There’s been a “12 Reasons you should watch roller derby” buzzfeed article floating around. Guess what, folks? Some of it they got right! Some of it they got eeeehhhhh…..
So I’m rebooting this blog! It was one my first popular article on Examiner.I’ve re-written some of the explanations, but I’ve kept the headlines the same. 2010 derby or 2015 derby, these are still the 10 reasons you should watch roller derby. (PS Most derby leagues still don’t have seating, so you may want to pick up a Coleman Stadium Seat for your comfort at the game.)
The WOW factor How many of your friends watch roller derby? If the answer is “many”, then maybe there is something to this. Maybe they have an in on something. If your answer is “none”, you can introduce your circle to the fast-growing sport on the planet. How cool does that make you look? Roller derby is a completely unique, high-impact sport that is totally inclusive of age, gender, nationality, etc. It is an international phenomenon that grows every year. In 2018, the third Roller Derby World Cup took place in Manchester, England, hosting 38 countries, including the Czech Republic, Korea, and West Indies. Barcelona is the stage for the third Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in April 2018, where 24 teams, including Japan, Chile, and Denmark will compete. The speed, power, and finesse on 8 wheels is enough to keep you entertained, even if your local team isn’t allowed to sell beer!
The social works of derby teams Roller derby teams are often non-profit organizations themselves; regardless you will find your local teams out at charity events and raising money for good causes at their home bouts. Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised worldwide for charities. Whether promoting suicide prevention, helping wounded animals, collecting for homeless shelters, promoting love as love, or helping a city rebuild after tragedy, derby has covered the spectrum of charitable causes. The Girls on Track Foundation was founded to keep young girls involved in the sport of roller derby, thus building their confidence, courage, and leadership skills. Locally, our own Tampa Roller Derby is involved with Big Cat Rescue and Girls on the Run,
Athletic prowess These are athletes. Teams practice between two and six times a week, and the participants work out beyond their practice limits. Yoga, crossfit, powerlifting, Spartan Races, aerial silks… the cross-training of roller derby knows no limits.
Impressed by your favorite hockey player doing fancy footwork and scoring points? Wait until you see Lil Slinky of Stockholm duck and dance through the pack effortlessly. Get hyped up by your favorite safety playing all over the field defense? You will love seeing Alli Kat Scratch of the Tampa Tantrums crush the hopes and dreams of her opponents. The feats of agility and pure strength are display at any game (whether it’s the 500-person strong Rose City Rollers or 20 strong Twin City Terrors).
“Any Given Sunday” Just like in any other mainstream sport, roller derby has the “any given Sunday” mantra. The Oly Rollers came out of nowhere in their first season as a WFTDA* team, and took the Hydra as the underdog. It is possible for any team to sweat and bleed their way to beating a giant of roller derby. Tournament play has seen a lot of international teams come in and shock the world with their undeniable strength. Teams from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia have been doing damage in WFTDA and MRDA** rankings the past few years.
Less expensive than a movie date
An American movie date can easily breach $75 (IMAX anyone?), and if you’re counting dinner, you can bet on a night breaking $100. Yes, there are some games that offer beer or full entrees (thank you Charm City). Yes, buying merch from Tampa’s Wrecking Mall might up your final cost for the night. However, most teams still play in roller rinks with small concessions and bake sales. A derby date can easily stay under $30! Derby encourages interaction and conversation, whether you are with one person or a group, and it’s way better than sitting awkwardly in a dark theatre with your Tinder date. Bring them to derby!
Community! The roller derby community is a very inclusive place; if it’s a tailgate kind of game (you can check with the league on their event page ahead of time), get a group together and hang out in the parking lot. My first team was notorious for cookouts and beer trading in the parking lot of the Olympic Skating Center before games. Groups often mix and mingle. Don’t know what’s going on during the game? Ask the people beside you (or look for someone with a “Ask me about derby” sign). Regardless of the side you are rooting for, everyone is super friendly and inclusive. You will make friends in the fans, the refs, and the league members themselves. Labels and judgement have no place in our house, so come one, come all!
Direct interaction with athletes
How many sports teams offer one-on-one time with their athletes? Every game and after party is a meet and greet, and leagues host events throughout the year where you can meet your favorite skaters. You can catch up with league scores from those directly involved, and can really feel like a part of the organization even as a fan. Websites like Flat Track Stats even gives you chance to follow how your favorite travel teams are doing, even if the team hasn’t received official sanctioning ranking. With the popularity of tournaments growing in roller derby, keep your eyes peeled to your team’s social media, it’s likely their travel games will be live streamed at some point. Then you can even watch them from home.
Unique characters Mainstream sports are chuck full of big characters, and roller derby does not disappoint. Be warned: It is not make-up and fishnets. It is the heart, soul, blood and tears that they pour into their work that make these athletes into giants and idols. Big characters in derby are the big hits, the big jams, and acrobats on skates. Whether your team matches in black compression pants, or dons old school mis-matched DerbySkinz and stickers on helmets, you will see the personalities on and off skates. It’s not just the skaters that make the game exciting: The announcers of roller derby are some of the most colorful characters you can imagine. Plus they are super knowledgeable about the game, so make friends with them.
You might find a new love Skaters, refs, NSOs***, announcers, medics, and coaches have to come from somewhere. Often, they come from the audience. Fans, friends of the fans, and the munchkins of fans are the future of roller derby. Even if you never end up skating, your support is vital to your league. Being a fan and posting about the games, inviting your friends to the events, watching WFTDA.tv, watching the YouTube archives of bouts… it spreads the goodwill of derby to people outside of the community who may never have heard of derby before. Or, maybe they went to a game three years ago and “have been meaning to return”. Maybe you can be the one to remind them to spend a Saturday night at the rink.
It’s just plain FUN The excitement is infectious. Regardless of your familiarity with the sport, the skill and strength of roller derby pulls you in. It is impossible to resist cheering as your jammer breaks through the pack. Try not to flinch when your team knocks an apex jump out of the air. The more you learn about your league, the more fun you will have each game. BUT the only way to learn more is to actually go!
If you have been pushing off attending a roller derby bout, it’s time to get off of Facebook and head to the rink. Friends, excitement, and real social networks await you. Youtube offers some great fan tutorials, or wait until you get there and inquirein person. Spend some time at your local games. You’ll be cheering more than at a Marvel movie, you’ll get closer to the action than nosebleed seats at Lincoln Financial, and you will build relationships unlike anything else you have experienced before.
*Women’s Flat Track Derby Association
**Men’s Roller Derby Association
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What makes us want to be on a roller derby team?
I’ve been thinking about this topic for months. Tried writing a blog a few weeks ago and I couldn’t actually translate my feels into a coherent written structure. I’m not talking, “Why do we love the sport?” or “Why do we join a league?” But rather, what drives us all to make a travel team? Or be drafted to a home team?
Before my home league’s travel team votes on the charter, each skater gets to talk about what they had to offer, and why they wanted to be a part of the team. It was interesting to hear the answers from those dropping their name in the hat for the all-stars versus the b team. There was quite the difference in theme of statement from one team to the other. I realized that those going for the the all-stars had a much different theme of answer than those wanting to be on our b-team. It got me thinking more and more about WHY we want to play on teams so badly.
If you ask a derby skater why they want to be on a team, the most common answer you’ll probably get is: “I want to play in bouts!” (Or do I call them games in the blog now?) **winky face**
They want to travel. They want to play other opponents. They want to prove themselves. Playing in bouts is a bit about the attention of everyone watching you, but should also be about the practical applications of skills and drills. Bouts are the place we test ourselves against an opponent to see if we have improved. I have been on many teams at this point, and I can say that being in a bout means different things based on the culture your team builds.
Some teams value bouts strictly as ranking potential.
Some teams just want to enjoy the fun of the sport; including all that boutfitting, production shenanigans, and after parties offer up as they play against your family from a different city.
Some teams want to try out what they have been drilling in practice, to see how their strength and mobility have improved.
Some teams play bouts just to raise money in their home venue and have their friends and family come and watch them do the thing that they love.
Some teams work really well together on bout day, and everything is low stress and fun.
Some teams may work together, but tension runs so high that benches become explosive.
Maybe a team just has that one player that yells at refs or complains about calls, and because they’re a “superstar”, the behavior isn’t squashed. That behavior spreads to the rest of the team, and the bench becomes a 3 headed monster.
Maybe the bench coach is that one superstar yelling.
Or maybe everyone loves each other and the sport so much that everyone is just focused on the fun of the game.
I should mention that teams don’t always take the time to create a culture. Some are self-aware enough to create a mission statement of culture to promote and strive for. Most derby teams, I have seen, do not even understand that a culture has manifested through coaching habits, attendance enforcement, and superstar treatments. Sometimes an awesome derby culture of fun and support is born organically through individuals gathering for a common purpose. Too often, I have seen leagues succumb to the expectation that certain players get praise and playtime, and those players can do and say no wrong. Everyone else are plebeians and must fall in line and teach themselves.
If you just had an ‘ah-ha’ moment, recognizing that your team has not given itself a Culture Goal (or worse, you’re in one of those cancerous league situations!), maybe it’s time to sit with your steering committee and decide on some core values for the league and individual teams.
Many cultures have this idea rooted into their core values without realizing it: “You will play bouts when you are on the travel team, and we do this to play in bouts.” So the skater immediately begins lobbying for a spot on the travel team, despite dedication. Despite training. Despite safety. Despite their willingness to play on a team. Endgame, we are taught, is: PLAY IN BOUTS.
I have a radical suggestion for you, Roller Derby:
You should not want to be on a team to play bouts. You should want to be on a team to practice roller derby.
You should want to be on a team to PRACTICE roller derby.
