“If you never do anything but the basics, you’ll never BE anything but basic.”

This very cogent argument came to my attention after I shared the following image across social media. It was all about the basics and the importance of executing them.

“Should we have some kind of code word for when we’re trying to get a goat so that the other team doesn’t know what we’re doing?” . It’s a good question, of course. And there are definitely times when having call signals for your team strategy is important because it helps you communicate a lot information using only one word. . BUT… . If you’re EXECUTING your strategy well, it shouldn’t matter if you’ve handed the other team your entire playbook. It shouldn’t matter if they can cut open your heads and peer inside your brain. It shouldn’t matter. . A team that can execute the basics over and over and over in multiple situations and scenarios will find success. That’s why you always work on the basics. The basics of skating. The basics of strategy. The basics of #rollerderby. . Well-executed basics win over fancy shit every. single. time. In fitness, in sport, in life. Be ruthless in pursuing your basic skills. . S/O to @bachperformance where I first heard the quote. . . . #ironoctopusfitness #intelligentcrosstraining #trainlikeanathlete #getbasic #offskatestraining #practicemindset #athleticmindset #derbymindset #ruthlessexecution

A post shared by 🐙 Prime 🏋 Roller Derby Trainer (@ironoctopusfitness) on

Despite my thorough belief that success actually DOES lie in the ruthless execution of the basics, I don’t disagree with the comment above.

Teams and players that never innovate risk falling behind their less risk-averse opponents. Pushing the edge of a sport or a skill — any sport or skill — is how the entire sport is brought forward.

Remember when no one could run a 4-minute mile?

I obviously wasn’t alive then, but I can imagine what it must have been like to hear that someone had finally accomplished that feat.

Or climbed Mount Everest.Or dunked a fucking basketball.

Or dunked a fucking basketball.

Those not-so-basic skills.

So yes, I concede that high-level players and high-level teams are operating at a level above BASIC.

Jilleanne Rookard ping-ponging through the pack sans penalties or really losing momentum at all is not BASIC.

VRDL crushing jammer souls with their extended backward blocking skills is not BASIC.

Both giving and receiving a hard controlled hit and recovering quickly is not BASIC.

But all of these not-so-basic skills are built on the backs of very basic ones. If you can’t skate, you certainly can’t control yourself as you go into the pack at full speed. If you can’t transfer your weight well, there’s no way you can positionally block a jammer for an entire straightaway. If you aren’t strong, stable, and solid, you just won’t recover from a hit as well (or be able to land a good one either).

The Basics Are Boring.


Most of us would rather practice apex jumps than slog through an hour in the gym. No one ever got their name called out by an announcer for a particularly dazzling t-stop. (Although I hope there are a few announcers out there that just thought, “Challenge accepted.”)

Basics aren’t flashy, but they get shit done.

This is true with skate skills.

This is true with strategy.

In times of trouble, you fall back on the basics because they FUCKING work.

All of these not-so-basic skills are built on the back of basic ones. #rollerderby Click To Tweet

The Disservice We Offer.

Even to ourselves, we belittle the basics. We want to jump directly to the biggest, flashiest moves. Players that can barely stay upright on their skaters are insistent that they should be in the brace position. Teams that can barely hold together a 4-wall are eager to break apart into offense.

We literally expect ourselves to nail an apex jump when we can’t even come to a controlled stop. (Yes, those two things are related.)

And once we nail our basics, once they become automatic and we can start reaching for the next skill and the next skill and the next skill, we forget to tell our new skaters that it’s a journey. Teleportation doesn’t exist to get from one physical place to another, yet. It also doesn’t exist to get from one skill to another either.

I would never condone that you ONLY work on the basics.

You should push your edges — both on your skate wheels and within your abilities — to get better. Don’t get stuck at basic once you’ve earned your spot there.

But, let’s be real, if you NEVER work on the basics, you’ll never be anything but basic either.

Own your basics and earn the right to level up.

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About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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