Friday, April 20, 2012

Mish Mash: Derby tricks and tips

If you hang around long enough in derby, you will learn secrets and sacred tips that skaters have passed down from generation to generation; ok, I'm exaggerating, but you can learn some cool things!  I am sharing some of the tips I've figured out over my four seasons, and have asked some derby peeps to share as well! 

1.  Are your toe stops unscrewing themselves even though you have screwed in as tight as possible?  You could consider using some Teflon plumber's tape and wrapping it around the stem of the toe stop to give it a snugger fit.  Teflon tape might save you from having to get the toe stop hole re-bored in the future.

2.  A dab of sunscreen on a wash cloth will get rid of those pesky permanent markers numbers on your arms without scrubbing your skin raw.  Of course, some people like to wear their numbers on their arms like badges of courage; but if you're in a wedding the next day, use that sunscreen!
Lita Revolution also shares that Vaseline will take permanent marker off your arms without ruining your manicure;  I wouldn't know anything about that because I haven't had a manicure since 1999.
Yes, I like my sunscreen strong and my skin pale and pasty.
3.  Speaking of numbers, ever sweat yours off during a game?  L8tr SK8tr shares that he recently learned that if you rub antiperspirant on your arm over your number it helps keep the Sharpie on when you sweat.  I may have to try that at our May bout, since Dorton does not have any air conditioning, and I can sweat in an igloo.

4.  It looks like deodorant might be the new jack of all trades, because here is another tip!  According to Gillie O'Tene, her fellow skater Agenda "puts Secret deodorant on her wrists, elbows and knees before she puts on her pads and they NEVER smell!! Of course she could be a freak of nature with non smelly sweat but it apparently works. It must be Secret though, she told me Degree doesn't work as well. She uses the scent changing kind that goes from powder fresh to Watermelon when you sweat. Yes it really exists."  It makes a weird kind of sense, but I've never tried it.  If you're feeling brave, let me know how it worked!
5.  Cheesecloth makes a great wheel cleaner, and it is cheap.  With a little bit of water, cheesecloth can scrub away gum, gunk, and even help take the "finish" off of your brand new wheels.  I always keep a sheet of cheesecloth in my skating kit for messy wheel emergencies.  Daisy DoWrong adds that cheap hand sanitizer and a rag will work to clean your wheels off trackside. Personally, I feel like you can't go wrong with hand sanitizer in general in your skating bag.  Sometimes we don't have the option to wash our hands! 
Percy Q-Tion shares that gum can be taken off of wheels with mayonnaise, which sounds gross, but I guess it's effective!  Just be sure to clean the mayo off of your wheels after! 

6.  Always have duct tape.  Ah duct tape, what can't it fix?

7.  Dryer sheets placed on or in your wet elbow pads and gaskets can help freshen up your gear in between washings.  You can stuff them into your skates if they get stinky too!  (This works with smelly shoes as well.)  Rockaway Beatch filled two old socks with crystal cat litter, and sticks them in her elbow pads to dry them out quickly; she says it works like a charm, and I would have never thought of that because I don't have cats!
KG Bebe reminds us that vinegar in the wash can cut through the stinky pad smell, but make sure you dry your gear thoroughly, or you will smell like a Massengill product, and nobody wants that.
 8.  Old socks make amazing arm gauntlets that keep your skin from coming in direct contact with your elbow pads and wrist guards.  The more I skate, the more I hear about people developing contact dermatitis from the plastics in our protective gear.  Put a barrier between yourself and your gear if you can! 

Electric Cher passed on her tip of using her daughter's outgrown tights to repurpose as fingers-less wrist/arm warmers to wear under wrist-guards. "They help trap some of the stanky sweat and can be thrown in the wash after every use. Simply cut the legs off the tights as well as the tips of the toe area. Then simply make a little slit for your thumb. Works like a charm!"

Speaking of re-purposing clothing for derby, Celia Fate and Misanthrope the Mordant cut the sleeves off of their t-shirts and wear them on their heads.  Fate swears the sleeves are the only hair accessory that actually stay in place!

9.  Dee Spies shared one of the most hilarious tips ever: Panty liners hide the camel toe in Derby Skinz.  I know that a LOT of derby girls worry about that one. 

10.  Buy your own skate tools.  People are tired of lending you theirs, especially if you don't give it back!   Also, if you buy new plates or skates, find out what tools you might need to maintain them.  Spare parts are always good to have on hand, just in case!  My dream is to have each skater have her own tools, and to stop relying on coaches to have them.  Remember, our motto is For the Skaters, By the Skaters, not "rely on your coach to do the mechanical stuff."

