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Roller Derby Forum Discussions about banked-track and flat-track roller derby events, teams, skaters, and training methods.

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Old October 20th, 2013, 03:03 PM   #1
hdmx539
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Question Reducing ankle "flick"

I'm not sure if I should post this in the quad forum or here, but since I am training to make a roller derby home team I'll post here.

There was some thread (I can't seem to find it now as it was a while ago when I first read it) that someone mentions ankle "flick" when pushing to accelerate. Now, I admit that I was never formally taught how to roller skate as a kid and when I started roller derby fresh meat training seven months ago in March, someone noticed how I skated and told me to push "from the hip." I know what they mean and I have made an effort when I go to open rec skating at a rink to practice that. Yesterday I was at open skating and even though I was making an effort and concentrating on pushing from my hip, which I'm infinitely better than I used to be, I noticed I still have some ankle "flick."

What exercises can I do and practice to reduce ankle flick or make it go away? Any thoughts on that? I'm wondering if I'm losing power because of it. How concerned should I be with this even though I am still pushing from the hip (I feel it in my hips after every session and I know my skating has improved because of it.)

Thoughts?

HDMx539
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Old October 20th, 2013, 11:39 PM   #2
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Though you will probably get a lot of input on this, without video to see what you are or are not doing, it will be pretty difficult to give you meaningful advice. In another thread, skating in the pack, we are trying to TEACH a skater to do what I consider ankle flick, to produce power while in traffic.

As a developing skater, if you have a particular predilection, odd way of doing things, I say keep it. LEARN other ways of doing things, but don't necessarily throw out what you are already doing. It may be needed/appropriate in a different situation.
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Old October 21st, 2013, 01:35 AM   #3
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The "ankle flick" I'm thinking of is a positive thing, not a negative. Unless the term is being used differently where you are - it is at the end of your push, you get a last little bit of push off of your front inside wheel with kinda of flick of your ankle. It's something you would see more in quad speed skating.

May be easiest to picture it when you are crossing over around a corner and you are nice and low, and your right foot is pushing out really hard... you'd get that extra flick at the end for more push.
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Old October 21st, 2013, 01:44 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by hdmx539 View Post
I'm not sure if I should post this in the quad forum or here, but since I am training to make a roller derby home team I'll post here.

There was some thread (I can't seem to find it now as it was a while ago when I first read it) that someone mentions ankle "flick" when pushing to accelerate. Now, I admit that I was never formally taught how to roller skate as a kid and when I started roller derby fresh meat training seven months ago in March, someone noticed how I skated and told me to push "from the hip." I know what they mean and I have made an effort when I go to open rec skating at a rink to practice that. Yesterday I was at open skating and even though I was making an effort and concentrating on pushing from my hip, which I'm infinitely better than I used to be, I noticed I still have some ankle "flick."

What exercises can I do and practice to reduce ankle flick or make it go away? Any thoughts on that? I'm wondering if I'm losing power because of it. How concerned should I be with this even though I am still pushing from the hip (I feel it in my hips after every session and I know my skating has improved because of it.)

Thoughts?

HDMx539
Once you are rolling at some decent level of speed, for your stroke to most effectively further accelerate you, it needs to be directed at very near 90 to your rolling direction.

How much acceleration you get from this optimum direction of a stroke depends on how long of a stroke you can produce, and how much average force your leg can maintain during the stroke extension period.

A shorter length , quicker burst of strength stroke, that reaches a higher force level, can still match the acceleration of a longer length but slower and lower average force stroke.

The power level of each stroke is basically defined by the combination of how far and how fast your leg push (and pull) can shift the center of mass of your body laterally inward. The first half of a stroke is a reach and pull inward motion, and the 2nd half id the push portion.

To maintain high push force to the very end of the stroke, adequate wheel grip must be maintained. Peak wheel grip, with minimum loss of roll, is best maintained with all four wheels pushing down and and laterally against the floor.

If an "ankle flick" causes you to lift some wheels from the floor prior to completing a full stroke extension, then it will tend to have you also be losing some grip, and this means you will also likely be lowering your leg push force proportionally, to prevent the remaining down wheels from slipping, which compromises acceleration.

However if an "ankle flick" means you are keeping your stroke well directed laterally at 90, and bending your ankle to distribute stroke push forces equally across all four wheels with high push force applied to them for as long into the stroke as possible, at which point you raise your skate off the floor, and the bent ankle snaps back to a more normal position, then I do not think such an "ankle flick" should be considered detrimental to acceleration.

