The last 3 and a half years have been amazing skating with Sheffield Steel Rollergirls,what hasn't been so amazing has been my work. The last 2 have been particularly bad having a very dull job with no prospects,no training and nothing to stimulate me.  You know you have a bad job when at the yearly review with your manager you both agree that the best course of action to advance your career is to leave.

So After applying for a few jobs I managed to get a job which promises to be a mix of doing stuff that i had done previously and new stuff that I have been teaching myself with a view to improving my career prospects. I'm both sad and excited about my new job. It's in London so commuting their and back to Sheffield every day and continuing to play for SSRG is impossible,which makes me sad.  But excited to be living somewhere new and living in London is pretty exciting.  I really love Sheffield but now feels a good time to move on.





 

Really enjoyed today, it started this morning with the first of Mickey's off skates fitness sessions that she is going to start running for us. If you haven't already have a read of her blog at  roller derby fitness   its packed full of good work out tips,drills and monthly challenges.  Mickey is an ex Derby player with Liverpool and Sheffield so really knows er stuff when it comes to teaching fitness with Roller Derby in mind.

After the fitness session I had to pop into town to the bank, then went around the Andy Warhol self portraits exhibition, I would say that was interesting rather than good, but glad i went to see it. then quick Ice cream and back home. I'd cycled down so by the time I set off home it was nearly mid day so hot ride home and noticed my arms were quite red, Ouch.

Spent a couple of hours in the garden finally it getting tidied up, its not a big garden but not had time to even cut the grass once this year and it had become very overgrown.  Starting to look a little better now , but spent ages trying to dig up a stubborn root which still not removed, need to have another go at that.

Popped over to my mums for tea, then shopping and now home. Would love to be relaxing in evening sun somewhere but got some dull computer work to do for a couple of hours.



Focus

May. 25th, 2012 06:03 pm
A While ago i mentioned that I was going to write a blog post about Focus, Eventually here it is.

Last year I bought Sports Psychology for Dummies   book. One of the first exercises in the book is to ask your team mates to evaluate some aspects of your performance.   This was quite a scary thing for me to do, I'm not the sort of person who has ever put herself into positions that open me up to public feedback such as a politician,musician actor or artist so wasn't sure what people would say or how I would cope if there was a lot of negative feedback.
The feedback I received was generally positive but something that did crop up  in the comments was that I tend to lose focus on the tasks i am given when playing. This most often occurs when I'm assigned to play offensive blocker to help our jammer through the pack. It all goes well until I see the opposing jammer and i'm "Oooh shiny Jammer" and take it upon myself to divert my attention from our jammer and start blocking and hitting the other jammer.

So fortunately the book has a really good chapter on Focus, the different types of Focus, things that affect our Focus and how it can be improved.

There are a few things that I have found that have started to improve my focus.

An exercise in the book is to pick an object, a candle, or point on the wall and concentrate on it for thirty seconds without being distracted by things happening around you or stray thoughts entering your head. Do this a few times a week and then work on increaseing the length of time.

The Sports Psychology for Dummies    also talks about Centreing and breathing but doesn't really explain what it is.  Kamikaze Kitten of LRG taught me a good exercise for this.
 Take a Deep breadth slowly, breathing in for a count of 6 seconds, hold it for 1 second then breathe out for 6 seconds.

These two exercises can be done at the same time and really complement each other well.  Find somewhere quiet and away from the noise and  hustle of modern life, make sure you are comfortable and not rushed.

Prior to our last bout I wrote down on paper the 3 things i wanted to concentrate on during the bout and pinned it above my desk about a week before.  Its still there now as the 3 things are still really relevant and help to remind me of what to do.

At Scrimmage I have volunteered to be the offensive blocker and made sure the pack knew that is what I would be concentrating on. Tell the jammer at the start that's what I'll be doing and at the end asking the jammer if I did a good job.

Being a bit of a geek, I have actually written an Android App, to help with the 1st two exercises, it available from the Google play site on your phone.  it means you can concentrate on the exercises without having to worry about the counting and getting distracted by that.




 
Pay Attention class, this lesson is a practical. 

I'd like you all to get on of your Roller Skates and place it on a Flat level surface. Now I'd like you to observe what that skate does for the next two minutes.

That's right it does nothing,Nil,Nought,Zero,Nada. If it does Roll anywhere that effect can be explained by Greeks and men with Long Beards who sit under Apple Trees doing hard Maths and its an effect called Gravity.  I can absolutely guarantee that the Roller Skate sat on your table top can't juke and duck around blockers,it can't work out the best thing to do if its penalty box is full and it is on the track with only one more blocker on its team, it can't hit a Jammer off the track and realise it needs to skate backwards to force a penalty and it sure as hell can't weigh up the risks and decide that an  Apex jump is the best course to take past that super tight wall.

Now for the Theory, pay attention at the back.

