Roller derby is an aggressive sport, it’s full contact, hard hitting and fast paced. If you want to get somewhere in derby you have to find and control your aggression.
Aggression is usually seen as a bad thing and uncontrolled, hostile aggression is. That kind of aggression is when you just “lose it” and you want to intentionally hurt someone. I know we’re trying to hit people in derby but we don’t want to actually injure our opponents. Doing that makes you a douche!
Uncontrolled aggression hinders your game rather than helps it, you become “blind” with rage and do stupid things. Remember The Hulk when he first became The Hulk? Not. Good. He got himself into a lotta trouble!
Controlled aggression (or the more creepy term, predatory aggression *vom*) however can be a good thing. It can help you focus, pump yourself up and get your head in the game. It can give you the guts to do that Suzy Hotrod shoulder smash thing or that Juke Boxx bash-you-off-track-at-19ft thing!
Controlled aggression is using those angry feelings to focus on a specific outcome, such as preventing jammer escaping the pack no matter what. It’s using things that have riled you to put a fire in your belly to really want it. It’s about thinking like a lioness or a wolf on a hunt!!
[bctt tweet="Controlled aggression means being more confident, being willing to take risks and push yourself to your limits."]
In the context of roller derby, being more aggressive basically means being more confident, committing to hits, being willing to take risks and push yourself to your limits.
If you’re still yet to find and unleash your inner warrior:
Find Your Aggression
- Mantra yourself! Create your own confidence building mantra that you can repeat over and over in your head that makes you feel like “HELL YEAH I CAN DO THIS!” Get pumped before you attempt that apex jump in practice or before you line up for that powejram in game!
- Get physical, physical. Use your teammates and loved ones to practice getting up close and personal, get used to being physical with people so that you can put your new space invading skills to good, offensive use on track.
- Live in your skates. The more time you spend in them, the more comfortable you’ll be and the more confident you’ll feel. Test your skates’ limits, find their edges and use this knowledge to perform more aggressive moves.
- Fall..A LOT. Invest in some awesome pads and learn how to fall properly then do it a lot. That way you won’t be scared of falling and won’t hesitate when you have to go for that big hit or jump.
- Act fast. Don’t hesitate! Hit it and ask questions later. Questions like, was that accurate or effective? If not, figure out why and improve. When you hesitate, you get hurt!
- Practice, practice, practice. If you’re talking the Big I Am, you better have the skills to back it up, so use every opportunity to practice your footwork, stops, hits and blocks. Use your teammates – who are expecting it – to practice those aggressive hits and blocks on, gradually building up the power and accuracy so that when you do it on an opponent, you know it’s going to be sweet!
- Get hench. The more physically strong you are, the more confident you’ll be that you’ll be able to hit, or be hit, really flipping hard. You’ll also look way more intimidating, especially if you can overhead press one of your teamies!
- Get mega fit! If you know you can play a full, tough game of derby without passing out at the end, you know you’re going to have the energy to be more aggressive in play. The more physically prepared you are, the more mentally prepared you are too. You’ll spend less time thinking “Oh my god I’m gonna die” and more time thinking about strategy and how you’re gonna shut that jammer down!
- Never give up. So you weren’t looking and that jammer snook right up the inside line. Don’t give up, take a breath and make sure you’re ready for her when she comes back around. Same goes if a block goes embarrassingly wrong. Keep trying!
- Put your game face on. If being aggressive just isn’t “you”, create an alter ego, become your derby name, channel your favourite superhero or super villain or imagine you’re actually Demanda Riot! Embody someone or something else and you’ll feel less weird about really going for it on track.
Now you’ve found your inner Hulk, remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Know when and where to use your aggression and when and where not to. Save your aggression for the track, don’t use it on the refs or the bench or after the final whistle blows.
Go forth and kick ass!
First image by the very talented Questionmark Photography.