Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is There a Transfer in Your Future?

My teammate has jumped in again and saved the day!  Read some of the situations you might find yourself in if transferring to a new league is in your derby future!

Neura is such a work out beast!
By Neuralize HER

Thinking about transferring?
I am a transfer skater; I have skated for 4 different leagues in my 4 years of skating. I went from banked track to flat track then moved across the country and started with a small, local league then decided to up my game and drive 2 hours to skate more competitively. I currently skate with Carolina Rollergirls out of Raleigh, NC and live in New Bern, NC which equates to that 2 hours of drive time, but I am happy there as I really love my team and the opportunity to get to skate with and against higher-level derby teams.

I haven’t seen many articles on transferring or why ultimately one decides to do so. It can be a clean break, sometimes it can be messy, and sometimes it can be outright brutal depending on the skater, league, and circumstances.

Let’s start out with the easy transfer:
1. You are moving far far away and can no longer play with your current league.
This one is pretty easily understandable by all of your current league mates – they will miss you but there should be no bad blood or hurt feelings happening here. The new league welcoming you should also be less suspicious, and, if they were to ask your old league about you they would only get glowing reviews.

A little more sticky….
2. You are more experienced or growing beyond the current skill level of your current team and feel that you will no longer progress in the league you are with. 
This one is sticky and tricky. There are a lot of things to think about. Did you come in as an experienced skater? Maybe you weren’t aware of the exact skill level of the team then and that can be pretty understandable and forgivable by likely the skaters on your current team as well as a new league you may transfer to, but the important thing here is HONESTY and truthfulness. You don’t want to be sneaky and devious here. However, on the flip side, you also need to think about if you are accurately assessing your skill – if you really think the training in your current league is lacking, try guest skating a few times with the team you are thinking about transferring to or any other league in the area. You might be surprised, or you may be entirely accurate. You may also need to admit to yourself that perhaps it isn’t that the experience level is below your current skill, but another league and the way  they explain things may just seem to ‘click’ for you at the time. This can be acceptable too. But write down your reasons, and figure out what it is your expectations are. A list of pros and cons also works, then make some time to talk to your coach, captain, etc…from your current league about your thoughts.


The current league you skate with is far beyond your skill level and you are having trouble keeping up and/or do not want to wait and hope you make a roster somewhere in the next ‘maybe’ 5 years. Be realistic about your immediate, short-term, and long-term goals. Do you want to be an All-star on a highly competitive team but you are severely lacking in talent or skill? How much time are you willing to commit to making yourself ready to skate at that level? Do you plan on skating for several years to hone your skills, or are you really more interested in staying local to the area and you really view derby as your hobby and a fun thing you do in your spare time? If you are skater A: not a ton of skill but wants to be playing on a competitive roster one day and is willing to devote the time to get better, you ‘may’ want to  stay put and make your desires known. Show up to every practice, work hard, understand your social life outside of derby will become severely handicapped, and know you still you may not make that roster. If you are skater B, however then: you may not be able to devote as much time as necessary to get on a super-competitive teams roster, but there might be a more local, less competitive league that you will be rostered to skate with right now or in the relatively near-future. You enjoy skating and playing derby, but you are not worried or concerned about becoming that world-class A-level skater nor do you want to wait a year or so to get on a roster.  This might be another reason you want to transfer.

It’s bad, drama all around; likely you aren’t being welcomed back…
3. I don’t know what you’ve done but it was enough to piss someone or several someone’s off in your current league.
I also don’t know if you’ve taken responsibility for your actions, if you were unjustifiably accused, or you really are just that irresponsible and/or mean-spirited to do such things. Ask yourself…how many leagues in how many months have you transferred to/from? If it is several…there may be a problem with you and you need to do some soul-searching. Your ‘new’ league mates should also be wary of this person.  However, it may also be a case of that particular ‘league’ in general the skater is coming from that is drama-focused and mean- girlesque. I will leave it to you to investigate and know your teammates and surrounding derby leagues; I’m pretty sure you all know what I’m talking about if you’ve been skating for awhile.

