A Pre-Bout Dynamic Warm-up {& a few tips on mental prep}

Going into bouts cold sucks.

I’ve long held fast to the assertion that I play much better in the second half. (And even better still in the second bout!) All because I’m finally warmed up.

But roller derby is often a sport where we only have a few minutes in between setting up chairs and taping down the track to get ourselves mentally and physically ready to hit the track.

This is how I do it:

I Set Rituals.

I’ve definitely talked about this before; the idea that having an outward ritual that is automatic can actually preserve your mental energy and take the edge off of your anxiety.  I’ve gone through several of these. I used to sleep in my uniform top. I used to always eat a banana with my breakfast. I used to stop at the store and get the same drink on the way to every home bout. Those rituals were calming.

Find something you can get behind — maybe something that you already do — and intentionally focus on channeling your excited energy into that task. Eventually the task will become mindless, automatic and your channeled mental energy will disappear with it. (Most of the time.)

Some ideas?

  1. Listen to a specific song or series of songs on the way to the bout. To this day, Breezeblocks by Alt-J and No One Loves Me and Neither Do I by Them Crooked Vultures are the only 2 songs I’ve ever had on my phone. For this exact reason.
  2. Enlist a teammate. Back when I was in grad school and had to prepare for a long day taking jerk children through the wilderness while they screamed at me and cried about the weather, a friend and I would prepare for the day by doing something called the “Australian Shepard Dance”. I don’t know if it’s an actual thing, but we would do it together, progressively getting faster and faster until we messed up. By the time I met with the kids, my head was clear and I was ready to go. (EXTRA TIDBIT OF INFO: We did that dance at my wedding 2 years later. Muscle memory don’t mess around, yo.)
  3. Make it something you can do regardless of where you are. They say that Henry Morgan Stanley — the American explorer that found Dr. Livingston (I presume?) — shaved his face everyday. Even when he was starving and close to death in the wild jungles of Africa. Your situation won’t be quite as extreme, but automatic tasks that can be taken to away bouts (or even utilized for non-derby things) will ultimately serve you better than location specific ones.

I Trust the Process.

I go to practice and drill like crazy on how to work with my team to do all sorts of things. A pocket wall, a cube wall, bridge back, communicate, trust each other, and so on, and so on. I don’t think about these things as complex, dynamic strategies (even though they are), I think of them as a machine in which I’m just a cog.

This might sound depressing, but think about it this way: If you only had to worry about one thing out on the track, wouldn’t that make you more confident? Wouldn’t that make your chances of success much higher? That’s what trusting the process is. In this wall, in this position, with the jammer or opposing blocker right here, I do this. That’s all. If the situation changes, then it’s still just one thing that I have to do. It just happens to be a different thing.

It comes back to trusting that I did those things in practice and I will do them in the bout.

“Don’t think about winning the SEC Championship. Don’t think about the national championship. Think about what you needed to do in this drill, on this play, in this moment. That’s the process: Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand.” — NICK SABAN

“At all times the focus must be on doing things properly. Every play. Every practice. Every meeting. Every situation.” — BILL WALSH

I Warm Up.

With all the hectic energy of bout prep, this has actually started to shift into one of my rituals. It’s something that I do automatically to curb my excited energy and help me prepare for on-skates time.

Here’s my pre-bout dynamic warm-up (OFF SKATES):

  • Neck Circles (5 each direction)
  • Shoulder Circles (5 each direction)
  • Good Mornings (10)
  • Prying Squats (5)
  • Bird Dog (5 per side)
  • Bookopener (5 per side)
  • Clamshells (5 per side)
  • Plank (3 x 15s)

Watch the full (poorly filmed and edited) video below:

If I have time, I also follow it up with this quick cardio session to really get my heart going and my muscles ready:

    • High Knees (20s)/Rest (10s)
    • Divebombers (20s)/Rest (10s)
    • Agility Hop (20s)/Rest (10s)
    • Prisoner Squats (20s)/Rest (10s)

Watch the full (poorly filmed and edited) video below:

I Let My Mind Wander.

It’s true. If you asked me to tell you what I did out on the track during the last jam, I couldn’t tell you. This goes back to trusting the process. My body has drilled the process and my mind just gets in the way.

This is also an excuse for me to use the meme below:

Even if my mind wanders...

Even if my mind wanders…

Want more?

If you’re interested in more exclusive content, access to my FREE resource library, and the slightly weird workings of my inner mind, you can sign up for the Iron Octopus Fitness email list HERE. Wherein I harass you weekly with all things intelligent cross training, mindset, and…other.


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.

Leave a Reply