1) What pump up song plays in your head when you take the track? It’s different every year. NYSE has a song we warm up to every practice. It’s a great mental exercise to get the team in a mind frame. This year we’ve been playing Panama by Van Halen. 2) What is your favorite city to travel to play derby in? I’ve liked a lot of cities we’ve traveled to. I think the nicest was Tacoma, WA for Champs last season. The Pacific Northwest is beautiful. I’ve always wanted to live there, but never ended up living there, for no particular reason. 3) Who is your favorite WFTDA skater and why? I’m a big fan of all of the NYSE managers: Swede Hurt, Vicious Van Go Go, Miss Tea Maven and Sexy Slaydie. I think I like the way Slaydie plays most. She’s helped me get a lot quicker and I just like the style she uses. If I had to describe it, it’s a style in which you use all of your physical strengths to as much of an advantage as possible. 4) When the team travels, which team mate(s) do you room with? It depends who needs a room. I’ve roomed a lot with Abe Drinkin over the past 2 years. 5) Which MRDA skater pushes you to be better [because they’ve beaten you in the past]? I think it’s probably Tony Muse. Your Mom is at the top of the sport, and everyone wants that for themselves. I think his leadership of that team has pushed me to work harder. I want for NYSE what he has achieved with Your Mom. That makes me work harder, always. 6) What is your favorite post-bout food? Anything, really. I don’t have a post-bout ritual other than stretching, and drinking a bunch of water. If it’s a food I like, I’ll eat it post-bout.
1) What pump up song plays in your head when you take the track? Song wise it’s either Adagio in D Minor or Heroes (Branchez remix) by Alesso 2) What is your favorite city to travel to play derby in? I really loved playing in Des Moines, it was so peaceful and calm and the surrounding area was picturesque, even though it was very flat I really enjoyed the peace and open space. 3) Who is your favorite WFTDA skater and why? My favourite WFTDA skater is Lexi Lightspeed, her footwork and track awareness is absolutely incredible! 4) When the team travels, which team mate(s) do you room with? When the team travels I spend a lot of time with Reaper, we shoot videos on long drives of us singing and we call it Shreaper FM. When it comes to rooming with teammates it all depends on who’s willing to share with me! 5) Which MRDA skater pushes you to be better [because they’ve beaten you in the past]? Sully from Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder springs to mind, he’s just a super talented skater who popped up on the UK scene as another young talent. We get on pretty well so it’s always good to play against him.
Apart from that I’ve gotta say my teammates, we always push each other to be better and our team mentality has been on point. And then finally, although they’re not skaters, I have to mention our bench staff in Rob BG and Betty Swollox, the focus and commitment they have to the team is second to none and they’re constantly giving us the advice and guidance we need to strive and push to get better. 6) What is your favorite post-bout food? Post bout food is probably a really crispy apple, at least that tides me over until I can find as much cooked meat and pasta as I can possibly find.
NYSE is a continual powerhouse, and SoDisco are a dominant force in the UK. Shock has added some talented skaters since Mohawk Valley Cup, including Stankus (Quadfathers) and I Don’t Care Bear (Jersey Boys). SoDisco got some heavy hitters back, including Mr. Furieux and Ballistic Whistle. Both teams have a jammer rotation far deeper than its typical 3-man line-up would indicate.
NYSE has, in the past, had better grinding wall work then SDRD, but the UK boys have been closing the gap of experience the past few years. Both teams have big hitters (Geoffrey vs Sutton, and Abe vs Spectral should keep us all entertained). This is sure to be a highly physical bout, NYSE doesn’t want to lose their place on the podium, and So Disco is hungry to be the first international team to medal.
Stream the 3/6 bout live on WFTDA.tv at 1pm CST on Saturday, October 17, 2015.
1) What pump up song plays in your head when you take the track? I always listen to 96 Quite Bitter Beings by CKY. I used to listen to it before football games in high school and so it still do it to pump me up.
2) What is your favorite city to travel to play derby in? My favorite city to travel to for derby is Vegas. That means I’m at Rollercon!