For that Roller skate to move lots of things must happen.  The player needs to gather information, Visual, what’s happening on and off the track, where are all the players, what are they doing, what are they going to be doing?  Audible, What is being shouted, who is shouting it? Touch, Who is close, how close are they?
 All that information has to be processed by a Powerful Supercomputer called the brain. The Signal  has to be separated from the noise, this takes practise, working out what is useful information(The Signal) and what is unnecessary distraction (The Noise). The Brain has to make sense of the signal, piece together the different inputs and turn those inputs into outputs.

Those outputs take the form of tiny electrical signals that travel from the Brain along the Nerves to the Muscles of the skater, The Signals have to be strong,clear and accurate so that brain needs to be working at 100%. Now is not time for the Brain to be wondering if the cooker was left on,the door locked or what crazy stuff is going to be happening at the after party.

Once the signals reach the muscles those muscles best be capable of doing what they are being told, again this takes practise,it takes time and it takes repetition. The muscles need to be fit and healthy, ready to respond to the data that is being pulsed through them continuously.

Finally those muscle movements meet the skate. There are probably millions of combinations of skates out there if you take all the variables of boot,plate, wheels, cushions, toe stops into account.  There are going to be some skates that do have characteristics that work well for a significantly larger number of skaters than other skates. There will be outliers, skaters who like a rock solid plate, super small skaters who don't bend a Nylon plate, skaters who love a wheel stickier or harder than everyone else on the team and can make it work for them.
Just as a virtuoso violinist can get the best out of a Stradivarius a skater needs to put in the hours of practise to make sure the the inputs,the brain and the outputs are all top class.  So yeah skates are good, having good skates is good but its only one part of what makes a good skater, its not everything.

Your home work for this week is skate fast, turn left.  Class dismissed.
Do you remember when you first started Derby and you started to learn crossovers,I do
I had spent all my life knowing that if I wanted to propel myself forward I would put one foot in front of another repeatedly. Now here I am learning to skate and these crazy women are telling me to put my right foot over my left and drag it back again,WHILE WEARING ROLLER SKATES!! After a few weeks I started to convince my head that it would be ok,after a few months I could do them pretty well and now I can not only do them skating clockwise but backwards as well
Not long after I remember reading the minimum skills sheet and finding out I would have to jump a 3inch high object.It might as well have said Jump Everest. So skating outside 1 evening I found a piece of pipe probably no bigger than the track rope. It took several attempts to even step over it,there was a lot of skating up to it,bottling it at the last second and then skating around it.Eventually the skating round turned into stepping over,then hopping over and into 2 foot jumps.
Around 18 months after that we went to a bootcamp run by Re-animater,we did some jumping over cones agility drills,no big deal jumping's easy right,then she sprung a surprise,now do it backwards.What backwards that's CRAZY. I didn't master backwards jumping there or then but slowly its something I've kept practising and now I'm not bad at it.
Currently I'm trying to practise jumps with a side surf landing so I can do a straight line Apex jump. Its still pretty rough and more of a big step into a side surf but I know it will come eventually and I'll be 'ah those straight apex jumps are easy ' .I'm sure there will be other things to attempt,fail repeatedly at and slowly master but it's important to remember just because something seems insanely scary now that doesn't mean it will always be like that
I was going to write a quick post with the recipe of my favourite post training meal but then though,what the heck why not go into detail and write a bit more about what I like to eat, so here is my typical Roller Derby day food.

Breakfast
1 Weetabix, Asda Raisin, Honey and Almond Crunch Cereal,Dried mixed Fruit.Semi Skimmed Milk
Glass of Orange Juice
Mug of Coffee
Multivitamin tablet

That's a the weekday, at Weekends when I've got more time  i like to have porridge, mixed with the same cereal, mixed fruit, cinnamon and honey and Mug of Tea.

Mid morning Snack,
Banana,  

Lunch
Ham Sandwich with Tomato,Lettuce,chutney and mayo on a wholemeal breadcake
Apple
Yoghurt
2 satsumas or clementines, all the small orange varieties confuse me and have no real preference for any of them.

I've had plenty of jobs where i would never been sure what food would be available or when I would have chance to eat so like to make my own, it saves money, I know exactly what I’ll be eating and it guarantees I’ll get fed.

If I’m going straight from work to training I'll have another Sandwich before leaving work, If I get chance to go home I'll have a couple of slices of toast with peanut butter and some jam or honey and maybe a cheeky slice of malt loaf.

I never used to bother eating before training but there was a practise last year when the office I had been working in had been cold all day,I was hungry and went to training. About half way through the session while jamming in a scrimmage I went all feint and woozy and ended up messily slamming into the back of the pack, not fun for  anyone, so learned my lesson from that.

Post training meal, so here is my favourite meal after training.

Ingredients.
Pasta- about 3 small handfuls
Tinned fish such as sardine or Mackerel.
Pasta Sauce . I buy the small fresh tubs, and usually use about half of one.
mixed Frozen vegetables, about a handful
Pesto sauce.
Dried Herbs



Boil the pasta so its just a bit firmer than you would normally have it,

Throw in the Frozen Vegetables and cook for another coupe of minutes.

Drain the water and add the Pasta sauce and the fish, best to flake the fish into small pieces.

