Saskatchewan Cup

Heya skaters and fans,
Saturday April 16th at Prarieland Park in Saskatoon check out the Saskatchewan Cup.  It features Pile o Bones very own Molly Tovs (name change eminent) facing off against Saskatoon’s Mindfox.  It will be an epic bout indeed, not to mention two other bouts of derby glory.  Y’all should be there, we have prepared long and hard for this bout and we are chomping at the bit to get out there.  On a side note, look for more posts in the future as I have a lot more free time now that school is out.
See you next Tuesday
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Injury Care

With practices in full swing and regular scrimmages happening, skaters are getting banged up and bruised.  I feel that is incredibly important piece of information is often neglected by the practioners of this rough sport.  I myself am a martial arts practioner and former competetive Muay Thai kickboxer.  I know injury (except breaks…knock on wood) I have received many and dished out as much (if not more).  Let’s take a quick look into the basics of three of the most common mostly minor injuries sustained in the sport of roller derby.


So a skater elbowed you in the ribs or a boney-assed skater charlie-horsed you and now you have this epic purpley-bluish goodness blanketing your once unmarred skin.  What is the first step?

  1. Rest – obviously post-game/practice – get home take a load off.  Do not goto the gym and crush out some reps or get your hour run in.
  2. Ice – the number 1 important thing.  Ice that baby.  20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for hours.  This is done to help clotting and stop the internal bleeding that is occuring.  Not to mention manage the swelling so more tissue damage does not occur.
  3. Elevate – if possible elevate the injured part above your heart, this will reduce swelling and help your body to drain the excess fluids away from the injury.
  4. DO NOT take pain killers.  I repeat do not take any painkillers.  They actually interfere with your bodies natural healing functions and tack on two to three days to your injury.  That means for a debilitating injury and lot longer time.

    The magical linement

  5. Zheng Gu Shui - this magical linement is available at your local chinese grocery or medicine shop.  Apply this to your bruised area provided the skin is NOT broken and your bruise will disappear overnight.  I kid you not.  I am not a salesperson nor do I have any affliation with this product but it works like none other.  In my fighter days, I would have nasty purple bruises up and down my entire shins, knees and elbows.  Two or three applications and gone, just that greeny-yellow bruise remains.  Make sure to rub it in, even if it hurts, just a gentle massage because the friction activates the herbal goodness.
  6. About 48 hours later – switch from ice to warmth, this encourages flushing of the injury and helps your body to reabsorb the old blood.


If your bruise is one of those real deep ones you essentially have a hematoma.  This is much more serious and need to be treated without delay.  A bruise for example could be ignored and you will be fine like wine, a hematoma not so much.  You can recognize this injury by swelling but very minor redness, this is because the injury is so very deep it takes a long time to reach the surface and bleeding can go uncontrolled for quite some time.  Depending on the location of such an injury you may need to seek a medical professional.

Follow the same treatment for bruises as above, but you need to be more religious about it.  Like I mean severe OCD rest, ice, and elevation.  Generally speaking you shouldn’t compress the area until swelling has decreased, because it needs that room to swell.  Usually day two or three is when you will see the bruise in its technicolor glory, and sometimes the blood settles much lower than the injury (that means you did a number on yourself).  The biggest thing to remember here is that this deep tissue injury can become a permanent lumpy lump of scar tissue if you don’t treat it right.  You have to flush out that bad stuff, and you can do this by massage (it hurts so good), heat and Zheng gu shui.  Exercise can also flush, but you need to be wary of what you can and cannot do, but your pumping muscles flush out the toxins and bad blood.  Hot baths can help as well, but it is important to wait about 48 hours for that sort of treatment because if you haven’t stopped the bleeding, it might just start again.

