Seriously. Watch yourself.

Shake ya ass. High fives and points all around if you are now singing this. But seriously, watch yourself.

I have been a little quiet as of late, the last month has been an absolute blur! In previous posts, I have written about improving as a skater / derby player and how to move forwards. But today I want to focus on looking back.

Watching video footage is incredibly important if you want to improve as an individual and as a league. It can be the most excruciatingly painful yet eye opening hour of your life, it can be full of positives and negatives, but all in all you can gain so much.

With working on my mental game and preparation for the next few bouts, I watched back some footage of recent and not so recent games. This year I returned to bouting with the Harlots post ankle break, I looked at a few games I have played in since returning and it seems crazy realising just how far I have come in the last 6 months. I watched some very recent footage back from SKOD and I found myself getting very angry and upset with myself. I felt awful about myself as a skater and player watching it back, I beat myself up and put the idea into my head that I barely deserved to block on my team, never mind jam. I immediately zoned in and focused on everything that I did, ignoring the positives and magnifying the worst bits, picking apart every single move and consequence. What I didn’t look at was how what I did may have helped my teammates, how I accepted the good and the bad penalty calls and how I actually did something useful. After watching these, I felt a little nostalgia come on and decided to watch back some earlier footage for comparison.

Two not so recent games in particular made me cringe, two of my first games as a member of our A Team, one before I started jamming and one with me pulling some jammer duty. I watched these from behind my own fingers, I genuinely had moments where I wanted to scream at myself for doing things and for not being where I needed to be to help my team. I cringed and I did get upset with myself, but the first positive step was that I acknowledged what I was doing wrong. Why wasn’t I in the wall? Why wasn’t I hustling? Why didn’t I take that great offence? Why didn’t I move quicker to get my jammer out? Why didn’t I push harder to get those points or break out the pack? Eurgh. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TIKI!? Like with the more recent footage, there were the odd things I did that showed some positivity, it was just a case of picking them out at the time.

But looking at the difference between the SKOD footage and the older footage, both as a blocker and a jammer, both as an individual and as part of my team, in these short six months, I have actually really improved. I have improved my skating ability and know better where to use my skills. I have vastly improved my derby brain and knowledge of strategy and gameplay. I am starting to think more and more like a Harlot and seeing moments where I do have faith and confidence in myself and my abilities. I have felt a little like I have been stuck in a rut as of late, a little bit of post-SKOD blues and a bad practice this week (annoyingly an interesting and fab session in which my head wasn’t quite where it should have been), put me back into a derby low. But with talking to friends and teammates, looking at feedback and where I can work to make those improvements made me think more about the footage and starting to feel a little more like maybe I haven’t been seeing myself for how I am actually doing… it made me remind myself to give myself even just a little bit of credit. I have had a fair bit of time to make up and a lot to prove since breaking, a fair chunk to my league and my teammates, but mostly to myself. I have continued to fill in my training diary and like with my post here on doing your homework I decided to put together a short list of helpful tips on watching footage back.

 

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Let the post-bout blues pass. 
We all experience a little bit of the post-bout blues when the excitement and adrenaline has left your system and you have to go back to work and non-derby life, don’t be swayed by emotions which mean that you’ll either miss things you could improve on or that you’ll miss things that you did really well. Which leads me on to my next tip.

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Be in the right mind frame for a frame by frame replay.
Don’t watch yourself after a bad day. Just don’t. Whether you have played really well or not doesn’t matter, you are guaranteed to upset yourself! Also avoid watching when you are tired, you won’t focus on the bits you need to focus on. Make sure you are in the place mentally and emotionally to put yourself through an intensive derby homework session.

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Watch the footage more than once. 
Don’t just turn off after one watch, if you really want to use the footage to improve you need to watch it a couple of times to make sure you don’t miss everything.

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Write it down!
Footage is recorded, you can hit play and pause whenever you want. Did you spot something that you want to mention to your TC or want to work on yourself? Stop the footage and write it down, don’t forget you can rewind to help you break it down! When you write things down, make sure it is legible. Daft I know, but any shorthand you use? You’ll probably forget unless you use it on a daily basis! Time it happened. What was the scenario? What was the consequence? Why did that happen? How could you stop / change / continue this? Highlight the important bits and make a note of whether this is positive or negative and if it could even be turned into a drill. TC’s are always open to suggestions and ideas on what to work on! They may already have it noted down in the plans but it is always good that you recognise it.