What do I mean?
I mean we need to adjust our mindset.
Bouts are fun, yes. Bouts are what count towards our ranking, absolutely. Bouts are the culmination of our practice time and work together, yes. But it’s just 60 minutes on the clock.
I am not saying we should undervalue bouts, or want to play in them less. Rather, I think we all need to shift focus to being excited for practice time. Most of Roller Derby practices at least twice a week. You are spending far more time with your team in drill, skill, and endurance situations than you are in bout situations.
I do my best to not even worry when my next bout is, because my intensity does not change from practice to practice. I do not show up with different intentions or drive when I know a roster is being decided that night. Every practice is 110%. I pay for this time on the track, so I am going to love it and use it. If I am put on a roster, great! If I’m not, it’s OK because I have practice again Sunday night. I know I won’t be short on derby for the weekend.
Too often skaters put so high a priority on bout day that all they think about is making the roster. They show up just in time, and with just enough intensity to play in the bout. If we could shift the prevailing thought in roller derby to be less “BOUT DAY!!!” and more “PRACTICE DAY!!” think of how many people would value their drill time more? How much would attendance change?
Bout day is a priority because Roller Derby puts an emphasis on it.
To me it is just as fun and invigorating to stop Tazmaniac in a wall drill in practice, as it is to stop her in a bout day situation. Putting our focus on the awesome of practice means more excitement, which means more bodies, which means more opportunities for strategy and teamwork. Which will, unsurprisingly, lead to MORE SUCCESS ON BOUT DAY.
When practice time is the center of attention, you can focus on goals as an individual and as a team mate. You can put your energy into what is being practiced instead of worrying about making the next roster.
When your focus is practice, not bout day, you think about your daily cross training differently, and with the mind of making practice better. You know you’re going to be doing five minute jams at practice on Monday, so what can you do on your off day, Saturday, to improve your conditioning for it? Thinking about that every week builds into months and then years of cross training, almost by accident!
When you focus on practice, you get to struggle and laugh with all of your team mates in all the different situations. You get to love the sport and the nuance of the sport.
When our focus is bout day, we get caught up in the spotlight of it. We get caught up in the pressure of performance, but when we focus on practice day, we are all Superstars, and egos are left at the door because no one is watching. When our focus is practice, we work hard for two hours at a time. If we can work hard for two hours, we can definitely work hard for our piece of 60 minutes.
Practice is the proving ground for bout day.
Practice is where we get to push ourselves and learn.
Practice is where we get to high five our family and celebrate victories.
Practice is where we get to tell our friends that bad days happen, and that one bad practice will not equate to a lifetime of failure in the sport.
Practice is where we get to put our head down and do work.
If your heart doesn’t beat with excitement when prepping for training (sometimes up to 5 in a week), why are you in the sport?
Glory should come from within. Achievement should be felt when doing something awesome with your team mates. This is no longer an individual sport. No longer should we put the spotlight on those who have talent, who don’t come to practice or fundraisers or do committee work.The spotlight should be on the weekly warriors who sweat with each other and create the bonds that only practice time can.
Practice IS our sport. I feel like the leagues that recognize and promote that in their culture, have the most success over the long term.
Stop counting down to bout day. Start counting down to Monday.
For coaching and nutrition help for all athletes, or to ask questions, propose blog ideas, or just give feedback, leave me a comment, or drop me a line at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com. I’m always booking league coaching for all levels.
Like my EAT BIG PLAY BIG notes, this is not going to be a verbatim dissertation of what we went over, but more the bullet points of things we talked about and maybe some WHYs involved. We talked about nutrition too, but because I have my notes posted from EBPB up and running, why don’t you just check them out and get the full picture of the athletic nutrition.
WHAT I MEAN BY LIFTING WEIGHTS
Big lifts – Build all over strength and power, utilizes the full bar
Barbells – Build stabilization muscles and helps support big lifts, small movements, and quick twitch.
Free Weights – Barbells and bars; your body must do the work to keep things in place
Plate/Smith Machine – Training wheels; no real accurate measure of weight. Some plate machines are useful (like the leg extension) but usually you can pass by these.
Cable Machines – The baby of free weights and plate-loaded; there is some stabilization work done here.
Free weights and cables should be used as your supplemental workouts. Like your vitamin and protein supplements, they are the extra stuff you do to support the mainline of work. They should not be your primary form of ‘weight lifting’. Mostly because you’re not really lifting weights when you do them.
WHY SHOULD YOU WEIGHT LIFT?
The easy answer is: Because you play a contact sport.
Show me one contact sport that does not require their athletes to weight lift. If your coach tells you to do dry land drills, do you question? No. You question weight lifting because it’s different and new and super difficult. The resistance to lifting in roller derby is not because it’s not helpful or proven to advance skaters – it’s because it takes more effort to do it. And, honestly, it can be intimidating.
From the physics standpoint think of this reason why you should weight lift:
If you can only squat 130 pounds, that means you can only push that much weight (approximately) into your wheels. If you have someone who is 170 pounds hitting you, but you can only respond with 130 pounds – who is going to win?
This is a very basic, crude example, but hopefully you get the point.
Why bench press? I learned during Beat Me Halfway that if you have Magnum PIMP doing truck-and-trailer with you, your arms and core better be able to hold up to the resistance he’s giving you. If he then directs you into a full-speed Screecharound, your arms and body have to be able to deal with as much power as he’s putting into you to transfer to your skates, to transfer to Screecharound to take him all the way to the line.
(and also, I was so sore the next day)
If you can push a sled with 150 pounds on it, you can push through a link giving you 100 pounds of resistance.
WHAT IS CONDITIONING?
We talked a lot about lift days verse conditioning days.
Your lift days are just that. You’re picking up heavy weight. Your conditioning days involve cardio work, particularly HIIT. This is your tire flips, your hill runs, your wind sprints, your heavy plyometrics. If you do Crossfit, those WoDs should be your conditioning days … so the extra days. WoDs every day will not build your strength the way lift days will.
WHAT DOES THIS FEEL LIKE?
Like with derby, we have to adjust to a new feeling when we start weightlifting. If you’ve done plate machines in the past, then you are not used to what it feels like to have 180# on your back, or to pick up 200#.
It feels heavy. It feels miserable sometimes. It feels like you might hurt yourself. Just like it feels when you’re doing a new advanced skill on roller skates. Like those one foot “chomps” or one foot plows.. Picking your foot up and putting it down in front of you, with your toes turned in and your knees touching? That’s terrifying! I was sure I was going to break my leg. I didn’t. And you won’t break your shit just because it feels heavy.
It’s supposed to feel heavy. That’s the point.
DO I NEED SPECIAL GEAR?
I wear knee wraps because I can feel things shift around in my right knee when I squat and it’s weird and I don’t like it. With lighter weight, you don’t need belts, wraps, wrist grips. As you start lifting, talk to people around you about the gear they have. You’ll learn when you’ll need to get a belt, or if you want to get gloves.
Wear flat shoes or no shoes. Those weird toe shoes? They actually work really well for lifting. So do Chuck Taylors. So does nothing. Just like you wouldn’t buy Bonts for your first pair of skates, you shouldn’t go buy the special fit lifting shoes before you start lifting.
WHAT ARE THE LIFTS I SHOULD DO?
No questions asked you need to do:
Lifts that I think you should incorporate:
Sumo Deadlifts (or Sumo/Russian)
WHAT SUPPLEMENTAL LIFTS SHOULD I DO?
This one is tough. It depends on your programming. Ones that I make sure I incorporate:
Hanging Leg Raise
Bent Over Row
Lat Pull Down
WAIT – HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TO DO?
Guess what? More reading for you!! What I recommend to EVERYONE is to pick up Mark Rippietoe’s “STARTING STRENGTH”. There is an app you can download called 5x5Stronglifts that will help you through the whole process.
Here’s the idea that I can pass on to you that I started with… 5×5. So you’re doing 3 lifts each day, 5 times, 5 reps. This does not include your 5 rep warm-up. When my plan was set for me, we did one lift for the upper body, one for the back, one for the legs.
I then did 1 or 2 supplemental lists each day (unless I was crazy spent). Getting someone to help you set up a training plan around your skating schedule is awesome. I had a couple people helping me along the way. And don’t be afraid to tweak your schedule as you progress. After your first four weeks, you should be in a routine, but before that it’s ok to move things around and figure out what works best for you!
Learn form on your own through the BUFF DUDES series. They’re really a great, short series of tutorials.
HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH TO LIFT?
Again, having a friend that knows lifting is helpful here. If you don’t, go to your gym and find the biggest dude or lady who is both strong in the upper and lower body (or ask someone at the desk of who to ask), and humbly request help.
Think of it this way: If someone came up to you at an open skate and said, “Hey you look like you know what you’re doing. I’m trying to get into roller derby, but I don’t know how to plow stop, can you watch me real quick to help me?” You’re not going to tell them to fuck off. Lifters feel the same way about their sport. I promise they’ll be nice to you.
Step one is to find your personal record (PR), also known as your one rep max (1RM).
Do not plan on doing your 5×5 during max days. You also shouldn’t try to max out multiple workouts for the same body part. For example, don’t try to max out back squat and front squat on the same day.
To max out, do your warm up weight (people can help you figure out what that would be… for me, my deadlift warm up has ALWAYS been 135#, and my squat started at 100#, bench was 45# … these are good starting points). Do 5 reps. Your buddy can help you go up in weight. Do 3 reps. Then up in weight and do 1 rep until you can’t move it. Boom. 1RM.
Plugging these maxes into your 5×5 Stronglift app will create a nice little “oh this is what I lift today” guide for you. You can contact me if you want something more specific.