Skater, if you were part of a drama-filled league and this happened to you, please do not quit skating! Again, assess what you want in a derby league and skate a few practices with that team first to see if it is what you are looking for. Ask other friends in that league how they like it. There are a lot of variables with this one, but I find it best to remember WHY you started to skate derby and find a league that is along your same wavelength. On the flipside, if you are that skater that likes to stir the pot, you will probably not be as welcomed to a new team as you might think, and guess what? You’re lucky they invited you to practice with them; you need to earn their trust. Or you can continue not taking responsibility for yourself and your actions and likely get kicked out of another league – it’s your choice really….but I like to remember these 3 words: STOP THE BLAME. If you truly have turned a corner in your life, just know that not everyone can see that or knows that so you need to be careful to not get frustrated when you are not automatically trusted or welcomed right off…and sometimes it may never happen so just know that and yes, you need to accept that too.

Don’t be surprised also if some of these reasons overlap one another. My first league transfer I had a few overlapping reasons why I wanted to transfer, and I left on good terms.  I still talk to a lot of those ladies and still enjoyed going to some of their games on occasion. Again, when I moved across the country I transferred to a smaller, local league but ultimately in my heart I knew I wanted to play really competitive high-level derby so I switched and spoke to them about it and left on good terms. In fact, I still attend some of their practices when I can’t make the 2 hours to Raleigh on any given day.

As I said earlier, there is likely a bit of overlap on why you may be considering transferring leagues. Being open and honest with both your current and prospective team is the way to go; if you are devious and sneaky about it, people will suspect you even if your reasons truly are genuine.  Write the list of pros and cons – consider what your goals are as a skater and the path to get there – and viola you will be successful and happy in your derby career in the league you ultimately decide to go to or stay with.
Please feel free to email any comments or questions!  neuralizeHER@carolinarollergirls.com

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Playing Up. Do It.

Man, I remember being on the B team in my league, the Bootleggers, and dreading scrimmaging against our Allstars.  I would dread that practice for days on end, and get really worried about the whole situation, especially when I first started playing.  I kept thinking, "Why the hell would the Allstars WANT to play us Bootleggers?"  I was convinced that they wanted to just pound the snot out of us for ego sake.  It was demoralizing, because when I first started, I just didn't have the skills to do anything but get my butt handed to me.  I couldn't even figure out what was happening because I was so new and inexperienced.  Poor newbie me!  I finally understood why scrimmage was called the blender.

Flash forward in time, and I was a seasoned skater with a pretty good selection of skills, but still on the Bootleggers.  When we had to scrimmage against the Allstars, I didn't dread it so much as be resigned to it.  Yes, we were going to get our butts kicked, but I wasn't as confused as I was when I was new.  I started to see what I needed to be working on, or what I needed to do to play against such an overwhelming force.  I started to see the holes when I was jamming, or how I could booty block a jammer and keep her longer.  Of course, seeing this kind of stuff is waaaaaay different from actually being able to do something about it, but my confidence was growing.  I didn't worry so much as say to myself "Man, this is going to suck, but you'll survive."

With even more experience and time on skates, I started not to hate scrimmaging the Allstars.  In fact, I started to look forward to it.  Crazy as it sounds, I enjoyed the small victories I was able to pull off on the track against them.  Did I get lead jammer?  Not necessarily, but I was able to make it out of the pack and make her call it after only four points.  That was a victory in my book at that time.  The Allstars started to notice, especially when I was a blocker in the pack; if I heard someone say "Get on Q" I knew I was doing a good job, and every time we scrimmaged, I was challenged and challenging!

Now that I'm on the A team, I'm an advocate for playing the B team once in a while. Everyone in your league should be training to get better, and playing against people who are better than you is an excellent way to improve your skills. Playing "up" is one of the best ways to get better in derby, period.  Unfortunately, it's also a great way of getting your spirit crushed if you're not ready mentally for the challenge, and since we all want to avoid butthurt, here are some ways to approach a scrimmage or even a game where you are going to get overwhelmed and possibly stomped on by a better team.
Hugging each other helps too.  Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami

1.  Accept that you are outclassed, but don't give into it.  Yes, they're a better team.  So what? Just because they're better than you are, that doesn't mean you suck.  A lot of people in derby think just because someone is better, then it automatically follows that the other person is terrible.  Everyone has different skills in derby, and you bring good stuff to the track too.  Don't let it get into your head that you suck, because you don't.

