The following make up the physical aspect of success as an athlete: strength, suppleness, stamina, coordination, balance, rhythm, timing and reflex speed. But that is only half of the equation. The mental requirements for success are: character, zen/calm and a positive attitude. If you achieve a balance between these two, you will be the perfect YOU!
Mental training can be as easy as positive goal setting. Goal setting can be setting personal goals, setting goals for another skater to accomplish, working on team goals. Making the team accountable for their actions on and off the track. It is important that a skater doesn’t just skate at practice, athletes need more training than 2 practices a week. Skaters should always be cross training, at minimum working on endurance and strengthening their core.
Putting things in writing makes it real. Coaches should consider making an ‘accountability sheet’ that skater can hang up on their fridge. Make an inspiring outline with positive words make it individual to your team. Leave blanks for the goals the skater can fill in and have each individual person write down what they are or going to be accountable for to the league. Crunches, running a mile, push ups, looking for new drills, bringing new strategies to the league, whatever works for the individual. Have them make five goals and make them achievable, this list is focused at a personal level but geared toward working on personal things for the better of the team. Take a copy of this sheet and put it in their file so you are able to go back and read your goals down the road. Put an end date on the sheet as well. If it works for your skaters do it every couple months or every season.
Setting goals for another skater is another easy to use technique. This can be done quickly while stretching at the end of practice. Pick out a random skater and basically challenge them to add an extra workout to their routine. Make sure everyone gets a challenge: coaches, refs and skaters. For example, I might say, “Camel Joe, I challenge you to add 100 crunches a day to your work out for the next week.” Or, “I challenge you to bring the team a break down of the cutting rules to the next practice, ref.” That is the gist; easy enough and makes people push themselves just a bit harder. Who doesn’t love a good challenge every now and then, right?
Accountability buddies: pick partners based on skill, how long they have been skating on the league and their knowledge of the sport (coach knows best). Try to choose partners who complement and balance each other out to make the absolute perfect skater. These two are now in charge of pushing each other. Give them a goal to push toward (a big game against a rival, a tournament, etc.) these two will workout together, get to know each other better, chat about rules, the whole nine yards of being “buddies.”
A trust drill for team cohesiveness: If you have played roller derby for a while you can probably skate the track in your sleep or possibly blind folded. This is a team trust building drill, because sometimes you find the team needs to work as a cohesive unit before they can perform at the next level. Every now and again you just have to let loose and do something silly to break up all the hard work the team does. Partner up. Blind fold your partner and put all the partners on the jam line. When the whistle blows the blind folded skaters race around the track, the partner stays right behind them, holding onto their hips and telling them where to go to stay on the inbounds and NOT crash into any other skaters. TRUST is so important on the track. You must trust your team mates.
This next drill works on EVERYTHING. Everyone lines up on the track, 4-across, making a series of 4-walls. Once the skaters are rolling, have them keep the walls an arm length apart as one huge pack. The skater on the outside of the wall cuts across directly in front to the inside. The inside blocker grabs the blocker cutting over by the hips and slides them into place on the inside line. The focus is keeping a straight, tight wall even when it is interrupted for a moment. This will work on communication spoken and nonverbal cues as well. Skaters are also working on pack awareness and mobility, keeping a huge pack rolling at an arms length apart even when all the cutting begins.
Mo Payne’s awesome new addition: Hula hooping! I was having trouble getting some skaters to loosen up. So what makes you more loose than hula hooping? Well lots of things but it also is a cool team building technique as well. Being able to laugh and joke with your team is important. The advice I gathered from Skinnerella is, “Just don’t think about it too much.” For the first time in my adult life I hula hooped, I am still working on doing it on skates, but that’s my next personal goal: hula hooping on skates.
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