Grinning

Training

This week’s training session was a little different. We had Sue Perman, who used to play for Brusing Banditas, as a guest coach. The session was all about footwork. We started with Creepy Blocker, given as a tool to annoy and distract the opposition from their task of blocking your jammer. I don’t recall the numerous other drills, but they included loads of transition work, 180 jumps to a stop, on both sides, backwards acceleration, track transitions, techniques for making holes in walls, and techniques for bunching the wall up. We did backwards running on toe stops, pushing, endurance drills and a neat 180-to-shoulder block. Melon Collie got a mention as being really good at this :-)

We finished with queen of the track. I decided to go after Jim, and got taken out by Baker whilst doing so and he went on to win.

A very full sessions that left us with loads to practice. Thank you Sue!

Aire Force 1 Scrim

For some time I’ve been trying to set up a friendly scrim with AF1. This was all unofficial, me chatting to Bakin Bad and Oblivious Prime every time I bumped into them at derby/skating events. Following their game over in Liverpool Feral got in touch and we bashed out a proposal to make it happen.

Yesterday after training we headed over to Futsal where the AF1 guys were also training. They can field a full team, we played short. On track from the Dead were Buckingham, Baker, Lloyd, Matt, Niven, Si and myself. We had Jason Slays Them from Inhuman League and Dis Droid from Oldham as guests, bringing our team to nine.

I was a little nervous before the scrim. I have a (perhaps irrational) fear of injuring my back again. Once we were all warming up around the track the nerves passed. Half six and first whistle, I was on track as a blocker, and it was fine. The hits were hard, in some cases very (thank you Chris, sorry, I don’t know your derby name) but clean. I didn’t see Bakin, apparently his partner is expecting a child soon, so he’s off skates – hope all goes well with that sir!

I jammed once in the first period, failing to get through the pack. Then before I knew it the period was over. We swapped ends and considered the need to balance the teams. We were all happy to carry on with just nine and did so. The second period seemed to pass faster than the first. Again I jammed just once and got stuck again, though whilst I was there did a cheeky hit on the other jammer when he came around to the back of the back. Knocked him out of bounds and ran him back a little. I didn’t gain anything from it other than the satisfaction that my situational awareness was reasonable. Then with much assistance from my blockers I did make it through the wall. The final score was something like Aire Force 1 around 120 to about 90 for us.

More important than the score was the spirit of the game, which was excellent. I didn’t get any penalties and I think most on our team were cutting the track – not helped by the multitude of markings on the floor. The AF1 blokes seem to be a thoroughly nice bunch, I look forward to playing them in future. Thank you guys, well played!

I’ve got some fresh skills to work on from training and targets to work towards from the scrim. An excellent day of derby!

Comfort Zone

Skateful Dead

In previous posts I have pondered the metric used to measure training sessions. One that I don’t think I’ve considered is getting taken out of one’s comfort zone.

Gillie was back last week and brought with her some jammer assist drills. They were a mix of traditional assists and a few “out of bounds” assists. It was these that I particularly enjoyed.

Let me explain what I mean by “out of bounds” for the reader who’s life has yet to be consumed by roller derby. A roller derby track is an oval, with inner and outer boundaries. (These are marked with tape, and in proper games a rope beneath the tape to provide a tactile “edge”.) Skaters must keep their skates within these boundaries when playing. They can however jump out of bounds so long as they land back within bounds. This sounds impossible, but consider the inside of the turns – with enough speed and height it is possible to jump a section of the inner apex.

We’ve practised apex jumps, but this week we were practising assisted jumps. These are where the jammer uses a blocker on their team as a fulcrum whilst they jump out of bounds, typically transition 180 degrees and land back in bounds. The aim is to bypass the opposition blockers.

There were many things here that I wasn’t sure about. One, I don’t really like jumping – I like my wheels to stay on the ground. Two, when transitioning I like to lead with my right foot. It’s a bad habit that I’m working to correct, but non-the-less it’s there. And three, some of our players are quite big and heavy and I’m not, how was that going to work if they are using me for the assist? But there we were, with this concept before us and no excuse to not try it!