11.  Ever get bad foot cramps?  Beth Row keeps packets of mustard she takes from fast food places in her skate bag. Evidently, something in mustard counteracts muscle cramps of all kinds; the same chemical is in pickle juice, but that's not as portable.
Imagine your skates smelling like this!

12.  Levee BreaksHer carries a shoe horn with her to put her skates on.  "Fellow skaters sometimes laugh at me because I use an old one my grandma gave me, but the heels and heel spline of my skates is pristine 2.5 years later so suck it haters. I take care of my $#!+"  I've had my boots for four seasons without issues, but I also wear Miracle Wool socks that don't cause friction issues.  

13.  Are you getting blisters?  Dujuana Keys uses make-up pads for blister cushions. Dell swears that rubbing deodorant on your feet BEFORE you get a blister can prevent them.  See?  Deodorant is the new duct tape!

14.  Finally, one for our awesome NSOs!   SmackTavish, a penalty wrangler, shares "We use a small wipeoff board to relay penalties to the trackers. As an eraser, I wear one stretchy kid's winter glove on my writing hand."  That's pretty smart thinking!

I want to thank everyone who shared one of their derby tips with us.  If you have any you would like to share, please post it in a comment!  I know I'll probably end up writing another one of these derby tips blogs.



  1. I learned that mustard trick from Mr. And Mrs. Price - Cape Fear Roller Girls' superfans! They used to show up to every practice, every public event and every game. One practice I just had to stop because my feet were cramping so bad. Mrs. Price told me that mustard does the trick! Now I've shared that secret with everyone I know. Dot Bomber is a convert!

  2. I've tried the teflon tape/dental floss trick on my toestops but unfortunately it hasn't helped much but mine is fairly loose. I had to re-tap the threads on one of my plates since I had screwed a toestop in before wiping the threads off inside the plate (the stem on the toestop was clean), so it is loose enough to spin when I stop and the teflon slowly peels off. Going to try the temporary loctite next (the blue kind, not the red permanent stuff).

    1. The red loctite is okay too, as long as you only put ONE drop on the threads. I used it back in the day when I had a nut to tighten down my toe stops and it worked like a charm. AND I could get them off again with a wrench, FYI.

  3. do you eat the mustard or just put the little packets in your skates?????

  4. I wear an overnight maxi pad in the front of my helmet. I sweat buckets and the maxi keeps the sweat from dripping in my eyes. I have also used them on underside of my tongue in my boots for padding when I have a bruised upper foot.
    -Brick S. House

  5. Toes stops, the non-adjustable type, often come loose because we put the brake bolt on after the toe guard. The toe guards stretches and gives, allowing space for looseness. Get a skinny little wrench and tighten the bolt while it is under the guard and you'll have less loose brakes.

  6. I think I'll try the pickle juice! haha Mustard doesn't seem too yummy. haha

  7. Love the blog. Love the NSO tip. Thanks!

    1. HAHA! Thanks! Pics of me during bouts make me look like a tan, chubby Michael Jackson. ~SmackTavish

  8. I have a couple more:

    - Poison taught me that if your number needs to be touched up after you've been sweating, wipe the sweat off your arm with hand sanitizer first, or else the sweat will ruin the Sharpie.

    - Zambone, from Magic City, says that using pieces of carpet as insoles is much much better than any insole on the market. Nothing too thick, just thick enough to be comfortable, he said. This is a guy who has jam skated forever so this is a very trustworthy tip.

  9. Several skaters I know swear by washing pads with cheap vodka OR spraying them down with vodka after practice and letting them air dry.

    I read a blog where the skater had skates that were a bit loose around the ankle. She utilized some old beer coozies to adjust the fit. The neoprene is like the Ezeefit Booties, but usually coozies are free.

  10. Take two.

    I wash my pads with bleach in cold water to avoid smelling like a salad and destroying the mechanical integrity of the foam.

    Muscle cramps are often caused by an electrolyte imbalance. Potassium pills are quicker acting and less perishable than mustard and pickles.

    If NSO gloves make you constantly fumble the markers, cut off the fingers or use a sweat band around your palm.

    Wrangling? Take two different colored dry erase markers (preferably similar to the jerseys) and tape them together. This will help the trackers greatly.

    Any jammer ref worth his weight in salt will carry a rainbow pack of no-show socks with his whistles. Cut off the toes and heels and you'll always have the fanciest jammer-pointer hand in town.

  11. Cut out insoles from yoga mats if you are having foot issues. It's worked for me where all the "sports" insoles had failed.

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  13. Silica packets (like those found in shoe boxes) work great as a sweat and stink catcher in your gear bag. If you are able to find the large ones, just throw them in. Collect the small ones and pour the silica beads into an old sock or make a sachet packet.