Monday, February 25, 2013

The only thing we have to fear....

I know that life is scary sometimes, and derby can be even scarier.  I am amazed that so many women and men watch people get knocked down, bruised and broken, and still say "I think I can do that!"  Derby peeps are brave; we take the jammer panty, even if we're terrified.  We try and try to jump the apex, even when we've been slammed down on our left side so many times, we have a "dead spot" on our upper left thigh.   We are a tough group of people, and yet fear still can control us in strange and unexpected ways in derby.  I think that fear is a nasty little rat that lives in our souls and gnaws away the best parts of us if we let it.

1.  Fear of Injury.  Hell yes, anyone who skates in derby should be a little fearful of injury; I've hurt myself in several different and horribly painful ways.  I've seen teammates and opponents crack bones, tear tendons, get concussions and break noses.  Thankfully I haven't seen anyone lose any teeth!  You should be afraid of getting hurt sometimes; we have to live in these bodies the rest of our lives, and some of the derby injuries we suffer are pretty horrendous. Now we all know that the chances of getting seriously injured are there, but for the most part, we survive each practice, scrimmage and game without getting hurt.  Sometimes you get reminded to be afraid when you have a near miss, but derby players who successfully skate through the fear become very effective on the track.

If you are afraid of injuries, the best way to prevent them is make your body stronger.  Knees, ankles, shoulders, all joints tend to be hotspots for injuries; make them stronger with plyo and weight lifting.  Work on your flexibility with yoga, and pay attention to any injuries you do develop.  If you don't let injuries heal, you're asking for more problems in the future.   Personally, I think it's smart to remember that derby is not a completely domesticated animal, and it truly can turn on you at any moment.  A little fear is ok. 
Owtch!  My dignity!

2.  Fear of embarrassment.  Nobody likes to look foolish; some of us hide our embarrassment with bravado, but that doesn't mean we aren't afraid of being embarrassed.  It's funny, if you ask most adults what they fear more, getting hurt or being embarrassed, most people will say they fear being embarrassed more.  Derby has so many opportunities to look like a jackass on wheels; Saturday night, I almost got pantsed by a teammate.  I was wearing underwear, but she almost took everything down in one fell swoop!  Seriously mortifying!  Even if it had happened, I would have survived the horror of it all and laughed about it later.

The problem comes in when your fear of embarrassment keeps you from trying something new.  People who give into the fear of embarrassment never make it to the next level.  Just remember, you play a sport with roller skates.  You're going to embarrass yourself at some point.  Learn to laugh it off; you won't die from an injury to your dignity.

3.  Fear of Failure.   This fear paralyzes us on the track.  We're afraid to make a decision or commit to an action, and in derby, that means we do nothing but skate.  Ugh.  Roller derby is such a fast paced game, and with the challenge of dealing with simultaneous offense and defense you're going to make the wrong call.  It's bound to happen, and it will cost your team points, or you a trip to the box.  That's ok!  Nobody is perfect, and you're going to have to accept that or be frozen in the field of indecision.  When I was in orchestra, our conductor told us "If you're going to screw up, screw up with confidence!"  I've followed that advice pretty religiously for most of my life, and especially in derby.  Indecision is a paralyzer; if you just freeze up, you're not doing anyone any good.  Make a decision.  The worst thing that can happen is you make the wrong one, and you learn from it.  Sometimes, making the wrong decision is the best learning experience any of us can have.

4.  Fear of losing our spot.  Roller derby is competitive, and even though there you are in a league, being rostered on a team isn't guaranteed.  People are always competing to get on a roster, or keep their spot, and sometimes when we are under that kind of pressure, we let our fears dictate how we act.  When we let our fear of losing our spot rule us, we act like complete a-holes to our teammates.  We play the blame game, we criticize others and fail to admit our own faults.  I'm not sure how to get rid of this fear, because it may be a "rational" fear that you have; some leagues are more competitive than others.  The only advice I can offer is that you need to give each and every practice your best and all.  If you are improving, your captains and coaches should notice it, if they're any good.  If they are biased and unfair, then no matter how hard you try, or who you blame, or how much of an a-hole you become, they won't care.  Sad, but true.

So, the question is, are you going to let your fear rule you as a derby player?  Sit down and think about if you have fears that are messing with your  game that you aren't even aware of?  You might.  It's time to consider which fears you're harboring, and what you're going to do face them.