Does your use of "ankle flick" imply mainly just a toe flick, where the inner front wheel is the last one coming up off the floor, and the leg is already angling more rearward at this stage, as opposed to directed 90 laterally to rolling direction?

An "ankle flick" could have the toe coming up last, the heel coming up last, or both coming up off the floor together.

IMO, if you try to have the rear heel end of the skate come up off the floor last (heel flick), in reality both the toe and heel will come up at about the same time, and yet the stroke will end up being more optimally directed at 90 degrees to the rolling direction. Most people will notice the biggest amount of acceleration from using this "heel flick" approach.

As far as the push from the hip issue goes, this revolves more around how upright or low down a skater position you are in when you push.
In addition, when you are doing crossovers, the early portion of your stroke, after you reach inward and place skate back down, and you then pull it back outward and under under your body, needs to be driven almost exclusively by your lateral hip swing force.

Upright skaters will tend to use their hips to swing their legs out laterally like pendulums to gain steed, without much bending of the knees or the hips in the rolling direction. This is a much weaker way to push, but it is all that can be done without getting into a lower skater posture, where the legs can be extended much further laterally, while still maintaining good grip contact with, and high force against the floor.

To summarize, when skating in a more upright stance, hip swing laterally will be the main force driving the stroke, for both the inward phase and the outward phase. However, more acceleration is possible when lateral hip swing is only relied on for the first half of the stroke (the reach and pull inward), but knee/hip bend extension, from a low posture, is used for powering the the outward second half of the stroke.

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Old October 21st, 2013, 02:05 AM   #5
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The "ankle flick" I'm thinking of is a positive thing, not a negative. Unless the term is being used differently where you are - it is at the end of your push, you get a last little bit of push off of your front inside wheel with kinda of flick of your ankle. It's something you would see more in quad speed skating.

May be easiest to picture it when you are crossing over around a corner and you are nice and low, and your right foot is pushing out really hard... you'd get that extra flick at the end for more push.
That is kind of an end of stroke ankle flip. I do a very upright, kind of low power ankle flick when I skate forward. (I usually skate backwards) In the inline world, it is called a swizzle. Google "skate 101 trish alexander" and find her swizzle video. This is fine, easy, and relaxing way to create power for session skating. But it isn't the best way to put down REAL power. Oh, and the swizzle, actually half swizzle, one foot moves at a time only, is GREAT in a crowded pack. So if you are doing something like my standing upright half swizzle, don't throw it out. It is a skill worth keeping. But do learn how to put down max power for when you need it.
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Old October 21st, 2013, 04:27 AM   #6
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I meant to post much earlier, got busy, lost my orig post lol anywhoo

Ankle rolling/toe flick is part of a correct stride. However it can be done incorrectly. When I do this its incorporated into my push and ends as my leg nears full extension. You don't want a stride meant for speed to still be in contact with the floor once its fully extended. Many new skaters tend to over extend, an as a result slow themselves down. The biggest mistake I see newer skaters doing is not starting their stride back under their torso(at the least), usually for the fear of clipping their own wheels.

The trick is to try and keep your 4 wheels on the floor while getting your calf muscles in the mix of your stride. The more ankle flexion you have the better. This is the motion of you pulling your toes towards your shin. Also as you stride out your hips open slightly as your toe veers outward towards a / angle. If your able to keep all your wheels on the ground then great.

During any part of your stride you should not be near your flexibility limits, as this will rob power, speed, and endurance from you.

Even the fabled "double push" can be done in quads.

Edit: I do agree with rufus that its EXTREMELY HARD if not impossible to do good ankle roll/ toe flick form while hauling ass through the turns. Also I can get WAY more use of toe flick/ankle roll when skating backwards. Honestly if I did it alot more and there was no one in the way with a bigger rink I could probably skate faster backwards than forwards. Just hard to go 100% all out in a crowded rink with midgets traveling towards a concrete wall @ 25 mph... backwards.
RUFUS! Lol. I cannot stand that womans videos. .everyone looks like an 8 bit graphic while skating! The other thing is everyone is so upright and their wheels are almost always parallel to each other. What a recipe for disaster for outdoor skating.
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Old October 21st, 2013, 05:28 AM   #7
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We've had the discussion of whether it is good or bad multiple times. We call it a toe flick instead of ankle flick, which is why you may not have been able to find it in your searches. It has been considered by some camps to be proper quad (speed) technique, and others consider it bad form. I personally think it is a good thing.

