Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The New Minimum Skills.......and?

A lot of people are in a tizzy because the WFTDA just released their new minimum skills requirements, and.....my god....they're different!  You can find the new requirements here if you've been living under a rock for the last couple of days, and you hadn't heard all of the dismayed moaning going on.  Really?  I'm shocked that people are shocked.  These minimum standards are exactly that; they are minimum standards.  Skaters should be striving to do so much more, and if we are going to continue to elevate this sport, we need to start at the bottom and bring everyone up to a higher level. 

What hasn't changed?
You still need to be able to skate.  Duh.  You have to have good derby posture, smooth crossovers, stability, t-stops and plow stops.  You still need to be able to do "knee taps" and "double knee slides" which means you shouldn't be slamming down on your knees when you do a "fall".  You have to block and avoid obstacles, just like before, and that's about the crux of it.
Yes, you have still have to plow stop.

So What Has Changed?

1.  27 laps in 5 minutes.
The first issue some people are upset about is that they upped the requirement to 27 in five minutes.  It's really not that gigantic of a change, but I can already hear the panic in the posts I've seen on Facebook.  It seems like so many people tend to have mental issues with making 25 in 5, and now they've made it even more laps.  Whenever I see someone post that they're having issues with their lap time, I know that the root of her problem is that she needs to work on her form.  You can lose weight, quit smoking, and work on your strength training, but if you have lousy form when you're skating, you are sabotaging yourself.  To make your laps, you absolutely need to practice good form.  That means no standing up, strong and even crossovers, and remembering to breathe.

2.  Being able to move without rolling.
I don't know if anyone else thinks it's a little ironic that the minimum skills are encouraging "not skating" but it's what the game has become.  They've added the non rolling grapevine to the list of skills all skaters must do to be able to bout.  It's all about edges, and if you don't have control over your edges, then I suggest you start exploring what it feels like when you have successfully used them.  It's going to take a lot of practice and experimentation, but the grapevine is a good place to start.

3.  Where did the baseball slides go?
Yes, most skaters have never ever ever used a true baseball slide in a game, scrimmage or drill, but it's still an important skill to know.  When I was learning that particular fall, I really thought "Good gravy, are they just making us do this to torture us?"  The answer of course is no.  Baseball slides teach you the muscle memory to avoid breaking your tailbone.  We all try not to fall over backwards when being hit, but sometimes you can't avoid it; the baseball slide teaches you to turn and take that fall on one cheek.  Anything is better than a broken tailbone!  I am a little surprised they took those out, but I still suggest each league continue to teach them.

Hey WFTDA, why for you no make hockey stops required?
They still haven't required a hockey stop, even though it's a pretty standard skill for most interleague skaters.  Hockey stops are so important in the game at this point, that I personally think it  should be a minimum skill.  This isn't 2009, when only a hardcore few could do a hockey stop; quick stops and transitions they way you win games; I was surprised that they weren't included.  Don't be surprised if they show up in the next minimum skills update.  Or at least I can dream.

So, there you are.  Has the WFTDA raised the bar?  Yes, but it's not insurmountable for new skaters.  Derby is a dangerous sport, and you have to be skilled to play it.  Long gone are the days of women and men barely capable of skating being in a bout, and thank goodness for that!


16 comments:

  1. Every time I skate laps for the 5 minute time trial, all of the consecutive crossing over causes a problem in my left hip joint. It feels almost like a pinch & actually causes my leg to tremble when I pick it up to cross over. I'm not sure how to correct & a few other girls on my team have the same problem. Any tips or suggestions are appreciated!

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    1. I'm going to guess that your hip flexors are too tight. Skating in one direction causes us to become a little unbalanced in our leg strength, hips and back muscles. My suggestion is to skate in the opposite direction as much as you can to develop the "counter" muscles on your left side. If you have a physical therapist you can pose this question to, I'd love to hear what she has to say about it.

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  2. I still can't do a hockey stop after 4 years of derby. It would a be a great skill to have, but my other stops are fine so it doesn't really affect my game play. Like you said, this is a minimum skills test. As long as people can stop safely some how, adding extra items probably isn't necessary.

    I've never understood the 5 minute test. I could always do it but never really got what the lap counting proved.

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    1. We make our fresh meat hockey stop. It's actually an easy skill to teach, and even though their hockey stops aren't strong at first, it sends them on the path to being able to use them in a game. I can only encourage you to learn how to do them because it will step up your skills.

      The five minute test in theory is supposed to prove you have the endurance to play derby.

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    2. We've had regular practices teaching hockey stops. It's just never worked for me. I've had knee and ankle injuries though so I'm guessing the limited mobility in that leg doesn't help.

      I can skate slightly slower laps with no problem. It's the sprinting that gets me.

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  3. I'm fine with all the additions, I'm just confused why both t-stops (especially with the level of detail in which it is now described) and whips are still on this test. First, I can't tell you when the last time I used a t-stop to STOP was. Probably my min skills test. Occasionally, I'll use it to slow, but I'm a plow-stop girl. Can we change it to being a t-slow, and get rid of the requirement that it actually look like a T? Mine's more of a V and perfectly usable.

    2nd, whips. Whips are a fun thing to watch when they happen, but if turning toe stops, which are used more often in a game than whips are, aren't a minimum skill, then whips shouldn't be either. I like having hip whips and pushes on there, but arm whips... don't seem like a skill that really deserves to be called a minimum skill required to play derby.

    The only thing I have to say about 27 in 5 is that on SUPER slippery floors, it's just plain harder. I used to skate on polished concrete. Now I skate on sport court. The number of laps I can do in 5 has sky-rocketed. Sure, my form and my leg strength has gotten a little better since the switch, but actually being able to grip the floor is what has really improved my lap time.

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    1. T-slow down is probably more accurate.

      I'm guessing that the whips are probably in there to prove stability, since someone might grab your from your own team and throw you or whip off of you at any point. It's not a common occurrence to give an arm whip, but since it's still allowed in the game, they have to be ready for it.

      When skating on slick floors, you have to change your gait. Since we don't have just one surface we can skate on, we have to be adaptable.

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    2. I agree on the level of detail thing. With different floors, hardware setups, and different skater bodies involved, sometimes adjustments need to be made to perform a skill. Getting too specific limits the use of slight adjustments. Also, these determinations are visual. Unless you have someone on the track with a protractor you're never going to know if someone does a t-stop at a perfect 90 degrees, for example.

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  4. I realized the other day that I don't think I've really used hockey stops since I became good at tomahawks. Maybe I do and.I just dont realize it...but tomahawks arelike, my best friend.

    Glad I'm not the only.one who doesnt think this is such a big deal:
    deadwards.blogspot.com/mad-skills

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    1. All transitions should be in your toolbox, including hockey stops and power slides, at least in my opinion.

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  5. We've always assessed by skating as many laps as we can in 5 minutes. You should always be striving to skate as many laps as you can during any type of time trail. I know my goal is to get 25 in 4 and 30 in 5 which is a goal I am still working towards.

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  6. 27 laps = 1 miles. It's actually 26.5 laps = 1 mile but depending on how you calculate it (skating inside/outside/middle).

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    1. Thanks, I had been curious about that!

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  7. oh i just love you and your hockey stops and baseball slides. lets hug

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  8. I agree with your analysis of the baseball slide. I have used it in a game especially when jamming and going to the outside on a curve. I try not to and know not to but my size allows me to often, on that rare occasion you get a solid hit the legs are the first to go resulting in a baseball slide. We had player this last week that if she actually used this fall instead of tucking her leg under her butt she would not have torn ligaments in her ankle this week.

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