• England Roller Derby

  • A recluse’s take on Rollercon

  • WFTDA International Playoffs: My D2 Wichita Picks

  • How skating just isn’t enough

Back to Skating with LRG

Ahhh the gloriousness that is skating. After five weeks of off season and a whole new league member status I am finally on skates!

8 wheels and everything.

Roller derby.

Ahh it is brilliant isn’t it?

What can I say about my first session as a full London Rollergirl skater and Brawl Saints teamie?

Well I can say that I hoped I would return to skating with grace. That all the cross training I’d done throughout the previous five weeks would make me feel fit and ready to play. That my mind would not be mush.

None of the above came true.

Arriving at the Tuesday session I remembered how to tie my skate laces and clip my helmet and that was about where the roller derby knowledge ended.

The only time I’ve ever had five weeks or more off skates was when I injured my knee, and when I returned from that I eased myself back. On Tuesday there was no easing. Training resumed like there had been no break, but my body took a while to adjust.

The biggest thing was my complete lack of balance at the beginning. Thankfully after 30 minutes I seemed to remember where I sit in my skates and how it feels to have wheels on but that wasn’t before I fell over a number of times. Most notably when I landed square on my ass, bruising my coccyx, like a newbie. And also when partnered with two Brawling level skaters.

Skating

roller derby

The pressure was self applied.

I also felt ridiculously unfit. My gym routine of three times a week did nothing to ease me back onto skates, despite my added cardio. Neither did the chorizo stew I packed away before training.

Lesson learnt – no giant dinner before training for me.

But seriously I don’t remember being that close to vomming in a long time.

So after 3 sessions last week I’m rolling in the new week with an achey butt (I’m not sure scrimmage on Sunday helped) and an even more motivated outlook to work out.

Gracelessness aside it was amazing to be back on skates and amazing to see my new teammates.

I may feel super lucky to be even a member of London Rollergirls, and even luckier to be on the Brawl Saints charter. But they make me feel like I’m meant to be there and the feeling of playing roller derby again makes me determined to push through my unfit, uncoordinated and fangirl nature to something that loosely looks like I should be there.

Ahh skating.

PS. Yay Brawling! Number one in Jacksonville WFTDA playoffs. Huzzah!

Roller Derby Transfer Tips

Here are my roller derby transfer tips

Okay, okay! So I’ve only transferred to one league that one time. And since then I can’t really shut up about it but let’s be honest I’m roller derby obsessed. The likelihood is you are to, that’s why you’re reading this blog, and well it is an adventure.

That aside I’ve also dealt with my fair share of transfer skaters. I coached the Lincolnshire Bombers for about four years and in the last two was the co-head of the coaching committee, where part of my responsibilities were assessing and welcoming transfers.

So here are my roller derby transfer tips.

Let go of your expectations

It’s so easy to make yourself feel anxious before your first and subsequent practices when you’re a transfer. Part of this is the expectation of what is about to come or how you’ll interact with people or what they’ll think of you (I speak from experience). But it is such an unhealthy mindset to have and is really counterproductive to playing roller derby. Letting go of your expectations in this respect can really help with the transfer process. Embracing a small bit of surprise and chaos can actually be empowering and allow you to experience the moment around you, rather than anticipating the change and unfamiliarity to come. Expectations have a habit of leading to negative emotions.

Especially when you arrive with expectations of where you’ll enter the league. This is literally the biggest frustration I had with transfers as a coach. That meant I was super cautious of my own mindset before transferring myself. In all honesty it was easy for me. Since my knee injury and because of the league I was transferring in I literally had no expectations of where I’d enter. In fact I had anxious expectations of being asked to leave…

Thankfully that didn’t happen. But seriously a roller derby transfer tip is to let go of what you think will happen, or what you think you deserve. Just turn up, skate and enjoy the experience. Your common ground is roller derby… Why make it more complicated than that by expecting more?

Roller derby transfer tips

Roller Derby Transfer Tips

Adopt a growth mindset and accept feedback

It’s easy to feel like we know what we’re doing and that way works. Often that makes us question why we’d change something. Or in some cases (I hope rare within roller derby) makes us question why we need to work on it.

It’s easy to be stuck in this mindset, but this is really counter productive to learning and to roller derby in general.

Transferring to a new league is a challenge. Everything is new. Sometimes the most experienced skaters will get feedback contrary to what they agree with. It’s how we deal with this that makes us a success.

