Rose City’s Fresh Meat are having a bout tonight. Yay! Our Meat is tough! They deserve a little bit of the spotlight from time to time.
This will be a first-time bouting experience for most of these ladies. Since it’s already game day, here are a few quick last-minute tips for your first roller derby bout.
If you start freaking out, take a few deep breaths. Being excited is one thing, but you don’t need to whip yourself into a frenzy. You might feel like you can’t calm down during warmups. That’s okay – you’ll skate it out. You might feel like you’re going to throw up during the national anthem. That’s okay – once your first jam is over, your head will be in the game. Remember, it’s just roller derby. You’ve done this a hundred times.
Don’t do anything crazy.
Friday bouts are a little weird – most of you will have to work before. Leave a little early if you can to take a nap, get ready in a leisurely fashion, and get there with plenty of time. An hour at the venue before the bout will kind of melt away.
Other than that, treat it like a normal practice day. Eat the same stuff. Don’t experiment. You know how to fuel yourself for a two-hour practice. Fueling for a game is about the same.
Leave your gear alone. Check it, for the love of derby, but don’t fiddle with anything unless you have to.
You won’t have easy access to your stuff during the game, maybe even during halftime. Keep everything you’ll need during the bout together in one place. Make sure your stuff is labeled, because your teammate will freak out and grab the nearest water bottle or skate tool if they need it.
Believe in yourself and your team.
You can do it, but only with your friends. Trust yourself to know what to do in any given situation. If things go haywire in a jam, stay calm and discuss briefly once you get off the track. “What’s wrong with you?” is not constructive. “Next time, let’s try to stay closer to their wall and sit right on top of it” is more so. Be brief and specific so you can get back to the game at hand.
That last jam you were in is soooooo over.
Some jams go great! Some do not. Either way, when they’re over, they’re over, so move on. If you went to the box on a bunk call, so be it. You can clap your hands or shake it out or yell “MOVING ON” to help clear it from your brain. The next jam is what matters. Forget the bad stuff, and remember how the good stuff feels.
Be easy to coach.
Be attentive on the bench. Keep chatting to a minimum unless you’re in the next lineup. If you want to go in to the game, make eye contact with your lineups coach and try to look eager. If it’s been a long time since you’ve been in, feel free to say so nicely. The coach will take that into account.
If you’re really dying or hurting and can’t jam, then let your coach know. If you don’t feel like jamming, well, suck it up. You might need to. Change your mental loop from “Oh please don’t make me jam” to “I’m ready to jam and get lead jammer and get my points because I trust my teammates to help me.”
That’s what we’re here for! Some people can live it up a little bit more than others – I always lost focus if I screwed around while lining up between jams. Go ahead and wave to your mom, but do it quick and get your brain back in the game.
Go to the damn after party or get FROYO with your buddies. You only have so many bouts in your lifetime, so celebrate each one. You’ve worked hard.
And for my Rose City Fresh Meat – You’re gonna kill it! You play against and with some of the best skaters in the game every single week. Not everything will go perfectly, but no one’s expecting a 400-0 result. Keep it clean, keep it fun, bring lots of energy, and kick lots of ass.
Edited to add: Scarlene says, “DON’T YELL AT THE REFS.” Seriously, guys. You get to steam quietly about your penalty for one minute, and then you’re back in the game and you’d better be ready. There is no complaining about ref calls, least of all in the direction of the officials themselves.
I would also like to add, because that reminds me: DON’T YELL FROM THE BENCH. Let your coach do it.