We know all what tough love is, and sometimes it’s not what we want but it’s what we need. I’ve always been supported by my parents, family and friends and they never pushed me into something that I didn’t want to do. Coming into roller derby, my parents and friends said things like “Hey, that’s great!”, “Good for you”, “I’m proud of you” and “PLEASE DON’T GET HURT!”. You know, supportive and loving comments. Now all I hear is “Just do it!”, “You are ready”, “Stop whining, and just do it!”, “You take forever”, “Get out of your head”. All words from the one and only Bobbi Gore, my derby wife.
Bobbi and I have known each other through mutual friends for give or take 8 years now. I saw her at parties and get-togethers and never struck up conversations with her. To be honest, she kind of scared me [ still does]. I consider myself to be shy at times especially during parties, social events, places with people in general. Bobbi, she’s the life of the party. Talks to everyone, dances, puts herself out there, dances and oh yeah, dances. I didn’t want to embark on this derby journey by myself, see… that’s me being shy, so my boyfriend told me to ask Michelle (Bobbi Gore’s real name — your secret’s out!). She was super excited that I asked her because she had wanted to try out for a while now and already had skates. We got together and went to open skates and that’s when we became inseparable.
I learned from Bobbi. In our early skating escapades, I would watch her skate and do tricks and I’d ask her why I couldn’t do that too? First tough love moment between Bobbi and I, “You need to get out of your head”. Bobbi was right then and is still right to this day. “Stay out of your head, Ovie!” I hear that one a lot. I remember when we were learning to hit and block on skates, oy. I would see her coming towards me and I’d whine “I’m not ready!” and she would yell at me “YES YOU ARE READY! I’M GOING TO HIT YOU!”. She was right, I needed to suck it up and start throwing hits and get hit. I wasn’t going to learn if I didn’t suck it up and just do it. She had a big influence on me with trying out for the Queen City Cherry Bombs too. I didn’t think I was ready for the travel team or thought that I would be able to fit this into my schedule. Bobbi told me to stop making excuses and just try out. She really wasn’t giving me an option either here. She TOLD me that I was trying out. If that isn’t tough love, then I don’t know what is. (BTW, Bobbi and I both made the Cherry Bombs and now are on a team together!)
Bobbi still is telling me to get out of my head, hurry up, stop being a baby and just do it. She would be a great spokeswomen for Nike, let me tell you. She says their slogan enough! She gives me the kick in the ass that I need but sometimes don’t want. Bobbi has been there for me through the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. Even when I can’t seem to push myself more, she’s right there telling me to keep pushing. I have learned and keep learning from Bobbi each and every day. I couldn’t be happier and more honored to have a derby wife and now life long friend such as Bobbi Gore. Thanks for the tough love, Bob.
Some of us went to ECDX to show the derby world who the f$%k New Hampshire is (SFOD took River City 169-142 and then went on to take the win over Dominion 175-152). The rest of us…
Photo courtesy of Irate Pirate!
What SFOD’s leaguemates did & didn’t do at ECDX 2012:
- We drank beer.
- We may have regretted drinking so much beer.
- Can we talk about the beer for a second? Did anyone else feel like garbage after drinking a couple?
- Nightmares on Elm Street represented on Sunday!
- We did not skate in any challenge bouts.
- Instead, we used the bathrooms in the rink of the challenge bouts because the line was so much shorter!
- We watched the Pegassist live and in person.
- We ate from delicious food trucks.
- We annoyed many people on the party bus.
- I took a nice nap waiting for the shuttle.
- We cheered on Skate Free or Die! until we all had sore, bloody throats.
- “Hustle, hit, never quit!”
- Alternately, “Hustle, hit, too legit to quit!”
- So many happy, sweaty hugs and high-fives!
- We stayed far, far away from the pool for fear of catching Feastervillitis.
- We caught Feastervillitis anyway!
- We watched Avatar at the hotel because what else are you going to watch when you’re getting ready for the after party?