SO I JUST LIFT FOREVER NOW?
Things can change up, but yes, now you just lift. In a 5×5 program, I do like incorporating a deload week either on week 5 or 6. A deload week is when you do your lifts, but at 50% of your max. It gives your body a chance to recoup.
When I first started this program, I was going up in weight for some of my lifts each week, not up for others. The stronglift app helps you with that.
Setting goals will help keep you focused and your training tight so that way you don’t get bored.
You will plateau. You will have bad days at the bar. It happens. Just like derby. Sometimes you have enough sleep, you’re hydrated, you’ve eaten enough, and you just can’t squat the bar the way you did the week before. It’s ok. It happens. Seriously.
This can be new and can be scary. Just like derby. Don’t be put off from lifting by yourself because “You don’t want to hurt yourself”. There is just as much risk for injury in this sport as others. If you play derby, you know that you can have someone there with you, you can be in the process of being coached, and you can do one thing and still hurt yourself. Don’t fear injury for the sake of fearing injury.
You are probably not going parallel on your squats. If you have never squatted before, start with BOX SQUATS. Your new gym bro can find a good box for you. It should be low enough that when you sit on it, your legs create an angle lower than 90 degrees.
Your back is going to hurt. That’s because this will be the first time you’re fully using your back for a lift. All the time I hear “Oh man, my low back hurts! I must not be deadlifting right.” Or you’re deadlifting exactly right and you’re using muscles you never have before. Your back is going to hurt.
If your back is weak, your squats will suffer. “What?? But squats are a leg lift!” Yes, but the bar is on your back. So if you can’t support the bar, you can’t squat it. It’s possible that your squats may be lighter than what your legs can handle at first, because your back is not strong enough.
RECORD YOURSELF SO YOU CAN SELF-CRITIQUE AND GET NOTES FROM FRIENDS. It seems super narcissistic, but you can correct between sets sometimes! You can send the video to your friends from around the country and say “Hey is this parallel?” or “what am I doing wrong?”
When you’re lifting, EYES UP HIGH! Pick a spot towards the ceiling, look at it. Do not look side to side. Keep your weight on your heels, you should be able to wiggle your toes.
I think that’s about it!
Drop me a line if you want some extra help or have other questions about setting up your program. Your offseason program is going to be different than your in-season program, so I can help you with that stuff too. When in doubt, read books! 531, Beyond 531, and Starting Strength are the ones that have been recommended to me. Drop me a message at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com with questions or if you have anything you want me to address.
If you were in my “EAT BIG/PLAY BIG” class at Beat Me Halfway, you know we jumped around a little bit. This is not going to be a thorough explanation of the notes nearly as much as a bullet point list of what we covered. For more information, explanation, or to work with me on your nutrition plan, message me at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com
I will remind you that I’m not going into all the biochemistry of this. You don’t care about it anyway, you just want to know the what and the basic why. So this is like 1st grade chemistry when we are told “This is how it is!” and then in high school they say “Yea, ok BASICALLY that’s how it is, but it’s actually more like THIS.” So keep that in mind.
The 5 ‘Pillars’ of Athlete nutrition
– Calorie Count
You must eat for YOUR goals. Roller derby is a contact sport, and a high energy one. You should not be designing your food plan in order to meet society’s view of beauty. If your personal situation demands weight loss, then eat for weight loss. If you already are low body fat percentage, then don’t obsess over six pack abs, worry about your strength and progress instead.
I am going to focus on strength and athletic performance, not ‘weight loss’. Note – if you eat for sports performance and pair it with a proper training program, chances are you will lean out anyway. So it’s a win win.
Basic idea: your metabolism is your energy mechanism and how your body gets vitamins distributed around the body. So if the metabolism slows, then your body can’t burn as effectively or get the vitamins you eat around to the places it needs to get to.
We keep the metabolism running by eating. Your body is like a bonfire. If you stop feeding the fire, it dies. If you stop feeding your body, the metabolism slows to a crawl. Think of simple carbs (like bread, sugar, rice) as newspaper, leafy greens as large branches, and proteins as giant logs of oak.
If you are doing heavy lifting (which we all should be doing) you can and should eat more simple carbs than someone who is primarily doing cardio.
You’re not eating enough. I’m making this judgment call based on the fact that you were interested enough in this topic to read. But chances are: you’re not eating enough.
How much should you be eating? Step one is to find out your “RMR” (Resting Metabolic Rate). There is a big long equation that you can google or go to my favorite cheat sheet right here!
To make it easier for you, I went and did some EXTRA research to see if I could find something a little more uniform. What I found they most for athletes that participate in an intense training routine:
MEN: 23 – 30 calories per pound of body weight
WOMEN: 19 – 25 calories per pound of body weight
If you are weight lifting at least twice a week with heavy weights, you should be at the higher end of the spectrum. On your rest days, go on the lower end of the spectrum.
If you’re eating 3000 calories a day, you should be breaking down your calories into many meals and snacks, not trying to eat three 1000 calories meals each day. If you plan out six meals, that means 500 calories per meal! These can be protein shakes, full ‘classic’ meals, bars, snacks, etc.
How do you know what to eat to hit that intake? Here’s a quick cheat:
1g of Protein = 4 calories
1g of Carbs = 4 calories
1g of Fat = 9 calories
I like to give myself a range, so I’m 150# right now. That means I should be eating between 3000 and 3400 calories. (Which means even I haven’t been eating enough!) Giving yourself just a ceiling can cause you to not hit a minimum. I’d rather you say “I’m going to eat at LEAST __________” as opposed to “I can’t eat more than ________”.
THE DIRTY BULK
Here’s where it comes in. We talked about “The Dirty Bulk” – the time where you just eat whatever you want (primarily brownies and fast food) and then you get ‘huge and strong’. Guess what? It kind of works in the temporary, but not for long term results, and not for what we are focused on. If you are a strict powerlifter, a dirty bulk is appealing. You don’t have to be strict on what you’re eating, you can stuff your face, you get big, you pull big numbers.
Powerlifters don’t have to try and catch The Smacktivist on wheels occasionally. Powerlifters don’t have to be as quick as Gnat King Kill. Powerlifters don’t have to out skate Mercy.
For roller derby skaters (and any athlete that treasures their cardio health), the dirty bulk packs on fat, cholesterol, and poundage that weighs you down instead of pushing you forward. There are times you could dirty bulk (a true offseason), but you would have to counter it with a very specific, strict period of eating afterwards.
We are made of protein. If you do not give your body protein, you cannot build muscle. You cannot repair or create new cells with optimal performance. If you don’t give your body protein to burn during competition and training, your body will burn the protein it can find – your muscles.
Is your hair thin, skin flakey, nails weak? Part of your problem could be a lack of protein.
Here’s your easy equation: Athletes need to eat 1g of protein per 1 pound of body weight.
Eating more will certainly not hurt you!
Because protein is the biggest piece of your caloric puzzle, you want to calculate that first! I’m 150# … I want to eat between 150 and 175g of protein per day. So that means 600-700 calories of my day come from protein. BAM. Now I know that about 2300-2700 calories have to come from carbohydrates and good fats.
Side Note: Good Fats = mono- and poly- non-saturated fats. Nuts, avocados, beans, etc.
Ok, so something I hear all the time is “But Khaos, I don’t want to get big”. Guess what? You have to be super super dedicated for many many years to get big and bulky (especially women). You know what actually happens when you increase your calories and you start weight lifting and doing a hefty training routine? You lean the hell out. Your body takes the fat on your body and makes it into muscle.
Srsly. Your body needs fat to make muscle. It’s part of the process. So don’t worry about the “I’m going to get big”. You may gain some weight at first, but keep with it! A year from now you will look like a different person.
Not eating protein, not lifting weights because “I’m going to become a bodybuilder” is like not driving a car because “I’m going to become a Nascar driver” … it just doesn’t happen that way.
Yes, there are some studies out there that say that soy is bad. However, there are just as many studies that say that you would have to eat SO MUCH SOY to get those effects that … well… I hope you have stock investments in Silk. I can show you photos of men and women who have been consuming soy protein as part of their meal replacements and snacks (edamame!) on a daily basis for a long time and they do not have extra fat. They do not have breast cancers. Coincidence SHOULD NOT imply correlation. If you’re allergic to soy, don’t eat soy. If your doctor tells you not to eat soy because ‘it’s bad’ then … well…
DOCTORS AREN’T NUTRITIONISTS SO HE PROBABLY GOT HIS INFO FROM THE TV.
We are 70% water. If we do not give ourselves enough water, our body will not have anything to use for…
Cell creation processes, our joints, our brains, our endocrine system, our blood, to flush out extra stuff in our digestive tracks, etc etc
Have you ever gone to practice and you tell your feet to do things and there is some kind of disconnect? You can usually do the things, but you just feel like there’s a lag? Could be dehydration.
Here’s your equation for athletes:
75% x body weight = Ounces of water to drink daily
A gallon of water is 128oz of water.
If you are more than 170# this means you must drink more than a gallon of water per day. If you have never drank that much before, and are super nervous about doing so, go to the grocery store. Buy 7 gallon jugs. Label with a day of the week. That’s your water for that day.
You will hate me for the first few days. Your body won’t know what to do with the extra water you’re taking in. KEEP AT IT! The water you drink today hydrates you a few days from now. You have to keep going.
WATER DROWNING MYTH
Ok, here’s the time of the day where people send me nasty messages about ‘not needing that much water’. When it comes down to it, I don’t know the exact, precise number of ounces my body needs from day to day. It could be 87.7oz. Do I get water from the veg I eat? Sure. But guess what? It’s easier to just drink my gallon a day and be done with it than to overanalyze and hope that I got enough in that day.
