IDC – Keeping your league strong against roller derby’s quiet virus

I believe in the power of words.

If you say “I can’t do 180 turns” with intention, you will not be able to do 180 turns. If you say, “Today is going to be awesome” with intention, your day will be awesome (yes, even if negative things happen during the day). Your words can change the course of your progress, your game play, your mood, and the attitudes of people around you.

So to use the words “I don’t care” (IDC) is profound.

I hadn’t really thought about it until recently. Now that I’ve noticed it, it sticks out to me whenever I play. In retrospect, I have been combating IDC for years, I just didn’t realize it. When my line is on deck in scrimmage, if no one takes the initiative to start talking, I would begin the conversation. I would be the one to ask the jammer what they wanted from the blockers, as well as asking the blockers where they wanted to position themselves. Sometimes one person would have an answer.

Everyone else would say IDC.

And not the IDC that turns into, “What would be best for this situation?” or “Let’s force everyone to pick a spot and talk about it on the line.” It was the IDC that starts in a passive voice and ends with them turning away to stare vaguely off at the current jam.

These are the IDCs that end in randomly taking lanes, and do not include communication. It is the IDC that ends confusion about who is doing what. Too often, an IDC skater will make very conscious decisions about their plan in the upcoming jam, but will not tell anyone else. They end up playing offense for the jammer, dropping back to clear a line, or running cross track to be a brace, but their neighbors aren’t expecting to cover their lane.  Sometimes we can read the lines well enough to adjust on the fly, and most times the whole thing falls apart.

Now let’s talk the mid-jam IDC: Whether on offense or defense, I have experienced skaters using IDC when figuring out power jam strategy. On your home team, hopefully you have designated strats and people with pre-determined roles. In mash ups, you have to learn each other’s strengths on the fly. I have stopped asking “Do you want to play offense?” Instead, I say things like “Outside attacks” or “You and me up lane 2”. Derby moves too quick for IDC and I’ve gotten IDC mid-jam, too often.

Outside of practice, when meeting up with people to do off skates workouts or extra skating, when I ask the question “What do you want to work on today?” I do not appreciate the IDC as the answer. I am immediately taken down a notch on my enthusiasm if you don’t care what you work on.

The moral is: In derby you need to care. If you don’t care, why should anyone around you care? If you don’t care what your position is, why should the player next to you? If you don’t care about your training schedule, why should I? If you don’t care about what’s about to happen in the power jam, why should your team mates?

People are influenced by those around them. Skate A may not want to appear pushy or out of line, so if Skater B states they don’t care what position they play, then Skater A is more likely to also throw out IDC. Now you have two people out of four who FOR SURE do not know what lane they will be in, and thus cannot mentally prepare for the next jam.

Apathy is a feeling that spreads, not dissipates.

If your answer for team play is IDC, eventually it will spread to your drill work, your outside training schedule, and your overall attitude if you do not take steps to combat it. It’s easy to get lazy. It’s easy to stop pushing yourself. IDC encourages the lazy.

It’s is easy to spot: in larger teams those with IDC syndrome often get passed in skill as eager, hungrier skaters pursue excellence. In smaller teams or teams without a proactive coaching staff, IDC can spread through the ranks. You see it first with the all-stars, and it trickles down from there.

Your newer skaters (and officials) keep the league healthy. They are the plankton of the derby food chain.

Just stay with me on this one: new skaters come in and are (usually) less skilled or experienced. They are the little guys. Some will get eaten up (in plankton terms) and leave the league before they certify. A few in each newbie class will survive. They grow bigger and evolve into the bigger fish. If they don’t get eaten along the way (injury, personal issues, league drama, etc) and they develop their skills – they join the top of the food chain. The bottom is wide with plankton/new recruits. The top is narrow with seasoned vets/apex predators.

Now let’s say that top of the food chain carries around IDC.

They are setting an example for the rest of the chain that you can become an apex predator without caring. You can be an all-star by being apathetic along the way. While you may have a handful of skaters sprinkled throughout the league that know how to shield themselves from IDC, you will get the other skaters who become sucked into it.

Why? IDC is easy. IDC doesn’t take any work. IDC is a cake walk.

“They don’t care what they eat or how they train, and look! They’re our top jammer.”

“They don’t care what lane they’re in, so I shouldn’t care what lane I’m in.”

“The all-stars are going this fast.. I could go faster, but they are all-stars, so I guess that’s how fast I should go.”

The apathy spreads. The practices slow. The culture of the team becomes a culture of “that’s good enough.” The direct result of this is that either your plankton are pushed away from your food chain altogether because they want to be around people who care, or you only attract plankton that succumb easily to IDC.

