Pina Collide Her from Oxford Wheels of Gory talks Fresh Meat and Coaching.
Pina blocking like a boss!
Photo by Gemma Turner
Everyone loves fresh meat! Not only for their unrelenting optimism and appetite for the sport but also for the fact that they are always awesome, no matter their experience! They have taken the decision (courage) to come along, mix with a bunch of ladies they don’t know and strap on a pair of skates – now that’s awesome!
In my experience, it’s unusual to have fresh meat start with a team who can already skate very well and do most tricks (like transitions straight off – I mean seriously, who can do that!?) So, imagine my surprise when we had 2 turn up at the same time! Not only was I completely ecstatic to not need to train someone how to skate and stop (this isn’t my issue here though, I love training the newbies, great sense of satisfaction in that) but I was also put slightly out of kilter.
Now let me phrase this right as I can already see a few raised eyebrows here. I’ve been skating since the original Oxford derby team was formed in late 2010 and there are still tricks and kicks that I still can’t do and that’s frustrating for me (my bad).
I’ve been a coach for Oxford Wheels of Gory for a year now and I don’t feel like my own derby career has gone very far in that time. I concentrate so much on helping others that I continually forget to help myself and often watch and train the other guys during our training time than taking part myself. Only recently have I decided to put down the whistle and actually take part in the drills we’re doing so that I can actually improve my own skating. Lesson number 1 learnt there Nic, make sure you take the time to put the effort into your own skating career, not just everyone else’s.
No-one can make you a better skater than yourself and some hard work. We’ve been honoured to have some brilliant guest coaches come to help us which has given me even more experience and drive to succeed.
Anyway, back to my 2 newbies – they are awesome skaters, that much is already clear! They can turn on a sixpence (do they still exist?) and do lots of tricks that I can’t yet do. One of them can hit harder than I can already and is a force to be reckoned with. The other is nippy and dodges hits well.
Now, in the first few months of them joining, I seriously questioned my own abilities as it was frustrating, why couldn’t I do that? I’ve been skating a long time? I felt deflated! Then it hit me – I know more about derby than they do and whilst my skating skills might not quite match theirs, (yet!), what I lacked in foot skills on the track, I could make up for with my knowledge instead.
I knew how to recycle them back for a cut track or knew that a sweep would work effectively as they didn’t know about this stuff yet. Now I’ve got to know these 2 newbies, I can honestly say that they have worked really hard to learn the rules, take on board everything I say at training and show me respect throughout even though they clearly know and can see that my skating isn’t where it should be yet.
I know I’ve progressed within the last 6 months because of them because the fight inside me drives me to want to be better. I’ve now learnt not to beat myself up about my lack of ability but to embrace it and learn more. Spend more time on skates, muck about, fall over (a lot!) and make mistakes, it’s the only way to really learn.
Not only have I learnt that falling over is important, it’s essential! If you push yourself hard enough, you’re bound to fall and that’s part of progressing. You just have to pick yourself back up and do it again until you don’t fall, then push that little bit more. There is no shame in falling over – that much we tell our newbies straight away! Only by falling over can you learn to appreciate where things went wrong and to improve them for next time.
What this has taught me is that if newbies come into your league and appear better than you, don’t see it as a negative, use it as a positive thing. Learn from them if you can and impart your derby knowledge on them. Afterall, we’re a team and should act like one. Everyone learns at a different pace and a different style and I can honestly say that everyone in my team works well together. We can all learn skills from each other and we know how to work together well on the track to get the best out of each other! That, right there, is derby love and commitment and I love every single second of training with my girls!
Now I must dash, I’ve got to get on to practice nailing faster transitions….
Pina Collide Her