I started playing roller derby 8 years ago in Perth. I was getting a piercing in the city, and my piercer asked if I could roller skate. I couldn’t, but with my natural competitive nature I believed I could.
In my first session, I held the walls as I rolled around the rink. A few sessions, later I could plow stop. Fast forward to 8 years later, and this sport has taken me all around the world, and my team has won the Hydra. I wanted to share some tips that have helped my personal development in roller derby.
The battle to be better is an ongoing process, and these systems may assist you in your journey:
This is a given but goals need to be precise and attainable. Players often face disappointments that are hard to recover from if they make goals that are outside of their control eg. making a team.
My advice is to always dream big, but be honest with yourself and plan how you will get that larger goal. Small goals make you personally accountable and will make you critical of your own performance. Tracking small goals, being honest and reflective are important in striving for excellence. They also keep you together when we face disappointments of not reaching larger goals outside of our control. I had very helpful advice from close mentors when I moved to London Rollergirls (a super competitive environment) that helped me plan realistic timelines for getting to my then, dream goal. The timeline was longer than I wanted to hear but it really helped shape expectations.
Wanting something is never enough, as everyone else wants it too. It’s about making SMART goals.
Watch footage of yourself leisurely at first (to be proud of yourself and your achievements), and then critically (to help plan what is next in your training plans). Whilst being critical, look for weaknesses in your skillset and gameplay – this will help you plan your smart goals. After you’ve been mean to yourself, watch footage of the best players in the sport and look for how they are executing the skill you wish to execute.
After excessive roller derby watching, you can find other disciplines to give you creative ideas in how to train off skates. For example, this year I pinpointed that I needed to improve my agility so I watched a tonne of agile sports training videos on youtube. Here is one I found, when looking up agility drills in basketball.
Reflect on your success, celebrate wins and be confident. I have mentioned how important it is to be hyper critical of your performance at training. But, a saying that has really stuck with me is strive for excellence, rather than perfection. Basically, you will never be perfect, but you can be bloody great – celebrate the wins! At the end of the day, this is a sport and when you step out onto the track, you have to back yourself 100%. Confidence will stop you second guessing your choices on track and get you results.
Do off skates workouts
Get to your goals by incorporating cross training into your weekly schedule. Within your planning and goal setting session, write workouts that will help your problem areas in the game.The way you train can improve your problem areas in the game drastically. For example, I pinpointed a weakness of agility, speed and cardio this year. I reduced the heavy weights and changed my training plan to include ladder work, hurdles, jumping and higher reps lower weight, and I’m so much faster on track (yay!).
Reading and listening to sports psychology books will expand your world!
Whenever I feel like I’m stuck in a rut, I read about the challenges and successes of other athletes – it changes my whole mindset. Sports psychology also taught me about my optimal arousal levels and I have systems in place before games to get me pumped up (such as my teammates punching me ).
Examples of books I have loved that have helped me are:
The inner game of tennis (available as a free PDF)
Relentless (even though the author talks as if all athletes are men urgh!)
And don’t forget, podcasts and sports psychology TED talks – when you’re on the go or cooking your dinner. You can get some great advice, hear some amazing stories and help to keep your mind in check. At the beginning of the year I was obsessed with this podcast, but there are heaps out there – Sports Motivation
This connects to the sports psychology but, this year I learned about the importance of visualisation in sports. My team would practice this together every Saturday, in a number of ways. Sometimes, Shaina would talk us through moments before a game and it was just wonderful. An example I loved about visualisation and progression in sports was this TED talk – you HAVE to watch it! In summary, a golfer does 4 hours of visualization (imagining he’s playing his local golf course, every day for 7 and a half years, whilst being held captive). When he revisits the course after his release, he improves his handicap by 20 strokes, just by practising visualisation.
Listen to your coaches
Take every piece of feedback that you get and cherish it. If your response is that you don’t agree with it, swallow your words and reflect on what they are saying. There is something valid within any feedback, and taking it on board will help build your gameplay or skillset in the long run. It’s easy to respond with excuses, but it is far more constructive to say thank you and bank the information.
With all this activity it’s really easy to burn the candle at both ends. Rest, do some low impact exercises, eat good food and look after yourself.
I honestly could keep writing this article forever. These are some things that continue to work for me and I hope they are helpful. Try to do some of these things in preparation for the 2018 season and see if they help you get results.