First of all, you have been passed to play on a team; this doesn't mean you are the most amazing derby player ever and nobody can give you advice. I know that a lot of rookies were sort of "clucked" over when they were learning the basic skills; many veteran skaters are very supportive. "You can do this!" or "Great job!" is often directed towards newbies when they learn their falls or start to get the hang of a plow stop. Yes, newbies do need positive feedback to keep them struggling through the difficult beginnings of a derby career, but often that kind of positive feedback begins to peter out when a newbie is cleared for scrimmage. People are focused on themselves, their progress and they don't always have the time or the patience to shepherd rookies through a scrimmage.
|Look! Positive and forceful advice! It is possible!|
|Team work means communicating and trusting your partner.|
On a side note, sometimes there are skaters that relish knocking the snot out of rookies; I don't know why this happens, but it seems like each league has at least two of the skaters, and they will reset your clock. Maybe they don't feel like they're strong enough as derby players, so they pick on the less experienced skaters, or they're "testing you", or maybe they just think it's funny. If you observe scrimmages, you probably will be able to pick these skaters out pretty easily; then you can keep an eye on them and make sure you're ready for any hit.
Now that you're a rookie, you might have to ask for more feedback than you are getting; derby peeps tend to get distracted by the shiny shiny jammer, or their own progress. It helps if you ask a vet to watch you in a particular jam and give you precise feedback; it is awful to get feedback like "Stop falling down so much." or "You looked good out there." Those statements are not good feedback; tell your observer what specific skill you are working on, you one that you feel you need help with, and they will be able to focus their feedback better. "I feel like my hits aren't effective; can you watch me hit and point me in a better direction?" "I'm always running twenty feet out front, how can I stop that?" Ask a couple of vets to watch you, but don't get too butthurt if they don't have better advice than "Stay with your partner" or "Keep your feet moving." Sometimes, you might not be ready to fully understand the feedback, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't listen.
|See that player yelling? I guarantee she isn't saying "Please" and "thank you!"|
Watch amazing footage whenever you can. Find a skater you want to emulate and then watch watch watch her do her thing! DNN has 24 hour streaming now, so why not take advantage?
Finally, take advantage of skating at invitationals if you can, or outside training. Sometimes rookies get stereotyped in their own leagues. "So and so is always easy to distract" or "Whoosy what's it can't take big hits." If you decide to skate in an invitational, you may be skating against and with people who don't know anything about your style. They don't make assumptions about your skill, and you won't be able to do that to them either. One of the skaters in our league says she treats any unknown skater as if they skated for Gotham. I've learned to do the same. Also, outside training may give you a new and better way of improving yourself. I try to go to outside training at least twice a year: this year I'm going to Bonnie D'stroir's boot camp down in Charleston. Yes, you can be jealous! But seriously, you should take advantage of outside training whenever you can, and maybe you'll be teaching those vets something at the next scrimmage!
All photos by A Boy Named Tsunami...cause he's just super awesome like that.