Return to the hob  but turn the heat down,

stir in the pesto sauce and dried herbs keep on the heat for another minute or so till the sauce and fish have heated through.

Serve, I like to sprinkle on cheese and some black pepper.

To drink.

Whey Protein Shake mad with 1/2 milk 1/2 water and banana blended in it.


Enjoy.

I think the first time I had this it was just from looking what I had in the cupboard at the time and throwing it in the pan because I was hungry.  Originally I didn't  have the Frozen vegetables but started adding those after the Nutrition discussion at the Rocky Mountain boot camp last year, same reason for having a Vitamin tablet in the morning and for having protein shakes. 

I think I have a pretty healthy diet and have found  a good balance between eating enough to ensure i get the required nutrition and not eating too much that I’m consuming a crazy load of calories that won't get burnt off. I’m pretty lucky in that I do enjoy the taste of  fruit and veg so eating those doesn't feel like a chore to me.  I stay away from fad diets, overly processed foods but do eat things that  taste good and will always find time for a good coffee and slice of malt loaf.
Sometime last year,can't exactly remember when but probably around a year ago I decided to give up drinking alcohol. It wasn't a spur of the moment thing that was rushed in to. There were two events that made me think that this would be a good idea.
The first was late 2010. we had been invited to train with the Harlots as some of LRG were coming up to run a training session. Don't know what had happened the night before maybe it was a bout afterparty or just some other night out. But after getting in late,getting some sleep i managed to drag myself out of bed,drive down to Nottingham and have a good training session.

The second was very similar. After our January 2011 bout Tara Armov of L.A Derby Dolls was running a training session with the Harlots and again we had been invited to attend. Once more I got up the next day feeling very rough,so after a little breakfast,paracetamol and plenty of water I drove down to Nottingham on a freezing cold day. Some Coaches are very quiet and touchy-feely. Tara isn't she is very loud and shouty and proper awesome. It was completely worth going to and one of my highlights of 2011.
So what was remarkable about these 2 training sessions, well on both occasions even though multiple members of our team had been invited I was the only one to attend simply because they were great opportunities that I didn't want to miss and even though i was feeling well rough each time i dragged myself to each one and each one was totally worth it.

While writing this its also struck me that I can remember the training sessions but have no recollection of the previous nights out,wonder if this is significant.

So if i managed to get to each session what was the problem (Here comes the puking) Well to put it simple when I drink more than a few glasses of wine or beer or whatever I tend to puke, not once but repeatedly and regularly usually once an hour or more frequently for several hours. Its not a pretty site. I've tried different pre and post drinking 'cures' and different drinks.
Its been the same ever since I was old enough to drink, when I was at Uni and drinking quite a lot it happened, and it has happened even when drinking fairly infrequently. It wasn't getting any better so I decided that enough was enough.

So after those two training sessions I started thinking what happens if next time there is a chance to attend a great training session or something equally awesome I'm too ill to attend and have to miss out. That thought and the realisation that If I don't drink it will contribute to my overall training and fitness and it seemed silly to spend loads of time training and getting fit just to have it undone by having to spend a day recovering and working off those empty calories. Why spend time getting back to where I was when I could spend it improving and working to the next level.

So I don't want anyone to think that i'm some sort of prude looking disapprovingly at you all and that everyone should completely give up alcohol immediately. I'm just saying that this is a personal thing that feels right for me now. I'm also not saying that i'll never drink again.

Its hard to say how much its contributed to my performance. I know that if I don't train or am ill my performance quickly drops of a cliff. and I have to work hard just to get back to the level I was previously at. I've also worked hard to have a good diet, not have loads of late nights out, which is easy when not drinking. Make sure i get to all practices and do plenty of other fitness training so I think its all woven together and am fitter now, than I have been for a long time and still wanting to get even fitter.

So thats the upside but recently i've been noticing a down side. I've been feeling that there is no release,no feelings of Euphoria getting up to crazy antics with my team mates and friends,laughing at the daftest things while stumbling out of a club trying to get into a cab and hold onto a kebab. Having this blog is good for getting things out of my system in a slow trickle but sometimes its good to put a marker on things,empty my head of thoughts, close one chapter and move onto the next. Thats what I'm not getting and its what i'm missing the most.

I think its also one of the reasons that i'm craving more of the buzz i get just from playing Roller Derby, the adrenaline of the game and it might not be a very British thing to say but I want to win,I want to win bouts,tournaments,ranking points. Whatever there is I want to play my hardest,put the work in,be prepared to make sacrifices and maybe just maybe get something in return for it. So for the moment going to carry on and see what happens.
So a lot of bouts have 'Themes' there is a witty name usually a pun or play on words, Posters,flyers and the programmes are designed to reflect this,the venue is decorated in some way. Some teams don't do this and think its the wrong way to promote our sport. So lets have a big discussion about this topic. Actually lets not, for the purposes of this post i'm not too bothered about official bout theme or lack of.

What I have been starting to think is that different bouts have different themes, not one that is designed and printed on the tickets but something that each skater takes away from the bout with them, a certain je ne sais quoi if you are French ( or pretentious).