- We ate a whole table’s worth of tater tots.
- Did we dominate that Sunday after party for a hot minute? I feel like we sure did!
- Personally, I only ate one cheese steak and I’m disappointed in myself.
- How about some Cherry Bombs with a serious challenge bout?
- Make better decisions beerwise.
- If we’re going to get sick anyway, might as well frolic in the pool.
- Will our “Who the F$%K is New Hampshire?!” t-shirts still be timely? You may find us wearing those.
It’s that time again… time to explore your athlete brain.
Find that key yet?
Tournament season is upon us once again. Each year the WFTDA holds the “Big 5“, which are regional tournaments to decide the players for the Hydra Cup. Previous to this, there are tournaments, upon tournaments, upon tournaments to help decide rankings and to provide fun and derby action.
Just thinking about that… My chest is tight. My eyes won’t focus. I have forgotten how to skate. Panic is starting to set in!
Ack! I need to get calm. I need to find my center. I need to… breathe!
That’s a key for me: “Just Breathe”. It’s something we do every day without thinking, and there is a power to calm in it. Yoga instructors know it, psychologists and therapists know it, and now you can know the power in it, too. I’ll walk you through my breathing techniques. They may be rudimentary, but they seem to work just fine.
First, get comfortable. Yeah, your in your gear and it stinks. Yeah, your left skate might be a little too tight tonight and maybe you have cramps. Still, I bet if you lay back, curl into a ball, or just sit still, you can make yourself comfortable. Find a position, go ahead, we have some time.
You don’t have to sit like this. Really, you don’t. In fact, you probably don’t want to with all your gear on.
Next, close your eyes. Block the light with those pretty little lids, maybe drape an arm over to stop the urge to peek. Try to block out the sounds around you. Focus a little on what is making you panic, find the spots in your body that are tense (shoulders, knees, stomach). Recognize them for what they are, which is something that needs to just go away. Assign your panic, tension or setbacks a color. Make a color you don’t like, maybe one you hate. Think about being calm. You know what that feels like. It’s like a cool beer on a hot night, or a soak in Woody Yankabitch’s hot tub during WoodyStock. Or, for some, it’s a “Shower Beer” (you’ll have to ask Moxie or Killa). Assign your calm a color, something you love.
Now you’re ready to really begin: The first breath is the deepest. Take it in, expand your chest as far as it will go, really “open” that rib cage. And let it out sllloooowwwww… very slow. Some find that counting to 10 or 20 helps them push out that first breath better. You want to completely empty your lungs, so really push that breath out.
Breathe in slow… begin. Each breath should be deep and focused, hold it for a second or three, then let it out slow.
Start at the top of your head. Breathe deep in, and as you exhale picture the calm colors replacing your “bad” colors. With each deep breath, you want to imagine you are calming and that you are physically pushing the panic and tension out of you. Everything bad you think it going away and being replaced with the positive. “I will make that clear for my jammer. I will block. I can do this.”
Each time you breathe in and out, each time you replace the panic with your calm… move lower. Relax your shoulders, breathe in and out, and fill your shoulders and chest with your calming color. Think about all the great things you’re going to do on that track. Next your chest to your stomach, push those butterflies out. They have no place here. And keep going: your stomach to your hips that are going to deliver devastation to your opponents, your hips to your legs that are going to carry you with speed and accuracy. Next your legs to your skates, that are going to help you score points, booty block, and move with your team.
Finally, the last push. Breathe in deep deep deep, as deep as that first breath… and push the negative out of your body into the floor, and away.
Open your eyes. You’re ready now to do anything.
Go scale that mountain! Go skate that tournament! Go get your points! Hit that jammer! Because Baby, you can do anything!
And there you have it. My breathing exercises. I loved leading my team in these during our 2011 season. Leading these helped me be calm. I have had to teach myself to do this for myself alone.
You may say now “Irate, that’s all hippy bull and doesn’t work.” Please tell that to professional athletes who do this before every game… because I don’t think they got that memo. Breathing can help calm, and focus. Anything is worth a try, and that is how I discovered this for myself and my teams.
