There are two kinds of people. Just kidding: There are way more than two kinds of people. And all of them would get roller derby nerves in some capacity.
But for our purposes, let’s say there are two kinds of people.
Both are planning their first plane trip. One type says, “Yay, a plane ride! That’s exciting.” The other one might be glad to get to go on a trip, but they worry about all the things they don’t know about. How early should I get there? What if there’s a delay? How do I do this? I mean, they’re glad you get to go on a trip, but you might be a bit nervous about the whole thing. Because you tend to get nervous about things. This is who you are.
I used to think of myself of a laidback person, but as the unending march of time plows on, evidence is starting to mount to the contrary. Did I ever go with the flow, or am I getting more stuck as time goes on? Either way, I get nervous, stuck in my own brain, and pick things apart a lot these days.
If you’re a naturally nervous person, I feel you. So you over-analyze everything. I gotcha. You can still do this.
Remember it’s only natural.
You’re not the only person who gets nervous about doing things that seem simple to other people. And besides, pretty much everyone has nerves about playing roller derby. It’s new to everyone. Sure, some people come in with experience in contact sports, or skating experience, but rarely both. You’re all in this together.
Maybe the best way for you to relax is to pretend that you’re not actually nervous at all, ha ha! If that works for you, do it. But you don’t need to act any certain way to fit in with others. You can be your very own nervous self as much as you need to be. You don’t need to come off as “tough” or impress anyone. Just do what you have to do. That’s tough enough.
Don’t dwell on the nerves.
It’s okay to feel nervous, and part of anxiety* is that it’s a self-feeding loop. Disrupt it when you can by focusing on the task at hand. Roller derby needs all of your attention when you’re practicing or playing, so give yourself a new mental loop to play if you feel yourself start to unravel. When you start to hear, “OMG, I can’t do this,” take a breath. You CAN do it. Consider enlisting a buddy to check in with you to make sure you’re mentally on task.
Plan as much as you can.
Hmm, maybe you should buy a book about roller derby for beginners, I don’t know? (That’s my book! I wrote that! I get like $6.41 every time someone buys one, yaaay!) When you’re new, find someone you can talk to in your league, or at least someone who answers their emails, so you know you can get answers when you need them. Later, make sure that your coaches or captains know the best ways to communicate with you, and what information you need in order to prepare and feel comfortable.
Visualization always worked for me. Professional athletes use focusing and breathing techniques before games, too. If you work well with routines, create some for getting ready on practice days. That’ll keep you feeling a bit more in control, and a bit more relaxed.
What do you do to calm your nerves before practice or a bout? Please share in the comments!
*Anxiety and anxiety disorders are a whole other ball of wax that I’m not qualified to speak to. If you would like to talk more about that, let me know and I’ll try to gather up some expert opinions for ya’ll.