Monday, October 7, 2013

Don't Be a Superstar

I've been watching derby and playing derby for a while now, and I can tell you that there are a lot of amazing teams out there, like Gotham, Minnesota, Windy City, Texas, Ohio, and there are a lot of groups of extremely talented people who are loosely united to sort of play together. I won't name names, but we all know them when we see them.  They have stand out players, but no real team support; I understand that derby is sometimes the first team sport experience for many of its players, but people need to understand that this game is won by everyone on the track. It's not all about the individual.

So what makes a good teammate?  I'm glad you asked, citizen!
Good teammates don't make fun of your derby faces.  Photo by a Boy Named Tsunami

1.  A teammate doesn't think she can win the game on her own.  I don't care what position you play on the team, you can't win the game by yourself.  You may be amazing, but if you can't play well with others, you're just a show boat hanging out with some other people on skates.  If your team loses the game, do you blame yourself and only yourself for losing?  I doubt it.  It's easy to take on the glory and none of the blame, but that's not how it works when you play a team sport.

2.  A good teammate has an amazing dedication to the sport.  Yes, derby is a game, but a good teammate has to have a good work ethic.  That means she shows up at most practices, giving your all, and putting in your effort.  You're not being a good teammate if you don't show up, period.

3.  A good teammate respects her peers, coaches and refs.  That means you aren't allowed to be a dick on the track during practice or in games.  Don't be a dick to your teammates; I know, I know, it's so easy to be a jerk in this game.  Sometimes fouls don't get called, and you just HAVE to say something ugly under your breath.  DON'T!  Don't do it!  I know it's hard.  Put a paper bag on the bench and scream into after each jam,  just shut your damned mouth on the track!  Every time you snipe at a teammate in practice, you destroy her confidence in herself, and YOU. You're not being a good teammate; you're being a horrible diva.  Just. Shut. Up.  Do I have to remind you not to yell at the refs too?  I shouldn't have to at this point, but I will.  SHUSH!  Go to the box! 

4.  A good teammate has self discipline.  Did you read number three up there?  That's part of it. Another part is cross-training, eating right, and not losing your temper.  Of course you're going to slip up on one or all of these things, but if you're doing the right things most of the time, and learning from your mistakes when you screw up, that's a start to on the path to discipline.

5.  Be coachable.  That means you have to listen AND pay attention.  If you ignore the crap out of feedback and continue to skate as you always do, then you aren't coachable. If you're a jammer and your coach tells you to stop taking the lines on the straight away, and you just don't, well, you're not trainable.  He or she isn't telling you that just to make you feel bad, they want you to be mighty on the track.  Ignoring feedback means you are not willing to change and grow.  Who wants someone stagnant on her team?

6.  A good teammate is accountable.  if you screw up, you screw up.  Own it.  Nobody is perfect on the track, and sometimes you're going to make a huge mistake out there. OWNNNNNN IIIIIT.  I know this is something you want to hear, but you're human, just like the rest of us.  (You're not perfect...I know, I know....shushhhh will be ok.)

7.  A good teammate anticipates the needs of her team.  Do you need to bridge for your teammate blocking the jammer?  Then do it, don't think of yourself as too amazing to be just bridging.  Talk to her, tell her how much room she has to block before she's out of play.  Be supportive, and help your teammates be successful.

8.  A good teammate makes her other teammates better.  Make that a GREAT teammate.  If you're not invested in making your teammates better, then you're not really into your team.  Derby makes us competitive for spots on rosters, but it's still important that you help raise your teammates up as high as they can go. Tell them when they're being successful, give them helpful feedback, work with them on skills, and the hardest of all, don't resent them for getting better.  It's hard not to listen to that little bitter voice in the back of your head when a teammate starts to blossom.  She's really challenging you on the track?  Good!  Rise to her challenge and step up your own game.  True teammate push each other to be even better.

9.  A good teammate is reliable. Do your volunteer hours, get to practice, get to the bouts on time.  Did I mention "go to practice"?

10.  A good teammate has confidence in her teammates.  Don't do your teammate's job; let her know you have confidence in them, and tell them when they do a great job.  Don't doubt your teammates' skills; you need to believe they can handle their responsibilities on the track. How offended would you be if someone on your team tried to step in and take over your job on the track?  How demoralizing would it be?  Don't demoralize your teammates. Don't be that girl.

A team that doesn't play well together is like a super group of ninjas waiting one at a time to attack the samurai.  How many times have you yelled at your tv set and said "Why don't you all hit him at once?" Being a solo superstar in this day and age of derby is just not the way to success. Read over that checklist above and see which parts you could work on to become a better teammate. We all can improve on at least one of the ten characteristics up there. 


  1. I shared this all over the place. EXCELLENT piece, Q!

  2. thank you ... like always good advice !!

  3. Amen! While I am (and know well that I am) average at best, there is still the burning temptation to try to save the day on my own instead of listening and being in sync. And that never ends well.

    1. It's hard, but you have to have confidence in your team. It's SOOOOOO HARD sometimes though!

  4. Fantastic!!! Great advice :)

  5. Ace post - everyone should read this and have the confidence that their whole team can be awwwwesome - it's all about using individual strengths to make a killer team!

  6. Q - This could not have come at a better time! Great one!

  7. This is a great blog. So much i can relate to from watching some teams play. One of the greatest strategic plays in derby "Default Strategy" cannot be played in a team where even one "superstar" exists. So many just seem to want to "turn left and hit a bitch". Taking their own teammates out in the process of getting to the jammer because they didn't believe that player was good enough to stop her.
    Then, being out in public trying to raise awareness of the team hear the phrase "This is a waste of time" or " i wish i'd stayed in bed".
    Hearing a more experienced skater say to a newbie who has just excelled in a drill and hit her off the track "that was illegal anyway so you'd be in the bin" when it wasn't a foul. Would it be so difficult to say "wow! amazing hit!! So glad we're on the same team!"
    Team bonding is important, it's not about putting up tons of pics in public to show others "look at us we're a team" It's about just being there.. supporting your teammates on and off the track, giving them confidence and a safe environment to blossom not just as derby players but as people.
    Thanks for this blog, seriously. I just hope that it's read by as many people as possible and that it's taken on board.

    1. Agreed. I've seen teams sink themselves because they had a superstar that wouldn't follow what the rest of the team was doing.