If skaters hold IDC on the track, it will inevitably effect their off the track participation. A skater that says IDC about the sport they love in the middle of a jam, will probably not be the one super stoked to drive to a fundraiser on the other side of town on a Wednesday night. Why? IDC means no investment.

IDC is the draining of passion. It is an internal apathy that is easily spread to others like a disease. If negativity is cancer, than IDC is the flu: feverish, tiresome, easily contagious, and hard to eradicate. It may not kill you, but it sure as hell will slow you down.

How do you fight IDC?

If you are an individual fighting against it, continue to fight with some easy steps:

1) Set goals!

Having a focus of what you’re striving to achieve immediately makes you care more. Set long term goals (6months or a year), mid-length goals (30 days out), and goals for each practice; the smaller goals should fit within the larger ones, like a Russian Doll set!

2) Practice positive self-talk

If you care and have confidence in yourself, then you will hope over the IDC syndrome. It is impossible to be confident and focused yet not care. I like writing positive mantras on my mirrors in dry erase marker. Every time I brush my teeth, I get to read something positive.

3) Grab an accountability partner

Having a friend keep you honest is a great way to keep you both on track and away from the IDC monster. As soon as you start expressing negativity, they can [quietly] help steer you the right way

4) Remember that you’re here to have fun! If it’s not fun, why are you playing roller derby?

If you are an individual and you’ve just had an epiphany that you are part of the IDC virus, practice all the things above, as well as doing the following:

1) Set internal alarms for IDC

When you find yourself saying these words make yourself stop, and ask why you are saying it. Do you really not care, or do you not know another way to express what you’re thinking? If you really don’t care, why is that? Do you feel you are masterful at whatever is being asked, or do you not want to put into the effort of thinking about the scenario?

If it’s a “I don’t want to put the effort in” answer, then force yourself to think about what is happening, evaluate your weaknesses, and pick something to work on. Express that instead of IDC. It is also possible that when you’re saying IDC, what you REALLY mean is IDK (“I don’t know”). IDK is fine! Communicate that you don’t know where you want to go or what you want to work on, and let the other people help guide you.

2) Write down a list of your weaknesses and your strengths

IDC can come from a lack of understanding where we’re at and how to improve. If you know you need to work on your strengths backwards blocking in lane 4, when you’re in scrimmage scenarios you can ask to be put in that situation. Confidence and skill comes from repetition. If you do not know the specific reps you need to do, IDC is an easy answer to thinking about it.

3) Ask yourself if there are external influences for causing the IDC

Money problems, feeling helpless at home, or having a job where you lack order can all attribute to getting to training with an IDC attitude. Can you identify these places where you feel helpless, or have stopped giving 100%? If you can understand, and quarantine, these things in your mind, you can come to each training practice and leave that piece of the outside world at the door.

If you are on a coaching staff that has noticed IDC creeping in:

1) Create a time for a team goal-setting session

If the team has goals together, they are more likely to care about their practice time. Use a half hour of practice time to throw out the goal ideas, and from there have the captains and coaches refine goals for the leagues and individual teams.

2) Have one-on-ones with skaters

This is an opportunity to talk about individual goals, team goals, and also why IDC may (or may not) be present in their life. If IDC in derby is a result of IDC outside of derby in personal life, you may be able to recommend resources to that skater (or official) to help them overcome the apathy or negativity in other parts of their life.

3) Make it extra fun for everyone now and again

Throwing in games and contests to practices and outside trainings can up team morale and friendships. When bonds are strong, people care for each other. When people care for each other, IDC tends to fade.

2015 is just beginning. Caring about things spreads good intention through your training, nutrition, game play, and relationships. Not caring about one thing can bleed into not caring about a whole boatload of stuff, which will set you back tremendously. Go forth and be positive and take on this season with all the courage and consideration you can muster!

Thank you Jessica Shutterfly Andrews for all the photos used in this blog!!

Put the FUN in Fundamentals – Merry Khaos Notes

I love this class. I love this class so much, and I will submit it again next year! I hope that it gets on the schedule more than once, because everyone has a blast. The point of this class is to do something OTHER than derby in order to work on fundamental skills.

Many of us get White Jacket Syndrome when we practice plows, hockey stops, edging, etc at training sessions. We have our coaches watching. We want to impress them. We want to get on that next roster. We’re worried about the skills of the people around us compared to our own. These games take that out of the equation. This is great to mix skill levels into, because you’re taking derby out of the equation – so EVERYONE is learning at the same pace. Though advanced skating skills can definitely be an advantage, there is more than pure experience on skates involved for most of these games.

