You know what I love about derby? EVERYTHING! I’ve been playing for just over a year now and starting to really get comfortable on my 8 wheels. The learning curve has been exponential in the last few months, I’m feeling more agile, more stable and overall much more confident in unexpected situations.
The catalyst for all this change is kind of hilarious. It wasn’t some intense bootcamp or change in equipment, it was all about shaking my booty. At Rollercon 2010, they held a roller disco. Suddenly I was faced with moving on skates in a very non linear fashion. Dilemma: maximize appearance of cool while minimizing contact between butt and ground. Watching the best skaters I’ve ever seen move effortlessly in circles, laterally, in reverse, all to the beat of the music, made me realize there was a whole side of my skate’s abilities that I hadn’t even begun to explore. Unlike roller blades whose wheels are fixed, roller skate trucks turn, like a skateboard, so a little weight transfer goes a long way. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t all pretty when I started grooving, but it taught me very quickly how to move my body to steer my skates. It also taught me how to recover smoothly when my skates went in an unexpected direction.
Since then, I try to take every opportunity I have to move unconventionally on my skates. While waiting for a drill or listening to a coach, I’m constantly shifting, teaching my body how my skates work, so that on the track it’s second nature. I recently got to coach a practice during which I made everyone dance. I said “If you fall, I am proud of you, because it means you tried something new”. I encourage everyone to lace up, shake some booty and take a few tumbles. You truly will be a better skater for it.