3) Who is your favorite WFTDA skater and why? All of my fav skaters are on the Wheels of Justice. But if I had to choose another one S.H Long from Denver. She runs nasty defense, and throws a damn good party too.
4) When the team travels, which team mate(s) do you room with? I usually room with Shreddy and Demolition Man. They don’t mind seeing me naked.
5) Which MRDA skater pushes you to be better [because they’ve beaten you in the past]? Magnum PIMP [of St Louis]. He’s the smartest jammer in the MRDA. It’s a chess game with him. So if you outsmart him, you still have to try and block him.
6) What is your favorite post-bout food? Poutine and coconut water.
1) What pump up song plays in your head when you take the track? I’m always rocking out to Anamanaguchi. It’s a couple guitars, drums, and a pair of Nintendo’s. Get’s me in the right mindset and gives me bonus XP after the game. 2) What is your favorite city to travel to play derby in? I love Saint Louis and Saint Louis as far as I can tell loves me too. It’s derby scene is right up my ally, I’ve got a ton of close derby friends there, and they always treat me right. I’m pretty hyped that champs is there this year. I feel at home and know I’m going to have a blast. 3) Who is your favorite WFTDA skater and why? Awwwww man. That’s so tough! I gotta rep my MNRG girls though. Hurtrude Stein from MNRG has had an incredible season. She’s always been a good player but this year she’s really stood out as someone to watch on that team. Every time I see her out there she’s doing exactly what she should be and executing the fuck out of it. She’s one of those skaters I’m hyped to skate against when we scrimmage MNRG. It seems like no matter what the situation she offers me a new challenge. 4) When the team travels, which team mate(s) do you room with? I think the appropriate question would be which team do I room with 😉 I’m kind of a derby gypsy by nature. That approach has had me on couches and floors of more teams than I can remember. Although the number of beers had prior to aforementioned unconsciousness might have something to do with the fuzzy nature of those memories. 5) Which MRDA skater pushes you to be better [because they’ve beaten you in the past]? There are a lot of names on that list. At home Freight Trainand Derbie Monster always play their size against me which is crucial for my progress as a small fry in my sport. Skaters like Magnum and Gnat always seem to be one mental step ahead which I need exposure to keep moving forward.
Of course you’re got your untamed beasts like Feelgood, Steve Sweat, or Shane Bower too. It’s always good to have someone on the other team who just might do something really nuts. It makes me have to throw caution to the wind as you don’t stand a chance if you can’t meet them at their level. 6) What is your favorite post-bout food? Beer. I know it’s not technically food and I’m probably supposed to say candy but after an hour of giving my all I just want a drink. Perhaps a few too many if I can help it.
Twin City is coming into champs the #14 ranked team, in the slot of the 10 seed; they are excited to learn, grow as a team, and make a case for them to be ranked #10 next time around. Last year at Champs, Bridgetown narrowly lost to SoDisco in the Saturday evening game, thus a chance to play for 5th place. This year, with extra teams shaping the brackets differently, the winner of this first match up will have to beat the St. Louis Gatekeepers, or have Sunday off. Bridgetown does not want to have Sunday off again.
Both TC and the Menace have a solid core jammer rotation, with subs they can throw in based on performance. Both teams play with positional walls, and tornado-type recycling. Bridgetown has the upper hand in the area of experience, but this should be a fun first match up of the weekend.
Tune in on WFTDA.tv at 9a CST, Saturday October 17, 2015.
