Locker Room Ava Tarr by Ohio Rollergirls

Published on January 5th, 2013 | by Ava Tarr

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Ava Tarr by Ohio Rollergirls

Five Ways to Survive Your Off Season

1. Watch tape.

If you’re looking to pad that holiday wish list, WFTDA.com is the answer. (Solution #2 is donating to DNN in your name.) Order DVDs from Championships, grab the healthy snack of your choice, and park yourself in front of a screen prepared to take notes.

A good place to start is to identify skaters you want to emulate and find footage of them at work. I also advise finding someone with a similar body type as you so that you can maximize the potential of your physical gifts. As much as I’d like to be able to squeeze into the teeniest holes in a scrum, I don’t have slick Denver jammer Sandrine Rangeon’s itty bitty hips. And I’d like to be able to send jammers flying with a seemingly effortless flick, but I don’t have a power booty like dreamy Windy City blocker Bork Bork Bork. So I try to find the kinda tall and long-legged models, like Minnesota’s L’exi Cuter or Gotham’s OMG WTF, to learn how to capitalize on my assets. (Note: I am still trying to figure out how my Sasquatchian feet benefit me in derby, so if you wear a size 11+ shoe and have figured out the secret, let me know.)

Find a good balance of skill levels, too. Although it is easy to pick a legend, if you’re a beginner it can be hard to map exactly how to get from tripping over your own skates to striding like Bonnie Thunders. Identify some intermediaries as well who represent the path you will want to take, but be sure you can identify their good habits as well as the ones you shouldn’t be mimicking. If you’re not sure, ask your coaches or captains to identify some good targets.

2. Step up your workout routine.

In the off season, practice requirements may be reduced, you may have a vacation, or your league might use the off time to focus more on newer skaters before you start gearing up for the new season. That means it’s time for you to focus on getting in ass-kicking shape.

Forget the fact that it’s winter (for some of us) and cold sucks. Forget that there are holidays (for some of us) and that means stress. Once a week, get out your calendar and mark off when you’re going to go to the gym or work out (and give yourself some flex time for getting there/showering afterwards as needed). Treat that time as inflexibly as a doctor’s appointment—no canceling, no being late. Track what you’re doing, and make small steps forward each week: bump up the incline or intensity during your cardio, add another 10 lb. to the stack, or push yourself through 5 more reps.

Keep up with it and your holiday indulgences won’t slow you down. Once your team’s back on skates, you’ll be closer to she-beast mode when everyone else is dragging from break.

3. Bust out those old Sweatin’ to the Oldies videos.

It’s always annoying when you finally have time to work out…and then you have to spend it in an environment that’s not exactly amenable.

If you’re stuck at Aunt Myrna’s for a week over the holidays and still want to work on some derby, put on your skates, push the floral couch out of the way in the mildewy basement, and pop those Denise Austin VHS tapes in the VCR. (Pads and helmet may also be advisable.) Those silly step routines and fancy footwork can become a real challenge on skates and will help you work on your balance and agility. Just use your best judgment when it comes to doing a move in skates…you don’t want to have to let your team know you are sidelined due to a Tae-Bo related encounter with a coffee table.

4. Volunteer to ref for a rec league or junior league.

Reffing is a great way to learn the other side of the sport—not to mention you might develop a little sympathy for the folks in stripes. You’ll have to sharpen your rules knowledge and learn to identify infractions quickly and accurately. It also gives you a better idea of what constitutes no impact vs. major transgressions in the course of action. All the more to improve your knowledge of the game (and maybe convince you that refs are not, in fact, born with tails.)

Another bonus is that you may improve your skating skills. My turnaround toe stops have improved and I have gotten better about using my peripheral vision on the track.

5. Take a week (or more) off and relax.

Everyone needs a break, both physically and psychologically. If you’re on a competitive team, you can go for weeks without having any time for your friends, your family, or yourself. Take some time. See all your friends you shunned during the season. Cook a meal that you don’t have to chow down in the 30 minutes between work and warmups. Read a book (not Facebook.) Take your significant other out on a fancy date and don’t talk about derby—not once. Go to bed early or sleep in on a day you’d normally be practicing. Get laid.

These tips should get you in a good physical and mental state to face the upcoming season.

Ava Tarr is thrilled to have been re-elected to the Ohio Roller Girls’ Training Committee for 2013.

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