All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Roller Derby

Posted on: July 12th 2017

all i need to know i learned from roller derby

Just like the cliché poem about Kindergarten, all I really need to know in life, I learned in Roller Derby.

With a nod to Robert Fulghum…

And a thank you to Nic Charest, from – my favourite skate shop – for the image!

If you fail, you better learn from it.

Got upset on the track by a team you should have beat? You better learn something about what happened if you want to avoid a repeat. Failed marketing campaign at work? Didn’t get the promotion? Same with life.

Nothing that comes easily is truly rewarding.

You’re never gonna look back and feel glorious about your first T-stop. The best stuff in in roller derby, is the stuff that was the hardest to achieve, like cracking your minimum skills, or winning your first game MVP after 9 years of derby (hello!). Same with life.

Focus on the things that you can control.

You can’t control the other team’s actions, and you can’t control how the officials are calling pack destruction. But you can control your reaction. You can also control your preparedness for the bout, your physical fitness, and how you adjust your strategies. Same with life.

It’s not where you go or what you did, it’s who you’re with that counts.

It doesn’t matter that you’re staying in a “hotel with an M” next to the highway in a far suburb of Nowheresville to play a team that’s gonna crush you… if you’re with a fucking awesome group of hilarious weirdos who are going to create alternate farm animal derby names for everyone, and make pillow forts in the hallway. Same with life.

Sometimes you must push outside of your comfort zone to grow.

Maybe you’ll fall a few (hundred) times, but if you don’t try something that’s harder than what you’re able to do comfortably now, you’ll never get any better at stuff than you are right now. Same with life.

When you fall, get back up.

Duh. Same with life.

Hard-won, consistent, incremental improvements compound into big changes over time.

You may be frustrated by the lack of apparent change day by day and week by week, but keep at it and suddenly you’ll notice yourself improving by leaps and bounds (read this for more on incremental improvements). Same with life.

Wait ‘til you’re out front before you raise your arms in victory.

Cutest thing: when new skaters hear their name during team skate out, thrust their arms overhead to wave to their brand new fans, and *then* try to accelerate to skate out in front of the pack. It looks really, really, awkward, because it’s much harder to skate when your arms are overhead. Get where you’re going before you start celebrating yourself too hard. Same with life.

It’s not about you.

Whatever your teammate said to you in the pace line, however the coach chose to phrase her critique, whatever policy change the board came up with, however the roster decision was made… it wasn’t about YOU. No one has as much time to think about you and how things will impact you, as you do. Everyone else is busy thinking about their own priorities. If something bothered you, or hurt your feelings, shrug it off unless it’s major. It’s just not about you. Same with life.

To sum up…

Roller Derby teaches us how to have grit, how to persevere, how to make the best of a crappy situation, and how to get over ourselves sometimes.  But it also teaches us what hard-fought personal victory tastes like, and pushes us to work for more of it every day.

What else has roller derby taught you, that you are applying to your life in shoes? Let me know in the comments.

xo Booty Quake

5 thoughts on “All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Roller Derby

  1. “You’re never gonna look back and feel glorious about your first T-stop.”

    But I do!

    I was a brand new skater a year ago. When they taught us T-stops, I was thinking along these lines, “You want me to take one foot off the ground!? Put it behind me!? Scrape it along the ground!???? … Where’s the exit?” I was full of terror and self-doubt.

    But I practised in the kitchen off skates, making that movement over and over while the water boiled, practised on the rink at social skates over and over. Etc. Then I could do T-stops and since then, with every new skill, I remind myself that, no matter how long it takes, no matter how frightening it seems, I will learn this new skill, just like I learnt T-stops. T-stops are my benchmark.

    And after six months of having a little private cry in the middle of the track just before the speed skate, terrified at the thought of all the people who would be whizzing by me at what I thought was breakneck speed, I finally started to enjoy it and last night I was one quarter of a lap away from 27 in 5!

    The thing about derby is that, no matter how slow I feel I am at developing, I absolutely always go home feeling just a little bit proud of myself.

    1. Aw, that’s a great story! For sure, the one that was your bugaboo *is* going to be the one that you remember, because it took you so much mental fortitude to achieve it! Thanks for sharing, Patricia!! And way to go on those laps!

  2. “We can’t succeed by ourselves”. A team formed by excellent skaters can be a total failure if they don’t learn how to work together, help each other, and complement and encourage each other. Just like in life, we never get to where we are alone, and solely by our personal work. And just like in life, we learn how to help others and how to recognize the help we receive(d).

    1. EXCELLENT addition!! Thank you!

  3. I am a beginner, so I’m proud of every little milestone (including my first T-stop) but sometimes I forget how far I’ve come – my gf reminded me a few weeks ago of how terrified I was to try a paceline, when I now love our hip whip and surge blocking pacelines.

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