I’ve recently returned to roller derby after a 5 month break from skating, and that break was the best thing I could have done for myself and everyone I skate with at Liverpool Roller Birds.
Now, I wasn’t a particularly experienced skater before my hiatus, I’d passed minimum skills and had skated with the big girls but I never actually got the chance to take part in a bout myself, minus the weekly scrims we have within our league.
As many derby girls will find, my life simply got in the way of the quite impressive amount of time roller derby takes up. I was pretty overwhelmed.
This would have been fine but I had a really bad attitude about it, and a bad attitude is just about the worst thing to have when you’re playing a team sport.
- I started a new job in Manchester so I had to commute every day. I was too tired.
- I had a boyfriend who also lived in Manchester. I missed lying in bed all day with him on our only day off together.
- I have medical issues with my feet. It hurt.
- I split up with aforementioned boyfriend. I didn’t want to do anything bar drink and feel sorry for my broken hearted self.
- I felt like I was the worst skater in the league. I was too embarrassed to even try to improve.
- I have social anxiety. I hid.
I really am quite embarrassed about all of these ‘reasons’ as they’re just particularly terrible excuses to give up something you love. To leave behind what was becoming my new found family in order to sit and be stubborn, miserable and oh-so-tragically lonely was verging on idiotic, but sometimes as the feeble human beings we are, we need to act like idiots in order to move forward.
I’ve really beat myself up about this over the last few months, but I’ve finally forgiven myself. I’ve started skating again and I hope I’ve found what is the right attitude to enable myself to do so successfully The right attitude is half the battle with roller derby.
- If you’re tired, just skate for five minutes and you’ll forget all about your perceived exhaustion. There’s only one way to build up stamina and that’s to move more, even when your head, thighs and eyes are about to explode. What you do when you’re tired counts the most in building your fitness and as painful as it is, it means you’re getting stronger. I’m now supplementing derby with daily workouts. *showoff*
- Never, and I mean NEVER, let your love life get in the way of something you’re proud of yourself for doing. We all know love can be fickle and fleeting and even if it’s not, you’re stuck with the person you see in the mirror for the rest of your life, so do you best to make them proud. Lying in bed all day is nice but learning something new every single week is nicer.
- A medical issue is a really valid reason to give up a sport and I’d never encourage some to harm their body further, but if you know you can manage it, then do everything you can to manage it. For me it means taking off my skates for a while or ending a session early. Its incredibly hard but try not to get frustrated if there’s a skill you can’t master because of your pain, ask around to find the best alternative. Walking on my toes stops is near impossible for me so I need to work on my stepping and running on wheels to make up for it (rather than stomping my feet in a ‘woe is me’ manner as I’ve done in the past).
- A heartbreak, bereavement, life raining down crap from above to the point you’ve forgotten what fresh air tastes like: all reasons to sit in a ball slowly shaking your head until everyone leaves you alone. Although, I think life has taught us all that this is the worst way to deal with nearly anything. We all need to take some time to recover from emotional pain and roller derby is a fine way to distract yourself while you do so. You can hit your teammates harder than ever and they’ll congratulate you on it, try doing that with any of your other friends and you’ll likely not hear from them again. If you’re feeling particularly fragile, to the point that being hit or not being able to master a new skill will upset you, then cry on track. You won’t be the first to do so and from experience you can feel pretty fearless after a good on-track-cry in a “WHAT-HAVE-I-GOT-LEFT-TO-LOSE’ sort of way.
- There is no such a thing as ‘worst skater in the league’. There’s so many skills that make up a good roller derby-er. Speed, agility, being an immovable rock, knowing where everyone on the track is, master of all things rules related, ninja skills, strong hits, pissing off the opposite team with positional blocking. It’s endless. You’ll be great at at least one of these things, probably without even knowing it.
- Social anxiety is a tricky one and I know I can’t be the only one in my league and the wider derbysphere that’s struggled with this. Remembering all the above has helped me return to skating but I know that there’s going to be times where anxiety will effect me and will make me miss training. I’ve made a promise to myself to let myself off for that.
I’m lucky to be in such a wonderful league that have welcomed me back with open arms (and medical check) and any good league worth their bearings should do the same for a returning skater.
Long skate the Liverpool Roller Birds