Monday, 21 July 2014

Week 53: The Wall

This is something I didn't think I'd write about for a while. My derby journey was going along quite swimmingly, admittedly with a few bumps along the way, but I could see myself slowly improving, and then I got to Level 2 and I couldn't believe I'd done it, and I was learning new things, but then it started to plateau. Things that I couldn't originally do, I still couldn't do. It wasn't like they had got a tiny bit better, they were exactly the same. For example, my endurance laps had not changed. My personal best is 23 3/4 and that is what I have got every time I've tried it since. I really worked on my crossovers, thinking they would help but I got 22 laps. I really tried my hardest, threw in as many crossovers as I could, pushed myself, and I got 23 1/2. So, in fact, I was getting worse!

I am still terrified of pack work, I still look at my feet, I still touch too many people, and grab on when I trip, or roll in to them when trying to stop. I still can't give whips; I feel like I'm doing nothing, I always drift in to the middle of the track, I always use just my arms rather then my whole body. I still have a mental block over counter-clockwise transitions, and it seems to be worse now I've convinced myself I can't do them. I still can't weave through cones, my derby stance is crap, my plough stops rarely work...whine, whine, whine. I used to leave practice either on a major high because I had accomplished something, or on a major low because I was frustrated and couldn't do something. But now I just leave feeling deflated. It's almost like I've stopped caring. Like I don't see the point anymore. I feel like I have got to a wall, and on that wall is a sign that reads "This is a far as you're gonna get". I have reached my peak, this is as good at skating I am ever going to get. It's like that bastard level on a video game which you realise you're never going to complete because it is just too hard and you do not have the wits to defeat it.
I recently read an article about pressure in roller derby training as I felt, originally, that I was under a lot of pressure to get better and to get signed off. However, the article mentioned positive reinforcement and how people expect to be told "Good job!" or "You'll get there!" whenever you try something or do something good. It went on to explain how that just wasn't the case, you can't always expect there to be someone to cheer you on. You can't wait for that treat when you've performed the right trick. You need to impress yourself and be your own cheerleader.

That hit hard. That was exactly how I felt. I was convinced I wasn't getting any better because no one had told me I was getting better. I was expecting streamers, a round of applause, fireworks, a neon sign saying NAILED IT! whenever I achieved something. I'm not saying my coaches or fellow skaters are horrible and never say nice things, but what they did say wasn't enough for me. At Level 1, I used to be this terrible skater that seemed to go against the odds and, although it took a while, managed to pass Level 1. I used to get praise because I managed to do it, but now I've shown that I can do it, I have the mindset to get through the skills, I don't need encouragement anymore because I should know I can do it.
After going through weeks of this, I was called over by a coach during hip whips. They gave me a few tips on how to get closer and what I need to be doing to really get it. I initially took it as criticism (constructive, yes, but I'm never good at taking criticism) and used it to work on my whips, but wasn't really thrilled. However, after the session I realised something - and this is something I have never realised in my whole entire life. I would hate criticism, anything, even if it was said nicely and was a tiny thing, I would always take it personally, always sulk, and refuse to change - what I realised was, this constructive criticism was actually nice. It was helpful and the coach gave it to me because they actually saw potential. They knew, more than me, that I could nail hip whips if I just tweaked it a little. It was an encouraging push, not a patronising "Yeah, you can do this!" where I then find out I can't actually do it at sign offs.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I didn't want to be patronised, I did want to be helped. I didn't want to be cheered on, I wanted to be criticised. The only way I'm going to break through that wall is if someone slaps me round the face, says "Stop sulking and f*cking practice!"
It might take me a while, but Level 1 took me a while and I did it. I'm not going to achieve anything sulking and just not trying. And when I do achieve something, I'm not going to expect a round of applause and sky writing, I'm just going to give myself a cheeky smile, mentally pat myself on the back, and maybe treat myself to a cupcake afterwards.

1 comment:

  1. You're one of us now, Honey. You've gone from not being able to skate to completing level one and that's amazing. The playing field is level now and we're all in the same boat in L2. I know how you feel though, I'm desperate for people to tell me how well I'm doing and I'm terrible at taking criticism.

    However, I'm desperate for it. I feel like there are so many things I haven't been taught and am just expected to do but never get feedback.

    You're an inspiration to me because I think we feel the same about learning something like this. You always seem to just get on with it and when I watch you skate, I can't believe you started out not being able to at all!

    I think there are a lot of us that need to go easier on ourselves, stop looking for praise from others and focus on how far we've come.

    Blocking Jay xx