Sunday, June 7, 2015

Losing Your Emotional Crap in Derby

We're all human, and that means that sometimes we have to deal with emotions, even where we don't want to be doing anything other than concentrating on derby. Derby is an extremely physical game, but there is definitely a mental and emotional component that can't be avoided.  Sometimes our emotions overwhelm us when we least expect them to, but dealing with emotions in derby can be so important if you want to improve your game.

Fury counts as anger too. Go see Mad Max.
To discuss emotions in derby, I'm taking a page from Yoda, so stay on target and hold on tight to your light sabres, we're going in.You need to identify your emotions if you're going to be honest with yourself and learn to control them.

Anger is a buffer emotion. When we're angry, it's because it's the easiest emotion to manifest, especially if we feel hurt or sad or scared. Anger is the acceptable way to express that we're unhappy. When you're "angry" you don't seem weak; when you're feelings are hurt, or you're sad, you are vulnerable, so many people opt to express the anger instead of dealing with the hurt."I'm pissed that I didn't make this roster!" Are you mad, or are you hurt? I'd be hurt that I didn't make a roster, especially if I had an expectation that I was going to make it. When we feel anger, our bodies release adrenaline, which jacks up our blood pressure and gets us ready for a fight; it makes us feel stronger, but it also shuts down the reasoning part of your brain. It's hard to control your decision making skills when you're pissed off, and people end up making giant mistakes out on the track. Of course, making mistakes might be what made you angry in the first place, so now you're caught in a vicious cycle.

Instead of getting pissed off and sabotaging yourself, try and channel that anger into focusing on your game and your teammates. I know it's easy to get pissed because you feel like you've been back blocked around the track by a hard hitting jammer, or tripped by opponents, but if you take that anger that's growing in your gut and turn that energy into a positive. Don't focus on the opponents or the refs; turn to your teammates to help you remain calm. Focus on them. Communicate with them, and them only. I know it's tempting to grouse at the opponent who just put her elbow in your solar plexus, but let it go and talk to your teammates. We usually can get out of angry mode if we distract ourselves with something else. Distract yourself with positive attention to your teammates.

Fear. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Or something like that. "She's in her head" is a phrase that gets bantered about in derby; I truly feel that derby gives you plenty of opportunities to face fear. People fear jamming, they fear screwing up, they fear getting injured and they fear rejection and failure. Some people really fear looking foolish too, which I don't understand since we all look foolish at some point in our derby careers; isn't that half the fun of putting on skates?

Sometimes we just have to own our fear and talk ourselves through it. Remind yourself what you do well. "I'm a strong jammer" "I'm a great anchor in my wall" "My plow stop is super effective" "I recycle well." Say something positive to yourself about yourself. Remind yourself you're not out there by yourself, and your teammates could probably use some reassurances too. I feel a million times more confident when I'm close to my teammates and we're making eye contact on the track. Communication helps calm us all down, and when we're calm, fear can't find as great of a foothold.

Are there times you're going to be angry? Sure. It's how you deal with your anger which makes it controllable. Are you going to be afraid? Absolutely! Fear can be managed with your teammates though. The most important thing you can learn by playing derby is that you are a part of a bigger group, and that can take some of the pressure off of your emotional well being.

Game on!

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