One of the biggest things I'm finding with roller derby is that I'm constantly learning both on and off the track, which is a great thing. The last few weeks have been no exception.
I've scrimmaged twice already and it has been a massive learning curve but it's been a pretty damn exciting one. Both times it has taken me a while to really get involved. Those who scrimmage will know that it gets pretty crazy in a jam with so much going on, that it's easy to lose your head. With quite a few of us starting to scrimmage, it has been pretty messy but it'll get better. Having the more advanced skaters mixed in with both teams has been a major help as their guidance helps calm things down.
Having grown up playing soccer and being in a team environment it all came back to me when I started scrimmaging. The importance of team work can't be stated enough. How often will you watch a bout and one skater might do something to change the course of a bout? They wouldn't have been able to do that without the help of their team mates doing their job. If you feel like you have to do everything on the track your team has lost regardless of what you do. Any well organised side will go into a jam with every skater knowing what their role is and by working as a team more often than not they'll fulfil their objectives. The biggest thing I'm noticing as I start to scrimmage is not to sit back and let the more experienced skaters do everything because all I'll be doing is just skating on the track and not learn anything. Getting confidence so that I can be more involved in scrimmage will come the more I get to scrimmage.
There's a few areas that I've picked up on that I need to improve on to help make scrimmaging a bit easier.
1. Calm the fuck down. I get so caught up in what I'm doing that I over do it. Perfect examples are blocking someone out of bounds because I've continued to block them once I've gotten them off the track. Last week at training we were practising two person walls to try and stop the jammer from getting through. I was partnered up with Apple. I was so determined to minimise any gaps between the two of us that I kept forcing Apple off the track because I was pushing so hard against her to make it harder for the jammer to split our wall.
2. Recovery rate. For the most part I can take the impact of the block so I don't fall down that much. Problem is when I do fall down my recovery rate to get back on my skates is pretty slow so I need to get quicker at this.
3. Agility. Mine is severely lacking. Someone with quick footwork has no problems getting around me.
4. Sprinting. I'm still way too slow off the mark especially if I'm trying to catch up to the pack after I've stacked it.
5. Transitions/tomahawks. If I'm pushed off the track I still snowplough to stop and get back on the track. In derby that wastes too much valuable time. Transitions have always been a struggle for me. I know the biggest thing holding me back from doing them is confidence. All the ankle injuries I've had have made me not trust my ankles when I attempt to do them. I keep thinking I'll re-injure or break them so I hestitate, get caught in two minds, overthink it and stuff it up. Problem is I need to be able to do them competently otherwise I won't pass to move up to bouting level.
6. Stop holding back. I know I'm still holding back at times when I come up against people at my level or slightly less experienced. There's always that slight fear in the back of my head that I'm going to accidently injure one of them. I would never deliberately or intentionally hurt someone. If I ever do that, I'll walk away from the sport, that's not the type of person I want to be. I know we're all learning but by going all out on them is it going to help them or put them off from wanting to do derby?
There's probably a whole stack more but these are the main issues that come to mind that I want to work on. Overall though scrimmaging has been great in stopping me getting ahead of myself. I know what I would like to work towards this year in derby goals and in order to achieve them I'm going to have to put in a lot of work.
HARD's bout in the opening round of the 5x5 tournament. I guess we all know how that went. Seeing Butters get MVP in her first ever bout and well deserved too, I was made up for her. All the guys who made their debuts gave it their all in what was certainly a baptism of fire. After the arse whooping, the guys have responded really well at training. Some of them have improved 100 times over in the short space of time. They're looking more confident but more importantly they're working and communicating better as a team. I'm looking forward to the next bout on the 6th April. Personally I've made the decision not to do any write up's for HARD bouts. It's so much harder when it's my own league. I'm really dreading this write up, not because of the score but because the notes I took were absolutely crap. I spent more time yelling and almost chewing my pen in half that literally some of my notes are WHERE ARE THE FUCKING WALLS? I take pride in my work but this one is going to be absolutely awful. I felt sorry for poor Cass. I needed an outlet from all the frustrations that night and she copped it with all my RAH, RAH, RAH's. Some friend I am! I owe her.
I love to learn as much as I can. I don't care what level someone is at, everyone can teach you something. Last Friday and Sunday we had we had some of the Hellfire Honey's and SRDL guys come train us on those night's. I got a lot out of both night's. With the WSR guys it was more the skating side of it and learning new drills. I love coming up against skaters from other leagues because you have no idea what you'll be coming up against so you're out of your comfort zone. The SRDL guys only trained the advanced skaters but I got to join in towards the end as they were giving us benchies a run through benchie 101. I was shadowing Feisty Cuffs and I couldn't help but giggle because I was off skates and she was on skates and I was still taller than her hehe. Seriously though she provided me with some valuable tips for benching that I'm trying to incorporate.
The 'kazi's train on Tuesday night's and I've been going to every session to work on benchie stuff with Poz and Shona. I've been getting a lot out of it and I don't even train with the 'kazi's. Whenever I see them do particular drills that catch my eye I remember them so that I can try and do them in my own time. Watching them train serves as extra motivation for me because I need to pass one more level before I get the chance to start training with them but I've got to pass one more level after that to try and fight for a spot on the 'kazi's. Working closely with Poz and Shona has been amazing. It's already helped me improve my knowledge of the game and rules. I'm so happy that I've been given the chance to work with the 'kazi's in this capacity.
Since there's now three home teams for NRDL, last Saturday was the first time ever I had gone up to do a bout write up that the Smashleys weren't bouting. I knew skaters from both sides but it was still a strange experience for me. I was actually really quiet and just focussing on the bout and taking notes instead of cheering on one particular side. Being such a massive Smashleys fan I feel like I'm committing blasphemy for saying this but the Hellcats did amazingly well considering they only had 9 players for the entire bout. I had a perfect example of the fact that I probably go to too many NRDL bouts because Foxy forgot to put my name down for a media pass but the guys issuing the tickets said they knew who I was even though I had never met them before and they let me in hehe.
I thought I'd end on a positive note. I've made a few friend's with people from derby over the last few years and there's a couple of friend's who for whatever reason have progressed at the same speed I have. I loved sharing all the high's and low's with them because it really feels like they understand where you're coming from. I've loved reading all the updates from the likes of Bailee and Cass. It helps prove to me that just like them I can improve and eventually make it up to bouting level. Cass and I pretty much have a big ol' conversation after each of our scrimmage night's and I can't wait to hear about it regardless of whether it's good or bad. She's been doing really well lately that it may be sooner rather than later before she's drafted into an NRDL home team. I can't wait for the days when a) she makes her bouting debut and b) when I get to scrimmage and bout against her!