Sprains and Strains

First we must differentiate the two.  A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament, something of which should never happen.  A strain is an overstretched or torn muscle or tendon, muscles can be stretched and so can tendons but to a much lesser degree.  What do you do when this happens:

  1. Rest – relax, chill out, and elevate if you can.
  2. Ice – 20 minutes on 20 minutes off.  Zheng gu shui is also helpful for this type of injury
  3. Heat – you can add some heat or warmth approximately 48 hours after the injury.  This can help to relax the tight muscles and speed up the reabsorption process of all the junk and debris floating around the injury sight.
  4. Rehab – depending on the severity of the injury you may need to stretch and exercise the area.  Check with your coach for suggestions or if you are covered by health insurance go visit a physiotherapist.
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The New Season Cometh

Heya Skaters,

The eve of the season for the Pile of Bones Derby Club is nigh, and the teams are in.  It looks like we will have the Bonecity Beaver Dammes and the Lockdown Lolitas back in action for the 2011 summer season.  With our present numbers it seems as though we have scarcely more than the officially allowed amount for each team, but with life and things happening, play time will be abundant.  To mark this momentus occaision there will be a Draft Party on Tuesday night to announce the teams and start the epic rivalry.

On another but related note, we have 12 newly benchmarked skaters who have skated their way to potential stardom.  Now our league practice turnout is an average of 30 skaters, which is fantastic and we are all doing our best to keep things running like clockwork.  As the coach I am challenged  to keep things fresh for the rancid old meat and challenging yet not downright impossible for the rookies, yet I feel that I have achieved some measure of success.  There is a level of respect, intensity and community that we are establishing at the practices and it is evident how such things are improving the attitudes and abilities of those present.  To my skaters, I am proud of you, keep bringing it, take the pain and reap the rewards.  To any nay-sayers, should you even exist, tremble before the soon to be unstoppable force that is and will be the Pile of Bones Derby Club.  OooOoo… that gave me chills.  

The Sum of All Your Fears,

Coach D

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I am so sorry folks! I have totally dropped the ball with the blog…actually, I haven’t even had the time to grab the damn ball!

I’ll give you a quick run down on what’s been happening since (OMG) March:

1.  Benchmarked ALL league skaters.
2.  Helped come up with our season schedule.
3.  Divided the benchmarked skaters into two teams.
4.  Got the teams organized.
5.  Started an exciting new job – learning curve has been killer.
6.  Son’s summer activities have started and, geez, I actually have to parent.
7.  Helped get the Captains et al organized so they can coach themselves.
8.  Started training another schwack of Fresh Meat.

But this blog is not forgotten!  I promise!

Though, I will give you guys the heads up that there is a brand new online Canadian roller derby magazine starting up soon.  I have asked to be a contributor, so I will be busy with that soon, too.  I’ll keep you posted.

But I promise that I WILL finish the Sports Psychology series here soon!  As soon as things calm down some, I will get back at it!

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Keep on keepin’ on…

I know I should have been here a few days ago but I wanted to let Coach post her important message to all of us about our stress and panic regarding benchmarks so here I am today.  Speaking of that, I’m glad I’ve had a few days since last practice to gather my thoughts and be more rational about things.  I thought Tuesday’s practice was a pretty good one for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I pushed it and thought I was surely going to barf from skating so hard (note to future fresh meat: eat before practice, preferably an hour or two before or you will feel like passing out!)  I can *kind of* jump okay and have shocked myself that I can turn backwards and not just kind of, I CAN turn backwards and do a tomahawk :-)   I practiced at the fieldhouse and all I did was jumping, turning backwards into a tomahawk and did a lap of the hell track in between.  I was really proud and excited to see how much we have all improved.  We. Are. Awesome. Now comes Wednesday and I was exhausted.  I’m not sure if it was because of having practice the night before or work was especially hard that day but I got played out really fast. Maybe I’m still just too out of shape for that much endurance but it was tough.  We worked on whips (thanks for all of your help Knotty!) and stops mostly then a few games of zombie tag and some other exhausting game I can’t remember the name of where we had to skate around and basically legally hit each other and if you fell down, you were out.  I took a crazy fall that surprisingly didn’t injure me but my back was aching after and it knocked the wind out of me.  Then we had to do the 25 in 5 at the end of practice…lord help me.  I was in pain, I was exhausted but I thought I had better at least try to see where I was at.  I was trying to do some positive self-talk to myself while I was counting my partner’s laps and when it was my turn, I tried to push my pain and exhaustion out of my head and just focus.  And it was really hard…I’m not going to lie.  I got 21 laps and couldn’t catch my breath after.  I knew I didn’t make it and I was completely defeated and felt like I’m never going to get there.  After a great heart to heart with Coach and some of the girls, I didn’t feel as bad because although I didn’t *quite* get there, I’ve improved. I HAVE gotten faster I just need to keep working hard and improving my endurance.  Thank you so much for all the kind words and encouragement to my fellow derby girls and Coach.  You guys rock!  Good luck to everyone on their benchmarks…remember, it’s not if you can do it, it’s when you WILL do it.  It may not be this week but we will all get there.