Not sure if the theme for a particular bout will be the same for everybody playing,maybe it is maybe it isn't but I'd be surprised if there isn't some theme or signature that characterises each bout for each person who takes part.

For me our previous bout to this weekend the theme was 'big hits' (If i'm ever allowed i'll show you the video ) the bout was fast paced, hard hitting and aggressive. Not a dirty or penalty heavy bout, don't want to give the wrong impression about that, just good clean fun. We had quite a few power jams and our jammers took advantage and racked up the points.

Yesterdays bout the theme was 'teamwork', it felt tighter, it felt closer knit, it felt more about the blockers working together. there were a lot less power jams. The jams were more of the hit it and quit it 1 scoring pass style.

The 2 highlights for me were working with Skatecrasher against 4 blockers and our jammer getting through for lead and points.
The second highlight might come across as a bit strange. Lining up on the jam line I saw an outside whiteboard go up with my number on it, I checked the penalty board in the middle (Tip for you, before the bout begins make sure you know where your number is on the board so its easy to spot when you need to), I was on my third minor, I shouted to the bench and got myself swapped out for a different jammer. At the time we had a big lead, could easily have taken the jam, maybe I would have scored loads and been a hero or could have ended up in the box and been the villain. A trip to the penalty box could easily have cost the team 20 points, to play the jam I may have only scored a couple, the odds were a no brainer really.

I think at one point in my Derby life I might have done it,just to have that chance to be the hero, who knows can't say for sure that I wouldn't, but Roller Derby isn't a individual sport its about the Team.

I have been put on to jam with 3 minors and come off fortunately not ending up in the box and screaming at Line-up for putting me on to jam with 3 minors, thinking about it now that was a real low point for me (Again sorry Blitz). I should have been checking my minors as well. Stuff happens there's no point in screaming at anyone, just deal with it and move on.

Yesterday Think I had 4 trips to the box, 2 were deserved for a back block and that 4th minor which did come and 2 I will be interested to see the video footage of. A year ago that would have been very light for me, but recently thats quite a heavy penalty accumulation. Lets just say that one bout last year had the theme 'ejected' again not my best moment, so have had some stuff to work on.

Anyway its late, need some sleep so time to wrap up. Loads more bouts coming up this year, going to be some tough ones. pretty sure they will have their own themes just don't know what they will be yet
There is probably a rule somewhere that if you write a Roller Derby blog you have to write one about your equipment so here is mine. But rather than just tell you what I use now thought I would start at the beginning.

After my very first week at Roller Derby using loan kit I was instantly bitten by the bug so rushed home to order the starter pack from everglides . After deciding not to splash out the extra £30 for Torques, that the R3's were absolutely fine and that spending more than about £100 for skates was ridiculous I ordered those, the Anarchy knee and elbow pads and SFR wrist guards and the red helmet,red because every one else in the team had black so i though it would be a bit different.

After a month or two when I could stand upright and propel myself forwards without damaging my shoulder I wanted to be able to go round corners much faster. Decent Cross overs were still a little way off but I discovered a wonderful resource Rollersport.tv (Sadly no longer online) which had videos of a lot of American Bouts including some of the 2008 Regionals . Watching these I discovered that the top skaters would scissor their legs around the apex of the corners so quickly learnt how to do these and to bend my knees to get low which helped.

As my cross overs slowly improved and my Caymens got more and more bald it was finally time to upgrade so the order was placed with www.sincityskates.com/ for a set of Blue Radar Tuners and the cheapest outdoor wheels they had. For the next 6 months I did nothing but skate. Where I was working at the time had plenty of available tarmac around so most evenings would put the outdoor wheels on and then the tuners on for team practise. Looking back now, the cheap outdoor wheel probably helped my skating as much as the Tuners simply because they allowed me to skate more. With all this skating I was beginning to notice something, my left foot really hurt when i was skating. I stopped wearing a sock on my left foot and using a shoe horn to stretch the boot a bit but it was no good, time for new skates.

Thanks to Trish ,Ivanna and every one at sincityskates  I ordered the most beautiful pair of custom Riedell Wickeds in the world, they still are in my eyes. Very soon after buying my skates I was avidly reading Skatelog forum and there was some negative posts about SinCity and the advice they were giving. So stopped reading Skatelog forum.

I ordered the Wickeds with Atom D-Rods but decided to keep with my tuners as I was already used to them. It was then I upgraded my Knee pads to 187's Oh my - like falling on clouds loved 'em

Around this time I heard that one of our local leagues were being encouraged to skate without toe stops on so thought I'd give that a go, well why not. It was interesting I did learn about how weight distribution affects skating and it didn't have a negative effect on my skating but not sure it was positive either. After spending around 6 months toe stopperless and bouting at least once like that they went back on for the boot camp when Texas Hustlers came to play London Brawling. Now you would have to prize my toe stops from my cold dead hands.

At some point I decided to take off the Radar Tuners and try out the D-Rods I'd bought with my skates and WOW what a difference they made,overnight I went from one of the slowest on our team to one of the fastest, not THE fastest but certainly up there.

