Coming in as a fresh meat or just a newer skater, the question always comes up, “What skates/gear should I get and does it really make a difference in my skating ability?” When I started skating a year ago, I knew nothing about skates, pads, helmets, or much about derby at all. I quickly learned that skates are not just skates and helmets are not only about finding the coolest color or most comfortable one. Getting the right skates and gear is important to your success and safety as a derby player. Now top end skates do not make you a good skater, hard work and dedication can make you a good skater, but having the right skates can help you take that next step and get to the next level in your skating ability.
When I decided to upgrade my skates, I looked into a lot of different options and at first it looked like a lot of gibberish. Every person had their own opinion and preference of boots and plates. The first thing I looked for was a new boot because the one I was on was a teammate’s that was almost 2 sizes too big and formed to her feet not mine. It is important to take care of your feet and so a good boot is essential for skaters. I debated between getting the super light Bont boot or go with an Antik boot. I ended up going with an Antik MG2 boot over a Bont boot because of the higher ankle support and overall padding. The Antik MG2 took some time to figure out the lacing that worked best with my foot, but I had almost no break in time and had no more foot pain while skating. I would recommend changing the laces out on the boot, but otherwise I love the Antik boot.
After I picked my boots out, I started researching plates and soon realized that there is a plethora of information to learn about plates. I knew I wanted a light plate and that I didn’t want a plastic plate, but other than that I had no idea. Currently I was skating on a powerdyne nylon plate with 10 degree metal trucks. I debated whether I should stick with the same angle trucks or move on to a 15 or 45 degree truck. The 10 and 15 degree trucks offer more stability but less ability to cut on the track while the 45 degree trucks flex differently allowing the skater to make sharper turns and cuts. I decided to go with the Avenger magnesium plate that has a 45 degree truck on it because I was looking to improve my cutting and footwork on the track. This plate has been instrumental in improving my skating abilities. The 45 degree angle has helped me more easily and fluidly cut across the track which helps not only for jamming but becoming a better blocker. The allen wrench tightening mechanism also helps keep toe stops locked in and easily adjustable so that you do not lose a toe stop while on the track. The plates also help with overall agility and the ability to do crisp sharp movements while on the track. The plates did take a couple practices for me to get use to because the different angle takes some time to get comfortable with.
I did fall quite a few times when I got my new boots and plates because I had to learn to balance a little differently, but now I feel like they are an extension of my legs and I can’t imagine going back to my old skates. If you are a newer skater, looking to upgrade, or just feel like you skates are limiting you on the track, a plate or boot upgrade can help you become the skater you want to be.