2.  Look for the small victories.  Did you hold that jammer by yourself?  Did your jammer make points?  Did you get away from that really amazing blocker?  Did you stop the other team from recycling?  These are all victories to savor.  It means you were being effective against a dominant team.  Sometimes the best victory you can hope for is a zero zero jam.  VICTORY!

3.  Each jam is its own jam.  When you're battling it out against a stronger team, you have to approach each jam as its own game.  If you start thinking "Man, we haven't gotten lead yet!" you're doomed.  Jamnesia, people. It's a thing.

4.  Don't get desperate.  People who are outclassed start trying to do anything they can to stop the bleeding.  Keep doing what you can do.  Don't start getting penalty happy just because you're being challenged.  It's an easy trap to fall into, so don't beat yourself up if you do!  Just be aware that it is out there, the desperation, waiting for you.  Avoid desperation and remember, you know how to skate derby!

5.  Don't take it personally.  Yes, getting hit over and over and over again sucks donkey genitalia.  It's frustrating, painful and it makes you feel weak, but it happens in derby.  People are doing their jobs on the track, and if you're wearing the jammer panty, you're their job, unfortunately.  Take it as a sign of respect that the stronger team isn't letting up on you.  It means they are treating you as a worthy foe.

Now that I'm on the Allstars, I try to follow two simple rules when I'm playing against the Bootleggers.  I do this because I respect them and I want them to get better, like I did.

1.  Don't make it personal.  I'm doing my job as a blocker or jammer, and I'm not going to gloat that I knocked you down.  I knocked you down because it was my task out there.  That's it.  If you feel I'm picking on you because I kept hitting you, I'm sorry, but that's what derby is.

2.  Show no mercy.  I don't play down when I'm in this situation.  I play like I'm playing Gotham.  It's the only way to show anyone any kind of respect in this sport.  Going easy on someone because they're less skilled is just douchey and really condescending.  It's just not how I roll, yo.

So there it is.  Do you play your A team vs. your B team?  How do you handle the situation? 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rollercon 2013 Wrap up

I asked my teammate, Neuralize Her, to write about her impressions and adventures at Rollercon this year.  I know it seems premature to be planning your itineraries for next year, but Rollercon is one of those things you need to start planning to save up for NOW.  Neuro is an old pro at Rollercon, since this was her third year. And now, in her own words.......

I traveled out last Wednesday with my boyfriend for my third year at RollerCon held in Las Vegas, NV. I’m pretty sure all of you know what it is, but if not I describe it as the largest gathering of roller derby people worldwide; this year boasted 5000+ attendees. It was held at the Riviera, same place as for the last 2 years, and it really is the perfect venue as every single event occurs under the same roof. I believe if you are a roller derby skater/ref. fanatic, etc or involved in derby in any way, shape, or form this is an event you need to attend at least once in your lifetime as there is an experience for every person involved with the sport.

I will breakdown a few topics so I can try to give a good overview. First off, what really seems to be the MOST limiting factor as to why people can’t or don’t attend RollerCon is cost. COST SAVING TIPS: The earlier you plan, the cheaper and more affordable it is. Tickets normally go on sale Thanksgiving weekend every year; if you’re planning on going next year, 23-27 July 2014, buy them at this time. MVP passes sell out FAST!!! You will be able to purchase tickets for under $100 but from here on out the price will increase as it gets closer.

What is the MVP pass? Well, if you want to take any on skates training classes, this is the pass you need. If you are not interested in taking classes, you can wait another month or so until skater passes go on sale; this is the pass to get if you are only interested in skating in bouts, scrimmages, and challenges and don’t want to wait in line for any classes. There are also spectator passes if you don’t want to skate. Then buy your plane ticket ASAP – as you are likely aware, these go up the closer RollerCon gets. I found this was the most expensive part of the trip for me. For your lodging, the Riviera offers a great discount for RollerCon attendees but you need to book ASAP as they fill quickly- sharing rooms greatly reduces the cost. And lastly, there are some grocery stores within walking distance so you can buy food for your room as the food in the hotel can get costly.

