Injury Recovery-The Long Road Back

I am 8 weeks out from my shoulder surgery.  I have to say it has been just as hard as they told me it would be.  I am still having to manage pain and do all the exercises.  My physical therapist shows me what to do and I push myself to do it, but it is still slow going.  I am elated at being able to use my right hand to feed myself and type again.  I still cannot open doors and I am maybe 3/4ths of the way to full range of motion and that is being generous.

Every athelete that gets injured knows what is like to go through the recovery process and it totally sucks.  My surgeon assures me that I will be much happier on the other side of this.

Set backs are all a part of life and there are so many other things that are worse or more important than my injury and recovery, that I am still thankful to have my health and the ability to recover.  Team mates have been supportive and I know how hard it is to know what to say to someone who is off the track and struggling to get better so they can be back out there with everyone.  We have had our share of injuries this year.

It has made me do some research on preventing injury.  There is such a thing.  Extra protection gear is one way to help, I wear padded shorts and shin guards which are not required.  But I think that especially for fresh meat learning how to skate it is advisable.  Tailbone injuries can end your strive to be a derby girl and the shins getting kicked is just common sense.  Not everyone is going to be the same and some accomodations have to be made to focus on what is good for you and your body.

The coaches shout about our form and yet, 90% of even the most experienced on the team do not have good derby stance form, however all of them think that they do.  I had some newbies argue with me that they were in good form so I had them do their skating around the track and I filmed them, then I showed them.  It was an eye opener.  We need more sprints and squats while on the track, and sprints are not a race in which you sacrifice form to beat a team mate.  And when the someone tells you are you not low enough, believe them and work harder to get lower.  Remember that training is just that, you are not competing with your team mates, you are competing with yourself and the track and the drills.  You must work on the things you do not do well and not concentrate on doing what you already know how to do. 

We are just about to end our season with our last bout and take a quick break for holidays and then it is back at it to get ready for the next season.  I have had a very long break and am so ready to get back on the track with my team mates.  Hopefully, try outs will go well and I will be able to try out when we have them.

Watching from sidelines, I have seen our girls progress and the training intensify and it is an awesome sight to behold.  I am suppose to have all my range of motion back in 4 more weeks and my therapist and I will be working hard to get there.  In therapy, pain really does mean gain.  I have had to learn that the pain I have now is not injury pain it is healing pain.  But I will be back stronger than ever, there is some serious weight lifting in my future!!

Until next time – Love you guys!

Derby Life Balance

My Life

Not long ago I did a post about Work Life Balance and with the start-up a new team and the commitments I have made to Roller Derby, it occurred to me that I needed to think about my derby life balance as well.  Learning to balance all the things in my life that I enjoy doing with those obligations that I need to do is always a very big challenge.  Family time is very important, and doing things that we love to do is necessary.  Roller Derby is time-consuming and very demanding.  Just like we have vacation days given to us from work, we need a vacation from our hobbies at times also.  For me this may or may not mean a break from skating, but more likely a break from business side as well.  I have  a hard time thinking about not skating for any length of time but if you are struggling with the idea of practice every time and finding that you are not rejuvenated after said practice, it might be time to take a break.

Some times those breaks are forced upon us by circumstances, obligations, or injury but even healthy skaters need some time off to regroup, recharge and evaluate their personal goals and how it is affecting other aspects of their lives.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a recreational skater and being satisfied with that is all good too.  Having been a recreational skater that supported a very large league for several years and volunteering for that league, burn out can occur here as well.  We always need to set realistic expectations of our team members, volunteers and everyone else that works to support our league.

All that being said, everyone that is part of the league should be sure to support their league with volunteer time, serving on committees actively because the more people who do that, the easier the jobs are and a handful of members are not going to burn out so fast.  It takes lots of work, planning and dedication to run a league and we are not just the athletes, we are management too.  So get involved and do you part, find something you like and take it on.  Give your team-mate a break if needed and work together for the benefit of the team!

