How to take responsibility of your own progression.
In roller derby, and many other sports, it is easy to become dependent on those around you to help you progress as an athlete. When something doesn’t go right or you start to plateau, it’s easy to shift the responsibility of why this is happening. Generally this is not intentional, and you probably don’t even realise you’re doing it. I know I have been guilty of it too.
“We don’t get to ever practice that skill at training”, “we never work on endurance at training” or
“No one is giving me feedback, so I don’t know what I should be doing to improve…” These are some of the phrases I have heard over my time playing sports, as well as venting some of my own frustrations at my lack of progression over the years. But now, I only have one question in response to these. “So, what are YOU gonna do about it?”
That’s right. This is in your hands. It is your progression. Your coaches are trying to please everyone and sometimes that’s going to leave some people unhappy and their needs unfulfilled. The team may have a vision they are working towards that is different from what you need to work on as an individual. This is where you need to take control of your progression. You need to identify what you need to do to improve and make sure that it happens.
I used to get frustrated that I wasn’t feeling pushed, or wasn’t improving the areas I wanted to improve. The more I thought about it, the more I questioned, why would anyone else care about my progression as much as I do?! They are all here trying to improve and progress too, and are focussed on that. Obviously your team and your coach want you to progress and succeed, but your team have to focus on themselves too and your coach on everyone at the same time. It’s unfair to shift that responsibility onto them, and it won’t help you to do so either. Understanding this is only the first step. Here are a few suggestions of where to go from here:
Take your training into your own hands
I don’t mean turn up to training and appoint yourself the coach. I mean go to training with a list of the skills you want to work on. Practice them at any opportunity you get. This could be warm up or during drills that will allow for these skills to be incorporated as well as scrimmage too. Find an area and go outdoor skating, or a local roller rink/skate night where you can go and repeat the skill over and over again. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I spend at least 2-3 hours a week outside of training working on my skating skills. Not because I am told to do this, but because I know it’s necessary in order to improve. If you have friends that also want to improve similar skills, this is great for motivation and for general fun! Everything is better when you share it with someone else.
Get fit for derby, don’t use derby to get you fit.
Fitness is another area that you need to take hold of. Once you have skated for a while, you get to a base level of fitness in which skating offers, but there is so many tactics and skills that need training for within roller derby, it would be a complete waste of time to use those training sessions as a way to improve your cardio and endurance. You need to work on this outside of training! Join a gym or fitness class, go for long outdoor skates where you include high intensity interval training, lift heavy weights, do home fitness videos such as insanity or T25, to name a few. Even one session a week will be better than none and you will soon feel the difference the more you do outside of roller derby training. The main thing is to have a plan or structure to your training. Talks to people that already do fitness training outside of skating. Rogue Runner of London Rollergirls is a personal trainer by trade, and sells roller derby specific training plans at a very reasonable price. There are also a lot of resources online in how to structure training plans and what exercises to include. It is up to you to start this research and take the next step towards becoming a machine (or just being able to skate a 2 minute jam without dying).
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
As for knowing where you need to improve, If you don’t feel you are getting the feedback you require, ask for it. Talk to your coaches and peers. Ask them to watch you and feedback. Like I said before, everyone has their own focus and may even want feedback themselves. I’m sure they would be more than happy to help you. This is really useful to be able to set goals for yourself as external eyes are great at picking up on things you can’t see. Another great method is to film yourself at training, or during your skills practice. Ask your teammate to record you (phone/GoPro) while you skate in a drill or a jam during scrimmage. This is really handy to analyse your strengths and weaknesses.
Once you take your progression into your own hands, there are no limits, apart from the limits you impose on yourself. So stop standing in your own way, get on it, get out there and be AWESOME!
Featured photo by: Paul Delooze http://www.rollerderbyphotography.co.uk