1) What pump up song plays in your head when you take the track? I like to listen to #1 by nelly hahahaha 2) What is your favorite city to travel to play derby in? Seattle, the city is awesome and the puget sound guys are a fun team to play against 3) Who is your favorite WFTDA skater and why? Crowe, she skates for the San Diego roller derby starlettes. One has tag says it all #croweknows hahaha the world will know about her soon enough. 4) When the team travels, which team mate(s) do you room with? I room with a couple of my favorites waterboy, boo, Bobby light and my bestie MO oweuone 5) Which MRDA skater pushes you to be better [because they’ve beaten you in the past]? B Stang for sure, I have skated with him and around him since we were young. He’s always been a step ahead of the rest. I work for him now and I use all that time with him to gain knowledge. In my opinion he’s the best skater in the world. 6) What is your favorite post-bout food? I always order a pitcher of shirley temple hahaha
1) What pump up song plays in your head when you take the track? How we roll (fast five soundtrack) 2) What is your favorite city to travel to play derby in? Ft Wayne. Just because we have been there so many times for spring roll I can drive around without gps. 3) Who is your favorite WFTDA skater and why? Ms. Jaxem [Erin Jackson of Jacksonville Rollergirls]. She grew up in my home rink and seeing her go from rink rat to world champion speed skater and arguably the best jammer in wftda is awesome! 4) When the team travels, which team mate(s) do you room with? I normally room with Chef, Bratz, or Moseley. 5) Which MRDA skater pushes you to be better [because they’ve beaten you in the past]? I wouldnt say a particular skater, but Texas men’s has really impressed me this season and shown what hard work and practice can do. 6) What is your favorite post-bout food? If it’s a tournament weekend, the Tour of Italy. It’s a team thing! Carb load!! 😀
The Aftershocks are generally an unknown in the MRDA.They played (and lost) to Puget earlier this season, but their roster has gradually increased with talent over the year. Magic City returns to Champs this year, and they are hungry to prove that they belong in the Top 5.
Both teams play with speed, and both teams prefer a face-to-face blocking game to rotating walls. The Aftershocks have world champions B Stang and Just Mike from Your Mom on their squad, and they bring high level experience to the squad.However, Streak has been ‘getting the band back together’ all year in Jacksonville, you can expect to see the unnecessary spins and extreme lateral coverage that has made MCM a fun team to watch.
East Coast versus West Coast happens on WFTDA.tv at 11am CST on October 17, 2015.
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
Support Khaos Theory by making a donation to the blog today:
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.
If you say “I can’t do 180 turns” with intention, you will not be able to do 180 turns. If you say, “Today is going to be awesome” with intention, your day will be awesome (yes, even if negative things happen during the day). Your words can change the course of your progress, your game play, your mood, and the attitudes of people around you.
So to use the words “I don’t care” (IDC) is profound.
I hadn’t really thought about it until recently. Now that I’ve noticed it, it sticks out to me whenever I play. In retrospect, I have been combating IDC for years, I just didn’t realize it. When my line is on deck in scrimmage, if no one takes the initiative to start talking, I would begin the conversation. I would be the one to ask the jammer what they wanted from the blockers, as well as asking the blockers where they wanted to position themselves. Sometimes one person would have an answer.
Everyone else would say IDC.
And not the IDC that turns into, “What would be best for this situation?” or “Let’s force everyone to pick a spot and talk about it on the line.” It was the IDC that starts in a passive voice and ends with them turning away to stare vaguely off at the current jam.
These are the IDCs that end in randomly taking lanes, and do not include communication. It is the IDC that ends confusion about who is doing what. Too often, an IDC skater will make very conscious decisions about their plan in the upcoming jam, but will not tell anyone else. They end up playing offense for the jammer, dropping back to clear a line, or running cross track to be a brace, but their neighbors aren’t expecting to cover their lane. Sometimes we can read the lines well enough to adjust on the fly, and most times the whole thing falls apart.
Now let’s talk the mid-jam IDC: Whether on offense or defense, I have experienced skaters using IDC when figuring out power jam strategy. On your home team, hopefully you have designated strats and people with pre-determined roles. In mash ups, you have to learn each other’s strengths on the fly. I have stopped asking “Do you want to play offense?” Instead, I say things like “Outside attacks” or “You and me up lane 2”. Derby moves too quick for IDC and I’ve gotten IDC mid-jam, too often.
Outside of practice, when meeting up with people to do off skates workouts or extra skating, when I ask the question “What do you want to work on today?” I do not appreciate the IDC as the answer. I am immediately taken down a notch on my enthusiasm if you don’t care what you work on.
The moral is: In derby you need to care. If you don’t care, why should anyone around you care? If you don’t care what your position is, why should the player next to you? If you don’t care about your training schedule, why should I? If you don’t care about what’s about to happen in the power jam, why should your team mates?
