Roll on…foam?

Yesterday the 2nd hour of training was dedicated to a physiotherapist who came to give us some tips on injury prevention and how to use a foam roller to help with that. I’d never used a foam roller before and neither had most of the others so we were a little apprehensive about it. Some of them had heard that it hurts too so were a little wary of the pain that would follow. I didn’t feel much pain when we were doing it but I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing? I felt a little pain in one leg for one of the exercises but I think that’s down to derby and always skating in one direction so one side of my body gets a bit more messed up than the other. It was an interesting experience though and I sort of felt a little bit more of the team spirit that everyone’s been talking about. It definitely helped my mood as I’d been a bit grumpy going into training and wondering why I was even there but I left feeling happier than I usually do on a Wednesday.

Last Sunday I went to a roller disco near my house (literally a 10 minute walk away) and saw someone skating with a helmet. Normally people don’t use helmets (myself included) because roller discos are generally pretty tame and nobody goes very fast/small children are unlikely to have an impact if they hit you. I noticed she was wearing proper knee pads (like mine) and all the other protective kit that I had, plus she had nice, white Bonts and I knew that she was a roller derby player. Turns out she’d just started fresh meat with Cambridge and was about 6 weeks in and already trying to do crossovers. I told her she was way better than I was at her stage because I’m pretty sure at 6 weeks in I could still only just about skate without thinking that I wouldn’t be able to stop or that I’d fall before I’d even gone a few metres. She was really lovely and I hope we both pass skills soon so one day we could play together.

I tried to practise the hopping over an object 6 inches high at the disco and promptly fell over, causing a lot of kids to laugh at me as they went past. Deciding that jumping should be saved for another day, I kept working on my one foot glides. I can do the straights just fine but turning seems to be a problem, which seems to confuse everyone as we turn when we do crossovers so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to turn when gliding…

I actually joined in the games at the disco too. Normally I sit at the side because there are too many kids or because I felt like I wasn’t good enough to play. I was so close to finishing the countdown game which boosted my ego a little as I used to think that I would never be able to do that. They play the countdown music (30 seconds) and you have to skate across the hall. First time you go across once, second time you go twice and so on until the fifth time where you have to go across five times within the 30 seconds. I was really close to making it before the music ran out so next time my aim is to actually make it. I was surprised that I managed to get so close though, but I need to work on derby stops a bit more to get cleaner stops before I start again. The second game is for the ‘advanced’ skaters where the main guy skates around and you can’t overtake him and you can’t let him overtake you. Every now and then he skates backwards too which makes it harder as it’s non derby direction! Some of the kids who play that game definitely shouldn’t be playing and they’re usually a nuisance and get in the way so I end up going out earlier than I reckon I should. Hopefully next time the kids won’t play and I can practise my pacing for 27 in 5.

I’m going to be missing the next few Saturday trainings due to visiting family/people/places which sucks because fresh meat is just starting and I really wanted to help out/practise things but also get to know our newbies and reassure them that they are doing amazingly and way better than me šŸ™‚

 

Advertisements

Apparently I’m in charge?

So I’m not actually in charge of the league or anything crazy like that. I was recently voted in as Head NSO for the league (after much prodding/encouragement/yelling ‘persuasively’ from the others) which means that I’m now in charge of organising NSOs for our scrims/bouts and any extra things that bout production might need (although that part isn’t technically necessary but I’ll help out wherever I can).

Yesterday was my first time as Head NSO for a small scrim we had against Bath (plus a few extra Hereford skaters helping us out with the numbers). The previous head NSO, Immy, really helped me a lot with what paperwork to use and how many people we needed for the scrim to happen relatively seamlessly (turns out 6 is the magic number).

I was also jam timing for the first time for real (I’d done it before but during training so it wasn’t as official) and almost forgot one of the official timeouts and nearly started a jam XD but otherwise I think I did pretty well at it. The other NSOs said that I’d done pretty well as my first time but a lot of that was due to Immy helping me out with how to do things and telling me not to panic if something went wrong (which I tried to do as I’m normally a very calm person). Now I just have to worry about getting enough NSOs for the next game we have (although that’s a British Champs one so it’s not solely my responsibility) but if we ever do a sanctioned bout/full on open bout I’ll have my work cut out for me.

