3 Ways to Get Out of Your Own Head

By January 7, 2016Blog, Mindset

I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures…I divide the world into the learners and non learners.


Derby is a heavy sport.

There are a lot of things about roller derby that make it feel huge — proportionately larger than life. Haven’t there been times when you’ve felt like:

  • that bout is SO IMPORTANT?
  • executing this skill is the difference between LIFE AND DEATH?
  • crying yourself to sleep at night because #derbyproblems?

The weight of roller derby is often made more so by the fact that for many of us derby is our community. Maybe even the ONLY community where we’ve felt like we belong; where we’ve actually felt like us.

These other skaters are our teammates and friends. We’ve learned things from them and been pushed by them to do incredible things we could never have foreseen.

Case in point, I certainly wouldn’t be here writing this if not for my cumulative experience in the sport and with the people of roller derby. (Not that I’m saying this is “incredible” per se, but…anyway, back to the point.)

Athletes — derby skaters in particular — areAnger Management? inherently tough on themselves.

It starts early as we slog through the endless 5-minute lap skates trying to attain the mythical “27-in-5”. But it also continues, often.

I’ve seen skaters at every level experience complete meltdowns over their skill and ability. I’ve literally been at a practice where a skater threw her helmet across the rink because she was so frustrated with her ability to master a skill. Whoa!

So how do you stop?

#1 — Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

Easier said than done, right?

Think about all the mental energy you waste wondering why you’re not as good as {amazing dream skater}. You know what? You’re not as good as Scald Eagle or Bonnie Thunders. (Unless you two are reading this, then “hi!”.) I’m not as good as they are either. A lot of skaters aren’t as good as they are.

And it doesn’t matter.

STOP! Go back and read that last sentence again.




No one is expecting you to be as good as they are, right now. Except maybe you. If there’s some skater in your league that you look up to, that’s great. But don’t spend your mental energy fretting about how to get as good as she is. Spend your mental energy getting as good as she is.

  • Be at practice. REALLY BE THERE. Pay attention to drills. Watch other skaters do them. Do them yourself. Try out different ways of doing things. Never lose sight of the fact that practice is for practicing. #noonewinspractice
  • End better than you started. We all have shitty practices but before you leave the skate space each practice, pick out some way in which you improved. (You did improve. Don’t talk back to me.)
  • Ask for advice. This is hard for a lot of people, but if you want to know why {amazing dream skater} is so damn good, ask her what she does. Does she have an agility ladder taped to her floor at home? Does she cross train? What’s her program? Does she worship the full moon and bathe in yak’s milk? You won’t know until you ask.
  • Be open to advice, but don’t take every piece of advice. Find what works best for you. It might be yak’s milk. Probably not, though.

#2 — Create Meditations

Some people might foolishly call these “superstitions”.

I used to have a very specific ritual when I first started geting rostered:

  1. The night before a game, I’d sleep in my uniform.
  2. I’d wake up in the morning and eat the same breakfast (peanut butter!!! and some other stuff).
  3. I’d leave my house at the same time.
  4. I’d stop at the same store and buy the same protein drink.
  5. I’d do the same set-up job.
  6. I’d complete the same warm-up.
  7. I’d put my gear on in the same order.
  8. I’d lace my skates up the same way.

These things helped me relax. It doesn’t take any mental energy to do them because I’ve done them so many times before.

Find a situation in which you get inside your own head and create a meditation.

Does the first jam of a game freak you out? Perhaps singing School House Rock’s “3 is a Magic Number” will take away those nerves.Do you panic when

Do you panic when 27-in-5 time rolls around? Perhaps air drumming a Def Leppard solo before each one will calm you down.

Rick Allen says, "You got this!"

Rick Allen says, “You got this!”

Meditations don’t have to last forever. I don’t sleep in my uniform anymore because it’s uncomfortable and the logo crinkling at night wakes me up. And I’ve played in games without the right protein drink or the same set-up job. The idea is that once your mind learns to settle down during that specific stimulus, it becomes a habit to not get worked up about it anymore.

SIDE NOTE: If you have an obsessive personality, please consider implementing meditations very carefully.

#3 — Adopt A Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset was an idea discovered and described by researcher Carol Dweck (she talks about it extensively in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and I highly recommend it).

The main idea behind a Growth Mindset is that you can cultivate a belief that your abilities — in any realm — are learned. Basically, talent and skill aren’t things that you’re born with, they are things that you can develop through hard work and dedication.

This mindset allows you to think about your derby skills (in terms of skating and in terms of league business) as infinite and just waiting to be cultivated. Like a beautiful garden of hip bruises and league meetings.

Here’s what it looks like in practice:

FIXED (non-growth) MINDSET — I can’t hockey stop. I knew this would be too hard. I’m terrible at this.

GROWTH MINDSET — I can’t hockey stop, yet. But I bet I can figure this out. It’s just going to take a little bit more practice.

The growth mindset is hard because it requires you to believe in yourself. (That’s kind of hard sometimes, right?) Believe that if you put in the time and effort it will work.

Because it will.

P.S. — You can test your own mindset HERE. Let me know what you got!

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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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