Ultimate Roller Derby
Props needed: 2 balls larger than a baseball
Focus skills: Teamwork, communication, awareness, multitasking, periphery vision

This is the game closest to roller derby. Only with an Ultimate Frisbee twist.

Each jam is 2 minutes. Teams field the same players as usual, and we play on the derby track. Each team on the track has a ball. Players on that team must pass the ball THREE TIMES, successfully, between themselves in order to let their jammer try to leave the pack.

The ball must always be PASSED, not handed off and opposing players are allowed to block passes. If the ball hits the floor, or is caught by an opposing team member, the 3 count is reset. After 3 passes are successful, the jammer (and to make it more advanced, the jammer OR pivot) may attempt to break the pack. Your points are counted by how many times the jammer has left the pack.

So yes, when one team completes their passes, the other team should be trying to stop that jammer from leaving the pack!

Duck Duck GOOSE
No props needed
Focus skills: Speed, agility, endurance, speed control

While you can play this game in the classic “everyone sit on the floor” way, I like it better when it’s moving.

Get your team into a pace line. I recommend doing this at a moderate speed for YOUR team (obviously London Roller Girls’ All Stars would be able to do this faster than a start-up league). The person at the back of the line goes first to make it easiest. As the advance up the pace line, they call out “duck” for those who are not chosen. When they decide that someone is the “goose” they complete a legal hit on that individual. That begins the race around the track back to the goose’s position in the line.

Beginner version: It does not matter who makes it back to the goose’s place first. The GOOSE is now IT, regardless. They drop to the back of the line and begin playing.

Advanced version: Whoever reaches the goose’s place in line successfully first (as in, they’re in the line and matching the line’s pace), are safe. The other person is now IT and drops to the back of the line to start playing.

I will run this until everyone has been chosen at least once.

DODGEBALL
Props needed: As many balls as you desire. I like to do 4-6 of varying sizes.
Skills: Footwork, avoidance, awareness

Level 1 –
Split your players into two teams. Place the balls in a line directly between the two groups. Blow a whistle to release them and let the dodgeball commence!

Note: I had an interesting thing happen this year during this game. One team hung at the very back of the ‘engagement zone’ because they realized the balls wouldn’t fly that far. If you have players not participating in this way, don’t be afraid to shorten the boundaries they must stay within.

Level 2 –
No one is on a team. Every person is on their own team. Have all the skaters line up at one end (or you can split them into two ends). Those on the sideline each take a ball. The players are told that when the first ball hits the ground, they are released!

You can either play this to the end, or do it until there are 3-5 players left. These players step to the side and then you play another round. Eventually you do a “championship” round!

SOCCER
Props needed: A net, or other boundary marker for the two goals. An empty water gallon jug (you may want to have multiples for back-ups).
Skills: Footwork, edging, stops, avoidance, awareness, teamwork, short endurance

This is exactly what it sounds like: you play soccer on roller skates, but you use a gallon jug instead of a soccer ball (the jug does not roll the same way, so it makes the game actually playable).

Level 1 – NON CONTACT!
Level 2 – Legal contact

Feel free to have refs around to regulate things like low blocks, back blocks, illegal contact, and hand balls (it is soccer after all).

I play 5 v 5 and let the rounds go for 4 minutes OR until a team has scored 2 goals in that period. Then you switch out.

Blood & Thunder: Spin Edition
No props needed
Skills: Timing, strength, agility, transitions, backwards blocking, balance

Blood and Thunder. King of the Mountain. Queen of the Rink. Last Man Standing. There are a ton of names for it, but in derby most of us have played the game where we all get on the track and hit the snot out of each other until one person remains. This is a version of that.

Everyone starts skating, and when told to go, the carnage begins. When a skater is knocked down or goes out of bounds – they are out. In this version, do NOT have them stay on the track unless you have advanced skaters. You can also have refs calling penalties, and if anyone commits a penalty, they are also out.

With this version, when two skaters connect, if NEITHER skater goes out or down, than BOTH of them must flip to begin skating the opposite direction. Every skater will always skate DERBY direction, it’s just a matter of whether they are forward or backward. You should have people on the outside reminding skaters to spin around when contacted. There’s always one that just doesn’t understand/remember that they have to flip around whenever someone touches them.

This is another game that I like stopping each round when there are 3 people left, so that you can do several rounds, ending in a Championship.