I love reading about roller derby! I mean, I generally love reading words that are arranged in such a fashion that they describe an interest of mine. I’m just a wacky, zany lady like that! But after awhile, I start to read the same article over and over again: BURNOUT, AMIRITE? I would like to contribute my own arrangement of words on the hot subject to the internet bin of disposable miscellany. I like to remain hip with the culture and right now the culture is buzzing out being burnt out.
Burnout monster is here to eat your life.
What does being burnt out even mean? Burnout is when you say cliche things like, “Stop the world! I am getting off! And by getting off I mean, like, stepping off a plane or train and not… you know.” You’ve had it up to here like Gwen Stefani in “Just a Girl.” It’s having a Case of the Mondays on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday but not Sunday because that’s when you are spending time angrily staring at the Mt. Everest of laundry in your bedroom. Burnout is when you need your life to take a chill pill, but you decide to drink a case of Red Bull, sally forth, and totally regret it. You feel like a sad, booger-filled disposable tissue that is lying on the floor next to the trash can. Do you love roller skating as much as you love baby animals? You don’t? Ugh, you are so burnt out.
So then the typical internet article about burnout goes like this: “What do we do about you, you useless pile of ashes? Can we throw some wood on you and get the fire going again?” No, that last question is not an innuendo but a metaphor. I don’t even know how you live with your mind in the gutter all the time! Moving on! The internet tells me these are the solutions to burnout:
1. Take some time off!
2. Take a break! Gimme a break! Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!
3. Have you tried eating a pint of ice cream?
4. Do you have friends outside of derby? See them! You don’t? Why don’t you make friends? Are you a dinosaur? You are?! No wonder why you don’t have friends outside derby!
5. Cast away your responsibilities like a nudist casts off pants in the warm, warm sunlight!
6. Evaluate how many fucks and shits you can stand to give and ration them accordingly. Do not give an entire shit when only a turd will suffice.
7. Listen to some Enya. Oh… you saw the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Never mind, try Explosions in the Sky.
How awesome was that advice? It was all so novel and genius and groundbreaking! I know, I basically just served you last week’s meat surprise lunch and spiced it up with a little srichacha sauce. It’s still terrible except now it might give you heartburn. Nothing is solved! You want to know: “How can I burn out, but not fade away?”
I think in order to do that you need to evaluate the state and extent of your burnout. Are you a little pile of smoldering embers? Maybe abstaining from a few practices and events might be enough to sustain. Maybe you need to not check your e-mail every 5 minutes. You know what? Just put your phone in a drawer and don’t bother with it until you get the burning desire to let everyone on Facebook know that you are now the mayor of your laundromat. Think of derby as that friend who you KNOW is a good person, they are just super annoying right now. Keep it all at arm’s length and let things just happen without engaging.
If you are a sad lumpy pile of gray ashes in danger of being scattered by a light breeze, I don’t know if you can remain burnt out without fading off into the sunset for awhile. You should probably go get some more wood, if you know what I mean.
And here's "Ashes to Ashes" David Bowie for no particular reason.
So you’ve read all of those words and you are still feeling hopeless about the state of your fire? Part of me wants to shake you and say, “Well, what did you expect? I am no certified expert! I’m juggling all kinds of balls right now which is terrible because a) I hate balls and b) I can’t keep them in the air for the life of me!” What balls? “The balls of life! They are a-rollin’!” If you’re still looking for Better Burnout Solutions, I am sad to report that the truest and best advice is the most boring: You know yourself better than anyone and what you can/can’t handle. Your gut will probably tell you exactly what you need to do, you just need to come to terms with it. And get wood.
1. Characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing.
2. Making an all-out effort to win or succeed; competitive.
3. Vigorously energetic, especially in the use of initiative and forcefulness 4. Boldly assertive and forward; pushy.
Aggressive is something that I am not. If you looked up aggressive in the dictionary my picture would not be anywhere neat that word and definition. Well, until you skim to the the antonyms.. 1. Friendly. 2. Retiring, shy, timid, hesitant. Now, that’s me to a T. So how does one who is a semi-quiet, more reserved person break out of their shell and be aggressive? I haven’t the slightest clue! Please, someone help me!!
Roller derby not only requires physical exertion, it also requires a lot of mental activity. You are constantly pushing yourself physically but you have to really put your game face on. My problem, you ask? I don’t have a game face nor do I know where to get one. When I first started scrimmaging, I was a mess! I never was able to break through the pack. It was bringing me down. I couldn’t figure out why his could be?! Until someone asked me where my aggression was. Good question, WHERE IS MY AGGRESSION?! WHY AM I NOT AGGRESSIVE?!
After a few… more like several scrimmages, I finally found it! I don’t know where this aggression came from but there it was. I was getting through packs! I was surprised with myself. ALL RIGHT! GO ME! I even felt bad for being hard on myself about not getting through and scoring any points at past scrimmages. I mean I’m still Freshmeat going into my rookie season. I’m not going to be a superstar roller derby girl over night. This sport is a lot to take in; trying to soak all this new knowledge in my head and just learning everything you need to know and do. All of this is so new to me, even rollerskating is new to me. Roller derby is a crazy sport and I seriously believe you have to be crazy to play this sport! Crazy and well… aggressive.
Having found this aggression is extremely helpful. Don’t get me wrong though, it is still difficult to break through packs and get your way through, but being aggressive helps for sure. Finally finding my aggressive side has been such an accomplishment for me! I feel like Robin Williams, as Peter Pan in the movie Hook, when he found his happy thought and learned how to fly again (we both wear tights too!). It took me a while to find it but aaah, what a relief. And a little tip for any ladies out there who are planning on learning how to skate to play roller derby, STAY POSITIVE! There are a lot of components to this sport but if you keep with it and put your all into it, you’ll get it! Stay positive and oh yeah, BE AGGRESSIVE… B-E AGGRESSIVE!
Twas the eve before bout day,
And all through my brain,
My mind it was racing,
Faster than the fastest train.
Did I pack all my things?
Did I wash my gear?
What if a lace breaks?
How will I get there?!
The thoughts come unbidden
Making the night restless
Red eyed and bleary, I rise and swear,
Curse you bout day brain! How the hell can I skate with no sleep! Why can’t I ever F&#$ing sleep before a bout!?
So, bout day has crept up on you and now you are in a panic. (I know I do it!) You’re stuck in your head, thinking of all the things you did or did not do, running through drills, plays, skills, and you cannot get calm.
Well, at least you think you can’t.
Eventually, at least I hope, you will see you can form a little routine that will help you stop thinking so harshly about yourself. I hope to help you find that routine, and it all starts, once again… with your mind.
We really need to find the key that fits.
Take a second to think about any of the sporting events you have been to where you can see the athletes before they hit the court/track/field. What are they doing? Some have headphones on and are rocking through pushups and jumping jacks, some are laying on the ground or floor with their eyes closed, and some are gearing up so slowly that it seems they are just sitting there with one skate on and a wrist guard half strapped into place.
I have a few seemingly silly routines that I am going to share with you.
First: The night before. I drink ridiculous amounts of water through the day before a bout. Excessive amounts? Maybe. And yes, I go to the bathroom a lot the night before a bout. I also eat a healthy, yet carbohydrate fueled, dinner. And no alcohol at all for at least 72 hours. Which, when you consider a bouting and practice schedule… means I do not drink anymore. Next: I go to bed early enough where I will not have to set my alarm. Usually around 10 or 11pm. Early for a Friday, sure. But, worth the extra Zzzz’s in the end. Waking up without an alarm is actually a road to all around better sleep. Because 10pm is my normal “bed time”, it is not a problem for me to get up by 8:30am on the weekends. My body knows, but if yours doesn’t… you may have some sleep training to do!
