DEAR BLOCKER AND JAMMER,
I am not on my league’s travel team and I want to be extra supportive during WFTDA tournament season. What can I do to help my teammates who are on the travel team prepare (and be less stressed) during tournament time?-SUPPORTA SISTA
Tell them they are awesome and frankly, ask them! I think the best way to be helpful is to let them know you are there and willing to help. Different teams have different needs, and in general, I think that there are always things that they might need help with.
Everything from throwing a fundraiser to booking hotels, or maybe just some help with their regular league work. And honestly, sometimes they
just need to hear that they have the league’s support and that you are cheering for them.
Great question! The two aspects travel teams lack, especially come WFTDA tournament season, are time and money. Fundraisers go full steam ahead when seeding is finalized, meaning the planning and preparation need to be conducted one to two months prior, and often last another month or so. Helping with both planning and executing a fundraiser is a huge help. If you’re able to travel to the tournament, being a support can mean: helping sell merch during your travel team’s games (or swapping with another team so you can actually watch your team skate… that’s a whole separate topic), running to the store to grab last minute food or snack items, changing the bearings on a wheel during the team’s warmups. Just being around and willing to help with any unexpected occurrence that may come about is more helpful than you’ll know, perhaps even calming. But, if you’re still not quite sure how you can be supportive, the best thing to do: is ask.
DEAR BLOCKER AND JAMMER,
What’s the best way to prepare physically and mentally for a big tournament?TINA TOURNEY
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, remember that roller derby is a team sport, and you are all in this together. It doesn’t matter if you are a jammer or blocker, you are all cogs in the wheels that will make the team successful. Set goals for the team, realistic goals, but always play to win. It sounds contradictive, but it is really not, it is more about your mindset. Practice listening to your team, and see what your teammates need, more than focusing on the other team. As an individual skater, I’ve learned to phase out the opposing team’s talk, I never hear what the other team says to me. I know skaters that get super annoyed and start to engage verbally. Don’t! Remember that it’s all about your team, and not what the other team does, keep together and trust each other. This is why you spent all those countless hours together practicing. Also, REST… you need to rest your brain to be able to focus. Do what works for you to let your brain relax, read a book, stare at the clouds, do a mindfulness exercise, paint a chair, take a deep breath… think about something that is not roller derby.
Eat, sleep and drink (not alcohol). It is pretty basic, don’t exhaust yourself at the gym or running, etc. the week before the tournament. Drink plenty of fluids and sleep! Don’t go to a crazy party or stay out late and eat! Food is important! Both your body and brain need it!
Preparation varies from person to person. However, there are some common practices among athletes because, at the end of the day, we’re all humans. The three things I try to keep in mind are sleep, fuel, and mental expectations. If you’re thinking, “I eat pasta the night before every game and clean my bearings!” that might be beneficial, but doesn’t quite encompass everything you can do. For example, everyone needs to fuel their body appropriately. Eating a bunch of carbs the night before won’t do much if you’ve been quenching your thirst with coffee and vodka all week.
Here are some basic principles you can try to follow the week or two prior to a tournament weekend:
- Eat well. Ensure you’re fueling your body appropriately with the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables. And ensure you’re eating enough throughout the week.
- Hydrate sufficiently. Drinking two large water bottles full of water (surprise!) daily is a good baseline. Remember, just because you’re consuming a liquid doesn’t mean you’re hydrated.
- Mentally prepare. Whether you’re going to be playing a non-sanctioned tournament or Championships, there are several things you can prepare for mentally: the venue (size, track, acoustics, etc.), the teams you’ll be playing (watch all the footage!), you and your team (watch all the footage!).
Ideally, you should be preparing much more than just one or two weeks before a tournament weekend. Cross-training for at least three months prior to a tournament weekend, along with constant footage-watching, and healthy eating will prepare you to play as best as you can.
Remember, each athlete is different at the end of the day, meaning training will vary for each athlete. Learn what works for you, and what fuels your body best.
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