The assists typically take place over the inside of the track and consequently the assisted skater will be leading with their left leg. We started with assisted apex jumps and after a few attempts I was landing in bounds – toe stops for the win. Then on the straights with the “pegassist” style assist. I started of being assisted, which was fine. I again landed on toe stops and then spun around and away. Then I had a go at assisting and to my surprise I didn’t just fall over when fellow skaters swung around me!

A great session thank you Gillie!

Banditas

Thursday evening I was again at practice with the Bruising Banditas.

We started with an excellent drill that they called “creepy blocker”. Neither Buckingham nor myself were familiar with it, and when demonstrated I think it’s fair to say that we both considered that it looked pretty straight forward. Working in pairs the aim is to maintain contact and prevent the other person from getting ahead of you on track. It quickly became apparent that it is not only quite difficult but also tiring! Definitely a drill that we’ll be taking away, though I wonder if men will go for hits?

After a mix of other drills we did an endurance drill. This is one I was familiar with, we’ve used it at our sessions. It’s a minute sprint, 30 second coast then transition and sprint anti-derby direction for a minute. Rinse, repeat. We tagged on the coffin drill for three minutes at the end. From this I found that Sonic Ruth is so speedy – passed me in both directions!

We finished with Queen of the Track. Lesson here was that Dislo-Kate-Her hits hard and can absorb hits too!

Thank you again Banditas!

Miscellaneous

  • I quit the gym. I’m struggling to find time to get there and every time I do I aggravate the injury to my left foot. I wanted to suspend membership, but that wasn’t an option, so cancellation it was.
  • Monday I went for a run. 4.85km in 24m23s. This was the first of this season, so I’m pleased with the pace. It did make my foot hurt to following day. I really need to rest it. Skating is fine, it’s the repeated impacts that trigger it.
  • I got new wheels for my in-line skates, ready for Berlin.

 

Working Title

An odd week.

Training

Buckingham was missing, not feeling well, which is very unusual. Chris was back on skates, but with an exclusion zone to protect his back. There were seven of us on track, in no particular order, Niven, Matt (Thompson!), Tony, Baker, Jim, Simon and me. Gillie and Phil were off sick too, leaving Carly to work her magic with the session.

Monday we announced that Buckingham is our new team captain. Very pleased with this result. I’d earlier said I’d put myself forward for the role – at the time Bucky was not sure that he’d be standing. Chris has done a good job over the past year.

Monday was also gym night and by Tuesday morning it became apparent that I’d dinged my left foot again. I thought I’d figured out which exercise was causing it and I’ve avoided it since. It seems I was wrong. I therefore avoided the gym for the rest of the week. With the days getting longer and this recurring niggling injury I’m tempted to suspend gym membership.

Banditas

Thursday was Bandita’s training. I’m loving the opportunity to skate twice a week and scrim too. (Skateful Dead had a period last year where we practised twice weekly, but numbers where often low, so no scrimmage.) Men and women play differently, but I’ve found that I come away from the Bandita’s sessions with more injuries then I do the Dead. Week one left me with a rather fine bruise on my left arm. This week it was something like a blood blister on my arm, a wheel shaped bruise/swelling on my left shin and a bruise to my right knee. Bruising Bandita’s is an accurate name! :-)

Airco

During the week news also broke that the numerous teams that use the Airco Arena in Hull are to be evicted! They have been told that they have a month to get out. This not only affects Hull’s Angels but lots of other teams too. This is very disappointing news.

It seems that the needs of one team are being put above those of several others. Not only that, those teams that are being kicked out have been given ridiculously short notice. The facilities at the Airco Arena are excellent – one of a kind in East Yorkshire apparently. Hull High Flyers Trampoline Gymnastics Club have a record number of qualifiers for National Championships and have hosted an international championship. The high ceilings at Airco are a feature that they need. Other sports affected include basketball, wrestling, netball, hockey, gymnastics, powerchair football and roller derby (three team).

