Archive for November, 2009
Recently one of our fresh meat mentioned on our league’s forum she was getting new (to her) gear for the first time and said “as if that will magically make me a better skater.”
It sent me back to my days of owning a pool hall because I know for a fact that her getting her own gear will make her a better skater and there is some magic to it.
There is a point of diminishing returns on the relationship of gear quality and individual skill. The worst skater on a set of rink rental skates will invariably improve when she gets her own skates that fit properly and have the wheels, trucks and toe stop properly adjusted for her skating style. Of course, there are a lot of conditions there. Every team should have someone who can be depended on for hardware training and adjustments or they should find a professional (the pro shop owner or a skate shop owner) to help them. There are enough gear heads out in the derby world, that help in this area isn’t hard to find.
I understand that if you put a $550 pair of Black Widows on a brand new skater, she won’t skate much better than in a pair of $100 R3s. But it will only be a matter of weeks before the performance of a light aluminum plate will out shine a nylon one and a matter of months before a Reactor plate will help any skate skating on something that I can twist in my hands.
Some times getting more advanced equipment can hinder the learning of a skater. Newer skaters “require” tighter trucks to master the basics of balance and muscle memory before adding the work of feet, ankles, knees and hips to master looser trucks which will allow greater maneuverability.
As a rule of thumb, I find owning equipment just slightly better than one needs right now is the equipment to get. Like a kid with a new pair of shoes, there’s room to grow into them. Also keep in mind, when upgrading equipment in professional quality you might experience new aches and pains you weren’t used to. Did you graduate from a beginner pair of skates to something with a non-Chinese made boot and a more rigid plate? Your feet will hurt because suddenly you’ll be using muscles in your feet to control your skate you never even knew you had. That’s normal – and its good.
So what’s with the magic? Part of the success of us as derby skaters involves our emotional and intellectual investment in the sport. If we feel good about ourselves when we play – and the gear we have contributes to how we feel; physically and emotionally – we’ll play better, we’ll have more fun, and we’ll play even harder.
Its like when I sold pool cues. A $120 pool cue provided all the features and benefits a high-level amateur player could want – a long, set taper, a quality shaft made of properly cured wood, a quality wrap, a well-centered weight, a quality joint. Spending more money than that mostly got the buyer more “attitude” and, well, attitude is a part of any sport – especially billiards.
So go ahead. Get that gear. Be happy and proud and gloat about it a bit. If it makes you feel better, you’ll be a better skater too!