Since many of your questions can be answered on their website, rollercon.net I would like to talk about my experience this year and what keeps me coming back year after year. On-skates Classes. I am admittedly not a big fan of the classes because you normally have to wait in line for an hour or so and ‘hope’ you get a spot in that particular class, and I had a skater pass this year so I did not attend any, but from those that did they said the actual content and coaches skill levels were excellent. The lines definitely looked shorter this year and I can tell they have been working hard on improving wait times and amount of classes offered. Advice is that classes during non-peak hours such as first thing in the morning or last thing at night when the parties are going on as well as when any of the big name bouts are scheduled tend to be less crowded. A few of the coaches included Hockey Honey, Smarty Pants, Suzy Hotrod, Quadzilla, Stefanie Mainey, Demanda  Riot, Juke Boxx, and so many more …pretty much every big name skater you can think of, they were there coaching.

Open skate/Open scrimmage
If you have a skater or MVP pass, you can participate. These are held every other hours (i.e 10am open skate 11 am open scrimmage, etccc.) ALL day long…literally you can skate from 9am until midnite every day!!! So YES you can skate A LOT all the time!! I only attended one open scrimmage. Because RollerCon is (thankfully) run by amazing volunteers, there is a shortage of refs in this room since they are needed more for the full bouts and challenges on the competition tracks. These can be fun, but fair warning ALL skill levels are welcome and I’ve found there is a much higher chance of getting injured in the open scrimmages so please be fair-warned.

Challenge bouts
This is the reason I come to RollerCon – to skate skate and skate more!! If you want in on these challenge bouts, as soon as you decide you are going and have bought your ticket you need to get on the forum! The link for the forum is on the website. A lot of first time skater s don’t realize this until most of them are already full. These are 30-min bouts and have all kinds of different themes! Come prepared with every shirt every color of the rainbow and if there are jump-in spots available day of, be prepared to use another skater’s number that may have not shown up. Also please appropriately assess your skill level; RollerCon has gotten a lot better at assigning skill levels and appropriate challenge bouts for each level from first-time bouter to Team USA vets. In other words, if you put yourself down as an advanced skater, please be prepared to share a team with the likes of Suzy Hotrod and Demanda Riot! You don’t necessarily need to be as awesome a skater as them, but you do need to be able to keep up with the pack and catch on quickly to all the strategies taking place. I had the opportunity to skate in 14 challenge bouts while at RC and with some very amazing and talented skaters – for me, this is really how I learn to skate better. I enjoy skating with and working with other skaters, and if it is a superstar skater I try to get on their line and skate close to them  so I can pay close attn to what they do in each situation.

Full-length bouts
These are scheduled at lunch and dinner normally and are for advanced skaters only. They include iterations of WFTDA-sanctioned bouts (this year they had Rocky Mtn, Denver, Arch Rival, Tampa, and Sin City) and high-level pickup teams such as Team Antik, Team SeXY, Chupacabras Peligroso and Team Vagine Regime to name a few. The most anticipated bout each year seems to be the Team Vagine v Team Caulksuckers bout as the costumes and super-close games from year to year really make it a highlight of RollerCon. This year Team Vagine won by I think 5 pts in an overtime jam, and last year Caulksuckers won by I believe it was only 1 pt!  These 2 teams included the likes of Scald Eagle, Hockey Honey, Ivanna S Pankin, 4Closer, Death by Chocolate, to name a few. You may have the opportunity to skate on one or a few of these if you are a high-level skater, but normally these are already ‘rostered’ pickup teams that at times play in other bouts during the year. I had the fantastically fun opportunity to play in the full-length USARS showcase bout for the first time ever at RollerCon this year and I gotta say USARS is HELLA fun!! I do like skating fast and faster however so it may not be for everyone and my one critique is there were a lot of timeouts as I’m not to sure all of the refs were well-read on these rules yet. But I do recommend you try this ruleset if you can…I really enjoyed that it involved a lot of endurance and NO clockwise skating whatsoever, which is what I generally think leads to a lot of injuries in WFTDA.

