Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Magazine
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• attendance policy
• getting fit for derby
• hydration for performance
• toe guard review
• belonging in derby
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Scarlett O’Harder, Sheffield Steel Rollergirls
If you’ve ever sat on a committee that has anything to do with team selection, you’ll know how often attendance comes into play and probably have felt frustration of its confines. Whether it’s an amazing player whom you just can’t field for fear of backlash from the team, or a lower tiered skater who attends every session but is overlooked for lesser attending but are ultimately more skilled players. At some point, you’re probably going to hit a wall that your team’s attendance policy has created and in my experience, allowing some wiggle room in order to remain competitive, is important.
Everyone knows why attendance is important. It’s to both ensure your safety and efficacy on track – both in terms of your individual skills on track and way you gel with your team – but the reality is that just because you attend every session, it doesn’t mean you are necessarily the right person for the job.
I’ve skated for a few teams now and they’ve each had their own approach to attendance and I’ve seen the positives and negatives to each of them, but one thing seems to be an absolute certainty to me: if you wish to remain competitive, you need to be fielding your strongest team possible and this ideal can often fall flat when considering attendance.
It is a sometimes difficult to swallow reality that there are some people who are just better, perhaps more experienced or simply they pick things up more quickly. You might even find that these more highly skilled skaters could still trump most of your team and only show up once a month. The rather inconvenient truth is: some of your skaters may still be your best option EVEN THOUGH they’re not high attenders.
I’m not saying ditch your attendance policy. It’s important to have a benchmark but to remain competitive, attendances should be an advisory criterion; something that is considered as part of the selection but that doesn’t automatically cut people out. We all know through playing derby that life gets in the way sometimes as well as injury being common and this must be considered. It seems that all too often attendance criteria are used as a carrot-and-stick combo and I couldn’t disagree more on this method.
I don’t believe in forcing people to attend training by the threat of being removed fromthe squad as a punishment (often how it comes across), mainly because of the reasons above: you risk cutting out amazing players who will guarantee you win games as well as dragging tired and possibly grumpy skaters to training when they want a night off. That’s just a recipe for disaster on all counts. In addition, it often masks a bigger issue: if your league suffers poor attendance then you need to be looking at why that is and work on creating a culture that sees practice as a positive thing. Forcing people’s arms will ultimately make them feel resentful.
We know it’s important to have a policy in place so that our skaters know what is expected of them, but I do feel that having something so rigid in place can cause more issues than it solves. As with everything, it’s incredibly important that whatever your policy, it is transparent, easy to follow and always reviewed to avoid resentment.