To think that every person can drink eight 8oz glasses of water and be good is silly. My body needs less water than Spectral Abyrration. He’s a dude. He’s bigger than me. For us to use ANY of the same measures for nutrition is odd.
Sorry guys. Alcohol is bad for you. No matter how you try and frame it. Is there carbs in a beer that are great for recovery post bout? Yes. But there’s also ALCOHOL. And that saps your body of water and vitamins. The negative outweigh the positive. Subscribe to my blog, I’m going to be rebooting my article about this pretty soon.
Vitamins are what your body uses to create new cells. They are molecules that your body needs to initiate certain processes. Most vitamins and nutrients cannot be made by your body, your body cannot hold onto vitamins, and your body needs them throughout the day.
So moral of the story? You need vitamins all the time.
Why take a multivitamin? Mostly because we have such high vitamin needs as athletes (think of all those chemical processes going on in your body ANYWAY – then add all that training in? Your body is a madhouse of cell creation), that eating your vitamins through food sources only is damn near impossible. Considering that our food supply is much less nutrient dense than it used to be due to over-farming, picking before ripeness, and shipping long distance.
You can argue with me if you want, but seriously, it’s true. You can tell me that you “eat frozen, and buy local, and do all the things that make me wrong”, but guess what? Still not as nutrient dense. Sorry. And again, if you can take a multi and cover the gaps in your vitamins that you may not know you had: Why wouldn’t you?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t analyze myself for vitamin and nutrient intake through bloodwork daily. I’d rather just take my multi 3x a day, eat veggies, drink properly balanced meal replacement shakes, and not have to worry about it.
Yes. 3x a day. If your multi is one a day, you need to change multis.
WHAT YOU’RE EATING
So supplements are exactly that – supplements. You should build your whole foods, healthy diet and then fill in the gaps of what you’re missing with your supps. Some basics that I make sure I have?
Multivitamin, Meal Replacement shake (it’s an easy snack), my Cell Activator keeps my digestive track healthy and happy, pre-workout, post-workout, 24 Hydrate is my electrolyte supplement, and my fish oil/heart health for injury recovery (mine is flavored with vanilla so I don’t get fish burps).
Otherwise, my food involves a lot of rice, eggs, pasteurized egg whites (for protein shakes), PB2 (also for shakes), black bean pasta, all the veggies, chicken, ground turkey, wheat pasta….
I eat the same things all the time. MAKE A PLAN. Make a plan and know what you’re eating every day.
If you don’t make a plan, then you won’t know what you’re eating at 3p, which means when that time rolls around and you’re hungry – you’ll grab whatever you can. If you know on Sunday that at 3p Wednesday you are eating a protein bar, you better believe you’ll have that protein bar in your desk at work.
Also, this allows you to meal prep! Take a couple hours at the beginning of the week to pre-make and pre-portion all of your meals… or at least everything that you need to take with you.
You know what else this does? It gives you a very specific grocery list. Now you will be saving money because you’re not grabbing everything that sounds kind of appealing. You will buy what it is on your list.
Get with me to talk about pre- and post-workout shakes, but in the meantime… what I like to do is eat a meal about 2 hours before training, and then something small right before I train. After, I get 24g of protein RIGHT AWAY (you have a 45 minute “window of opportunity”) and then eat a meal within 2 hours.
Here’s the point where I start making friends. We talked about GMOs during the clinic. First of all, only about 3 people knew what the O in GMO stands for: “Genetically Modified Organism”.
Here’s what’s up people: We are not pulling a Jurassic Park on our food sources. We have been selectively choosing strains of fruits and veg to replant since the start of farming. Are there some foods that have been tweaked in a lab? Yes. But guess what… natural selection and our own farming practices have made EVERY FOOD SOURCE genetically modified.
I have two apples. One apple is SUPER JUICY but is kind of small and not perfectly red. The other apple has that perfect apple shape, and is much larger, but doesn’t taste as good. Guess what? The larger, perfect apple sells better! WOOT! MONEY! We’re going to replant the apple that people BUY.
The small apple does not get another growing season. The large apple does. BOOM. GMO.
This is the other place I make friends.
Organic is just a label that farms buy. There are a lot of things about “organic” that you may not think about … like the fact that arsenic is on the approved list (it’s natural!), or that runoff from the farm next door is common. So just because your big farm doesn’t spray that specific pesticide on your green pepper, doesn’t mean that the neighbors don’t use that pesticide on their apples… which wash off in rain. And get on your peppers through water transfer.
Also, just because it says organic, it doesn’t make it healthy. A lot of big farms have hopped on the “organic” bandwagon because they charge a lot more for [essentially] the same veg.
Want to know what you’re buying? BUY LOCAL! Go to farmers markets, become a part of a CSA. Research other labels, like “Food Alliance Certified”. Talk to the people growing your food. Or [gasp] start growing some of your own. Not all of us have the space for it, but there’s something rad about never-ending kale and tomatoes from your backyard.
Ok! So that’s the gist of things. I can help you create a specific plan based on ALL the things. I personally use Derbalife products, but that’s me. If you wanted to hop on Skype and talk about YOUR training plan, and YOUR nutrition, than let’s do it!! Drop me a line at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com or send me a message on Skype at KMGrey.
There is a little bit of trial and error involved in nutrition. Even the days when you’re “bad” you’re probably not doing THAT bad. I also incorporate nutrition in my in person coaching, so if your derby/football/soccer/softball/any other sport team is looking for classes, training, nutrition – let’s get it set up!! Let’s do it!!
REBOOT: I’m slowly moving some of my more popular articles from my Examiner.com site over here to WordPress! Some of the photos are from a couple years ago, some of the info may be referencing events from a few years ago, but the info is still awesome and useful! (at least I think so). Every now and again I make a more modern note, but I’ll let you know where I’ve added in. 😉
BUILDING YOU AS A BETTER SKATER
At the Northeast Derby Convention this past weekend, common questions among attendees included: “How did she get so good?” “Has she been skating forever or is she just naturally talented?” “Will I ever be that good at derby?” “How can I improve quickly to an elite level of gameplay?”
As you progress through the lists, thoughts and derbys please remember that the background for all of this should be enjoyment. Drop the ego and HAVE FUN! It’s just f***ing roller derby, and I think we all forget that sometime.
Everyone has a tip to offer, and some of these probably sound familiar. Being in my fourth season, I have been through a lot of ups, downs and across many plateaus. So here is my humble insight.
Be a goofball on your skates
Step one to getting better is spending time on your skates. Any vet will tell you that. What they may forget to tell you is that it’s not just a matter of skating circles. Getting better on your skates means that you are challenging your balance and your confidence; it means you are pushing yourself to improve.
The easiest way to challenge yourself is simply to goof around when you roller skate! Throw yourself forward and backwards. Hop. Go to open skate or an outdoor rink with your friends and skate backwards, turn, play games. The more comfortable you can get on your skates in odd positions or pulling a balancing act, the better you will be able to control yourself during drills and gameplay.
Play and watch ALL the derby
When I say “ALL the derby” I mean beyond your own scope of derby. Yes, if you’re a WFTDA skater, you should absolutely be eating up WFTDA game play to understand how the mechanics and flow of game and strategy work (also to see how skills are being newly applied to the game). That being said, I cannot express how much I have learned in the last three months because of:
Playing MADE rules on a bank track, watching junior derby, watching men’s flat track, scrimmaging men with MADE rules on the bank track, going to open flat track scrimmages, watching the All Star bout at NEDC.
Being a woman, playing derby with boys really helped me to challenge my own perception of strength and balance. It can be intimidating to go up against a man who is a head higher than you and significantly bigger (and has a bit of a temper, but I still love you Yosemite Slam) AND you’re on a bank track against him… But then you play anyway. Then when you’re on the flat track against another team – they don’t look nearly as scary or intimidating. (Note from today – I feel like I can take on anyone now that I’ve gotten past Sutton Impact and Tink as a jammer at RollerCon.)
You never learn when you’re in your comfort zone. Just like with going to open scrimmages with new people and throwing off your balance at open skate, playing and watching unfamiliar types of derby will teach you techniques and strategy more than you think is possible. Seriously. I love that damn tri-block.
No. Really. Go to the events and trainings.
The world of roller derby is so much more expansive than it was when I joined in 2009. Back then, we felt lucky to get a guest coach for the night and we all dreamed of having the money to make it out to the only collection of trainings available – Rollercon. The times, they are a-changin’!
Leagues are now able to bring in guest coaches or boot camps whenever they want. Elite leagues also hold camps throughout the year to train and coach skaters. And just because you’re a vet doesn’t mean you can’t benefit. I did a Team USA boot camp last summer next to Holly Go Hardly (most would say she ‘doesn’t need’ training , but there is no perfection in roller derby and some of us always strive for more). At NEDC this weekend, when coaches weren’t coaching – they were in other classes!
Do you know how many friends were geeking out about being in a class with Demanda? Or Punchy? Always strive to be better and take the training when it is available – if it’s not available, seek it out or bring it in!
Read and absorb
Bout recaps, new skill explanations, boot break-downs. Read it all. Absorb it. Seek it out. Funny memes. Blogs. Discussion groups. The more knowledge you have about derby off the track, the more you can apply to your footage viewing, your live consumption of derby and your own on-the-track game.
Derby News Network, DerbyLife, FiveonFive Magazine, Rollout Magazine, Blood & Thunder, Inside Line, Elektra Q Tion, RollerDerp Tumblr, Khaos Theory and more… they are are all great places to hear about thoughts on derby, derby related life and how derby works itself into other aspects of the world. Go and read some stuff.
