Five ways we cheat our teams

We’d all like to think we’re always a good teammate, but you’re human. You are going to screw things up at some point. By nature, we try to reason our way out of feeling bad about it. All of us have done it, including me. Think of this as a friendly reminder that, instead of denying it, accept it, and vow to do better.

1. Miss practice… a lot.

You had to work, traffic was a mess, your kid/significant other/dog/cat/parakeet is sick, you’re too tired. Life is crazy for trainingeveryone. You are no exception. But don’t let all these excuses pile up. If you notice you are only making it to three or fewer practices a month, you need to reevaluate your priorities.

Maybe you need to take a break from derby to take care of things in your life. That’s fine. Derby will be there when you are ready to come back. You’re team will learn to go on in your absence. (If you’re missing because you’re tired all the time, check out this link for reasons you may be more tired than usual.)

Maybe you’re skipping because your coach or trainer is going over skills you already know. Wake up call! You aren’t that good. If you think the skill is easy, find ways to make it harder for yourself.

The most successful teams are successful because their players show up to practice. “But, Eenie, I don’t skate for London or Gotham or Texas. I skate for [insert league name here].” Doesn’t matter. You can’t expect your team to improve if you and others keep finding excuses not to show up. Every time you miss a practice, someone has to take time away from the next practice to tell or show you what you missed.

If improving and winning isn’t motivation enough, check out this link.

2. Give up.

You showed up to practice. Awesome! But now you’re bored, you lack motivation, or the drill is too hard. You give up. If your team can’t count on you to give it your all during practice, how can they possibly count on you to give it your all during a game?

During off skates or endurance drills for the Psych Ward Sirens, it wasn’t uncommon to hear someone yell out “last jam.” It meant start thinking about what you’re doing as skating the last jam of a game. Two minutes left to win a game and every second, every decision counts. Start visualizing every burpee as another point scored. Start thinking of every lap around the track as a grand slam.

Statistically, you will skate better at practice than at a game, so if you are giving up at practice, you will give up sooner during a bout. Get your mind right before it means risking a win. (The exceptions here are physical pain or dizziness. Those are legitimate reasons to pull off or ease up. Please don’t die on the track.)

3. Avoid cross training.

Souxsie Skoolyard wants you to cross-train. Don't disappoint her.

Souxsie Skoolyard wants you to cross-train. Don’t disappoint her.

Part of the reason I started playing derby was because it didn’t involve running. Now I can’t imagine playing derby without doing some running and other kinds of workouts in my own time.

Why should you cross train? To perform better for your team. It isn’t necessarily to lose weight, though that does happen a little. Running helps build endurance and certain types of running will help prevent injury (check out Booty Quake’s video on building happy knees), core workouts help you recover from falls quickly and keep you from getting knocked over as easily, and plyometrics will help you be more agile on the track.

If you take the initiative to cross-train, the results will be noticeable to your teammates.

4. Don’t research.

Do you have a teammate who knows a lot about rules, techniques, or skate maintenance? Do you know how she learned all of that? She researched it. She took time out of her day to look up how to do something. She reads up on the new rule set before it goes into effect. She wonders how to get better at a certain skills, so she looks up videos on YouTube. This is something you should be doing, too. If you have a question, look it up. Don’t rely on that one person to always know the answer.

When I started playing derby, my team had to figure out how to do knee falls based off of written instructions and pictures. There were no how-to blogs or vlogs back then. You just tried stuff and, if it didn’t hurt too much, you accepted that as the way you were supposed to do it. There are so many resources available now. Use them.

Some of the places I go for derby knowledge:

You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Loose Wheel

Kamikaze Kitten’s Facebook Page

Roller Derby Junkies

Cobra Kai Derby Coach

Little Anecdote

5. Don’t volunteer.

Volunteer to promote your team in parades while wearing really pink shirts.

Volunteer to promote your team in parades while wearing really pink shirts.

This is something that happens to every team. Absolutely every team. It always feels like five people are doing the work for the entire league. In some cases, that’s because they are control freaks who don’t know how to delegate. In other cases, it’s because those are the only five people willing to volunteer.

All the excuses listed in point number one get used here as well. Look, I get it. You have a life outside of derby. But last I checked, derby leagues were still volunteer-driven organizations. Do you like having money to travel for away games? Do you like having people show up to bouts? Do you like for those bouts to run smoothly? Then volunteer.

I have teammates who think they have terrible voices for radio, but they still volunteer for the radio interviews because they want people to show up to the game. I know players who are terrified of talking to strangers, but will hassle businesses into being sponsors because they don’t want to use their own money for that plane ticket to ECDX. We’d all like to show up to the bout venue right before we play, and then leave immediately after, but the track doesn’t set up and tear down itself. Be cool. Volunteer.

Aside from volunteering being good for the team, did you know it’s also good for your heart? Yep. There was a study and everything.

As my former teammate, Singapore Rogue, would say, this has been #realtalk. I’ve been hearing a lot of grumbling lately in the derby community about some of these things, so it’s nice to have a refresher… even for myself.

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