Winding down another bootcamp collab with Missy Rascal, edge-loving skills instructor extraordinaire, and reflecting on the two days of non-stop skills action and all the cool skaters I got to meet.  I love watching skaters really start to understand their skates and to figure out how they can work with them and within them.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Every time I coach with Missy, I learn new ways to explain movement and the cause and effect of a small physical shift on whatever skill a skater is aiming to achieve.  I gain confidence in the  implicit confirmation of my analysis of form when I find myself correcting the same body quirks and weight distribution as she does three skaters down from me.   I know the big things, the talking points, the buzz works, the crotch weight versus 'nose, nipple, knee' and I know lots of little things too.  However many years of watching skaters battle their own bodies and brains, you start to figure it out, even if you can't articulate it.  But I find that when I listen closely, Missy systematically removes impasses to achievement that I never even realised existed.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     I remember how I learned to skate and the process I took in learning to coach others to skate.  We all get there in the end.  We learn intuitively where the weight goes and we wait for the day that our underpush "clicks" into place.   A certain D1 team, all insanely talented skaters, spent an off season stripping back their skills to focus on improving their edges because they'd all learned to skate without controlling them and when they got to that level of gameplay, they needed that control.  They had to go back and get it.  A lot of coaches I know, we often tell our skaters, "it's just practice" or "you have to find that sweet spot".   Missy Rascal does a lot of explaining when she coaches.  The first time we coached together I swear she spoke more in the first hour than in the entire time I'd known her... maybe about five years...  When I went up to her after and said as much, she just said, 'I save up for the words that matter'.   How amazing would it be if all us coaches had the words that mattered, the ones that make it all just a bit easier, a bit faster, and a bit less frustrating for new skaters to "get it".   How many more skaters would be keep in the sport?  How much better would those skaters be?  How much better would our sport be?   

However many years of watching skaters battle their own bodies and brains, you start to figure it out, even if you can't articulate it.  But I find that when I listen closely, Missy systematically removes impasses to achievement that I never even realised existed.

       How you roll   This is the coaching skill I most wanted to learn and I DID. My coaching comfort zone is new derbyists through beginning game play.  But I mostly work with people who can roll.  It might not be fast or efficient, but they know how to go.   I really wanted to be able to support those absolute, gripping the wall, refusing to fully stand up beginners.  And while it might seem simple to those of you who have done it, when first confronted with someone clutching at me in terror because  her skate moved , I froze.  For other beginner-impaired coaches, here’s what you do.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Step 1 – Penguin feet.  (like so….)  Seems so blumming obvious but while I’d spent loads of time explaining to new skaters how to get up safely, put on their equipment safely, come back down to the floor safely, I never actually thought about telling them how to stand safely.   Granted, most of them seemed to pick it up (or only fall over once…) but actually, it’s probably a pretty sensible thing to teach.      Heels touching, feet in a V.  They won’t roll backwards accidentally and pretty hard for them to roll forwards accidentally.  *magic*           </iframe>" data-provider-name=""      Not quite as little as they ought to be, I reckon, but probably realistic!         Step 2 – Cockroach steps.   Don’t even worry about rolling right away.  Get them comfortable moving.  Tiny tiny little ant steps, then cockroach steps, then… next biggest bug steps, you choose.  And after each step, they’re back in penguin feet feeling all chill and not falling over.  *excellent scenes*                      </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"         Step 3 – Roll (What?!) Yeah Roll  V starts and T starts.  Get them used to pushing into the back foot and then rolling a little bit.  It can be the tiniest roll.  They can immediately resume penguin position.  They can do this while holding onto a wall.  You can let them hold onto you if you want, but if they go down, I can pretty much guarantee that you’re going down with them.  An alternative is holding out a stick/ cane etc for them to use as a safety blanket (basically a touch point to help build their proprioception).  If they go down, they just take the stick, not you.  Eventually they can alternate feet with their v starts and voila! Rolling!  So there you go! 

I really wanted to be able to support those absolute, gripping the wall, refusing to fully stand up beginners.  And while it might seem simple to those of you who have done it, when first confronted with someone clutching at me in terror because her skate moved, I froze.

For other beginner-impaired coaches, here’s what you do.

      Two days, 14 coaches, one freezing gym hall later, I almost have my Level 2 BRSF Generic Skate Coach qualification.  I say “almost”, because part of the process is a 39 hour online course about how to safeguard children and vulnerable adults which I have only just embarked upon.   I went in a bit uncertain   of the potential value, but hopeful that I would pick up some info to fill the gaps in my coaching brain.  And I promised to share my learning.   The learning starts here!             Things I learned at My BRSF Level 2 Skate Coach course by Maha El Nasser aka Hydra #56.   We are a really small roller derby coaching world.  We are also keen as fuck.      

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Of the 14 coaches in the room, including the instructors, only 4 had nothing to do with roller derby.   71.4287% of us were roller derby people .  Our people.  This meant that the inline hockey dude and the roller disco dude had to conform to an invisible derby track pretty quickly.  The hockey guy kept get accused of cutting the corners he couldn’t see.   Of those 10 derby people, we all knew each other.  We’d been at  Derby Stance  together or played together and against each other, coached each other's teams, been coached by each other's teams.    But really, this says to me we’re all the same faces.  Trying to get to the same places.  We should know each other more and better and just have more conversations without waiting for the Halley’s comet of coaching courses to come to town.  And maybe find the other coaches in the world and talk to them too.    Generic is as generic does.       