Do that thing you hate
When I joined roller derby I decided that suddenly, I didn’t have to do cardio outside of practice. I thought I could use the occasional weight machine at Planet Fitness – and that would be enough. I avoided anything outside of derby, made faces at it, and was absolutely convinced that I could just skate more and that would be enough.
In 2012 I decided, finally, to become a runner and cross-trainer. And in 2012 I became the derby player I should have been previously.
Cross-training gives your body a chance to develop the muscles and stabilizers that derby doesn’t work on. It doesn’t work on them, but can utilize them. Incorporating strength, interval training, plyo metrics and other sports (I’m a fan of rock climbing and kick boxing myself) will give your body extra balance, strength and endurance that you can use on the track. Show me one elite skater that hasn’t cross-trained.
That’s what I thought. Want to learn more about real crosstraining for derby means? Check out my Shifting Perspective article.
Watch yourself play through footage
Watching yourself can be brutal.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it. Nothing like having a game that you feel awesome about only to watch the footage and think to yourself “Why didn’t I go there? What was that? How come I didn’t do ______” and so on. It’s also very easy to get caught in the trap of “Why didn’t the ref call that?” or “Did you see that terrible call?”
Watching video should not be an exercise in negativity. It should be an exercise in study and analysis. You need to be able to watch what you and your team mates did and deduce what worked and what didn’t. To be able to think about how you could move or position differently in the future. To think about where you are and what you need to work on next.
Visualization after you watch video can really help you incorporate your findings. Take 10 minutes after you watch bout footage (and you can do this with any team’s footage, not just your own!) and play out the scenarios in your head. Imagine your reaction, the quickening of your breath, the sliding of your wheels against the floor. Create the images of what you see and how you feel and what you do next in different situations that you saw in the footage. Imagine yourself conquering the situation and bursting past the blocker, spinning through a wall or blocking a jammer out of bounds. Visualization is an amazing tool to give to your unconscious.
Remember that watching bout footage with your team mates of OTHER bouts is super important too! Not only will it help you talk through the strategy of other teams, but it’s a bonding experience for you to all know derby a little bit better. You can talk about what teams did that work, didn’t work, or what you think you could incorporate into your own blocking or jamming styles. Team derby-time is awesome.
We all love scrimmage night. All of us. It’s why we put on our skates and deal with freshmeat training and months of knee fall and hip checking drills. We may say that there are other reasons that we do the roller derby thing – but let’s call a duck a duck. We do it for the PLAY TIME. Taking advantage of your scrimmage team with your team I very important: here you learn how to interact with each other. You build bonds of trust and you learn how to react and rely on each other.
Another important piece of this puzzle is taking advantage of OPEN scrimmage nights that other teams have. Why? At open scrimmages you can learn how to react quickly in new situations. You can learn how to adjust to new floors, new opponents and new obstacles. Also, it’s a great way to make friends in derby and learn how opposing skaters play (could be useful in future games, don’t you think).
Plus, remember why we are part of derby? PLAY TIME!
Embrace your inner zebra
Yes. I said it. Go visit another league to get practice at it. Volunteer to help your league if you’re team doesn’t have a bout coming up. Reverse the roles now and again so that you can see the game from a new perspective. Remember, you aren’t learning anything inside your comfort zone.
Not only will you get a new perspective on gameplay, but you’ll have a new found respect for refs. Part of being a ‘better derby skater’ is keeping your cool on the bench during a bout. Not getting riled over penalties will help you keep an even demeanor and a clear head in each jam.
Best way to understand the refs is to put yourself in that spot. I bet you’ll be surprised at how hard it actually is. Aside from that all, you get to give back to the sport that has given you so much. When you’re not skating, help others to skate! Don’t have the attention span for a zebra huddle? The NSOs could use a hand, too.
Goals are your friend
I have found that setting goals is best to do with a buddy. Captains and coaches are preferable, but if you have someone in your league that you trust that you want to go on this journey with, that’s awesome too. Remember that goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-specific).
To set a goal such as “Block better in the next bout” is a goal that you cannot hope to measure and it’s certainly not specific. Say instead: “Practice blocking techniques 3 times a week for a half hour for the next 4 weeks.” Through the practice of it, you will become sharper and thus, “Block better in your next bout”. It’s a matter of phrasing and giving yourself something to focus on.
For example, the photo is from May of 2012. I had decided that I wanted to be the top scorer for Harrisburg Area Roller Derby against Providence Roller Derby. (In 2010, I had the star taken from me because I couldn’t break their walls. This was redemption year.) Instead of making the above statement my goal, I worked on the strength in my legs, running and plyometrics. The photo is me and Craisy Dukes getting our MVP awards for that bout. And yes, I was top scorer.
Vision boards are awesome too. I’m a big fan of writing down your goals and putting them in places you can see them so that you’re reminded of them daily. Mixing that with positive images and mantras, your goals will crumble under your powerful skates!
Nutrition nutrition nutrition
Just like with cross-training, I thought I had my pulse on “good eating”.
Truth be told, 90% of us in derby have no idea what we’re putting in our bodies or why it’s not good for us. Yes you have some folks that are uber informed (I am now) and then others who like making a joke out of their lack of nutrition (go ahead and have that burger and Red Bull, I want to see how many times I can lap you).
I thought my diet of farm food and whole grain was awesome. I couldn’t figure out why, after 2 years of skating, NOTHING happened with my skill level or my body.
Turns out I didn’t know everything.
There are lots of diets, regiments and philosophies that have been coming into the world of roller derby. It was only a matter of time. The health and wellness industry in America alone is a multi-billion dollar one. Some programs are based in science and research, some really are not. I, personally, confine myself to dietary restrictions for performance reasons that I have imposed on MYSELF. We all have different goals, and your program should reflect those goals and desires.
Here’s what I will say about nutrition (and yes this is coming from a Derbalife coach – this is our philosophy):
Protein. 35-40% of your calories should come from protein. If you’re really looking for a quick adjustment to your diet and want to go at things hard? Think of consuming 1g of protein for every pound that you weigh.
Hydration. Half your body weight in ounces. Minimum. Daily. When in doubt, drink a gallon. We’re made of water. How can we function as humans if our cells don’t have water? How can our body flush toxins (like the by-products of lactic acid) if we’re not hydrated? This is just good sense, people. No, you will not be at risk for water overdose. Unless you drink that gallon in a very short period of time.
Vitamins. Guess what? You’d have to eat about 3500 calories of fruit and vegetable to get your recommended daily amount of the 65 vitamins and minerals the body needs for function. Now couple that with the fact that your body needs it throughout the day (it flushes vitamins it can’t absorb at the time), so that one-a-day you’ve been taking is mostly ending up in the sewer line. Oh yea, if you’ve been eating poorly for the last X number of years, it means your body isn’t even able to capture all the vitamins you put into it because, chances are, the good bacteria in your body isn’t healthy. Vitamins need to happen 3x a day MINIMUM in a dose of about 30% of your RDA.
Metabolism. Keep the furnace going throughout the day. You should be eating small meals 4 to 8 times a day (depending on your size and activity level). When you go 5 hours without eating it means the metabolism shuts off. Vitamins aren’t being distributed. Protein isn’t being used. Calories aren’t being burned. No good at all.
Quick burning carb are bad if you’re trying to lose fat. Complex carbs are good – like in vegetables, sweet potatoes and quinoa. Quick burning carbs like bread (yes, even stone ground, whole grain), pasta and corn spike your blood sugar and turn to fat in your body more often than are burned off. That being said, in sports like roller derby, it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra padding. If you’re weight lifting or doing lots of activity, don’t be afraid of adding in carbs.
Look, if you want to talk nutrition more (Derbalife or not) send me an e-mail at DerbyAmerica@yahoo.com. It’s kind of what I do when I’m not writing things like this.
Have an amazing mindset!
The biggest piece of the derby puzzle is confidence.
If you do not believe in yourself, then you are never going to be successful. I’m sorry if that is harsh, but I have seen too many people self-sabotage because of their own self-doubt or because of toxic influences coming from their personal life.
You are good enough to play this sport. Every single woman, man and child can be as successful and strong as they want to be. It just is a matter of time, effort and having the mindset to go along with it. You are not going to be Suzy Hotrod overnight. It takes a combination of all the things listed here (and more) to get you to that level. It takes years of dedication and focus. If you want it to come quicker, you have to work harder.
If you quit the moment you get tired, or your feet hurt or you sweat … guess what? Your league has plenty of Non-Skating Official positions that are ready for you to help with. Everyone has a different gauge on accomplishment and everyone has a different bar they want to conquer. What commitment is really necessary for you to hit yours? Take a hard, honest look at what you are doing now.
Take a good, honest look with how you handle situations. Do you invite negativity into your life? Do you spend more time complaining about the stuff that happened or looking forward to the way you’re going to overcome it? Do you have the attitude of “This will make a great story one day!” or “Why do bad things always happen to me?”
In life and in derby, the cancer of negativity will kill your hope, drive and spirit. You must be diligent to be a happier person with a positive outlook. Maybe you can’t do a 180 toe stop. Do you say “I try really hard but I can’t do it.” Or do you say, “I’m going to work on it UNTIL I can do it.” That’s the difference. That’s the key.
Need a help with this part of the puzzle? Personal development readings, audios and videos are amazing for your mind. May I suggest some Les Brown, Jim Rohn or Eric Thompson? May I suggest TED Talks? Reading books likeThe Slight Edge and The Big Leap.
Believe in yourself the same amount your coaches do and you will do amazing things.
Living in a house with powerlifters and bodybuilders, and going to a ‘sweat on the walls’ gym has opened my eyes about training in the last eight months. Not just training for personal gains, but the way roller derby, as a sport trains itself on the track and off. There have been many conversations breaking down the conventions of training in roller derby, and comparing to the conventions of other sports.
