So, a few things have happened since my last derby diary: 1) I bought new skates, and 2) we are now on week 10.
We're also touching each other loads more now. Last month we focused on weaving and assists. It was our first contact week (week 3!) and essentially sets us up for what to expect in derby.
We've started skating in a pack, too, which means skating closely together across the track and keeping an eye on what everyone else is doing. It's super fun and makes me feel like a boss because I now know how to sticky skate. (Skating without lifting your feet off the ground, basically.)
And we've started working on positional blocking: learning how to block as a wall of two to four people and the basics of trying to get through a wall as a jammer. The main lesson: stick your butts out and keep them at the same height. Don't let that jammy dodger through.
Weaving is still a struggle. It is what it sounds: skating in and out and around obstacles. It's a lot of lunging to the side and opening your legs a bit more (or what my coach Despiser Minelli calls a Magic Mike: "Just imagine you have a massive schlong") without toppling over. It's very achievable and all about balance and weight distribution, and if you're in derby stance (low to the ground), it's easier.
But derby stance is hell on earth. I've never heard people shout GET LOW more in my life. I now hear BEND YOUR KNEES and GET LOW in my dreams. It genuinely helps with every move that we're learning but it means squatting constantly. And as we all know, squatting is the devil's work.
Anyway, let me tell you the cool things we've learnt in the last 10 weeks.
In week 5 we practised transitions: 180-turns. Then we did derby stops: 180-turns, backwards skating and coming to a halt on toe stops. I nailed my transitions the first few times and then I started overthinking it and now I can't stop thinking about how much I hate them, so I can no longer do them without falling over.
And this is where thinking is the enemy. Tactical thinking is, of course, vital, but if I'm thinking about exactly where to place my feet and exactly how I need to move to the left to do this and but oh god I might fall, that's where it all goes wrong.
So I try and sing when I transition now. If I'm singing I'm not thinking about where my feet are going. The other day I started singing 'He Lives In You' from the The Lion King and it worked for a bit, then I started thinking again. I'm learning to stop thinking so much.
We've also done whips and hockey stops. Whips! The thing everyone in roller derby wants to do! It's a lot less Hollywood in real life, and we don't really use our legs. We did arm whips, which looks like a catapult: sending your teammate flying to get ahead. It's still really cool and if I ever used it in a game situation, I would probably retire after.
Yesterday we learnt jumps and that was awesome, but a lot of work. Again, I keep thinking about it, and when I skated up to the jump I just freaked out and ended up leaping forward onto my knees. Which is fine, because we learn how to fall onto our knees (rockstar slide being my favourite), but not ideal.
I have some big news for my next diary (where I hopefully won't leave a 7-week gap in between) or possibly the one after that. I'm dying to say it now, but I won't in case I jinx everything.
But suffice to say: yay.
Bruises: is it possible to bruise through a knee pad? I think I've done that. If it's not derby I have some suspicious looking knee bruises
Scratches (?): 1 (getting up close and personal with someone's Velcro during a wall)
Blisters: too many
Biggest pain: my lower back, holy hell