, I get back up. And fast. Part of it is fear of being trampled by girls on skates, part of it is knowing that if I stay down for more than a beat, I’ll fall way too far behind the pack.
Balance/Agility: My arms don’t flail as bad as they used to, but I definitely need to work on keeping my hands to myself more. Sometimes it’s easier to use my hands to make sure I don’t stray too far from teammates, but ideally I wanna be using my upper body and hips to form a wall, not my hands. Sometimes, on-skates, I work on staying low while shifting my upper body around to help myself stay balanced without the airplane-arms. I’m also working on popping up on my toestops and moving my shoulders around to get out of hits and avoid getting knocked out of bounds.
Endurance: During practice, there’s a noticeable difference when I skip out on my cross-training. HIIT intervals and light lifting help out a lot. I still get crazy tired if I’m jamming, but I’m getting better and better the more I eat cleaner, hit the gym and go for runs. This weekend, we had a scrimmage where a lot of us didn’t leave the track for multiple jams in a row. When I was the jammer, I did a lot of meditative breathing with counts. I felt silly at first, but it really helped me calm down my heart beat and think clearly through the weird haze of fatigue and adrenaline – funny how both of those can be present at the same time.
Pack Skating: This shit is hard, but I’m learning to use my brain while I play. The concept of staying in a wall seems simple, but it takes constant awareness to stay with your team while playing O and D at the same time. Some days I’m better at it than others (let’s not even get started on the rules), but I’m working on watching more derby and internalizing the core rules.
Blocking: I fucking love blocking. Seriously. I like to get all up in people’s way, and I think I may be good at it. Now, I’m working on counter-blocking and taking the good hits and quickly recovering/resetting. I’m also working on being where I need to be AS SOON as I need to be there.
Jamming: I’ve learned that a lot of jamming is a combination of awesome endurance, hitting and counter-blocking. As a shorter/smaller skater, by now I’m used to the force of a big hit and I spend less time recovering. I still get tired, though, so I’ve been working on playing smarter and moving my feet more to conserve energy and run away from people trying to kick my ass.
The Rules: I don’t cut as much anymore. Ha! But there are times when I completely forget rules, or when I know a rule but I’m so tired and jumpy that I just don’t think about it. It takes a lot of zen and practice to be able to think about the rules while playing derby, but I’m getting there slowly (very slowly) but surely.
So that’s my Season 1 Progress Report! Hooray!
Hope to see some of y’all at the bout this Saturday! Dulles Sportsplex, 4pm.