Monday, April 20, 2015

Etiquette for visiting other practices by Sesamean Streak

Etiquette for visiting other practices
by Sesamean Streak, Smoky Mtn Rollergirls

The (well, ONE) beautiful thing about roller derby is the presence of teams spread across this country and the world.  Though my travel has been work-related and within the US, I get excited to find out where a conference will be and who I can visit. Visiting other team practices can be invaluable, and sometimes you can find a “home away from home” with a team who you really have fun with (Med City Mafia, I’m talking to YOU).  Here are some tips for preparing for and visiting another team’s practice. 
Photos by Tiffany Sanderson

Is there a team there? The internet makes it pretty darn easy to find out teams in an area where you will be. Search and find out which one(s) you would want to visit.  And DON’T be intimidated!
Check dates prior to going- If they have a practice schedule posted ( like Duke City did when I visited Albuquerque, NM)  it makes it easier to email someone and see if you can join a certain practice-or if there aren’t any at all for that time. If there is a bout when you will be visiting, I feel it is better to go cheer than to ask about crashing a practice around bout time. That being said, I have seen teams who don’t mind either way because it will be a home team bout OR the league is so big there is another practice you can join. 

Ask ahead of time- I cannot stress this enough.  As soon as I know about a trip, I start messaging/emailing the team. I want to give them as much time as possible to discuss it with their coach and/or trainer, ILC, and whoever else would need to be involved. It also gives them time to decide which practice may be appropriate for you. 

Be honest about your skill level and how long you have played-
the last thing you want is to go and feel really stupid about how you play with another team.  I have always been very honest about my playing history and experience. When I attended an endurance practice with the DC Rollergirls a couple of years ago, I knew I would probably die.  I ended up on the floor a lot of the time, but I
never gave up.  I learned a ton- and they were great to skate with. 
Me with the DC Rollergirls!

Find out the rules set they play under-
is it WFTDA or USARS, and which do you play with? Some teams might not want you to attend a scrimmage practice if you play by a different ruleset. No big deal, it’s just the way it is and sometimes they may feel it would be difficult to adjust. 
Don’t take over their practice-only offer up drills/advice/criticism IF ASKED. Remember, you are a guest and thankful for the opportunity. 

Be open-minded- even if you NEVER jam at your team’s practice (does that happen?), if that is what the team/league you’re visiting does go for it. 
Ask about a visiting skater fee-some teams charge a small fee to visit. This is normal, and it is usually bigger leagues that do this. But, you do want to know ahead of time so you don’t look stupid or show up empty-handed.  Usually, they will tell you when you are making arrangements.
Make sure you have insurance (no brainer)- this may sound obvious, but just make sure you are covered and don’t put another team in jeopardy.  They usually ask you about this when you visit or during your pre-visit correspondence. 

Give them time to respond- don’t harass them if they don’t get back to you within one week. Sometimes, leagues are extremely busy, or don’t check their facebook/emails regularly. They may take a while to get back to you. I usually wait 2-3 weeks before checking back in; but honestly, I only needed to wait that long once.

Ask if it is a closed practice/scrimmage- usually this applies if you have family with you in a strange place and they are driving/riding with you. They may not have anywhere to go while you are at practice. I am not saying to take your three children to a practice with you- but if you have one or two family members traveling with you, it is ok to ask about them hanging out.  I made the mistake of not asking about this when I visited Rat City in a cab- my poor mom and her friend ended up walking around the neighborhood in pouring rain until I was done. Luckily, they found a cupcake place that had been on the show “Cupcake Wars” and were pretty happy about it.

Work for getting merch or a t-shirt exchange – most people want a memento of visiting a practice, and what better loot than an awesome t-shirt? Most teams have a merch person who will gladly bring you a t-shirt you can pay for when you visit. Some will even do a shirt exchange for your team merch. 

Unpredictable things happen- sometimes a practice is cancelled last-minute, there is a team emergency or death within the team’s family, or other unforeseen circumstances may occur. Don’t get too bummed about it- just tell yourself it didn’t work out this time, but you may be back! This has happened to me twice, and the only time it really sucked was when the team didn’t tell me they moved practice. So, while on vacation, I traveled 30 minutes to a practice spot and waited for another 30 until I realized nobody was coming.  This leads to the last point….

Get a contact number- a cell number of the person coordinating your practice visit is super-helpful, if only for them to let you know if something comes up last-minute.  It is also a good idea to let that person know that someone from your league may contact him/her to ask about you attending that practice/scrimmage.

And, DO IT! Visit other teams! You will feel so happy about who you meet and what you learn! Thanks to all of the teams who support and welcome visitors-it is appreciated!

1 comment:

  1. I have several home leagues away from home, and it's the best!
    There are also a few etiquette things I try to follow at practice when I travel. In scrimmages and pack drills, I jam a lot, because it gives their blockers an opportunity to work against an unfamiliar person and do it together as a team, and I get a killer endurance workout.
    Knowing your skill level relative to your hosts goes both ways - you don't want to overestimate yourself, but you don't want to underestimate yourself either. I have a hard time not going full-out in drills and have to remind myself to rein it in when I'm surrounded by newer and less stable skaters, and try to help them out instead of focusing on me. Some teams get annoyed with me for going 100% when I really shouldn't, but some LOVE it. I'm used to being told "practice how you intend to play," but the truth is that their practices aren't about me - I should be practicing as their TEAM intends to play. (Unless I'm jamming - then the gloves come off and I become the person they love to hate.)
    I usually talk with skaters or coaches early in the practice and find out what strategies they have been working on, so that we're on the same page and so I don't spend a whole jam yelling at blockers to do things that they haven't really worked on yet. It helps me fit better into the team mindset even though I'm just a visitor.
    Remember that you are an ambassador for your league as a whole. Be a good one.
    That, and bring some different hardnesses of wheels. I just skated a practice that felt like my feet were glued to the floor, and if I don't fix that, it's going to be a long summer!