Sunday, April 27, 2014

Some reasons you might not be on your travel team, yet.

What makes a skater worthy of being placed on a travel roster? Sometimes, it's about timing, and sometimes it's about the skill level that is available in your league. Derby is hard. There is no fast and steady rule about what makes a great derby player and sometimes it just depends who happens to be in your league at the time. Can you increase your chances of making a roster? Yes, but it's not going to happen because you wish it so.  If you're being passed over for making a travel roster and you can't figure out why, then maybe you can ask yourself these questions.

1.  Are your skills in great shape? Seriously, are they? I'm not talking about them being ok, I'm talking about them being in great shape. How is your backwards skating? How are your stops? How are your transitions? Are they stellar? A lot of skaters feel like their skills are "good enough" but that attitude will most likely not get you placed on your travel roster. Woodshed. You need to work on your skills; hone them, and show that you have more than a mastery on the finer points of skating.

2. Have you shown you're ready for a more competitive level of play. Are you training like you're on the travel team already? Generally, if you're going to be on the travel team, you have to put extra time in skating, watching footage, cross training and skating as much as you possibly can. Are you willing to work like you've already made it? If not, then how do you think you're going to be able to suddenly switch it on after you've made it?

3. Are you trainable? Before you answer "Oh of course I am, Q!" really think about that question. Trainable means different things on different levels of derby. Most derby players are trainable, otherwise they would never get past the fresh meat stage. You learned to skate, and you learned to play derby, so yes, you're trainable. But being on a travel team means you have to be more trainable than that. Can you learn strategy? Are you able to learn strategy quickly? Are you able to implement said strategy in real time? Being trainable is the number one quality many coaches look for in players, so I ask you again, are you trainable?

4. Are you a supportive teammate? A lot of people join derby without having any prior experience as a team player, and sometimes that lack of teamwork can really bite them in the ass. Travel teams don't necessarily want super stars out there on the track; they want teammates. They want people who can stay in their walls, bridge for their teammates, and not take that big hit because they're supporting their pack members. If you're looking for your shining sparkling moment in the sun, then maybe you should rethink your motivation of being on the travel team.

5. Are you willing to make mistakes and learn from them? This kind of goes back to being trainable. Some players don't ever want to make a mistake or be humiliated, so they never take a risk and grow from it. Push yourself and take some risks, otherwise you will stagnate and nobody wants that.

Now, sometimes and in some seriously damaged leagues, getting to be on the travel team is usually done through some form of favoritism, but for the most part, healthy leagues have sane and sensible criteria for being placed on the travel roster. The question is, are you being honest with yourself about how hard you've been training?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Derby is not for Everyone and not at Every Time.

I know that everyone always says that derby is the most accepting of sports, but I absolutely disagree. This sport is not for everyone, at least not at the levels that it seems to be reaching for. Even casual teams who don't aspire to play on the level of Gotham, probably shouldn't take everyone who is interested in derby. I know this sounds counter to the whole DIY philosophy of derby, but hear me out. Derby, is not really for everyone, and certainly not for everyone at every time in her or his life. If you are actively recruiting for your league, maybe you should consider some of these reasons not to play derby before you get all gung ho and rabidly recruit people.

Reasons not to encourage someone to play derby

1. They are the sole provider of income for your household. Look, derby is dangerous. Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous. Yes, I know you can hurt yourself pretty terribly in real life, but you're upping your chances when you play derby. Not only have I seen people screw themselves up learning to skate, but I've seen just about every other kind of injury during derby. Spiral fractures, popped ACLs, shoulder injuries, elbow injuries and the ever sneaky concussions are just a few of the possible injuries waiting for you in this sport. It's hard to support your family when you can't do the basic requirements of your job. Some people have amazingly understanding bosses, some people do not, and some people are self employed. It kind of sucks when you're taken off of your feet by an injury, and you're self employed. I understand that people have to make their own decisions, but sometimes people don't really understand just how hurt you can get in derby.

2. They don't have a lot of money to dedicate to the sport. As derby has developed, it's gotten way way more expensive. A good set of skates can cost $500, and wheels can be up to $120 per full set. Now, pile on top of the "start up fees" league dues, travel money, gas money and jersey costs. Derby ain't cheap, and it's just getting more expensive as teams are forced to travel further and further in search of ranked games. Maybe derby isn't the best idea for them at this time. Does that mean forever? No, but it might be something to think about.

