“Oh, my god! It’s my first bout and I’ve never skated in front of a bunch people before! What if I do something stupid? What if everyone hates me? PANIC!!!!”
First, take a deep breath. You are not the only person to have pre-bout jitters. Luckily, because you aren’t the first, there is a TON of helpful information out there.
My lovely, talented, and kinda scary teammate Felony Melanie wrote a fantastic blog post last year for the Savannah Derby Devil freshies. With her permission, I’m reposting with a few additional notes of my own.
How To Survive Your First Bout
The month before the bout:
• Come to practice as often as you can – the more you skate with the team, the better you will play on bout day
• Get your boutfit together – make sure you have the appropriate jersey and that your number is printed at least 4 inches tall – make sure you have the right bottoms, tights, socks – find these items early so you can have a couple dress rehearsal practices (it is very annoying to be pulling at your clothes during the bout)
• Tell EVERYONE you know that you will be skating so they can clear their calendar
The week of the bout:
• Hydrate and eat well – you will be amazed how much better you will feel if you treat your body right
• Come to all practices so you can skate with your team and know what strategies you will be using
• Make sure you have volunteered for something to do bout day (No one likes a lazy or selfish skater. Offer to help out if that’s what your league asks.)
• Ensure that your equipment is in good working order – don’t wait until the last minute because pads and skate parts are hard to find locally (At least, it is in Savannah. Your area may be different, but still a bad idea to wait till the last minute. Also, if your team doesn’t have an emergency bag with spare bearing, laces, etc., it may be a good idea to start one.)
• No alcoholic beverages ….yes this means you! (Remember when she said hydrate? Alcohol doesn’t count as hydration.)
• Talk to vets about bouting – vets have been there, done that and you can learn from their mistakes – their advice is priceless
• Assign a designated driver for the after party
The night before the bout:
• Get organized – pack your derby bag – skates, pads, tools, etc – things you have been asked to bring
• Lay out your boufit – make sure everything is ready (Can’t hurt to pack extra socks, shorts or tights. Stuff happens.)
• Review info you need to know for bout day – what time to be there, who is in charge, where to park, what to do when you get there
• Prep your friends and family about bout day – they should know that you will not be available most of the day, so make sure they have a bout day plan
• Get a good night’s sleep – relax and enjoy this exciting time in your life
• Eat a normal breakfast and lunch – something that does not upset your stomach
• Stay adequately hydrated – make sure you don’t over hydrated and feel sloshy
• Get completely bout ready at home with plenty of time to make it to the bout on time (boutfit, make-up, etc.)
• Be prepared that you will probably get into a fight with your significant other…shit happens…sucks.
• Get to bout on time!
• Once you are there – perform your assigned job, ask committee heads if they need help – be useful
1 Hour or so before Bout:
• FREAK OUT – no, I’m kidding – relax, get in your zone –get in bout mode – visualization, meditation, focus on your goals
• Make sure you are where you are supposed to be – getting geared up, talking to your teammate, talking with coach, stretching
• Use the restroom
The moment you step on the track:
• Positive self-talk – think of how many times you have lined up behind that pivot line in practice – you know how to do this – just do your thing – YOU ROCK! (Go ahead and fall a couple of times during warm-ups. It’ll help calm your nerves, plus you’ll know what it feels like to fall on that surface now.)
• Look around to see who is in your pack, the opposing pack, who is jamming
• Don’t look at the crowd
• If all else fails: STAY IN THE PACK and KNOW WHERE THE JAMMERS ARE
• TEAMWORK, TEAMWORK, TEAMWORK!
• Listen to your coach, bench manager, captains – stay focused
• Enjoy the bout – have fun, keep a positive attitude – be encouraging to your teammates – be respectful to the opposing team
• If you make a mistake you have to immediately let it go – there is no other sport that moves this fast and you must be ready for the next play
• Win or lose – keep your head high – you are a Savannah Derby Devil (or whatever team you skate for) – you should always be proud
After the bout:
• Celebrate with your team, family, friends
• Make the fans feel special – without them there would be no SDD
• Fulfill your after bout duties – make sure you are cleared to leave before you leave the building (Also, take a moment to stretch. Seriously. No, seriously. Your muscles will thank you the next day.)
• Thank the refs, NSO’s, coaches, and opposing team
• Party your ass off – but DO NOT DRIVE DRUNK!