And like that sticker says… yes, I asked myself the same question when people started talking to me about the dreaded 27 laps in 5… MINUTES!
I honestly wasn’t scared of the 27/5 until everyone mentioned it like it was the worst thing in the world. Mind me, I read so many forum and blog posts, as well as watched a plethora of YouTube videos on the subject, I began to freak out too. All of a sudden, skating 27 times around the track as fast as I could had become the hardest thing on my to-do list.
In theory, the 27/5 shouldn’t be the hardest thing to do, given there are skills out that are much harder to pass. See, the secret lies in form, and the mental game yet again.
- Skate that diamond: Quadzilla has an amazing YouTube video on the subject, link here.
- The diamond looks like this:
- The diamond allows you to go around the track without losing speed. If you don’t skate the diamond, you will lose momentum in the turns, and spend way too much time tiring yourself out trying to regain that speed in the straight-aways, which in the end will be completely counter-productive. I remember how my leg muscles used to lock and hurt so much from me pushing like a mad woman trying to get that speed back, while braking in the turns so I wouldn’t fly into the wall, or skaters nearby. The pain was atrocious. I’d burn out so quick, I couldn’t believe it.
- Cross over the entire time: coasting will kill you. Crossing over the entire time will definitely keep you going at a nice pace of 5-6 laps per minute. Just stay low, move your arms, and push with that under leg.
- Breathe: Inhale. Exhale. Keep it steady. Keep it calm.
- Don’t freak out about other people on the track: When taking the 27/5, you may not be alone on the track. You not only have to worry about skating that gosh darn diamond, you also have to be aware of your faster and slower peers who share the track with you. I stayed stuck behind people a lot. Just skate around them. Seriously. You’ll lose a little bit of speed in the process, but if you stay focused on crossing over, it won’t hurt you in the long run.
It’s a lot to think about. Wait, there’s one more thing, probably the most important.
YOUR MENTAL GAME
The first time I tried the 27/5, I had no expectations. I skated around the track, and I didn’t care about the diamond, crossovers, my breathing and people around. I just skated. I pushed as hard as I could, and when the five minutes ended, my result was 21.
Everyone cheered. They said for a first time, it was awesome. It is awesome! 18 laps are awesome too! So are 15 laps, 13, 11, even 1. I strapped wheels to my feet and went around that track as fast as my legs took me. I did it! I was so pumped I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.
However, that moment of pure derby high came to an abrupt halt when the all so expected “let’s compare myself to others” moment made its gleeful arrival. It’s a completely natural thing to look at the number of laps you did, and then compare yourself to what others did. Let me tell you, I did 21, and then someone did 26, and I immediately felt like the biggest piece of trash on earth. I didn’t care that it was my first time. I didn’t care that I couldn’t skate at all one month prior. I only cared about that number. 21. I said to myself, next time, I got this in the bag.
Roller derby is an amazing sport as it teaches me patience. The stuff I want doesn’t happen on my clock. It happens on the Roller Derby Gods’ clock. The 27/5 is a perfect example to prove that.
My second time, I told myself I was going to push harder, and I skated 25.5 with no crossovers, no diamonds, and trucks and cushions so tight and hard… I had no clue what I was doing. 25.5 was amazing. A few years back, I would have passed and called it quits. But no. Now it was 27! Argh! So close.
Okay, third time, I did what I could but my mental game wasn’t there at all. I freaked out about all the people on the track. I freaked out about my form. I freaked out about everything. No matter the amount of cheering, I executed 23 laps.
I was so mad at myself. How could I do this? I had it. My trucks weren’t so tight anymore, and I quasi-skated that diamond, and quasi-skated crossovers. I hydrated, ate properly and my muscles were still locking but I pushed and pushed and pushed… My amount of determination was so high, I had to try again that same evening. Fourth try, I did 24.5.
Alright. I didn’t admit it to anyone, I kept a smile on my face, but deep down, I beat myself up so hard, I was dying. Why couldn’t I pass?
Months went by until the next try. I kept skating and improving, and every time I took that track to practice my laps, I worked on my form. My crossovers were slowly getting there. My diamond looked better. I still stood too straight, and didn’t lean enough into the turns.
The fifth try came. I freaked out about it a lot. I wanted to pass so bad. Instead of beating myself up though, I told myself I could do this. I pictured myself skating these laps. I pictured myself making it to 27.
You don’t have to skate perfectly to achieve 27 laps in 5 minutes. Many skaters achieve 30, 32, 35 laps later on. 27 is not a hard number to hit. It is a hard number to hit if you skate with the wrong state of mind though. How many skaters out there repeat, day in and day out, to just stay confident! Progress is slow, but is there if you keep at it. Some folks pass the 27/5 after the second try, some after the fifteenth try. It doesn’t matter. The amount of tries doesn’t matter.
Remember these four elements, which can be applied to anything else by the way… not just the 27/5.
- STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
- GO BACK TO BASICS
- WORK ON BASICS UNTIL YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE
- PICTURE YOURSELF ON THAT TRACK, AND WIN IT.
My mental game can make me or break me. It can make or break any one of us out there. Stop feeling like you’re not going to master this thing. I eventually passed my laps once I stopped telling myself I was a failure. I did the 27/5 again during FM assessments, and I passed again. My form was okay, it could have been better, but what helped me pass was my state of mind. I was 100% there. I was 100% focused. I pushed, I breathed, and I didn’t doubt.
Is the 27/5 hard? Yes, it is just as many other skills in roller derby. Your life doesn’t stop at a number. Your worth doesn’t stop at a number. Just stay confident.
Believe in yourself. You got this.