Dealing with Derby Stress

No Stress Playing Derby

It’s morning on a typical practice day. I’m in the kitchen trying to figure out what to eat for breakfast and it’s already happening. Here’s my train of thought:

Hmm. Should I have some yogurt? Better hydrate. What should I eat after practice to recover? How should I cross train? What if I get hurt? Chill out. You’ll be fine. But I really need new wheels. What kind should I get? My boots are killing me too, can I afford customs? Its okay, you’ll do some research and try on some other girl's gear to find what’s best. But how do I wade through the message board and the committee emails? What events do we have this month? How am I taking care of off-skates hours? Where’s my mouth guard???

All this is running through my head hours before I’ve even strapped wheels on to my feet. Whether you’re new or not, you’re putting your body through all kinds of stress and it can be really difficult to sort it all out. There’s the physical stress of working out upwards of eight hours per week and getting your body to cooperate. There’s the time crunch stress of making this new hobby of yours fit between work and family and whatever else floats your boat. There’s the mental stress from constantly learning new things and the emotional stress of keeping it all together somehow.

 You may think to yourself, “Why am I so stressed out about something that I am doing for FUN?”

Bingo, champ. Remember, this is fun. At the end of the day, you’re doing this because you enjoy it. Not because anyone else forced you to show up, or because you lost a bet with someone, but because you’re motivated to be here. And showing up is half the battle. I’m constantly reminding myself to keep that in perspective.


In your battle, you’re fortunate to have a whole squadron of people behind you who can fully appreciate the sheer chutzpah you need to take on the commitment of derby. When you feel like you’re not “getting it” someone will show you how. When you’re having an off day, someone will inevitably tell you to buck up and give you a hug, or two, or three.  You’re not skating in a vacuum. Leaguemates have your back. Don’t forget to lean on them and don’t feel bad when you have to, because you’ll have their backs soon enough.


If you’re like me, you’re coming home with a fresh crop of bruises, a brand new tweak somewhere and sore, sore quads. It really is a whole new world of pain. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you need to make sure that you’re actively taking care of your body. Stretch like there’s no tomorrow. If it hurts, ice it. Test out different muscle rubs. Ask other derby folks what remedies they use for common issues.  Talk to a masseuse or chiropractor. Try to eat recovery foods after practice instead of junk. Sleep as much as you possibly can. Take some time out for yourself to sit your butt in a tub. Make it a ritual. I’m (very) slowly figuring out the sweet spot that keeps me from being a big ball of “Ow” in the morning, but mostly I think it’s just about being consistent.


One weapon you have on your side is a well-organized calendar. Lord knows I am not the most organized person in the world. But I’ve found that religiously popping my schedule into a calendar helps me keep my head on straight. It can be an agenda book or your phone, but I like to keep it on me at all times. Yes, this will help you show up on time when practice was rescheduled, but this calendar shouldn’t only include league events and obligations.

I started making sure that I devote calendar time to accomplish things that are important to me outside of skating. Pick a goal outside of derby and carve out time in your schedule just for that. I began a project of writing 750 words a day (one week running!) and that has helped me to stay more centered. Pencil in time for your favorite television show or to read a new book. Snuggle with a loved one or a pet. Actually write “Snuggle with SoandSo” in your calendar. Boom! Look at that, you accomplished something today.