Objective: To get everyone in a positive mindset; to improve your game
Typical length of drill: 2-5 minutes
Materials needed: An open mind and good imagination
Skill level required: None
Description: This is an exercise that can be done on- or off- skates, and will be most beneficial if repeated at every practice for several weeks. I've usually done it after stretching, before everyone gets ready to start skating hard.
First, have all of you skaters sitting comfortably in front of you with their eyes closed. Then, tell them that for each statement that you say they should visualize themselves in first person completing the statement physically while they repeat it out loud.
Here is a list of some of the things that I have had skaters repeat after me at practices (these are just suggestions and you should definitely modify/add/customize to your own team's needs):
- I am a good skater
- I am a skilled skater
- I am an excellent skater
- I am a fast skater
- I am a really fluid jammer
- I am a really good blocker
- I am great at booty blocking
- No one gets past my booty
- No one can break through my walls
- I am the best blocker I can be
- I am amazing at holding the inside line
- I give hard hits
- I give well-placed and well-timed hits
- I am not afraid of getting hurt
- I am not afraid of getting hit
- I improve at every practice
- I never doubt my skills
- I support other skaters
- Other skaters support me
- I perform really well in front of an audience
- The audience does not distract me
- I respect my fellow skaters
- My fellow skaters respect me
- My team needs me
- We’re all in this together
- I am confident on my skates
- Every time I make a mistake I learn something new
- I am a strategic player
- I am great at playing roller derby
- I love roller derby!
- I FUCKING LOVE ROLLER DERBY!
Research has shown that "visualization can actually enhance performance to nearly the same extent as physical practice" (1). Like physical practice, a little bit here and there may do some good, but for the best result your skaters should make this a routine part of their training. This means doing it outside of practice as well, repeating to themselves the things that they wish to internalize, such as "I am a really fast skater" and "I give well-placed and well-timed hits". Here is an excellent basketball reference for how to make this exercise the most beneficial: "You need to visualize everything out of your eyes (in the 1st person). You have to be there at the free throw line feeling the basketball. Seeing the goal. Hearing the noise. As you shoot, you should FEEL the ball roll off your fingers. You should SEE the ball traveling through the air with perfect backspin. You should SEE your hands out in front of you with the perfect follow through. You should SEE your hands out in front of you holding the follow through as you HEAR & SEE the ball swish through the net." (2)
So if we apply this to say, jamming, you have to be there on the track, see that pack in front of you, visualize the space IN FRONT of the pack that you are going to occupy, feel your skates on the hardwood floor, see your own body move fluidly through all the holes, hear your quick feet on the track, physically possess the feeling of sprinting out of the pack. Skaters need to focus while they do this, really meditate on each thing that they are visualizing.
Additional notes: It's been a while since I ran this exercise at practices but I was reminded of it by a really great recent roller_girls Yahoo group -post covering exercises to practice focus and mindfulness, by Chrome Molly of the Southern Oregon Rollergirls. I highly recommend reading it!
Further reading and sources:
(No complicated academic journals here, just simple internet articles that any lay-person can understand, I promise!)
- Visualization in Cross-Fit (if you read only one of these articles, make it this one!)
- Visualization and Sports Performance (1)
- Mental Rehearsal & Visualization: The Secret to Improving Your Game Without Touching a Basketball! (2)
- The Healing Power of Mind and Visualization (this is more specifically about healing, but still very applicable)