We’ve talked about getting to tryouts, and then doing your best once you get there. But once you make it and it’s time to start practicing, most new skaters have no idea what to expect. Have no fear! Or, you know – have some! A healthy amount of fear may be appropriate, since you can break your damn leg doing this.
1. You’ll get yelled at.
It’s okay! Coaches and other skaters will let you know what they want from you, and they need to do it loudly because there are 20+ girls rolling around a warehouse and causing a ruckus. Don’t take it personally, even if their tone is abrasive. Roller derby skaters are often encouraging, yet blunt.
2. Be ready to skate at the start time.
Maybe you need to get to the practice venue, park, go to the bathroom, go pay your dues, and get your gear on. Getting your gear on doesn’t seem like it should take that long, but budget at least 10 minutes (as chatting reduces efficiency). If you have track time available before practice actually starts, try to get 5-10 minutes to warm up.
3. You drink water when everyone else drinks water.
You take breaks in between drills when the coach tells you to. You do not decide to wander off and take a drink of water in the middle of a drill. And you don’t eat in the middle of practice, either, unless it’s longer than two hours and includes a banana break. On a related note, no chatting during practice. Just because one girl makes a zinger doesn’t mean it’s time to joke around. Track time is a limited resource, so use it to skate.
4. You know your own body best.
Sometimes pain is just pain, and sometimes it’s an injury. It’s a tough balancing act that even veteran skaters have trouble negotiating. Don’t tough things out just because you can or to prove something, but don’t quit because you’re tired.
If hit your head and see stars, you’re done for the day, and should consult a medical professional. I am serious. You need your brain for the rest of your life. Do not disappoint me on this.
5. Your limits will be tested.
You should be tired. Your lungs should burn. Your lower back should ache. You should be falling down once in a while. You may fall down a lot. If your legs are shaking so much you’re losing control, step out for safety, stretch for a moment, and hop back into the drill. Otherwise, you’re just gonna need to gut it out. There will be a lot of gutting it out in your derby career. Now’s a good time to start.
6. Safety is in everyone’s best interest
It’s not in anyone’s best interest to let you loose to scrimmage if you’ve never learned how to take a hip check – it’s not safe for you, and I definitely don’t want to dodge you when you’re sprawled out across the track. You’ll work on your derby skills until it’s time to scrimmage safely. I know you’re itching to hit someone, but all in good time. Half of hitting practice is getting hit. Don’t be too eager. And don’t be too cocky.
Yay, you did it! You survived! And you smell terrible, but that’s all right!
Now go out for a milkshake or chat about wheels in the parking lot.