Practice. A verb and a noun. Nouns are boring, so…
1. carry out, apply
2. to do or perform often, customarily, or habitually
3. to be professionally engaged in
4. to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient
5. to train by repeated exercises
There are so many great words in there. “Apply, perform habitually, professionally engaged, repeatedly to become proficient, repeated exercises.”
I could give examples of how consistent, engaged practice can make a huge difference in performance. There are thousands of books on the subject. My most recent favorite is Mind Gym. I’m just going to keep it short and give a few reasons to get to every practice – even when you don’t feel like it. Other people can probably think of even more and hopefully will post them here.
1. Building partnerships and working together on the track. Some of us are shirt grabbers. Some skaters will cannonball you into the next universe if that’s what it takes. Maybe you usually skate with a certain partner or line, but you know that in a bout there will be penalties and chaos. Learning how to hold each other up and be ready for how every person on your team moves is invaluable. Who skates the outside best and who can cover the inside? Who will you have to grab and pull back or pull closer? Who always gets to the jammer and needs a bridge? There are tons more here, post ‘em!
2. Working on your personal weaknesses during the drills that don’t really do it for you (or so you think). Stop it. You do too have weaknesses, you tough derby girl. You don’t have to confess them to me, but put a lid on your pride for a second. The people who fall because they’re trying something new or difficult for them are the ones who are going to get better. Maybe you’re awesome at cannonballs and you’re bored silly during this drill. Maybe you should skate a little lower? Maybe you could work on turning around faster to back up the jammer? Maybe you’re bouncing instead of sticking?
3. Training your body to respond during scrimmaging. It doesn’t matter how great an athlete you are off the track if you can’t hit the jammer at the right time or jump through a hole in the split second it appears. Timing is only one thing you can’t work on by yourself. How about strategy? Where do I need to be for this to work, what does it look like, how does it feel?
4. Supporting teammates. Some of them need you to push them to stay at the top of their game. Some of them need you to be an example of strength or endurance or whatever you’re best at. Some of them just need to hear you say hello so they feel like not everyone in the room hates them. Most of these things you will never be aware of because we’re not always great at telling each other how good it is to have a certain skater or skaters present. Just know, that to at least one skater, you are an inspiration in some way. Every one of you.
I’m stuck here typing with one hand instead of attending practice right now because I’m on injury leave due to a clumsy fall that broke my arm. Yes, I missed quite a few practices before I broke it. We all have great reasons for not getting to practice. Mine is my boys. I miss most Tuesdays to be with them. So many of us have families we need to be there for and practicing 3 days a week is tough. Just remember how many breaks we get: the day after bouts, vacation, holidays, personal days, injury leaves and more. Some months we only have 6 or 7 chances, not 12, to work on so many things as a team. I can’t wait to get back. I miss it terribly. Go to practice and hit someone for me, or skate an extra lap during the 5 minutes for me, or whatever you’re best at. Do those awesome things that have inspired me all year and fall down (WITHOUT BREAKING), working on the things that you haven’t mastered yet. Do those things often, professionally, repeatedly and proficiently–for the love of derby, your league, and your team.
Most sincerely with derby love, rainbows, glitter, and zombie unicorns,
Riot of the Valkyrie
(Some Thoughts about Practice Attendance was originally posted in Derbylife.com on August 6th, 2012)