Adopting a growth mindset is a one of biggest roller derby transfer tips I could give. It accepts that things will be difficult, criticism will come and so will challenges and teaches you to use them to grow. The alternative is remaining the same level you’ve always been and being the transfer that nobody can feed back to.

You have no idea how many transfers struggle in their new league because they won’t accept feedback on how the league works and how their team works.

Resist paranoia

The above being said you should definitely try to resist paranoia and accept that people probably are not as critical as you think they might. It’s easy to slip back into first day of school mindset and it is super easy to feel like the sore thumb with no nail next to nicely manicured fingers. I think I took that metaphor too far. But the point stands. Nobody really watches with that intensity or is waiting for you to fuck up.

Instead they’re probably happy to see a new face. Or looking at you with curiosity of what kind of person you are, what position you play in or why you’ve transferred. At least that’s what fleeting thoughts I had as the coach at my old league (some people may think differently).

Prepare yourself for it like you would a game

My final roller derby transfer tip is to prepare yourself for transferring like you would a game. My thoughts behind this are:
A couple of years ago my old team played Royal Windsor Roller Girls and we literally had our best game. We lost by 4 points in the end but everything felt amazing. We’d given our all. We’d worked hard and our teamwork really showed. When we reflected back at the end of the season, after a couple of awful games played in quick succession, we came to the conclusion that the reason we’d played so well was because it was our first game of the season. We had literally spent over 6 months preparing for that game, unintentionally.

I use this to prepare mentally before games. I make sure in the lead up to a season I am feeling prepared. This means for me having worked out regularly, watched roller derby and recapped the rules.

It’s likely before you transfer you’ll be anxious, despite dropping your expectations. You’ll want to put your best foot forward. So why treat it any differently than you would a game?

Hope these roller derby transfer tips help & I’d be interested to here yours (if you have any).
Ta!

Photos courtesy of Peter Worth Photography

My Last Weekend of Off Season

So I may have not chosen to have an off season.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it.

I timed my transfer almost as badly as it could be timed. At months of planning our move, and actually when the best time would be to transfer, I didn’t take into consideration Brawlgust and the impending off season of the rest of London Rollergirls.

Imagine… You’re super passionate about roller derby. You’ve been building yourself up for this move for months. You finally transfer. You pass your probation. You’re super excited about the new surroundings, the difference in training and BAM – off season.

It’s easy to understand the reasoning behind a forced offseason. You’re actually investing in the longevity of people’s skating careers. You’re forcing people to rest their bodies and their minds. And most people return after off season hungry to train again and enjoying roller derby. It once again becomes a pastime rather than a chore. Except I’m not part of that demographic – not this year anyway.

I’m not moaning though. An offseason did come at the right time for my non-derby life. Even if I do miss skating. And sometime in the past I did write about the importance of an offseason for derby players. It’s easy for leagues to forget that people need a break from league work and exercise occasionally. And I personally burnt out a couple of years ago from an extended season. This may or may not have contributed to my knee injury.

Although I may not have felt mentally or physically ready for an offseason it probably was a good thing. In a short space of time I have gone from playing in the British Championships with my old team and benching Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder as part of their British Championships season to skating with a more competitive league that has more practice time and a new job with longer hours. Somewhere in between then I moved.

I guess the point I’m trying to get across is that I would have continued prioritising roller derby, without any thought, over sorting out my new space and life. My body didn’t feel like it needed a break so I would have continued on and probably burnt out later down the year.

So here’s to off season!

Or at least my last weekend of off season after 4 weeks of a large amount of free time.

I’ve spent my long summer off season sat in my garden (yes a garden in London) reading or watching #FriendsFest. I’ve explored a few areas of London and spent time with new people, enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage. I’ve also used the time to introduce yoga as a habit and hit the gym.

Roller Derby Off Season

Sightseeing in London

This weekend I’ll be spending my last weekend of off season largely indulging in normal person time.

Of course I’ll be watching WFTDA Division 1 tournament play that takes place in Dallas this weekend. But I’ll also be eating a bacon sandwich in bed on Saturday. Helping a friend build some furniture during the day and then having a second breakfast! And on Sunday I’m going shopping, destination pending, then having roast. Unsurprisingly food oriented (not surprising).

So here’s to one final weekend of free time before I embrace the crazy journey and schedule of a London Rollergirl, a full time job, a relationship, a necessary exercise regime and all the ties to Lincoln I have that compel me to keep going home every couple of weeks.