Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Magazine
also available in print – contact us to purchase a copy
• own your self-confidence
• knee pad review
• mouthguard review
• states on skates
• married on skates
• media tips
• plus more, including including a travel guide to the 2015 WFTDA playoffs, chronic illness and derby, coaching to mixed generations, UK Roller Derby Association
Jay Pegg, Your Mom Roller Derby
Let’s face it, being a rookie can be tough. Whether you’ve levelled up from a recreational league, passed try outs, or transferred from another league, joining the main league can lead to a – sometimes significant – adjustment.
Remember, your league wants you. They are happy that you are there because you’re the life blood that will keep the league rolling into the future now that you’re a new member of the league family. And that is what derby leagues are – families. At Southern Discomfort, we used to get new players to introduce themselves to the league, and the Kansas City Roller Warriors used to introduce their rookie skaters at the first home team games as a way to break the ice and to build that feeling of community. It’s great having your teammates or an audience applaud you. And it’s doubly important to remember that just because someone doesn’t explicitly say they’re happy you’ve joined, they’ll be thinking it.
check your ego
Notwithstanding the above, nothing is more likely to alienate people than the big I Am. In every sport, rookies have to pay their dues and it’s no different in roller derby. Coming in saying how you’re the next Loren Mutch and so much better than all the other players in your league is going to get you nowhere fast because a) chances are you’re not the next Loren Mutch and b) even if you are, don’t say it, do it. Roller derby is a team game and you have to be a team player. I’ve seen star players dropped from rosters and even booted out of leagues because of their inability to be humble or play well with others.
don’t be afraid to ask questions
There’s an old saying in the north of England which states that shy bairns get nowt. A lot of people – too many people in fact – are reticent or shy about asking questions either because they’re afraid they’ll look stupid or get a noob with accompanying rolls of the eyes. Don’t be afraid to ask. It’s far better to say that you don’t understand something – like a drill at practice or how set up is done on game day – than trying to be polite, saying nothing and still having the confusion. People will answer your questions because they were all rookies once and were thinking exactly the same things as you. This is doubly important during scrimmages. Do not be afraid to ask a referee why you got a penalty or why something was called a way you don’t understand. Despite what you may think, referees are not angry at people when they call penalties, so don’t take it personally. If anything, they’ll be happy to explain what they think you did wrong because they want you to improve.
Derby isn’t just about skating, it’s also about attitude. If you can bring the right attitude to practice – that ‘can do’ mentality – and work hard, it will show. Coaches notice when skaters are giving 100% and when they’re not. I’ve seen coaches roster less skilled skaters who work their butts off every practice over more skilled skaters who half-ass everything. Why? Because giving it all you’ve got out on the track is exactly what you’re supposed to do. And smile, be happy, enjoy. You’re supposed to enjoy derby, which is something that too many people seem to be forgetting currently.
look where you have come from and to where you are going
It can be VERY disheartening to step up into a main league and suddenly find yourself at the lower end of the skill level or unable to master drills that the vets have been doing for years. I recently transferred to Your Mom and it was really tough on my ego and mental resilience to know that I was by far the weakest player at scrimmage and getting regularly burned by jammers in wall drills when they’re taking it easy on you. Do not get frustrated. It’s easy to say, but in actuality it’s surprisingly hard to do. Understand that if you are frustrated when you practice or play, your performance actually dips and you can end up in a downward spiral very quickly. Don’t ever say to yourself ‘I can’t do this.’ Say to yourself, ‘I can’t do this... yet.’ Remember that thing about being positive? It’s fine to realize that you have a long way to go, but it’s just as important – if not more so – to remember just how far you have come. It took me three months to learn to do a cross over, six months to transition properly, and three years to do a half decent hockey stop. I remind myself of all these things when I get annoyed when I’m stuffing up a 180-one-foot transition for the umpteenth time.
But the most important thing to remember is that everybody was once a rookie, even the best players on your team. So don’t compare yourself to where they are, compare yourself to where you were. And, most importantly it will be because, soon enough, you’ll be one of those self-same veterans that you looked up to in your rookie year.H