As a junior derby coach, my biggest pet peeve is hearing “I’ll try.” You essentially just set yourself up for failure. It signals that you don’t believe you can do what I just asked. Believing you can do something before you physically do it is a tremendous part of derby.
Whenever I hear “I’ll try,” my inner Yoda comes out. “Do or do not. There is not try.” This is the part where my juniors give me weird looks. (Seriously, who doesn’t make their kid watch the original Star Wars films?) After they hear it enough times, though you can see them make the mental switch. They stop trying and start doing. Maybe they don’t do it great, but they realize what they’re capable of, so they know they can keep doing the drill or skill till it’s perfect.
Now this doesn’t mean false confidence. If you aren’t doing something correctly, you still acknowledge the miss. You just don’t concentrate on it. You let that miss identify what specifically needs improvement.
I’ve been reading “Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence.” Almost every successful derby player I know has read this book. Gary Mack’s overall theme is getting you to improve your mental game in order to improve your physical game.
A lot of the problems we run into as players are because we have defeated ourselves. We tell ourselves we can’t do something so many times that we believe we will never actually succeed. I can’t skate sideways. I can’t clear a path for the jammer. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
Instead of thinking of all the times you’ve messed up before, you need to think about when things went right. FiFi Nomenon talks about it in her post Roller Derby Visualization. You let that memory of the perfect moment put you in a positive mental state, and that will lead you to improvement.
Roller derby doesn’t do easy. It does awesome. If you get your mind right, you’re capable of being even better than you thought.