Thursday, July 21, 2011

Falling Down II

'A man can fall many times in life, but he's only a failure when he refuses to get up' 

1. The protective gear approach:

[Note: this category excludes vert skaters who typically wear protective gear for obvious reasons.] 
This individual knows his vulnerable spots and protects them with pads. His knees, elbows, wrists, and head all get covered. Perhaps this person is the most prudent of all skaters, yet, it's clear that he's not the most confident. He's fearful of injuring himself, and fear itself often attracts and precipitates injury. Furthermore, on account of his sensitivity to pain, even minor abrasions can send him off the field onto the sidelines to retire for the day. Typically, skating is not a central aspect of his life but something he does for leisure or occasional fun. He therefore protects himself while skating so that the more important aspects of his life are not affected. 
2. The cautious approach:

This person skates slowly and only attempts low risk manoeuvres. His protection against falling is less conspicuous than those of the previous approach, yet, he still wears 'pads': a 'trick discrimination helmet' and a 'go slow bullet proof vest.' He's also equipped with a high-tech 'safety level gauge.' That is, he attempts tricks in incremental stages: first he'll just ride up to the ledge; then he'll ride up and push his board off the end to see what happens to it; then he'll jump off with his board but without any intention to land on the board,etc...Sometimes he'll proceed to complete the trick, and at other times he'll abort out of fear.   

3. The bail approach:

This is a much gutsier approach than the previous one. The skater attempts riskier tricks and travels fast. Yet he's always ready to quickly jump off his board when he loses confidence or when he feels that he's not fully stable during execution. He may ride up to a set of stairs or a hand rail 20 times only to jump off his board each time just before reaching his destination point. However, more often than not he usually commits to fully landing tricks. 

4. The fall safely approach:

This is the first of the real hardcore categories. This character is not one to bail; he'll continue to try landing on his board even when he's in a precarious situation. His protective mechanism surfaces primarily when he's thrust off his board or when the board simply escapes from under him as he's about to land. He relies on the second before or after impact with the ground to defend himself against injury, and he's a master of his craft. He'll take spill after spill and still continue to get back up. Naturally, he'll frequently injure himself somewhat, at least a graze, ankle twist, or the like.

Lets explore some of his 'fall safe' methods:

a. Always land on you knees:

 This is a method employed primarily by vert skaters. They train themselves to consistently land on their knee pads and to safely slide down the half pipe transition. They often do this on the last second in a manner reminiscent of how a cat, when dropped, manages to turn itself around just before hitting the ground and lands on its feet.   

b. Lower your body closer to the ground:

On landing on the board, especially from a height, many skaters wisely lower their bodies by crouching down. Though this is done chiefly to absorb the impact of landing, it also serves to minimize the distance between the skater and the ground so that if he's hurled off his board he won't have as far to fall.         

c. Remain still:

Some skaters freeze as they fall; their arms flanking their legs as though travelling down a water slide. In part, this technique helps minimize injury by not aggravating the situation. This is analogous to one entrenched in quick sand who finds that the more he moves about to rescue himself the faster he sinks. He thus learns to remain still. It is also comparable to how a crime suspect repeatedly answers 'no comment' to his police interrogators in order to avoid exacerbating his predicament. 

In skating, many injuries occur during a fall, not because of the magnitude of the force on impact, but because the skater instinctively sticks out his hand in order to protect himself and injures it as a result.   

d. tumble roll on the ground if sent flying forward:

It's a known principle of physics that the more gradually a force is absorbed, the easier it is to receive it without injury. For instance, when a cricket player catches a ball, he'll typically draw his hands toward his chest after his hands have already come in contact with the ball. This serves to absorb the force [kinetic energy] of the ball over more time, helping him catch it with less pain than if he'd absorbed the force all at once by rigidly stopping the ball with his hands.

Following a similar principle, Judo and Karate practitioners are taught to slap the floor with their arm (s), when tripped onto their back. As above, this serves to spread the force over more time and thus helps minimize the severity of injury. A skater that falls forward can also absorb the force more gradually by rolling in the direction of one's fall.           

e. Diffuse force of impact to as large a surface area of the body as possible:

 The larger the area of the body receiving the force of impact the less will be the force per unit of surface area. This brings us to another advantage of the 'freeze approach' mentioned above. For the skater tends to absorb the force of impact with his entire body rather than only one part. A specific application is where one who feels he's about to land on his elbow twists slightly to allow his upper arm and shoulder take the brunt of the force. The upper arm has two advantages over the elbow: a) more surface area, and b) better muscle/fat cushioning.     

Coming Up next...  
The high adrenalin - Geronimo!- approach.

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