Published on October 14th, 2013 | by Jam Slanders0
Photo by O'Durgy, Image by Veronica Scars, Skater Trix Ann Riots
Ask Jam Slanders: How to Bring My Teammates Back to Earth
I am a junior derby girl. Our first bout is coming up soon and our team has mixed emotions, but for the most part, the team is big-headed. They think that we are going to have an easy win and therefore aren’t taking anything very seriously. What can I do to get them to try harder?
Ready to Rumble
Hi Ready to Rumble,
It’s hard sometimes to skate with your team when they are having an attitude issue. You’re right—you should never underestimate an opponent. Pride can be a team’s downfall.
A lot of factors contribute to the outcome of a bout. Ideally, derby would come down to who is the better team, but a lot of things can come up during an actual bout. Jam has personally experienced the following:
–Having refs call things differently than what you’re used to in practice. This often means more penalties. More penalties means fewer people on the track. Fewer people on the track means trouble.
–Having teammates get a case of the nerves at the last minute. Sometimes people feel very confident until right before the game, when they get very nervous. It may be the crowd, the music, or anxiety about their performance, but they get nervous. Sometimes this is fine, but some people have trouble playing well when they feel pressured.
–Last minute illness or injury. I’ve had to play games where multiple girls got sick or a bunch of last minute injuries shook up the roster, and then the team had to adjust at the last minute.
–Going to play a game and finding the floor is so slick or grippy that you can barely skate. Or, the music is so loud you can’t hear your teammates. If you are traveling for your game, there are any number of things that might be different from where you’re used to skating, and some can interfere with your gameplay.
In the meantime, I would talk to your coaches about it. Mention that you know it’s good to go into a game confident, but you feel your team is getting a little cocky. It’s pretty easy for a coach to make a practice hard enough that your team will realize that they still have a lot more to learn.
When you talk to your teammates, focus on the long term. Are they the only team you’re ever going to play? Certainly not. So, instead of framing things in terms of your opponent, focus more on what you and your team need to work on. Discuss your own goals for the game and encourage others to do the same, but frame these goals in terms of the team. For example, not “I’m going to destroy that other team!” but “I am going to focus on containing the other blockers to help my jammer get through the pack.” or “I am going to make sure I am communicating with my teammates to execute the right strategy.” or “When I jam, I am going to be sure to look at my coaches to make the right call offs to maximize our team’s points.” Then, talk about what you need to do at practice to make those things happen, because everyone needs to improve something. “I need to work on using my voice on the track.” “I need to remember to skate the jammer line.” “I need to stay low when I’m hitting.”
A final tactic is to ask someone to tape your scrimmage and then have your coaches walk through the tape and tell your team what is good and what needs work. Watching tape is always a humbling experience, because even when you think you look great or did really well you can also see the things you did not so great and identify what you need to work on. Everyone should realize that they have lots of things to learn.
Good luck with the bout!
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