Equipment? Checked!

It's Hard Breaking Dolls time!

This month, I had no idea what I wanted to talk about. Nothing exciting was happening in our league or with our league. But then...

Then, I read an article about the new rules for equipment check and I went off on a little rant. But mainly, I got an idea for this article.

I should probably explain what are my views on the now not mandatory equipment check. In the article, they went through a several reasons why it's a good thing the equipment check is now dead. Some of them make sense and I agree but the main reason why I went a little rant crazy was due to refs not being able to tell if your gear is bout-ready. 
My argument was that yes, you should know your own gear but the refs, at least the ones I was "reffed by" (is, is that a phrase?) usually knew what they should be looking for. If not, somebody should tell them. And yes, I prefer being checked by somebody other than me before I step on the track to play. That was my argument, in a nutshell. I have more opinions about this but that's not what this article is supposed to be about. 

So, let's move on.

I want to talk about equipment (i have never typed this word so many times in one day) and what your skaters should know about it and how to teach them about it.

When I first started derby I had no clue and what's worse, we were the first league in our country and we were all rookies. So nobody pretty much knew anything. I bought the "classic" rookie package. Riedell R3s with some wheels and terrible toe-stops, Triple 8 pads, nice helmet and an awful thick mouth guard. I wanted my skates fast, and I figured it'll do for now. And yes, it did the trick for the first six months but then you get a little better and you start to browse the webpages of your friendly neighborhood derby shop (in my case, located in a different country) at night and wonder if you maybe should buy some new, better, more expensive parts...

When I decided to buy some better wheels for the floor in our practice space, I spent couple of hours googling what wheels go with what floor. And so on for every other part of my equipment. I spent days trying to figure out what boot and plate I want when it was time to upgrade those as well. 

But it shouldn't be this complicated for your newbies. Some derby shops now do gear explaining sessions, you just invite them and they will come and show you what part of your skate is what and how it works and stuff. That's really good. Or if you have a person in your league who knows everything about gear just have them hold a couple of sessions at practice. They will tell you the basics, if you want to know more, do more sessions later. 

But anyway... Some basic things every derby girl should know about they stuff.

1) Wheels - How to clean them. What are the numbers on them. 62A - 98A, that means hardness. 38x62mm, that's the width and height. What hardness goes well with what floor. What are outdoor, indoor and hybrid wheels. Not all wheels are the same width and height. If you decide to mix your wheels, that turns out to be a dealbreaker sometimes.

2) Bearings - what they are, where they are and how to take them out and clean them. And with what. Also, the numbers, what do they mean (insert witty Lost reference).

3) Plates - What and where are cushions, and how do they help with skating. If you decide to buy new plates, you need to decide what you'd like your plate to "help" you with and then sort of end up with couple of options based on how much money you wanna spend. As in: "I'm a blocker, I don't really care for agility that much, I want something that gives me more stability. And is also light and doesn't cost over XXX dollars."

4) Pads - How to cover the hard shells if you need to, deciding on what works for your size-wise. And if you're using too much tape, it's probably time to buy new ones.

5) Helmet - How it should fit. If it's cracked, buy a new one. How to adjust your straps.

6) Toe-stops - what length works best for you. How to adjust them. 

7) MouthguardHow it should fit. How to clean it. And if it starts talking one day because you've left it in your closed gear bag, hidden in your sweaty sports bra.... You should probably name it and give it a home. And buy a new one. 

However, to be fair, most conversations I have with my team members are questions about wheels and pads only because there is so many options and it always boils down to "Will it last?" and "Is it worth the money?". 

I'm sure I forgot some things (as usual) but I think I got the basics covered.

But you know, learn about your gear, spend some time googling, have your captain hold a session at your next practice. As boring as it may seem, it's a part of the derby experience as well. And your health depends on it.

Till next time!
Lucille von Kill
PS.: If you're not sure, what your gear should fit like to be safe for bouting/scrimmaging/practicing, here's the official PFD file from WFTDA.

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