Thank god the offseason is over. I didn’t realize quite how much I’d gotten addicted to derby until we came back to practice this week. Every day, I found myself thinking, “Wow, life is so much better when derby is in season.”
Practices this week were tough but so rewarding, and I was happy to notice that some things I couldn’t do back in November suddenly clicked. Apparently I needed the holiday break to let my brain and body integrate some of the stuff I’d been learning. I don’t wanna brag, but my hockey stops have come a long way, and I don’t suck at hitting anymore. I felt a lot more confident in the basics coming back, which meant I could start thinking about the next things I want to work on. It’s kindof exciting to realize I have so much to learn. I feel like the nerdiest kid in the world in a really big library.
So, after my first week back at practice, this is the list I’ve decided to focus on for now.
- Master the left side reverse toe stop. It’s one of the last footwork 101 things that I still struggle with. I can do it when I’m skating alone at open skate, and I can do it if I’m working on a drill and no one’s watching me. But if I’m being told when to do it, someone’s standing there coaching me, or we’re doing a stop circuit where everyone’s doing it at once, something about those situations makes me too anxious, and I trip over myself. I need to get comfortable enough with the movement that I don’t get so hung up on it, and I need to work with that anxiety somehow.
- Get better at backwards crossovers. It’s not like we spend large periods of the game skating backwards, but I want to feel ultra confident moving in any direction on my skates, so I need work here. Plus, backwards skating is so pretty I just wanna be able to do it. I’ve been asking every advanced skater I can to show me how they do it. A little bit at a time, I’ve been catching on. This week at practice, Punchwrap Supreme broke it down for me once again, and I actually did it. Now I just need to do it over and over again until it becomes natural.
- Don’t be afraid of my team. Yeah, they’re rockstars, but they’re also humans, and they’re my team. If I want to be a contributing member, I need to stop thinking of them as better than me. If I don’t learn to speak up and hold my ground, what use am I to the team?
- Hit like Colleen Best. Have you ever been hit by her? Jeeze. Everyone seems to think she hits hard mostly because she’s super tall and strong. I am never going to be as tall as her or have her muscle mass. But she hits with intensity, focus, and finesse, and those are things I can work on. I mean, she takes a running start and slams into your mercilessly, but she’s also in complete control of her movements. A hit from Colleen is a thing of terrifying beauty. I wanna do that.
- Run on toe stops — improve agility. Again with the toe stops. I’ve just always been a little scared of them. It feels like running in heels but with wheels attached so there’s a greater chance of snapping my ankle in two. So I think I need to work on strengthening my ankles, getting over the fear, and improving agility in order to be able to step high and quickly.
- Don’t be the weakest link. Learn to absorb hits better and resist pressure from the back. I’m just tired of falling so easily. I need to remember to use my little plow stops and keep working on strength.
- Learn the dark art of jamming. In a way, jamming is easy because you always know where you’re supposed to go — forward. But like … how? This week I suffered from tunnel vision, so I need to broaden my awareness on the track. How does one get track omniscient? I kept hearing “head on a swivel,” so that’s one thing — just look around more. But also maybe I could incorporate this into my meditation practice somehow. Meditation is all about awareness, after all, isn’t it?
I think that’s a good enough list to work on for now. I have boatloads to learn, and it won’t all come at once. the common link seems to be strength and focus, so I guess I better get to the gym.