So going to harder wheels made me faster so maybe having even harder would make me would be even better. By now it was a lot easier to find stockists of wheel in the U.K easier so ordered 4 G-Rods and 4 Atom Strokers from billys and a new Bell Faction helmet from so other company I can't remember which.

Still mainly playing blocker I was able to use the hard wheels to develop a controlled slide to cross the track laterally fast for both big hits and positional blocking.


2011 was a year of big changes. My original plates that came with my skates were starting to get a bit knackered. Mainly because i didn't change the pivot cups when they were worn out and the Holes started to enlarge and despite my best attempts to squirt Silicone sealant into them I decided it was time for an upgrade. I bought a set of Roll Line Mariner Cup plates , these cost me more than my Original Riedell R3s, ridiculous i know. I read up a bit on short forward plates, decided to buy ones a size down from the actual recommended size.Mounted them myself by matching up the front holes from my old plates and then drilling holes in the back where they needed to be, simple really.


After a bit of tweaking I was able to tell the difference, they allowed me to skate laterally in one direction then immediately to cut back without that 'bogging down' feeling I was getting. These plates can be ordered with the Roll Line Hockey Toe stops which are HUGE and Amazing. i love them. Not only would you have to prize these out of my cold dead hands you'd have to kill me first.

The only reservation I have with these plates is the 'click action' system which is their advantage over the Variant - M. I don't think its worth it. my advice would be to go for either the Variant - M or spend more on a higher model.

During 2011 we changed our practise venues. One of these is now our bouting venue. The floor here can be interesting sometimes it can be absolutely lovely other times like an ice rink. Rollerbones of Bones Reds Bearing fame launched some new wheels, they did make a really grippy set but I decided to plump for the Kois at 92A from amazingskates I like them so much I've hardly taken them off simply because they are suitable at our other venues as well and mostly ok at our bout venue.

As I've played for longer my skating has changed, the game has changed and developed. One thing that I decided early on is to play Jammer as much as possible. Although primarily a blocker jamming has pushed me to up my fitness and agility and try to understand what is going through the jammers minds so i can try and anticipate what they are likely to do and if possible get the jammers to do what I want them to do.

So with this change in the game, my change of skating and the random element to our floor I recently decided to buy a set of poison slims. At the moment they remind me of my Radar Tuners. They are making me work my legs a lot more, they are forcing me to drive through my hits more and at the moment my top speed has come down. I'm hoping with time the extra effort required will develop into an explosive Punch to hit jammers with and to accelerate away from the pack when jamming.

I'm now onto my second set of 187 knee pads, my Original Anarchy elbow pads have been retired and replaced with 187 elbow pads both from amazing skates, needed a mouth guard in a rush so bought a protec-Dent from Kitty Fangtastic just before a practise and discovered I have the smallest mouth in Roller Derby.
Other wheels have been bought or borrowed tried and discarded, skated on several different bearings but can't really tell the difference.

So what have i learnt in the 3 Years of playing roller derby about equipment. It doesn't matter what kit you have it won't make you a better skater, skating will. Different equipment suits different people, don't make judgments about people because of the kit they use, they may be able to kick your ass with whatever skates they wear. just like Roller Derby the kit we use is a journey, go with it and enjoy it.
Tomorrow is our 1st away bout of the Year against Leicestershire's Dolly Rockit Rollers. We have a coach booked. I love going to bouts on the Coach, we've only done it twice before. I like to be with my team mates and I really like not having to worry about driving or transport in any way.

No going to make any predictions about the score or result, just going to play the game and see what happens.
Last friday I decided to go for a run, it was freezing cold there was still snow on the ground and I hadn't run for quite a while. I thought it was going to be awful but it wasn't. It was actually quite amazing.
The last time I ran I did my normal route and added an extra lap to it. the 1st lap had had been ok as normal, the 2nd lap felt tough and the 3rd lap was the killer. So when I decided to do the same I was thinking it would be equally as hard but actually it wasn't. I seemed to have picked up some fitness from somewhere, not sure where but was really glad of it.

While I was running I realised that for the last month or so i had been coasting along with my training. people were complementing me and I was happy to take the complements. I had somehow wtapped myself up into a coccoon of happyness and needed to escape from it. I've been working on all the other things that I need to do to make my grand life plans happen and had not taken a moment to stand back think about my Roller Derby and the reasons that i'm making all those plans in the 1st place.

So at the Weekend I played two bouts. A mixed team bout Goth Vs Glam on team Glam and an Intraleague bout. Both bouts I played Jammer much more than I normally do. By the 2nd half of the intraleague bout was starting to feel the fatigue set in and struggle and had to go to pack play. Near the end picked up 3 majors for out of play blocking. Easily avoided but brain was starting to fade and as we were losing I simply wasn't going to give in until I was absolutely forced to.

This week has been good and hard in equal amounts. Have been asked some difficult questions, not metaphorical ones but real ones with question marks and everything. Those questions brought thoughts to the fore which had probably been brewing for a while but not wanted to admit them. Had to share with one of my team mates so thank you for listening to me.