And now Bout Day!
In the morning, I have coffee, take an extra long and extra hot shower, and try to get a high protein/high carb breakfast. Usually that means OJ, a Bagel with Egg & Bacon, and fruit. The bacon is for my soul, because you need to feed your soul on bout day! No, really!
After all that, I am in my uniform! Sure, it might be 10:15am, and I might have 2-4 hours before I need to leave the house, but hell… I am ready! The car is packed, my gear is set, and now.. I can truly relax. I read, watch TV, read the forums or a chapter in my book, and drink more water. I like to be relaxed.
On the drive to the bout, I like to sing along and rock out to upbeat music. I like this because it keeps me light hearted.
At the bout venue: First, I like to be early. I am almost always early. Wanna carpool with me? Best want to be early. I will gear up super slow; like snails pace. Sometimes I will run in place and walk the track without my skates. Once I have my gear on, you may find me laying on the floor with my headphones on tapping to my music. But, in my mind I am already skating. I am blocking, partnering, and really rocking the track. I then like to do a breathing exercise. I breathe in all the wonderful things about skating, and then I breathe out my nerves.
That is not me, but that is what I do: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/5063522023/sizes/z/in/photostream/
I like to nibble fruit when I feel relaxed, talk with my team. I may even munch a Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich!
Everyone has a routine for everything. As humans, we are creatures of habit. We do what makes us feel good when we need it. No, really!
So, getting rid of your bout-day-jitters is all up to you in the long run. Eventually you will find something that helps you get your heart out of your throat, and untie that stomach knot. Last post and this post, I will recommend again the book The Mind Gym. It may be just what your brain needs!
If you pour a beer into a bag of Fritos and then chuck it into back alley dumpster full of rotten apples, close the lid and let it sit for a year, I imagine the resulting odor would approximate the unique scent of roller derby gear. Some people wear the fragrant essence of derby as a badge of honor; a gold medal for hard skating. These people need to cut the shit.
“UGH! Who is smuggling roadkill in their sports bra?” an annoyed skater may ask.
“Teehee! It’s me! Goodness, my gear smells like that old bowl of chicken ramen I found under my bed on dorm move-out day!” says the offending skater. Are you kidding me? My eyes are watering, not because I am sad about roadkill, but because of the little green wavy stink waves emanating from wrist guards. How can people let this to continue to happen? “Heehee! It’s my secret weapon! With this elbow pad stench, no one will come within 2 feet of me on the track!” Comedy? This joke isn’t funny anymore!
Let’s look at the cold, foul facts: When we play roller derby, we sweat a ton. Sweat does not smell. But when warm sweat is mixed with the entire bacteria ecosystem living on the surface of our skin, we enter stankonia (noun: Land of unpleasant smells, unrelated to OutKast). Your gear is all-inclusive, hedonistic resort for sweat and bacteria to mingle and multiply to make bacteria babies who then go to Stank University to experiment with bacteria bongs and multiply some more. Congratulations! You are basically a walking biohazard! Yuck! Do you use your gear bag as a weapon of mass olfactory destruction? Gross! Is all of my shaming working?
“I’m grossed out but I’m so broke! I can’t afford to wash gear!” Okay, I get this. I live in an apartment without a washer and dryer. Lugging everything to the laundromat is a huge hassle and then paying $2+ a load makes me mad about the pressure to be clean at all times. But I refuse to be a hypocrite, so I devised a way to clean my gear at my apartment. Here’s a how-to:
BROKE GIRL GEAR CLEANING
Time: It’s going to take 24+ hours for your gear to dry (depending on general humidity) so make sure you do this in a small lull in your practice/bouting schedule.
-Bathtub with running hot water (Sorry, Clampetts)
-Maybe you can use the sink if you don’t have a tub
-Rag towels (use the ones you ruined during that exhausting Manic Panic phase you had)
-Pants hangers (optional)
-Sweater rack (optional)
Cleaning solutions (choose any combination or one or more!):
-Vodka (Really? You want to use something you could drink? Okay…)
-Isopropyl/Rubbing Alcohol (Same effect as vodka except it’s cheaper and you cannot drink this)
-Essential oils (If you are a hippy)
Here’s my arsenal:
Ceramic owl optional.