These teams are working hard to persuade Hull AFC to change their mind. If you want to show your support then please like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and, most important, sign the petition.

The Airco website boasts “The facilities at the Sports Arena are second to none and provide opportunities and a top class venue for local teams and clubs across a wide range of sports.” I guess they’ll be changing this to “The facilities at the Sports Arena are second to none, but if you don’t play football then you’re out of luck”.

Stripes

I first considered refereeing roller derby 14 months ago, when injury left me feeling that I couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t play again. Leeds Roller Dolls Referee/NSO Boot Camp presented an excellent opportunity to revisit this.

The boot camp was held at Futsal, Leeds and ran from 10am to 5pm, though I arrived crazy early – trains. There were probably around 20 of us doing a mix of Ref/NSO, from various leagues – Teeside and Spa Town are two that I’m aware of. There was a mix of experience/abilities too. Some hadn’t passed mins. Some had reffed. I had been revising rules/hand signals/verbal cues – so I felt better that I wouldn’t be completely out of my depth.

The first part covered expectations of officials, both NSOs and Refs, before splitting into two tracks. Major Lee Strict covered the ref track while Stat continued with the NSOs. The theory stuff ran up to 1pm followed by 30 minutes for lunch, then it was on with the wheels!

I was pleased that X-Con Vic was there to help – friendly face. Time passed really quickly and before I knew it skaters were starting to arrive for the co-ed. Shit! (Hello Andy, Jupe and the AF1 guys.)

I started in an Outside Pack Ref position and settled in to it quite quickly, with Swiss Roll there to guide us. I saw and called a cut track. Yeah! After a while we switched positions and I had a go at Inside Pack Ref. Less easy. I did OPR a second time and then had a go at Jam Ref. That was just crazy. On the first jam, by turn 3 I’d skated into the track – watching the jammer, not my feet – oops! It got easier, but still so much to remember! The most challenging task is remembering which of the opposing players the jammer has passed on a scoring pass. Throw in staying inside the track, avoiding others, pointing at lead, communicating the score, checking that the score has been recorded and watching for penalties – head explodes!

The day was well prepared and pitched at a good level. The focus was very much on giving NSO/Refs an opportunity to practise. Thank you to those taking part in the co-ed scrim for your patience whilst situations were explained to us/crews were swapped over. There was no dickish behaviour from any of the players, which I’m sure we all appreciated. All players should experience the game from a referee perspective!

I have taken the time this morning to pull together an NSO/Ref CV – it seems I’ve NSOd five times to date. I’ll be sorting out a stripy top and looking to get some experience outside/inside the track :-)

Looking forward to the next one LRD!

 

 

Banditas!

A very quick post as I should be sleeping, but I can’t – derby high buzzing through me!

The Bruising Banditas invited Skateful Dead to train with them, and that’s what a few of us did this evening. It was ace!

The best thing was having enough people to scrimmage, which we did for almost an hour at the end of the session. I found Bob invaluable on track for telling me what to do – thank you. I got a good hit on Foo – oops, sorry! Two visits to the penalty box, one of which was as the jammer – damn!

Before that we practised blocking. A wall style that we’ve be working on at our sessions, but done a little differently. One of the great things about training with others is that you see different drills and techniques. Thank you Bob!

We’ve been invited back next week, which is handy – I went down the calendar for the rest of the month and wrote “Banditas” on every Thursday :-)

A massive thank you to you all for letting us play. I am aware that co-ed doesn’t suit everyone, for various reasons, and so I feel privileged to be given the opportunity. Thank you.

Now to see if that sleep thing works :-)

 

 

Leeds (and more)

On Saturday I was with camera over at Futsal near Leeds. Two games from Tier Two of the British Championships, Hot Wheel vs Newcastle followed by Leeds Roller Dolls vs Hull’s Angels. Both promised to be interesting games.