Along with rhetoric, I have seen my own progress jump dramatically since beginning a 5×5 powerlifting scheme. I was able to track a noticeable difference in a new league from January (first practices) to May (home team champs), and for me the proof is in the pudding.
We are a new sport. We’re still trying to figure out how to play the game, much less how to train for it. I’ve noticed some habits and some structure about our training process that is not helping us improve ourselves and will not help the sport as we pass it on to our daughters and sons. I wanted to share some things, quickly, that I have been pondering. I’ll be doing expanded writings and I am restructuring the training book I was writing to reflect these new insights.
I think I’m going to get a lot of finger waving at the end of this article. We, as a community, have not be super stoked to hear that we may need to change things. We certainly don’t like hearing that there are ways outside of our league to look at training, business, or the basics of derby. Trust me. I have seen the wrath of derby girls faced with change. However, here I go again, putting my ‘radical’ ideas out there. Feel free to post at the bottom how much you disagree with everything. 😀
When looking at our history, I believe the protocol of training today is largely based on what the women of 2008-2010 did for their own training. Stick with me on this one: This is when the sport started to boom. Suddenly, women of all ages and skills were coming into a rapidly evolving sport. At this time, the average age of the derby skater was PROBABLY between 28-32 years old.
Many of these women had never played a sport before; their way to train to improve was to simply skate more (and that definitely has to be considered in a training plan when you have no experience on roller skates). Some of us caught on that we needed better fitness in order to compete with the women who already had a few years jump on us. This led many of skaters to begin using that derby buzz word: Cross training.
Most of us didn’t know what cross training really meant, or how to approach off skates training for roller derby. So this misconstrued system of Insanity training, land drills, and long distance running started cropping up as part of our system of preparation for bouts.
This brings up my first point:
We need to stop training for fitness
Most of the derby skaters I meet do their ‘cross training’ in the form of high fitness workouts (CrossFit WoDs 4x a week, P90X, elliptical training, Zumba, hours of yoga). Ok, before you get angry let me explain where I’m coming from:
If you are skating 3 times a week at practice, and then going to the gym and doing 2-4 days a week of high cardio work, you are really just burning muscle (and some fat) and [if you’re eating right] getting cut muscles. To look cut is rad, but does not help your explosive power or your recovery from one burst of power in a jam to the next (and it certainly does not help when you get slammed by that 200# blocker looking to take your legs out). Elliptical training does not help prevent bone injury. P90X won’t help you break a wall.
Training like you’re trying to lose the Freshman Forty is not the way you should train for roller derby to be successful in the long term. Training in a way that is purely fun or aligns with your social conventions does not make you better at any sport. These workouts that we’re talking about should be done as secondary conditioning and accessory work. They should not be your primary source of training off skates.
We need to redefine ‘beauty’ within our sport
Oh yea, roller derby loves say that “every shape is beautiful.” Our at home ‘lose weight’ training mentality shows that we are more generally more concerned with 6 pack abs and long, lean limbs than any of us realize. We are fighting the conventions of beauty, especially those of us over 30; we get easily concerned with the myth of a slowing metabolism and how our younger team mates, or the folks at the pool of ECDX will view us. We are more concerned with society’s vision of beauty than we are with what it means to be strong and at low risk for injury in a contact sport (ie having some cushion and mass).
And it’s not just women. Men are not safe from these social norms of beauty and sex, and I have many friends that end up questioning themselves over it, regardless of their strength or abilities.
At RollerCon, there was a very short challenge bout with shirtless men: Magic Mike v Chippendales. On social media sites, admittedly, I was part of the sexist storm of commenters. (One, it’s fun. Two, men in our sport is still pretty new. As a derby-obsessed, straight, single woman of not as many years – it’s nice to be able to turn the male gaze away from the sexy derby girls in fishnets and pigtails and put the female gaze on the shirtless men sweating and hitting each other.)
Side note: I was just excited to see an all-male challenge bout. The shirt off thing was just an added bonus.
Leading up to it, I had several men contact me asking if there was any way to adjust their fitness or nutrition to get better abs in the couple weeks leading up to RC. (I had to disappoint them and say, “unless you want to do some drastic changes and not drink before the bout, there’s no magic pill to shed all the fat in a week”) After the bout, I was asked a question by a skater who is arguably one of the top 5 male skaters in the world: “Did I look gross out there? You know, with my shirt off.”
**Mouth Gaping Open**
First of all – do you know who you are? Are you sure? Secondly, yes, you look great! (I was trying NOT to look too much, actually. I know many women who did NOT restrain themselves.) I wanted to yell at him: “You may not have the photoshop-crafted abs of an Ambercrombie ad, but that’s ok. Know why? DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?” Seriously! That bout was sexy in every way, but mostly because highly skilled men were playing roller derby. They could have been playing in parkas and it would have been an amazing bout (though you’d probably have to burn the parkas afterwards due to all the sweat).
We need to release the ideals of Western beauty and embrace the awesome of each of us. If you’re skinny: fantastic! If you’re not: fantastic! If you’re jacked naturally: great! If you have skinny arms: that’s cool! Now let’s lift some heavy shit, flip some tires, put on our skates, and hit each other without worrying about being judged by our team mates about our body.
I have written about this before. It’s a struggle for me big time. I’m single in a growingly co-ed sport. I also powerlift. I am trying to be highly competitive at roller derby. I had the internal conflict months before RollerCon: do I want to look awesome in my bathing suit, or do I want to be able to get past Tink on the track?
There was a moment where I thought to myself, “Oh wait.. it is hella sexy to be able to get past Tink on the track. So, in theory, if I accomplish THAT, I will look AMAZING in my two piece, because it’ll be ME.” (At least that’s what I keep telling myself)
When I really think about it, beauty conventions vs training modes may be our biggest adversary.
We need to start training for a contact sport
No football player is doing 5000 burpees to prep for the season. No rugby player is only doing yoga to prepare for the pitch. No hockey player is trying to cut to a ridiculous body fat percentage mid-season. Roller derby is a brutal, physical sport. We need our training to reflect that physicality and hardness.
Like any other sport, there are a variety of pieces to the training puzzle. I am not implying that anyone should cut their WoDs, or their yoga, or their P90X completely. To be successful, the incorporation of weight training and conditioning must be included in our system of norms as the primary ‘cross training’ piece, with the other stuff as accessory work. We need to train for strength, not weight loss.
Side note: Many skaters come in, as I had said, with no athletic background. Many come in overweight and out of shape. For many skaters, fat loss does need to be a part of their training consideration. Too much weight in a roller sport means extra strain on knees and hips, and the higher probability of injury. However, let’s not get obsessed with getting from 23% body fat to 19% body fat [like I was].
“The improvement of performance in athletics over the past few years has been phenomenal. For example, twenty years ago the average football lineman weighed 250 pounds and ran a 5.2-second 40-yard dash. This was considered to be nearing the genetic limit for a player. Now running backs that weigh what the lineman used to weigh are running 4.4-second 40-yard dashes! Strength training has made the single, most positive contribution to this type of improvement. Today strength training influences every athletic program in the country, no matter what the sport – male or female. Athletes now find it necessary to lift weights and participate in conditioning programs to better prepare themselves for the competitive rigors of the athletic season.
Just a short time ago, most coaches thought that strength training would cause athletes to become muscle-bound and would be counterproductive to good technique. Now it has been proven that athletic performance depends either directly or indirectly on qualities of muscular strength. We must remember that strength builds the foundation for ALL other athletic qualities. For example, if you do not possess great relative body strength (strength in relation to your body weight), you will never be able to run fast. This is due to the fact that all aspects of proper running technique require high levels of muscular strength. In other words, if you can’t achieve the proper knee drive, arm swing, posture and push-off, you can’t be fast.” (DeFranco)
You call it extreme, I call it “what it feels like 185# on my back”
Let’s be real honest here: Weight training isn’t fun. It’s fun when it’s over. It’s fun when you successfully lock out twice your body weight on deadlift the first time. It is fun when your friends tell you that your arms are awesome (Your derby friends will say this, of course. Your lifter friends will comment about the improvement, but will never imply that you are at the pinnacle of your journey). Not every hockey player likes to lift weights, but they do it because it is necessary for improvement. Every player of every competitive sport lifts weights because it is necessary.
“But Khaos! We’re on roller skates. Look at how successful all the speed skaters are in our game. They don’t lift weights. If we just spend more time on our skates, we’ll be successful.”
“Weight training for speed skaters is not all that different from what you see in other athlete strength programs. The key for skaters is to build up strong legs and core. They also put quite a bit of emphasis on balance.As for the legs, squats of several varieties are important, as are leg extensions and hamstring curls (and so much more). The upper body work is also important and typically includes a tremendous amount of midline work. It is typical to see these athletes utilize some basic strength programming including supersets and dropsets in different capacities and arrangements.” Read the whole article here (it’s got a lot of good training tips in it!!) (Chasey)
Also, can I make a note that the top men’s team in the world, Your Mom, does not spend all THAT much time on their skates? They don’t have to train their skaters how to do crossovers, they can do that on their own time (and I’m talking the none speed skaters too, folks). And Gotham? They have weights in their warehouse so they can make weight training part of the weekly program. The focus is more on the strategy, the training, the understanding of the game than it is on using practice time to go over 360 turns.
We need to properly warm-up and cool down for practice time
A 2 minute dynamic stretch is not enough to get our bodies primed for the hell we put it through on roller skates. We are not teaching our new skaters how properly warm up before activity and subjecting all of us to the probability of injury. On the other side, it is rare that I have been a part of a practice of any league that has a proper cool down.