The picture above is my heart and soul, my grand-daughter and my husband.  I breath and live to be a part of their lives and the other members of my family doing things together and without their support, derby would not be a an option for me.  Because of them I am here doing what I love.

Derby Love!

Kool

Are You Scrimmage Ready?

When I first started Roller Derby I would hear this question being asked at various times.  At first though I didn’t know what was meant by that.  How do I know and no one could really tell me.  I think it is very important for the trainers/coaches to have a really good idea of everyone’s capabilities before throwing newbies into the scrimmage.  safety for everyone should be the biggest concern and a big factor in determining if you are scrimmage ready.

Our team did something different for the first time at our scrimmage practice which was suggested by the Refs and worked out awesomely well.  We split everyone up between seasoned (advanced) skaters and the intermediates and newbies.  One jam was only advanced and the next jam was intermediates/beginners against each other and the next jam was 2 advanced skaters mixed in with intermediate/beginners.  We rotated this way the entire time and it not only worked out really well it was awesome to watch each jam be competitive and no one got hurt.  I personally had a great practice and I hope everyone else felt like they did too.  Having enough players to make this work is a key factor too.

It is difficult as a seasoned skater to dial back when scrimmaging with not so seasoned players every time and this was a way to get them out there so they could go hard and work on their game as well.  And then have the opportunity to help teach the other girls and provide guidance on the track.

As with all things in life you must study that which you want to conquer or become good at!  Every single practice will give you exactly what you put into it.  There are always those days, when I don’t feel so great, tired, cranky or just wanting to not do anything.  I have found out that if I make myself go to practice and get on the floor by the time warm ups are over I have renewed energy, better focus and much better attitude.  It is what keeps me going.  I love doing and helping and learning and teaching.  And most importantly I have learned not to give up trying something even when I am struggling with it!  So you will be ready to scrimmage probably sooner than you think but the harder you work on the drills at practice the better your scrimmage time will be!  Get out there and Get it Done!!

Derby Love!!

Melody

Left Turn Clinic

I have been pretty busy lately but I wanted to wait until after I attended this clinic to post again.  Houston Roller Derby hosted a Left Turn Clinic with coaches Mercy and Juke Boxx.  http://www.leftturncoaching.com/Coaches.html go here to learn a little about these coaches and others for Left Turn.

This was a 3 day clinic that was the best derby training sessions I have attended.  I learned more about myself and what I could do and attempt to do in these 3 days than I have in almost 3 years of my roller derby adventure!  These trainers are not only awesome at derby but they are awesome teachers.  The clinic is run smoothly they know what they are doing and they communicate that very well to all levels.  I have so many things to work on now that it is hard to remember where to start.  I am so thankful that Nawty attended and took notes to bring back to our team, Yellow Rose Derby Girls!

This was not only a physical challenge but also a mind blowing mental experience as well.  I only bailed out on the scrimmage on Saturday because I had 2 bruised big toenails and I wanted to skate the whole time on Sunday.  (Not to mention my grand daughters cousin’s birthday party was also then).  Anyone who  knows me, knows that grand baby trumps even derby!

I would recommend to anyone who has a chance to attend one of the Left Turn Clinics to absolutely do so.  It is well worth the money.

Here are some things that I took away from this training:

