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Feels on the day of training

Training Day

Derby is a weird sport. Weird because you're part of a team, but unlike other team sports where you join as a total newbie and learn together as a unit, derby is a much more personal journey. You're still training in an amazing, supportive environment, but you've got to pass certain skills before you can actually play alongside your teamies.

Derby is weird because it can make you feel like you can achieve ANYTHING one minute, and like you'll never achieve anything again the next. Some weeks you're legs and brain will totally cooperate and you'll approach every drill with the poise, grace, fierceness and dignity of Beyonce. Other weeks you'll fall, fumble, and hurt, and then get super jealous and weird of those who look like they're not struggling at all, like Michelle Williams.

Because so much of training is such a personal experience, it's easy to think that no one else is having the same qualms as you. That no one else thinks this should definitely be their last session because they've been trying to transition for six months and they just can't bloody well do it so WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT?

To help combat this, I've tried to capture what a Sunday training session is like for me as a non-contact skater, and the roller-coaster of great vibes and doom that it can bring.

Sunday, 10am

Wake up, assess hangover vibes, try to talk myself out of going to training. The excuses are usually varied, and all equally untenable:

  • It's really sunny out, I should make the most of it.
  • I am literally dying from this hangover and should spend my last hours with my loved ones and cats.
  • Eastenders omnibus


The most productive period of the day. I'm overcome by the guilts, so frantically shower, eat and leave for practice, fantasising about my post-derby meal.


Arrive, immediately get excited when I see everyone, and admire how cool they look in their sweet gear. Make a mental note of the nice things I'll buy myself when I reach certain milestones.


Kit up, feel fierce, then get THE NERVES as I convince myself that this will be the day I break open my face.


Warm up laps. Admire the other skaters and how damn effortless they make everything look.


Awkward wobble. Definitely see my life flash before my eyes. Wonder if I've remembered to give my significant other my updated funeral playlist.


Warm-up stretches.. Vow I'm not going to hold onto the side for leg-swings, then casually pop over to the railing for leg-swings. Others have also made their way to the rail, so I feel better. Promise myself that next time I definitely WON'T hold onto the rail for leg-swings. (SPOILER ALERT: I will).


I tally up warm-up victories. Last longer on one leg? Wider hip-openers? Less wobbles? Faster three laps? Feel majestic.


Dropping drills. I drop lower and tighter than I ever have. High-five my dropping partner. Today is our day.


Endurance. Try a crossover. Wobble. Never again will I try a crossover.


Bicky yells at me to crossover. I panic, crossover, and realise I'm capable of incredible things.


Footwork. I'm sweating, and getting that smug Sunday workout feeling. Instead of envy, I pity those still lounging in their PJs, because my body is a damn temple.


More drills. I do better than I expected, and get some dead nice encouraging comments from the coaches/teamies. I feel like maybe I am actually a skating prodigy, and it's just taken until this precise moment for my natural skill to shine through.


Our next drill is announced, and it's something I've either been trying and repeatedly failing at (TRANSITIONS) or something that terrifies me (TOE-STOP WORK). I catch the eye of another equally nervous looking white-shirt, and nod in solidarity.


Stumble, fall. Right on the tailbone. I experience couple of seconds of pain-shock, and blink back a couple of pain-tears.


Frustrated, I half-heartedly attempt the rest of the drill (instead of sitting out) to make it very clear to everyone else that I'm not a quitter and am of course cut out for this derby business.

The next 30 or so minutes either goes really quickly, or really slowly. This directly correlates with how well you think you're doing that session. Either way, you're hella sweaty, your energy levels are dipping. Your Sunday roast never seems further away than during these minutes. The tunes, good vibe, and enthusiasm of your dreamy teamies help you push through.


SOCK DERBY OR SCRIM TIME. I find my energy reserves and whether I'm penalty timing or pegging it around the track in socks, I give it my all for the last ten minutes.


Internal review. I'm fairly sure those two that started a few months are already more advanced than me. I doubt I'll ever pull off a derby stop as beautifully as Nic. BUT I did more cross-overs than I ever have. Maybe I'll give it one more session before I hang up my skates. Maybe.


Five separate people congratulate you on an awesome session, and/or point out something amazing you didn't even notice you did. Swell with pride, but try to play it cool.


De-kit. I smell vile, but feel great. Endorphins etc. kick in, and I get SUPER EXCITED for my next session, where I will DEFINITELY nail every move I attempt.