Do it up!
Close the drain to the bath and start running some hot water. Fill tub at least halfway.
Alternative for tiny apartments: Fill up the sink!
If you have knee pads with removable caps (like 187s), take them off. The Velcro is pretty heavy-duty but you can pry them off with a little elbow grease.
Put in about ½ cup of all of the cleaning solutions you use.
If you use laundry detergent, put in enough for 1 load of laundry.
If you use essential oil just put in a few drops, I guess. I don’t know what the deal is with this stuff.
Throw your gear in. If you are gagging, submerge gear in the soapy water and flee the room.
Grab a beer from the fridge and drink it.
Alternative for the beerless: Wine!
Alternative for the wineless: Vodka cocktail!
Alternative for people who don’t drink alcohol: Carbonated high fructose corn syrup!
Poke your head into the bathroom and if you are still unable to breathe, wrap one of the rag towels around your nose and mouth.
Do you have some spray air freshener? Maybe that will help.
Put your cleaning gloves on because you are about to murder some stank and you don’t want to leave any fingerprints.
Swish the gear around the tub (sink?). You really want to create the atmosphere of an actual washing machine here – swish with great vigor and gusto.
Are you done swishing? You are not. Continue swishing.
Pull the drain on the tub (sink?) and start running the hot water.
Rinse each piece of gear thoroughly and squeeze the excess water out.
Lay gear on a towel. Use another towel to absorb more excess water from the gear.
When you air-dry your gear it will still drip water onto the floor. Solution: put your sweater rack in the tub and lay the gear on the sweater rack.
Alternative: Put all gear on pants hangers and hang from shower curtain. You’ll need to lay out some towels on the floor because it will drip!
Alternative: Hang gear outside on balcony.
**BONUS ROUND: Clean your gross mouth guard!
Rinse your mouth guard under warm running water.
Take your toothbrush and put a little bit of toothpaste on it.
Brush your mouth guard as if they were teeth!
Rinse excess toothpaste.
Eventually, you will have to clean your gear. There’s no way around it! You are so doomed! Here are some tips for preventing the smell from creeping back so you can go longer in between cleanings:
- Air out all of your gear after practice. Oh you’re tired? Well so am I – tired of you smelling bad. Physically take your gear out of your bag, secure them on pants hangers and hang them somewhere to safely dry out. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, just dump your gear bag on the floor and hope for the best.
-If you’re feeling ambitious, spray some stuff on the gear that is airing out. Febreze, old body spray from that gift basket you got at Christmas, rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, etc.
-You can make little odor-eating satchels to put in your gear bag. Put some baking soda in an old orphan sock (or cut some fabric from a retired pair of tights) and secure the bundle with an elastic band.
When you’ve lost sight of your goals (or forgot you should have some.)
Somewhere, somehow, I’ve managed to fall off the horse…And at this point it feels like the horse kept running and now is out of sight.
This is a post about goals. It’s probably the most overdone topic in derby blogging, so I apologize in advance for my lack in creative topic choice. But, it’s what’s been on my brain for the past two months, and it’s what’s kept me from writing something else. Bear with me.
Those who know me and those who’ve read my previous posts know how much I love derby, how much it’s changed my life, and how much focus, energy, and enthusiasm I pour into it. It is literally my driving force, the only thing I’ve ever really cared about in this way, and the thing that’s made me most proud of myself for doing in all my life. (I’ve been called “neurotic” in regards to my relationship to derby; Somehow that was the ultimate compliment in my book.) But lately things have changed. The honeymoon of my rookie year has ended, and I’m left feeling, well, feeling pretty darn lost. I think of myself right now as one of those wind-up toys that are a pair of chattering teeth with feet that clickity clack around when set down. It’s absurd, makes no sense, has no direction, and is ultimately forgotten eventually in a drawer somewhere. That’s how I feel. Well, minus the drawer part. Derby presently feels obligatory, tiring, and has lost its excitement. I know I love this, but I’m not loving it right now. What’s causing this, and what the heck do I do to get out of the gutter here? I want the old Arrow back, the one who managed to skate 5 days a week. The Arrow who posted hundreds of posts on the forums every month. The Arrow who said “this is worth it” every single time that she skated. Where did she go?
