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.

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Session 2

Last night was my second Fresh Meat session. Here are some of the highlights:

One of my husband’s methods of encouragement is to ask me whether I was the “worst one”…. well in this type of sport I find I don’t even have time to look at what others are doing because I’m so busy focusing on my own balance. Yet, after this session I can say I was probably fairly close to being … the “worst one”.

First up … warm up. I was still pretty sore in my knees from my derby/running combo so I took it as easy as possible. I did some slow laps around the gym, muscled through the lunges (those hurt), and stretched. I probably could have called it quits there and left with a sufficient workout but next it was time for the fun stuff 🙂

We started off with fairly simple stuff… practicing our stops. No problem, I can snowplow pretty easily and my t-stops are far from perfect but starting to take form and accomplishing the main goal. But then… dun dun dun…. the dreaded bracket stop. The bracket stop basically consists of skating forward then swinging one of your feet around in the opposite direction so that you turn 180 degrees and stop. For some reason my feet do not allow me to do this… they just scream out “don’t turn that way… try to and we will stick you to the floor permanently”. Thankfully, the derby girls at ORD are awesome and worked with me a lot so that I can now sometimes do it in slow motion… but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot more falling for my feet to follow my intentions.

So next up.. falling. I’m actually pretty awesome at falling. We did our one knee falls, our 180 falls (basically the same as a one knee fall but you spin around to face the other direction), our two knee falls, and our 4 point falls. The 4 point falls were new and they were pretty fun…. you skate, drop to two knees, then get into a ball on the floor being careful to tuck in all your limbs. On the track this is really important because if you fall and let your limbs straggle all over the place you can actually get a penalty for tripping. Anyways, it was really fun.

Then came the harder stuff. Walking across the floor with skates on forwards (not so bad), backwards (ee-gads… I can’t walk backwards barefoot!), and then sideways crossing legs one over the other (mama, help!). We do this to get comfortable on our skates… we want to be able to wear skates like running shoes. So, I think I’m going to try wearing my skates at home more often.. maybe this will help.

Next up, sticky skate. I had watched some you tube videos on how to do this but really it’s something you need to “feel” to learn. Sticky skate is where you skate keeping all 8 wheels on the floor. It’s important in pack skating so that you don’t trip someone or get caught on someone. I was pretty good at doing the in-out butterfly style sticky skate, after learning that it’s all about pushing with your knees and thighs. However, I really sucked at the slalom (sp?), feet together, type sticky skate… I just haven’t got the feel down right yet.

Okay… so after sticky skating for a we did some “skate/squat” drills. You skate and then when you hear “squat” you squat down as low as you can go and you stay that way until the last girl has stopped moving. Yeah that was hard. But my thighs and butt will thank me eventually.

After this, we lined up into “heats”, and in groups we had to skate around the track as fast as possible. The first time, we skated around the track once, then twice, then three times, then twice again, then once again. This is where I learned that I sucked. My pack darted off wayyyy in front of me everytime and I was left in the proverbial dust. Again, the ORD girls are awesome and cheered me on. Clearly however, I am having some balance issues that are causing me to take shorter strides than I should be and consequentially slowing me way down. I really need to work on this a lot. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get some outdoor wheels really soon and start skating outside on my “free time” (funny eh?). 

I really want to be good at this.