People are influenced by those around them. Skate A may not want to appear pushy or out of line, so if Skater B states they don’t care what position they play, then Skater A is more likely to also throw out IDC. Now you have two people out of four who FOR SURE do not know what lane they will be in, and thus cannot mentally prepare for the next jam.
Apathy is a feeling that spreads, not dissipates.
If your answer for team play is IDC, eventually it will spread to your drill work, your outside training schedule, and your overall attitude if you do not take steps to combat it. It’s easy to get lazy. It’s easy to stop pushing yourself. IDC encourages the lazy.
It’s is easy to spot: in larger teams those with IDC syndrome often get passed in skill as eager, hungrier skaters pursue excellence. In smaller teams or teams without a proactive coaching staff, IDC can spread through the ranks. You see it first with the all-stars, and it trickles down from there.
Your newer skaters (and officials) keep the league healthy. They are the plankton of the derby food chain.
Just stay with me on this one: new skaters come in and are (usually) less skilled or experienced. They are the little guys. Some will get eaten up (in plankton terms) and leave the league before they certify. A few in each newbie class will survive. They grow bigger and evolve into the bigger fish. If they don’t get eaten along the way (injury, personal issues, league drama, etc) and they develop their skills – they join the top of the food chain. The bottom is wide with plankton/new recruits. The top is narrow with seasoned vets/apex predators.
Now let’s say that top of the food chain carries around IDC.
They are setting an example for the rest of the chain that you can become an apex predator without caring. You can be an all-star by being apathetic along the way. While you may have a handful of skaters sprinkled throughout the league that know how to shield themselves from IDC, you will get the other skaters who become sucked into it.
Why? IDC is easy. IDC doesn’t take any work. IDC is a cake walk.
“They don’t care what they eat or how they train, and look! They’re our top jammer.”
“They don’t care what lane they’re in, so I shouldn’t care what lane I’m in.”
“The all-stars are going this fast.. I could go faster, but they are all-stars, so I guess that’s how fast I should go.”
The apathy spreads. The practices slow. The culture of the team becomes a culture of “that’s good enough.” The direct result of this is that either your plankton are pushed away from your food chain altogether because they want to be around people who care, or you only attract plankton that succumb easily to IDC.
If skaters hold IDC on the track, it will inevitably effect their off the track participation. A skater that says IDC about the sport they love in the middle of a jam, will probably not be the one super stoked to drive to a fundraiser on the other side of town on a Wednesday night. Why? IDC means no investment.
IDC is the draining of passion. It is an internal apathy that is easily spread to others like a disease. If negativity is cancer, than IDC is the flu: feverish, tiresome, easily contagious, and hard to eradicate. It may not kill you, but it sure as hell will slow you down.
How do you fight IDC?
If you are an individual fighting against it, continue to fight with some easy steps:
1) Set goals!
Having a focus of what you’re striving to achieve immediately makes you care more. Set long term goals (6months or a year), mid-length goals (30 days out), and goals for each practice; the smaller goals should fit within the larger ones, like a Russian Doll set!
2) Practice positive self-talk
If you care and have confidence in yourself, then you will hope over the IDC syndrome. It is impossible to be confident and focused yet not care. I like writing positive mantras on my mirrors in dry erase marker. Every time I brush my teeth, I get to read something positive.
3) Grab an accountability partner
Having a friend keep you honest is a great way to keep you both on track and away from the IDC monster. As soon as you start expressing negativity, they can [quietly] help steer you the right way
4) Remember that you’re here to have fun! If it’s not fun, why are you playing roller derby?
If you are an individual and you’ve just had an epiphany that you are part of the IDC virus, practice all the things above, as well as doing the following:
1) Set internal alarms for IDC
When you find yourself saying these words make yourself stop, and ask why you are saying it. Do you really not care, or do you not know another way to express what you’re thinking? If you really don’t care, why is that? Do you feel you are masterful at whatever is being asked, or do you not want to put into the effort of thinking about the scenario?
