Training Your Mind and Body by Sum Mo Payne

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.”
DRILLS
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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Cross-Training, by Dubbs

Cross-training. To me, cross-training almost sounds like a dirty word. Why do I need to do other exercises or other activities when all that I want to do is excel in roller derby? Why would I build on other muscles when I should really be working on skating, conditioning so that I can make it around the track so many times in so many minutes? Well I’m here to tell you that there are so many benefits to cross-training for any athlete especially for the roller derby athlete.

If you want to excel in Roller Derby, or for any sport, it is super important for any athlete to cross-train. Cross-training is just a fancy way of saying switch it up! It involves several different forms of exercise and is very important because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways. Cross-training improves fitness, reduces possibility for injury, it will strengthen your heart, bones, and joints, creates a total body work-out, reduces body fat, but more importantly it conditions different muscle groups and helps develop muscles that are not often used in your regular routine. Not only does this create a new set of skills, it improves your skills while improving agility and balance which are key for any Roller Derby athlete.

Doing the same exercises in your normal work-out routine will create a plateau in improvement for your body. When you are doing the same movements day in and day out your body becomes used to those movements and exercises and becomes extremely efficient at them. Keep in mind this is great for competition but it limits your overall fitness and reduces actual fitness not letting you improve but keeping you on a plateau of your skill set and keeps you at a certain fitness level. Cross-training will push you beyond your plateau and help you improve on overall fitness and strength. You may be in great shape, for the sort of exercise you do routinely, but if that is all you do you may be setting yourself up for injury or burning yourself out on your regular routine as well.

Not only does cross-training have amazing benefits, it also reduces boredom! Boredom Is one of the top excuses for not sticking with an exercise program or for not exercising at all. Change your routine on a regular basis or tailor it to your needs and interests but keep it fun! Enjoy your work-outs and try new things you normally wouldn’t to get away from the boring norm, because it is so easy to fall into the same routine day in and day out. Cross-training reduces boredom for routine exercise but more importantly it conditions different muscle groups and helps develop muscles that are not often used in your regular work-out routine creating new sets of skills.

Great cross-training cardiovascular exercises include: running, swimming, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, rope jumping, skating outdoors, ice-skating, skiing, and any court sports like racquetball or basketball. Really anything that gets your heart pumping is great. Speed walking is one of my favorites and actually works you harder than jogging if you stay at a set pace. For strength make sure you are doing push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, free weights, or any type of weighted work-out machines on a regular basis. Along with that, women do not be afraid of bulking up, because women have such low testosterone levels this is very hard to do and don’t be afraid if you are gaining some weight if you strength train often, it is most likely because you are turning  your jiggly parts to muscle and muscle mass weighs more than fat! For flexibility try stretching or yoga, also throw in some speed, agility, and balance drills and other forms of skill conditioning. For best results work-out for up to 30 minutes a day and alternate cross-training exercises in order to let your muscles rest or recover. Remember any exercise is better than no exercise. If you want to see over-all improvements on your health, fitness, and overall performance in anything you do cross-training is a must!

So all in all, if you are an athlete from any walk of life remember that there are ways you can become better at what you do, don’t let yourself get in a rut, cross-train, and push yourself. Commit to making yourself the best that you can be, not only in competition but for your body and health, your body is the best instrument you will ever have so treat it right and use it in every way that you can!

Oh yeah, don’t forget… Water is your friend!! Drink it!

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