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Cushions – Not just for couches anymore….

Dee's Corner

Gather round, children, I’ll tell you a tale… of Roller Derby of lore.  Once apon a time, approximately 5 years ago, Roller Derby was fledgling.  Yes.  It’s true.   If the Roller Derby leagues of today sat down and talked with their own Roller Derby leagues 5 years ago we would probably say, “you really had no clue what you were doing… You were kinda just making things up as you went along huh?” and we most certainly would say “Holy crap… you have NO idea what you are doing with your gear!!  I can’t believe you did that to your skates!”

There was no “local skate shop.”  There was no local.  Every State did not have a league and most states only had 1 league.  The neighboring league was hours away from each other.  When we ordered skates we ordered online and when we called we usually couldn’t find anyone who had any idea what Roller Derby was let along someone who knew how to adjust our skates for our sport…. so again we made things up.

Now we get to the meat and potatoes of our story and the point of this blog.  Cushions.  Yes!  Turning!  Cushions are what “cushion” your trucks while you turn providing recoil and reaction.  The softer the cushion the easier it is to turn.  This are essential to roller derby.  You want to see someone next to you and turn your skates into them and “WHAM!” you don’t want to see them next to you, try to turn into them and not turn and watch them go by.  Turning is essential for crossovers, backwards skating, form, etc.

Soft cushions make it so easy!  It’s really THAT simple.  Well… we didn’t know that 5 years go (or maybe some of you awesome people did… but no one told the lot of us.)  The cushions that came in our skates were mostly hard plastic.  Hard is not a good recipe for recoiling and turning.  So what we did was loosen the bejesus out of our trucks until they flopped from side to side!  It worked…. sort of.

“Hallelujah!  I can turn!” we exclaimed in unison*     (*not an actual event)

Years went by and we found we were snapping kingpins, breaking trucks, enduring pointless ankle injuries and basically putting needless wear on our gear.  We thought we were just adjusting our gear to our sport.  This was just the way we did it.  Then we told others to do it.  Everyone was told to do it this way, and so it was.

If the me that skates now hung out with the me that skated 5 years ago I probably would have imparted 3 pearls of wisdom.

1.  “Don’t ball your fists up and bend your elbows at 90 degrees.  You look stupid.”

2.  “You were right.  Jammerless jams were in fact ‘sort of ridiculous.'”

3.  “Spend $15 and get a set of soft cushions.”

The first 2 are self evident, however the last one would need some convincing.  I’m sure the me 5 years ago would have said something like “I got this… self” and tried to skate off in a clunky huff.  However the me now would explain that this $15 purchase would make a world of difference in my skating.

Here’s what I would say:

The floppier your trucks are the easier they will turn to one side.  What they will not do is recoil and spring you back in the other direction.  So you are making it easy to turn, yes, but not easy to turn back to the other direction.  You are in fact making it a little harder to turn back in the opposite direction.  Since Roller Derby is to be played laterally on the track what you want is a softer squishy urethane cushion (not your hard plastic cushions) tightened down so your trucks are not floppy.  This will help you when to turn you left, it will squish the cushion, then when you are ready to turn right the cushion will spring back helping you turn right.  It is indeed magic.  Your skates working WITH you instead of AGAINST you.  Riedell and Suregrip are both on board with these magical urethane cushions.

I would also say that the floppy truck syndrome is causing unessesary force to be placed on your kingpins, your trucks and on your ankles.  It’s really harsh on these pivot points when something is being rammed back and forth on it.  You are going to break your gear!  Evolve.  Learn from the evolution of the derby skater.  We used to try to force our gear to do what we wanted, now we work in symbiosis with our gear to make them extensions of ourselves.  It is literally the best and most inexpensive upgrade you can make for your skates instantly making you a better skater.

So that’s the end of the blog…. in summary.  If you want your gear to react to you, you need to both adjust the gear properly and to have the right parts.  That’s it!   oh wait!  The story!  The story needs a happy ending… that’s right.

Ok… so the me from the future went back to the future where she belonged.  The me from 5 years ago realized that the me from the future was right about everything.  She got some urethane cushions and immediately her skating improved and her gear was SAVED!   She stopped balling her fists up tightly as she skated and WFTDA 4.0 came out and everyone lived happily ever after.

THE END!

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