Monday, December 2, 2013

Under Pressure: Da da dum da da dah dum.

Roller derby is a sport, but it's also a lot like being under fire or in a war game. How many times have you felt the stress about your performance, or lack of performance?  How many times have you and your teammates started sniping at each other, making team morale fall apart?  Some teams just can't handle the pressure, and melt down at the worst times ever. Why do we let this happen to ourselves over and over again?  Unfortunately, it happens in all parts of life, but in derby, which is such a fun and exciting sport, it seems doubly intolerable to have this kind of frustration or stress.  I mean, don't most of us play derby to relieve stress?  I know I do.

But what do you do when you feel overwhelmed with stress and frustration?  What can you do to combat the feelings that your are spiraling out of control while you're trying your hardest to NOT melt down?

I'm glad you asked, citizen.

They ain't judgin'.
1.  Don't be so impatient with yourself and others. Whoops. This is hard for a lot of us because we're perfectionists and we are super duper hard on ourselves. It makes sense, because derby attracts so many Type A personalities.  Unfortunately, because we hold ourselves up to a higher standard, sometimes we hold other people to those same standards.  It's unfair.  We beat ourselves up, and then we beat our teammates up, and they don't even know why it's happening. No wonder we're stressed out.  Now imagine a whole team doing that to each other in perpetuity. Gah. You're human, your teammates are human too. Learn to be patient with yourself and your teammates. Remember, nobody is judging you as harshly as you are judging yourself.

2. Let feelings that things are unfair or unjust go.  Nothing makes me feels like I'm going crazy and out of control when I feel like I'm being unjustly singled out, by my captain, the refs, or the coaches.  Am I not getting enough play time? Am I getting called on a million and a half penalties, and I'm sure I have only earned about 50% of them legitimately? (ahem) Sometimes we feel singled out in a game or at practice; most of the time, this is because we are so focused on ourselves, and we forget that there are a ton of things going on, and WE ARE NOT THE CENTER OF THE DERBY UNIVERSE!!! Wait, we aren't? Sometimes you get the short end of the stick, and sometimes you don't.  Games are chaotic at best, and it's most likely that all of those people, refs, coaches and captains are focused on how to make you miserable.  Take a step back from your butthurt and remind yourself that you are a small part of a bigger picture, the team picture.

3.  Don't let communications break down. Sometimes, when I'm really frustrated I feel like I'm speaking Esperanto to my team, and even though that was supposed to be an international language, it never caught on. People forget how to communicate efficiently when they're under stress; we're all guilty of it, so try extra special hard to be clear and not bitchy with how you address your teammates. Also,  learn the fine art of listening. Listening is way harder than talking.

4.  Stop being a brat and having a tantrum.  Most tantrums come from frustration+self centeredness = tantrum.  Do I need to say more? If you are having a brat moment, keep it to yourself!  Every time you come back to the bench and are a sourpuss, you infect the other members of your team with your bad juju. Don't infect your team! Concentrate on the positive things that are happening, even if they aren't happening to you. You may not be the most successful jammer on the track, but I guarantee if you watch your teammates, you're going to see them doing amazing things. Let them know!

5.  Be grateful. Be grateful that you're involved in this amazing sport, that you're surrounded by people who have your back, and that you have something to focus on other than tv shows and your neighbor's antics. Be grateful that you can strap on skates and forget "real" life for a while; remember that derby is play. Why did we all love recess in elementary school?  We got to play! Enjoy the playing and be grateful we have a chance to do it as adults.


  1. Stop being so awesome! It makes it harder for the rest of us bloggers! ;)
    Seriously, thanks for your words. The validity of this post is a little humbling.

  2. This is great advice for Officials, too! Thank you!