So with all this stuff going on in my head it decided to step up my off skates training. I work in a large office building. one of the blocks has 12 floors the ladies showers are on tenth floor so have been running up stairs to showers when i cycle to work.

Monday morning decided to get on bike and set off to work half an hour early. Good ride to work and then ran up the full 12 floors 3 times. Did that Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday. Did sit ups, plank and press ups when I arrived home after work each evening.


That was a good start now I know I need to keep that up and make it an habit.

Derby training on Wednesday felt a little odd and left me a bit mixed up. Couldn't really put my finger on it. My initial thoughts were that I completely sucked but that wasn't really true, think i'm just being harsh on my self and magnifying my weaknesses but not my strengths. So I guess I probably need to balance things out a bit. Accept complements where they are justified, seek constructive criticism that will help me improve but not beat myself up too hard when things don't go to plan.
So the last post was posted just before our 1st interleague bout of the year. I'm writing this a couple of weeks later.
Well we lost that bout. It was tight near the start, Big Bucks took a lead and then we caught up but not quite enough to win the bout. The final score was something like 118 - 144.
It was probably the bout that i found the hardest. After the bout I showered and changed then stayed at Ponds forge a while cleaning the floor, we had decided to use a dry wipe marker to draw the track on to the floor and even though we had tested wiping it off before taping the track down when we cam to clean up the blue marker was a lot more difficult to remove. Put that down to experience wont do it again.
So left Ponds forge went to the pub, a few people had ordered food but it was taking a long time to come. I stayed a while but didn't feel like eating and had started to feel a bit grumpy so decided to head off home. Anyway sitting on the tram i just cried, not sure why I cried or what it was about I just know I needed to cry.

Looking back now it was part tiredness, part frustration. We've lost a few home games now where we have gone behind near the start and closed in near the end but not been able to take the win. If we can understand where we are going wrong then we can do something about it. We've discussed stuff and come up with some thoughts but not sure yet if we have really cracked the problem.

So more Roller Derby this weekend. First of all Saturday will be playing as part of team Glam in a mixed Team Goths Vs Glam bout as a preliminary before Hot Wheels Roller Derbv take on Hellfire Harlots and then on Sunday it will be the 2nd Intraleague bout of 2012.
Tomorrow will be the first Sheffield Steel rollergirls Interleague bout of 2012. We are playing Big bucks High rollers at Ponds forge. Its been bit of a crappy week so it will be good to get back on the track. Expect it to be a tough one but we have been practising hard so should be a good bout.
Last Saturday was our first Intraleague bout of 2012. I was really hoping that we would beat team Black as they had beaten us in the last bout of 2011 and I didn't want them tho get a winning run going. Sadly it wasn't to be, we went behind quite early and although we held it tight until the 2nd half they beat us by around 40 points.

Straight after A strong mix of All Stars and Crucibelles played against the Inhuman League Mens team. Playing the guys was something I've been wanting to do for a while as I really like playing tough bouts and more importantly have been wanting to play 2 bouts back to back. We took an early lead and kept it throughout the game. I think the largest points gap was around 30 points but near the end the guys started to pull it back to finish 101 - 91. The fatigue was starting to tell near the end but with some good time management we were able to hang on.

After the bouts later on that night I spent a lot of time reflecting on my performance that day. I was really disappointed to lose the Intraleague bout and couldn't really let it go as we went in to the second bout. Superficially my performance was o.k and I got some good complements on my jamming but couldn't really engage my head properly so my teamwork suffered and don't feel I performed as well as I could have. I did consider resigning as Team Orange Captain but realise that would have been silly. As Captain I should be able to lead the team through the Bad times as well as the good and be Strong for the team.

playing multiple bouts together is something that will take practise both physically and mentally. If you win the 1st bout its easy to become complacent and not push hard in the 2nd. If you lose the 1st bout its easy as I did to let it get to you and lose focus.

Focus that word again.Its a word that has been cropping up a lot lately for me, so that’s what my next post will be about
Today I helped El Vicious, Hula Gunn and Dot slash teach Jammer and Jammer Killing at the Hellfire Harlots.

Tomorrow will be learning Strategy from Stef Mainey and Kamikaze Kitten.

Being able to learn new skills and pass them on is one of the coolest things about Roller Derby. It doesn't matter how good you are there is always someone that can teach you new skills and techniques.

Sometimes that learning can come from the unlikeliest of places. Its possible that the newest skater on you league will teach you something as important as the best coach can.
Be open to learning at every opportunity it doesn't always happen on the track,during drills. It can be a throwaway comment from a team mate that will make you think differently about your game. It can be a structured conversation that will provoke you into pushing yourself harder or trying something new.

When you have the opportunity to learn take in as much of it as possible, you never know when what you learn will make a big difference
Starting to clear out a lot of stuff both physically and emotionally
.Tidying my house, sorting out lots of things I don't need anymore and that are now distractions. 2012 is going to be a tough year but with some thought and preparations should be a good one
I'm laying in bed having just eaten and showered after playing our final bout of 2011, against London Rollergirls Brawl Saints. Closed bout etiquette prevents me from posting the scoreline but after shaky first half we switched our tactics and played strongly in the 2nd half.