I wouldn't say you should "skate from your hip". Skater whose technique I would describe that way keep their knees too straight and trying to use the hip muscles, basically treating the leg as a pendulum. This also causes your hips to sway, which messes with your balance.

You can get much more power, and much more stamina, if you bend your knees and extend your legs to push. This uses your thighs, glutes, and knee muscles, which can exert much more force than the hips much more easily. It also allows you to power into the floor instead of swinging your foot around above it. Everything starts with getting into proper position.

Notice that this discussion doesn't include the ankles at all. We can talk about the toe flick if you want, but it isn't nearly as critical as getting low and using the more powerful muscles in your legs. If the toe flick makes a difference, it is on the order of tenths of a second per 100 meter lap. Unless you are standing straight up and have a very short stride as a result, in which case toe flicking will have a considerable positive impact. In that case, you will be going considerably slower.
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Old October 21st, 2013, 07:18 AM   #8
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RUFUS! Lol. I cannot stand that womans videos. .everyone looks like an 8 bit graphic while skating! The other thing is everyone is so upright and their wheels are almost always parallel to each other. What a recipe for disaster for outdoor skating.
Lol. Well, it's not like I'd pop a bag of popcorn and watch for hours! But a few years back when I dabbled with an inline, I learned everything I NEEDED to know from her videos. (at that time, she was featured on the K2 site) I practiced a few days on the street, and when I went to the rink I did fine. I did not keep up with the inlines, as those K2's I had would not stay tight at the top of the boot. I felt kind of bad taking them back as I had worn the back wheels pretty good. I have a very heel heavy inline skating style.
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 04:35 AM   #9
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From what everyone is describing, yes, that's what I'm doing. (I realize it's more difficult since you haven't seen me actually skate so it's difficult to comment and be able to tell my form.)

Yes, it is more of a "toe flick." And I feel a bit more reassured that I am most likely skating properly. There are two ladies at open rec skating who skate the way WJCIV describes: straight up and the leg swings out like a pendulum.

I'm not doing that. When I'm making an effort to skate fast (as I practice for my 27 in 5), I get as low as I possibly can at my knees - tho' I know I could probably get lower and I continue to practice squats to do so - push out with my leg, I do feel it all through my leg, not just from my hips, but through my thighs and down resulting in somewhat of a "flick" at my foot that I just noticed recently in my skating. I thought it was at my ankle, but it may very well be at my toe. I'll pay attention at speed skate class tomorrow. (I'll also ask the guy running it if he'd take a look at my form.)

I bet I'm alright. I just worry so much about being able to break through that 27 in 5 as we have assessments coming up to get into the draft pool. The endurance test is the 2nd hardest one for me (first being double knee taps.)

I'll check out Trish's skate 101 videos.
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 08:49 AM   #10
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I'll check out Trish's skate 101 videos.
Actually, based on your last post, what I was suggesting is probably not likely what you are doing. But you can check it out anyway.
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 01:10 PM   #11
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Actually, based on your last post, what I was suggesting is probably not likely what you are doing. But you can check it out anyway.
They're actually alright, short and sweet. She describes the action while demonstrating without a whole lot of blather. I like that.
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 01:47 PM   #12
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From what everyone is describing, yes, that's what I'm doing. (I realize it's more difficult since you haven't seen me actually skate so it's difficult to comment and be able to tell my form.)

Yes, it is more of a "toe flick." And I feel a bit more reassured that I am most likely skating properly. There are two ladies at open rec skating who skate the way WJCIV describes: straight up and the leg swings out like a pendulum.

I'm not doing that. When I'm making an effort to skate fast (as I practice for my 27 in 5), I get as low as I possibly can at my knees - tho' I know I could probably get lower and I continue to practice squats to do so - push out with my leg, I do feel it all through my leg, not just from my hips, but through my thighs and down resulting in somewhat of a "flick" at my foot that I just noticed recently in my skating. I thought it was at my ankle, but it may very well be at my toe. I'll pay attention at speed skate class tomorrow. (I'll also ask the guy running it if he'd take a look at my form.)

I bet I'm alright. I just worry so much about being able to break through that 27 in 5 as we have assessments coming up to get into the draft pool. The endurance test is the 2nd hardest one for me (first being double knee taps.)

I'll check out Trish's skate 101 videos.
I assure you that you can get more speed by developing more of a "heel flick" than a toe flick. Try it. Concentrate on the making the rear wheels come off the floor last and holding the skate pointing at 90 to the direction of your roll. I almost fell on my ass the first few times I actually did this right, form the sudden velocity surge.

