Ann Arbor Roller Derby's Wave 13 boot camp will kick off in just a few short weeks. Unsure what to expect? Here’s a quick interview with Fresh Meat trainer extraordinaire Skim MILF about what you can look forward to at Ann Arbor Roller Derby’s boot camp:
What can I expect from a typical day at boot camp?
A typical boot camp practice will follow this format
- Arrive 15 minutes or more before practice to sign in, get geared up and ask the trainers questions (or just be social with other skaters)
- Practice begins promptly at 6:30PM on Wednesdays, 10AM on Sundays
- 10-15 minutes of warm-up and stretches
- Skill instruction and drills
- Endurance (at least once per week)
- On and/or off-skates core exercises
- Ample opportunity for asking questions and rest/water breaks
- Group stretching at the close of practice
I can promise that you will have fun, laugh, work hard, sweat more than you thought possible, develop camaraderie with those in your boot camp, experience both failure and success and feel pride in your accomplishments.
Many new skaters find that boot camp turns into more than just learning how to skate and play roller derby. For some, it is an unexpected journey of self-discovery and an opportunity to meet and become friends with people both similar to you and those with completely different life experiences than your own. Many league members describe finding roller derby as “finding their people.” Regardless of how you describe it, a JOURNEY is an appropriate part of that description.
What will I learn at boot camp?
Boot camp is specifically geared towards the WFTDA minimum skills assessment. In order to become a scrimmage eligible skater (meaning that playing full contact roller derby is both safe for you AND for the people who will be skating with and around you), you must pass a minimum skills assessment. The skills included and the level of success required are determined by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and interpreted, executed and upheld by the A2D2 Training Committee. Sounds important and a little bit scary, doesn’t it? It’s really not :)
In boot camp, you will learn the following (and MORE):
- proper skating form
- how to fall and get up from a fall safely and swiftly
- how to stop safely and swiftly
- how to transition from forwards to backwards skating (and vice versa) safely and smoothly
- skating agility
- how to safely skate in close proximity to others (ie in a pack)
- how to safely give and receive contact to/from another skater (both incidental and deliberate)
- how to give and receive assists to/from other skaters
- how to legally contact and hit other skaters
- the rules of roller derby (as determined by WFTDA)
- how to respect teammates and opponents and “leave it all on the track”
Things you are not likely to experience (or may only get a taste of) in boot camp:
- scrimmage (there are controlled scenario-based scrimmage activities in the final weeks of boot camp)
- play a game (bout)
The objective of boot camp is to get skaters to pass the skills assessment - plain and simple. Progression of skills in boot camp is typically dictated by the speed at which the majority of skaters have achieved understanding and appropriate mastery of new skills. Instruction almost always builds upon skills taught in previous practice(s), so attendance is important. Boot camp cannot slow its progress for a minority of its skaters, but the head trainer is always willing to provide extra one-on-one or small group help before or after practice on Sundays (as available).
"Boot camp" sounds intimidating/scary.
Boot camp is defined as “a short, intensive, and rigorous course of training.” What comes to mind for most people, however, is military training or behavioral reform.
Is boot camp intimidating? Just like anything else new or challenging, there will be some associated nerves and/or fear. You might feel intimidated by others who, in your mind, already have good/great/amazing skating skills, appear very physically strong, are extremely vocal, have strong and unique personalities, etc. I promise there is also somebody in boot camp who is intimidated by YOU. One thing I can guarantee, without a doubt.....every single skater in boot camp is more concerned about what they are doing and how they are performing than with how you “measure up.” Comparison is the thief of joy (Teddy Roosevelt). If you spend your time in boot camp comparing yourself to other skaters (whether freshies or vets), you will be missing the point – to make progress from where you began, where you were last practice or where you were 10 minutes ago. Your skills, your goals, your progress is YOURS and you must OWN YOUR PROGRESS. Don’t diminish that progress by concerning yourself with the performance of others.
Skim MILF is co-captain of the Ypsilanti Vigilantes and way more awesome than your mom.