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Published on May 25th, 2012 | by DerbyLife

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Divide And Conquer (Or Tips For the 25)

By Buzzy Bee-Arch. Read more in her blog, Buzz On.

Watching the new freshmeat last night trying to break the 25 laps in 5 minutes was a big old trip down memory lane.

Even though it was only a few months back, it feels so long ago that I was desperately willing my legs to keep doing crossovers properly even though they had turned to jelly. Collapsing at the end of the 25 laps, gasping for air, gutted that I hadn’t made it again and no idea where I could possibly find the extra go to shave those last 15 seconds off. I remember searching online for some tips, anything, that could help me get there. Finding bits of advice here and there, listening to my coaches (yes it does help!!) and perserverance got me there in the end.

I thought I’d pay it forward and put it all together for those dedicated and frustrated freshies coming through behind me.

So here it is….my collection of tips (mostly learnt the hard way!) on how to break the 25 in 5…..

1. Moving your feet faster will not make you skate faster!

It will just make you exhausted and more likely to fall over. Long, strong strides…pushing down and through. And big, deep crossovers. If you need to rest – glide the straights but always, ALWAYS skate the corners and do the crossovers.

2. Skate the diamond.

The Diamond_0.jpg
Hopefully you can see past my bad drawing skills – the green dots are where you have to do crossovers.

3. Breathe.

4. Use your arms.

Moving my arms like a runner – cutting the air in front of me, really helped me with the rest of my skating form. I think it mostly just gave me a rhythm and something easy to focus on.

5. Grab a buddy.

One of the things I like about roller derby is that it’s a team sport. Where does it say in the skills testing rulebook that you have to tackle the 25 laps without help?? Find a sympathetic old meat and ask them to skate in front of you so that you can mimic their form around the track and know what kind of pace you need to aim for.

6. Keep breathing.

7. Break it down.

It occured to me after my 2nd failed attempt that I had to be able to skate 5 laps in a minute before I was ever going to conquer the 25 in 5. So I tried it and sure enough it took me 1 minute and 5 seconds. This made it clear that my form and technique weren’t good enough yet – I needed to focus on that and get that right first.

8. Be stubborn.

Honestly I think this was the one thing that helped me most in the end. Just being good-old-fashioned-hard-headed about it. I decided I would do it, no matter how many attempts it took. I practiced every chance I could. During warm up and cool down laps at training I was working on one of the points listed above. Every time I was circling the track it was a chance to improve something that would help me get there. I’m sure I drove the coaches crazy with my constant requests to time me doing this or that, or ‘could I please have another go at the 25 while the oldmeat were taking their gear off and stretching??’ In retrospect I probably should have remembered occasionally that it wasn’t all about me….but it did help me get there in the end!!

It was tough getting there but it was one of favourite derby moments so far….
Lying on the ground completely spent….smile so big it made my face hurt…..trying to high five from the floor when the others came over to congratulate me….knowing that I had finally done it.

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