Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Diary of a Derby Girl {Part 3 - Learning}

{Part 1 - The Beginning}
{Part 2 - The Nudge}

{Part 3 - Learning}

After I got a reply from one of the Christchurch Leagues, the waiting began. They had their Freshmeat intake coming up but before that they offered a month of Learn to Skate classes. These classes were for people who were interested to come and check it out, and see if it was for them before committing to the league (Freshmeat requires you to pay subs and have your own gear - which gets pretty expensive) so it makes sense to weed out the wusses first.

The first night I showed up with my bag of second hand gear and retro skates and was met by some of the derby girls who would be our tutors over the next 4 weeks - and beyond. The other would-be-derby-girls trickled in, about 16 of us in all. There was a giant pile of less than perfect gear in the middle of the gym and the girls renting gear took their pick. It was a great half hour of everyone trying to figure out what safety pad went where and what size skate we wear.

Once the gear was on we wobbled around the track (an oval) and tried to get used to the skates. We were all pretty wobbly at first but after a few laps most of us started to look a bit more in control of our flailing limbs.

Over the four weeks we learnt a lot of skating basics. Our lessons were split into two halves - on skates and off-skates. When we were off-skates we learnt how to play derby while not wearing skates (so tiring!), some strengthening exercizes for our legs, knees and ankles and some agility stuff while playing games like dodgeball and a couple of other kids games. We also learnt about the basics of our gear and what we want to have. My favourite part was playing dodgeball. The trainers were trying to tag us while we ran from one end of the gym to the other and once we got out we had to go to the side and get into derby position and remain like that until the last person got tagged. Derby position is essentially a deep squat like you do when you pee in a public toilet. That is how we skate - the lower the better. Anyway, for the first time in my entire life I was actually good at this game and managed to stay un-tagged until the end most times. I even was the last woman standing once! I felt sorry for the poor girls that got tagged first though - it takes days for your thigh muscles to recover!

When we were on skates we learnt some basic skills which we will cover in more depth during freashmeat. We learnt how to skate in derby position and how to do a couple of stops - the T-stop and the snow-plough, or the plough as it is affectionately called. We learnt how to do a few falls - single knee, double knee, baseball slide and a four point fall. Having the huge knee pads make this so much better than it looks. It actually feels like you are falling on pillows.

Other things we learnt when we were on skates were how to do crossovers around turns and learning how to balance on one foot. This is what I find hardest. Both my static and dynamic balance is pretty shocking but after we did some ankle strengthening one week I could tell I was slightly better. 

After the third week I decided to commit and I bought some proper derby skates. They are pretty snazzy and feel so much different to my retro skates but I know I will be much better learning in them.

So as of tonight I am officially in the Freshmeat Intake of Otautahi Roller Derby, I am off to get knackered by some intense training and I will be updating my progress as I go!


  1. Gooo Amy!! It really exciting! Can't wait for more installments. :)

  2. Hey! Welcome to our Otautahi Rollers family! I look forward to meeting you when I'm rostered on helping with the freshmeat but thought you might like to read my blog about getting through freshmeat too!

  3. Oh my goodness Amy, that is so exciting! It sounds awesome.

  4. Hi Amy, just found your blog today- roller derby looks awesome! I've always wanted to do something like that (once I discovered the movie Whip It), but I'm rather uncoordinated so never thought I could. Your posts on it make it look like it's something that maybe I could try one day, so thanks :) I'm also from CHCH so it's good to know there's something like that here!


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