Cheers!  Lisa

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INTERLUDE: Benchmarks II

I am taking a break from the Sports Psychology series to talk about Benchmarks again.  Our league is starting benchmark testing next week for all the new girls who joined us last fall.  They are all freaking out.  I am going to try and allay their fears by talking about the one thing that scares them more than their first bout.

Noun  1.benchmark – a standard by which something can be measured or judged; “his painting sets the benchmark of quality”

Related words:  criterion, standard, touchstone, measure – a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated; “the schools comply with federal standards”; “they set the measure for all subsequent work”

This is the first time we’ve actually had a large influx of Fresh Meat (and we’re getting another large group on March 31st!) and I have changed our training schedule accordingly.  Of course, I’m still figuring stuff out, as this group was our guinea pig.

I will say that how it has worked out was not as intended.  Initially, we were going to have the Fresh Meat and the Skaters separated until benchmark time.  It didn’t quite work out that way. We did start to include the  Fresh Meat into the “senior” practices for a number of reasons. First, was space.  We had it and wanted to utilize it to the maximum.  Second, and most importantly, this group of Fresh Meat are AMAZING.  There was no point in keeping them separate for as long as we planned.

And  now they’re going to officially become Skaters.  And they’re freaking out.  So I’m going make a few points here for all our girls and for others who are going to do benchmarking.

Every league is different, but in our leauge, we do not have a “zero tolerance”/must pass all benchmarks policy.  We work on a 3 tier scale:  1 – Can do it; 2 – Needs work; and 3 – Can’t do it.

1 – Can do it means just that, you can do it.  It DOES NOT mean you have to do it awesome or be absolutely perfect.

2 – Needs work means that you’ve got the idea, but you just need to fine tune the movements, which can be done in a few hours of practice.

3- Can’t do it means you absolutely just can’t do it and it will take more than just a couple of practices to get it down.

The one difference this year is that we are actually going to be breaking up into two league teams.  The benchmarks are to help determine who is going to be on what team and who will remain Fresh Meat until next round of benchmarks.  Benchmarks are a standard of measure and therefore when we break into teams, we are going to use the benchmarks to be sure they are relatively even in regards to skill level.

But my girls are not dumb and know their own limitations, strengths and weaknesses.  They know what they need to work on, or THINK they need to work on.

As I stated in a previous blog:

Benchmarks, carefully recorded, can be an excellent resource for charting progress.  As a coach, it is important to know what the skaters strengths and weaknesses are.  It is also very important for the skaters themselves.  We deal with a lot of egos in roller derby.  I don’t think there is one derby girl who thinks that how they’re doing is just okay; all the girls want to be the absolute best they can be and they will train as such.  And I’m not just talking about our girls: it’s ALL derby girls.  Egos can be both a blessing and a curse; sometimes girls think they’re awesome at something when they are not while others think they stink when they actually don’t.  Another good reason for detailed benchmarks: they can start a conversation to either bring the girl down a notch or build her up.  Regular testing and charting is good for everyone!

So to all my girls out there…STOP FREAKING OUT!  Take a deep breath.  You’ve been training hard and I have no doubt in my mind about any of your success!  See you all next week!!

Derby Luv!

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Is Harder Better?

Sorry I missed last week.  I feel like Grover running near and far these days with so much on the go.  One day off from work in twelve does not make for a clean house or a happy me…I feel like I can’t keep up.  A customer at my work said to me a couple of weeks ago,”well, you’re single and you don’t have kids so you should have lots of time”  @&*%$^&$!!!!!!!  I hate that!  Yeah, I guess I have nothing contributing to society and live a pathetic existence with nothing to do so yeah, all kinds of time.  Grrrrr!

Rant over.

