Countdown to Spring!

Officially, spring is T-9 days away. Finally! Of course, I live in New Hampshire, so we’ve still got at least a foot of snow on the ground most places. I can’t call spring “over” until mid-April at least. But the world is defrosting a little bit. I saw grass for the first time in months yesterday! I’d almost forgotten what it looks like.

And along with spring comes the beginning of the derby season! Officially our season doesn’t start until the beginning of April, when we can move into our regular season practice spot. During the offseason, we’ve been getting our skate on at skateparks and indoor rinks. When skating isn’t an option, we’ve been getting together to go over WFTDA rules and strategy. Our goal this season is to learn the rules so well that we have no penalties–we’ll see how that one goes 🙂 And, our training committee added a few new members to help run off-skates conditioning routines. We did maybe three off-skates session last season, and even though many of us don’t like it (hey, we’re there to skate), we can’t argue that it’s not good for us to do more. Training has said that they’re going to set aside practice time to do off-skates conditioning throughout the season. One of the newer committee members has even suggested we do a group 5k!

On my own time, I’ve been hitting the gym to do some jogging and weight training on my own. I haven’t been the most consistent with it, so recently I’ve booked some time off on my calendar in hopes that having the actual “appointment” would make me go. I’m way too scatterbrained to remember to go if I don’t have a reminder, as I have learned this winter. I don’t particularly enjoy running on the treadmill because it’s so boring (seriously, you’re running nowhere), but it feels very safe for me because I can keep a jar of glucose tabs and my meter on hand in case my blood sugar goes low. If I’m running outdoors, I need to carry around a fannypack or some kind of backpack to keep that stuff on me, and there won’t necessarily be people around to help me if I have a severe low blood sugar, unlike on the treadmill at the gym.

Plus, I really don’t want to be running over snowbanks and piles of slush.

I think it says a lot about how far I’ve come, both physically and mentally, since the start of last season. I was pretty shy and anxious when I started playing derby, and I didn’t have a lot of locally-located friends at the time. I also wasn’t in great shape–I could barely run, I had little muscle strength, and I had absolutely no idea what I needed to do to get my blood sugars under control. I spent the first couple months of the season barely being able to make it through a practice because I just couldn’t figure out a routine. (To be honest, I’m surprised I stuck that out–it’s incredibly discouraging to see everyone else working out and having to sit down and wait because my blood sugar is too high or too low. I’m also really insecure about it because it can look like I’m being lazy or like I’m giving up too easily. I haven’t had the most supportive teammates and coaches in athletic groups in the past, but my league has always been amazingly supportive of me.)

I’m giving it one last push to gear up for the season–I’m hitting up the gym to go through as much of the rest of that couch-to-5k program (I just finished week 4!), and I’m working on strengthening my derby muscles. I’ve also started doing some short conditioning exercises in the morning when I’m getting ready for the day. I set a second alarm on my phone, partially to make sure I actually get out of bed, but mostly to remind myself to do the exercises: side planks on each side (currently 60 sec each; goal is to increase by five seconds each morning), 15-20 slow lunges (I’ve always had a problem with lunges), and ten push-ups (I could do so many at the end of last season and now I’ve lost that!). At the gym I’m incorporating weights to my lunges and squats, and I’m doing some upper-body exercises as well. I refuse to start off this season totally out-of-shape. I want to get on the track and kick some ass as soon as possible!

So, T-22 days until we move back in and start setting up for the season. And I’m gonna make it count.

Off-season Homework: Read the Rules!

My league may be on break for the month, but that doesn’t mean I should be stopping. At our last league meeting of the year, members of the training committee mentioned having skaters ref during bouts they aren’t skating. Obviously, most of us would rather be playing than reffing, but not everyone can skate every bout.

I’ve heard that it’s really good for players to try their hand at reffing because it forces you to learn the rules. I mean, we all know the basics–track cuts, legal hitting zones, the jam doesn’t end until the fourth whistle, et cetera–but some of the finer details of the rules get overlooked by skaters. I think this is a great idea, especially since we have so few refs that skate in my league. It would also allow skaters who aren’t playing to still be able to be on skates and participating in bouts.

A while back I saw a post on off-season “homework” a skater assigned herself like do plenty of squats, jog, and watch more footage. I want to borrow that idea. Since I can’t keep up actually playing (and man oh man, do I miss being able to hit), I need to find other ways of getting better at derby. So I’m assigning myself the homework of reading the WFTDA rules (my league isn’t a WFTDA league, but we follow their rules), which I need to do in bits and pieces as some parts are hard to visualize and take in.

I also found this really cool web app called the Roller Derby Test O’Matic. It quizzes you on rules and keeps track of your score per session (or you can create an account and it will keep track of it over time). I’m not sure if this is geared more towards players or refs, but either way it’s a fun way to reinforce the rules. I was surprised (and embarrassed) by how few I knew with the first handful of questions I answered. Lesson learned: I need to study harder!

Have you ever sat down and read the full rule set? If you’re a player, have you ever reffed (or even considered reffing)?