Thursday, 30 September 2010

The Lock-Up

Top of my wish list but saddeningly unattainable at the moment are a set of Heartless wheels- probably a mix of Chasers and another wheel. Heartless wheels are all narrow profile (38mm as opposed to the traditional wider 44mm profile), and having tried some narrow wheels recently I am even more desperate for these. They gave me much more manoeuvrability and agility and made transitions seem that little bit more attainable (I'm slow on getting to grips with this particular technique).

Another reason they seem that little bit more alluring is that during pack drills I am constantly getting tripped up when my wheels lock with other people's. I am not a foot-flailer (I don't think) and I sticky skate as much as possible but it seems nigh on impossible to avoid eventually ending up in some sort of wheel embrace with a packmate. And it is driving me up the wall.

On a lighter not, while trawling the net for anything bemoaning wheel locking, I found this matrix which may be interesting:

Monday, 27 September 2010

Top Tip

When you have just washed your hair after training, don't go out while it's still wet and walk across town in the rain then sit in a cold cinema theatre for two hours, then walk home again. I have been in bed for more or less three days and have missed Sunday training. Hmmph.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Derby Helper

Came across this derby blog recently, it's funny and well written so have a butcher's hook. And try not to run screaming from the post aptly entitled "ZOMGWTF".

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Wednesday Training

Last night was pretty general skills orientated stuff- falls, stops, wide laterals etc. But we finished with a drill to end all drills- it was brutal. I will share it with you forthwith...

Two teams, one a pack of blockers, one a queue of jammers/assists. Both rolling round the track at pace.

Round 1
Jammers go through the pack one at a time, blockers lateral across the track and weave constantly to positionally block and encourage hopping and leaping from the jammer.

Round 2
Jammer goes through with an assist who can positionally and contact block the pack blockers, in order to make a path for the jammer.

Maybe in writing this sounds fine, but bearing in mind the number of girls there are on your average team, if half of that total number is blocking in one pack at the same time, it becomes pretty hardcore. Obviously the teams swap over so we were all destroyed by the end. It seems our blocking is pretty damn good, there were inpenetrable walls and hip checks galore. It was extremely mentally and physically demanding drill but was such great practice and experience I didn't want it to end!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Training with the Bristol Harbour Harlots

On Sunday I had to attend a mandatory rules session for failing the rules test. Loads of people turned up who didn't have to and our coach just talked through the rules. On the whole I think everyone knows thier shit, it's just a lot to learn all at once without any practical application. The first time we were rules-tested every single team member failed and coach was piiii-iiiissed! But before you start scrimmaging and get some context it just doesn't sink in. Even now I am having trouble translating what I've learnt on paper to practical application on the track. Also, we're all getting so many minors I'm sure half of them must be going unnoticed!

After the rules nerd-out we all piled into cars and got on the road to Bristol to train with the Harbour Harlots. The team is roughly the same size as ours and started around the same time. They are coached by Wonton Destruction ½ doz, originally from the Pirate City Rollers in NZ, so have a lot in common with our team, although Wonton was not previously a coach as our Aussie coach was. They are also hoping to start bouting in December so fingers crossed for some healthy and geographically convenient competition!

The session wasn't too hard going, although the entire warm-up was clockwise round the track. I think it is really important to train clockwise some of the time, not only to avoid some sort of freakishly lopsided physique but to maintain core stability and improve balance. We don't do nearly enough of this and so it was pretty scary for me and I only managed one crossover in sprint laps!

After that we did some static and some rolling basic blocking drills, just getting used to contact and focussing on effective target zones. Unfortunately for TBB's two attending assistant coaches Judge Redd and Hell Neenio, the car from Cardiff ferrying the coach and team founder/co-organiser of the session and a couple of other girls had got completely lost and didn't make it until the end of the session! So Redd and Neenio had to take the blocking session not having had much experience themselves. They did a damn good job having been put on the spot!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

All the jobs that nobody thinks about

Being on the committee for my league is teaching me hard and fast lessons about how to deal with people. You would think that general life experience, work and social interaction would have been enough to prepare me for this, let alone joining a team of girls who want to push each other over and shove each other off a track at speed. Let me tell you, it was not.