  1. What is training?  Being taught new skills and trying the skill, this doesn’t mean you are going to master that skill today.
  2. LISTEN! I’m sorry did I shout that? Let me say that again LISTEN. If you are talking you are being a douch, you are not able to listen and you are preventing someone else from listening. I am just as guilty of this as the next person
  3. Work hard and push yourself, you paid for this remember!  You will only get out of it what you put into it. Cliche’ I know but it is true
  4. Participate, open your mind to new ideas and participate.
  5. Practice what you have been shown.  Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice!!  I did not say that enough!  Practice!
  6. Share what you learn. HUH?  Yes I said share.   Nothing stays secret forever unless it is never used, so share what you know the entire derby community will benefit
  7. One of the most important things is that when you being taught a skill that you have already mastered, you role is to help someone else master the skill, not show off how good you are.  Dial it back because if the trainee cannot ever succeed they will not understand what it feels like to do it.    This applies to team practices also.  You are a team and you win and loose as a team.  Going all out and hurting your team mates when they are not at your level means you suck!
  8. The next most important thing is to take instruction, constructive criticism, your team mate yelling at you to get lower, whatever the case.  This is to help you not to embarrass you.  How do you know if you doing it wrong unless someone tells you????
  9. It is ok to call someone out when they do something illegal.  If you get called out find out what you did, listen and work on not doing that again.  Watching yourself on film is very enlightening.  What you think you are doing is head, is not what is actually happening, sometimes.  It is hard when there are not enough officials to see everything at practice and scrimmages.  So those watching need to actively participate and give feedback after the jam.
  10. Learn how to bench coach, learn how to call line ups, learn how to be an NSO.  Study the rules STUDY STUDY the rules.  Watch games, watch the officials learn what they are calling and why.  Think about what football players do after the weeks game, they watch film!  They watch what they did, they study their position and they practice and know the rules.

I grew up when girls didn’t do team sports and we were told to “be Nice”, well that just sucks everyone should learn how to play a team sport.  Team work happens in sports, and in the real world of jobs.  You have to learn how to get along as a team, in all situations.   Unfortunately women are notorious for creating drama.  We take everything personal, we want to lash back.  We need to step up, get a tougher skin, think before we react.  Cool off if we get angry, and have the guts to tell someone what you felt and give them a chance to explain.  Usually it is how we take it not how is meant.  Conflict resolution is a necessary tool for life, learn it.  You will be much happier!

As always, much derby love!! I know there was some strong truths in this post but it is sent out with love for the sport and people who play and want to play, not to intimidate and put down.

Melody Kool

Work Life Balance whhhaaaat??

This amazingly isn’t just about Derby, these are personal reflections.

I have been working at my company for 32 years wow that’s a long time!!  I can remember when I first started and how ambitious and anxious to learn and do a good job and spend every chance I had working to get ahead, (whatever that means).  I probably had an idea of what that was way back then.  I was young, worked hard, played harder and then came the family.

I remember still wanting to work, feeling guilty for that but doing it anyway for multiple reasons.  Mostly because of divorce and debt and twin girls to raise but also because at that time, just raising a family was not all I wanted to do.  I have enormous respect and admiration for mother’s who take on their families as their full-time job just as much as I do the ones who work and help provide for their family that way.  But it took a long time to feel good about my choice.

Now, I am happy with that choice and most of my other choices in life.  I did learn how to spend quality time with family and how to instill the importance of family to my girls and my son.  Our reward for this is the grown children finding family traditions just as important as we do. It was my husband was who helped me to grow up and appreciate everything about me, and us.

The corporate world during most of my work life had no time for balancing work and life, it was all about working yourself ragged and proving how valuable you are to the company.  Which even then meant nothing, really.  I have seen this gradual change to flexible hours, work weeks and multitude of other ways to have a life outside of just working.  I love that I have lived during this change!

I really can’t pinpoint when I personally changed from being all about the company to realizing that I was working in order to do the things I enjoy, and have the means to do them.  In other words, I work to Live, I do not live to work.  I take my vacation days and holidays and random other days because those are the things I am working for all year to be able to do!  And believe it or not I do like my job, however, I see that light at the end of this tunnel, retirement coming right upon me. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a good many years to work but I can see myself retiring now and that used to scare the daylights out of me when I was younger.

I have a hobby (Roller Derby, DUH) that is expensive and time-consuming and the third best thing to ever happen to me.  First being my husband, second our kids.  I can honestly say I love this life and even though I will never be a CEO of anything, I am rich with all the things that matter most to me.

This journey of life is all about choices, and accepting the ones we have made and striving to make better ones along the way.  My priorities today are nothing like there were 31 years ago, or even 15 years ago.  They change, they evolve, we change and we evolve and grow with experiences all the time.  I have had to learn to embrace this instead of carrying around a load of baggage that did nothing for me but bring me down!