When I was with Harrisburg Area Roller Derby, we had an amazing volunteer who was dubbed Full Commando. He was our Yogi. At the end of each practice, we would spend 15 minutes doing yoga designed to bring down our heart rate, stretch us out, prep us for bed (Harrisburg practices ended at 11:30p), and prevented future injury. When our sister-in-arms, Stella Stitc’Her broke just above her ankle, she had minimal ligament damage. She told us that the doctor had attributed to the flexibility developed through skating and yoga at the end of practice.
We need to understand that sometimes, less is more
I came from the P90X-obsessed mentality of “If I’m not wasted at the end of my workout than it wasn’t a good workout”. I have come to learn that you can put in excellent work, and an appropriate amount of excellent, hard, teeth-grinding work … and sometimes you feel like you have more to give at the end of the workout. And that’s ok. In theory, everyone should be running a specific program (do what the numbers on the sheet tell you – don’t make it up as you go). Programs are designed for certain things on certain days. Deload weeks in weight training may be boring, but they allow your body to rest so that you can perform stronger the following week.
This also touches on the subject of CrossFit. Those of us who have done work in a CF box may have the thought ingrained that you have to go until failure. True progress does not [always] require that. Look, imam just leave this editorial (written by a certified CrossFit coach) RIGHT HERE about the “keep going” culture created in CF gyms. There should be pain and struggle and a question as to whether you’ll finish your rep, but having been lifting for a while now – that last set of 10 pause squats feels SIGNIFICANTLY different than that last 5 minutes of “Super” Angie.
If I didn’t get enough people riled with that section, let’s see if I can stir the pot with:
We need to restructure our season
And in turn, how our rankings are created. Have you ever encountered any sport where athletes train 11 months out of the year?
Roller derby athletes do not have the benefit of the pre-season/season/post-season/off-season structure that other sports have firmly in place, that determine their intensity and type of training. Derby is forced to ignore the season and mash all of their training, as best as possible, into each week of the year.
Strictly home team players are the only ones that [seem] to get any kind of break from gameplay, but it is the travel team skaters that you want to be fresh. January through June is when most travel teams smush most of their game play into, right?
But now with the new WFTDA rankings, more all-star teams are pushing their seasons later into the fall to be sure they maximize the equation in place currently. Plus, if you do make a divisional tournament, your now have an extra 3 game week of intense play put onto the end of your season [a month or two later]. If you make champs, you again have another intense weekend ahead. If you play on a home team (which most leagues require of their travel teams), then you have extra competitions layered into your already intense season.
Men are running into this too. The MRDA ranking system is still shaking out its bugs, and as of right now the majority of rankings come from the January – June season. However, July and August are the months where you get your final shot to break that Top 8 for champs. There are teams playing tournaments into these months for a shot to increase their rank. Then? They won’t play until October.
From what I understand, USARS has a similar schedule for their championships. Oh, which some flat track teams have been participating in. Add one more piece of your season in. Then there are also the extra tournaments…
The last couple years we have another element to think about: mash-up teams. All-Star mash-up games and tournaments are being placed in the only off season that organizers can find: the winter. This means that players on your top tier are never resting. Their only chance for a recovery period is if they actually injure themselves.
This is a real problem. This is seriously going to hinder our sport from achieving maximum levels of top competition. We are destroying our athletes. This needs to seriously be taken into consideration. We are the only sport I have found where ranking competition can (and does) take place in any month of the year.
Recently, I took a couple weeks off to start to heal up my ankle. I skated a scrimmage here or there, but really nothing major. I was concerned about getting to RollerCon and having no idea what I was doing. They say you lose it a bit as you stay away from the sport. You know what actually happened? 7 out 9 bouts I felt on top of my game like never before. Coincidence? Maybe. Rested? Definitely.
SUBTOPIC: Rest is cool
In general, derby doesn’t like to rest. #NoRest. But recovery in your weekly routine is critical for healing, progress, and injury prevention. Teams that play a 4 game event on Saturday/Sunday and then turn up for practice on Monday BECAUSE IT’S REQUIRED are at a greater risk for injury. Your muscles need to a chance to rebuild after a game. Teams really need to look at their practice schedule and include ‘deload’ time before a game (like not scrimmaging), and recovery time right after a game (like canceling practice or doing a couple days of non-contact, lighter skills, and team work basics).
We need to stop encouraging a culture where unhealthy eating is cool
That’s great that you got cheese fries and a beer after practice. It won’t help you recover. That’s awesome that you’re taunting your friend who is drinking her shake for the first time that you’re eating a burger while they’re trying to limit saturated fat. You’re making her feel bad for a healthy decision just because you don’t want to make it.
Not everyone is going to be into eating like an athlete, and I understand that. But can we please stop this culture of “Doesn’t bending over for a cupcake count as a squat?” No. It doesn’t. It’s fine that you don’t want to be at the peak of your game, but don’t mock others for their athletic nutrition. And if you do mock? Don’t be offended when they lap you during cardio, start getting more play time on the team, or transfer to a better league because the current league has encouraged the bully culture.
The sad thing is that it’s usually our friends making the jokes. They think their being funny. It’s not funny.
One more thing to make me unpopular… our AFTER PARTIES. Can we please talk about not encouraging our athletes to drink copious amounts of alcohol, while providing fried bits of vegetable-like substances, and dinner rolls? Can we talk about an after party that is for the fans, not for the athletes so much? You can try and tell me (and yourself) all you want that beer is a fine post recovery drink, but guess what? It isn’t. Plain. Simple. It doesn’t count. Here’s a short read for you.
Ok, this blog ended up being WAY longer than intended, but I needed to start putting these things out to the universe. I feel very strongly about starting this health and strength revolution, and I’m glad to know I do have some other people on my side. For our sport to get to the next level of athleticism, and to be one step closer to professional play, we must take a hard look at our training: How it is structured, why it is structured that way, the culture that supports/negates it, and our behavior to our fellow skaters. We need to put these things on the table within each league so that, one by one, we can revolutionize roller derby for the betterment of the sport and our athletes.
My name is Merry Khaos, I am a member of DNA Coaching and a health and wellness coach with Derbalife. We are currently booking boot camps for the next 15 months. Send me an e-mail at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com to get the ball rolling on having us come to your league. Want to incorporate a “how to train for roller derby” day? Let’s do it! I am also available to help you piece together a nutrition plan and training schedule so you can smash through your goals. Let’s work hard together!
I have to be honest, until I booked the plane ticket I didn’t even know where Big Bear was. I had associated with (don’t laugh Next Wave people) COLORADO. There was snowboarding and big mountains in the photos … it had to be in Colorado, right? California doesn’t have mountains like that! (Geography student FAIL)
Last February Kristen Adolfi qualified for Big Bear and I saw all these photos of one hundred Herbalifers on the same team in these amazing mansions in the mountains – they were drinking healthy cocoa and becoming friends and getting a boost for their business. All I kept hearing was “This is awesome. This is so amazing.” And I made the choice that I would be there in February 2014.
So I qualified.
I found out I qualified only about a month or so before I had to be there. So the plane ticket was booked, I realized my geographical mistake and I realized that 2 major goals of 2014 was going to be checked off the list: Visit California. Qualify for something huge.
This year we only had 24 people qualify and what you had to accomplish was different (though still challenging) and what it did is that it really brought the NEXT WAVE of leaders in the Addy Organization together (Jill and Mark Addy are my AMAZING upline). So instead of being overwhelmed by 100 people I’ve never met, which may have caused me to hide in a corner and not talk to anyone, there were only 20 people I didn’t know and we all got to be friends.
Hiking. Pool. Table Tennis. Food. Shakes. Even some wine. Lumberjack Fit Club. Hot Tub. Team call from the hot tub. Olympics.
I ended up being the Fire-Tenderer because for some reason this weekend, my fear of flames subsided and my excessive need for warmth took over. I also did Warrior Pose on the edge of a drop off this weekend with Krissy Krash- and for anyone who knows me, you know I have a pretty crippling FEAR of heights. I felt it start to go away now. Maybe before it just came from my complete lack of balance…
This weekend really solidified why I work with Herbalife. It’s not just for the energy I get from my nutrition plan. Not just for the amazing way I feel after I drink my shake. It’s not just because I can set my own hours, make full time money with part-time hours or because it’s a great excuse to be fit.
It’s because of the relationships I get to build and the friendships I get to create. I get to work with my best friends and I get to have best friends from every part of the world and I love it. I get to help people change their lives. I get to help people live stronger and longer. I get to help people be healthy and independent. And through doing that, I get to live stronger and longer. I get to be financially independent. I get to teach and I get to be taught. BY MY FRIENDS. I get to dream about all the things that I can accomplish with my friends.
And I can’t wait to meet my new friends in the upcoming years. Who don’t I know yet who will be like Andrea Wright? Teri Bossard? Amber Butyn? These are ladies who I didn’t meet in person before they began their nutrition plan and now I can’t imagine not having them influence my life. They are the reasons I push on and I keep doing what I’m doing.
I’m going to continue my dream of coaching and training roller derby leagues (I’m booking now, actually). I’m going to start inviting people to work out with me when I’m in Baltimore (and when I’m anywhere else). This weekend in Big Bear with new friends who are all starting out their dreams like me – it made me realize that affirmations are amazing and useful. But only if you start doing the work. So now is the time to stop making excuses and start doing the work. Keep your eyes peeled! It’s time to DO stuff and BE awesome.
Have you ever been so burdened with so much swirling around in your brain that you don’t know how to get it out or organize it? That’s what’s going on. I’ve actually put off writing blogs in the last few months because there has been SO MUCH going on (positive, negative and everywhere in between) that I didn’t know how to get it out in one smooth, amazing, life-altering blog.
