Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Week 47: Leap Of Faith

Pack work seems to be a very prominent part of Level 2, which is understandable as it's a very prominent part of Roller Derby. So this week, we had another practice at pack work. I'm going to flat out be honest, I don't remember much about this weeks pack work! It must have been the heat! I definitely know we did pack speed and pack avoidance and falling in a pack, like we did the last few weeks. We also did working through a pack. We were each given a number and our couch would then call out that number. We would have to take a knee and, once the pack had passed us, catch up and try to work our way through the front by finding a space. The other people in the pack were not allowed to physically block us, but they weren't allowed to move out of the way to let us through either. It was lots of fun, but also kind of scary! Picking your feet up in a pack is essential to get through it, but leads to a lot of wheel locks and the occasional kick! Fortunately, we had practised wheel locks before, and you soon get used to dealing with them.
We then decided to have another practice at whips as we didn't get a lot of time to practice them last week. We paired up and were, again, shown the proper technique for outside whips. We practised it really slowly to begin with, more in a step-by-step kind of way so we got used to where we were meant to look, where our feet were, when we offered the whip, what our stance should be like, etc. We then took it in turns to practice. I found that I tended to drift towards the middle after giving the whip. I think it's because, when the whipee pulls, I end up being pulled along with them, rather than keeping my spot. Apparently, this is quite a common problem and I was told even some of the all-stars used to have this issue, which made me feel better about it.

After some whip practice, we then moved on to side pushes. These are less used to gain speed and more used to get a person in front of the jammer. We were told to imagine that we were on one side of the track, and the jammer was coming up the other side. Rather than us trying to skate over to stop her, we were told to shout "Jammer!" and give the person next to us a helping push. Unlike whips, it is a lot easier to be the pusher than the pushee. As a pusher, you just have give them the warning, make sure you place your hands in the right place (shoulder and hip) so as to not throw off their balance, and you then give a firm push. Not too hard, but hard enough to get them to where they want to be. As a pushee, you have to make sure you're in derby stance, and then prepare yourself when you hear "Jammer!" and then kind of hop/quick step over to the side, while trying to keep your balance. It was a little odd travelling sideways to begin with. But it definitely shows you where you use your stepping or lateral hop skills!
It was certainly starting to get hot, but then our coach asked if we wanted to try our endurance laps. I was pretty excited, if sweating, as I hadn't tried speed skating on the new venue's floor yet and I was eager to see if my laps would go up. The unfortunate thing is that, even though I'm skating on hybrids - Sweet n Lows, I still found that at speed my wheels would slip. Furthermore, I hate doing crossovers at speed. I don't mind doing them to gather speed, but at speed I feel like my legs are going to get all tangled, and my balance goes all wrong, so I then go all wobbly. It's no fun, and this is a problem for 25 in 5 (it goes up to 25 in 5 for level 2) as crossovers are key for keeping your speed whilst using less energy. I gave it my all, though. It's been a while, I haven't worked out for a couple of months, it was a really hot day...and I'm just making excuses, but I did beat my record by a quarter of a lap! I got 23 & 3/4! Woohoo! And, very bizarrely, so did my derby wife, who also got exactly the same as me last time!

After collapsing on the floor, and then counting a fellow skater's laps, we moved to the end of the track. "I thought we would have a go at inside whips". This was met by lots of grumbling. We were hot, we'd just skated for 5 minutes straight, but inside whips are fun! So we paired up and started practicing. We were shown a really handy demonstration too, of how it's less to give speed, more to help your jammer through a gap. We were told to imagine we were getting through a really tight space, and to get more behind the whipper, so we really had to step over their leg. It was really fun actually and I felt like I was getting somewhere with them!
One of our coaches then appeared with a bright yellow metal bar, and placed it in front of us. "Jumping!" Jumping had always scared me. I'd tried it briefly once in Level 1 ages ago, but that was it. I had never jumped over anything. Just on the spot. Fortunately, we were told that the criteria for jumping had now changed. Phew! It was now known as "stepping over an object". This meant that rather than both feet having to leave at the same time, you could pick one foot up first and kind of hop over the bar. This made it sound much easier. But that bar looked terrifying. Most people went and hopped over the bar, no problem. I decided to hop over the line next to it. It was essentially like a forward lateral hop, but still kind of scary. I kept trying to build up my confidence to go over the bar but wimped out every time. Eventually, after every one had had a few goes, the bar was taken away. I felt a little disappointed in myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could jump over it! I practiced transitions for a little while with every one else (my clockwise ones are getting much better!) but then another skater brought the bar back out. She had fought for a long time with her fear of jumping, yet she recently conquered it and I think she wanted to keep building up her confidence. After a while, I finally bit the bullet and decided to give it a go. I skated up to it, did a small left foot glide, swung my right foot over it...hop! "YEAHHHHH!" I heard from my friend. Maybe it wasn't so scary. I had another few goes and did it then too! Yay! I can do it!
Soon after, we were called over and told that sign offs would start from next week and would cover a couple of sessions. Has it really been 6 weeks already?!  Right-o.

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