|Coaches should be hugged. Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami|
1. Never email a coach and ask "Are we doing anything important at practice tonight? If we aren't, I might stay home because I've been really busy....blah blah blah." If you email this to your coaches and captains, the only reaction you should expect is serious eye rolling. I really have never met a coach or a captain that believes any practice they planned are unimportant. How would you like to be in charge of an event and have one of the participants say "Is this really worth it?" I'm pretty sure you would find it pretty insulting. Coaches are volunteers, and they're there to help the league get better; don't make them feel like they're wasting their time.
2. "I can't" What coaches and captains hear is "I won't" or "I'm scared" or "I don't want to take a risk." Recently at the Team North Carolina tryouts, one of the coaches made the entire group do fifteen push ups because someone said the "C" word, the C word being "I can't." We throw that phrase around a lot in derby; I can't jam, I can't do endurance right now, I can't block like that, and I can't cross train. Try to not verbalize the "I can't" when you're working on your sport, and focus more on the "I will."
3. "I don't think this drill is relevant" before trying it. Ah derby players, we're so very very strong minded and opinionated. Sometimes we think we know it all, especially when we've been playing derby for more than a few years. We get into a mindset that we have such limited time to practice, or even play this sport, that we don't want to waste any of it. Maybe we should be more open-minded and have faith that our coaches have really worked at creating a drill that is beneficial. I mean, at least TRY it first. Maybe it won't be the best and most perfect drill ever, but drills evolve through tweaking; if you don't give a drill a chance, how do you know if it sucks or not?
4. I didn't give this drill 100%." The only thing that makes this more annoying is when someone says it and then basically laughs about it. I know that we have defensive coping mechanisms built in, but it really can make a coach feel like you're not trying hard because you don't care, instead of not trying your best because you're afraid to fail.
5."I know!" When a coach is giving you feedback, and instead of accepting the feedback, you say "I know!" We don't like to accept feedback, especially when it is about something we're doing that isn't perfect. We want to let our coaches know we know that we're STILL doing it wrong, but what we think of as acknowledging feedback actually sounds like we're dismissing it.
6. I can't jam. GUILTY OF THIS ONE! I used to be a jammer, a long long time ago, but alas, I don't think my skill set works as a jammer with this rule set. When anyone says "I don't jam" what it usually means is "I'm not your best choice for this position" or "hey coach, how badly do you want to win this game/scrimmage/jam?" Sometimes coaches want to see what you can do, sometimes coaches want to see what walls do against you, and every once in a while a coach has run out of willing jammers and is desperately trying to get someone, ANYONE out to jam. Don't leave your coach in the lurch, as one of my favorite skater coaches used to say, "you can do anything for two minutes."