Social events/parties
There are themed parties every night, from the Riedell costume party where the best costume wins a shitload of Riedell stuff to the pants off dance off and then the infamous Black n blue ball. There are also derby weddings, a scavenger hunt, and a 24/7 pool party….I went to the Riedell party for a bit this year and then fell asleep getting ready for the black n blue ball sooooo you can tell how much of a ‘party’ animal I am. But it’s all about what you are looking to get out of or do at RollerCon. Since I wanted to skate and skate so much, all the social events kind of went by the wayside for me (as they kinda do every year) but again it totally depends on what you want to do while you are there.

So I did open this up with how much you can make RollerCon cost effective right? Well you can……but, you also should NOT look at any of the vendors there then! If you’re
like me and you see derby gear, shirts, paraphernalia you just have to have well YOU HAVE TO HAVE IT!!! And you will see that there- they have between 5 and 6 conference rooms full of vendors not to mention the 4 rows that surround the main competition track. Really anything you can think of is there….Riedell, Atom Wheels, Derby Famous, Wicked, Derbalife, Five on Five magazine, derbyskinz, Crazy skates, Sin City skates….and on and on…plus they had a wonderful massage therapist and athletic tape lady this year that saved my day! So…yes bring a little extra money if you can. And usually they are all running deals at RollerCon..if you can wait until Sunday (last day of RC), a lot of the stuff goes on sale too.

Seminars/Off skates training
These are kinda a great way to get a little distance from the ‘fun’ chaos that is RC. Seminars are normally held in smaller groups related to any sort of topic you can think of to officials training, learning how to run a great bench, recruiting skaters and volunteers…I happened to attend a seminar on sports psychology on how to ‘up’ my mental game with Catholic Cruel Girl from Rocky Mtn and it gave me some good advice and stuff to think about before I prepare to skate. I really enjoyed the time ‘away’ from the fun chaos to focus on some other derby stuff in a quieter setting and in a small group. The off skates training is also good for something different – there was some great yoga everyday to stretch out those sore, tired muscles as well as plyo classes and speedwork and agility footwork classes at the top of the Riviera. I did not attend any this year as I was skating to much and wanted to really focus my time on that. Last year, however, I did do the yoga and it felt great before putting on my skates that day. Most of the coaches also were the same that taught the on-skates classes.

There is something for every level of skater here, so there is no reason NOT to go. If you are a brand new skater, you will learn a lot and likely improve more than you think in just a couple of days. Vets, you will get a break from a lot of the pressure on the travel team and be able to play in a fun, action-packed atmosphere with your friends, old and new. The worst thing is leaving – it normally takes me about a week to get back into the rhythm of ‘normal’ life from the routine at Rollercon where I am skating itll nearly midnight most days and waking up around 9am to do it all over again! Of course, I also did not party hard so I’m sure there are many who had a ‘different’ schedule then myself. All in all, YES you should go, at least once in your derby career – there really is no other roller derby experience like it anywhere else. The best part for me was all of the amazing people I met and the opportunity to skate next to and with some of my derby heroes. Huzzah RollerCon!!! See ya all next year!!!

Xo Neuro

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Weird Derby Observations

Here are some more random observations I've noticed this season in derby. 

1.  Making line ups can be like doing a super hard version of Sudoku. I've captained and coached and I hate hate hate making line ups.  I know that most of the time those line ups fly out of the window as soon as penalty issues happen, but gah.  It's like doing some weird and convoluted word problem and I'm being made to show my work.  I think the part that bugs me is that there isn't a perfectly correct answer to the line up word problem.  It all depends on who is "hot" that day, or who is having an off day, or who is unhappy with whom.  Sometimes you have to see people on game day to see if your line ups are working and take the steps to correct them if you screwed the pooch.  If someone could create a smart app that does all of that, I'd be super stoked.  Thanks in advance!

2.  It helps to send a follow up email if you hit someone in the face at scrimmage.   Oops.  I've hit people in the face, and been hit in the face by teammates.  It just sucks on both sides, but if you're the transgressor, write a follow up email and check on your victim.   It's just the nice thing to do, and if she's got a boo boo that isn't awesome, she might appreciate you checking on her.  You don't have to send a Hallmark card, but a short email checking on her can go a long way. If you're the one who got hit in the face, well, let's hope she sends an email, or cookies.