It was lovely to catch up with the Angels. I also found that I know (or recognise) players from all of the other teams – I’ve even been on track with some of them! I also knew some of the refs and NSOs. Being part of this community makes me very happy!

Hot Wheel vs Newcastle

Joanna BruisinGoing into this game I felt that Newcastle would win, perhaps by quite a margin. They took the lead early and lead throughout the first period, though never with an insurmountable lead. The half time score was 67 to 98.

Jerry Attric must have given a good pep talk during the break. Hot Wheel came out fighting, almost doubling their scoring rate! Half way through the second period there was a 9 point difference, 122 for Hot Wheel against 131 Newcastle. It looked like they might just do it! But then Newcastle pushed a little harder, not only holding on, but extending the lead. The game finished at 150 to 194.

Leeds Roller Dolls vs Hull’s Angels

Whilst I so wanted Hull to win this, I know that LRD are a really strong team. During the warm up I noticed that Leeds were playing just 11 players (14 being the usual) – so perhaps that would favour Hull? HARD were playing some skaters that I’ve seen (recently) skating on the B team. Great to see players making progress. Well done Chickass and Kinevil Dead. The other fresh face that I didn’t recognise was Lee, a recent transfer from Liverpool Roller Dolls.

Leeds controlled the game from the first jam and extended it throughout. There seemed to be be two main factors. One, their walls were rock solid and their recycling first class. Two, Ripunzel seemed to be able to find a clear lane on the inside of pack every time see needed to get through.

During the first period El Nasser fell/got knocked down to the outside of turns one and two. She was obviously immediately in pain and didn’t get back up. The game stopped, medics attended to her and she was moved out of the way. An ambulance was called to provide pain relief and she stayed until the end of the game. It transpires that she has broken her fibula in two places. Not good at all for a skater. I wish her a very speedy recovery.

Hard played, well, hard throughout the game but Leeds were relentless. In the second half Iron Giant got expelled for a back block on Rip – the result of mistimed blocking attempt I believe, but she fell as a result. (Giant was immediately most apologetic and again after the game.)

An eventful game, ending at 279 for Leeds against 88 to Hull. (I later noted that UKRDA rank Leeds 6th and HARD 20th.)

Training

No Gillie and Phil again this week, so once again Carly stepped up and came up with a really great session – she deserves a medal! It was good to see captain Chris – not skating and obviously still not comfortable even when walking. Bilb was also there (not skating) – good to see him too. On track we had Baker, Jim, Matt, Niven, Buckingham, Lloyd, Tony and me.

This week we had a mix of drills, some time to work on personal goals and an extended endurance section. One of my goals is to be able to lead with my left foot; years of leading with my right is difficult to change. Finally, whist eight is short of a full team, it does allow us to scrim with two balanced reasonably sized teams, and that we did.

I’m pleased to report that my skate repair seems to have worked well. There was no detectable flexing as there had been before the repair and the fracture doesn’t appear to have spread any further. My back felt a little tender after the session so I did loads of stretching when I got home and it was fine. Happy!

Toes

The role call this week was Matt, Buckingham, Si, Baker, Jim, me and Carly our ref. Captain Chris is still off with his back injury (muscular) and will be for another month I reckon. Coach Gillie and Phil couldn’t make it at short(ish) notice. A massive thank you to Carly for coming up with a good session at short notice to keep us on our toes for two and a half hours.

It was all about agility this week. We did lots of solo work practising transitions and stops around obstacles, jumps and duking. Another “drill” that Carly introduced was random calls to jam. She’d call “five seconds!” and we all had that time to form a four wall on the line against a jammer/pivot combo. We’d have a two minute jam. Pivot and jammer would then switch and we’d go again.

Crack on plate on quad skateWith all this work on toe-stops I was worried about making the crack in one of my plates worse. It is worse, but not yet completely broken. I’m off to on holiday at the end of March, so can’t afford new plates at the moment. Meccano may be called into action to keep it going. (And keep it going I must as I’ve booked on to the Beginners Ref and NSO Clinic being run by Leeds Roller Dolls on 7 March.)

