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.