How to Fall Down
There are plenty of ways to fall down,on skates and otherwise.
Speaking specifically of derby, we can get hit, blocked, counter-blocked, our skates get caught up, and occasionally they just fly out from under us.
As is the case with life in general,
there is absolutely no way to play derby without falling down.
But there are a few ways to handle falling down before, when and after it happens.
- Wear good gear. Falls will happen no matter how well you skate, so be ready before you roll. Quality knee pads, elbow and wrist guards can mean the difference between a moment on the floor and a month on Team Injured. Part of recovering from a fall means planning for it.
- Don’t be scared to fall. It’s one thing to counter-block or dodge an obstacle to try to keep from falling; at some point, though, you have to accept that you’re going down. And many times, the more you fight falling, the more you’ll get hurt in the end. Flailing around to try to regain balance that has long since left the building will only make you less prepared when you meet the floor. The first big fall I took, I remember thinking, ‘Well, maybe I can…no, not working, but if I just lean this way, I could…nope. I’m screwed.’ And landed at the most inhumanly awkward angle, spread out like a mangled starfish.
- Fall small. When you fall, take up as little space as possible. Get your arms and legs close to your body, pull your fingers into fists and tuck your chin to your chest. I watched #Smashtag take a fall in a recent scrimmage against the DuPage Derby Dames, and she fell so small that it looked like a cross between a dance move and a video game. Girl made it look good. And in the process, she prevented her teammates from tripping on her, she kept her face safe and she made sure her fingers didn’t get run over. Falls happen, but the potential secondary injuries from them don’t have to.
- Get right back up. As tempting as it is to stay on the floor for a minute and ponder the spill you just took, you can’t. The game keeps going, and you’re not helping anybody – least of all yourself – by thinking deep thoughts about which shade of purple the bruise on your hip will be tomorrow. Jump back up and start skating again. Anny SMACKquiao bounces back up like she’s made of rubber. It’s spectacular. And you know what else? She’s usually smiling.
- Use it. Falling isn’t failure. It’s part of the game. We learn from it, we feel tougher for it and it makes us want to go harder. I heard a line in a movie a while back, “Once you realize you’re not made of glass, you don’t feel alive unless you’re pushing yourself as far as you can go.”
So fall. And fall again. And fall some more. Just recognize that you have a good amount of choice in how that fall affects you and those around you. Now get back up and skate.
-Undead Miss Red