For most, aside from those lucky (read skilled and talented) teams that have made the WFTDA championships, it is the roller derby off season. Some leagues take a break, some use it to bring in their Fresh Meat classes, but a lot of skaters begin thinking about how they did this season and what areas of their gear they feel need updating to improve their game next year.
Why now? You're not necessarily even practicing. Well, doing your research and making your choices now will mean that you have your new gear during the training season, and you can get used to it before you need it to be competitive. Anyone who has ever broken a plate mid season knows how hard it can be to have one practice to adapt to a replacement before a game, it's not fun. It also gives you the time to have your new skates ordered and built in time for when training gets intense again.
So, when I say upgrade your skates, do I mean just buying a whole new skate? Well, it can mean that, but it can also mean making changes part by part. SAY WHAAAT? You can do that? Yup, Essentially every skate is made up of 5 parts
- 1. Boot
- 2. Plate
- 3. Wheels
- 4. Toe Stop
- 5. Bearings
For the most part, every skate can have these parts upgraded separately. If you love your boot but want a little more responsiveness from your plate, no problem, switch it out and keep everything else as is. So, why would anyone do this instead of just replacing the whole thing? Biggest reason is the cost, upgrading to a whole new competitive skate is expensive (though worth every penny!). The other reason that I encourage skaters to take advantage of is that it helps you understand the different parts of your skate and how they can affect your skating. If you replace everything all at once then you likely have no real idea of what you love and/or hate about your new setup and why. If you do it piece by piece, you're able to assess the smaller increments and say "heck ya, that new plate is totally lighter and more agile".
So, in light of all of the tough, yet fun, decisions you may need to make in the next little while, we're going to dedicate the next few weeks to helping to answer some of the questions you might have about how to incrementally upgrade your setup. If all we do is give you more questions, write to us or leave comments below and we'll answer them as part of a wrap up!
Join us next week as we get started with Upgrading Your Skates Part 2 - Plates