Roxy Rockett

Response to a letter

This lady has been in contact with me since I started this blog early December (her name alone brightened up my day!).Anyway, she wrote me last night and asked me to give her some advice. I usually do not answer emails like this, but hers, I felt, warranted a post since all of these issues are present for majority of skaters at any level. Below is her letter split into three parts.

[1]. “I’ve been really frustrated with myself b/c I don’t feel like I’ve been improving in my speed but I’ve got a lot of endurance

[2] “I’ve been bouting with my league for 3-4 months now and with no signs of improvement, I’m frustrated with my performance.”

[3] “I have a bit of performance anxiety issue b/c I perform really well at practice and then flop at bouts. I’ve sought professional help but I don’t feel like it has been helping so I stopped. “
-Chinese Take-Out

[1] Why am I not getting faster?

There are a few factors that could be hindering your ability to go faster.
A. Floor– If it’s winter, the floor becomes cold and much more slick. Or, the floor may be extremely dusty and your wheels (no matter how soft they are) will not find grip.

B. Skates– Your skates are basically shoes with wheels on them. If you constantly run around in them and do sprints and stops and suicides and jumps, they’re going to start adjusting to your wear and tear and are going to need some upgrading.

Somethings to check/adjust on your skates:
Your trucks– may be a lot looser than you can handle, tighten them to your liking.
Your wheels– have lost their grooves/grip (especially if you’re on a cement floor); clean them with soapy water (be sure not to get the bearings wet), rotate them, or get a new pair if none of the above seems to be helping.
Your boots– may have stretched to a larger size, try to start wearing thicker socks (or 2 pair) or simply tie the laces tighter. If none seem to be working, try using 2 sets of laces for extra enforcement or 3 pairs of socks. If all these fail, buy new (leather) boots.
Your bearings– may be filled with guck and need a little cleaning. If you do not know how to clean them, please do not do so! (you could ruin them) Wait and perhaps a post about how to clean them might pop up. Or, ask your coach or captain to find out to clean bearings correctly and then ask them to hold a workshop to teach all skaters.
Your insoles– could be worn out (making it hard to keep the boot in place when skating) and may need to be replaced (try a thicker insole).

C. Technique-You may be losing speed by skating too much. Meaning, you might be over exerting yourself (trying sooo f’n hard to get faster) that you’re simply ignoring the limits of your ability. I am still learning new ways to get faster, so being on a league for 3-4 months, you’re just beginning to scrape the tip of the iceberg (though, global warming is in full effect, so this statement may be a little outdated).

Somethings to work on during endurance practice or open skate:
* Knowledge- Knowing how to skate effectively. Doing effective crossovers and power glides save you from wasting energy trying to ‘run’ on skates. This isn’t something that can be taught in a blog on the internet, but rather on a rink over a few months time.

*Getting low- though it may hurt in the beginning, squatting while doing endurance is the fastest way to strengthen your thighs. Bending at the knees rather that the waist is key. Strength equals power equals speed.

*Arm control- Start skating with your arms either behind you or strictly to your sides. This helps build up balance and makes you understand how dependent you are on those swinging arms (which is a HUGE waste of energy not to mention could cause penalties).

*Sprints- do them over and over again. Each time you’ll realize there is something new to learn in doing them. (I’m referring to duck walk sprints, not toe-stop starts).

*Breathing- A big issue in being able to skate faster for longer is your ability to control your breathing. When I started back, I would have the hardest time figuring out how to breathe correctly. One thing I did to help control my breathe intake was I started chewing gum. It helped me condition myself to breathe through my nose rather than my mouth. I also talked with a lady who does breathing classes and she told me to breathe from my whole torso rather then the top of it. Taking in a deep breathe that reaches to the bottom of my stomach which expands it, then exhaling until I could exhale no more. The first few times I did it, I became lightheaded. However, I use this technique now whenever I start having breathing problems.

I hope this begins to show the many factors in why you (or anyone else) isn’t getting the full effect they feel they deserve.

[2] Why is my skating not improving?

From my experiences this is what usually happens (especially after the 3-4 months):

-You start out stupid excited about derby. You take your first 20 lap time trials. Again, you’re just excited to be able to skate all 20 laps, much less worry about what your time is. A few weeks have passed and you are gaining speed, skills and most importantly, you begin to find where you fit in with the league (peer wise).

So you do the next time trials, you see that you literally shaved off 10 seconds from your previous time. Whooo hoooo! Man, let’s go have a few beers and celebrate.Happy times How exciting.

So you push and push and push… you keep coming to the same amount of practices, you keep the same diet and you still have the desire to keep getting better, but you seem to be stuck. You have the same lap time (after 3 months of trying) and the other skaters are getting better.