Some would say that it’s burnout and that I need to take a break, but I actually think it’s the exact opposite: I think I need to skate more. But I think the issue is more specific than that; I need to skate with apurpose. I need a big-picture goal. Sure, learning to turn in my non-dominant direction is a current (and impossible-seeming!) goal, but what is it that I’m working towards ultimately? When I was a potential freshmeat preparing to try out, learning to skate was my goal. When I got onto a league, becoming good enough to be teamed was my goal. And throughout my rookie year I had all kinds of other goals, mostly around not dying on the track and minimizing how much of a doofus I looked like in public venues. (I remember feeling like I’d accomplished something huge when, towards the end of the season, I starting seeing bout photos of myself where I was **doing something** …you know, besides just skating in a circle.) This fall my goal in the off-season was to train up freshies well enough so that they could play roller derby, too. Through an insane amount of sacrifice and dedication, I’ve met these big-picture goals and then some. The amount of smaller goals I’ve accomplished is staggering. It’s been amazing to watch hard work pay off; I’ve never seen such evidence that it does than in my own derby career. And while I may not ever be again willing to maintain the level of absolute mania that was required to get me through my first year on skates, it never occurred to me that I’d suddenly get lazy because I hadn’t realized that I need to be working towards something. Who knew?
In January I did something awesome- I flew to Texas, by myself, to attend a three-day clinic run by DeRanged, Psycho Babble, Ecko, and Hockey Honey.
I knew getting to train with a bunch world-class athletes was going to be intimidating but amazing. And it was both of those things! But the thing that has affected me most wasn’t the skating, actually. It was one story Ecko told during an off-skates session. This story has absolutely haunted me ever since; I think of it every day. She was telling the group about the importance of having goals and realizing what you need to do, what sacrifices you need to make, to reach those goals. She explained that Pikes Peak Derby Dames are practically down the street from where she lives, but that she, DeRanged, and Psychobabble all carpool 1.5 hours to practice and 1.5 hours home in order to skate with Rocky Mountain because their goal is to play at a nationally competitive level; their local league can’t provide that. It was the first time since I started skating that I realized I don’t know what my goals are. And without a clear idea of what my goals are, how will I know if I am working towards meeting them? Roller derby existential crisis, begin.
I never had considered that I’d ever need a goal grander than just playing roller derby in the first place; Now I’d been doing that for a year. What do you do when you’ve worked really REALLY REALLY hard for something and then you achieve it? What is next after that? I’ve been actually literally driving the 1.5 hours myself, from home to practice, for the past year in order to meet my roller derby goals…but now I don’t have a goal, and without that, my sacrifices aren’t clearly reasonable anymore. Suddenly I feel lost, displaced. I’ve watched my horse gallop toward the horizon.
Knowing that I need goals has been the first step in pulling them into focus. I’ve been working really hard at thinking through what kind of athlete I aim to be in six months. In 12 months. In 2 years. I’m asking myself what I’m willing to do to get there. It’s a difficult project if you do it right, but I am convinced there is no better life than one full of impossible, immense, and lofty goals. Make them.
Ask yourself: What is my 1.5 hours? How far am I willing to go? How much am I willing to do? What is worth it to me? If the answers are easy, then you’re asking yourself the wrong questions.