3.  They don't have a lot of time for the sport. How long does it take to create a good derby player? I'd guess, even the most talented of skaters take a while to marinate in derby juices until they're at their peak of flavor. Ok, that was gross, but that's how I think about the developing of the derby skater. If your potential recruit is playing another demanding sport, working 40+ hours a week, and has a lot of familial obligations, derby might not fit into her or his very busy schedule at this point. People don't necessarily comprehend the time drain that is derby, and they just can't really dedicate themselves when they do figure it out. Nothing sucks worse than training someone, seeing that spark, and then having them realize that they can't actually commit themselves to the sport.

4. Their fitness level is low or non-existent.  I can hear it now, "But Q! Derby loves all body types!" Of course it does. Who am I to describe what a successful skater looks like? What I'm saying is that if a person who hasn't worked out ever in life wants to join derby might have a long haul ahead of him or herself. I have always said in my blog that you don't play derby to get into shape, you get into shape to play derby. Derby, at any level, is physically demanding. Ankles need to be strong, cores need to be tight, and the leg muscles need to be ferocious. Derby demands a certain level of physical fitness, cardio and endurance, and if there isn't a couch to derby app, someone needs to make one.

5. They don't take criticism well. If your potential recruit is a delicate flower when it comes to feedback, then derby is really not a great place for him or her. Many times derby either gives you too much criticism in unpleasant tones, or none at all. People have to be self directed and self aware to strap on the skates. If the recruit you're talking to is in a delicate and vulnerable place in his or her life, maybe derby can wait for less tempestuous times.

Yes, I know, everyone is a "grown ass adult" but sometimes people who haven't had much experience with derby don't necessarily know everything that goes into it. Be a good guide, and be honest with your recruits.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

More people you might not want to meet in derby

Sometimes people forget that derby is a sampling of humanity; we all love our leagues, or try to love our leagues, but let's just face it, not every person is lovable. It's ok to admit it; all leagues have a few people in them that don't add to the positivity of the group dynamic. Sometimes you just have to identify them and try not to get sucked into their negative orbit.

And you're old if you recognize this.

1. The Anti "Little Ray of Sunshine" This skater hates everything new, everything old, or anything that changes the status quo, even if she hates the status quo. I've actually seen people like this finally make it on a roster, and then complain about the game's location or time. Can you make this person happy? Probably not, or she's completely happy when she's complaining about everything under the sun. The best way to deal with her is say "ok" and skate out of her complaint zone.

2. The Control Freak I am firmly convinced that all derby skaters have a little control freak in them; most derby skaters are Type A personalities. We have to be, because without that drive, we wouldn't get very far in this sport. Unfortunately, there are people who take it a little too far and try to control EVERYTHING in the league, including you. The best way to deal with her is to smile and say ok, and then skate out of her control zone.

You noticing the pattern yet?

3. The Ghost  She's in your league, but she's barely at practice or any group mandatory events. She shows up once in a while, probably just to remind you that she exists, and then...poof. Gone for another month or so. Just when you think she's gone for good, poof! She's back! Don't blink though, she'll disappear again. The best way to deal with her is to ask "Where have you been for the last X amount of time?" It won't help her actually show up more, but it will give you a chance to release some of your frustrations.

4. The Emotional Mess Whoo hoo! Did you get tickets for the show? It's on for almost every practice! Seriously, she has a melt down in her personal life every practice. Her car didn't start, her boyfriend cheated on her with her girlfriend, or her boss has given her a bad review. Every day there is a new crisis! Every. Single. Day. New. Drama. The best way to deal with her is give her a hug and skate out of her meltdown zone....unless you like to watch the meltdown.

5. The Snowflake Every try to give a skater some feedback, and have that skater utterly and completely have a melt down because you're being mean? If you have been in derby for more than a year, then you know the pain of trying to give someone feedback and have them melt and get bent out of shape. The best way to deal with her is once bitten twice shy. Don't give her feedback again unless she asks for it....and then skate away.

6. The Chameleon The chameleon isn't easy to pick out, but she's one of those people who follows and blends in with whatever group happens to be dominant. If she's sitting next to someone who likes passive offense, she likes passive offense. If she's standing near someone who likes Antik skates, she's the world's biggest fan; if she's eating lunch with someone who loves Bonts, she loves them too. Once you figure out that this skater doesn't have any of her own thoughts and opinions, you'll never be fooled by her again. Always take her opinions with a grain of salt and you'll be fine.

I'm sure there are more personality types I could add to this list, but Game of Thrones was on and I got distracted.