What has happened?
My theory: Your body is adjusting. Your body is taking in all of this intense training from the past few months and is beginning to condition the muscles to their expected use. This has happened to every skater I’ve skated with and we all get so damn discouraged, we wanna throw our hands up and yell to the derby goddess to free us from this hell. (whoo.. that’s the coffee talking). Without having any type of physical training knowledge (well, I did get C’s in PE during high school) this is my answer. If you’re reading this and you have the ‘right’ answer, please do chime in.. It would be much appreciated.

[3] Performance anxiety- Yes. Yes. This is something I deal with constantly. I have sat on the bench right before games asking myself, “why in the hell do I do this? I hate this game!” (Seriously!)

I know a lot of the girls I skate with (and against) have issues with anxiety as well. So what I have done is asked a few girls on my league to answer a couple of questions. Having skated with all of them for a few years, I knew they would have the widest range of answers that could hopefully help someone out there.

Roxy Rockett

1. What do you do on bout day?

The night before, I take it easy. I have a nice healthy dinner (no dairy) and a beer to help get me relaxed; drink lots of water; do it with my G man; then lay in bed (in silence) and think about all the possible bouting scenarios and how to deal with them. Bout day: I start with water and coffee before practice; come home around 2:30, eat a high calorie protein bar then take a nap with my man; after arriving at the venue I try and skate around and get my body warmed up and get use to the crowd noise. After our team meeting, I mediate to myself and think about what I need to do and who my partners are and how to maintain control over my skating throughout the bout. If it’s too much to handle, I usually ask one of the following ladies for their help to talk me down and help me relax. I am usually unapproachable and less likely to show a friendly face.

2. What (if anything) do you do to relax your nerves right before the bout and/or the first jam? (waiting for that whistle to blow.. ugh!)

Once I’m on the floor, and especially after the first lap, everything settles. I see my team and know that everything will be OK.. win or loose!

Teflon Donna

1. What do you do on bout day?

I start w/ a big glass of OJ and a banana. If I feel like my nerves are getting the best of me, I sometimes go for a skate to get some of the jitters out. I eat a turkey and ham (no cheese) sub on wheat from _____ [unnamed sub shop] before every game I play. And I start drinking lots of water the night before and all day prior to the game.

2. What (if anything) do you do to relax your nerves right before the bout and/or the first jam? (waiting for that whistle to blow.. ugh!)

Pep talks….they don’t work for me. In fact all the pregame meetings just make me jumpy. In the 15-20 minutes I take to stretch before the game, I’m usually telling myself “go out there and give it 100%, nobody can expect anything more”. I also try to keep a light hearted attitude prior to the game. Share a few laughs with some teammates as I’m warming up bumping people around.

Leadfoot

1. What do you do on bout day?

I try to ALWAYS get 8-9 hours of sleep before the game, which means NO drinking and/or partying for me beforehand. The day of the game, I always have sex (no joke, ask Major!) followed by pancakes and bacon for breakfast. I try to drink LOTS of water and gatorade, have a turkey sandwich and some chips for lunch and then nothing else until after the game. I also ALWAYS say a prayer before the game (just ask Busty; I prefer a group prayer, but if no-one’s up for it, I just say one silently to myself). Usually I pray for a safe and enjoyable game for all the players and fans. I pray that I do well and don’t let my team down. I pray that no one gets hurt and everyone has a good time. I pray that we make some new fans and friends. 🙂

2. What (if anything) do you do to relax your nerves right before the bout and/or the first jam? (waiting for that whistle to blow.. ugh!)

As weird as it is, I usually NEVER get nervous before a game…I don’t know why, I just don’t (the only exception being TX during Dust Devil; I was TERRIFIED!!!). I just try to think of it as an extended practice or scrimmage. Since I really don’t know all the people in the audience, I just think, “if I suck, I don’t know these people and will probably never see them again” and if I do well I tell myself, “self, you just made a new fan/friend”! Knowing that I’ve practiced as hard as I could and have trained hard for weeks/months/years, usually calms me down. Also knowing that I have some of the best skaters in the league (hell ANY league for that matter) looking out for me helps too. Someone has your back and you have their’s…that’s comforting!

It also helps during the game to look out in the crowd and find someone that’s smiling and cheering for you. If my son is there, I look for him. If not, I smile and wink to Major, or Marco or Seth (from Tattoo Devil or Progress) or my friend Andy. Knowing you have friends there to support you helps.

Kitty Crowbar

1. What do you do on bout day?

Sex (with or without someone else…hahahaha!)

