This question waited in the wings for a while because we were not sure how to best answer. Even though it's been a while since you submitted it, we'd like to answer it. We know it will help others, too. We sincerely hope you've not given up, and if you did, we want you to lace those skates back up this instant.
Many people find themselves in this same situation, especially in leagues that are newer and are still figuring out how to run a business, train skaters, be competitive, etc. This sport is a run by volunteers who want to see their league develop and grow. Every team that exists is learning the best practices to do this in real time. Sometimes structures need to change and sometimes there needs to be a culture shift in order to survive. Please do not see this as a personal attack, but as a positive thing for the league that will help sustain them and grow into a bigger, better league. League 2.0!
The real question you should ask yourself is: what do you want to do? If you want to skate, skate. If you want to NSO, NSO. The only person that can dictate your roller derby career is you. It sucks to feel like you’re being left behind and it really sucks to feel like you have no hope. Trust me, I’ve been there. But there is hope, you just have to make it for yourself, by putting in the work. Derby isn't something at which you can excel if you're committing half-heartedly.
Six weeks of bootcamp is a lot of time to hone your skating skills. Do you have access to rinks where you can go to their open skating sessions to get extra time? Can you skate outdoors? These days, there are tons of resources online for learning how to skate. Pull up YouTube vids and blog posts and take some notes. Cross-train! Cross-training is so important for upping your skating abilities. You are better able to control your muscles and tell your body what to do, and the healthier your cardio vascular system, the less winded you'll be during drills. Here are some links to cross-training resources: Fitness Blender, Roller Derby Athletics, and our own blog post on weight lifting.
You also need to shift your mindset. Instead of telling yourself that you won’t pass and accepting failure before you’ve even started, why not try working on positive self-talk? You absolutely will fail if you go into it thinking you will, but if instead you say to yourself, “I am going to try my hardest to succeed,” you’re taking positive steps forward. The brain is a powerful thing and it can either lead you to failure or you can use it to trick your body into doing things you didn’t think you could do. Don't think of failure as this imminent thing that will upset you a lot. Think of every test as an opportunity to learn and grow, to level-up. Get used to failure. You'll fail a lot, and it's good. If you have a mental breakdown every time you fail in derby, you'll be a very unhappy skater. No skaters, not even Team USA skaters, never fail. They just don't let it stop them from trying again and training harder.
Even if you don’t pass the first time, take that time to volunteer for the league! Fill as many NSO positions as you can in order to better learn the game, because skating skills are not the only important part of playing roller derby. Learning the rules takes a whole lot of time and the earlier you start understanding the rules, the more ahead of the pack you’ll be. Watch WFTDA’s YouTube channel of past D1 games. A skater who knows the rules is a very important skater, and as fresh meat, you will stand out! You’ve already gotten a jump on this new round of fresh meat because the league allowed you to attend practice, even if it was on the outside. You can DO IT!
Gravy & Tesla
What is Dear Derby?
Dear Derby is advice for the derby world, because Abby doesn't know anything about cheap shot low-blocks or whiny league mates.