Talking to one of our new rookies the other night made me remember how much of a mystery skates are when you first start out in roller derby. If you haven’t come from a skating background, how the heck would you know what all that business is below your boots? I’m not claiming to be an expert in this area, but I’ve picked up a few basic tricks in the past 18 months that I think it would have been handy to know at the start. Hopefully some other fledgling skaters will find this stuff useful!
That’s Robyn and me (left) goofing around painting plates like the cool kids we are.
Our second episode is out now! You can find it on iTunes, Soundcloud or your podcast app of choice.
In this episode we’re talking recruitment for roller derby with not one but two (!!) interviews with some seriously interesting women from Bristol Roller Derby and South West Angels of Terror (S.W.A.T), two leagues that have found innovative ways to improve their recruitment of rookie skaters. (Sidebar: We didn’t talk much about recruiting Officials this time around, but we think it’s a really interesting topic so expect a future episode on recruiting refs and NSOs!)
Our first episode generated some interesting discussion about cherry popper games on our own Facebook threads, and made us realise that we hadn’t created a space for people to put in their two cents about the issue covered in an episode. So now we have a Facebook page! Go there are tell and us what recruitment techniques worked for your league, people you’d like us to talk to in future episodes, or just how daft you find my faux American accent.
Listen on itunes or Soundcloud.
Isn’t technology great? There’s an app for everything, and some of them are even useful! There are four apps in particular that I use on a regular basis to help with cross training.
One to TRACK WORKOUTS
I know that I wouldn’t get as much out of my time in the gym if I didn’t record my workouts. For me, using an app like FitNotes has a bunch of benefits:
- I don’t have to try to remember what weight I was using for a particular lift – I can just look back at my last workout
- I can see how I’m improving over time, in a number of different ways (weight, reps, workout volume, estimated one rep max)
- I can look back over the month and monitor how regularly I’m working out and which areas of the body I’ve been working most
- If I’m lacking inspiration for the day’s session, I can decide to just replicate the last one I did (and the app will even allow me to simply ‘copy’ that workout in full)
- I know when I’ve hit a new Personal Record (PR) because the app tells me (and rewards me with a little trophy symbol!)
One to TIME INTERVALS
I’m sure there are lots of different free interval timers around; I happen to use the HIIT Interval Training Timer. This particular app is basic but does what I need it to do – allow me to programme interval workouts, which I use on a spinning bike. I simply type in the ‘work’ and ‘rest’ periods I’d like to do, how many times (‘rounds’) I’d like to do them, and a warm up and cool down. I can save these workouts to do again later. When it’s time to switch between work and rest, the app lets me know (I have it programmed to give me three warning beeps before the ‘rest!’ or ‘go!’ orders which is particularly helpful so I know when I need to get my shit together). The app isn’t perfect, and it does have ads, but for something that’s free I’m not complaining.
One to MONITOR NUTRITION
Okay so I’m likely not telling you anything new with this one, but MyFitnessPal is probably so ubiquitous because it does its thing so well. I personally don’t have the kind of commitment (or battery power) to track my food all the time, but I like to take it up for a week intermittently for a reality check. I’m interested in protein at the moment, so like to keep track of how much I’m getting from different foods. If weight loss is something you’re aiming for, a few studies have shown that keeping a ‘food diary’ helps – such as this large study which found keeping a daily food record was a significant predictor of weight loss. Here’s a graph (it’s an American study – ‘AA’ stands for African-American). Of course, correlation is not causation – maybe people who are more driven to lose weight and just more likely to keep up a food diary – but it can’t hurt.
One to FIND A FUN WORKOUT
There’s this pretty neat website with videos on just about anything, I think the kid’s call it the “Youtube” – have you heard of it? Well it turns out that this website has a super handy app which makes it easier to access the (probably) thousands of workout videos anywhere with Wifi. I find this particularly useful for making the most of time on the spinning bike. I used to go to classes but my current super-off-peak-cheapskate-membership doesn’t cover them now. Short and sharp interval training sessions are easy enough to programme and stick to on your own with a HIIT app (see above), but I find that I can lose focus in undirected longer sessions. Enter Youtube, with its oodles of guided spin class videos that mean I actually stay focused and keep up the intensity for the duration, rather than follow my natural urge which is to slooowly trail off… Simply pick a video, pop in your head phones, balance phone on the handle bars and away you go!
Do you use any apps for cross training? What’s your favourite?