Anyway, in Derby land things have been going okay for me.  I don’t have any injuries to report this time, lol.  I got my Crash Pads last week and tried them out for practice this week.  I haven’t had any significant falls to test them to the limit but I\’m sure my turn will come to take a wicked wipe out.  I hope they work out and actually give me a bit more confidence to jump.  I *think* I’m improving a little bit more every time I skate.  I guess Coach would be the ultimate judge of that.  I’m finally able to turn from forward to backward so yay me!  I’m jumping a little bit more although more often than not they turn into hops rather than taking off on two feet and landing on two feet.  More practice required I guess.  I might have to jump around the grippy track at the fieldhouse to get some confidence to do it better.  My latest challenge I’ve found is I think I need to graduate to big girl derby wheels and get a set that are harder than the ones I have.  I think I’m a better skater to be able to handle them and I won’t feel like I’m skating through syrup at Miller for benchmarks. It’s weird, Tuesday’s I feel like I can skate forever and keep up no problem, Wednesday’s, maple syrup skating :-(   I checked out Killswitch’s wheel demo night on Monday (which was SO awesome btw!) and I discovered that I really can skate on a harder wheel and the information that she gave us suggested what type of wheel would work best for your weight etc.  Turns out I need a harder wheel with a hollow core or aluminum hub so it doesn’t flex while I’m skating and cause more friction.  I’m anxious to see how the harder wheel works at Miller whether they’ll help me with my speed or if they’ll be too hard and not grippy enought that I wipe out on the first turn.  I’m working on it and I’ll fill you in on how my wheel search goes.

I’ll be trying to work really hard over the next week and a half or so to get as conditioned as I can for benchmarks.  Like I mentioned before, I can’t stress about it too much.  I take it seriously but if I only get 23 laps out of 25 then that will tell me what I need to work on, that’s all.  I think I’m still doing pretty good considering I was off skates for close to two months. We\’ve had a few injuries lately so please take care of yourselves Derby sisters!  Do what you need to do to heal properly so you can get back out there.  I still can’t do any lower ab work since I pulled it because it feels like it’ll rip apart like an elastic pulling so why would I push that particular exercise if it will cause me to be off skates for who knows how long.  Injuries are inevitable and we can’t always tough it out and suffer no matter how bad we want to get out there…it only hurts us more in the long run.  Like Don said to me at practice one night, “Ask yourself, are you just hurting or are you injured”  Hurting meaning muscle fatigue from exertion, injured meaning damage that doesn’t get better if you keep doing what caused the damage in the first place.  Hugs all around.

Well that’s about it for me.  Sorry it’s not the most inspiring blog ever but it’s 11:00 pm and I have dishes to do, cat litter to scoop and vacuuming to do.  Kill me.  I need a maid.

Cheers!  Lisa

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Sport Psychology: Psychological Skills Training

Psychological Skills Training (PST)  is just as important as physical training.  And just like our physical training, PST must be implemented, practiced and reviewed regularly.  It must become as important as skills acquisition in order to become a habit.

There are five main components to PST:
1. Imagery
2. Arousal/Psychic energy regulation
3. Attention/Concentration skills
4.  Goal Setting
5. Stress Management/Self-Confidence
(Weinberg, 1999 & Martens, 1987)


a.k.a. visualization, mental rehearsal or mental practice.  All of these refer to creating (or recreating) an experience in your mind, including all sensations.  We’ve all heard “if you imagine it, it will happen.”  This is THAT idea.  However, I would change it to “if you imagine it, it CAN happen.”  Using imagery is a little more complicated than that!

Imagery can be used for:
a. acquiring or practicing complex motor skills
b. to rehearse strategies
c. to acquire other psychological skills.

To use imagery to it’s fullest potential, there are 3 components that must be practiced.  First is Sensory Awareness.  To be better able to use imagery, our player must be able to remember the various sensations when playing; how does the floor feel? What can you hear?  How does it feel when you skate over the track boundary?  How do your legs feel when executing an awesome boot block?  What do your feet feel like when you’re juking a blocker? To be able to remember everything she sees, feels and hears, will help to accurately envision future images.

