Monday, January 31, 2011

Leadership Fatigue

Welcome! Today we're talking about leadership fatigue, the ailment that causes many hardworking skaters to fall out of love with roller derby. If you're in a leadership position and routinely feel like pulling out your own hair (or if your hairs are abandoning your head on their own), you may be suffering from leadership fatigue.

This malady afflicting team leaders – coaches, presidents, etc. – is more than routine burnout. Burnout can generally be cured by taking a break. But when you're in charge of day-to-day operations within your league, you may feel like you can never truly have a day off. By observing three simple rules, you can save yourself from leadership fatigue.

Rule 1 – Cut yourself some slack
In life, there are few things that you “have to” do. We hear people putting pressure on themselves all the time, by rattling off a long list of tasks they have to accomplish. Remember that your involvement in derby is voluntary. You have to eat. You have to sleep. But you do not have to make up your mind about next season's uniforms right. this. minute. So think about whether you're creating your own stress. And if you are, stop it!

Rule 2 – Determine your off-hours
Just because you've got a Blackberry doesn't mean you need to be accessible to all people at all times. Being in a leadership role sometimes makes derby feel like a job (that you don't get paid to do), so schedule some downtime for yourself and stick to it. If after 5 p.m., you never return emails or pick up the phone, people will eventually understand that whatever it is they need to talk to you about can wait until morning.

Rule 3 – Delegate
You may think that it's easier to handle everything yourself. Wrong. If you take on too many tasks, something is going to suffer – your mental health, in particular. If you're in charge, then you must be able to delegate. Identify people who seem responsible and ask them to take on a task. Accept the fact that even when you delegate, someone at some point will drop the ball. But you've got to be willing to let those mistakes and oversights happen, so you can continue loving derby.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zebra Love

Hello again! We're glad you came back, because we've got a little secret to share with you, and that's this: The men and women at derby bouts who wear the striped shirts and blow the whistles are volunteers. Crazy, huh? Some might be lucky enough to get a little stipend – enough to cover a tank of gas and a sub sandwich (6 inches, not 12) – but, generally, they put up with all kinds of nonsense for no reward whatsoever.

If you're a member of a league that has dedicated referees who come to practice and call penalties, be thankful. And treat your referees well. Because if you drive them away, you can count on playing a sloppier game – and losing.

Despite all they do to uphold the integrity of the sport, some refs never feel the love. They spend hours and hours thinking about the intricacies of the rules, and debating with each other online about the best interpretation of this rule or that rule. And then, some poor ref skips dinner so he can make it to practice on time, only to have an irritable skater scream in his face, questioning whether his eyes work, or if his brain is firing on all cylinders.

We believe that all skaters should be required to take a turn at reffing for a mere 15 minutes, to help them understand that reffing is hard work. What looks like a foul from the referee's point of view may look legal to a coach, a skater on the bench, or someone in the stands. But if you are not a referee, then you are not looking at the game with the same discerning eye. Trust the referees to know what they know and call what they see.

Like the skaters playing the game, refs make a lot of split-second decisions. And sometimes they make mistakes. When skaters make mistakes, their teammates generally forgive them. So forgive your referees for mistakes. Treat them with respect. And appreciate that they love roller derby, just like you do.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hey, there! Thanks for stopping by.

Welcome to Derby Deconstructed! We're putting together a one-stop shop for roller derby knowledge, so please visit often to see what's new. From how to Get Started to avoiding Derby Drama, we'll showcase the information that you - the skaters, coaches and volunteers - need to know. And, fans, there's something in the works for you, too. Because roller derby is nothin' without fans.

Be sure to check out our Drill of the Week, and don't forget to see our feature, Ask a Derby Girl, where we answer your derby-specific questions.

Thanks again - and happy skatin'!