Why You Should Be Developing Mental Toughness In Your Newbie Skaters

by Treble #909, guest blogger

Everyone and their mum has read or heard about mental toughness these days. We all
know it’s an important part of our own athletic development and can help us achieve the
things we want in life.

However, it seems like developing mental toughness is something you do on your own time
outside of practice. Or people think it’s only something you need to worry about when
you’re a “serious” athlete.

It’s my belief that not only is working on your mindset something you should be doing from
the start, its also something you, as a coach, can help your skaters develop.

But coaching is already time consuming, right? Why do you need to be worrying about your
n00bs’ brains too?

Let me try and convince you.

Learning derby is hard enough
Cast your mind back to your first ever practice… you probably turned up in fabrics that were
not designed for sport, didn’t know your elbow pads from your arse knee pads and strapped
on a pair of loaner skates with wheels that barely rolled and toe stops that were
permanently glued to the boot.

For me, it was terrifying. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know what roller derby was. I wasn’t
as fit as I thought. I couldn’t stand up for more than 30 seconds and my limbs would just not
do what I wanted them to.

What would have been be super unhelpful at that moment in time would be negative
thoughts like, “I suck at this, I’ll never be any good, this is too hard, I can’t do it.”
I would have given up and never come back.

Many people do give up because they think, “This is hard so it must mean that I am terrible
and should give up” instead of thinking, “This is hard and I can’t do it…yet! But I want to get

Baggage and barriers
How many of your new skaters have never played sport before? How many of them have
come with body confidence issues? How many are scared of performing in front of people?
How many are not used to competition?

My guess is “quite a lot”.

Photo by Travis Saylor from Pexels

Photo by Travis Saylor from Pexels

Those people can come with certain mindsets and thought patterns which can affect
learning. They may be too worried about looking stupid to try something new. They might
take competitiveness as a personal attack or “losing” as a sign of failure. They may feel they
are being judged by coaches and veteran skaters.

Instead you need to create an environment where they don’t feel judged and know that
people are watching them to help them improve and competition is friendly and everyone’s
on the same team.

Mental resilience makes learning more fun
When your skaters are focused on progress rather than avoiding failure, they will not only
enjoy practice more but they will work harder, longer and with more intensity. They will also
try new things and recover from setbacks quicker.

The first few months and years of new skater training is full of new challenges, potential for
failure and probably quite a bit of physical pain. If you don’t have mentally tough skaters,
they will quit and all your coaching efforts will have been in vain.

But if those new skaters experience all those challenges as fun, they will stick around and
seek out more!

Mentally tough skaters make your job easier

That’s because they:
• Take feedback as intended & don’t see it as a personal attack
• Want to work on their weaknesses
• Spread positivity rather than negativity to their fellow n00bs
• Enjoy hard work
• Take responsibility for their own progress
• Turn up to practice week in week out


So have I convinced you that incorporating mental toughness and mindset into your
coaching is a good idea?

If so, join Rule 56 in November for my webinar on how to use your language, environment
and actions as a coach to develop a mental toughness mindset in your new skaters;
Coaching Believence - Empowering New Skaters To Believe In Themselves

Treble's session at Derby Stance is sponsored by Roller Derby City

You can also see Treble's wealth of knowledge and experience with new skater support on her blog: Up Your Game