I have to say that I’m a little disappointed in these skates (Suregrip GT50). They are almost two years old and are falling to pieces. The shoes are coming away from the soles, so badly that along the outside edge of each skate I’ve stitched them back together. Now a crack in the plate. In comparison my in-line skates are probably eight years old and are still in good order. They get well used in the park every summer and have done a near marathon distance in Berlin one time.My next pair of skates will hopefully by much better…

six

Just six of us on track today, plus Carly our ref in the middle. We started with some exciting news, that I can’t share just yet, but if it happens it will be good :-)

I led the warm up then Carly took over and led the rest of the session. As numbers we low we focused on minimum skills for the new guys, which I really enjoyed. I spent time with Jim and Rob working on plough and T stops. Jim succeeded with the “skate a straight and curve on one foot” skill. Rob worked on stepping and confidence on one foot, with the next step being T stop.

Those that wanted practised jumping and apex jumps. Buckingham had observed a technique yesterday which we all found really good. One we’ll be practising more in future. Even I found I could do (small) apex jumps.

Towards the end we (obviously) did a little bit of the hitting thing. Each taking a turn at jamming against a four wall (Rob isn’t doing contact just yet, give him a few more weeks!). I went first and managed to get through the wall eventually. Pack definition was imaginary, as was the engagement zone, but it worked okay. I felt that the walls were pretty good.

The other big bonus is that it completely distracted me from my worries, so thank you guys/roller derby :-)

 

Questions

The past few weeks have been odd. I’ve not found time for so many things that I want to do, I’ve injured my foot, twice, and last week we broke Chris.

I injured my foot at the gym, with hindsight, from doing a plank exercise. Not a static plank, but one which involves rolling one’s feet on to tip toe. The pain was in the big toe of my left foot, which was swollen and hot. It passed after a few days the first time, though it was remarkably painful at the time, and walking was no fun at all. The second time wasn’t as bad fortunately.

Training has been fairly well attended, eight on skates last week. Unfortunately we broke Chris, our captain. He took a fall, twisted his back and didn’t get up. That put a bit of a downer on the session, of course, and he carted away in anSo, an ambulance was called ambulance. Soft tissue damage – muscular we believe. So he’s off skates for a bit and taking things easy. Speedy recovery Chris!

I feel mixed about my derby skills. My blocking is improving, but my jammer skills seem to be stalled. I’m not sure how to improve them. I’ve also had a big question hanging over me about playing against strong teams. Knights of Oldham invited us over to play against Barrow Infernos. I immediately said that I didn’t feel I was ready. Then low numbers and kind words persuaded me to say that I would play, though I was a little uncomfortable at the thought. Then Chris got injured, so I felt more pressure to play. In the end I found that my son was with me, so I couldn’t make it. Add to that difficulties at home at the moment, leading to lack of sleep, and my brain feels utterly mangled. I just keep reminding myself of the positives in my life…

HARD/B

HARD/B vs York Minxsters

TeamsEnnerdale was the venue for a very close game betweens HARD’s B team and the York Minxsters. It was a relaxed affair and I had chance to catch up with loads of people. A good chat with Fenno who plays for The Inhuman League – we (The Skateful Dead) really do need to get down to Sheffield to train with them some time soon. I said hello to the Minxsters before the game and they seem lovely too. (The Minxsters, like The Dead, are a small team and so I feel an affinity with them. They had a few skaters on loan from Spa Town.)

The teams were very evenly matched, with the lead changing frequently throughout the game. The final score was 199 for Minxsters against 188 for HARD/B. There was just one foul out (Minxsters) near the end of the game.
A quick pint of Black Sheep after the game was very welcome and an opportunity to listen in on the post-game analysis.

A big thank you to Abi for offering a lift from the station, and Katy for providing it. (And then making sure that had a lift back, which Fenno provided in the end.) Much appreciated!