Friday, June 1, 2012

A Grain of Salt: Taking derby advice and feedback.

"Stop hitting me in the face!  You always do that!"  I cringe just thinking about someone yelling this at me. Being butthurt is no fun, but I think we all experience it at some point or another in our derby career.  Someone gives you feedback while you're on the track and it hurts your feelings.  Ugh.  We've all been there, and it sucks, but with a little distance, we might learn something from the unwanted advice we just got.

1.  Consider the source.  I like to pretend that everyone who gives me feedback has my best interest at heart, but that isn't always the case.  Sometimes people have a bad day on the track and get irritated; it could be that you have done something to irritate them, but it might have been a legal something.  Keep your cool and sort through the advice givers. 

2.  Develop a thicker skin.  Sometimes people are not nice when they give feedback; derby is a harsh sport, and it doesn't always bring out the best in people.  Feedback is often given through clenched teeth (or clenched mouth guards) in the middle of the track.  This is not an ideal time to receive feedback, but it might be the only time you get it!  Take a deep breath and fight the urge to answer back with more negativity. If someone says "You're back blocking me!" don't answer with "You cut the track too much!"  I either say "OK" or nothing at all.  You shouldn't ignore feedback from the track, but you shouldn't let it crush your soul either.

3.  You will get conflicting advice.  Derby is different for everyone, and everyone has a different perspective on strategy, style and stance.  Keep your mind open to new ideas.  If you get conflicting advice form people, measure it and take in what works for you.  Remember that derby is constantly evolving and if your don't keep your finger on the pulse so to speak, you get left behind.

4.  Not all advice is for your present abilities.  Sometimes people give you advice or feedback that you cannot use with your present abilities.  Don't get frustrated, but keep it in mind for the future.  You will get better! Eventually that advice you got a long time ago will come in handy when your abilities are at a higher level!

5.  Ask people you trust to give you specific feedback.  If you can ask someone you trust to give you feedback before scrimmage starts, then you have a chance of getting focused feedback.  If you come up to someone after and ask "Hey, did I forearm anyone?" the chances are you will get "Uh, I wasn't watching you."  as your answer.  Useless!  You want to get the best feedback, so ask your observers to look for something specific ahead of time!

6.  Write down the feedback you receive as soon as possible.  I think it is a great idea to keep a notebook by your gear and then write down the feedback or advice you get right there and then!  Having a written record let's you know if there are trends you should look at in your playing.  Also, with the adrenaline we all experience, our memories don't always hang around long enough for us to be calm and introspective about the advice we received.

That's crappy advice too...helps nobody!

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