Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Secret to T-stops

Every roller derby vet I've talked to has told me that most fresh meat have trouble with either the plow stop or the t-stop. For me it's been the t-stop. I've gone to three workshops to improve it (as well other skills, but this is my current weakness so I am concentrating on this right now) and after those, as well as an hour long intensive personal practice solely dedicated to performing the t-stop over and over and over... I have finally figured out how to do it.

See this mediocre youtube video to get a sense of what I am referring to if you have no idea what I am talking about.

For the beginner, a few skills are best learned before performing the t-stop, namely being able to skate on one foot at a time, left and the right. If you want jump the gun, figure out which foot will be your front foot when performing the t-stop and concentrate on balancing on that foot. For me, it's my right foot, but I'm guessing most of you will be stronger on your left.
The next key step to performing a t-stop is being able to be flexible enough to put your feet in that t-like position. For me, it was hard so I have been practicing the 2nd position, as it is referred to in ballet. After I got pretty good at that, it was really easy to perform a t-like position! And I didn't practice 2nd position only on skates... I practiced mostly while at work and waiting for public trans.
The last key step to the t-stop is, even though it looks like you're only moving your back foot (moving it perpendicular to your front foot, placing it down on the ground to grind yourself to a halt, etc), in actuality, your front foot is also moving towards your back foot just like scissors do. All skaters perform this so fast that you don't notice this minor detail.

Tip from a vet to me: If you're still having trouble after a few workshops under your belt (like I was), but you know how to stop with your toe stops, try stopping using just the front, outermost wheel on your backfoot until you get used to the rhythm of it.
And lastly... practice, practice, practice. You'll feel like a bit of a fool, but you're a beginner and you'll stay such unless you take risks. So get out there and master these basic skills yo!

Three disclaimers:
1) Don't ever stop using one or two of your inside wheels on your back foot - you could end up with a sprained ankle! Use the outermost wheels on your back foot or all four wheels.
2) always, always, always wear knee pads no matter when or wear you skate if you want to be a rollergirl! If you mess up your knees now you'll have no chance lasting too long in derby! And that would be a tragedy.
3) I practiced the t-stop for almost an hour straight and my ankle started to tire, so I stopped. Don't push yourself too hard without supervision, especially on your ankles. If your ankles tire when you're performing a move like this, they could buckle and you'll end up with a sprained ankle! I have already bought ankle weights to strengthen those muscles - you should too, or google other ways to strengthen them!

Good luck :) I'm off to practice the tomahawk!

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