Well, I was pulled out of the country there for a bit due to familial issues and property dealings. I had a visit with the old country, which for me is Latvia. I wonder if they have roller derby? I suspect not but I had no time to find out as I was busy, busy, busy!
But the day after I got back it was time for derby practice once again and I was ready to go! It had been two weeks since I was on skates and though I have been trying to do extra squats and whatnot none of it compares to actual on-skate time.
We were hosted for training by the Death Track Dolls and they were absolutely delightful. We were working on hits and whips, both a lot of fun. I found it interesting that the way they split us was by asking those who felt they were a bit more advanced to go to one side of the hangar and those who didn't to go to the other side. It wasn't an even split but it worked okay.
It was interesting to note how many of the actually advanced skaters went into the less advanced group, and then there was me, smack dab in advanced knowing it might be the case that I oughtn't to be there. But, how else are ya' gonna get better! I have high a bar, I hope one day to actually be able to reach it!
So first my group did whips, we tried the inside whip and the outside whip. I found these a lot of fun and really not too hard do. They are very intuitive. Inside whip grab girl, who is coming up on the inside, with your outside arm, whip forward. Outside whip, grab girl, coming on your outside, with your outside arm and fling her (that one is super fun!). I initially wasn't grabbing my partners arm too well for the outside whip but with a little insight from the Dolls and my partner it was all good. Whips are fun! You get to go even faster then normal.
The hits were fun too but actually a bit harder then I had expected. That is, hitting in the best way possible required more of a fine tuned hip raising motion then I had really thought about. I hadn't considered the fact that you're really trying to get under the girl you're hip checking.
The Dolls told us to watch the youtube clip of Beyonslay doing some great hip checking. So of course I went and watched the video (good stuff stuff is at :44). Here she is doing it again to a different jammer. She is AWESOME at getting under her opponent and depositing them on the sidelines, certainly someone I will try and emulate in my hip checking.
The last thing we did was play a game they called Last Chick Standing. I'm sure you can guess the idea. We had to practices our hits and try to stay standing while others did the same. If we went out of bounds or got put down we were out of the game. I actually did pretty well at this, took some girls down and lasted till close to the end.
I know that all of the girls were not hitting with all their might though, nor was I. You can't help but monitor what you're doing with the girls who you know are less capable skaters, it just feels nasty. I mean, you hit them, but I don't think most of us were using all of our strength on each other, I know I wasn't. I still don't know what it will be like when I use all of my might, I will have to be surer on my skates to release most power I can.
Of course, I did feel a bit wobblier then I would have liked on my skates this session. I know that I have not had enough time on them lately. I have been doing some exercises, like this great one from the great Hard Knox Roller Derby Fitness site to try and improve my ability. As well, I actually have been watching youTube videos roller skate instruction and derby. This has also been very enlightening, but no comparison to time on skates. I am waiting with bated breath for summer to come so I can skate outside and get better faster.
Speaking of the videos, I really like this one and this one, which show how to turn from skating backwards to forwards specifically, but also really helps with the turning stop and whatnot (which I STILL can't do properly, though I am getting closer). Also this one here for the sideways skating skill that is SO important for a lot of things that I can't do!
I have been practicing the ballet first position, feet pointed out sideways from body, an awful lot lately, cause doing that in skates is not as easy as bare feet where your feet stick to the floor a bit and hold you. In skates you roll, shocking as that may be. My knees are not used to stretching in that direction either so practice, practice, practice.
Clearly being able to have yourself with your feet, knees and hips in first position is very important to derby and good roller skating. I have to be able to more comfortably flip my skates around into different positions and, of course, I still can't do the steering around pylons on only one skate. Need to get that one still too. Lots more to know that's for darned sure.
So, more skate time required, I need to start improving more. Plateaus can be annoying, but I shall keep on keeping on.
It's game time on Saturday, I shall be trying out a new NSO posting as Outside Whiteboard. I am frightened, I do not know the ref hand signals well enough. Learning is FUN!