I don’t know about you but sometimes when I watch high-level roller derby (*cough*CHAMPS *cough*), it makes me feel like I’m not a very good athlete. I haven’t even played at that level, but watching Champs makes me think that I also probably COULDN’T play at that level even if the stars aligned and gave me a chance.
The funny thing about that is that I’m not the only one. I’ve had conversations with very high-level skaters that I look up to A LOT who have told me they feel the same way. That there’s something about the intensity of play or the high stakes or the fact that it is LIVE STREAMING that makes what those skaters are doing look so much better and so much more athletic than what you are doing.
The truth is this:
There are D1 skaters watching champs RIGHT NOW that are feeling not particularly athletic.
Because it happens to all of us.
So how do you combat that “not so athletic” feeling when it rears its ugly head?
1) REALIZE THAT YOU DON’T SEE WHAT YOU DON’T SEE.
For some of us, watching other skaters do their thing — especially on the sport’s biggest stage — is a massive comparison trap. We can’t seem to help but compare ourselves to those skaters doing those amazing things. And, believe it or not, we are often blinded to the not-so-amazing things they do because of the bright shiny-ness of Champs.
The answer isn’t to stop watching other skaters skate. (I think we all know how I feel about footage…)
The answer is to recognize that you are seeing the peak. They’ve trained long hours, in crap venues, with non-function heaters or air conditioners to be able to perform RIGHT NOW. Those skaters have prepped and practiced and failed all year to be able to get out there on the track at Champs and make a run.
The flip side to that is that you don’t often SEE yourself at YOUR peak. Meaning that you don’t get a chance to look at what you can actually do when you’ve been training hard and are in a similar situation.
2) LOOK AT WHERE YOU STARTED
Comparison is the thief of joy. But recognition of progress is the seed of motivation.
Comparing myself to Scald Eagle is unfair. For many reasons. Eagle is a jammer while I am not. Eagle plays for a D1 team while I do not. Eagle has committed to roller derby taking up a large chunk of time while I have not.
You know what’s better? Comparing Octopus Prime to Tweedle Devious. (That was my name when I started, okay?)
Tweedle couldn’t stop. She couldn’t keep up with the paceline. She missed every single hit she tried to land. She could barely do a squat with JUST the weight of the barbell. She wouldn’t be caught dead owning — let alone WEARING — a crop top.
So, okay. I’m not as “athletic” as Scald Eagle. But I’m a lot more “athletic” than I used to be. And looking at all of the skills that I’ve managed to learn and master over the years makes the ones that I still need to work on look at lot less scary. It took me over a year to pass my 25(!)-in-5, but I did it. I’m sure I can figure out this apex jumping thing.
3) SHOUT OUT THE ATHLETES THAT YOU SEE
#derbytwitter has taught me a lot, but the biggest thing it’s taught me is that we’re all in this sport together. And even skaters that look like they are killing it on the track come back from tournaments feeling less-than-great about their performance.
I’m not going to tell you which skaters scroll through the Twitter feed trying to find mentions of themselves to lift their spirits. But what I am going to tell you is THEY DO. So why not tell them that they are amazing?
It’s one of the easiest ways to support and uplift your fellow athletes. It rejects the idea that we have to be jealous of them. Because you know what? There’s enough roller derby to go around for all of us.
It costs nothing. And it feels amazing. For both of you.
4) DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU FEEL ATHLETIC
I’ll admit that the term “athletic” is kind of a weird one. What does an athlete even look like anyway? Especially in roller derby, we know that athletes come in all shapes and sizes and ALL OF THEM are successful on the track.
Ultimately, you define what being athletic means for you. And the feeling of being an athlete can come from all sorts of places. You ARE an athlete, so get out there and use that body to do whatever makes you feel good.
- Athletically knit some mittens
- Athletically wrestle with your dog
- Athletically take a hike (like in a literal way, not a rude way)
- Athletically address your racist family at the upcoming holiday feasts
The point is that you are an athlete. You get to decide to feel like one. And sometimes, when we feel like we aren’t as athletic as we “should” be, doing something with your body can help.
Remember when you used to stop by crashing into the wall? Put your skates on a do a T-stop. There are a ton of athletes out there that can’t do that. That doesn’t make them any less athletic, but it can help remind you that YOU ARE.
It’s just a matter of putting your effort in the right basket. Even athletes in other sports have trouble when you slap skates on their feet.
NOT SURE WHERE TO START?
The Stability & Mobility Program comes from my years of working as a New Skater Trainer. There’s always such a huge focus on the on-skates skills, that skaters and trainers often forget to emphasize something equally important: preparing our bodies to be athletic.
This 6-week bodyweight program is designed specifically for new roller derby athletes and exercises to help:
👉 Increase overall stability and balance
👉 Get (and stay) lower while skating
👉 Start building muscular endurance and strength
👉 Boost bodily control (and control on-skates)