MUSICAL CONES
Props Needed: As many cones (minus one) as you have people playing.
Skills: Stops, speed, awareness

Every person playing gets a cone, except for one person. Each person should place the cone on the inside or outside edge of the track. The person in charge decides what stop the round will focus on. You can do an entire game of ONE stop, if you want.

Everyone starts skating at pack speed. When the person in charge decides, they blow the whistle and everyone must get to a cone and use the stop APPROPRIATELY and without falling or advancing past the cone. If they are unsuccessful, a ref or wrangler should call them out and they must go to the NEXT cone and try it again.
Follow me on Facebook: Facebook.com/MerryKhaos1918
Twitter: @DerbyAmerica
Instagram: @Khaos24Fit

And if your league is looking for coaches and trainers, drop me a message at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com – DNA Coaching is currently booking boot camps and sessions and we’d love to talk to your league!

During Blood and Thunder
During Blood and Thunder
1972386_10152612655029770_3880944585047767912_n
Sliding out during Musical Cones
During Blood and Thunder
During Blood and Thunder

How to RollerCon 2014 – Part 1

The return is imminent.

I have not had any caffeine in hours and yet my heart is racing as I start to write this blog. It’s coming. It’s almost here: ROLLERCON 2014! Starting next Monday, all the people who love derby from all over the world will be flying into Sin City for 5 days of scrimmages, bouts, seminars, on skates classes, off skates hell workouts, parties, karaoke, vagine, new technology, merch, picture taking, hero worshipping, dancing, new friends, olds friends, and the kind of frivolity that McGonagall would never approve of.

 [I tried to find a proper picture of Professor McGonagall for right here but I couldn’t. So this is what you get instead]

hqdefault

Your guide to navigating Rollercon 2014 is here. I will do my best to share what I’ve learned in 2 very different years at the convention, and what you should be looking forward to as you and your 5000 closest friends over take The Riviera. This is just scratching the surface, it’s what has come to mind first. Part 1 is all about what you should bring and the surface level of the convention. The second part will get into some specifics about events and where you should be and what you should check out!

SOME BASIC TERMS (some of these seem silly, but if you’ve never been there before)

Bout – Hour long derby, and they always take place on the main track (there are two side tracks as well. Not sure what their names are going to be yet)
Challenge – 30 minute derby with no half time
Drop-in – When you are pulled in for a challenge bout right before the damn thing is about to start.
Top of the Riv (ToR) – The ballroom at the top of the Monaco Tower; off skates trainings and most parties happen here
Dicks – The volunteers that are keeping the convention running smoothly (buy them drinks or be one yourself! Go here: http://rollercon.com/help-wanted/ for more information)
Seminar – The Seminars are different from off skate training; these are business classes and round tables and very beneficial for the back end of your derby life
Off skates – Bring sneakers and water – it’s training time!
PODO – Pants Off Dance Off. It’s a thing.
SkyBox – Each full length bout has SkyBox tickets that you can purchase for an extra fee, so that you have a bird’s eye view of all the action and you don’t have to fight for a seat in the bleachers.
DefCon – This is the “Security” **cough**  hacker  **cough** convention that is in town the same time as RC. It’s fun to play “Spot the Defcon guy” at Black n Blue. As a sidenote, if you get anything from DefCon or from your friend that goes to it, make sure you know what it is before you try and cross international lines with it. #JustSaying

rollercon

NOW WHAT?

You’ve made the decision to hit Vegas. AWESOME! Before the fun begins, the planning has to happen. Even the most experienced RollerConners will feel a sense of “HOLY SHIT IT’S ROLLERCON”. It is sensory overload from the moment you walk through the doors of the Riv. Here are some things I have learned over the years that make it a little easier.

1) Don’t overpack. It’s tempting to. You don’t need 10 sets of wheels. You don’t need 10 dresses. You don’t need 7 bathing suits. Yes, there are special things you’re going to want to pack, so make it easy on yourself and bring the basics for the rest of your stay. Besides, inevitably you’re going to get stuff AT the Con that you’ll need to fit into that suitcase. There is one thing you’re allowed to overpack…

Last year my RC experience started on the plane when I happened to have the seat next to YMMRD skater Dirty Larry. He still talks to me, so I must not have annoyed him too badly

2) Bring blank colored tops. If you plan on being a drop in, you cannot count on getting to use your own number. Check out the challenge bout schedule (http://rollercon.com/calendars/bouts-challenges/) and figure out what colors are going to be playing when you are going to be available. Bring shirts of those colors with no numbers and bring a thick black sharpie to write with! If you’re bringing black, you may want to invest in a WHITE OUT or WHITE FABRIC PAINT PEN. #protip

3) Do not ignore your nutrition. You still need to eat 6-8 times a day. You still need to drink a minimum of 3/4s of your body weight (pounds), in ounces, of water per day. When in doubt, drink a gallon!! The recycled air, the heat, the exercising, the excitement – it all takes a toll on your body. You need water. You need VITAMINS. You need protein. You need all the things you do in normal life x5. (If you want or need extra guidance on this, drop me a line at DerbyAmerica@yahoo.com … there’s a reason DERBALIFE is super popular at RollerCon each year, and I’m still taking pre-orders for the supplements that will get you through the week).