Now I work a lot at stretching out my ankle bend range, since it must flex a lot to skate low and still push the stroke through at the heel end of the skate.

-Armadillo
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Old October 28th, 2013, 05:00 AM   #13
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Default What's the Problem w/Ankle Flick?

Hi hdmx539,

First Post. I like my first impression comments to starting posts since it gives me a first and clean visual image, even if wrong in the end. As more information becomes available from the SP, SLF members dialog, SP information changes and improves.

I see Arm and Rufus entered with some long notes yet I didn't read them before I posted. This could turn out to be an error.

Being an accomplished skater I live for ankle flick or planting a foot sideways flat on the floor. And double tapping and more as I move forward on the skate floor.

I don't see much wrong with what you consider a weakness, yet I do understand you want power.

The hips are important, just like the knees, calves, ankles and toes yet I would not say the hips give me all the strength that makes power and a strong skater.

For exercises I would start at the hips and move on down the body all the way to the toes. Lots of good stuff that I use for each place. I am currently working the ankle of the left foot since it is weak in certain areas of movement and strength. I got chair lifts for the ankle, exercise bands for the other direction and much more for the ankle.

Yours in Skating, MA/NY Skating Dave
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Old October 29th, 2013, 03:55 AM   #14
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Hi Again hdmx539, a tad more
Geez what does that ID represent is an aside. Hey who cares.

Quote:
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I'm not sure if I should post this in the quad forum or here, but since I am training to make a roller derby home team I'll post here. o-o HDMx539
Good Choice, Quad has a lot of junk and arguments yet Derby is better for Derby people. Quad is better now, yet it used to be a terror.

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o-o Yesterday I was at open skating and even though I was making an effort and concentrating on pushing from my hip, which I'm infinitely better than I used to be, I noticed I still have some ankle "flick." o - o HDMx539
My best advice to Derby people coming to Open Session skating would be to learn something new and skate differently. Be a free spirit and do lots of moves you have not done before. Let your skate body loose to experiment and follow some of the best teen gals and guys. OK OK you might still want to do some Derby drills, yet I see you gals missing this great opportunity.

Yours in Skating, MA/NY Skating Dave
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Old October 29th, 2013, 04:21 AM   #15
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Default Ankle Flick if Weak might? need work

Hi Again,

Geez read everyone's posts and it seems like we are all on the same page. That is a bit ODD for this OnLineSkate Group. Is this SLForum Kumbayah moment?? Watch Watch we each will leave this moment soon.

Yahhttp://www.scoutsongs.com/lyrics/kumbayah.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iBlJxWLmlU or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlGyu7l3KcU

Post-3 by Live2sk88: Seems to agree with what I know. Yet maybe she wrote it better. Yet everyone Rufus and Arm and Mort did great!!

About the only concern I should raise for Off Skate exercise is if your Ankle Flick is extremely week. It should be a strong push yet not so strong as the ending of a stride. It should just feel natural. I am recovering from a Left foot injury (broken toe bones) and I do know that the ankle can be weak in certain directions. So Again just an observation for you to consider.

I think the gal that told you that all great strides only come from the hip is a junior learner. It is not a bad start, yet incomplete.

Yours in Skating, MA/NY Skating Dave
Edit-01: Up above Armadillo talks about this being toe flick not heel or ankle flick. Well tonight it seems like I confirmed it. This is why I like having Armadillo on board. Hex code: Geez have not seen that in awhile like two decades. Each place has a value of 16 so (5 times 16x16) + (3 times 16) + 9
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Old October 29th, 2013, 11:44 AM   #16
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Thanks MA/NY Skating Dave.

Yeah, I've learned from this thread that I'm not doing too bad. Just need to practice some more. Now that I have an official video camera (I got it to record my first bout I had on Saturday - yay!) I'll be recording myself a lot more. When I go to open skate, I don't really do derby drills, per se, though sometimes I will practice stops and some knee taps, I mostly go to skate and relax and, at times, practice my stride.

I think I do have more of an ankle flick than a toe flick. There's speed skate class tonight that us derby girls are being encouraged to go to. I'll be conscientious of my form.

Oh, and "HDMx539" are my "derby initials."

Hexa Dessie Maul, jersey number X539 which is the hexadecimal number of 1337.
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Old October 30th, 2013, 03:40 AM   #17
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