Today I finished listening to Jon Acuff’s Start. Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do Work that Matters. If you haven’t heard of Jon Acuff, go find him right now. If you know me personally, you will know that I’m not always willing to jump onto bandwagons that involve heavy religion, but his “Stuff Christians Like” blog always has some good insight and anecdotes (and it’s not just about Bible-Things … so that’s a win).
Finishing that book this morning (after listening to a fair bit of it on the plane ride home last night) really solidified my vision for the future:
IT’S TIME TO STOP PRETENDING AND TALKING AND IT’S TIME TO GET TO WORK.
Hey, luckily, I’m working right now. I’m writing. I’m doing what I love. I’m sharing my thoughts with the world. OK, maybe this sentence isn’t work. It’s not a direct sale or getting anyone to a Fit Club, but it’s the first step to habit. It’s the first step of rebooting.
My Khaos Theory Blog has been a mishmash of things from Public Relations (which is why it started. I got a poor grade as a PR project, but I gained 100 followers during that first semester, so I call that an A+) to roller derby. Now I will be focusing it to health and wellness and sports. It will be workouts for those on and off wheels and nutrition that will benefit everyone. It will be my journey and thoughts and motivation for the world. It will be a documentary of what it means to coach and train within a Healthy, Active Lifestyle.
I’m ready to take over Baltimore and the Internet. I’m ready to get back into what I love: filming coaching videos (no matter how low budget), talking about drills, teaching and practicing. I have a new nutrition plan that will be kicking in with the next 24 Fit Challenge that our team is doing online (and I still have 15 spots open on my team, so let me know if you want to join).
I’m also going to do better at compartmentalizing my blogs. So… instead of telling you all about California, I’m going to end this blog, post and then write a separate one.
I fully and readily admit that patience has not always been my strong suit.
I have always been one to rush into decisions. I liked to call myself ‘spontaneous’ when I was younger, but now I see that it was purely rash decision making. Not all of these rash decisions ended up yielding negative results (I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for rash decisions). Moving in with my brother, going to HACC for theatre, going BACK to HACC for Humanities years later and joining roller derby were all split second decisions. So was auditioning for “There Goes the Bride”. So was starting Herbalife. So was deciding to be a coach. So was both years of Rollercon.
That being said, a lot of rash decisions have not yielded such amazing friends and positive results. But “That’s ok,” I’ve always told myself, “They will eventually. I’m on my path to awesomeness.”
So funny thing about that. I’m listening to the audiobook now Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff. (What can I say, the title caught my eye and his writing and narration style is reminiscent of my own so the messages are hitting home really strong)
In the book he talks about the Path to Awesome. How we’re all on our own Path and how if we don’t look around and take an honest appraisal of where we’re at now and again, then we may not realize that we’re actually on the Path to Average by accident. I have always said that I don’t want to just wait for my turn to die. I continue to hold that belief.
I have recently begun seeking full time employment to compliment my Herbalife business. Let me be clear: I am not putting a halt to my health coaching. I love it, it’s my passion and I feel like my genius lies within the realm of my coaches and clients. That being said, college, relationships and 10 years of minimum wage jobs and botched rash decisions have left me in a hole (ok, a crater really).
I have been bad at being patient.
I did not want to recognize as I graduated that I needed more time to develop my business. I needed more time to become a good coach. I needed more time to understand how to expand my client list simply and locally. I do not regret a single coaching gig. Oh no way! This summer was an amazing ride – full of hills and valleys and corkscrews (actually and figuratively). I have formed strong friendships thanks to my rash decisions of the last few months. Now is the time to change it up, however. I didn’t want to admit that I needed time to become strong at skills and at jobs. I didn’t want to waste time, and in the process I did NOTHING but waste time.
Oh wait, I guess I should mention one more rash decision: I’m moving to Baltimore.
An exact date has not been set, but in order to walk the Path to Awesome I know I need to move. I’ve been saying for the last 2 years that when I graduated I would be moving out of Central PA. I knew that I needed to – I just didn’t know where to go. Well, I know now. I have been applying for full time jobs both in Lititz and in Baltimore. So we’ll see which ones call me first.
Some places I’ve applied to: Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore Aquarium, Discovery Channel, Honest Tea, Baltimore Sun, Charm City Cakes, Merritt Athletic Clubs, Sheetz, Jimmy John’s and Heavy Seas Alehouse. I’ll be honest, these are just the names that pop into my head. I’ve been sending out 2 to 10 applications a day for at least 5 days. (One of them has to at least interview me, right?)
So here’s the plan for my Path: continue to build an online community and support system for athletes to become HARDERBETTERFASTERSTRONGER. Continue to build up my team of amazing coaches and show them they are awesome and strong and have everything inside them to be successful. Work a full time job for a while to pay down my bills and put some stuff into savings. Move to Baltimore and work with a local club to begin building a local community of clients and coaches. When I hit GET team, I will be able to afford all of my bills, savings, taxes, travel and extras enough to leave whatever job I had been at.
If it takes one year, awesome. If it takes three years, that’s ok too. This patience thing is where I will learn the skills and learn how to edit and learn how to master all things coaching and health. The patience will hopefully spill over to my personal life, where I have had a habit of expecting things to come along quicker than they should.
And derby. Derby will still happen. I go to see a Physical Therapist tomorrow to get my knee and IT band looked at. If they tell me that I need to take time off, than that is what I will do [though maybe not starting tomorrow]. I am also putting in a bid to help out the Harm City Homicide as a coach. I have found a passion for men’s derby this year, and I want to help my southern boys be strong and fast.
Here’s really the big key: to the outside world nothing will look different. I will continue my Shred Challenges. I will continue my Instagram and WordPress accounts. I’ll be that person once more that people say, “How do you do it all?”
And my answer will be: “Have you ever heard of Herbalife?”
Derbalife is everywhere.
For more information on getting healthy or becoming a coach, drop me a line at KGreyActiveNutrition@gmail.com
Here is another class that I revisited at BEAT ME HALFWAY 2014! I’m just going to revamp this blog to incorporate some of the new, fun stuff we did at BMH. We didn’t have the space we did during RollerCon, so we couldn’t do as many of the fun routes.
This was my most popular class .. probably because it was offered the most out of all of them! Here is a run down of what we did (mostly), and explanation of the trickier named things on the list, and drawings of the ladders and routes. E-mail me at DerbyAmerica@yahoo.com if you need further explanations!
For everything – focus on derby position, sharpness and PRECISION. It is better to do it slow, low and precise than sloppy, high and fast.
Warm Up “Jump Rope” (basic, feet back/forth, feet in/out) – each for a minute Squat Jumps
Walk these across a space: Lunge & Stretch – As you lunge, bring the elbow of the side that is forward down to the floor next to that foot (right leg is forward, right elbow comes to match it), look up at the ceiling, hold for a second and come up. Side Lunge – You will move to your right, bringing your left leg behind your right and touching your knee to the floor in a ‘lunge’. Stand back up, and now bring your left leg in front of your right to complete the lunge. You should do this both directions. Monster Walk – Keep your body tight. Flex your feet and bring your right leg to a 90 degree angle with your body. This should be slow, controlled and precise. This is NOT a high kick. This is not fast. Bring your foot back down slow and controlled. You should have only traveled one length of your own foot.
Quick feet = lowering yourself into derby position, and jack hammering your feet into the floor. When in the short stance, you should be on your toes. When in the wide stance, you should be on your heels.
Ladders The goal is to hit both feet on each step to increase the difficulty. It’s better to add an extra step in rather than trip up your brain. Also, if you lead with one foot the first time through, try to lead with the other foot on the second.
Yes, the orange is in the push-up position. Scoot up the ladder by moving your hand and foot at the same time to gain momentum. Keep that butt down!!
Routes Use routes to develop quick twitch and explosion. Incorporate side-stepping, loops, spins, back pedal, quick cuts and full stops. Use cones to develop routes. You can even incorporate football more by making the skaters catch something at certain points in the routes. This will not only force them to keep their eyes up, but will increase their awareness for the world around them.
Use cones to denote places of action, they are quick and ease to move around into new patterns. Also, linking patterns makes for a harder workout. Set up three patterns in a row and have your people move through them by jogging from the end of one to the beginning of the next.
Once you get a feeling for how patterns work and how to incorporate motion into them, it’s just a matter of making things up for you to do. You want to do routes a minimum of twice. Up to 5 times for maximum burst work. Stay low. Do everything sharp and precise. When you say stop, STOP DEAD and QUICK. Burst back out of it. Work on making some patterns very tight, and some longer to get a variety of speed adjustments.
Don’t be afraid to add some hand-eye coordination. You can have one person in the middle throwing a ball at people at different points of the routes, or even the next person in line will throw the ball to the person doing the run currently.
Set up your cones in a square. Now pick some different routes to run! Some ideas…
– Shuffle left, sprint up, shuffle right, back pedal
– Spin at each cone, hit each cone twice
– Sprint to each cone, use your feet to ‘circle the top’ of the cone, like you would if you were playing soccer and faking out the opposition
Some things to think about again is keeping low, keeping tight, and being PRECISE! Don’t let your hips swing, keep them square as you move through any box or route drill. Stay low, loading your legs with power, and keep your eyes up, and be quick and tight with every motion. Going onto YouTube and watching football (and futbal) players doing box and footwork drills will really help you understand how to stay in the “box” of yoru own shoulders and keeping your weight centered and strong.
Don’t be shy about checking out my other blogs too. Some that might be of interest to you:
And message me at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com if there’s a topic you would like me to cover in the future. I’m available for roller derby coaching and clinics! Drop me a line to get rates and to set up something with your league.