Zen Derby

How you keep your cool during derby will help your game. If you can stay positive, even when it feels like the refs are out to get you, and if you can stay calm, even when it feels like no one is listening to you, this will make you a better derby player.


When I first started derby we used to talk about communication and how important it is, however, we never really talked about the tone and volume we should be using to express such communication. So of course we all just hollered and yelled and echoed the pivot, and did whatever we could to be heard. Six years later, I now know why the yelling and the extreme communication never worked for me. I tune it out. Just like my kids tune me out when I get all yelly, I unintentionally tune out yelly people. This concept was made very obvious by Smarty Pants during some workshop at RollerCon one year (they all have blurred together), she said very very calmly, “I am going to just talk like this, so all of you will listen.” Of course!! Because when you talk calmly, people try to listen, they pay attention, and it trains a part of your brain to listen intently even when on the track, and focusing on several things at once.


So the tone I use on the track is very motherly and very calm. It’s a lower, serious, and firm tone. I say things like, “1, 1-2, 3, 3-4” indicating where the jammer is, and, “strong arms, hips in front, brakes, she’s tired, yep, just like that, you got ‘er” reminding the blockers that I’m bracing, what we need to be doing, and that I am there to support them. Using┬ázen voice keeps everyone calm and zen on the track. And when you’re calm and zen on the track, you can really fuck shit up…. calmly and collectively. And I can only speak for the jammers I have blocked, but they HATE it when you calmly (and successfully) block them.


So get on the track and communicate, using all the zen you can muster.