Although we’d all most likely prefer to be in the rink 24/7, unfortunately that is not really an option for the majority of us. For those who are into roller derby, it does become a way of life; the rink is where your friends are, it’s where your passion and drive live, and it’s where you feel most at home. However, pesky little things like work, social engagements and home life tend to get in the way of our precious time on the track.
So, what can we do to build our strength and skating skills from home? During those inbetween times when it’s not practical for us to be skating, there’s plenty that we can be doing to ensure that we’re in tip top condition for our next bout. Whether that means sharpening our cognition, increasing our planning skills, strengthening our muscles or healing our bodies, it all counts towards becoming a superior skater.
A Sharp Mind
First up is that vastly underrecognized organ – the brain. Although roller derby might look like it’s just a bunch of people smashing their way around a skating rink at high speed, we all know that, of course, there’s much more to it than that. Strategy and game plans are what can make the difference between a majestic win and a crushing defeat, so you want to make sure that you’ve got your wits about you at all times.
One way of tuning up the old grey matter is to indulge in some gaming during your downtime. That’s right – have fun to stay smart! But seriously, classics like poker and blackjack are designed to test your brain power, whereas newer titles like the addictive 20 or Word Cross Puzzle put your reflexes in the spotlight. Established websites such as Steam, Apple Arcade or Poker Stars can provide you with literally hundreds of games that will sharpen your intellect, all from the comfort of your own sofa.
Just as important, however, is the upkeep of your physical body. If you do find yourself away from the rink for any prolonged amount of time, then you want to make sure that you don’t lose any of that hard-won strength and flexibility. By keeping yourself in shape even during your downtime, you’ll be able to go harder once you’re back on the track.
If you’re interested in some at home strength training, then look no further than our article on the subject from last year. All of these exercises can be adapted to work in an at-home gym, or with no equipment at all, using only body weight. It just takes a little bit of imagination. Alternatively, give yoga a go. As well as calming the mind and focusing your thoughts, yoga builds all over body strength and increases flexibility – vital components in the execution of a successful snowplow! There are plenty of accessible video tutorials available on YouTube; check out Yoga with Adriene for fun, friendly yoga practices that’ll really put you through your paces.
Research, Research, Research
As well as exercise videos, YouTube is also a great resource for conducting research on your favourite sport (roller derby, of course). Professional athletes will often watch videos of stand-out performances in their chosen discipline, making notes of what works and what doesn’t so that they can apply it to their next match. There’s nothing to stop you from doing the same; in fact, we’d wholeheartedly recommend it. Whilst nothing is the same as a good hard practice session with your team, watching reruns of old bouts can bring into sharp focus some essential lessons. If you have any footage of your own efforts then this can be especially enlightening; however, remember not to be too hard on yourself when reliving previous defeats. After all, it’s all valuable learning experience.
Roller derby is a team sport, and it simply doesn’t function without that ride-or-die teammate spirit at the very centre of it. We all know, deep down, that it’s only a game, but when the blood’s pumping and the music’s thumping, it can sometimes feel like all-out war. With this in mind, it’s important to stay up to date and connected with your team and with the roller derby world at large when you’re away from the rink.
Forums hosted by Reddit, Facebook or local roller derby sites provide the opportunity to discuss tactics, strategy, gear and equipment in a knowledgeable and supportive atmosphere. It’s also the right environment to have a good gossip about upcoming bouts or matches that have been and gone. Alternatively, you can use other social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok to learn new moves, seek out new teams to follow, interact with fans all over the world and stay up to date with any news from the roller derby world.