7 things I would have told myself 7 years ago

If I could visit myself as the ghost of derby future at the point where I was learning how to skate, I would tell myself all of the things that I have learned over my derby years about being an athlete, being a teammate and being the best version of myself. In creating a list of my goals for this 2014 season, I realized that a lot of these things wouldn’t have been on my list 7 years ago; in fact, I wouldn’t have even made a list. In an effort to share what I have found works for me, I give you: 7 things I would have told myself 7 years ago.

Dear little baby Bash,

Here are 7 things that I would like you to focus on harnessing in your derby career (you’re going to be playing for a while). If you follow these steps you will be a better teammate and a better skater as a result. Take my advice, I’m really smart :)

  1. You are an athlete – Roller derby is a sport. You are an athlete. There is a whole list of things that goes into becoming the best athlete that you can be. Off skates and cross training are now, more than ever, necessities in roller derby. On top of working on skates and off skates, you have to eat right, you have to hydrate and you have to rest!

  1. Mental toughness – or as I like to say “Toughen up cupcake.” This is something that has to constantly be refined and applied. I’ve read every single motivational/teamwork/mental toughness sports article that Google can provide and for the most part, all things about being an athlete lead back to these basic principles:

    1. Mind over body – No limits. There is a point in every drill, every off skates, every really hard practice that you’ll want to quit. When you find those points, that’s the trigger to keep pushing. When you push past the point that you want to stop, you’ll go even further next time. Set goals for yourself in endurance drills. Count how many laps you did and then next time try to do one more. Try to hold that jammer in your wall for 5 more seconds. Try to do one more grapevine. I really hate running but I make myself do it because it’s good for me. When I’m running, I tell myself, “I can run forever.” How do I run forever? Well, I don’t, but I focus on my breathing and my stride. I break down the mental wall that I’ve built and push through. As Babe Ruth said “It’s hard to beat someone who never quits” So, NEVER QUIT!

photo found on PinQuotes

photo found on PinQuotes

    1. Mind over circumstance – You can only control your actions and reactions.

    2. Mind over fear – Mental blocks keep a lot of people from doing the things they wish they could do. My teammates tell each other, “Just do it,” when someone starts whining or complaining – we interrupt with a “just do it.” That pulls our focus to “You’re right, I just need to do it.” And before you know it, it’s done. Before each bout, I go into my own space. I gear up, I put in my head phones and I get in my zone. I take the time to talk to myself (in my head, of course) and envision the bout.  I watch the other team skating and imagine shutting each one of them down. I mentally build up my “f@%& you” mind set. I say, “This is my spot, this is my point and you’re going to have to work hard to try and get it.” When a jammer is pushing me, I say in my head, “You’re not moving me.” I tell myself things like “I am smarter, stronger and more powerful.” Even if it’s not true, it’s the mindset of no fear that gives me the confidence to take risks and play with hustle.  No matter who my opponent. Trust yourself and trust your teammates. Take each opportunity to learn and grow.

  1. Be honest with yourself – First and for most, you need to remember that you are disposable. No matter how good you are, you can, and will be, replaced if needed. There will always be someone behind you willing to rise to the occasion and take your spot. No team NEEDS you. A team is only as good as its collective effort and one single player won’t win a game, teamwork will. That means that you need to get in the mentality of EARNING everything. Point blank, you don’t know everything. Every single jam in every single bout should feel like it was earned with hard work, dedication and gainful effort to improve. The first step to being able to fully feel like you’ve earned everything is to start being HONEST with yourself. Sometimes it’s really hard to say this is what I am not good at and then ASK for help. You need to be willing to tell your teammates what you need!

  2. Motivation – At the end of the day, no one can force you to be a better skater; you have to want to be one. You have to be willing to want more of everything. You have to compete with yourself. You have to compete with your teammates –One of my teammates Killa recently told me that she wants my starting spot as a blocker and that her goal this year is to take it from me. As first, I got all amped up (in a good way) because I am a little bit competitive. I started to think of what I could improve to keep that from happening. Then I started thinking about if I were her, what I would work on to take my spot. The answer was hitting. I told her my thought process and told her that because that was the one thing that I could think of that would help her meet my specific set of skills that I would work on it with her. I also asked her that because she is better at backwards skating than I am, if she would help me with that. I want my teammates to be better. My team evolving to be better skaters makes me a better skater.  Her motivation to be better at something than I was motivated me to work harder to make sure that didn’t happen. At the end of the day, both of us working harder makes us better skaters and we play on the same team, so when we’re both out there kicking ass, we’re on the track together. Don’t forget that.

photo found on PinQuot

photo found on PinQuot

  1. Positivity – There are times you’ll want to quit, cry, punch people, and scream. Sometimes all at once. You have to take that energy from your emotions and channel it into something positive to help your game. “OK, that didn’t work, what I can do now?” I always try to ask myself, “What’s next? What’s next?” which helps me move on from whatever happened 2 seconds ago. If I made a good move or a bad move, the only thing that I can change is the next move and THAT’S the one that counts. Being positive not only keeps you in good spirits but has a magical way of helping your teammates as well!

photo found on PinQuot

photo found on PinQuot

  1. Hustle – Each drill is as hard as you make it. You get in what you put out. Practice the things that you can not do as well as you’d like to. Practice the things that scare you. I connect with people on my team and say, “Hey lets push each other tonight, you remind me and I’ll remind you.” We have mini competitions with each other.  There is no “I can’t do that,” there is only “I can’t do that … yet.” And most importantly, hustle isn’t hustle if you don’t do it when no one is looking. ALWAYS push yourself to 110% and if you feel like you can’t get there, find someone who you think can and have them push you!

photo found on PinQuot

photo found on PinQuot

  1. Connect with your teammates and your league mates – Be the teammate that you’d like to have. I always take the time to share with my team the things that I do to amp myself up. I post motivational pictures on our Facebook (Yes, Facebook is still around!), I buy us goofy little presents, I go out of my way to check in on teammates and let them know when they were doing something awesome. Especially when it’s something that doesn’t always get recognized, like taking feedback and applying it. You also have to remember that you should make an effort to skate with all types of skaters. You will learn something from every person that you play with … if you can find the positive. Your partner might be having a hard time staying with you OR do you need to find a new way to stay with your partner?

I know it’s a little bit of tough love but your mindset and focus will skate you too good places. Always remember hustle, hit, never quite…TOGETHER!!!! P.S. don’t wait so long to buy new skates, those plastic plates are worthless.

Love,

7 year older Bash

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