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View the footage from both an individual and team standpoint. 
Sometimes we focus too much on ourselves and we miss how what we actually did, affected the game, so watch what you do, but watch what follows. Look at how you work and perform as an individual for your own sake, but also look at how you work and perform with your team. Just because you think you did something rubbish as an individual, what you may have done may have actually helped your team out! I found myself at the back of the pack completely on my own in one of the older pieces of footage, but I was able to turn that into a positive by helping give our jammer a pretty epic whip through the pack! Do you think that you are just standing there? Look again, maybe you are helping to keep the pack and keep your blockers in play to contain the opposing jammer! Everything you do has a positive or negative affect on the outcome of a scenario, as you will note in the above writing point, you are never just doing nothing, you are always doing something – so be aware of that and make it count!

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Evaluate how what you did helped/did not help the team. 
As much as we all want to focus on and improve ourselves, at the end of the day roller derby is a team sport. We win as a team and we lose as a team. So look a little closer at how you are working as a team, how you are supporting your teammates, both jammers and blockers. Are you communicating? Are you in the right place? Did your pretty awesome offensive manoeuvre fall flat because it should have been on a player further back? We train and we train and we train, we learn new things and work on them, so you may have the hang of things but it’s just making sure it’s at the right moment. Team mind set is also something you have to work on, teams have been skating for a while with core skaters who just know how they each work and how to work together, bond! This really ties in with the above two points, instead of just going yeah, ok I did that and this happened, look at why and how. This will not only help you improve as a skater, but your derby brain will be bulging with understanding!

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Try not to watch the footage on your own.
Watch the footage back with a friend, partner, family or teammate – try to pick someone who can be neutral who will agree to be honest and supportive. It doesn’t necessarily matter if they don’t fully understand the game just yet, they may even be able to watch more of you instead of getting caught up in the chaos! If they do know the game well, then fantastic! You can look at things from a more strategic vantage point. The most important bit about this point, is that you have someone there for you. Whether watching the footage back upsets you or not, it’s nice to have that bit of support and company. If you don’t want to watch with other people, that’s cool, don’t feel pressured, but don’t make yourself feel low and alone.

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Build yourself up, don’t break yourself down. 
Be nice to yourself, when you find something good make sure you acknowledge that, it is nice to have a few points on things that you did well! You need to always be looking after and improving your mental state in a sport which is not only physically tough but mentally tough! And when you find something not so good, use it as the first brick. Use that as the starting point and build on that brick to become a better skater or player. Even veteran skaters will admit that they are still learning and improving every session, they will always find something to work on no matter how small. Don’t beat yourself up and tear yourself apart because you felt that something wasn’t so good, instead build yourself up!

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Comparethederby.com. 
Simples. Watch some more recent footage alongside some footage from earlier on in your derby career, look at how you have improved. Whether it is a big or small step, it is still a step forwards, you may even surprise yourself! Still in the new skater phase of feeling rubbish about where you are now? Just remind yourself, all the skaters you see at local bouts, at tournaments, involved in WFTDA – at one point or another, the vast majority were in the same place as you. Look forward to the day you can compare your bouts, remember, derby is not just a sport, it’s fun too!

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Don’t be a douche. 
Just don’t. Did one of your leagues referees make a bad call or miss something? Suck it up. It happens, even the most experienced zebras get it wrong from time to time, there is so much chaos happening at any one point on track it can be hard to call everything and sometimes there will be a call that wasn’t necessarily right or that you didn’t agree with. They have a tough job, by all means you are welcome to try and play zebra for a scrimmage session! You may appreciate how tough they have it sometimes! Above all, don’t be mean about yourself and definitely don’t be mean about anyone else. You may spot moments that everyone can work on, but our own improvement is generally down to ourselves. We may ask each other for helpful and constructive criticism or advice, so by all means offer what you can in a positive manner, but only if asked. Love yourself, have faith in your own abilities and just go kick ass.

 

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Til next time little blue monsters x

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