3.  Everyone always has better and nicer new stuff than you do.  It never fails, you order what you think are the perfect wheels and then you see your teammate with some kick ass awesome wheels on that she loves...and that you didn't order.  Another thing that happens is I finally break down and buy some new pads and two weeks later, someone sends me a link to an awesome set of new gaskets that would be perfect for me.  Why does this always happen!!!  It's not like I buy gear that often!  Grawr!

4.  Every floor sucks except for the one you practice on.  Duh.  Right?  We all get used to what we are used to, and change scares us.  I've skated on wood, concrete, awesome sport court, not so awesome sport court, the sport court from hell, masonite, and outdoor asphalt.  There have been a few away games where I was ok with the floor, but I can count them on one hand.  Is it wrong of me to want to skate on a wooden floor for every game?  Probably.  Sigh.

See what I mean? 
5.  Every once in a while, the refs call players by the wrong color.  I think it's weird, but it mostly happens during games where the colors of the teams are black and white.  Personally, I attribute this phenomena to the fact that the refs are looking at the number of the player, which is usually printed in the opposite color.  So if my jersey is black, my number is most likely printed in white, and I have been called "White one two one" on a major, and I've spent a good ten seconds wondering if there is a 121 on the other team.

6.  There is always one skater on every team that takes forever to get her gear on.  It might be because she has to tape every part of her body, or because she's constantly fiddling with her skates or talking, but she's always the last to get on the floor.  The weird thing is that she always has her opposite on the team too.  This person could come in 15 minutes late and be fully geared up in a blink of an eye.  My teammate Daisy Rage can seriously transform into full derby mode in under two minutes.  I've timed her.  I think she is an Autobot.  And I hope she doesn't think I'm too weird for having timed her gearing up.  I'm not a creeper...I swear!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bye Bye Intros (except for home teams)

Derby intros.  I hate them.  Unless you have a team choreographer and oodles of extra time to practice your dance moves on skates, most intros are awkward and silly time wasters.  I once witnessed an intro that went on for almost ten minutes, with spotlights and overblown music.  The opposing team was patiently waiting to do the team hand slaps and they got tired of waiting and went back to their locker room.  It really was one of the worst intros I've ever seen in five years of derby.  Epic fail.  I've also been involved in a team intro that went on forever because the announcer lost track of time due to an illicit influence; I think we were out there for five minutes just waiting...waiting for everyone to get announced.
I'm totally Batman when I'm not playing derby.
What a waste of time.

In 2010 Eastern Regionals, I watched Philly come out and skate together in a pack for their intros.  No player's name was announced, but a statement was read by the announcers.  I don't remember exactly what it was, but it mentioned how they thought of themselves as a team, and something about derby spirit animals, which made me instantly wonder what Teflon Donna's spirit animal was; I also remember yelling, "brilliant" at the computer screen.  Finally, a team got it. It's about the name on the front of your jersey,  not the back.

One of the picky little reasons I don't like intros is the fact that they can be a little awkward for both teams involved.   When is the proper time to do the hand slap?  Is it on your team's lap?  Is it on your solo lap?  What if the other team is expecting to get their hand slapped every time?  What if someone feels snubbed because I accidentally missed slapping her hand.  That's a lot of baggage that comes with something that doesn't necessarily belong in the game.  Don't get me wrong, I love the victory lap hand slaps, those should stay.

The most important one is the fact that derby is supposed to be a team sport.  As derby has grown and matured, it's become more team focused and I personally think that the intros need to go by the wayside.  People generally don't wear tutus on the competitive level, and most teams try to keep their uniforms, well, uniform.  Announcing the names and having a skater take a lap takes the attention off of the idea of team, in my humble opinion.

But, if you are so married to the idea of intros, here are a few tips to keep them short and sweet.

 1.  Seriously, keep them short.  If I'm on a team that has traveled more than a couple of hours and have to drive home that night, please don't drag out your intros.  Also, leave the tag lines out; we're not professional wrestlers. I know that will piss some people off, but come on.  We already have derby names...you need a tag line too?  Really?

2.  Be respectful.  I've seen some teams be pretty disrespectful to the other team in their intros.  Tearing the team's shirt up, making threatening gestures,  or refusing to slap hands is all obnoxious.  Just smile and slap hands.  You don't need to be a jerk.  Remember, derby is a small community with a long memory.