If it’s a “I don’t want to put the effort in” answer, then force yourself to think about what is happening, evaluate your weaknesses, and pick something to work on. Express that instead of IDC. It is also possible that when you’re saying IDC, what you REALLY mean is IDK (“I don’t know”). IDK is fine! Communicate that you don’t know where you want to go or what you want to work on, and let the other people help guide you.
2) Write down a list of your weaknesses and your strengths
IDC can come from a lack of understanding where we’re at and how to improve. If you know you need to work on your strengths backwards blocking in lane 4, when you’re in scrimmage scenarios you can ask to be put in that situation. Confidence and skill comes from repetition. If you do not know the specific reps you need to do, IDC is an easy answer to thinking about it.
3) Ask yourself if there are external influences for causing the IDC
Money problems, feeling helpless at home, or having a job where you lack order can all attribute to getting to training with an IDC attitude. Can you identify these places where you feel helpless, or have stopped giving 100%? If you can understand, and quarantine, these things in your mind, you can come to each training practice and leave that piece of the outside world at the door.
If you are on a coaching staff that has noticed IDC creeping in:
1) Create a time for a team goal-setting session
If the team has goals together, they are more likely to care about their practice time. Use a half hour of practice time to throw out the goal ideas, and from there have the captains and coaches refine goals for the leagues and individual teams.
2) Have one-on-ones with skaters
This is an opportunity to talk about individual goals, team goals, and also why IDC may (or may not) be present in their life. If IDC in derby is a result of IDC outside of derby in personal life, you may be able to recommend resources to that skater (or official) to help them overcome the apathy or negativity in other parts of their life.
3) Make it extra fun for everyone now and again
Throwing in games and contests to practices and outside trainings can up team morale and friendships. When bonds are strong, people care for each other. When people care for each other, IDC tends to fade.
2015 is just beginning. Caring about things spreads good intention through your training, nutrition, game play, and relationships. Not caring about one thing can bleed into not caring about a whole boatload of stuff, which will set you back tremendously. Go forth and be positive and take on this season with all the courage and consideration you can muster!
Thank you Jessica Shutterfly Andrews for all the photos used in this blog!!
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!!
Imagine rushing up to the backs of four very strong, stable skaters at near full speed. Imagine the blur of the yellow tape on the floor, the glare of flashbulbs off of the plexi glass, the noise and the cheers, and the pounding of your heart in your head. And then somehow, you’re backwards and ducking. Suddenly you’re pushing through a hole in the wall you had not seen, but you sensed. With twist and turns and ducks and power you hold your ground and then see daylight. You push. You push like you pushed the prowler, you twist like you did in practice and you move your feet like you have been training for four years.
And then you’re in the air of the arena again, crossing over with fluidity against the draining sap of the sport court that sags when you stop pushing. You’re in the wide open with people looking at you and cheering and unsure who this skater is that they’re just really seeing for the first time. And you think about what just happened, and you don’t view it from a first person perspective, because you don’t feel like you really did it, you just let it happen. Your body did it for you. You let yourself go to the situation and trusted your instincts and let power and intent wash over you and drive you through.
And you were successful. But you don’t quite know how.
That was most of the Championship bout with the Mobtown Mods for me. I remember doing things, kind of. I couldn’t tell you how. I just let my body go on autopilot. The vets had always said that eventually it would happen. You would find your zen and just start doing things. It started in practice that week and continued into the game.
What is the MENTAL GAME?
In every sport there is the talk of “The Mental Game”, but I feel that the term gets thrown around to mean many different things. Your mental game could be how you handle pressure, how you react to new situations, how you trust your feet, how you read a pack, how you release fear and go on autopilot, how you steel yourself after a team mate has gone down with injury. I am going to talk about a few things you can do to increase your mental stability during game play and practice time and what I have done to help better myself internally for roller derby.
Make Practice Time Harder Than Game Time
You play like you practice. We have all heard it, and hopefully digested it and spewed at someone else. If you play like you practice, and you allow yourself to get away with drills at 50% than you are going to play at 50%. If every sprint you are pushing your hardest, and every step of footwork is done with hard, clean precision than you will slowly prepare yourself for the intensity a game demands.