Surround yourself with people that will hear you state your goals aloud, will support you in your decisions, and will hold you accountable for your own progress. You may find that roller derby fits differently into your life now that it did before; that doesn’t mean it has no place. I may never want to skate 5 days a week again, and that’s OK. I need to evaluate what DOES work for me. Re-imagine derby’s place in my life, in accordance with my goals. I know I can figure out how to make my life work with all the pieces I want included in it. It is possible.
I will not accept that I’ve stopped loving the thing that I love best; I am working to find a way to get that love back. I’m sure with roller derby that means working harder, working more, working differently.
I am currently mapping my route. I no longer feel like I’m directionless, chattering, wind-up teeth with feet. I am navigating, but I am not lost; I’m absolutely on my way.
If you’ve fallen off and can no longer see your horse, then run in the direction in which you last saw him. Don’t give up or get lazy. Keep your legs moving and your gaze firmly fixed on the horizon; You will eventually catch that horse.
These and other exercises come from the website EXRX.net. This site breaks down each exercise by muscle group; body part; exercise. Whether you are using weights; cables; your own body weight; etc. It’s a great tool and the video demonstrations are very helpful and shows you how to actually DO the exercise.
Yes, I am a blogging slacker. I have 50% of a post all about names (choosing, wishing, disappointment and real ones) for you to read… if I ever finish it. I did research, but you know what? It turned into work, so I set it aside.
I also have become super busy with… well… skating!
Training for an A-team is hard work and requires a lot of time. In the past, I had more time to spend on other things… this year is different. Why? I want more.
How about we talk about track psychology, and getting out of your own head? “I cannot believe I did that. That was so bad/dumb/awful.”
“Wow, I looked horrible out there.”
“I was useless, why am I even here?”
“I cannot do it, I will never get it.”
Everyone has this happen at one time or another, of that I am sure. I find it truly hard to believe anyone goes through a sports career (pro or other) thinking “I am the greatest ever and everything I do is wonderful.” Anyone who thinks like that may have mental deficiency and is probably a true-to-life-diagnosable narcissist.
So, how do I or you or anyone get over this? What should we do to get around this mental block?
Photo By Jules Doyle
Well, I can tell you, right now I am experiencing just that. I am in my head going over all the things I did wrong and everything that went wrong that caused a wrong action and caused me to fall out of a drill. Every time I close my eyes, I feel the pain, I see the fall from the outside, I see myself clumsily struggle to regain my feet.
So, what am I not seeing?
I am not seeing that regardless of the pain I felt, I got back up. And I pushed, and I tried, and I tried, and I tried. Eventually, physical pain will get the better of anyone, though.
And now, I am working on getting over this.
Stop beating yourself up. Seriously! We can keep saying how we did something wrong, and how bad it is, and it will never get better. As soon as we stop seeing what went wrong, we can see what went right.
My example from the practice: I spoke to coaches, we found the problem, and this week we are fixing my skates to get rid of the pain I have had for a while.
Forgive yourself. We all make mistakes, we all will mess up at some time. And now, it is time to say “Hey, I messed up, and now I need to move on. Sorry self. I forgive you, self” (Yes, sometimes I talk to myself like that)
Visualize what you did right. Yes! You did something right before or after you did something that set you back mentally.
Step Four (The Final Step and the Hardest Step):
Change the way you think. From now on, instead of saying “Oh, I did that wrong!” say “Next time I will do it better, and I will master it.”
The hardest thing to stop saying is “can’t”. Well, as soon as you do, you will see you can. I am doing this right now. By typing out this post, I am thinking “Next week, next Sunday… I am going to do this drill, I will not fuck it up, and I will skate harder and faster. Because I already know I can.”
I recommend now, for any new athlete or seasoned players, a book. It is called The Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence. If you have read it already, read it again. If you have never heard of it until now, pick it up.
This book is not about how to train, it is about how to think. And really, these are lessons you can take with you anywhere and use any time.
Some other day, I may present you with a post about Names and the fun (and sometimes horror) of choosing one for Derby. And, I may come back to the Psychology of Sports, as it is something that fascinates me. For now… take these simple steps, and see where they take you.