READY FOR ROLLERCON

4) Pack equipment for the hotel room. Yes, during the Con, there is access to water coolers. However, you’d be surprised how much time you DON’T spend around those coolers. Having a water pitcher filter in your hotel room can really save you. I also bring an electric tea kettle so I can make tea, coffee, hard boiled eggs, soup, etc etc in my room. Box stores will usually have decent ones for $10-$20. If you can’t find a wide mouth kettle, a personal crock pot will work well too. If you don’t want to lug it in your suitcase, and you haven’t bought one yet, just have it shipped TO the Riv. Just remember to leave some space in that bag!

5) Hitch a ride to the grocery store as soon as possible. Many of us fly in a day or two early so that we can do our pre-con prep. That includes finding someone with a rental car and getting to the grocery store. The food available within the con is acceptable and the food court food is excellent, but it adds up quick. Most of us would rather buy that Pivot Star shirt than have to save money for another meal, so go to the store! If you have a fridge, get milk, eggs (assuming you have something to cook them in), lunch meat, pre-cooked chicken, and yogurt. No fridge? Jerky, pre-cooked rice, pre-cooked soups and Indian food, trail mix, apples, and protein bars (at least 7g of protein in them, please) are great to keep in your room! You can do food at the con for cheap. That’s something else I can really help you with if you need it: Derbyamerica@yahoo.com if you need help making a plan.

954767_10153067253555494_1561292400_n

 

 

6) Branch away from your league. If you don’t know many people outside of your league, use the forums, the lines, the vendor rooms as an exercise in networking. Be friendly, ask people questions, and get to know the other people in your community. You never know when it will be helpful down the road, plus who doesn’t love having extended family across the globe?

Last year my RC experience started on the plane when I happened to have the seat next to YMMRD skater Dirty Larry. He still talks to me, so I must not have annoyed him too badly
Last year my RC experience started on the plane when I happened to have the seat next to YMMRD skater Dirty Larry. He still talks to me, so I must not have annoyed him too badly

 

7) Look at the schedules beforehand, but don’t overcommit yourself. Allow some flexibility in your schedule. Even pros will decide they’re going to do too much, too often and burn out quickly. Especially if you haven’t been taking care of yourself leading up to the con! You’re going to want to take all the classes, but you’re going to have to wait in line for the classes, you’re going to want to grab lunch with new friends, you’ll get sucked into DerbySkinz room for longer than you thought, you’ll notice a bout  you wanted to see, you’ll get asked to be IN a bout randomly… there’s a lot going on. Schedule, but be flexible.

543783_10153070552170494_1633579164_n

8) Other Packing Necessities: CHAP STICK, Water bottle, Sharpies (label your shit), money/card clips are super handy, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, sneakers, outdoor wheels, skate tool, bearing lube, notebook and plenty of pens, shirts that you may want to have heat pressed, things you may want to have signed by your derby idols.

11) Sleep. No seriously. Don’t be afraid to escape back to your room for a mid-afternoon recharge. It’s kind of awesome to do it actually. Especially if you’re planning on being up all night at the parties.

10) Become aware of SkateSafe. This is a rad group of individuals that are out to raise awareness and help us make better decisions in an environment that encourages bad ones. I could go over it here, but why don’t you just visit the page and take a look at the awesome tips and suggestions: http://rollercon.com/about/skatesafe/

11) Alcohol is fun, but alcohol and skating don’t mix. Most of us have practiced hungover. It’s not fun. Pace yourself. And never EVER have a drink before you get on your skates! Wait until your athletic fun is done for the day before you pour your libations.

This is going to be one of the most awesome, overwhelming weeks of your life. One more tip, and be on the lookout of part TWO of “How to RollerCon”:

12) Don’t throw your wallet on the ground repeatedly as a joke. You can do it once or twice, but that’s really it. You will lose your credit card. Right Julius Pleaser? “WORST ROLLERCON EVER!”

46449_10153066498695494_1472358533_n