US roller derby coaching legend and founder of the San Diego Derby Dolls Bonnie D. Stroir recently sent us a small batch of her latest MP3s, and over the next few weeks different members of the London Rockin’ Rollers league will be posting their reviews of the podcasts here on our blog. The first to get the ears of three of our skaters was ‘Playing Zen Roller Derby’, a 28 minute audio track, written and narrated by Bonnie.
Demolition Darcy, 99, B team player for London Rockin’ Rollers
If you have ‘good’ or ‘bad’ days at roller derby and you thought there was nothing you could do about it, this one’s for you.
Bonnie D. Stroir frames this situation perfectly using her own experience – because your endurance and skill doesn’t change magically, it makes sense that it’s your mental state that’s the difference between MVP or DOA come bout day.
And, you can fix it as long as you take control.
In this podcast Bonnie’s put together some well-researched, practical ideas from a variety of disciplines designed to help “keep your shit together” during a game.
My favourite tip, and a recurring theme, was to break what you’re doing down into tasks. Concentrating only on the job you’re assigned, or the jam you’re actually playing and not the one on the track, can reduce stress.
Actively setting yourself small tasks like “I have to hold the jammer for 3 seconds” in the middle of blocking can help you focus your actions and play more effectively.
Avoiding collective unravelling as a team, she says, is also key to lasting a bout, because roller derby bouts are won not just on physical energy but mental and emotional energy. Yelling is as exhausting as skating, as any player on the bench can probably tell you.
“The other team is already trying to kick your ass, no need to assist them!” - Bonnie D. Stroir
There’s also some advice on recognising the effects of adrenaline in team members (making roller derby girls mental, in a bad way), and how to support them when it seems they’re about to lose it. Mostly that involves touching, so thumbs up from us…
Anima L’Styx, 289, B team roster, blocker/wannabe jammer, playing since January 2011
Who never had pre bout jitters, or during bout frustrations – be it with yourself, the officials, the way the scores are going…? Who has never lost their cool or seen a player lose her/his cool and just not play as she/he could?
In her ‘Zen Derby’ audio, Bonnie D. Stroir talks about how important it is to conserve your mental and emotional energy. How managing to focus on the job at hand instead of letting all the chaos of a bout overwhelm you is the key to good and consistent performance.
She breaks a bout down in ‘areas’ and gives simple, yet great tips on how to, as she put it herself “keep your shit together”, and with that be able to access all your mental and physical potential, and be able to use the skills we practice so hard to obtain.
In this audio, you’ll find no magic formulas or any revolutionary theory. But, for me, this is exactly why it is such a great tool. Because, sometimes, we oversee what we consider obvious. But, in the end, simple advice like “let the bench coach do the coaching” can make a huge difference in keeping not only your shit, but the whole team together.
And a calm, cohesive team keeps out of the box and performs better.
Luce Wheels, 98a, Wreck League, playing since December 2011
I was rather intrigued to see that one of the MP3s that Bonnie D. Stroir sent us to review was about zen and roller derby. When I signed up for the Rockin’ Rollers Fresh Meat programme the ladies who interviewed me were surprised that I could be a yoga teacher and a derby rookie. How could such opposite disciplines come together in one person?
Yoga is great off-skates exercise developing muscle strength and flexibility, improving your style and reducing injury, but it also gives a focus of mind that can be crucial during a bout.And that’s exactly what Bonnie talks about – how the ability to be in the present moment with pure focus and good vibes can really enhance your game play.
Bonnie’s MP3 is aimed at coaches and bouting players so as a rookie who’s not even scrimmaged it talks about aspects of the sport I’m yet to experience. But just like learning the drills in the right way from the beginning to avoid developing bad physical habits, mental attitude also benefits from being nurtured correctly from the start.
Additionally, hearing Bonnie talk about playing roller derby feels like a real privilege, and will help me to prepare for my time on the track.
You can download Bonnie D.Stroir’s Playing Zen Roller Derby now. More reviews of Bonnie D.Stroir’s podcasts will be coming to the blog soon.