Coaches Corner Photo: Danny Ngan Photography

Published on November 25th, 2013 | by Hot Quad


Photo: Danny Ngan Photography

The Pursuit of Derbyness: Beating the Plateau

Ask just about anyone to imagine a plateau in the classical sense and you might hear a description of a vast expanse of wasteland with birds circling high overhead and a sense of lonely desolation.  Ask an athlete what they imagine and you’re likely to hear stories of desperation, frustration – and not surprisingly – that same sense of lonely desolation.  No one likes to get caught in a rut.  If you’ve hit a wall and you’re looking for some ideas to change up your routine, here are some ideas you might try.


Seek Outside Information

The downside of a league structure the only includes about 80 people (and for some quite a bit less) is that ideas tend to stagnate within small groups.  If you’ve been skating with the same people for awhile it’s likely that you all hold similar beliefs surrounding skating technique, game strategy and rule interpretation.  While consistency can certainly bind a team together, breaking out of a plateau requires a fresh injection of ideas.

Attend clinics.  Buy a cup of coffee for someone from the league in the next town and pick their brain.  Seek out experienced players who give private lessons.  Read blogs written by high level players (I’m particularly fond of Bonnie D. Stroir and Kamikaze Kitten).  Watch bout footage from other leagues with a critical eye.  What are they doing that you can adopt?  Do you have any long held beliefs or habits that need to change?


Fix What Hurts

Do you have a nagging pain in your knee?  Has that ankle sprain actually healed or are you just babying it along?  How are your shoulders – really?  No matter how tough you may be, persistent pain is guaranteed to hold you back.  That’s because the pain you’re feeling is your body desperately trying to communicate to you that something’s wrong.  If you choose to just ignore the pain I can promise you that you’re holding back on the floor whether you’re aware of it or not.  You’re also very likely to make it worse over time.

Rather than play poorly until you’re unable to play at all, STOP NOW.  Take a break.  Go to your PT.  If you’ve already been to the PT and are nursing along an old injury then go back to your old exercises.  I promise you they work but you do have to stick with it.  Your recovery should be pain free and if it’s not then you need to adjust your habits until it becomes so.  This may include some time of no activity at all.  Remember – you’ve hit a plateau.  Something needs to change.  For you, that’s your health and in this case you must take a step back if you ever want to really surge forward.


Check Your Gear

I’m not about to tell you that you can buy your way off of a plateau, but if you’ve been skating for awhile and it’s been ages since you made any changes to your setup it might do you some good to check in.  Is your pivot cup in good shape?  Are your bushing free of cracks?  Do your bearings make you sound like a helicopter racing across the track?  Have you tightened your laces as your boot starts to stretch and wear?   When was the last time you loosened your trucks?  Have you tried inserts for better arch support?  New bushings, laces or bearings are fairly cheap, should be replaced as necessary and have the potential to positively or negatively impact your game.  Don’t let the easy stuff slide just because you’re looking at the big picture.

That isn’t to say that there might not come a time when a big ticket replacement is really what your skating needs.  Proceed with caution.  It’s tempting to believe that if you buy a shiny new pair of Murillo’s you’ll skate just that much more like Bonnie Thunders but the reality is that the best a new piece of equipment can do for you is accentuate the things you already do well.  If at all possible, try before you buy.  Talk to other skaters but pay particular attention to those players who are similar in size, shape and skating style to you.  Be prepared to make the decision that the equipment you already have is still exactly what you need.


Test Your Limits

When you were a new skater you were forced into testing the bounds of your limits because everything was the hardest thing you could do.  Now that you have some experience ask yourself whether you’re really working on anything that’s risky.  Do you try new things that make you fall down?  Have you spectacularly failed at anything lately?  If you never get out of your comfort zone you’ll be hard pressed to improve.

That goes for your cross training regime too.  Been crossfitting for a year before you hit a wall?  Try yoga.  Interval runs no longer doing it for you?  Get on the bike.  Out of ideas entirely?  Join an exercise group or pay a trainer.  Of course if you’re not cross training at all this becomes a real no brainer.  Do not delay – start today.

If none of this sounds helpful to you then I have excellent news:  you’ve been equipped with a large frontal lobe which enables you as an intelligent human being to solve your own problems.  Take five minutes now and identify one thing in your routine that you can change going forward.  You won’t regret it.  Good luck and happy skating.

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