2. What (if anything) do you do to relax your nerves right before the bout and/or the first jam? (waiting for that whistle to blow.. ugh!)

I make sure I have everything (outfit, gear, whatever) ready two nights before so I can just chill with Olivia the night before and do nothing (unless we have a meet & greet with the other team…). On game day, I get all giddy and goofy so I like jokes…I also like when we could get to the rink early and skate around and be goofy.

Shirley Temper

1. What do you do on bout day?

I sleep in as late as I can, then go to practice for a light warm up, then go to ____ unnamed sub shop (cuz it’s convenient and it won’t upset my stomach). After eating, I try to just “be normal” for a couple of hours … lay down on the couch and watch some TV, etc. Then I get dressed and ready. Then it’s on 😉

2. What (if anything) do you do to relax your nerves right before the bout and/or the first jam? (waiting for that whistle to blow.. ugh!)

Right before that first whistle, I literally look at the ground (I don’t look at any opponents or listen to anything they say) and I remind myself that I know how to play this game! I tell myself that the huge girl next to me has weaknesses and I’m going to figure them out and use them against her. And I tell myself that these girls have no idea what I’m capable of and probably don’t expect much, so I’m gonna show them.

Eva Lye

1. What do you do on bout day?

Traditions include: eating small proportions, and several of them, rather than one or two large meals. I normally can’t stomach lots of food on game day anyway due to nerves. I eat hard boiled eggs or peanut butter toast, a protein shake, and if I can do it, a tofurkey sandwich on hearty bread. I also meditate and stretch the morning of the game. If there’s time, I try to get some nookie. Supposedly it makes women feisty, as opposed to the man
who falls asleep. Also it helps me relax a little. It hasn’t not worked, so for now I do it.

2. What (if anything) do you do to relax your nerves right before the bout and/or the first jam? (waiting for that whistle to blow.. ugh!)

My nerves are generally calming down right before the game (finally). I like talking with teammates and just keeping it real. I know those nerves are all in the head and if I try to trick myself out of being nervous, sometimes it works.

Feel Free to answer the 2 questions in a comment. Who knows, you might end up helping another lady relax before a game!


Categorised as: Response to comments


11 Comments

  1. Hadda "Bad" Day says:

    My new thing that I do before about is cry, yup, fucking let loose and cry my eyes out.

    and guess what?
    I am so humiliated by this new practice that I forget to be nervous for that first jam!

  2. Mother Jugs says:

    Holy cow, you know all the girls used to joke me about getting laid before a bout….but it seriously works! I’m glad i’m not the only one who thinks this way!

  3. Ida Slapter says:

    hadda, i heart you!

    Regardless of how hard you work, without good nutrition you will not achieve optimal performance. Good nutrition can increase energy, delay fatigue, speed post-game recovery, help prevent illness and assist in rehabilitation after an injury. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy during a game. Complex carbs come from grains (breads and cereals) and fruits and vegetables; simple carbs come from foods like sugar and honey. As an athlete, you should derive up to 65% of your daily caloric intake from complex carbs and no more than 10% from simple carbs; no more than 20% should come from fats, with up to 15% proteins. Protein helps to repair and build muscle tissue. However, excess protein does not make you stronger and is usually stored as fat. The best sources of protein are milk products and meat. For vegetarians foods such as split peas, lentils, kidney beans and skim milk are both high in protein and carbs and low in fat. Vitamins are not an energy source but are needed to help produce energy; excess vitamins will not improve performance or increase energy or strength.

    Nutrition and conditioning are both key to optimal performance. The best ways to increase your energy are through conditioning and carbohydrate loading. Good nutrition helps you train harder and longer and well-conditioned athletes can store more carbohydrates. Players need repetitive refueling, eating carbs every day and with every meal, both before and after games and practices. Most carbohydrates are stored in muscles as muscle glycogen. Glycogen storage, in the face of daily activity, is a continual process and cannot be completed in one sitting the day of or before a game. It is equally important to cut fatty junk foods like potato chips, chocolate and soda. In addition to eating high carb, low fat foods every day, below is a suggested game-day nutritional regimen:

    High carb meals the day before and during breakfast on game day; Five hours prior to game time eat a high carb, low fat and low protein meal. A pre-game nutritious snack approximately three hours prior to game time will supply some extra energy, but the closer you get to game time, the lighter, more digestible and liquid food the better (such as yogurt, fruit juice, bananas, bagels, low fiber cereal and skim milk). Avoid “quick energy” (such as fruit, candy and sugar filled products or regular carbohydrates) within an hour of a game or practice… they can actually have a negative effect, despite the initial energy boost you may attain. Avoid eating within 60 minutes of games or practices. Water is required for chemical reactions in the muscles that release energy for movement. Drink plenty of water during the day prior to games and practices.

