Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Control your rage, grasshopper

I've been lucky to see some amazing derby lately; I was at ECDX this summer, I watched CRG take on Atlanta this weekend, and I've been lucky enough to watch some great footage online.  Most of the time when I watch derby, I'm trying to figure out the strategy of the team, the style of the skater, or all of the skills I absolutely lack on the track that I covet.  I vow that I'm going to practice my power slide, or my backwards blocking at the next practice, and I make that my attainable goal.

All of those things are perfect to do as follow up when you're at practice, but there might be one key issue some of us have ignored. The great players, the really great players keep their rage and frustration in check most, if not all the time.  Read that again.  They keep their RAGE and FRUSTRATION in check most of the time.  I truly believe that this is why they become the top tier players in the world; they don't let their emotions rule their actions on the track.

None of these players are super human; Suzy Hotrod, Bonnie Thunders, insert amazing skater here, have great skills and understanding of the game, but what keeps them beyond the reach of the rest of us is the fact that they know how to accept the frustrations of this game, and how they don't let their emotions interfere with their jobs.  Your job on the track is to play derby and be an asset to your team; your job does not include throwing a fit at the refs or your teammates!  I have seen each one of these players "make a mistake" and by that, I mean the jammer got past them at one point or another, but none of them let that mistake impact the level of their play.  You can see it in their faces that they're focused on the next pass the jammer will make, and what their next move is.

How many times have you made a "mistake" on the track and let it mess with your mind the rest of the jam?  How many times have you seen your teammates do the same thing?  Sometimes you can actually see the frustration on a player's face, and you know her game has momentarily gone completely out the window.  I love it when I see that look on the opposite team, but it crushes my security when I see one of my players giving in to her inner demons, especially if it's someone I admire.

But Q, that's an unfair standard to hold someone up to!  Everyone has a bad day!  I agree, but I have noticed that these exceptional players manage to keep it together on the track no matter what is going on.  They rarely have a bad day, and I never see them screaming at their fellow teammates.  They keep their game faces in place and manage to stay professional; they might be raging inside, but their demeanor on the track never slips.  Who knows...they might go home and punch holes in the wall after a game, but they keep it to themselves.

So how can we have better game faces?  It first comes down to the fact that you have to acknowledge your frustration and what causes it.  Most players aren't angry at others, they are angry at themselves.  Shocking.  Most derby players are hardest on themselves!  Unfortunately, a lot of derby players don't know how to express themselves well and end up projecting a lot of those negative feelings on the rest of their team, because they're afraid to mess up.   To quote Yoda, "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."  Please don't let your fear make other people suffer! 

It takes honesty with yourself to understand why you're letting the game get to you, and you aren't going to fix yourself overnight.  It's going to be a long process, and it starts with you.  What are you afraid of?  Are you afraid of making mistakes?  Looking foolish?  Not pulling your weight on the team?  I guarantee that everyone who plays derby has had those fears, but if you continue to let your fears boss you around, you're NOT going to be a good team player.  Learn to forgive yourself when you make a mistake; nobody in derby is perfect.

It is ok to laugh when your teammate gets her shirt ripped by a mega whip, but only after the jam is over.  Picture by A Boy Named Tsunami

1 comment:

  1. Good one, Q! I had this problem for a long time and faced it and now I continue every single bout to keep any frustration or anger under wraps. Either that or I'll transform it into something else, like laughter, that helps. Even though I may look crazy, at least I'm not being aggro and angry. lol.