The second component is Vividness.  Once she has the senses, she can then fine-tune those sensory images to her imagery practice become more vivid and detailed. And not just the visual vividness, but the other senses, as well; being able to pinpoint ALL sensations accurately, including her emotions.

The third component is Controlability.  This involves being able to manipulate the imagery and all the sensations, including her emotions.

To practice, start by imagining putting you feet into a cold lake.  How does the shore feel on your feet?  Are you relieved or apprehensive about putting your feet in?  Is the water calm or choppy?  As you are putting your feet in, how do you feel?  Now imagine your feet relaxing, the water is getting warmer and now the rest of your body is relaxing.

The following are sport specific exercises (Werner, 1999):

1.  Control performance: Imagine working ona a specific skill that has given you trouble in the past.  Take careful notice of what you were doing wrong.  Now imagine yourself performing that skill perfectly while seeing and feeling your movements.  For example, turning front to back, you can feel the weight shift from one foot to another, your foot lifting, your body turning, your other foot quickly changing direction, your other foot coming down and you continue to skate backward.

Now think of a competative situation in which you have had trouble in the past.  Imagine yourself being hip checked, being spun and turning backwards to avoid the fall.  Imagine remaining calm as you execute your turn.

2.  Controlling performance against a tough opponent.  Picture yourself playing against a tough opponent who has given you trouble in the past.  Try to execute a planned strategy against this person just as you would for competition.  Imagine situations in which you are getting the best of your opponent.  Remember to control ALL aspects of your movements as well as the decisions you make.  For example, a rookie jammer is up against a seasoned jammer.  Imagine following the seasoned jammer through the pack, using all the holes that have been created for her.  You may not be able to pass her, but you can frustrate her and force her to call off the jam earlier than she wanted.

3. Controlling emotions.  Picture yourself in a situation where you tense up, become angry, lose concentration, or lose confidence; for example, you’ve just let the jammer get by you or you’ve been knocked down. Recreate the situation, especially the feelings that accompany it.  Feel the anxiety of an important bout. Then use anxiety management skills (forthcoming) to feel the tension drain from your body and to instead focus on what you need to do to execute your skills.  Try to control what you see, hear, and feel in your imagery.

It is best to start practicing these imagery skills in a controlled environment, then as you become more proficient you can take these skills to the bench and eventually on the track.

We have to remember to keep our imagery as realistic as possible. This includes the skater’s own limitations.  Going back to our rookie jammer, she will most likely not be able to leave the more seasoned skater in the dust, but she CAN use what she does know of that jammer to her advantage and thus, use that in her visualizations.

Here are just a couple of websites about imagery:

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Sport Psychology: Motivation

Okay, again, I’m getting all professional on your butts!

What exactly is motivation?  Why are some girls more motivated than others?  What exactly are we trying to achieve?  What behaviours are we trying to change?  Motivation fuels behaviour, this much we know.  But there are two general dimensions of motivation that we need to understand in order to use appropriate motivations for the appropriate situation:  Intensity and Direction (Martens, 1987).

Intensity is defined as how engergized the girl is; how aroused she is (get your minds out of the gutter!) and how much effort she’s putting into whatever she is doing.  Again, this can be seen by our chaser and by those girls who just “give up.”  Both have issues with intensity, one too much and the other not enough.

Direction is related to goals.  This is related to girls who don’t even try or quit the team.  This is also can beMaslow's Heirarch of Needs related to our chair pusher.  Again, many people would’ve thought that maybe our chair pusher should have or would have quit after 6 months of pushing a chair.  She did not.  She obviously had a goal and was willing to doggedly pursue that goal despite any physical limitations.  The ones who don’t even try, or outright quit, either do not have the goals or set their goals too high.

Both of these are related to the girls’ needs.  What does she need out of Roller Derby?  What is she getting out of it?  Or NOT getting out of it?

It is therefore important to understand the girls’ needs in order understand their motivations.

Motivation itself is a complex idea.  There many different aspects of motivation.  There is Extrinsic (motivation thru reward from others) and Intrinsic (motivation thru reward from the girl herself). There is Direct motivation (if I do this, I will get that) and Indirect (So & so will be at practice and the girls will want to impress her.).  There is the idea of the Locus of Control: people take different responsibilities for the rewards and punishments they receive in life (or in sport).  Those who believe that events in their life are a result of factors outside their own behaviours (such as luck) have external controls.  Those that believe that there are consequences for their own behavior are said to have internal controls.  Internal controls, of course, are more desirable in athletes, however, the drawback is that they may end up blaming themselves solely for poor performances.

