This was originally written and posted here on March 25, 2015.
Roller derby is just as much a mental sport as it is a physical one. Your attitude can make or break your momentum and progress.
Negative self-talk will slow you down. Comparing yourself to others will cripple you.
These are easy habits to get into. Especially when you are starting. Especially when you are skating practices with people of various skill levels. These habits are something you need to throw in the garbage disposal and annihilate as soon as possible.
Stop telling yourself that you cannot, or you will not.
For the longest time I thought I “would never” learn a skill or ability. Specific to my own skating abilities, transitions and mohawking were my nemesis for what seemed like the longest time. Months after my fellow skaters in boot camp had learned and executed these abilities just fine I was still struggling. I was convinced it just wouldn’t happen for me. I couldn’t and didn’t give up, though. If I wanted to continue to progress I had to set goals and avidly work towards them. I spent my down time at practice trying the skills I was struggling with. I went to open skates. I spent some nights in my driveway practicing. I stretched more. I researched. Eventually at practice it happened. Not once, but many times. Today these are two of my favorite skills and the foundation in my jamming arsenal. If you catch yourself saying that you cannot, correct yourself and if you have to say something… say that you are working on it.
Never, never, never give up. — Winston Churchill
It’s hard when you feel like your progress isn’t happening as quickly as it should. It’s hard to watch people learn at different rates. But, it happens and it will continue to happen your entire derby career. It’s not just happening to you though. Everyone has felt this way about people in their lives at some point. Some people can watch a drill once and flawlessly execute it on their first try. Most can’t. Even those people you idolize mess. things. up. Those skaters do struggle and have struggled just like you!
No good will come from comparing yourself to others.
It will not help you accomplish your goals. In fact, it can damage your self worth and your progression. Look to yourself instead. Compare this practice to the last. Compare this month to the previous. Look at how far you’ve come! Remember when you could barely cross over? Remember when you couldn’t pick your leg up during stretches, or else you would fall? Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small. Did you increase your 27 in 5 time by a few seconds? Great! Did you not fall when one of the hardest hitters on your team tried to knock you down? Heck yeah! Did you ALMOST land an apex jump? Awesome! You tried something a lot of people wouldn’t have the guts to do. (My first attempted apex jump went horribly awry, but NO ONE cared it went wrong except ME. Every time I do happen to land one my league mates cheer and it feels great and I wouldn’t get those amazing feelings if I didn’t try it despite past failures.) Celebrate it all.
My favorite way to stay on the positivity track is to keep a notebook.
When another person compliments you, ACCEPT THE COMPLIMENT (very important), and write it down. Try to keep the exact phrasing if you can remember. You can date it too, if you’d like. I actually kept mine dated so I could see the progress and changes I was making through other’s eyes. When you accomplish something big or small, write it down too. This will serve as proof when you feel like things are too difficult or like you are unaccomplished. Celebrate yourself frequently and all the things you’ve done and will continue to do.
Positivity has such a huge impact that I think a lot of people fail to notice, or don’t notice quickly enough. When you are in a positive mental space, it’s easier to learn and it’s easier to achieve. If you start to feel yourself get frustrated and slip, give yourself a moment, shake it off (if you practice with me, you will see me literally stop during a drill, shake my head, my arms, my legs, take a deep breath, and then try again) and start anew.
If you decide to keep a notebook, you don’t have to use it JUST for compliments. You can use it for goals as well! We can talk more about that next week, friends.