If you find yourself able to go through the motions of the drills easily, you are not pushing yourself. Gotham is not a three-peat champion because every practice they do fancy new drills that you haven’t heard of. They are champions because they do the same drills over and over and over. Not until they are perfect, but until they can’t get it wrong.
The moment that you are bored in a pace line, that you catch yourself thinking “This again?” that is the moment the mental game kicks in. You need to build the mental strength to do that drill, and do it with focused strength and intention. Bring yourself internally in that moment and think about doing the drill in a way you never have: look behind you more often, take note of the wheels the people around you are wearing, learn to sense the people around you and how close or far they are, learn the width of the track while you are bursting harder and stopping faster.
Every moment you can sharpen your mind while in drills will translate to better gameplay at game time.
How will your mind know where it’s going, if you don’t decide where you’re going?
Goal setting should not be arbitrary or hastily done. Take 30 minutes of quiet time. No TV or internet, and turn off Spotify; just you, a notebook, and a pen sitting together. Center yourself and think about what you want to accomplish in a year. Write it down. If it’s one over-arching goal or many goals, write them down. Now look at them and see if you can turn them into SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relative, Time-Specific).
Statement: Be on travel team.
SMART Goal: By June 30, 2015, I will be a starting player on the All Stars.
Once you have your year goal, you can work backwards. Your relative goals don’t have to be a replication of the long term goal. If your goal is to be an all star, what smaller goals can you set for yourself that will make you all star material?
Between now and December 31, I will attend 1 boot camp per month.
Between now and December 31, I will decrease my 30 lap time by 15 seconds.
Between now and December 31, I will increase my squat PR by 75 pounds.
These goals are not “I will be looked at by the all stars”. You cannot control when the all stars will actually begin considering you, however if you make self-improvement goals that make you a desirable skater for the all stars, you’ll be working towards your goal of being one. Let’s break it down further. So you have mid-range goals, so let’s make some shorter term goals.
Possible short term:
In 6 weeks, I will decrease my body fat by 3%
In 6 weeks, I will be able to do a 120 pound front squat.
In 6 weeks, I will be able to hockey stop.
Boom. Just keep making your goals smaller and more precise, and keep working backwards. If you find that you are creating goals that do not relate to the longer term goals, ask yourself why you want to achieve those things. If I just randomly say I want to be able to do 5 pull ups, ask yourself why? How does it relate? Maybe add in another long term goal so that you can see the long term advantage of being able to do those pull ups.
When your training is hard, when you are feeling discouraged, come back to these goals. Read them daily. Put them in a spot where you can be reminded of them. Use post-it notes. Get dry erase markers and write on your mirrors. Remind yourself and you will be motivated forward. Your brain is easily set astray – keep it on track.
Make declarations, set intentions, listen to motivation
I am a firm believer that the energy we put out is the energy we put in. Motivation and mental clarity takes work and maintenance, just like our fitness and nutrition. Our mental game does not only come when we put on our sneakers or skates, our mental game is present in every facet in our life. We believe what we tell ourselves. If you spend your ‘real life’ enveloping yourself in negativity, no amount of positive reinforcement during training will help you overcome a difficult drill or a plateau.
When you wake up, listen to an audiobook of personal development, or go onto YouTube and find a motivational video to watch and listen to. (Ted Talks has a lot of good stuff too.) Listen to it, without distraction. Absorb it. Take those first minutes of the day for yourself and for your mind.
Then, write your intention and declaration for the day. Make them strong and clear so that you and the Universe know what it is you are going to achieve that day.
Examples of intentions:
I intend to meet 1 person today who I can help.
I intend to complete my full training circuit without taking extra water breaks.
I intend to run for 45 minutes.
Examples of declarations:
I am worth a healthy life.
My past does not define me.
I am greater than my bank account
Words of negativity are not my truth. I do not have to bend to meet them.
I deserve happiness and strength.
Audiobooks full of Personal Development and Declarations: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T Harv Eker
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan
Start. Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff
Fish! The Book by Stephen Lundin
“Fear is excitement, without the breath.”