Why do we need to know all of this?  We need to be able to understand each girl and what they need in order to provide Optimal Performance, Optimal Experience and Optimal Development (Vealey, 2005).

Sport Psychology uses the theory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see above chart).  This idea is that there is a pyramid of needs, each level needing to be fulfilled before the person can reach the next level and so on, until the person reaches what Maslow calls Self-actualization.  I won’t go into each of the levels and what they entail, but you can find more information here.

It has been found that there are three main needs that athlete seek to fulfill from the sport of their choice:

1.    Need for stimulation; the need for fun and excitement
2.    Need for affiliation; meeting other people and the feeling of belonging
3.    Need to feel worthy and competent; and especially among one’s peers.
(Martens, 1987)

Especially within Roller Derby, we see these three needs out and open for all to see.  There is generally no doubt in anyone’s mind that derby girls require all three all the time!  I think it’s the nature of the beast that is Roller Derby.

If we as coaches remember our goal of providing Optimal Performance, Optimal Experience and Optimal Development, chances are we will meet our girls’ need for stimulation, affiliation and to feel worthy and competent.

We can see if we are not achieving our goals.  The girls let us know in their behaviour; if they are striving, working hard, and having fun, then their needs are being met.  When they aren’t paying attention regularly, not taking direction or seem complacent, their needs aren’t being met.  Again, though, there is only so much we can do.  We can understand, give tools, etc., but if the girls aren’t intrinsically motivated (to a point), there is not much we can do for the long term.

So next time you have someone who just isn’t “into it,” as coach, you can investigate and find out what need is lacking.  If that need is something you, as coach, can help, then we can use tools to help fulfill that need.

My next blog posts will give you some of the actual tools you can use to ensure the girls are having their needs met and help with their own motivation.

Whew!  Another one down!  Happy Motivating everyone! Derby Luv!

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I’m in Love!!!!

Sorry I don’t have a lot to talk to you about this week. I had a horrible stomach flu and migraines this week so I wasn’t able to attend practice for fear of passing out from malnourishment and sleep deprivation. I can’t remember the last time I was that sick and I thought to myself during my agony, “I’d rather have pneumonia” while pouting and crying. I’m on the mend though and I’m super excited because I got a new mouthguard tonight!!! I went to see Derek at Mighty Mouthguards…yes I kept my appointment even though I wasn’t in the best of health but I waited a week and a half for it so I was going. I love it so much! I honestly can’t even believe the difference it makes, no drooling, lol, no incoherent talking, no hurting my gums…it’s as blissful as a mouthguard could possibly be. It wasn’t cheap but I like my teeth in my head where they are so it’s totally worth it.

*Sigh* I miss skating. It’s been a week and a half and I might not be that great at it but I love it. One day I’ll be healthy enough to keep getting better. Congrats to my fellow derby girls who got their names accepted to the roster!!! I’ve been putting a lot of thought into a derby name…I guess I’ll need one whether I make benchmarks or not. I realized the importance of your very own name and to have it on your shirt, especially for scrimmage. A lot of us are new, many of the new girls and the veteran girls know each other but we might not know each other well enough to call out to each other by name yet since there are so many of us. As super awesome as our name is (fellow Lisa’s), I think there are at least three of us, lol. It makes for a confusing practice sometimes when we’re trying to learn how to communicate to each other in a pack. It’s definitely challenging to try and think of something creative, appropriate…and not taken. Derby is exploding so that name roster is getting longer by the week and a lot of great names already listed so those are a definite no go. As long as it’s not rejected, I think I found a decent alter ego and she’s gonna lay a lickin’ on some derby girls, we’re going to get along great!

You didn’t think I was actually going to spill it here, did you? It’s a funny phenomenon that you guard your idea with your life so no one else will take it. It’ll come out someday when Coach says to us, “put on your big derby girl panties and get a name on that shirt already whether you benchmark or not!” then I will. ;-)

Cheers! Lisa

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