1) Getting Over the Hump: Perseverance and Learning New Skills
The hump? That’s getting past the fact that you’re not going to be hell on wheels until you start getting real. Falling over and over is okay, in fact- it’s normal, and if you keep trying you will get it. Breaking down the steps is still the best way for me to learn new skills, and yes after nearly 5 years of derby, I’m still learning new skills.
2) When it Finally Clicks: Mind and Body Getting Together
When I first started derby, there were so many times that I would think about a skill over and over in my mind (perfecting it in my brain) when I wasn’t on the track that the next time I went to practice I expected myself to be able to do it because I had put so much thought into how to do it when I wasn’t at practice. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way. Getting better at derby takes a lot of mental and physical practice, so while it is good to process all of that information and figure it out in your mind, nothing replaces the need for regular practice on skates where you can create that muscle memory that will have your body and brains working together like the awesome duo that they are.
3) 27 in 5: Will it Ever Happen?
The dreaded 27/5. Holy hell it scares us all! Why? Because you have to pass your laps to play. No matter what it takes, YOU CAN DO IT!! Trust me, I have seen girls work their arss off for it. I have also seen girls quit over it (don’t do that). Learn how to skate with good form and I guarantee it will make a world of difference.
4) Go Ahead and Fall: The Magic Lies Outside of Your Comfort Zone
If you’re on skates and going to derby practice, then you’ve probably already taken the biggest step outside of your comfort zone. Just staying upright on skates when you’re getting started can be hard enough! Throw in learning how to fall, jump, skate fast, skate backwards, skate faster, and actually play derby, and you’ve got a lot of potentially uncomfortable things happening. But, keep the faith! You don’t have to learn it all at once and the only person you’re trying to be better than is yourself from the last time you skated. Dig a little deeper, get a little lower, push a little harder and you’ll inch your way right along to where you want to be. You’ve got a body full of gear to protect you and a wonderful group of skaters old and new to help and encourage you along the way. Trust your teammates, trust yourself, you’re going to have the best time!
5) All the Derby: Doing it, Watching it, Reading about it.
How will I ever understand what’s going on (is what you’re saying to yourself)? It’s overwhelming right?!? Well, do your research, watch bouts on YouTube, read all the blogs, watch the GIFs, ask all the questions you can. No need to be shy, some of your team mates have been playing for years and that’s a ton of info. Any chance you can get to NSO or Ref will also help you understand the game better. Do your research! )
6) Take the Stairs!: Getting Derby Fit off the Track
Derby takes a tremendous amount of physical and mental strength and endurance. We all know that showing up to practice with a belly full of coke and m&ms isn’t going to be our best decision (I’ve personally confirmed this so you don’t have to). But, what about off the track? You can do many things to improve your derby game even when you’re not at practice. Running, weight training, climbing stairs, and playing racquetball are a few of the activities that I like to do to stay in shape and keep my body moving. Even simply doing squats or leg lifts while you’re waiting for the water dispenser on the front of your fridge to fill your glass is a great way to use a small bit of time to get stronger when you would just be standing there anyway. Look for those moments throughout the day where you can get your body moving even more to build your fitness and endurance. Park farther away from the grocery store, do bicep curls with the bags or milk gallons, take the stairs whenever you can (when it gets easy, take them two at a time), do calf lifts when you’re waiting in line, chair dips while you wait for your microwave popcorn to quit popping…so many possibilities! Exercise is everywhere if you just create it. Keep challenging yourself to find new ways and to work harder to get stronger. Think like an athlete so you can play like an athlete.
Erin Pipe Down