I imagine that in more established leagues this may be easier as the boundaries are already set, but in an emerging league where people don't have much experience of how a committee (social, sporting or otherwise) operates and how to run one effectively it's no mean feat. At the moment, meetings are unstructured and unchaired and thus unproductive, which is frustrating to say the least. Sometimes this makes it difficult to get your voice heard, and you have to be prepared that sometimes you won't get your point across, and sometimes you will, but your opinion will be wrong. As a rather headstrong and opinionated individual (although intimidated by the situation) this has been a troublesome learning curve for me. I have had to learn a few lessons, namely that a) if you've said your piece and no-one agrees, at least you tried; b) the opinions of others may not be your choice or preference but you can't always have your own way, and c) bite your tongue. These are all things that I should know already, but perhaps have never really had to exercise until now.

As well as the committee (who may or may not be skaters themselves) which will usually deal with things like finance (sponsorship/payments/funding etc), attendance, merchandise, training times/locations, team direction etc, there is a whole group of other people involved who are just as important, and without them the league would not exist. These people are the referees and NSO (non-skating officials).

The job of a referee is pretty self explanatory, and a team must have at least three of these on skate and up to seven total. Usually at a bout, referees will come from both teams. In addition to the refs, there are a whole host of NSO roles such as bench managers, penalty box timers, penalty trackers, points trackers, jam timers and although not really NSOs, it's good to have comperes/commentators. These are the people we need most at the moment and it seems to be impossible to get them! Any girls not skating on the day will be able to fill these roles but in an intra-league bout there won't be enough. Without committed refs and NSOs a bout can't happen, so efforts to convince anyone and everyone to get involved need to be exhaustive!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Battle Royale

I'm so excited about this event for so many reasons! But first, a brief explanation: The London Rollergirls (LRG) are the longest established derby league in the UK and the first to gain WFTDA membership outside the US. They are incredible as you would expect, and miles ahead of most other leagues in the UK. Because of this, the idea was conceived to form an all-star team from other UK teams to try and rival LRG's skill and give them a bout wherein they didn't inevitably wipe the floor with the opponent. The UK All-Stars were born from league nominations, and will be taking on LRG at this event hosted by the Windsor Rollergirls!

Why I am so excited, in no particular order:
1. Tiger Bay Brawlers' coach #666 BB Bombshell (formerly VRDL, Australia) was successful in tryouts! So obviously we're all off to cheer her on (especially as it will be her first bout since she left Oz)

2. My friend Holly will be coming to visit that weekend and will be dragged along to see what it is that occupies so much of my thought

3. A reunion with a fellow derby rookie who shares a love of derby and blogging! Check her blog here

This can't get any better!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Holler!! Have some bulleted lists...

Recently we've been undergoing testing for basic skills, as per the WFTDA minimum skills guidelines. We were tested on our skating skill, fitness and the rules. I failed. Last night at training I found out my weak spots:
  • crossovers - although I thought I had crossovers down, I'm not pushing off my inside foot enough. Coach explained that I push off my outside foot, bring the inside one round and then just bring the outside one round again to push off, so now I need to practice exaggerated movements off my inside foot. This feels a bit scary now but shouldn't take long to perfect.
  • falls - here is a word of advice to anyone starting out in derby: invest in decent knee pads as soon as you decide you're committed to derby. I hurt my knee on my first fall due to my awful cheap pads and because of that, executed the rest extremely poorly. Bad choice!
  • rules - I know my shit. I know I do. But for some reason when we did the test I got a bit muddled up on some questions and didn't read others properly. As punishment for being so blase about the whole affair, I get to go to a mandatory rules night where we watch footage and nerd out on the rules. if this was any other sport I'd be guutted, but it's derby! So I'm psyyyyyched for it!!
Luckily this wasn't official testing, just basic skill testing to make sure we're competent enough to start contact drills. I'm gutted I failed as the other girls have now started contact (sulk). Seriously can't wait to get in there!!

Other notable points from training yesterday...
  • Dropping your shoulder when performing small slaloms or lateral movements really helps and gives you extra momentum
  • I drew at queen of the track with our coach! This is a game where you all skate round the track, and are off as soon as you fall, commit a major penalty illegal procedure or get blocked off the track. As I haven't passed min. skills yet, I was only able to positionally block/be positionally blocked, so I was damned happy with that result.