Freshie’s Diary: These Girls Can
We’re getting to a point now where the momentum of our 10-week new skater programme can only carry us so far – we need to get our eyes on the prize, and that means goals. Although it’s stressful to start with, going through a freshie intake as someone with little or no skate experience is amazing because every week you’re doing something you never dreamed you could – the amount of new skills you learn and develop is overwhelming but also pretty exhilarating. But then you get to a point where that initial burst starts to level off and you really have to – I’m realising – be committed and intentional with how you use your skate time if you want to properly crack those skills.
This is where goals come in. I’m generally not super into this cultural moment the idea of ‘goals’ is having, mostly because I’m pretty uncompetitive (still not sure how this is going to work out for me derby-wise!) and also because I find it too prescriptive and easy to beat yourself up if you don’t meet them. I prefer setting intentions over resolutions… but with that said, having concrete aims is helping a lot with the transition from fresh to ever so slightly less fresh skater.
So for example, I really want to work on my lateral movements and one-foot glides, because I find them tough and beyond not getting those precious ticks off the min skills list, I know not mastering them will hold me back in loads of other situations. With the help of our infinitely wise captain and other teammates, I’ve started breaking a big, scary goal (‘master laterals’) into smaller aims:
The first skate session after I started formulating this plan, I instantly felt more determined: I made myself save the jolly pootling around for later and cracked on with 15 minutes of lateral Ts. I looked at how everyone else does it. I asked for tips. I started to notice which movements are throwing me off balance. I can feel how I will get there eventually.
If this much thinking – and time – has to go into learning these small skills-within-skills, clearly we were barking up decidedly the wrong tree when we were telling ourselves, “tick off ALL THE THINGS”. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
And actually, sitting down to think about my roller derby goals has made me (in a nice way!) think about what I want from my day to day life and what I need to do to make the progress in derby I hope I can.
It’s amazing how much this sport (and the people who play it) can help you focus on what’s important to you and what you want. When you realise the amount of joy you can feel on track, you really notice if it’s missing in other areas of your life. But I feel like derby is giving me the mental skills to keep on top of things, ask for help when I need it and take joy and pride in the small, ‘pointless’ things. After all, there’s little more pointless than racing round on eight wheels bashing into other people, but somehow it’s by far the most meaningful thing in my life at the moment.
So if you’re a new skater struggling to push on after your first big progression, it’s worth taking some time to work out what your goals are. Take stock of all the amazing stuff you can do, and build on it one small step at a time. Start where you are, do what you can – you’ll get there.
- Roller Luxemburg