After six nearly continuous seasons, I have become a HUGE advocate of a decent off season. That is, more than two weeks. The level of play is more intense than ever and the things we ask our bodies to do has increased exponentially. Not that we didn’t play hard seven years ago, but derby continues to become more and more physically demanding due to increasing player skill levels.
Although I miss skating, frankly, it’s nice to take a break from turning left for a little while.
Focus on re-focusing
My activities of choice during the off season are focused on getting me re-centered, both physically and mentally. One of the regular things I do to keep my back (semi) pain free is Pilates. Our league is fortunate enough to benefit from an awesome sponsorship in which we can take private or group Pilates classes at a steep discount. Weekly sessions include stretching, strengthening, and alignment exercises to balance all the quad and calf muscles we all like to use when playing. More posterior chain activity is a good thing!
Work on your weakest areas
Taking an honest inventory of your individual strengths and weaknesses is key. An off season program is a great opportunity totackle areas in which you personally can improve – but you need to be honest with yourself to get out of your comfort zone. For me, high-intensity cardio is something that I struggle with. During this off season, I’m making a point to incorporate a few HIIT workouts each week to get where I need to be and where my team needs me to be. Cuz, everybody jams! Plus, I’m guessing it’s a lot more fun if your heartrate isn’t 220 bpm.
Reunited and it feels so good
Besides filling in the gaps with physical activities, it’s so, so, so important to reconnect with family and friends. During peak season, you may not be home as much as you’d like or get to attend events due to derby conflicts. Now is the time to make sure to remind loved ones that you’re still around! Also, a great opportunity to casually mention the dates for next season’s games.
One of the strangest off season phenomena is suddenly not seeing your teammates regularly, if at all. You’re so used to seeing the same sweaty faces two or three times a week, then BAM! It’s like everyone disappeared. To combat the off season blues, I am trying to stay connected through social media and meet ups. Even if it’s just for a quick drink, staying in touch with your derby gal pals can make the time between seasons less…weird.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
We’ve all heard this saying, and with derby I think it rings true. After months off, it’s exciting to see all the bright shining faces at the first season’s practice. Taking time off makes me realize that I love playing, that I miss the people, and that derby really does add something awesome to my life.
All the craziness is about to start up again, but I think I’m ready to turn left again!
-Erika aka Korean Lunchbox has been an active skater with MSSOS since 2011