We hear it all the time, but why do we hear it? There is the obviously the direct physical advantage to having more oxygen in our body as we’re trying to complete a task. There are multiple mental aspects as well that are often not thought about.
For example, did you know that your brain uses about 20% of your oxygen intake when you are at rest? So if that much is used while you’re sitting doing nothing, can you imagine how important it is to keep your brain running while it’s sending out electrical signals to every muscle and nerve in your body while keeping your mind sharp for physical reaction and strategic thinking? If you are not breathing, you are depriving your muscles of strength AND you are depriving your muscles of strong neurological signals that they need to work powerfully.
Let’s also think about heart rate and breathing and the brain. “Fear is excitement, without the breath” (Robert Heller); when we are scared, we try and starve the fear by holding our breath. Think about when a hit was coming for you, and you weren’t confident enough to dodge it. Think about your first time wearing the jammer panty. Think about if you have ever been in a car accident or ridden a roller coaster.
When we hold our breath all we do is increase the fear. When we are afraid, part of our brain shuts down and stores memories independently – which might be fine if you’re in a car accident, but if you’re in the middle of a jam, you need to be in control. When we breathe, and stop starving our brain of oxygen, the fear turns to excitement. It is a complex chemical process within the brain where we understand that we are not in danger, despite a feeling that we should be. I can’t say it nearly as eloquently as Shirah Vollmer.
Breathing also has a direct effect on our heart rate. (An increased heart rate, which can be effected by the lack of breath, can also cause fear within the body, ps) When we breathe steady, our heart rate comes down. Our heart can keep up with the athletic needs of our body and we can perform more optimally. Breathing has been a source of centering and focus for thousands of years, so why turn our back on the practice now? When it gets hard, when you get tired, breathe.
When I jam, for example, I will count my strides after I break from the pack. I will also have made conscious efforts in every training session to breathe in and out distinctly (whether I’m skating, running, or pushing a sled). It helps me to focus on the task at hand while my body is getting the oxygen it needs.
Moral of all this: KEEP BREATHING!!
Practice and scrimmage and practice and scrimmage
We play a sport that is unlike anything in this world. We must play offense and defense at the same time. We take away the stability of our feet and play on wheels instead. Everything about all of the techniques we use are unnatural to our body and must be trained.
Which means that you cannot ever stop practicing.
The mental clarity that you see in the top athletes does not come from luck or talent, but repetition of the game. Earlier I mentioned that drills will get boring. They should get to a point where you can do them without getting them wrong. When you get to that point, make them faster, stronger, harder, sharper.
Push your limits at scrimmage. Play different positions and with different packs whenever possible. I also believe that getting out of your comfort zone in scrimmage can strengthen your mental game. I have spent many years playing in mash up games and in challenge bouts. When I was a lower level, it made me more aware of my surroundings and listen better to the leaders on the floor so I could complete the strategies. I had to think on my feet. My mental awareness and reaction improved because I did not know where these people were going to skate to or do next. I may have been able to hop into a scrimmage with Madhouse Mexi and know where she was going to block, but in a pack with Battery Operated, I had no idea.
So you learn. Now that I’m at a higher level, the mix up scrimmages help me make quicker decisions and communicate more effectively. I am able to play with higher level skaters in a way I never have before, because I understand what they are going to do, despite never having played with them before. At Northeast Derby Con, I had a wonderful jam with Richard Gaudet of Mass Maelstrom. I knew his style of skating because I’ve seen him, but we were able to communicate non-verbally in order to hold the jammer behind me while he guided me from the front. Using my legs and small steps to maintain position, and Gaudet’s guidance and stability, we were able to effectively hold the opposition while we communicated to our other two to play offense for our jammer. (PS when she finally did get around us, we were able to recycle to the front and come back together almost instantly. It was pretty awesome.)
Without having been in scrimmage after scrimmage over the years, I would not have been able to react in such a clean, direct way. The mentioning of Gaudet brings up a good point. Move out of your comfort zone! If you’ve never played co-ed before, why haven’t you? What tools could you learn from playing with different body types? Have you ever played on a bank track? MADE or USARS rule set? Go do something new.
