I promised myself I would write this post months ago. Here it finally is, all the things am I focusing on improving individually to be better at Roller Derby.
Every 6 months I write myself goals for roller derby. That isn’t because after 6 months I believe I’ve nailed everything on the list, but I work well to targets and I’m competitive with myself – if something has rolled over on the list the weight of my own disappointment is motivation to nail it within the next 6 months. That also doesn’t mean that I take 6 months to achieve everything I want to, some are little nuances in skating style that take a couple of sessions to nail but a couple of months to make it second nature.
Rambling aside, I’ve found setting myself 6 month goals to be really effective, sometimes for the negative; for example like the time I set myself the target of to not get injured again after I badly bruised by coccyx bone, taking me out of derby for 6 weeks – it was within that next 6 months my knee injury started. But mostly for the positive. I attribute nailing one footed transitions, one footed plows and a number of other skills to addressing it as something I wanted to work on and implementing it into practice when it is appropriate to do so – or there’s free skate.
There are a couple of rules I follow to implement my roller derby targets now, for example:
A target must be an individual element of the game: it’s unfair for me to expect others to work on the same thing as me during their free skate and it’s also unfair for me to monopolise my key coaches free time (a system we run at the Lincolnshire Bombers) – so instead, at least for the foreseeable future, my goals are all individual related, like nailing a stop or a hit to the line.
A target must be specific: quite an obvious one but nobody feels focused from setting a target like I want to be better at all stops. Better in what capacity? Do I want to keep my hips central when plowing? Or do I want to stop within a certain distance? Or a certain width? And what stops am I focusing on? I think about how I’ll manage my time, as hall time can be so precious.
A target must focus on development in a positive way: I shouldn’t write I must try not to get injured, or get less injuries. I cannot control that statement and because my mind won’t properly register the ‘not’ or ‘less’ in that sentence I’ll just fixate on the instruction or subject, i.e. ‘injury’. Instead I could say ‘I want to get stronger and focus on improving certain muscles’ or ‘I will rest when I need to’. (Or something much better than that).
So here are mine, engraved into the internet, at least until I stop paying for this domain.
• I want to be able to plow with both feet, with the same degree of dominance and urgency. Currently I over plow with my right foot, I am average with my left (maybe an overstatement). I would like to be able to knock a plow out effectively with either foot – this also includes single foot plows.
• I want to improve my mental resilience to referee calls. I bench coach Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder, which some of the time means I am supposed to challenge referee calls, what I am not supposed to do is get grumpy with them whilst skating around the track. Although I’ve already massively improved on this skill (not an overstatement – but neither is that a modest statement) I could be better. Cue continue working on it.
• I want to feel more confident about backwards skating so I feel confident to take a hit whilst travelling backwards. I do do this already do I like it? No. Will I ever? I don’t know but I’ve heard practice makes perfect.
• I want to be able to transition at full speed and take a hit, and stay up. I’m not sure if this is something I’m already capable of – I’ve been told I do, but I’d like to recognise this within my own skating.
• I would like to land an Apex Jump in a game or scrimmage. Whilst playing Croydon Roller Derby I pulled out an apex jump, something I have practiced very little since returning from my knee injury. I didn’t land the apex jump. If I’m going to pull it out of the bag when jamming I need to be able to successful land it.
• And always on the list is to improve my fitness, which is very vague, but just before writing this I did 27 in 5 – so I’m going to try and improve on my score for this over the next 6 months.
So after a mammoth post here’s the end.