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     This course was so generic (as it says on the tin) the skills we learned how to coach were built around any sort of shoe with wheels on it in any configuration.    Because so many of us folks were from derby, we could translate to derby during the practical bits.  But half of what I would want to be able to coach a quad skater (like how to use all the elements of your skate) is not part of the course because it has to work across all disciplines.   I learned things.  But I would have liked to learn a few more things.  Particularly things I’m going to find myself coaching.    Nb: I also learned some actual coaching things,  like teaching someone to roll  (don’t laugh, I really struggled with this). 

Two days, 14 coaches, one freezing gym hall later, I almost have my Level 2 BRSF Generic Skate Coach qualification.  I say “almost”, because part of the process is a 39 hour online course about how to safeguard children and vulnerable adults which I have only just embarked upon.

I went in a bit uncertain of the potential value, but hopeful that I would pick up some info to fill the gaps in my coaching brain.  And I promised to share my learning.   The learning starts here!

      I am beyond excited that this weekend I am actually finally really and truly attending a coaching qualification course for skating*.  After more than six years of coaching derby I’m finally getting some guidance on how to do it!  Everything till now has been following, shadowing, trying, experimenting… annnnnd, I think I’ve just about sussed it.  Definitely the time to be taught how to coach (*read: sarcasm).  It’s not that I don’t think this course will offer good advice and skills to share.  And I’m hoping to pick up different ways of explaining edges and how to use them.  (Though, having run a few collabs with Missy Rascal over the past year, I’m pretty edged up.)   But I’m frustrated.   Frustrated that this course took so long to get up and running and then once it did that it kept getting cancelled.  Frustrated for myself that I had to manage for so long worrying that I was doing things wrong.   Frustrated for other new coaches that they have to go through the same thing, especially the ones that don’t have other sport coaching experince to fall back on.   Frustrated that amazing coaches have to run events at risk because it’s nigh impossible to get insurance in the UK if you don’t have a piece of paper saying you’re qualified to coach.   Frustrated for the skaters that have to muddle through while we figure out how to coach and then retire and someone else then has to figure out how to coach.   Frustrated that skaters leave because we can’t offer consistency.  Frustrated that leagues stagnate because there isn’t help to push to the next level.   Mostly I’m frustrated that I have been waiting all this time to finally get on the coaching course and it’s not even for the sport I coach.   But amongst all the frustration is faith that in the background, behind the derby noise (fundraising, events, bootcamps, events, games, more events, and all the admin…)  things are happening.  Our governing bodies are shifting and reassessing and driving forward with increased presence and focus.   Our sport is experiencing another growth spurt.  This means we might be gangly for a bit but we’ll come out bigger.  Better.   Maybe with some derby-specific coaching support.  That would be excellent.  Until then, I’m going to get educated in how to coach skating skills and I will share the learnings here, with my team, in Facebook groups, in bootcamps, in 1:1s, and in conversation.      #moretalking #moresharing #coachderby  * British Roller Sports Federation (BRSF) If you want to come along and get your qual, I reckon that there are still spaces to fill:  http://www.brsf.co.uk/coach-education .   

I am beyond excited that this weekend I am actually finally really and truly attending a coaching qualification course for skating.  After more than six years of coaching derby I’m finally getting some guidance on how to do it!  Everything till now has been following, shadowing, trying, experimenting… annnnnd, I think I’ve just about sussed it. 

      I live by a triumvirate of Cs when working with athletes, whatever level they are.  I'm always working on each piece of that big C puzzle because every aspect can always improve.  Coach     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Coach humans.  Coach athletes.  Coach skaters.    Coach people.  I don't just coach the skills, though those are nice and easy and defined.  It's so easy to coach a nice pretty plow stop.  There are clear success measures.  You can define them, hear them, see them, and, most importantly, correct them.  All nice and straightforward.  I also aim to coach the person.  To develop the drive, persistence, determination, free thought, engagement, and love of the sport.  To coach the self-belief, the desire, the understanding of what it means to be an athlete.   The two cannot be separated.  Every discussion about skill will impact the person.  And every word I speak in my role as coach is taken as intention.     Communication  In every part of my existence, Communication is the epitome of and driver of success.  It is not always easy (particularly when project managing IT people, trust me) and it is not always pleasant (particularly when explaining to a skater why they haven't made a roster) but long term it will build a team.   Communication helps us live our values as skaters, as teammates, and as coaches.  Things that are very very hard without honest and direct communication:   Trust  Accountability  Transparency  Relationships  Development   You can see where I'm going with this.  But I'm pretty sure that the majority of derby drama can be avoided by bringing better communication into the picture.  G'wan and challenge me.  But iDerby doesn't count.  Seriously. That is not communication.   Confidence  Confidence for skaters and confidence for coaches - absolutely hand-in-hand.  Confident coaches build confident skaters.  Confidence means we're better prepared to accept challenge and take on feedback.  Confidence gives us a baseline to build a collaboration between coach and athlete, to listen to each other, and try new things.      

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     And you know what helps build confidence for coaches and athletes?  COMMUNICATION!  Yes.  It all comes full circle.  Also external validation.  Sometimes having someone else who is not your mom tell you you're doing the right thing can definitely help.       #confidentcoachesarebettercoaches    

I don't just coach the skills, though those are nice and easy and defined.  It's so easy to coach a nice pretty plow stop.  There are clear success measures.  You can define them, hear them, see them, and, most importantly, correct them.  All nice and straightforward.

I also aim to coach the person.