Ladies, take yourself seriously

Posted on January 20, 2015 by


During a recent training session, Smarty Pants (Team USA World Cup player) pulled us all into a tight huddle and shared a story about her identity in derby as “back up jammer”. She pointed out that she had limited her performance in the past by not taking herself seriously enough as a jammer. This attitude influenced her training, which ultimately affected her performance in bouts. She said players need to decide what they want to excel at and throw themselves into it. Worst case scenario: you end up an awesome skater.

Smarty Pants

Smarty Pants

There’s a limiting belief that I think might be affecting a few of the women at my coed league. Last night we had a black and white scrim. I was on the white team. We played damn well and I had a lot of fun. The scores were not displayed but I felt we were pulling ahead. Near the end of the game, a female teammate remarked that the teams were pretty even today. I looked sideways at her and said, “umm, I think we’ve got the advantage tonight.” She then explained to me that there was an even number of boys on each team.

I was a bit shocked and didn’t answer. I’ll be honest, I felt offended that she felt my presence on the team had no bearing on the team’s success. I was offended that she seemed to think it was the male players that determine which team wins – us “girls” are just there to fill the ranks. Of course, I’m being unfair: I didn’t actually clarify with her what she meant. I did, however, clarify the score – white team won by about 80 points.

I fear some of the women who play in coed have an assumption that they can never be as good as the boys.


The reason most boys are so confident and progress so quickly is due to a range of sociocultural influences in Western society that portray men as adventurous/fearless etc. Influences men have absorbed since childhood. Also, they have not been brought up with the same emphasis on collaboration, nurturing and gentleness so they settle into the hitting aspects of derby with less reservation. They progress because they and the people around them believe they can. It’s like Smarty said, the skater needs to have a vision for where they want to go in derby and they need to convey this with confidence to other skaters.

As simple as it sounds, it can be hard for women to take themselves seriously as derby players. Here are some hints for my sisters in derby:

  1. Find a role model (female or male) and copy them: how much time do they spend on the edges chatting? What warm up/cool down procedure do they have? What kind of language do they use when they talk about themselves?
  2. Start in the front half of any pace lines
  3. Broadcast your goal on Facebook eg “Eve Inbetta is mega sweaty after two hours pursuing her goal of becoming an awesome OB”
  4. Make eye contact with the trainer, be almost creepy about it
  5. Go up to awesome skaters and ask them to teach you something. I’m socially awkward so mine is usually a bit abrupt, literally “Josh, teach me something!”
  6. Come up with your own “pitch” for the kind of player you are (or are becoming). This site might help with that
  7. Ask for feedback (brace yourself emotionally for the response)
  8. Wear white on scrim days (you’ll probably get more track time)
  9. Dress/apply make up/position your body in a way that conveys confidence (whatever that means to you)
  10. Own the compliments you receive (I need to work on this one myself!). Here’s some advice on how.
Posted in: LimboLand