By taking yourself out of your comfort zone in scrimmage, you are putting pressure on yourself that you don’t feel with your home league. Repetition of pressure in a scrimmage situation will help your brain function under conditions of increased endorphin levels and less oxygen (which will be very helpful training if you ever find yourself with the star in the last jam of the game with only 20 points separating you and the opposing team in the Championship bout).
Watch footage, talk shop
To be the best at the game you must understand the game on a deep, psychological level. To understand the game, you must watch the game and discuss the game. Not just what motions skaters use, but you must talk out the strategies and the theory of roller derby. Watching footage is not just useful to understand and train for your opponents, but it gives your mind a visual solution to problems when they come up on the track.
Roller derby is a series of “ah ha” moments, no one can argue that. I have overcome many “What the hell?” moments by simply accessing memory banks of game footage I had watched previously. I knew the solution that Rose City had used, so I was able to attempt the same maneuver, or predict the next motion of the jammer because I had already seen someone else do it.
Watching the bouts and then taking the time to digest and visualize yourself completing the motions successfully and definitively will give your brain a baseline of what to do and when to do it. We do the things we tell our brains we can do or have done. If you take the time to do visualization exercises of making the apex jump, completing a Pegassist, stopping on a dime; your brain will believe that you have already done them, and when the situation comes up in game play, the fear will disappear. Your brain will access the file that says that you have done this before, and will present that option to your muscles.
Creating those ‘card files’ in your brain of different solutions for strategic problems is critical in the development of your mental game. Instead of panicking because you don’t know what to do in the situation, your brain will calmly instruct you on your options. It is easy to see what skaters have not watched game footage when their jammer is knocked out of bounds and drawn backwards. Skater who have seen this done before will move forwards, in the hope to suck in the jammers coming backwards, to put them on a negative pass. Jammers will pace themselves and watch the hips of the person who knocked them out of bounds, so that they can enter legally, but as far away from the approaching wolves as possible.
Skaters who have not watched footage will either come right back onto the track, to promptly get a cut track penalty, or they will stare at their bench with that “What now?” look on their face.
Don’t lie. We’ve all seen that pack of blockers that has no idea what to do in this situation because they’ve never seen it done before. Well. You’ve seen it if you watch footage or go to live derby.
We all fall into patterns, including our coaches. Our brain needs a little bit of variety to stay sharp. When we are in a familiar situation for learning over and over again, our neurons have a tendency to get a bit burnt out, so to keep it fresh – never turn down the opportunity to learn from someone new. Coaching variety not only offers new drills, but also new explanations of old skills. A new explanation could finally help make something ‘click’ internally so that you can complete a physical skill. When teaching plow stops, specifically, I always tell new skaters who are having trouble with the skill to ask EVERYONE how to do it. You never know who you are going to learn from.
If your league is (sadly) not open to the idea of various coaches, or having a guest coach come in now and again, you must seek out new learning opportunities on your own. Boot camps are becoming very popular across the globe. They are a great chance to get a lot of information from a new source, and have access to new insights and teaching styles. The newness of it will keep your brain focused on the drill, even if you’ve done the drill before or you are advanced at the skill it is teaching.
Going to training events like Northeast Derby Con, RollerCon, and Beat Me Halfway are great opportunities to learn from a smattering of coaches in a short amount of time. It is a great way to learn, and for many they serve as a reboot. They refresh the brain with new and interesting techniques to apply to the drills and skills and coaching that is going on at their league that they may previously have been mentally fatigued by.
Also, it again trains the body and mind to function and perform together in new and difficult circumstances. You’re being watched by those who you may admire. You’re on a floor you are not used to. You are working with people you are unfamiliar with. The situation demands a mental focus and clarity that will benefit you in the comforts of your home rink.
The mental game is a complexity that we must not forget in our journey through training. Even in this blog, I barely touched on how to create new focus in cross training, motivation to complete the tasks you set up for yourself, or how to tackle the depression and disappointment that comes along with injury, naysayers, or plateaus. Continue your journey and continue your personal development. Continue to breathe and continue to challenge yourself to make everything come together in little pieces. Never stop learning. Never stop practicing. Namaste.