It’s not just for falling it’s for stopping too!

Due to the horrendous weather that’s stormed (ha!) in in the last week, we ended up having a pretty small group for practice last night. It was actually kind of nice since it meant not waiting a long time for “your turn” to do a drill, and it also meant the opportunity to get a lot of feedback.

There are a couple of things worth noting about practice. The first is really important…. I HAVE BUTT MUSCLES!!!!! WOOOHOOOOOO!!!!  Wanna know how I found this out? Read on.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my T-stops. Its haunted me since the beginning of my derby adventures… I’d kind of get good “enough” for a while, and then it would go away again, and then I’d kind of figure it out enough to get by again… but I was never really good at it. Thing is, as time went on I got more and more nervous to 1) do them in front of people and 2) tell someone I was having trouble with them because “everyone else” seemed to have caught on. Well it’s a funny thing when you start talking about what “everyone else” seems to be doing, because it often turns out that “everyone else” is NOT doing what you think they are. It turned out for me, when I talked to my Darkside that she understood the issue I was having and she had a similar problem. Basically, I would skate, t-stop in relatively good form… slow down pretty well but then get this akward jerky motion and then despite my wanting to stop, I kept propelling forwards a bit until I finally stopped. What it looks like is a two step t-stop…. slow down almost to a stop, propel forwards, and then stop. WTF?

So I got up the nerve to ask one of our coaches what I was doing wrong. She thought about it a bit and then got back to me. If you try to do your t-stops by just dragging your foot behind you (which is what it LOOKS like when you see someone do it), you can “t-stop” forever without actually coming to a stop. What you (I!!) need to do is clench the butt muscle ( particularly the one that eventually attaches to your stopping foot) with all your might and make that leg go pretty rigid. That’s your stopping power. And the first time my body realized this it was like “ok, and now you’ve got it.. t-stop away young padiwan”.

I should take this opportunity to be… truthful. Okay, so I think MAYBE my coach had actually told me this before. The problem is… *way. back. then* I didn’t have the butt muscles required to make it make a difference. So rather than clenching my “muscles” without effect I got lazy, stopped doing it, and just focused on form and balance instead. So I forgot about the technique altogether until I was kindly reminded last night.. that no, this is not a lazy stop. This is an engaged stop, and you need to put your muscles into it. So I did, and I think I’m going to be okay.

Okay, one more thing before this turns into a novel. I also figured out how to run on my toe stops last night. Just by observing (and observing one hockey player in particular) how people “got going” I realized that pre-take-off I was putting all my weight on my back foot like when I do a hockey start (which is kind of just running on skates, for those who don’t know). Anyways, when I did that, I could only manage two awkward kind of steps. By putting all my weight on my front foot and then “falling over” onto my next steps, I’ve placed all of my energy in a foward momentum and…. I CAN RUN ON MY TOE STOPS. At least for the three steps I need to pass min skills 😉 And I also take off much faster for sprint races this way.

Anyways, good practice and I  feel good about myself today.


The Last Fresh Meat Session

So before I jump into last night’s session, I should probably mention that I have stopped running in the couch to 5k program. Running on pavement was destroying my knees and since I only started running to help my endurance for roller derby in the first place, it seems completely counterproductive to engage in an activity that is making it hard for me to endure roller derby. The doctor said something akin to “your kneecaps are too wiggly, stop running and go to physio” and I think since my new love is on the line I will listen (for once). That said, my endurance is getting better just from going to roller derby, and I think maybe I might start using the eliptical machine at school to see if that is easier on my knees.

Okay, so enough of that… what you really want to know is how the last fresh meat session went.

Well first of all, my butt is really sore today. But thankfully, this time it’s not from falling on it!! I’m slowly getting steadier on my feet, and learning to fall forwards.

We started out with our usual laps, lunges and stretches. Then we went over some of the basic stops and falls from the last sessions. With my knees a little sore last night I admittedly didn’t have as much power in my stops as I had before but I managed just fine. For the falls, I skipped doing the right knee falls and just did the left and double knee falls. I’m actually very good at falling 😉

We spent a lot of  time trying to do crossovers last night. Basically this consists of lifting one leg and crossing it over the other in order to turn. It’s a bit tricky so we tried doing it in baby steps. Here’s the funny part… I find the baby steps even harder than just full out trying to do the whole thing. We first tried skating around the track just lifting one foot up… impossible. My legs think my feet are too heavy and refuse. Then since quite a few of us were apparently having a hard time with this, we tried the same thing only skating straight across the gym instead of going around the track. I actually did a bit better with this – but I had a really hard time getting my left foot of the ground. Also, my right foot will only stay off the ground for a very short period of time. Anyways, after this we got to try it on the  track… I managed to do a couple of proper cross overs but for the most part I’m still only getting my foot about half way over the other. I think this one is only a matter of time – it “feels” pretty right, just needs some practice.

So after all this skating I was pretty exhausted and then it was announced that we would be doing the pyramid drills… oh mama, save my wobbly legs!!! This time I tried to make sure that I was in a lineup of girls that seemed about the same skill level as me (last time, everyone around me was sooooo quick!!!!!) I don’t think doing laps at the end of practice really is representative of my skating overall (or at least I hope not) because by then my legs have the jiggles and would rather be walking to the bus stop. In any case, I’m not nearly as fast as I would like to be, but I’m getting much more confidant on my skates and for the moment I think that’s what really counts.

Did I mention that these sessions are two hours long??? My body already has fewer wobbly bits than it did a few weeks ago… I’m feeling pretty good 🙂

So skating in the living room for this week is going to consist mostly of trying to skate on one foot… I need to build the strength and balance to be able to do this. I’ve been doing some strength training on the wii fit for this specific purpose, but it’s nothing compared to balancing on one leg while wearing skates!

Ohh…. before I forget. This is what I came home to after my session. If you’re a roller derby husband, you’re going to want to take notes on this; this is truly what a roller girl wants to come home to after a hard session!

Steak, mashed potatos, beer and some green stuff….. sooooo good 🙂