“You’re going to ache for DAYS,” they said. “Their warm-up is absolutely brutal,” they said. “That floor is super sticky and wobbly and weird,” they said.
‘They’ would be the older and wiser mins-passed Minxters who definitely know what they’re talking about – but somehow these grim warnings didn’t put nine of us naïve little freshies off from making the trip across the Pennines last Sunday for a pre-mininmum skills bootcamp at Rainy City Roller Derby.
They were right on all counts, but what a fantastic day we all had. According to our resident bootcamp aficionado The MorrigAna, Rainy are well-known for their inclusive training “high on helpful, nice, knowledgeable coaches” and after several hours of rigorous post-mortem of all the skills we learned and insights we got into our weak spots, I second that emotion.
So what did we actually do? After a gruelling ‘pyramid’ warm-up involving way too many planks for my liking and leg raises with the added weight of skates (which I’m still trying to forget about), it was into the skills training proper. We worked on one-foot glides, T stops, plough stops, laterals, transitions, backwards skating, crossovers, derby stops, form for laps and 27/5, positional blocking and probably other things that I’ve forgotten in the adrenaline-fuelled haze. So you know, just the basics!
This may sound like a lot to take in (and it was), but the coaches – Rainy’s Fairy Quakes, Rusty, Hel Razor and Weeble, were ace at breaking down each skill into manageable chunks, building up our confidence with several different drills before trying out the real thing. They really looked at what we were doing and suggested different approaches until one clicked (I definitely had several ‘aha’ moments thanks to that).
(And with that new motivation, here’s my desperate attempt to internalise my most important lesson learned!)
On that note, here are some of our best bits from the day...
Scornflake Grrrl #48
How long have you been skating? I joined the last Minxters Freshmeat Intake in September 2017, previously I only ever did some really bad tentative skating with my kids at family skate.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: I really enjoyed the aggressive snake drill. (This involves weaving through a paceline but hip-checking each skater you pass)
Best thing I learned: Don't know where to start, I just found it really useful to have things broken down differently, so suddenly it clicked and I'm not scared of T-stops anymore.
What tip would you give new freshies? Never compare yourself to anyone but yourself from the week before.
How long have you been skating? About 18 months? Only regularly since joining fresh meat in Autumn 2017, before that roller disco and had some lessons with roller girl gang.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: The pyramid drill was best
Best thing I learned: That you haven't transferred your weight properly if you are stamping when trying a one-foot glide.
What tip would you give new freshies? Squats! Lots of them.
How long have you been skating? Since last September, bar a bit of roller discoing as a kid.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: Skating and doing one-foot glides in anti-derby direction helped me feel how to use my edges for balance.
Best thing I learned: Sticky floor/soft wheels is no excuse for not mastering quick, aggressive plough stops!
What tip would you give new freshies? Learn to love falling. If you never fall, you’re not pushing yourself.
How long have you been skating? Since August 2016 with a fair amount of injury time...
Best drill at bootcamp: Pyramid drill was the best! My fitness is not my strong point so anything to help keep that up is a bonus for me ☺
Best thing I learned: The new (to me) way of looking at one-footed ploughs, and in general the way everything is broken down. This is the third time I have been to a Rainy City bootcamp and every time has been different and the trainers have taught me new things!
What tip would you give new freshies? Never compare yourself to others and remember 'stupid sexy Flanders'! [The perfect example of how to move your hips for lateral movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaeRM7X_yS4]
Best drill at bootcamp: Loved the pyramid drill. Also loved the aggressive snake and getting used to contact while moving.
Best thing I learned: Like Anke I liked how they broke things down, especially the contact stuff like where to hit, getting down low and stepping in front of your opponent.
What tip would you give new freshies? Try, try and try again, you will get there!
How long have you been skating? Since September 2017
Favourite drill at bootcamp: I thought the pyramid drill was great
Best thing learned: To drop low just before turning into a lateral. Hearing that made it click for me in a way it hadn't before. It was also really interesting skating on such a sticky floor with my poison 84s and having to adjust my technique to compensate. Right at the start Fairy Quake said I was going to have to do everything as lightly as possible with stops and although it took a bit of getting used to it was definitely doable.
What tip would you give new freshies? Learn not to fear falling. Fall early, fall often and fall forwards. You're much better off chucking yourself forwards into a nice "fall small" position than flailing around to get your balance then falling backwards. Also, get low.
How long have you been skating? Since Sept 2017, having never stood on a skate before then in my life.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: The aggressive snake was great. Positional blocking when static and when moving are very different beasts, and the snake brings together so many of the skills we'd been practising - though it often ended up with me on the floor.
Best thing learned: When you're blocking you're not trying to wildly bash people out of the way, you're just trying to take their space. As Weeble said, 'Don't be a dick.'
What tip would you give new freshies? Like Dan said, falling is good. Falling is just a sign you're trying to do something you can't do - yet. Fall small (or at least fall with style), get up, and try again - you'll get there eventually.
How long have you been skating? Approx 18 months.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: Ermmm... I liked the crossovers while pulling someone around. It was hard but useful! Don't know what it's called though :)
What tip would you give new freshies? Give everything a go. Stop telling yourself you can't do it. Everyone starts at different points and progresses at different rates. Just think how far you've come, not how far you have left to go.
By the end (to be honest, by lunchtime) we were all knackered, sweaty messes with aches in places we didn’t know existed – but with a fire lit underneath us and ready to come back to York and work hard to nail those skills!
- Roller Luxemburg