The WFTDA just released a new set of minimum skills requirements.
- The 25 laps in 5 minutes requirement is now 27 laps in 5 minutes. (Hey, didn’t we just talk about this?)
- Skaters now must be able to skate one lap in 13 seconds, starting from a standstill.
- The falling section is now a “recovery” section. No more baseball slides and 4-points.
- The terms “brisk” and “moderate” pace are defined.
- You have to be able to cross over the “other” way. Skating in the derby direction, that means stepping with your left foot over your right foot from the inside line to the outside line.
- Transitions are required. (Turning around.) (To the left AND right!)
Anything else I missed?
The general reaction to this seems to be mixed. A rash generalization might be this:
Those who can already pass the skills easily think the new requirements are great.
Those who struggle with the skills don’t like the new requirements, especially the ones for speed and endurance.
The minimum skills are established for safety reasons. This is a dangerous sport, and no one should be playing it without a basic set of skills. If a skater is exhausted from skating at a fast pack pace for two minutes, they’re more likely to be out of control when hitting or being hit. Everyone needs to be able to take a hit without flailing, tripping others, or grabbing. You need to be able to control your speed in a pack without taking anyone out, to be able to avoid fallen skaters, to look around you, and to be in control while executing basic roller derby maneuvers.
The new skills are reflective a new, more advanced, era of gameplay. Turning around wasn’t always a basic roller derby maneuver. Now it is. (Back in 2008 or so, sometimes pivots skated in front of the pack, turned around, and pointed and yelled directions. ADVANCED SKILLZ.) You don’t have to prove that you can skate backwards, though turning 180s would suggest that you’re skating backwards for some length. Backwards skating and turning around is part of the deal now.
That being said, who are you afraid to skate with? Grabby and kicky Fresh Meat? Sure. Your skilled teammate who has a hard time with endurance? Probably not. If they can keep up with a racing pack for two minutes, they probably know well enough not to try anything fancy at the end. If someone can’t get up to speed quickly, is that a safety issue? Or a game play issue?
Six months after retirement, it would probably take me a week or two of dedicated effort to work up to being able to turn around in both directions. I have a “bad” side. A very bad side.
Guys? Confession time. It took me almost year to learn how to turn around. I never figured it out until it was explained to me a little bit differently at a rec league practice. After that, I would go to the elementary school near my house and practice turnaround stop after turnaround stop after turnaround stop to get it right. And I only practiced going in my “good” direction. It was hard enough for me as it was.
Another skill that would be tough? This new requirement for a two-knee slide.
2.2.4 Momentum used to initiate the slide is continued into the recovery to normal skating motion.
Uh, so, you have to do a two-knee slide and get up in the same motion, without putting a fist down? That is hard, especially if you’re 5’9″. Or maybe it just seems especially hard to me right now, since I’m 5 1/2 months pregnant and have a hard time leaning over to pick up things I’ve dropped.
Roller derby is really hard, and it takes a long time to learn. Now it will take a little longer for most people.
What do you guys think of the new WFTDA minimum skills? A step in the right direction for the way the game is headed? Or too restrictive for a sport that wants to be inclusive?
Do these enforce safety? Would you feel more safe now with newly-passed league members?
Does this put an extra squeeze on small leagues, who have a hard enough time getting a roster together? Does it help larger leagues like Rose City, who have a huge rec league and a Fresh Meat program to pull from?
Updated again with the view from Roller Derby Athletics.