I’ve been to more roller discos lately, to get more skating time and practise crossovers/hopping/knee taps etc although there are more kids there than I remembered which is annoying. They are primarily aimed at kids but still! At one of them there’s a section coned off in the middle where the newbies can learn to skate but not everyone uses it when they should – if you can’t stand up/fall over every two steps then you should go there and learn a bit before trying to skate with the big kids. There’s also a game they play there which is aimed at the more ‘advanced’ skaters, which consists of the organiser skating forwards/backwards and when he overtakes you or if you pass him then you’re out. Some of the kids who play definitely shouldn’t be but it’s usually the adults who play. There are two dads (I think they are since they usually come with kids) who play this game and are generally trying to show off when it’s the general skate – although one fell over last Sunday which I found amusing (even though I shouldn’t). Whilst there I met an ex-skater from the league who I chatted to about what it was like back when she was there (2013!) and who’s left/would she come back etc and she said a bit about her injuries (which were pretty bad). She also offered to help me with stuff if I ever see her at a disco again which was really nice of her. She’s still really good despite not having skated derby for ages so I’ll probably take her up on that offer in the next few weeks. At a different roller disco I met an ex-league member who now skates for Bath (and was at the scrim yesterday) and her husband skates for Bristol. Her two sons skate too and the older one is freaking amazing. Saw him jumping/twirling/gliding around like some kind of ice skater. I didn’t ask why she transferred to Bath but she might have moved closer so that makes sense, plus if her husband skates for Bristol then Bath is closer if their training times are similar (why she hasn’t joined Bristol is beyond me…) She also has the same name as me! It was really funny when we introduced ourselves and I was like ‘I’m also…’ but if we use derby names then it’ll be fine.

I’m not feeling as frustrated lately, going to the roller discos and skating for fun might be a part of that because I can just do what I want without a trainer telling me what to do. It makes me remember that I love skating now and roller discos are helping to settle the itch of not skating much at training.

Testing is in just over a week so I have to work my butt off to get some stuff passed so I can finally scrim!

Fresh meat taster day

We had a fresh meat taster day today which was 2 hours of helping the potential fresh meat skate around and get used to being on skates/seeing if they liked it.

Someone from work turned up and totally surprised me as she knows one of the others and it was really strange to see her. The league actually has 2 of us (currently) that work where I do (including me) but there are 2 more who are coming to fresh meat (who just happen to work in my department…) so to everyone else it felt like we were taking over. Although there are almost the same number of people from a different work place so it’s not like we’re taking over (not yet anyway).

It was nice to see the newbies on skates and made me think a lot about how I was when I started (terrible) and we kept telling them that it’s okay if they can’t do something yet as we all had those times. I especially told people it’s okay as according to Bigbird I’m the league’s “success story” so if I can skate backwards now then they can do it too. It’ll just take them time but most (if not all) of them were much better than I was at my first session so they’ll be fine. The first fresh meat session isn’t for another 2 weeks as we have a scrim next week with a different team (but I won’t be taking part in that…).

I’m still not sure how I feel about roller derby at the moment, or rather, the league. I love skating with everyone, well, most of the time I do…I just…I’m just still so frustrated about being 2 frickin’ boxes away from being scrim passed. I’m seriously consideringĀ not going to training on Wednesday cause I don’t want to sit around for half an hour but I know that I should go because the 1.5 hours before hand should be good for me…but I’m not convinced right now. Although last week’s training session wasn’t too bad and we did a drill where everyone got to jam for 2 minutes but it was continuous so we had to do the drill for 10 minutes. We were allĀ very tired afterwards.

There’s a league meeting on Tuesday too andĀ I’ll see how that goes, I’m not super keen to go because of one I went to last year that didn’t feel productive/useful in the slightest but this one might and one of the topics is pretty relevant to me so I should be there (even if I’m missing bowling with my friends and his new girlfriend :/) It’s possibly the first time derby’s clashed with something in my non-derby life as I’m usually able to move plans to another day and never really thought much about stuff clashing and causing problems…and I’m not even on the team/it’s not even a real match that it’s clashing with but I already feel annoyed about it.

I’m definitely going to the roller disco tomorrow to work on backwards laps (even though I can pass those, I just need to actually drag 2 team skaters to bloody time me) and knee taps, as well as jumping/hopping and glides. I’ll also try to go to a drop in on Thursday if I leave work on time and if there’s no off skates warmup on Wednesday I’ll get stuff tested if I can.

 

“Normal” practice, week 2

Training was cancelled yesterday due to the hall being used for something else so I could only makeĀ today’s training session this week.

My team has a British Champs game on the 11th Feb, so a lot of time was spent on walls + reforming and starts/strategies with the skaters who are rostered going in one group so they could practise playing/blocking together before the game.

