Why minimum skills are only the tip of the iceberg


July 3, 2013 by alinedecat

Let’s face the truth: there is absolutely no official or standard way for leagues to make skaters pass their minimum skills. So far, every league actually handles it its own way. And we all know, every once in a while, it happens that some players find themselves scrimmaging or bouting way too early.

Last year, I heard one of the weirdest sentences of my derbylife. Actually I can’t recall the whole sentence but at some point, it went “blabla level 2 or 3 of minimum skills.”

So, my first thought was that the “classic” minimum skills (the WFTDA ones) were level 1, and then some additional skills like, I don’t know, backwards skating, hockey stops or transitions for example, would be a sort of underground level 2 (I know some of these elements are now part of the new minimum skills, but by that time they weren’t). I couldn’t even imagine what level 3 was made of but the former figure skater inside me was already getting psyched about this new challenge.

But then (yes, my optimism sometimes makes me slightly slow), I figured out that some people actually divided the minimum skills in 3 levels, to be able to play before having passed their whole minimum skills. I know JRDA defines 3 levels of skills, but the rules of the games vary with the level, which was not the case in my story. And for all I know, adults tend to play according to the WFTDA rules and level, not JRDA.

So this whole thing made me wonder: Are there different significations for “minimum”? Can something be any “minimumer”? Can a 6-year-old drive a car because he’s level 1 of minimum driving age?

To me, when I hear “minimum”, I more likely understand “that, at the very least”, which means two things:

First, passing minimum skills means all of them. If you can’t do one element correctly, you fail. 95% is failing. So is 99%. You need to be able to do every single thing naturally. And don’t consider this being too severe, if you were a figure skater, a certain grace would also be necessary to pass.

Second, there actually are other skills. Even just for “basic” derby. But of course you need some honest goodwill to admit there is still work to do. I’ve seen so many skaters work hard to get their minimum skills (I mean, what is written down only) without even considering some very useful additional skills, but let’s make a parallel with other sports: What would you think of a polo-player who can almost ride his horse? Or a car racer who can’t reverse, because he doesn’t explicitly need it?

I know it sometimes takes a (very) long time to master skating skills, and by that, I consider something mastered when it is performed without even thinking of it, and in a completely secure way, but believe me, skipping this step is not a favor you can do to yourself or your league.

But constantly trying to improve your skills, and mastering non-minimum skills, that is something that could bring you to a whole new level of derby.


One thought on “Why minimum skills are only the tip of the iceberg

  1. […] or american football? Come on, we know how to play it safely, with an adequate skating level (see my entry about minimum skills), and yes, even despite this, some injuries will occur, but that happens in sports, I personnaly […]

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I'm Aline Decat #61, skater for Gotham Girls Roller Derby and Team Belgium Roller Derby. I am also coach for Track Advantage - coaching company and I founded the Blackland Rockin'K-Rollers and Europe's first junior league, the Blackland Teenage Terrors.

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