Next week ARRG’s All Star team head of to WFDTA Division 2 playoffs for the first time. Getting ready has been a huge operation, involving a lot of lists and a lot of bunting, and lists on bunting. Everyone has pitched in, bringing their own skills and talents! 

Here’s 9 things we’ve been doing as a team to get ready to take on D2…

Like many other leagues, we’ve had to raise a tonne of cash just to get our team over to Pittsburgh and our teamies and league mates have worked their socks off to raise funds. We’ve guest coached, put on a feast and flogged cake and merch until we could sell no more. But our most novel fundraising tactic yet….BINGO! Your nan would be proud. All Star teamies headed out to the bingo hall with the agreement that any winnings went into the travel fund. A couple of rule misunderstandings may have rustled some old lady feathers, but it was all worth it for the team bonding and amazing… drumroll….. £52 that was raised on the night! So that’s someone’s hold luggage paid for anyway.

2. THE EPIC TRAINING PLAN…(by Crazylegs)
My focus for Playoffs prep – as well as working out a lot – has been to make sure the team had a custom made all singing, all dancing ridiculously detailed training plan (aka The Plan) to help us feel as prepared as we can be.  With only 5 weeks between end of season and the D2 Tournament, the team needed to hit the ground running and feel supported and organised to work on training priorities. Like all good plans – it was built bit by bit, whilst sipping wine on summer hols!

Our goal has been to create an even more confident and unified team in a tiny amount of time, and we’ve shaped training differently to build up a story from session to session, increasing our confidence and improving along the way. We’ve brought common elements to every session for familiarity and routines that we are taking to Playoffs so we all feel focused, energetic, positive, dynamic and above all, teamy!!

Our league is amazing for helping us focus on this and providing extra resources for the team, and the team has been full of resilience, showing up session after session with aching bodies and tired brains and getting through it with silly jokes and a lot of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  We’re coming to the end of The Plan on Sunday, and then we have two whole lovely unstructured days to stretch and sleep and relax until we board planes to Pittsburgh where we shall be following the next plan… THE ULTIMATE TOURNAMENT TEAM PLAN that tells us all where to be and when, and when to pee!!

3. PLAYING LOCAL RIVALS.. (by everyone!)
Playing local leagues Glasgow Roller Derby and Dundee Roller Girls in the last weeks before we head over to Pittsburgh has given us an extra training boost – thank you guys! It’s been a chance to hone our tactics against other leagues, skate on different floors, to work to specific goals for each game and to have fun.

Getting to playoffs is a huge achievement not just for the All Stars, but for the whole of ARRG. Every single member has contributed: by playing against us at training, volunteering at games, answering emails and filling in spreadsheets, sharing ideas and the thousand other things that drive the league forward every day. And it was important to us to recognise this in some way. So we are organising a team shirt to take with us signed by everyone in the league that helped get us to Pittsburgh. Once it is printed, we will be collecting signatures from all of Team ARRG 2017. We’ll be bringing a little part of the whole of ARRG to Pittsburgh with us, so their hard work and support can inspire us as we take on D2!

5. OWNING OUR WARM UP.. (by our bench coach, DeeDee)
An on skates warm up is one of the last chances the team gets to warm up their derby muscles and derby brains before the first whistle gets the game underway. It’s a chance for the team to work some adrenaline out of their system and up their focus. It’s also something that other teams watch closely and there’s a big psychological element to warming up publicly, and owning your own game.  Early on in our playoff training odyssey, we worked out what worked for us specifically as a team, because each team will choose to prioritise different things during a warm up. We talked about what makes us feel our best as we line up at the start of a game. We’ve run this at every practice from then until we leave for playoffs so that we’re confident, calm and ready when the team takes to the track on game day.

Amongst all the extra practices and scrims, we’ve also been making time to have some important discussions, where we step back and look at what’s important to us. What are our values in life, and what do we love about roller derby? What do we love about our team? We’ve talked about what, if anything, can knock our confidence and what things help or don’t help if that happens. We’ve talked about how we can support each other. We’ve been honest with each other, talked about some difficult stuff and come out stronger without even putting our skates on. I mean right then. We obviously DO put our skates on a lot, but this has been an important part of building trust in each other so we don’t hold back or worry about making a mistake on track – we just go for it.

We want our league, fans and friends to know what’s happening at D2 and to be involved in the action! And for those who can’t catch the livestream, we’ve set up a tournament page on our website so folk can check out scores and game times.  We’ll also be Instagramming away throughout the weekend, for all the LOLs and updates from the tournament floor.

8. PACKING ALL THE THINGS! INCLUDING THE BUNTING! (by… please don’t forget the bunting!)
Tournaments can be crazy places: loads of people, noise, excitement, adrenalin. We have to be careful to let that feed our energy and not drain it. We like to grab a nice quiet spot and make a nice teamy place for ourselves between games. We make sure we have everything we need to make an ARRGy home from home when we travel: with our patented team bunting (grrr…), foam rollers, fave snacks, and Skinner’s never ending flask of hot tea. Sorted. We also have playlists which we train to regularly, to help get us in the right zone when we need to fire up our energy and our brains and bodies to get ready for the next game.

Knowing when not to train is a massive part of smart training! – and in the last few days before we head off to Pittsburgh we will be resting, reflecting, ingesting a lot of protein. We’ll also probably accidentally be sewing our team shirts to our legs as we re-do our WFTDA patches and be obsessively checking they are still there  – *goes to check WFTDA patches are still there*. We want to be in a place where we feel fresh and ready when we take to the sport court on Friday 18th! So soon!

See you there.