Coach De La's Six Tips for Rookies on Game Day


Nervous about your roller derby bout? We can relate. Several of our skaters will also be playing their first bout this weekend and the chats are lighting up with excitement. Questions about what to wear, what to eat, nervousness about their preparation, their skills are all fairly common and completely understandable. But game week is not the time to get in 10 extra hours of training. You’ve put in the work leading up to this point. Now what? Head coach De La Ruthless has six things you should be focusing on.

1. Be present & clear your mind.

During a game you might be thinking about 1,087,937,109,837 things, but these things will distract your game play. Being present and focusing on your team’s task will put you in control of what’s going on and what you can do to help.

2. Focus on the task at hand

If your team is focused on defending against the jammer, YOU should be focused on that too. This means helping in any way you can. Are you not currently blocking the jammer, but notice she is pushing your team close to a "no pack" situation? Be the bridge. Let your team know if they need to drop another bridge. Did you fall back behind the jammer and your team still has her in the pack? Sprint up and support your teammates in holding her back. See an opportunity to knock her out of bounds? Go for it!

3. Forget the last jam

This is extremely important. Move past the last jam regardless of how you did out there. Everyone misses a jammer or screws up at some point. Let it go! That was just one jam of 50 of the game. Focus on the next jam. There is still a game left to play.

4. Breathe

When you need to refocus, deep breathing will help you relax and get ready to go. It’s easy to forget to breathe when you’re stressed, like when it’s your first bout ever. Consciously breathing will bring you to the present and allow you to focus.

5. Communicate effectively with small phrases

This is for everyone in general but more for VETS. Newbs don’t usually communicate as much during their first game. When communicating with your team, it’s vital to keep it task specific and short. Phrases that are useful are things such as: "Drop back!" "Bridge (skater name)!" "Jammer coming up!" "Get to the front!" The track is not the place to explain things because you’ll cause confusion. Keep it simple. Talk after the game and in between jams if you need to elaborate.

6. Listen

Many people say this, but not many do it. It’s crucial to listen to what is happening! "Was that a whistle and my number?!" Look at the ref to find out, then go to the box quickly to avoid a further penalty if you do get called. Listen to your teammates (“Shakes said to get to the front…" etc.). Those who are playing with you will be trying to communicate. If you’re not listening, it will be counterproductive. This also means silencing the voices in your head and being present. When fully present, you’ll have no problem listening.

You’ve worked hard to get to this point. You’re not going to always feel 100% prepared. Focus on the 80%. The rest? Leave it to your instinct and learn during the game. Be patient with yourself. It takes time to know what to listen for and how quickly to react. The best part? Working together toward a common goal. Win or lose, you achieved this much. Have fun and trust your training!

Were these tips helpful? What have you done to prepare for game day?

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