Friday, January 9, 2009

Two Sausages & an Anvil Walk into a Bar

If I wasn’t before, I am now thoroughly convinced that running is the best substitute for endurance while you’re not actively skating.

Last night was my second night back at derby, and things went well even after I severely pulled some muscle in my upper-upper inside thigh that’s dangerously close enough to my babymaker that I can’t ice it or put Ben Gay or Tiger Balm there. I don’t even want to know what would happen if that stuff migrated into a “mucous membrane”…

My favorite drill of the night was the double-snake hop-in-front-of-your-partner-when-the-whistle-blows-and-then-throw-a-large-hip-block drill. I like big hits, so that was a bonus, but what I really need help with is agility and a better understanding of how to fully use the angles of the track to my advantage.

In a world of long-legged lasses, this lass’s legs are less than long. As far as agility goes, I feel like the effort I exert to “hop” across and in front of my partner is much more effort than that which is exuded by the long-legged ladies. At times, I feel as if I’m launching off of two Hickory Farm’s summer sausages topped by an anvil. I feel like the same motions and energy in my short, thick legs with all that weight on top can’t compare to the motions and energy of a non-anvil and sausage rollergirl. And then I was told to “use the angles”.

Using the angles of a derby track is something I apparently only know how to do partially, because if you had asked me if it applied in this drill before last night I would have looked at you like you were off your rocker. Needless to say, I was wrong. What I found out was that on the turns it was beneficial for me to jump almost straight ahead, not ahead and to the side, because where I would land when jumping in a straight line on a turn would automatically be further left than from the position in which I started. When doing this drill on the straight-away, I had to jump in front and to the left, and doing this was actually much harder, because it’s a longer physical distance to cover, even if it’s only longer by half-a-foot or so.

Immediately I thought I wouldn’t be able to jump far enough to the spot where I needed to be before the hit, but I quickly learned that in actuality I was jumping too far and had to then swoop in to hit my partner. I needed to control my jump, so when I landed I was only slightly ahead and to the side of her (no room for a person between us). If I was too far away, it took me too much effort to land the hit and it gave her time to move out of the way. A shorter, more controlled jump meant I landed just in front of her, the right side of my body blocking her from moving away when I landed, so I could perform the hit easier, while partner had a more limited space to move to get away from me (she could only go directly right or fall back completely, hoping I wouldn’t fall back with her).

I love having the opportunity to practice blocking like this for an extended period of time. Like running drills in any other sport, your body more easily remembers what you’ve practiced, and you can execute practiced moves better, because you’ve practiced them over and over again. It hard to try and perfect any move when you never practice them outside of scrimmaging, which is random enough that you might not always need each move in each scrimmage jam.

Another thing I learned last night is that I may have never found my own “style” in which I can perform a skill to the best of my ability. For example, when sprinting I’ve always made long, extended, full-contact wheel-and-floor strokes with each leg and foot, and I’ve struggled to get somewhere as quick as I’ve wanted to, whereas last night for some reason when sprinting to the head of a pace line I just started taking tiny, choppy, and quick running-type strokes. That was early in the evening, so surprised by its effectiveness I decided to try it again later in other instances where we had to sprint that were in different contexts. It worked amazingly well there too.

I don’t know if it was a “I have to do it this way” mentality that kept me boxed into my old, less-effective sprinting style or what, but damn am I glad I broke the mold on that one. I started thinking about watching girls from other leagues skate and how some of them have a very distinct style of doing this or that. I don’t know why I never gave myself permission to try and find what worked for me, but I didn’t.

In all, last night made me realize this: you’re never too veteran to learn something new (like more on angles), and different styles work for different body types. My short sausage legs are more successful at propelling my anvil fast if they move in short, choppy steps.

Today’s not so bad, soreness-wise. Tomorrow? Tomorrow I suspect I’m gonna need to slather some spicy mustard on those sausages.


Rebel Shell said...

I think I might cry. In a tough, derby-girl way. This blog was thought provoking for me. I often wonder why I can't figure drills/skills out in a way that works *with* my body-style and not against it. One size does not fit all for drills. Many thanks for your insight.

Big In Day-town said...

I'm lousy at visualizing drills. Any visuals? ;-) It sounds really helpful and interesting, and I also love good hitting drills.

Tess said...

I have to reiterate a thank you to you, because I started running after your visit, and my skating endurance has never been better. I can't say it's done much for my speed, but I finish jam after jam and think, "That's all?" That's a nice feeling.

Tonight, I am going to have to think about angles and short, choppy steps. I'll be interested to see what comes of that.