So lets have a quick re-cap of 2011 and put down a few thoughts for 2012.

After beating Middlesborough Milk Rollers in January we faced up against Leeds Roller Dolls. Leeds beat us heavily in our 1st bout so we were really keen to get one over them. it wasn't to be but was a lot closer than last time. they took a strong lead early on but we rallied held the point deficit down.

An away victory over Lincolnshire bombers then brought us up for another rematch against Royal Windsor Rollergirls. in 2010 we beat Windsor on the last jam. This time it was a similar story to the Leeds Bout. Shaky 1st half closing in on the 2nd half but not quite able to win.

September so us travel to Newcastle,Newcastle were much improved since we last played them but we played well to take the win, personally this was notable as it was the 1st bout that I fouled out of for 7 major penalties. And finally October another rematch against Central City Rollergirls. The first time we played them it went very badly and we lost heavily,leaving the whole team feeling very down. This time it went a lot better, we still didn't take the win but was probably our best team performance of the year.

This was mixed in with various scrimmages, trips to Middlesbrough and Scotland for Mixed team bouts,day and weekend boot camps. and various other Roller Derby activities

So thats the team stuff what about me,time for a bit of reflection.

Still working on Jamming, as I'm still convinced its a really good way to improve blocking skills both mentally and physically. A few weeks ago in scrimmage I identified a weakness in my jamming which I'm working on improving.

I was elected to be captain of one of our closed Intraleague teams. Team Orange. Was quite nerve racking at first as have never been a team captain before,but now really enjoying it. It also really helping me with my people skills and being able to organise, co-ordinate and manage a large group which can be tough at times. Think I've found an ace Line Up manager in Oblivion Westwood, which has started to help a lot. Intraleague has also helped with being able to try out new strategy and tactics that can be taken to the travel team.

Fitness has continued to improve. The Sessions run by The inhuman League have helped with that and making the effort to cycle to work regularly also good.

Still need to work on my pack work, improving wall building and switching from offense to defence faster.

Apart from the Newcastle bout think my game is less penalty heavy than it used to be, I did make an effort to change my hitting style after that bout which helped and also think it improved my hits. Still rubbish at Apex jumping which is leading to penalties when jamming but have started doing some reverse blocking and have been able to get that into game without incurring many penalties.

So plans for 2012.

Improve Diet, think I need to cut down on Carbs and increase protein. Heard a lot about the Paleo diet. might have a look at it but not convinced by it really.

Work on mental game. Started Reading 'sports psychology for dummies', so hoping to learn from that.

So thats all I can think of at the moment. Currently need a good relaxing week, a good rest and some junk food and DVDS so I can chill out. 1st bout of next year is in January already the planning has begun for that so it won't be long before preparation for 2012 is in full swing. If we can crack playing well in 1st half we should be a seriously strong team.
We were playing a closed Intraleague Bout on Sunday. I was Jamming already called lead jammer and approaching the pack for my scoring pass. One of the Blockers was trailing at the back of the pack quite slowly. I figured that at the speed I was going at and the speed she was going at I could skate straight past her without her being able to make a legal hit on me.

I was partly right , she put a clockwise block on me and floored me. It was a major and she was sent straight to the box, but I was forced to call the Jam. I would much rather have had the points than had the blocker in the box.

There is no point in me being annoyed that her hit was illegal because thats going to happen, i'm more annoyed at myself that I let it happen. I should have juked around her or ducked under her shoulders, might have cost me a second or so in lost speed but would have been able to score more points.

So guess the point of this post is to remember to expect the unexpected, think of what can happen and never assume its not going to happen, cos it might.
So we all breathe every day, probably lots of times every day without thinking about it much. Most of the time when I play Roller Derby I breathe without thinking about it too much. When I've been jamming or a particularly demanding drill I will be out of breath but recover without any problems.

A few months ago after we had done our 5 mins of skating drill I was out of Breath but unusually I didn't have any soreness in my legs, that wasn't a worry I just thought I must be getting fitter. The track was crowded so hadn't been able to go at my top speed and spent lots of the time juking around other skaters so couldn't push too hard. I didn't do a particularly good number of laps but not particularly bad either.

A bit later on in the Session when we were scrimmaging I started having problems with my ear, it kept feeling as though I was underwater, just one ear and the feeling kept coming and going. I made it through the session without any incident except for feeling annoyed by how distracting my ear had been.

That night I realised that I was still suffering the affects of a cold from earlier in the week. The reason my legs weren't sore is that I wasn't able to get the oxygen into my lungs to push hard not because my legs were getting stronger.

So I boiled a kettle, cut a Karvol capsule and dripped some olbas oil into a bowl, added the boiling water and breathed deeply, to clear out all the nastiness from my chest and head.

The next training session my legs were sore from the effort and the horrible feeling in my ear had gone and was able to do a decent number of laps

So what I've learnt from this is that I now know the effects of having a cold has on my body even after I think I am over it.

