How to be at the top of your game.
4 years ago, I couldn’t have even imagined what my life would look like today. I would have never pictured I would be skating for London Brawling the 3rd best team in the world (current rankings), skate for Team England and live in an amazing city, full of great people and brilliant friends. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to play my sport at the highest level and constantly feel inspired by those around me.
This is because, when I started roller derby in 2010, my biggest goal was to learn to cross over, skate backwards, do a transition or complete my 25 laps (now 27) in 5 minutes. That’s what mattered to me, the small achievable goals. It’s the small goals that you set, that are the most important. They are the ones that will someday make you the best skater you can be.
Starting out as fresh meat is exciting but difficult. You end up looking at skaters that can do all the things you can’t, and making it look so easy. It’s easy to let this dishearten you and to feel like you will never be ‘that’ good. But instead of putting that pressure on yourself and comparing yourself to others, you have to see it as a challenge, not a threat! A key point to understand is that everyone is different, everyone learns in different ways, at different rates, come from different sporting backgrounds and have different strengths and weaknesses. This is why you can’t compare yourself to others whilst learning, there are too many variables. Remember, it isn’t a race, all that matters is that you are aiming for the same finish line, it doesn’t matter how quickly you get there, it only matters that you keep moving forward.
Image of when I first started playing roller derby 2010 (left) and image from WFTDA Playoffs 2013 at Fort Wayne (right)
The best thing to do is set your own goals, and work at achieving those. Everyone has to start somewhere. You see skaters, doing apex jumps and spinning around an opponent as if they could do it in their sleep. But you didn’t see how that skater got there. The hours of practice, the hundreds of falls and failures, the blood, sweat and sometimes tears. You just see the polished move, executed so perfectly. This is why you can NEVER SAY NEVER. These skaters were probably looking at other skaters when they first started roller derby and wishing that one day they would be as great.
“Believe you can and you‘re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt
You have to have some self-belief, motivation and a hunger to learn. If you have those, you will hit the ground running! Take any opportunity you can to learn. If you have 15 minutes at the start of the session while everyone else is kitting up, use it to practice a new skill or perfect an existing one. And remember, never hope for it more than you work for it.
Featured photo by: Paul Delooze http://www.rollerderbyphotography.co.uk
Article image (2013 playoffs): Sean Murphy http://girlsofderby.com