For some reason, I’m a little…sad? Bitter? Annoyed? Frustrated? about practice today. We tried a drill where the wall had 10 seconds to do offence/defence and then we’d reset and start again. It got a little messy as everyone was moving quickly and I fell over a few times – the skater taking the session also sort of injured herself and everyone freaked out a little since she’s playing in the game and is one of the better blockers that we have. We then took some time out to calm down and reset but I don’t know if that worked well or not because when they moved to scrims it was better and less crazy but still a little crazy? Maybe less due to having more than 10 seconds and scrimming like usual.

I think the main reason I’m a little annoyed is that I couldn’t join in with the scrims. I’m not scrim passed (but am close) so I ended up being a jammer ref and also jam timer (which I had just about enough hands for omg). My other fellow pre mins (Crusher) watched from the middle and I think talked rules/strategy with the skaters who were sitting out? I for some reason was a little keen with my willingness to do everything and whilst I did enjoy being the jam ref, I also kinda wanted to watch so I could compare it to the all the games I’ve been watching on Youtube (thank you WFTDA for putting them all there).

Throughout the entire session it felt a little like Crusher and I were sort of being ignored so that the team skaters could practise. Which is fine. They have a game and I get that it’s important and I probably should’ve asked if I could go into the corner and do some skills on my own but I didn’t. I guess I got too used to being split into pre mins and team skaters but now that there are only 2 of us it’s not quite as important (I know it probably is but it didn’t feel that way today). It almost makes me wonder if I should go to training next Wednesday when I know that they’ll probably do the same thing again. I could be doing something else, or I could leave early when they scrim (although that’s not really in the spirit of things) but I don’t know if the team skaters always realise what they’re doing.

There was one drill with 3 jammers and we rotated for 2 minutes each but had the same blockers (who had to do 6 minutes) so Crusher, Fire and me all said we’d jam. I don’t know if it was just me but it felt like they weren’t really watching us/paying attention that much. To be fair, the 4 blockers in the wall did say I did well afterwards and gave me some tips but I don’t know if anyone else saw me (or maybe it was because I jammed last and everyone was bored, who knows?) but it’s not inspiring or encouraging at all. I guess I felt like the trainer should’ve saidĀ something (even if she was timing too but I was jam timer and a sort of jam ref so…) but any feedback would’ve been great – even ‘you’re bad at x, y and z and need to do a, b and c’ would’ve been better than a blank face.

The league isn’t very big right now and in my opinion they need all the skaters they can pass/find. Sure, train for the game but don’t forget that if skaters like me get annoyed/fed up (I realise I’m whining because I do really enjoy going to practice with my team and they’re all lovely) and if it goes too far…I could always find another league, whether they have the same problem or not, who knows? I just know that we don’t have a great retention rate of skaters at the moment but that might change as older skaters leave and newer ones come in to change the rules and shake up the league a little bit.

We (hopefully) will have a fresh meat intake starting soon and I think that’ll help me a little because I can really practise the basics (grapevines, anyone?) and get them ticked off so I can be scrim passed and join in with full contact scrims. When they finish fresh meat it’ll mean more pre mins too so training will have to alter accordingly – at one point last year we had more pre mins turning up to training than team skaters if that says anything about the league. I think they know that they sometimes forget about that kind of thing, but if they never get new skaters and retain them…then the league will go down.

Hopefully next week I won’t feel so whiny but I guess that depends on me and what happens at training :/

 

Pre mins skills so far

To be able to actually scrim at full contact/eventually be considered for a spot on the team, I have to pass the minimum skills that the WFDTA dictate (hence being called pre mins since I’m ‘pre minimum skills’).

Each league does the testing differently, mine does testing twice a month on Saturdays with the possibility of getting more ticked off at a different session depending on the number of pre mins at that session/if there’s something you’ve wanted to tick off for awhile but haven’t had the chance to.

I’ve only passed a handful so far (the super easy ones, like skullcrushers and skating with ‘good form’) but am working my way up to some of the harder ones and the pack section too (which requires other people to participate).

At training last night I learnt how to do a T stop (required but I’d never had it broken down before) and then we were also taught how to derby stop (not required but useful to know) and then at the end the pre mins had to show off their derby stop to the team skaters (I fell, by the way) but one of them said they liked my jump and I don’t really knowĀ how I jumped but it must have been when I was transitioning round. Anyway, it made me feel a bit better, even if I did fall over because I’d been afraid to use my toe stops up until then and I’m still not 100% confident at using them (toe stop run, anyone?).

I might take a long time to pass my minimum skills, but learning new things and being able to tick off a few at a time is enough for now (until I have more time and can practise more).

NSOing

Today I was an NSO for the first time (it was also the first time I’d ever been to a bout and watched the team, and since it was a home game, who was I to pass up this awesome opportunity?)