    Suggested nutrition prior to a Saturday game

    – Carbo load Thursday and Friday; with plenty of vegetables
    – High carb, low fat breakfast Saturday, plus plenty of fluids
    – Pre-game meal Saturday (high carb, low fat, low protein, more fluids)
    – No complex carbs or simple sugars in the last hour before game
    – During game: sip water or sports drink
    – Eat a full carb meal 60 to 90 minutes after the game

  4. Hofosho says:

    I am usually one of the most nervous people before a bout. The biggest thing that I do is sit and listen to some of my favorite tunes to mellow me out. I also like to take some time right before the bout and just be to myself and meditate. Then I usually joke a little with my teammates and dance around to whatever music is playing in the rink. As soon as the whistle blows for the first jam all the nerves leave me and I am just focused on the bout and doing my best.

  5. my team always has lunch together at the captain’s house on bout day. we eat a healthy lunch, talk strategy, talk shit, make posters for ourselves (yes, pathetic, but you know the menfolk aren’t gonna sit around gettin creative with puffy paint and glitter)! basically, we just have FUN together. it’s a good reminder of why we got into this sport to begin with.

  6. Madame Furie says:

    roxy rockett, please come back! your blog is invaluable to us rookie leagues!

  7. Seoul Crusher says:

    [2] Why is my skating not improving?

    There are many factors but physically we all run into a plateau where we see no new changes occur.

    If your exercise routine never changes your body quickly adjusts and the muscles form memory, which means the body is no longer challenged any more. At skate practice you need to change up your intensity and don’t always keep it the same. Example: At one skate practice go balls out during endurance drills and then at the next practice slow down the pace and focus on your skate posture and make sure all your cross-overs are perfect. Don’t allow your body to get stuck in a rut.

    Do you strength train? If the answer is “no” then you should also incorporate this into your skating life.

    Maybe your body needs a rest…maybe give yourself a week or two off. But do keep in mind that your body does quickly lose the benefits that you gain from exercise. The rest, though, is sometimes need in order to allow your body to recover and rebuild torn muscles, etc.

    And as Ida Slapter suggested you need a good diet in order to fuel your athletic lifestyle. If you are not properly fueled then your body isn’t going to respond the way you want it to.

    And of course other important factors to consider…stay hydrated and make sure you are well rested.

  8. Roxy: Thanks for addressing this. I’m really excited & appreciative there has been so many responses from fellow skaters.

    I especially liked your comment above: “why in the hell do I do this? I hate this game!” (Seriously!) I’ve often felt this way too so it must be the nerves because as soon as I’m in I LOVE it!

    Thanks also to Ida Slapter and Seoul Crusher for their thoughtful and inforamtive comments. I do weight train but since derby I haven’t weight lifted as agressively as I used to.

    I’ve found within the last week or so that the root of my problem revolves around my sense of confidence (or lack thereof). I have the raw skills it takes to be an effective skater and the determination but I also have a lot of fear. I’ve never played contact sport before and find myself always worrying that I’ll hurt someone or that I’ll get hurt but WTF, that’s what these ProTec pads are for.

    My routine before a bout? While warming up on the track, I don’t talk to anyone. I stay focused on visualizing how the bout will go, my performance, and I focus on breathing. I never look at the audience. Our roller rink is small so there is no back room to warm up in so the audience is watching us as we warm up. When the whistle blows, I never ever see the audience and I’m focused on the person(s) I’m gonna take out.

    I guess all of this comes with experience. I’m lucky to be on a leauge that has a long season. I’ll be checking back lots for more responses from other skaters.

    Keep blogging Roxy. I like your vision for rollerderby.

  9. Envy MiYoni says:

    So I started getting butterflies just reading this post….

  10. Ahhh… I am so thankful for this blog! My first bout is tomorrow. I had read this particular post awhile back but now that I am suffering from pre-bout nerves, it has SO MUCH more meaning to me!
    My husband will be psyched when I tell him we have to have sex in the morning! Hahaha!
    After thinking about and training for this event endlessly, I have come to a good place psychologically:
    Derby is a moment in time. It’s something that I will do as long as I am physically able to, but in the grand scheme of life, it is a flash in the pan. All of these amazing things we do as a league will someday be memories, and I will wish I was here again, young, fit, strong, and surrounded by these fantastic women, a part of something so cool and exciting.
    This helped me to stop worrying and start enjoying today. Thanks girls for sharing and thanks Roxy for the best blog! Come back soon!

  11. Domea Fava says:

    OMG!!! The majority has spoken!! Sex on game day is a must!!!