Its not just specifically colds, this past week I strained a muscle in my leg. I could feel it tightening up over a few days but still insisted on cycling to work, doing a off skates work out and then finally it went Ouch while helping at a session for our newer skaters.

I try to listen to my body better to go easy when I'm sore, to rest, eat and hydrate when needed. I still get these wrong, hurt muscles, feel like puking or fainting when i'm tired cold or hungry but I do now try to get it right and don't make the mistakes as badly now, and as I was reminded this week its something that you can't take for granted.
Last year I contributed an article to the Rollerama Zine Published by the London Rollergirls. The article was superbly edited to remove some of the waffle. To kick off this blog I thought I would post the full article including the waffling, enjoy.



Modern Roller Derby originated in Texas USA, A Resurrection of the original Roller Derby, A spectator event with the skaters having fake fights, A penalty wheel dishing out joke penalties to the skaters and outfits that focused on being sexy and theatrical rather than being practical to skate in.


By the time that Roller Derby had crossed the Atlantic to the U.K the penalty wheel and fake fights had gone, A standardized rule set had been put in place and the ethos of run by the skaters for the skaters had been adopted.


Some of the original theatrics have stayed in place, teams have skate outs to music and are introduced by their Derby name. The majority of outfits have been toned down but there is still room for individual customisation and as much or as little make up as a skater feels comfortable wearing.


Roller Derby could get large enough for it to become a professional sport with full time professional players but is this what we want.


Over the last few months there have been high profile cheating incidents in mainstream professional sport. A Harlequins Rugby Union player faked a blood Injury so that he could be substituted, A formula one driver deliberately crashed his car to benefit his team mate who went on to win the race. Hardly a week goes by without an episode of a professional footballer diving to claim a foul and professional cycling and athletics have had more than their fair share of drugs scandals.


If Roller Derby became a professional sport and the players livelihoods depended on winning possibly at any cost, how long would it be before under hand tactics and cheating became common place. Roller Derby is a full contact and potentially dangerous sport I really hope that nobody would be tempted to try anything that would deliberately hurt another skater to win. At the end of a Bout I want to high five the other team and spectators, I want to hug the other team and have a drink with them afterwards. I don't want anyone who is playing to be in a situation where they are forced to choose between deliberately hurting another player to win or losing their place on the team and possibly their job.


Nearly 3 thousand years ago The Olympic games were held in Greece and was just for Naked Greek men who Wrestled Naked covered in Olive oil and won just an olive branch for their trouble.

Today’s Olympics are a major worldwide sporting event, that is sponsored by massive fast food and fizzy drink corporations. The competitors are mainly professional and competitors who take part in the sports that are popular on Television can go on to earn millions through sponsorship and endorsements.


Premiership footballers can earn in excess of £100,000 a week yet clubs lower down the league struggle to stay in business.

There are very few women who are paid to play football in England. The ones that do get centrally awarded F.A contracts, will struggle on £15,000 a year.

Currently a lot of the fans who attend Roller Derby bouts skate for other teams or are friends or family of the skaters competing. As the sport grows and the bouting calendar becomes more congested it will be essential to attract fans who currently don't have any involvement or connection with the sport but are coming to watch roller derby because they are interested in watching an exciting and interesting sport.


If Roller Derby is to continue growing in the U.K with leagues springing up in towns and cities then it is going to have to face up to tough decisions on how we run it and how it wants to grow.

Staging a Bout and everything involved in the the day to day running of the league is hard work, can be complicated and expensive. It would be tempting to look at big mainstream sports and want to be just like some of them.


If Roller Derby continues growing there will be temptation for it to move towards the mainstream. Mainstream sponsors will want the clean cut girl next door image and if they do want anything alternative, it will be alternative on their terms. Would there still be space for the tattooed, pierced women that are as welcome and celebrated in the Roller Derby community as those without. If a large company suddenly ploughed a lot of money into a Roller Derby and it expanded massively would there be the infrastructure in place to make the best of the investment. If Roller Derby expanded quickly and the money dried up where would that leave us? Are we not better to put down strong roots and grow organically?


Lets not try to copy existing sports with their drugs and cheating and inequalities but lets keep Roller Derby Different and offer something that other sports can't. Lets show people that there is more to sport than they are used to seeing.

Let us show fans and potential fans an amazing team sport that is both simple and intricate, played by a diverse group of women. Let us show fans a sport that does not bend and flex to the wills of faceless marketing men. Lets show people the hard work and dedication we put in to Roller Derby and play 110% on the track but play a fair and sporting game. Roller Derby should not aspire to conform to the norms of conventional mainstream sports. Mainstream sports can learn a lot from Roller Derby and it is those sports that need to examine their deficiencies and failings.

As I touched on at the beginning Roller Derby is run by the skaters for the skaters, it is this ethos that makes Roller Derby strong and it is this that will enable Roller Derby to grow, to flourish on our terms and to build bonds and friendship all over the world. Taking this away, giving control to a media mogul or committee that has no connection with Roller Derby would not only harm Roller Derby but would deprive Mainstream sports their chance to learn from Roller Derby.
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