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Archive for October, 2010

That’s right, the off-season! I made it! I have officially survived my first roller derby season. Whew. And luckily the last bout was enough of a blast that it inspired me to want to train harder and get better even though I’m finally allowed to slack off. One thing I know now is that I fit in roller derby. Now I get to spend the next season figuring out how I want to fit. This will be no easy task.

At first I slid easily into the “tall/lanky” category. Then we got a few more tall lankies on the league, so that was out. Tall, lanky, with potential to be fast? Unfortunately I got blown out of the water by other girls a long time ago. Speed can no longer be my thing. Other tallies have also claimed the grasshopper slots, the daddy long legs slots, the ninja slots … so what’s left for me to claim? I can take up room on the track? Roadblock?

Perhaps. I made the huge mistake (never, ever ever try this at home) of watching some of our latest bout footage in the morning before heading to work. In the morning, so there was no booze involved. Watching footage of the bout I was so proud of myself for – the bout where I actually moved and hit people and made a contribution.

Ugh.

It was so painfully horrible to see myself in action. My performance was most akin to the balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – slow, wide, lumbering. Grraaaadually drifting over to the inside line to hit someone. Slowly eaaaassssssinngg over to help out a teammate. No quick movements, no lateral movement whatsoever. Slow and steady as she goes.

(this isn’t the point of derby)

So even though I really, really don’t want to, I’m going to gear up to re-watch. People have been telling me that watching yourself on tape is one of the best ways you can learn how to improve. (oh god) And luckily the rest of my team wants to watch, with alcohol, so maybe I won’t be entirely focused on my hideous performance. No one likes to watch themself on tape. Even my captain declared that when she witnessed her own performance, she knew then and there she should become an NSO (Non-Skating Official). That made me feel an eensy bit better.

So here we go – onward into the off-season, and all the fun and embarrassing training opportunities it can provide!

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Add ‘Em Up

… the small victories. The time here when you managed to not fall down when that notorious blocker slammed into you. The time there when you passed someone you’ve never passed before while jamming. The time when you finally figured out what was going on while scrimmaging. The time when you were able to do skate lunges on BOTH legs down the rink (ok … that’s me-specific since my right leg usually gives out on me).

So much of derby is big and bold and fast and in-your-face that it’s easy to forget all the little steps it takes to get better and better at it. Every once and a while you realize you’ve figured something out that hasn’t occurred to you before, or even better – when you do something on instinct that you remember purposefully practicing over and over again. Those are the little, teeny, impressively important small victories you really have to hang on to when you’re in training. I keep forgetting it’s not my job to compare myself to other players, their styles, their skills. I need to keep track of what I’ve actually done and where I need to go. It’s good to selfishly focus on your own improvement during practice so that when you’re out there with your team – you’re thinking of nothing else but them.

And little by little, you’ll see the game start to open up and make sense to you. It will no longer seem like a chaotic mess of limbs when all you’re thinking about is staying alive. Suddenly you can see – “oh hey there’s a jammer in there” and “oh yeah, I need to be playing defense at this particular moment”. The sport will suddenly make sense to you, and that’s the moment when you’ll forget all the frustration it’s taken to get there and realize you are now a part of it and you now belong.

This roller derby is no longer their derby — it’s now your derby too.

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