Friday, 10 May 2013

Diary of a Derby Girl {Freshmeat Weeks 1-3}

Freshmeat 2013 begins with welcome packs. Anything with free stuff is good right? A collection of flyers, stickers, what Otautahi is all about and a free bandana (for soaking the sweat from our unfit bodies). It is exciting to see the freshy crew who have made the commitment to derby this year. Woman who we will have to get REALLY comfortable with, who will be both up in our grill and have our backs. I can't wait.
Once the welcome pack rummaging had finished, it was onto an off-skates warm up. This consisted of jogging around 30 laps of the track with an alternating leader calling instructions from the front - "high knees!" "inside!" "outside!" 'jump!'. Each of us needs to be comfortable yelling instructions to the rest of the pack. There were a few creative instructions thrown in  - I am sure we did "Gangnam Style" at some point. At the end of the 30 laps (or was it 20? It felt like more!) we got a much needed water break.
I am pretty sure that was our only off-skates exercise during the first week. A few of us (ME!!!) had our very own pair of skates to try out and we happily geared up. A couple of lessons I learnt that day:
  • You do NOT need to have your skates as tight as you can get them. You WILL get pins and needles in your feet.
  • One skaters set up is not necessarily how you want yours. I have second hand skates and have loosened the trucks, lowered the toe stops and changed the lacing configuration. I still have no idea if it is working for me yet!
Once we had our gear on we went through some skating basics that we will probably go through every single week. I'm ok with that because I know that bad habits are hard to break! I want to learn right!
Learning how to push off, having the crossover broken down into a few different steps, how to plough stop and how to T-stop were the main order of business. We then spent some time doing a few falls and trying (some more successfully than others) to grapevine across the gym in our derby stance. I was one of the less successful ones. I kept rolling everywhere and bobbing up and down like whack-a-mole. Once I got home I did some practice on our wooden floors!
The last thing we did that night was a team building exercise that was finally my cup of tea. We basically played a giant game of snake (like on the brick phones). We were in two teams on opposite sides of the track going the same way. The person at the back had to push her entire 'snake' around the track and catch up with the other team. The 'snake' doesnt do anything, just gets to squat there and roll along. It was all on the back pusher. And I totally nailed it! But is it an endurance exercise and the longer it takes to catch up to the other team the more exhausted but determined you become. My secret? Digging my skates into the ground on an angle to get the most grip possible.
Our second training was a bit of a gym-key-logistical-fail but a few of us managed to get an hour or so of free skating in.
The third week ran quite similar to the first but we did some dynamic stretching while off-skates and spent heaps of time on our crossovers and learning to use our toe stops to stop. We also played the opposite to the first 'Snake' game where everything was the same except the front person had to pull her whole team rather than push them. I think I did pretty good at this one too but I got too puffed and gave up after a few laps. Endurance!!
The final game we played was the on-skates version of Stuck-in-the-Mud where there are two people 'in' and if they tag you you have to stop and stand like a starfish. You can only move again if someone crawls/dives/slides/crashes through your legs. This was seriously awesome to play and it is really good for agility too.
So to sum up, after 3 weeks of freshmeat I am feeling a lot more confident on my skates. I am enjoying making new friends and learning from them and the All Star girls teaching us.
My favourite part is playing the playground games that have a whole new meaning on skates.
The skill I feel I am the best at so far is probably the baseball slide.
The skill I am struggling with the most is being confident enough to use my toe stops when going backwards.
The skill I am looking forward to learning is being able to skate really fast and execute good crossovers
The skill I am not looking forward to learning is jumping at a 'brisk pace'. Only because of the inevitable bails.
But onwards and upwards! Practice, practice practice and so on.

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