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s been a little quiet around these parts lately, but it’s for a good reason! I’ve been working on an exciting new project with my teamie Robyn Vinter AKA Nuclear Vinter #321 (that’s a picture of us doing some excellent derpy faces during a recent training session). We’re launching Hell Yeah Roller Derby: The Podcast! Scroll down to have a listen or find us on iTunes.
Getting to grips with roller derby vocabulary, one letter at a time.
Defence (or defense to our American friends)
The primary job of the blockers, i.e. stopping the opposing jammer from getting past. You may even see the jammer doing defence as ‘fifth blocker’, on occasion. Check out some great examples of defence gif-ified over on You Should Be Watching More Roller Derby Footage. Also, here’s a neat article on defence strategy during a power jam.
From the WFTDA rule set:
“The Captain selects an additional person to act in their stead; this person is the Designated Alternate. The Designated Alternate may be a teammate, coach, or manager. They must be one of the 16 individuals described in Section 1.2.4. A team may only have one Designated Alternate.”
A designated alternate…
- can signal for a timeout
- can conference with the Hed Referee during an Official Review
- must visibly display an “A” on their clothing, uniform, or arm
‘Down’ has a specific meaning within the context of roller derby. From the WFTDA rule set:
“Skaters are considered down if they have fallen, been knocked to the ground, have either or both knees on the ground, or have both hands on the ground. After going down or falling, a Skater is considered down until the Skater is standing, stepping, and/or skating. Stationary standing Skaters are not considered down, nor are Skaters who are falling but have not yet met the above criteria.”
- cannot undertake a legal star pass
- cannot engage, or be engaged
- returning to the track are subject to Low Blocking penalties even on the first instance, even if the downed Skater has fallen small
- may legally be assisted by a Skater who is stopped or counter-clockwise stepping/skating
Image credit: kinfung man, Flickr CC
I dare you to watch this video of the Moxi team and not want to strap on your quads and form a bad-ass all-female skate gang. I dare you.
A year ago this month, I attended my first rookie practice with Croydon Roller Derby. In the past 12 months, I’ve had a bunch of brilliant experiences that I never would have had without roller derby: learning how to skate from scratch; going all over the country to watch games; discovering a love of team sport; being coached by some of my derby heroes; finding my own athleticism; taking on the role of Director for the league; travelling on the party coach with our A team to support them in Paris; travelling to Madrid with our B team to play in my first open door game. It feels like I started roller derby just yesterday and at the same time it feels like it’s always been a part of my life.
One year in, I still consider myself a complete derby novice. Speaking to skaters that are much further along in their roller derby career, I’ve been told that the learning never stops – there’s always a skill that could be honed further, a play that could be executed more smoothly, more hustle to be found. And I certainly believe that; I feel like I learn something new about this sport every week and I can’t imagine that stopping any time soon. But you only have one first year in roller derby; one year of going from clueless outsider to someone who does, in fact, actually know some shit about this crazy sport. These are some of the Big Things I learned in my first year of roller derby.
So I’m the kind of nerd who has giant industrial size bags of bicarbonate of soda (AKA baking soda) in her house for eco-friendly cleaning and junk. The cheapest way to buy bicarb is to pick up one of these large bags off eBay, but you can pick up regular size tubs from just about any supermarket. Bicarb is great for sucking up moisture, which makes it ideal for dealing with sweaty skates and trainers. Adding a few drops of a fresh-smelling essential oil (I like tea tree) might just make you the best smelling person at practice.
What you’ll need to make a set of skate deodorisers:
What’s a cherry popper?
Some people are okay with it; others find it cringe-worthy. Whatever you feelings about the nickname for rookie-level bouts, taking part in a ‘cherry popper’ is kind of a right of passage for new roller derby players. Limited to skaters with only a few bouts under their belt (generally 0-3 or 0-5), cherry poppers give newbies a chance to apply the skills they’ve learned so far to a real game situation, playing with and against similarly green skaters from other leagues. Some cherry poppers are tagged onto the beginning of higher-level bouts; sometimes – like the one we attended – they’re standalone events. We played short games in a tournament format – three teams, each playing two 30 minute games, with the team with the highest total points score being crowned the winner.
Some things I learned…
A big, exciting and slightly scary roller derby-packed weekend ahead! Tomorrow, to Rochester for a bootcamp with – I can’t quite believe I’m typing this – SCALD EAGLE (*swoons*). Then on Sunday, off to Leicester with three of my favourite roller derby people for our first cherry popper bout. Can you think of a better way to spend Valentine’s weekend? Me neither 😉
Image credit, Ell Christman Flickr CC