I have learned so much about myself, my capabilities and passions just from Roller Derby. I am so thankful to have found it and for a family and husband who supports this craziness that I absolutely love! I hope to one day pass this passion on to my beautiful Grand Daughter Katelynn! (and the grand children to come)!

Derby Love to all and remember to LIVE life everyday! Choose to be HAPPY and you will be!

Melody Kool

Endurance, Endurance and More Endurance…

My new league and Team Yellow Rose Derby Girls is moving right along with training, setting up the board of directors and committees! We are off and running and I am so excited to be a part of this awesome group of women! Over the past 3 years I have been doing this sport, I was very glad to get back to the basics again. And by basics I mean the dreaded announcement that tonight is endurance night! UGH! We all say it, we know it, we all dread it!

Of the things that has helped me the most with every other part of my training is a hefty dose of endurance training. I have to say that our trainers have come up with some very good endurance training drills that are challenging for all levels of skaters and not the boring 100+ laps (not that we don’t do that now and then). The trick is to do it without realizing it is endurance and just giving it your all for as far as you can go.

When I first started out I wanted to play derby, not run drill after drill. Of course the first time I had the opportunity to watch a scrimmage, I began to see why we had to so many drills for so long before we were ready to play. It was scary and very intimidating!

So back to the endurance thing, it is a very necessary part of this sport and once you get that in good form, the other things become easier. I know for me when I am tired is when I get sloppy and more apt to get hurt or hurt someone else. The main thing is to not stop but to pull out and skate on the outside or inside, depending on your practice facilities. If you cannot keep up skate a pace that you can maintain, rejoin the faster pace when you feel you can, this will also bring that endurance level up.

Most importantly, no one who has not been doing a sport starts out being able to do endurance drills completely in the first few months. That being said, it is also not enough time on skates to go once a week. You will need at least 2 days a week on skates and 3 is even better. Remember to we have to do 27 in 5 now for WFTDA minimum skills! YAH! ♥

So the next time the trainer comes out and announces it is endurance night, rejoice and set some goals for yourself and stop watching the veterans who have been there forever and comparing yourself to them! They were you once.

Thank you for reading my blog! This another new experience for me and I am having fun with it!
Derby Love!
Kool

Assessment Anxiety Repost for the newbies

Wrote this back in 2013 but it is still just as relevant

Just finishing up Yellow Rose Derby Girls assessments and I handled it much better this time around. This is a necessary tool to learn where you are and what you need to work on in order to improve. I have always been a very very bad test taker. I freeze up and my brain shuts off. I can barely recall my own name and it has been that way since I was in grade school. I have successfully gotten out of my own head and settled down to doing what I know to the best of my ability. Trying out for a team is nothing more than doing your assessments and showing your skills and abilities.

It occurred to me that I was mostly afraid of looking like a complete idiot, and people laughing at me and generally just scared to fail and succeed. I know that is really lame and silly. Derby has taught me how to better deal with my own fears. We all start out afraid to fall and what is the first thing they teach you?? How to fall! Face it you are going to eat the track…a lot and the key is to learn how to not get hurt when you fall or take that big hit. These assessments show you what you need to work on. Ok so it feels like you need to work on everything and it is overwhelming and upsetting.

This is why we practice and do drills over and over until you are sick of them. But you are going to get out of those drills what you put into them. Be honest, if you are not giving it your all each and every time you get on the track, then you are not improving and you are not mastering the skills.

Remember that it takes time and hard work to improve. There is no substitute for that and there is no short cut to get there. In order to improve you have to move outside your comfort zone, but do not take chances until you are ready mentally. Push yourself a little each time and it does get better.

Next up is learning the rules of the game! You must look at them and watch derby being played. The other best way to learn the rules is to be an NSO or Non Skating Official. If you are not bout ready then go to clinic for NSO’s and Refs. These are held by various leagues periodically. This way you contribute to your team even if you are not playing in the bouts yet.

Remember that Roller Derby is a sport and you are becoming an athlete!! An awesome Derby athlete!!

Hip checks to all until the next time!