Meat Locker Missive #3: The Fine Art of a Derby Hit
Guest post by RoadkillThis week we meat have had the benefit of 2 full practices on the track, with vets helping us enormously (normally, we get one day a week on the track and the other 2 days on the sidelines working away on skills and endurance drills while the vets scrimmage or practice). But the real bonus has been a fuller introduction to hitting techniques and how to take a hit. If for some reason you've found your way to this post and don't know a lot about roller derby: it's a high speed contact sport!
The ability to legally knock an opposing skater on her ass or out of bounds, and stay upright while taking similar hits from them is an integral part of winning.
The flat track version which we play also has strict rules about protective gear and where and how you can hit your opponents. This isn't professional wrestling, hockey, rugby or even football, folks. While not taking anything away from the skills involved in those sports, there are very few people who would be able to legally and effectively put hits on the opponent in roller derby without quickly incurring penalties and quick ejection. Not only do you need to know how to skate under control while hitting or being hit, but you can't use or hit most parts of the body. Your weapons are your shoulders and your hips. You can only hit opponents using those limited weapons on their shoulders, arms, hips or sternum (the latter of which is hard to do while skating fast, let me tell you!). In all these contacts, the elbow and forearm can't be used.
Think about that. Envision yourself laying a shoulder or hip check on someone WITHOUT your elbow or forearm contacting the other person, all while both of you are careening around a track on skates at around 10 or 11 mph. In practice, we either hold sponges under our arms or hold our own breasts to prevent and condition our elbows from flailing out while engaging opponents; it's just instinct for our elbows to swing out while hitting or being hit and traveling at speed in a circle. That's probably why elbowing is one of the most-called penalties in the game.
I won't (yet) get into all the bruising that inevitably come with the hitting in derby...
See you on the track soon,
Catch up on MLM #1 and #2 on our facebook, but look for new posts here on the blog, too!