3.  Make sure people can hear them.  If you're going to do intros, make sure the music isn't too loud and the microphones are working.  Nothing is more frustrating than intros where nobody can hear jack crap, including the skaters. 

4.  Keep them to home teams or theme bouts.  Home teams are where personalities should shine.  Usually home teams are where newer skaters are brought into the league, and have rabid family and friends excited to see them play.  Ham it up on home teams!  Also, themed bouts can be a perfect time for the extravagant intros.  Capes and tutus and fluffy pink leg warmers are fun for fans too.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Don't Eat Your Mistakes: Admitting when you're wrong

Hey, are you human?  Do you walk upright?  Do you have opposable thumbs?  Are you capable of speech and reasoning?  If you answered yes, then welcome to the human race!  You're a human and than means you are inherently flawed.  Accept it and move on...you have bigger and better things to worry about than screwing up.
Whew!  Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about all of your past, present and future screw ups when it comes to derby.  Don't be shy, you, me and everyone and their brother will mistakes in derby. You'll do something stupid on the track, let the jammer waltz up the inside line, or say something stupid to someone and your mistake will be in plain view of everyone.

So what do you do?

Are you going to be a jerk when you make a mistake, or are you going to own it?  I have to say, I admire the people that own their mistakes, which is definitely not easy to do in derby.  It took me a long time to be able to admit that I had screwed up on the track.  I never wanted to look weak, and I didn't want other people to think I was stupid.  Every time I screwed up and it was noticeable,  I died a little inside.  I hated myself for screwing up, and I was angry at myself for being...human.  Seems stupid now, but the pressure we put ourselves under during derby is incredible.  If you were like me, you're beating yourself up inside and you don't want to own your mistake, but honestly that's the best thing you can do.

The more you ignore or "eat" your mistakes, on the track and in your league, they're going to eat you from the inside. Admit you made a mistake.  You don't have to make a giant production of it, but admitting it is a good way of starting to get a handle on it.  If you can say "I messed that up" out loud to your teammates and they don't act like you killed their first born, then maybe you can forgive yourself and learn from your error.  We tend to treat ourselves way worse than other people will treat us for screwing up.

(As long as we're actually taking responsibility for the error and are working on not doing it again.  Insincere apologies suck donkey dong, so don't do that, ok?  Nobody likes an insincere, angry d-bag.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Precious! Protect your rink time.

I don't know about your league, but we are always scrambling for track time.  We don't have a  warehouse so we're at the mercy of roller rinks and sport court facilities.  Hell, we've even skated outside at local parks during the cooler part of the year.  Practice time is incredibly special and precious!
My precious!  Image found here

So how can you protect it?  First of all, your team needs to know how important and expensive each and every hour can be.  When I was in college, I decided that skipping classes was out of the question, because I did the math and broke down just how much each class was costing me.  There was no way in the world I was going to waste that much money ditching one class!  I went to them all! Skaters need to understand that every time they are late, or miss practice, they're throwing their money away!  Skater dues pay for practice space, so if you pay monthly dues, wouldn't you want to get your money's worth?  I know I do!  Money is hard to come by, don't you want to get your best bang for your buck?  Don't skip practices unless real life interferes.

Coaches and captains, make sure you're using the rink time to the best of its abilities.  Keep practices moving along and engaging.  When you have a lot of people standing around waiting for a turn at drills, then you're in danger of the whole group being distracted.  If you have people standing around too long, they're not getting what they paid for.   If a drill doesn't involve enough people, split the drills up, use half of the track, or run drills that can also be done on the side or involve more people.  Another option you have if  you don't have a drill you can split up on the track or have the extra room to do another drill on the outside of the track, try limiting the time each group of people do the drill.  Standing around for two minutes at a time, with a possibility of several more minutes isn't the best use of track time.

Finally, and this one is going to piss off a lot of people, but I think off skates stuff should remain outside of track time.  Just hear me out, I am a giant fan of cross training, but not when there is limited rink time to be had.  Do off skates training at a park, or after practice, or at some other time, but please please please do not take up skating time with it.  Just my two cents.  Do offskates training!  Do it!  Just don't take up valuable rink time.

Of course, if you have a warehouse, none of this applies and I am totally jealous.