I was a penalty box timer and the head NSO had gone through everything with me a few days before and given me some things to read through but I still only felt mildly prepared on the day. A penalty box timer times a penalty for one particular team, but not for the jammers, the penalty box manager times the jammers but I had to write down the number and team/position of that skater. A penalty is 30 seconds long and after 20 seconds they stand up and then wait until we tell them to leave. If a jam stops whilst they’re in the box, they serve the remaining time once the next jam has started (unless it’s half time in which case they do it after the break). They can’t talk to the team but their bench knows that they have a person in the box so they send in one less skater (or however many are in the box) for the next jam.

First I had to help set up the venue though, setting up tables/chairs/merchandise/signs which was about an hour before doors opened. My friend who got me into derby was setting up the track and what I didn’t know until near the end of the day was that they put rope underneath the tape so the skaters know when they go off track which I thought was neat. (There’s also more merch being sold there than I thought!)

The NSOs then had a meeting about who was doing what and to get the paperwork and go over any questions we had, we then had about half an hour to look at merch/get ourselves ready for the rookie game.

I’d been told beforehand about there being more penalties in a rookie game than a normal one but I still underestimated a little how many that actually was. There was one point where we must’ve had 5 out of 6 chairs full and at one point someone got sent around because we didn’t have enough chairs for her. Two skaters got 6 penalties and were classed as ‘hot’ (7 penalties counts as fouling out and they can no longer skate as part of the team). Some were also given a warning for crashing into the chairs (it happened twice and one time I very nearly got squished) but there’s usually a ref there who gives them the warning. One time the skater got an extra penalty (the time I nearly got squished) as she didn’t do it on purpose but it was kinda dangerous. It was a little confusing then as we had both jammers in the box and when this happens, they serve 10s each but since it was the end of a jam and the 2nd jammer had a 2nd penalty, the 1st jammer got to go on the whistle and then the 2nd jammer just had to serve her usual 30 seconds (took me a few minutes to get my head around that).

We swapped teams (there are two timers) at half time but we don’t always need to do that, next time I might not as it got a little confusing. I kept calling out the wrong colours but the skaters understood me although I felt bad for messing up :/

There was a break between the rookie game and the next one so everyone counted up penalties and made sure we had the same numbers before going off for a break.

The second game was a lot less hectic than the first one, I only had about a dozen (well, a baker’s dozen) penalties in the first half and they were less likely to crash into the chairs (not sure if it’s a control/toe stop thing or just because they’ve had more experience?) This meant I got to watch a bit more of the game though, and it was really cool to see the team in action (even if we lost šŸ˜¦ but let’s not dwell on that). There was one jammer on the other team who was amazing, she was almost always the lead jammer and I don’t know how, but she always made it through the wall. Everyone else put it down to her being small (there’s a small skater in our team but she was even smaller) and could fit through the tiny gaps the wall had. Every time she was on, she’d zip past, score some points then call it off, sometimes before our jammer had a chance to get around to score points. There was one instance where there were 4 people in the penalty box but it wasn’t my team so I didn’t pay much attention to it (but the other timer and penalty box manager had a bit of a hassle with them).

Overall I think it was a really good day out (it was almost the whole day) and I learnt a lot about the rules/penalties/how a game is actually played. It was really cool to see the team in action too as it’s not quite the same when they’re scrimming in practice.

Hopefully we’ll have another home game soon and I can NSO again and learn even more šŸ˜€

Fresh Meat Block 2

I had to miss the fifth session due to a work trip but I was told it was about introducing blocking and some contact drills.

The sixth session was more of that, and incorporating it into our pace line drills. There was one named the ‘toilet’ drill because you kind of wipe your ass across the person as you slide past. I kept missing the people and just weaving as if it was a normal pace line whereas some of the others got super close without crashing into anyone.

I don’t remember much of the seventh session (or rather, I don’t remember what I did in which week) but we had more blocking as walls with a jammer who came up to test how strong the block was. We could be stable by ourselves but when we had to wall up we were pretty bad at the beginning, mostly because we didn’t have enough points of contact (shoulders, hips) so we weren’t very stable as a whole and the jammer knocked us over quite easily.

I was ill for the eighth session (I drove for 3 hours back to where I live and then went straight to sleep until work the next day) but I was told more blocking happened, especially with jammers who were actually trying to get through as opposed to just testing how strong the wall was.

Throughout all the sessions, whenever there were enough team skaters they would scrim for the last five minutes to show us how everything works and to give us an idea of what we could (hopefully) be doing in the future. Then we’d all ask questions (a lot) about what just happened and the rules as there was usually one ref around who also tried to introduce some hand signals too.